Luxury versus cheap holidays 2021: tips for every budget | Skyscanner

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2020 has felt like it lasted forever, but it’s now drawing to a close. What better way to usher in 2021 than by planning a holiday? Whether you’re searching for cheap holidays or luxury holidays for 2021, or your budget falls somewhere in the middle, these destinations will get your 2021 holiday planning going.

Note: With guidelines and restrictions constantly changing, you should always check local government websites before booking any travel.

Top destinations for luxury, reasonably priced and cheap holidays 2021

Cheap holidays 2021

Planning for a budget holiday doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your trip. These sunny, European destinations are just a budget-friendly, short-haul flight away and offer a great combination of culture, nature and a low cost of living. Cheap holidays 2021 sorted.

Corfu, Greece

The island of Corfu in Greece is a great destination for Cheap holidays 2021

Corfu, a family-friendly island in the Ionian Sea, is one of the few destinations in Greece currently labelled safe for travel from the UK. With cosmopolitan Corfu Town as your base, you can explore the medieval fortresses, Venetian castles, cobblestone promenades and neoclassical palaces dotted around the island’s capital.

Must-see stops include the Church of Saint Spyridon; the Old Fortress of Corfu, built on a peninsula and connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge; Spianada Square, the second largest in Europe after the Square of Saint Mark in Venice. You should also visit Casa Parlante. It’s a living history museum with animated robotic figures, recreating the life of a 19th-century noble family. A little outside Corfu Town you’ll find the Achilleion Palace, built in 1890 for the Empress Sissy of Austria.

Corfu is full of mountainous villages to explore, bursting with olive groves, cobblestone streets and hiking trails. Winemaking is on the rise lately. Visit Theotoky Estate in Ropa Valley for its secluded charm and fine wines.

When it comes to swimming, some of the best beaches are the beach resort Paleokastritsa, the unspoiled Myrtiotissa and the sandy Agios Gordios. If you’re travelling with little ones, check out the Aqualand waterpark. Its 75,000 square metres surrounded by green forests offers a fun day for the whole family.

Granada, Spain

The Generalife palace in Granada is a great place to visit for cheap holidays 2021

There are currently restrictions when travelling to Spain from the UK, but we’re hoping things will change in 2021. And there’s really no better place to experience authentic España than Andalusia. The fairytale city of Granada can give a cheap holidays 2021 a premium feeling.

You will, of course, want to explore the famous hilltop Moorish palace of the Alhambra (‘Red Castle’ in Arabic) and its many towers, turrets and gardens. The unique tiles, carvings and stucco alone make this ninth-century complex a must on every traveller’s wishlist. If you’re not sure about where to start, you can always book a guided tour.

Regardless, be sure to stop and gawk at the Palacios Nazaríes, Europe’s most spectacular Islamic building with its perfectly proportioned courtyards, and at the Generalife Palace, with its lush and stately gardens and water fountains.

As you make your way down to the city of Granada, you’ll find the Hammam Al Andalus, at the foot of the Alhambra hill, where you can soak in traditional baths.

Granada is so much more than the Alhambra, though. Take a stroll at the Alcaiceria market, where you can shop for Fajalauza ceramics (traditional, hand-painted Moorish pottery with blue and green motifs) or Taracea wooden boxes, recognisable from the colourful, geometrical patterns on the lid. To further immerse yourself in the city’s culture, visit the Huerta de San Vicente where the Andalusian poet Federico García Lorca was born. The residence has been turned into a museum.

Granada is also famous for its nightlife, and synonymous with flamenco. A stroll to the Sacromonte cave quarter will lead you to live music and impromptu flamenco performances. To sample the local cuisine, explore the Plaza Nueva and the Plaza Bib-Rambla. You’ll find many local favourites, like Bar Poe, that serve tapas along with drinks.

If you prefer a more quiet evening, head to Calle Calderia Nueva, also known as La Calle de Las Teterias (‘tea rooms street’). There you can have your pick of Moroccan tea rooms, complete with candles, incense and floor cushions to relax on.

Valletta, Malta

When looking for cheap holidays 2021, few places can beat Malta. The island being relatively small, you can make Valletta your base and explore the rest by bike or car. There are even some self-driving electric cars called Rolling Geeks, which can take you on pre-programmed tours of Valletta and be great fun for the kids.

Valletta itself is a treat for any history lover. A UNESCO World Heritage Site with some 320 historic monuments, a walk around Valletta brings you to spectacular sights. Take in the city’s medieval walls, the Sicilian-style Palazzo Falson, the Grandmaster’s Palace (once the seat of power for the Order of the Knights of St. John, who owned the city in 1530), St Paul’s Cathedral and the 450-year-old St John’s Co-Cathedral. Don’t miss the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens.

Bear in mind that there’s not much to do in the Old City after about 8pm. But there are some great bistros, like Trabuxu, where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch or early dinner. 

