Last Updated on 7 February 2022
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Where to travel in 2021?
I think we are all ready to wave 2020 goodbye and watch it sail off into the sunset, in the hope that 2021 will be a little more positive for us all! It’s no secret that 2020 was not the best year for international travel (or a lot of things, for that matter), but with vaccination programmes being rolled out across the world let’s hope that we can safely walk down the (aeroplane) aisle soon! With the New Year fast approaching, you might be wondering where to travel in 2021, or perhaps you just want to dream a little about the top places to visit in the world? Either way, to help inspire your travel planning for this year, here are some of the best destinations to visit in 2021 (as long as it’s safe to do so, of course)!
Halong Bay, Vietnam
There’s no doubt about it – Halong Bay is a non-negotiable part of any Vietnam itinerary. Located in the north of Vietnam around 180km east of the beautiful capital (Hanoi), Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and place of outstanding natural beauty! Halong Bay covers an expansive area that is bursting with over 1,600 mostly uninhabited lush green islands; some of which feature secluded little beaches! If you splurge on just one thing in Vietnam, then make it a 2 night cruise on Halong Bay (it’s probably more affordable than you think)! When the fog descends on the bay, a mystical aura will consume you as you slowly weave in between the enchanting limestone karsts!
Hemmed in by crystal blue waters to the south, Marjan Hill to the west and mountains to the northwest and northeast, Split is a vibrant port city located on a peninsula, and is the largest city on the Adriatic coast. In the Old Town you will find an abundance of ruins and remnants from the Roman period, charmingly intertwined with modern Dalmatian life. At it’s core is Diocletian’s Palace; an ancient Roman Palace constructed between the 3rd and 4th Century. Split Old Town is a maze of quaint marble-paved narrow lanes joined together by historic arches. It’s full of nooks and crannies which you could happily spend a few days exploring, making it the perfect place to travel in 2021 for a city break!
Tip: Split has great public transport links between other islands, towns and cities, so why not go for a little longer? You could head to one of the nearby islands, such as Brac or Hvar, or plan an itinerary for Dubrovnik and Split!
Located in western Poland, Wroclaw is a charming University city surrounded by the Odra River. Perhaps lesser known that it’s famous neighbours Krakow, Gdansk and Warsaw, I consider Wroclaw a hidden gem in Europe (so why not visit this year, before the secret gets out)! With some amazing things to do and an enchanting Old Town which is riddled with little bronze dwarves (yes, really), Wroclaw absolutely deserves to be on your list of places to travel this year! If you are going to visit Wroclaw, then consider going at Christmas time for one of the most underrated yet magical Christmas Markets in Europe!
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovinia
If you have never considered travelling to The Balkans, then it’s time you thought again! Not only is the region cheap and easy to travel around, it’s studded with little gems like Mostar. World famous for it’s Old Bridge (Stari Most) which arches high above the crystal clear Neretva River, Mostar is home to a fairytale cobble-stoned Old Town which is laden with Ottoman influence! Packed with quaint and narrow lanes where you could happily spend several hours wandering, Mostar also boasts various Millhouse restaurants which line the river side. One of the most unique places to visit in Europe where east meets west, there is an abundance of options when looking for something to eat; Ćevapi being one of the firm favourites! Be sure to keep an eye out for the daring divers who take a leap of faith from the highest point of Stari Most into the icy cold waters below!
Tip: If you are travelling to Dubrovnik, then why not take a trip to Mostar? There’s no doubt that this is one of the best Balkan day trips you can take, and there are many tour operators who offer these trips… just be sure to take your passport!
When you give it a little bit of thought, the size of Beijing is quite frankly incomprehensible. To put it into perspective, Beijing is nearly as big as Kuwait, 1.5 times bigger than Qatar, 15 times bigger than Hong Kong, 23 times bigger than Singapore, and it is ever expanding! Famed for its abundance of ancient Chinese temples, Peking Duck, Hutongs and chic department stores, Beijing is rich with both culture and history. It is a bustling and chaotic megacity where modern skylines collide with ancient architecture. It’s somewhere you could visit over and over again, yet never fail to find something new to see and always be amazed at its sheer scale! Not only is Beijing the perfect base for visiting the Great Wall of China, it is home to some fabulous sights such as the Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City!
