12 destinations for 2021 we’re adding to the bucket list immediately

Travel isn’t exactly on the cards at the moment (thanks, Covid). However, while 2020 saw holidays cancelled and global restrictions imposed, the news of vaccines being rolled out is offering up a glimmer of hope for getaways in 2021.

We could all do with a bit of escapism right now – and there’s no harm in dreaming about where you’d like to go when restrictions do lift and travel is once again possible.

For those after a dose of wanderlust we’ve rounded up some of the top destinations well worth bookmarking for 2021, whether you’re after a once-in-a-lifetime trip or just after some ideas to get planning.

So grab a cup of tea, get cosy on the sofa and just for a moment, let yourself dream of future adventures…

1. Costa Rica

Girl walking on hanging bridge in Monteverde, Costa Rica

If you’re after a holiday that’s packed with adventure, then Costa Rica needs to be on your radar. Its landscape offers everything from spectacular golden beaches to dense rainforests – including one rainforest where you can quite literally walk through misty clouds.

White water rafting, jungle treks and hotels hidden away in remote locations are all just some of the experiences to be had.

We’ve got a guide to the best things to see and do in Costa Rica to help get you started – and with so many epic landscapes on offer, we’ve also rounded up the best national parks that need to be on any intrepid explorer’s bucket list.

Where to find future holidays:TUI, British Airways and Trailfinders all offer packages, while Mercury Holidays has a range of escorted tours to the breathtaking hotspot.

2. Norway

Northern lights (aurora borealis) illuminate the sky over Reinfjorden in Reine, on Lofoten Islands
Aurora Borealis

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights, then Norway could be the ideal location for you; it’s filled with brilliant places for Aurora spotting.

If the Aurora isn’t on your list, then there’s still plenty to explore; the Norwegian Fjords are particularly spectacular in the spring and autumn months. We’ve got a guide to the prettiest Norwegian Fjords for an extra dose of wanderlust.

Oh, and if you are thinking of a trip to Norway in the future you may also want to check out our round-up of the 11 most amazing places to stay from Arctic hideouts to woodland cabins.

Where to find future holidays:Inghams and Newmarket Holidays both offer some exciting itineraries to Norway. Cruises can also be a good way to explore – ROL Cruise can be a good source for finding these both for the fjords and Northern Lights.

3. Japan

A couple wearing traditional Japanese kimonos, walking through a long series of inscribed Torii gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha
A couple wearing traditional Japanese kimonos, walking through a long series of inscribed Torii gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha

Japan is filled with amazing places to explore whether you’re looking for ancient castles, breathtaking temples or mountainous landscapes. Tokyo is a must-visit for anyone after a bustling city, not to mention it has iconic spots from the Kabukicho District with its neon signs, or the awe-inspiring Shibuya Crossing.

Meanwhile, theme park fans and Nintendo fans will want to bookmark the new Super Nintendo World that’s opening its doors in February complete with a real-life Mario Kart ride.

Oh, and of course come spring there are some incredible places to see cherry blossoms as they bloom amidst some already beautiful landscapes.

Where to find future holidays: Escorted tours can be a great way to see the highlights and learn about the country’s incredible culture. Mercury Holidays, Leger Holidays and Wendy Wu Tours all offer a wide array of different itineraries.

4. Malta

Valetta city buildings with birds flying over them in Malta
Valetta city buildings with birds flying over them in Malta

Beautiful architecture? Check. Golden sandy beaches? Check. A brilliant foodie scene? Check.

Whether you’re looking to explore the medieval fortified city Mdina, unearth some of the Game of Thrones filming locations, wander through the streets of capital Valletta, see the Blue Grotto or take a trip to Malta’s sister island Gozo, you won’t be stuck for things to do on a trip to Malta.

For something a little different, make sure to check out the Popeye village – the village was built entirely as a set for 1980 film Popeye starring Robin Williams, but nowadays it’s a family-friendly theme park.

Where to find future holidays:Mercury Holidays, Chevron, Jet2holidays and Loveholidays are all great sources for Malta holidays no matter what your budget.

5. Canada

Lake Louise in Banff national Park,Alberta,Canada
Lake Louise, Alberta

Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver are just some of the epic cities to explore in Canada, but there’s something extra magical about the country’s national parks and lakes if you’re looking for a once in a lifetime trip.

There are some seriously amazing lakes that look like they belong in fairytales, as well as boasting fascinating history – the ‘ shipwreck capital of Canada ‘ is a must-visit for a start.

There’s plenty of quirky accommodation on offer too, whether you’re interested in getting a private island to yourself or staying in a rotating home where you control the views from your room.

(A side note for Schitt’s Creek fans – you can explore plenty of the show’s locations including a glimpse of the spot used for the Rosebud motel).

Where to find future holidays:Canadian Affair has everything from cheap flight and hotel packages to fly-drive itineraries whether you’re after the famous landmarks or looking to go off the beaten path.

6. Italy

The colourful buildings in Cinque Terre in Italy
Cinque Terre in Italy

Italy has everything from incredible city breaks to beautiful landscapes, so it’s no surprise that it’s already been a firm favourite with holidaymakers for decades.