Once you’re ready to venture further from the Maltese capital, you should visit Mdina. The ancient walled city will take your breath away with its medieval and baroque architecture. Do visit St. Paul’s catacombs, an extensive system of underground galleries and tombs dating back to the 3rd century CE. The Mdina Glass Blowing Factory is also worth a visit. Here you can watch the glassmakers in action and shop hand-blown glass souvenirs. 

Don’t leave Malta without paying a visit to Gozo, its neighbouring island, where the medieval fortified Cittadella transports you back in time. At the Heart of Gozo museum, you’ll have the chance to explore the island’s diverse history.

Gozo is also home to some great beaches. From the secluded bay of Mgarr ix-Xini (great for snorkelling) to the social and well-organised Marsalforn Bay, dotted with restaurants and bars, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Reasonably priced holidays in 2021

If your holiday budget falls somewhere between cheap holidays 2021 and luxury holidays, below you’ll find some meet-in-the-middle options.

Madeira, Portugal

The island of Madeira offers a reasonably priced alternative when searching for cheap holidays 2021

The sub-tropical island of Madeira in the north Atlantic Ocean is currently open to UK travellers. And although a tad more expensive than mainland Portugal, it still makes for a reasonably priced holiday destination. A great option for all-inclusive holidays 2021, from resorts such like Quinta Do Lorde Resort Hotel Marina and Pestana Bay Ocean Aparthotel you’ll have the chance to explore the volcanic island, with its banana trees, its vineyards and craggy hills.

Stroll through the capital of Funchal and admire its colonial architecture. Take in the quirky, colourful doors around the Old Town (Zona Velha), particularly around Rua de Santa Maria. Sit at one of the tavernas, like the Taberna Madeira, for a traditional meal with local fish and poncha, made with sugar cane rum and lemon juice. But if you have your heart set on madeiran wine, Madeira Wine Museum is a great place to sample it.

As for the beaches, head to the Praia da Calheta. It’s one of the few sandy beaches in Madeira, with the sand imported from North Africa.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik in Iceland is a great destination for holidays 2021

Iceland has been on our dream list for a while now. The Nordic country may be small, but packs a punch. From the Northern Lights in the winter to the Midnight Sun in the summer, the dramatic contrasts in both the light and the scenery make for an unforgettable holiday. Although Iceland is not cheap, the short-haul flight to get you there is affordable, placing the destination in a middle tier, price-wise.

The capital city, Reykjavik, is vibrant and enchanting thanks to its Nordic-cool architecture, like the triangle-shaped Hallgrimskirkja (the Lutheran parish church). Visit the futuristic-looking Harpa convention center, which also houses the Opera. To enjoy both Nordic design and Nordic cuisine at its best, head to Perlan, a fine-dining restaurant/museum with a revolving, glass-domed ceiling.

With Reykjavik as your starting point, you can head for multiple excursions into nature. The Svarfaðardalur Valley and the islets at the mouth of Eyjafjarðará River are ideal for bird watching, while the Vatnajökull National Park, with its glacier and volcanic activity, gives off major Game of Thrones vibes. As will the Þingvellir National Park, with its Almannagjá canyon that’s formed between two tectonic plates.

Iceland is also famous for its natural hot springs. At the volcanic lake Myvatn you’ll have the chance to bathe in steaming hot waters largely undiscovered by tourists. Or, if you prefer the spa version, head to the more popular geothermal spa Blue Lagoon on the Reykjanes Peninsula. 

Iceland is also a great location for whale watching. The best spots are in the north of the island, around the fishing village of Húsavík. Book a tour with a local company like Gentle Giants that can take you on a RIB speedboat to watch whales and puffins.  

Maceió, Brazil

Maceio, in the East coast of Brazil, is ideal for all-inclusive holidays 2021

Forget Rio (for now). A flight to Brazil averages at around £320, but the lesser known Maceió makes for a more affordable alternative. In Alagoas, on the East coast of Brazil, Maceió is not only affordable, but also has access to idyllic beaches in every direction. Visit the Palacio Floriano Peixoto Museum, an ornate, 19th-century building housing art deco objects and furniture, and the Maceió Metropolitan Cathedral overlooking the city. 

Or just take it easy and lounge by the sea. The best beaches in the area include the popular Ponta Verde (complete with restaurants and bars), the Praia de Pajucara with its natural pools framed by palm trees and the quiet Praia do Gunga with its coconut groves. For your all-inclusive holidays 2021, pick a resort such as Salinas Maceio All Inclusive Resort or Jatiúca Hotel & Resort.

Luxury holidays 2021

We weren’t able to travel much (if at all) in 2020. Now is your chance to reward yourself and book a luxurious, tropical holiday for 2021. You deserve it.