Tip: Beijing may be enormous, but it is easy and cheap to get around if you use the subway! Be sure to plan the sights you are going to see and find out the subway stops you’ll need in advance, so you can mark these on a map when you arrive!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Walking through Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like wandering straight into a Grimms’ Fairytale (which is exactly why it should be on your travel bucket list for 2021)! Lined with cobble-stoned streets and colourful facades, Rothenburg is one of the prettiest towns in Germany and would make for the perfect weekend break in Europe. Rothenburg is a beautifully preserved medieval town protected by high fortified walls that are scattered with towers and entrance gates. The town is filled with traditional half timbered leaning houses, which you can get the perfect view of by walking around the inside of the Old Town walls. The magical town is located just over 100km west of Nuremburg and just short of 200km southeast of Frankfurt, with good public transport links to both cities!
Tip: Given that it looks like something straight out of a storybook, Rothenburg is unsurprisingly a busy little place! To avoid crowds of tour groups, ideally you need to visit earlier in the morning or later at night! Rothenburg is a fantastic overnight stop on any European road trip itinerary!
The Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Another one of the best Balkan day trips you can take from Dubrovnik, The Bay of Kotor is a stunning Adriatic inlet located in the southwest of Montenegro. Hemmed in by breathtaking mountains and lined with quaint fishing towns and villages, The Bay of Kotor is an angel shaped expanse of water with enchanting scenery. Two of the most well known towns are Kotor and Perast, which are definitely worthy of a visit and would make perfect bases for further exploration of The Bay of Kotor and Montenegro! Due to it’s beauty, Montenegro is gathering pace in popularity, so perhaps you should visit sooner rather than later!?
Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
If you’re thinking of a getaway to Tenerife for some year round Vitamin D, then why not consider staying in Puerto de la Cruz? Located in the north of the island with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Teide, Puerto de la Cruz is a picturesque former fishing village which has blossomed into a bustling seaside town. With a traditional essence still very much prevalent, Puerto de la Cruz is home to a pretty little Old Town and quaint harbour, is dotted with parks and gardens and has an abundance of beautiful eateries where you can indulge in Tapas (washed down with something cold, of course)! The beaches in Puerto de la Cruz are uniquely lined with volcanic black sand making them one of Europe’s natural wonders, and the winding esplanade offers the perfect walk to enjoy the coastal views! If you are looking for a short getaway where there is sun and plenty to do, then Puerto de la Cruz should be a contender for your 2021 travel list!
Langkawi is the type of place you might see featured on the front of a travel brochure, with its turquoise waters and long sandy beaches. An archipelago of 99 islands located off of the west coast of Malaysia, Langkawi is a tropical paradise which erupts out of the Andaman Sea. The main island is filled with palm tree framed paddy fields and jungle cladded hills, and beaches where clear waters lap the shores. The tranquil main town of Pantai Cenang boasts an expansive palm tree lined sandy beach, has various options for enjoying some tasty Malaysia cuisine and is the perfect base for exploring Langkawi further (on land or by sea)! And what’s more, Langkawi is a tax free island so you can certainly afford to enjoy a cold beer in a hammock chair whilst watching the sun go down!
Tip: Why not incorporate Langkawi into a true trip of a lifetime around Southeast Asia? Be sure to check out this 3 week itinerary for Singapore, Malaysia and Bali. After all, Langkawi is only an hours flight from Kuala Lumpur, so if you are in the region then why not!?
Before I ever visited Bruges, I’d conjured up a magical image of what it would look like… cobble-stoned streets lined with red brick medieval step-roofed houses, canals meandering around buildings, horse and carts trundling around the Old Town, and chocolate and waffles galore! Well, my vivid imagination did not disappoint! Bruges went above and beyond all expectations, which is why it should be on your list of travel destinations for 2021! Perfect for a weekend city break and bursting with charming Gothic architecture, Bruges can easily be explored on foot or by boat! Be sure to follow your curiosity and get a little lost when strolling the city, because it’s likely you will stumble across churches, sculptures, beautiful hidden buildings and houses which back directly onto hidden canals (can you imagine being able to hop straight onto a boat at the bottom of your back yard?)!
