Since the start of the national lockdown, if you've been thinking about getting away once it's all over, then here are some of my top travel destination for this year and next.
1) Costa Rica The recent dedication of a 29th national park at Miravalles Volcano reinforces Costa Rica’s reputation as the world’s number one eco-paradise. It parades an exotic menagerie of everything from resplendent quetzal birds to red-eyed tree frogs. High on any bucket list should be the volcanic bubbling geysers and hot springs of Poas, while the parrots and macaws of Corcovado rainforest makes for Costa Rica’s best walking holiday. Dry season from December to April offers a warm winter sun escape to white-sand beaches.
2) The Norwegian fjords Etched deep into northern Europe’s mountainous terrain, Norway’s dramatic, Unesco-recognised fjords were carved by glaciers during the Ice Age, leaving narrow, steep-sided sea inlets that offer an altogether different type of cruise experience. Dramatic landscapes of precipitous granite, vertiginous waterfalls, blinding-blue waters, verdant farmlands, and pristine snow, make for some of the most celebrated scenery in all of Europe. In summer, visitors can marvel at the midnight sun, or cruise beneath the northern lights by winter.
3) Jordan Caressed by warm desert winds, the Middle East’s securest and friendliest holiday destination is a five-hour flight from London. Naturally, the mighty Rose city of Petra grabs top billing – hewn from inside a canyon by the Nabateans, and first referred to in 312BC. Less known is Jordan’s wild nature and opportunities to hike, with the forested canyons and mountainous jebels of the 650km-long Jordan Trail make for a testing walking holiday. Elsewhere, laze on the freakishly saline Dead Sea, 400metres below sea-level. Explore Wadi Rum’s Bedouin culture in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, and marvel at a multicoloured aquarium of tropical fishes and corals diving in the Red Sea at Aqaba.
4) Brazil While showier sibling Rio is a ‘cityfield’ beach resort, São Paulo is a true metropolis, thrumming with swanky fashion ateliers, art galleries, swish cocktail bars, pumping night clubs and the kind of hotels that grace coffee-table books. Spend a day wandering around the Museu de Arte de São Paulo for Manets and Modiglianis you never knew existed or Choque Cultural for cutting-edge street art. Eat a Japanese-Brazilian barbecue at restaurant of the moment Charco, then soak up Caipirinhas in ‘starchitect’ designed bars in the Jardins neighbourhoods. Later, swing your hips in the samba clubs of Madalena – rootsy, wood-floored O do Borogodo whirls after midnight. Beaches? São Paulo has some Brazil’s best: try tiny Ubatuba or Ilhabela Island, each three hours’ drive away.
5) Montenegro Less than a three-hour flight from London, Europe’s new kid on the block is well within city break range. Its USP is a delightful juxtaposition of Balkans history and a sunny Adriatic coast ideal for winter sun. Mingle with the beautiful people at Porto Montenegro and Budva – both lively beach holiday hubs boasting wealthy marinas and watersports. Kotor, meanwhile, is so enriched with medieval masterpieces and Venetian palaces it offers a welcome alternative to overcrowded Venice. Inland, sense the transcendental calm of Montenegro’s iconic Black Lake amid dramatic alpine scenery and feel giddy peering into the mighty Tara Canyon from one of Europe’s highest arched bridges.