Holiday bookings are experiencing a surge ahead of Covid travel tests being scrapped, making it a real possibility to go abroad without having to take a single test this February half-term.
Last month the UK government scrapped pre-departure tests, along with the need for travellers to self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test result. With the requirement for the day two test also being dropped from 11 February, test-free holidays for fully vaccinated Britons will soon, finally, be possible again.
On the Beach has predicted the biggest wave of holiday bookings the travel industry has seen in the past two years, with holiday sales already 150% up week on week since the start of the year.
Zoe Harris, chief customer officer at On the Beach, said: “The scrapping of test requirements will give people the peace of mind they need to book with confidence, and that extra nudge to escape the cold and grey at home in favour of a sun lounger with their name on it.”
There are 37 countries that are welcoming visitors without the requirement to take a test, but travel-testing regulations change often, so check the rules for your designated country before departure. Below we list a selection of options that still have availability for February half-term.
Andalucían warmth, Spain
February is often warm in southern Spain, and Responsible Travel has a number of family activity holidays that run all year round. The bestseller is a seven-night multi-activity trip based at an off-grid eco-hotel in Altiplano de Granada, Andalucía. The price includes a choice of three activities – horse riding, rock climbing and flamenco dancing (from £1,320 for five people half-board, responsibletravel.com). Those with older children could opt for a week’s self-guided cycling holiday in Murcia. Kids (and parents!) need to be able to cycle an average of 35km a day on cycle paths and quiet country roads (from £695 B&B including bike hire and luggage transfer, explore.co.uk). In the hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera, Andalucía, the Califa group has 10 stylish houses for rent, including Casa Badillo, which sleeps 11, for a relaxed extended family break. Vejer is a few kilometres from the Atlantic coast surfing beaches and near to two natural parks (from €1,300 for five nights, califacasas.com).
Forest hikes, cycling and winetasting, Croatia
The stone villa at the Kameni Dvori family farm near Dubrovnik is available only for exclusive rental in the summer (sleeps 11), but in February smaller families can choose to book just one or two rooms. A recent restoration has retained the exposed stone walls, wooden beams and original fireplaces, but modernised the facilities, decor and technology. Outside, the former barn is now an outdoor swimming pool, there is a games area with table football, badminton and darts, and a terrace with a dining table and barbecue. Guests can rent bikes, take a cooking class, try the owners’ homemade wines and explore the neighbouring forest to find a lookout point with views of the Adriatic. The agriturismo is 15 minutes’ drive to the airport and 30 to the city centre (doubles from €68 a night, holiday-village-konavle.com).
Cross-country by train and ski, Switzerland
Exodus has a new self-guided cross-country skiing trip in Kandersteg, a village in the Bernese Oberland, suitable for ages eight and above. There are lots of easy trails in the pine and beech forests surrounding the village, and guests have unlimited travel on local buses if they want to venture further afield (cable car tickets are extra). Families stay in a traditional, family-run hotel, which provides breakfast, packed lunches and four-course dinners, plus one five-course meal of regional specialities. It has a small indoor pool, gym and sauna, a bar with a pool table and a lounge with an open fire and board games. The local ski school offers cross-country skiing lessons if needed. From £879 for six nights, exodus.co.uk. Alternatively, Inntravel has a winter trip combining stays in Lucerne and Chur with the Glacier Express, one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys. From £1,195 per person for seven nights, inntravel.co.uk.
Bright bucolic days, Malta
Malta is peaceful during the winter months but often has some bright, sunny days – perfect for an adventurous hike or a bucolic stroll. Inntravel is offering a self-guided walking tour of Gozo, the second largest island, which takes walkers through fertile farmland towards dramatic cliffs and idyllic bays. There are also opportunities to visit neolithic temples and the island’s medieval citadel. No car is required – travelling on local buses is easy, especially with Inntravel’s (included) travel pass. From £665 for seven nights, excluding transport, inntravel.co.uk. For those who want to kick back and relax with views of the sea, Responsible Travel still has availability at a self-catering holiday home in the village of Ghajnsielem in Gozo (from £958 per week, sleeps six, responsibletravel.com).
Alpine fix, Germany
Go off the beaten track and head to the Bavarian Alps for your snow fix this half-term, a region with glistening alpine peaks, abundant wildlife, glacial lakes and thick fir forests. Snow Trex still has availability on a number of different accommodation options, including a stay at the four-star, family-friendly Hotel Bayern Vital in Bad Reichenhall, a spa town in Upper Bavaria. From £1,954 for a family of four including lift pass, snowtrex.co.uk.
Arctic wonder, Sweden
Sweden offers a winter wonderland playground in February – great for active families who love the outdoors. Brändön Lodge in the Luleå archipelago in Swedish Lapland is a real treat, offering everything from snowmobile safaris to northern light tours and dog sledding. From £2,646 for four nights for a family of four sharing a cabin, with full board and several activities, excluding travel, with Discover the World, discover-the-world.com.