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10 dream holiday destinations for a post-pandemic break

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready

A dream holiday might be the perfect way to celebrate the end of lockdown. After being stuck at home for over a year, the idea of visiting somewhere new and exciting is something to look forward to.

Obviously that first post-pandemic break will be super special, no matter where you go. But, if lockdown has taught us anything, it’s not to take things for granted. Why not head off on the trip of a lifetime as soon as it’s safe?

At the moment, travelling for holidays is not allowed and restrictions are in place for the foreseeable future. It’s essential to check the government’s travel advice before you book and fly. It’s also a good idea to book flexible tickets and read up on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled. That way, if things do change, you’ll be prepared. And whatever happens, these dreamiest of destinations will be waiting when this is all over.

Top 10 dream holidays

Two young girls watching the sunset in Croatia

Need inspiration? These are some of the most dream-worthy holiday destinations around the world. From bustling cities with incredible nightlife to paradise islands with secret beaches, there’s something for every traveller. Although you can’t visit them right now, you can add them to your hitlist for when life gets back to normal.

  1. The Maldives
  2. New York, USA
  3. Queenstown, New Zealand
  4. Barbados, The Caribbean
  5. Petra, Jordan
  6. Iceland
  7. Bali, Indonesia
  8. Dubai, UAE
  9. Tulum, Mexico
  10. Kruger National Park, South Africa

The Maldives

Sun loungers looking out to sea in The Maldives. In the background are over-water bungalows and the foreground features a swimming pool

If you’re looking for paradise, The Maldives is about as close as it gets. The small country is made up of thousands of small islands, scattered across crystal lagoons in the Indian Ocean. It’s a luxurious holiday destination, and a popular one among honeymooners.

Although there are some budget guesthouses on the main island, Male, most tourists head to the resorts. These sit on their own private islands and have secluded white sand beaches just for their guests. Accommodation is usually idyllic bungalows perched above the shallow waters. Aside from soaking up the tropical sun, activities include snorkelling through the reefs and sipping sparkling wine on a sunset cruise.

New York, USA

Dream holiday destination New York as seen from Central Park

The city that never sleeps is a dream holiday destination for city breakers. The famous streets already feel familiar, thanks to films and TV, but there’s so much to discover. You’ll find bright lights and Broadway shows in the theatre district, and a moment of peace in Central Park. There are big-name shops on Fifth Avenue, quirky boutiques in the East Village and hipster flea markets across the bridge in Brooklyn.

Although it’s tempting to hail one of those iconic yellow cabs, traffic is often gridlocked. Pack your comfiest trainers and go for a wander instead. As for dining and nightlife, there are few cities that can compare with what’s on offer in the Big Apple. This melting-pot city has it all, from $1 pizza slices to high-end fine dining.  

Queenstown, New Zealand

Aerial view of Queenstown in New Zealand, a dream holiday destination with mountains and lakes

New Zealand has had a doors-closed policy for most of the pandemic, but we can’t wait for it to open up again. If you’re in the mood for post-pandemic excitement, base yourself in Queenstown. The city prides itself on being the adventure capital of New Zealand and there are plenty of ways to get your adrenaline pumping in the nearby mountains and lakes.

Go rock climbing in the Southern Alps, whitewater rafting on the Kawarau and Shotover rivers or try your hand at backcountry skiing. For a more relaxed adventure, hire a bike and tackle the Lake Wakitipu trail. This mostly flat route follows New Zealand’s longest lake, with plenty of beer stops along the way.  

Barbados, The Caribbean

Turquoise sea and stony beach backed by forested mountains in Barbados, a dream holiday destination in the Caribbean

Bright sunshine, coconut trees and rum punch cocktails make Barbados a dream holiday destination for any beach lover. Go swimming with turtles at Payne’s Bay, stand-up paddle boarding at Pebbles Beach or simply enjoy the calm turquoise waters of Paradise Beach. There are plenty of luxurious all-inclusive hotels to choose from, especially on the west coast.

One of the joys of Barbados is discovering the local gems. You can’t visit without grabbing a drink at a colourful rum shop, or a bite to eat from one of the many fish shacks dotted around the coast.

Petra, Jordan

The ruins of Petra in Jordan: a beautiful building carved into the desert rock, dwarving tourists in the foreground

Half built and half carved into rose-coloured mountains, the ancient city of Petra has to be seen to be believed. During Roman times it was a major stop-off point on the Spice Route. Caravans would pass through with silks from China, spices from India and incense from Arabia.