Tip: You should definitely consider grabbing a bicycle to do a self-guided tour of the city – after all, it’s quite fun to judder across the cobbled streets! It’s got to be one of the best ways to see the city and there’s no joy quite like cycling through an unfamiliar place!
There is no doubt that Ubud and it’s surrounding areas are the definition of serenity. A tranquil paradise nestled in amongst the paddy fields of Bali, Ubud is the perfect (and arguably necessary) addition to any itinerary for Southeast Asia. In Ubud you will never be too far from some amazing sights, such as waterfalls hidden in amongst the jungle, beautifully curvaceous rice terraces, and intricately interesting temples! And, there is no shortage of things to do in Ubud town itself! Full of chic little restaurants and cafes which serve smoothies, ice creams and all types Indonesian delights, and lavish but affordable spas, Ubud is a budget friendly destination where you can indulge in luxury for less! So if you are looking for a mixture of relaxation, adventure, sightseeing, cuisine, tradition, culture and some places of outstanding natural beauty, then a trip to Ubud is for you!
Perhaps lesser known than Dubrovnik and Split, Zadar is a unique city located on a peninsula which jets out into the blue waters off of the Dalmatian coast. The Old Town is home to a maze like network of quaint lanes and charming streets, paved with shiny polished stone and dotted with beautiful squares perfect for a frothy coffee or cold Ozujsko (Croatian beer). A place which is the perfect short city break for those looking for a dose of history, Zadar is scattered with Roman Ruins from times gone by. It is a city where the old and new sit side by side, and charmingly intertwine. Be sure to visit the Sea Organ and enjoy the waves gently sloshing back and forth which creates the most soothing sound.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is a popular place for a European city break, and it’s not hard to see why! To wander the impressively extensive network of waterways lined with canal houses that boast charming gabled facades is an experience which makes Amsterdam worthy of being on your list of destinations to travel to in 2021. But there is an abundance of things to do in Amsterdam, which stretch further than canals and pretty buildings. There is a deeply interesting history and rich culture, buzzing nightlife, postcard perfect scenes of narrow houses and windmills, flower markets filled with vibrant tulips, and a whole lot of cheese (you should definitely try lavender flavour)! You will merely scratch the surface on a short itinerary to Amsterdam, but a few days in the city is a good place to start (you can always return – I know I will)!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you are in search of a slower pace of life, beautiful landscapes, adventurous activities, irresistible food, extravagant temples, and retail therapy, then Chiang Mai needs to be on your list of places to visit this year! Surrounded by jungle cladded mountains, Chiang Mai is a walled city located in northern Thailand famed for it’s unique fortifications and intricate Buddhist temples. There are a multitude of options for day trips from the city and boundless things to do in Chiang Mai itself, making it the perfect stop on any itinerary for Thailand. It is home to the most fantastic night bazaar which brings the city to life in the evening, where you can purchase all types of knick-knacks, clothes, and food! If you fancy an encounter with an elephant, then Chiang Mai is the perfect spot, but be sure to do your research and visit an ethical elephant sanctuary.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Located in central Vietnam, Hoi An is a charming town bursting with Oriental and French Colonial influence. Yes, Hoi An is undeniably busy, but it’s not hard to see why. Everywhere you look, lanterns decorate the ancient port town. Zigzagged from building to building, at night they brightly illuminate the quaint streets. Along the Thu Bon River, boats will be brightly alight with lanterns and you will see mini ones gently float down the river. Blossoming flowers frame the French Colonial buildings, and an abundance of Chinese temples, pagodas and heritage buildings fill the town. If you grab a bicycle and explore the surrounding areas of Hoi An, you will find an expanse of rice fields and stunning beaches nearby. Hoi An is a town where days could quite easily turn to weeks, so it’s a no wonder why it should be somewhere you travel to in 2021!
Tip: Hoi An is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days on any Vietnam itinerary, because there are countless day trips you can do from the town, such as to My Son Sanctuary.