Oranjestad, Aruba

One of the Lesser Antilles islands in the Southern Caribbean Sea, Aruba is home to some spectacular, sandy beaches and warm, humid weather all year long. Visit San Nicolas, Aruba’s second largest city. There, alongside artisan shops, colourful murals, art galleries and live calypso music, you’ll find the dreamy Baby Beach. The wide crescent of powdery white sand took its name from its calm waters, that make it ideal even for babies to swim in. If you don’t have any babies with you, head to Charlie’s Bar afterwards. It’s been a local institution since the 1940s. 

Near the capital of Oranjestad, you’ll find Eagle Beach, another great swathe of soft sand that’s consistently voted among the best beaches in the world. In Oranjestad you’ll also find The Renaissance Aruba Resort, where you can lounge with flamingos on the beach of its private island. Talk about all-inclusive holidays 2021.

On the eastern side of the island you’ll find Arikok National Park. It covers 20 per cent of Aruba with its desert-like hills covered with cacti, impressive caves and natural pools. There are gorgeous beaches here as well (this is Aruba, after all). Head to the Prins Bay for stunning white sands and rock formations, or to Dos Playa for surfing and water sports.

Paradise Island, The Bahamas

The Paradise Island at The Bahamas makes for a perfect destination for your luxury holidays 2021

The Bahamas has about 700 islands, but for the perfect luxury holiday 2021 look no further than Paradise Island. A tiny island just a stone’s throw away from Nassau, at Paradise Island you can immerse yourself at the many offerings of the Atlantis complex. There are several resorts to choose from, such as The Royal at Atlantis and The Cove at Atlantis

But the most memorable features of Atlantis are outside of the hotel. There’s Dolphin Cay, one of the world’s largest marine-mammal habitats, where you can swim with dolphins that were rescued and rehabilitated after Hurricane Katrina. And to keep kids happy, head to Aquaventure. The 141-acre water park features endless Atlantis-themed towers and water slides plus 20 swimming areas. 

When you feel ready to leave your little corner of Paradise (pun intended), head to Nassau at the neighbouring New Providence island. Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and brimming with diverse culture, history and gastronomy. To experience the latter at its most authentic, book a tour with Tru Bahamian Food Tours. You can also visit a rum distillery such as John Watling’s Distillery and hang out with flamingos at the Ardastra Gardens and Wildlife Conservation Centre.

Nassau and New Providence Island are also home to some great sandy beaches. Visit the endless Cable Beach (that’s taken its name because of its thin, wide shape), the lively Junkanoo beach and Saunders Beach where cool food stands line the turquoise waters.

Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a great location for island-hopping and perfect for luxury holidays 2021. With Tenerife as your base you can explore the volcanic terrain and tropical nature. For a super-luxurious experience, stay at the Iberostar Heritage Grand Mencey or in the Palacio de Daoiz Lofts in Santa Cruz.

When it comes to exploring the great outdoors, visit Mount Teide National Park to hike Spain’s highest mountain peak. You can also take a cable car to the top and snap panoramic views of the surrounding islands. In Costa Adeje, you’ll find the quirky Siam Park, a water park that boasts ‘the largest collection of Thai buildings outside of Thailand’. Or trek the caves of Cueva del Viento and explore the underground tunnels and lava tubes. 

You should also spend some time at San Cristobal de la Laguna, a charming city that oozes 16th- and 18th-century charm. It’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the city’s grid was used as a blueprint for cities like Cartagena in Colombia and Havana in Cuba. Here you can visit the Cathedral of La Laguna, the Iglesia de la Concepcion and the Palacio de Nava. 

Of course Tenerife, and the Canary Islands in general, has some amazing beaches. Head to the golden-sanded Medano beach for windsurfing and kitesurfing, or explore the popular Teresitas beach, surrounded by laurel forests and palm trees. If you’re craving something more exclusive, at Playa del Duque you can sip cocktails on your lounger and walk along the palm-lined seafront. Luxury holidays 2021, sorted.

So there you have it. From cheap holidays 2021 to luxury destinations and everything in between, these destinations will get you dreaming, and maybe even planning, for next year’s trip. Just remember to always check government guidelines as restrictions are constantly changing.

Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

Is it wise to book my holidays 2021 early?

Travel planning in 2021 will look a bit different. But with Skyscanner’s handy tools that allow you to look for flexible bookings and free cancellations, you can safely book cheap holidays early.

Is Tenerife open to travel from the UK?

Yes. Tenerife, as well as seven other Canary Islands, has been added to the government’s travel corridor list, due to a drop in confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, you should always consult local government guidelines before booking travel.

How will I know if my chosen destination for holidays 2021 becomes open for travel again?

Consult Skyscanner’s colour-coded global map that’s checked daily. 
Based on your origin country, we’ll show you which countries are open, partially open and closed for now, as well as those that haven’t made any information available. You can also subscribe to travel updates for your destination of choice. We’ll send you an email as soon as we discover changes to entry or quarantine requirements.

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