Today, you can unleash your inner adventurer as you walk through the Lost City and its towering buildings with their elaborate facades. You’ll understand exactly why it was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Buy a two- or three-day pass, base yourself in the nearby resort town of Wadi Musa and prepare to be awestruck.


Steam rising off a river in Iceland, surrounded by bright green mossy grass with hills in the background

The land of ice and fire, Iceland embodies nature in all its glory. Towering volcanoes spit lava, while geysers shoot boiling hot water into the freezing cold air. Natural hot springs stud the landscape, providing a therapeutic place for a dip, and by night the Northern Lights spread their eerie glow across the sky.

No trip to Iceland would be complete without hiring a car and driving its famous ring road. Explore quaint fishing villages, go whale watching and spend some time seeking out the ice fields and thundering waterfalls of the island’s interior. Capital city Reykjavik, with its colourful wooden buildings, is surprisingly cosmopolitan. Spend some time in the Laugavegur neighbourhood with its vintage shops, Scandi design boutiques and record stores.  

Bali, Indonesia

A temple in Bali, jutting out into a placid lake with with atmospheric misty mountains in the background

Spirituality meets hedonism in Bali, a dream holiday destination for so many reasons. Start the day with a sunrise yoga session by the sea, spend all day lounging on idyllic beaches and then watch the sun set from the summit of the Gunung Batur volcano.

You can swap your lockdown channel-surfing for actual surfing on the Bukit peninsula, which is known for its wild waves. Or you can get up close and personal with the wildlife at Ubud’s Monkey Forest. And of course there’s the nightlife. Bali has plenty of beach clubs, buzzy bars and cool cafés where you can sip a cocktail while DJs spin ambient beach tunes.

Dubai, UAE

The skyline of dream destination Dubai sits in the background, while turquoise water and a white palm-fringed beach are in the foreground

When it comes to luxurious city breaks, it’s hard to beat Dubai. The desert city is famous for its high-end shopping malls, beautiful beaches and obsession with excess. Go on a 4×4 adventure in the desert, shop for discount designer clothes at an outlet centre and then treat yourself to a nightcap in one of the rooftop hotel bars.

Kick off the weekend at Friday brunch – a Dubai institution hosted by many luxury hotels. Expect DJ sets, free-flowing champagne and several buffet tables piled high with dishes crying out for an Instagram post. For local flavour, head to the markets of Deira. Haggle over shimmering jewellery at the gold souk, stock up on colourful spices at the spice souk or treat yourself to a signature fragrance at the perfume souk. Just bear in mind that the UAE is currently on the UK’s red list, meaning that travel to the UK from there requires a stay in a quarantine hotel on your return.

Tulum, Mexico

Mayan ruins overlooking the turquoise waters and a quiet beach in Tulum, Mexico

One of the most chic resorts in Mexico, Tulum is a dream holiday destination for those who like a beach break with a side of culture. Eco-tourism and sustainability are big here, which is why the town has a unique jungle-meets-beach vibe. Mayan ruins are a short bike ride from town, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, and are well worth exploring.

Another unique feature of the Yucatan peninsula is its cenotes, or sinkholes. Filled with deep, cool water, they’re perfect for swimming and scuba diving. Or, if you prefer open water, you can strap on a snorkel and swim with sea turtles at the beach in Akumal. Back in town you can take your relaxation up a notch by taking part in Temazcal Ceremony – a Mayan mindfulness ritual that takes place in a sweat lodge.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

A group of springbok stare inquisitively at the camera, hinting at the animal encounters one can expect in Kruger National Park

Going on safari and seeing the big five (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and Cape buffalo) is a dream holiday for lots of people. One of the best places to do it is in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. If you’re on a budget, you can hire a car see to what you can see on an amble through the sprawling grassland.

But for a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider booking into an all-inclusive game reserve. These often include luxury accommodation, three meals per day and multiple game drives with experienced trackers. This can be expensive, but three days – with a sunrise and sunset drive – should be enough. Bear in mind that South Africa is also currently on the UK’s red list for travel.

Are you ready to plan for your dream holiday?

Although we’re unlikely to be jetting off any time soon, the act of planning can boost your happiness levels. It’s nice to have a holiday to daydream about – even if it might be next year. So, where will it be?

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