The Scottish Highlands, Scotland
A spring time road trip through the Scottish Highlands should be on any bucket list for the UK, when bright pink and orange leaves blossom on the trees, and yellow ferns line the roads. Recently, Scotland has come alive with motorhomes, most seemingly on a mission to complete the scenic North Coast 500. I have been visiting Scotland ever since before I could walk, yet it never ceases to capture my imagination. Full of winding roads which meander around the bases of high and mighty mountains, roaring rivers and waterfalls, and remote crofters cottages plonked in the middle of Glens, the Scottish Highlands is the perfect place to visit if you want to escape from the daily grind of life (you won’t have much choice to switch off from technology because the signal can be hit and miss)! There are some truly pretty places in the Scottish Highlands, and be sure to see the enchanting scenery of the Cairngorms and Glen Coe!
Tip: If you have little ones or are just a big kid (like me) then be sure to visit the Reindeer Centre in the Cairngorms. There you can do a hill trip up to the mountain to find the freely roaming Reindeer, and be amongst them, feed them and stroke them! This is something I did as a little girl, and the experience has stuck with me ever since!
Banff reminds me of what Whoville (the home of the Grinch) may look like if it were real, especially when you are looking down on it from the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Now you may or may not agree, but either way it is an indisputably magical destination. Located in Alberta, Canada, the town of Banff is surrounded by dramatic jagged snow capped mountains and is home to the most icy blue river. As if Banff town is not charming enough itself, it is also perfectly situated for further exploration of the Canadian Rockies. From Banff, you can easily reach the famous Lake Louise and stunning Moraine Lake; both of which boast the bluest of waters. Whilst you are in Banff, be sure to take the Gondola ride up to Sulphur Mountain to enjoy the panoramic views over Banff and beyond (if it’s summertime, you may want to take some Mosquito repellant with you)!
Tip: The best way to experience the best of the Canadian Rockies has to be to take a motorhome road trip!
Prague, Czech Republic
An understandably popular place for a weekend break in Europe, Prague is an irresistible city located in eastern Europe. Famous for its chimney cakes, nightlife, arched bridges, Gothic architecture, Czech beer, Bohemian glass and fairytale Old Town, it is a definite contender for your 2021 travel list! Wandering through the cobble-stoned squares and streets of the Old Town and admiring the views down through the bridge scattered Vltava River is an enchanting experience.
Tip: If you want to travel cheaper in Europe, then eastern Europe is your best friend! Definitely consider the likes of Prague, Budapest, and Krakow if you need somewhere budget friendly to travel to this year!
I never thought I wanted to visit Rome, until I went! Whenever I thought of Rome, I envisaged flocks of tourists descending on the city… and, I was right. But despite how prominent Rome is as a tourist destination, it does not take away from the purely magical essence of the city. The bustling capital is an open air museum where the old and the new live harmoniously side by side – the chaos of the Italian traffic zooms around the outside of Colosseum and hoards of tourists congregate at the Trevi Fountain to toss coins into its waters! Full of sculpture adorned Piazzas lined with Gelato shops and designer boutiques, Rome is bursting with elegant architecture, all things carbs and the richest of histories! If you just have a few days (and love food) then a weekend city break in Rome could be for you!
Stein Am Rhein, Switzerland
Situated alongside the River Rhine, Stein Am Rhein is a quaint medieval town which is absolutely riddled with the most beautifully decorated facades. The half timbered buildings that line its streets are covered in beautifully intricate murals, which depict various scenes and tales. A uniquely special place where you could easily loose track of time wandering the streets and squares, and strolling along the riverside, it is a place that will captivate you with its charm! For a little taste of Switzerland why not incorporate it into an itinerary for Germany, and do a day trip from Konstanz? From here, you can easily wander across the border and hop on a train to Stein Am Rhein.
Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city situated at a busy intersection where east collides with west, and where old charmingly intertwines with new. The sights, sounds and smells which permeate Hong Kong will overwhelm your senses, and the electric aura will keep you wanting more. Don’t be fooled into thinking Hong Kong is all chaos, because pockets of calm and tranquility can be stumbled across throughout the city, like on Lugard Road or in Nan Lian Gardens! The vast mix of things to do in Hong Kong and mere experience of wandering the city make it one of the best places to travel to in 2021! Sailing around Victoria Harbour at dusk on a traditional Junk boat is one of the best ways to enjoy the glimmering skyline, and should be on any Southeast Asia bucket list!