There’s the Amalfi Coast with its scenic walking trails, coastal views and colourful villages ( Positano is always a hit), while Lake Como and Lake Garda always draw in an A-list crowd thanks to the beautiful hotels, delicious food and picture-perfect backdrops.

Tempted by a city break? Top of the list is Rome of course with its historic sites from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum, but then there’s also Venice with its gondolas and canals, the architecture in Florence and the tempting fashion scene in Milan.

Where to find future holidays:TUI, First Choice and Lastminute.com are good sources for flight and hotel deals, while TravelSupermarket is useful for comparing prices especially if you can be flexible with your travel dates.

7. South Africa

Two leopards on tree watch tourists in a jeep

South Africa offers up a cornucopia of things to do whether you’re exploring one of the nature reserves and looking out for wildlife on a safari drive, taking in the views from Table Mountain, or exploring the bustling city of Cape Town.

It’s one of the countries that’s home to Africa’s Big Five animals – Kruger National Park is a particular hit with visitors.

If it’s Cape Town you’re thinking of exploring, we’ve got a Cape Town guide to the best things to see and do in the city.

(If you’re hoping to tick a safari off your bucket list, you can get a temporary fix thanks to these daily livestreamed safari drives ).

Where to find future holidays:British Airways and Virgin Holidays both offer flights and packages to South Africa.

8. Jamaica

Dr Caves beach in Jamaica's Montego Bay
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Jamaica is famous for its breathtaking beaches, with their white sand shores, crystalline and swim-friendly waters, and seriously beautiful backdrops.

There’s Seven Mile Beach where you’ll find plenty of resorts, James Bond Beach (some of the 007 films have been shot here), and even the picturesque Frenchman’s Cove. (We’ve done some of the leg work for you and searched out the best beaches not to miss ).

There are heaps of hotels offering all-inclusive stays, but it’s worth also exploring the island whether to see the breathtaking Blue Lagoon or discovering Jamaica’s iconic foodie scene (and sampling some of that world-famous rum of course!).

Where to find future holidays:TUI, First Choice and Virgin Holidays can be good sources for all-inclusive breaks.

9. Greek Islands

Santorini island, Greece. Oia town traditional white houses and churches with blue domes over the Caldera, Aegean sea.
A view of Oia on the Greek Island of Santorini

The Greek Islands offer up some very different holiday experiences -which is often why they’re so popular with visitors who keep coming back.

For example, families often flock to the likes of Rhodes and Crete where there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts and fun activities, Corfu offers up a relaxed getaway, Mykonos tends to draw in quite the party crowd, and Santorini never fails to be a hit with couples after a romantic getaway.

We’ve got a dedicated Greek Islands guide to help you choose the right spot for the holiday you’re after.

Where to find future holidays: It depends on the island you choose (our guide mentioned above has island-specific recommendations) but brands such as Jet2holidays, First Choice and Loveholidays all offer a wide range of packages to various islands.

10. Thailand

Traditional wooden boat in a picture perfect tropical bay on Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand, Asia.
Traditional wooden boat in a picture perfect tropical bay on Koh Phi Phi Island

There are so many incredible things to see and do in Thailand whether you’re looking to explore picturesque islands, take in views of awe-inspiring temples, sample street food, or simply want to relax on one of those white sand beaches.
To make life a little easier, we’ve rounded up some of the best places not to miss for an unforgettable adventure.

For more inspiration you may also want to check out our Thailand Holidays page which we update with destinations and tips for those planning a trip.

Where to find future holidays:Hayes and Jarvis and Mercury Holidays both offer a wide range of tours which are ideal if you want to go exploring the best sights.

11. Peru

A view of Machu Picchu in Peru
A view of Machu Picchu

When it comes to ticking places off the bucket list, it’s fair to say that one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is likely to feel all that more special.

Machu Picchu offers just that – not to mention the 15th century Incan citadel has fascinating ruins and breathtaking views.

While Machu Picchu is arguably the biggest draw, it’s only one of many exciting places to visit in Peru – we’ve rounded up more places to add to your itinerary.

Where to find future holidays:Intrepid Travel and G Adventures both have some brilliant Peru tours including Machu Picchu and walking the Inca trail.

12. Canary Islands

Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, Puerto Rico, Playa de Los Amadores
A view of Gran Canaria’s Puerto Rico and the beach

The Canaries have it all; year-round sunshine, beautiful sandy beaches, family-friendly resorts, all-inclusive deals, water parks, shops, restaurants. They’re a firm favourite with Brits, and it’s not difficult to see why.

These islands offer up a classic ‘sun, sea and sand’ combo, and they’re on our list because we can’t wait for the days when we can start planning summer breaks here again! (If you’ve never been or you’re not sure which island to choose, our Canary Islands guide can help you decide which island is right for the type of holiday you’re after).

Where to find future holidays:Thomas Cook, Jet2holidays, easyJet Holidays and TUI offer packages catering to a wide range of budgets. Meanwhile, Icelolly can be useful for comparing package prices if you can be flexible with travel dates.

  • Travel restrictions continue to apply throughout the pandemic. Always check the latest FCDO advice for a destination before planning, booking or going on a trip.