The places we hope we’ll be visiting in 2021

With all but essential travel banned for travel from the UK and restrictions in movement around the tiers, it’s time to look ahead and get planning for later in 2021.

The Maldives are always a dream destination and now wellness therapies come with the views at Vakkaru Maldives.
The Maldives are always a dream destination and now wellness therapies come with the views at Vakkaru Maldives.

With the vaccine offering a glimmer of hope, armchair travellers can draw up a bucket list, even if jumping on a plane seems a world away right now. 2020 was the year of the staycation when we discovered what we’ve been missing right on our doorstep and we’ll be hitting the home hotspots even more this year.

Staycation Scotland

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

If far flung seems out of our reach, staycations continue to boom and Scotland is the place to stay as we rediscover our own country. With mountains and beaches, our backyard is beautiful and our beaches world-class, which is why Lossiemouth East Beach made it onto the top 50 most photographed beaches in the world on Instagram, the only UK beach to do so. Top slots went to Miami Beach in Florida and Venice Beach in California, with Bondi Beach in Australia close behind, but the Moray town was up there at number 48 with 50,421 posts.

The Scotrail 156 super sprinter crosses the head of Loch Awe on the Glasgow-Oban line, near Dalmally, Argyll.

Try the Golf View Hotel (Stotfield Rd, Lossiemouth IV31 6QS, 01343 812040) for a close up of that view.

For a wifi free Highland experience where you can enjoy the views of the Cairngorms in peace, head to Highland Shepherd Huts at Nethy Bridge with your household bubble, a hamper of treats and a pair of walking boots.

See www.highlandshepherdhuts.co.uk for prices and availability.

Take the train

The Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Lake Constance, Germany has launched a new Immunity + programme on top of its ten-day and shorter non-fasting stays, and three and seven night health-focused breaks at the clinic which first developed its methods more than 100 years ago.

If you prefer to sit back and watch the scenery stream by your window, why not discover Scotland by jumping on a train. Choose the routes you fancy and make up your own itinerary, or let Planet Rail do it for you with their ten night tour. Starting with two nights in Glasgow and joining the West Highland Line or ‘Iron Road to the Isles’, considered one of the greatest rail journeys in the world, it’s on to Oban then Fort William, with a crossing of the ‘Harry Potter’ Glenfinnan viaduct and Mallaig with its views of the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg and Muck. Between April and October Planet Rail offers the Fort William to Mallaig leg on the Jacobite steam-hauled service (supplement from £40pp). The tour ends with two nights in Edinburgh. Price: from £995pp based on 2 sharing, inc. 10 nights’ B&B.

Scotland by Rail, from £950 per person, https://www.planetrail.co.uk/

Bucket trip wishlist

Japan was on everyone’s list last year and with the Tokyo Olympics currently delayed to summer 2021, this might be the year to go. The Japanese architect of our very own V&A Dundee Kengo Kuma, is also responsible for rebuilding the Games centrepiece Japan National Stadium. That’s not the only place in the city where you can see his work as he also redesigned the Capitol Hotel with its foyer inspired by a traditional shrine, and 2020 saw the opening of his museum for the Meiji Jingu shrine.

Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Line or ‘Iron Road to the Isles’, considered one of the greatest rail journeys in the world.

For current prices at The Capitol see https://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com/

The Maldives are always a dream holiday destination and 2020 at the moment it’s on the UK travel corridor list. As well as the barefoot, unplugged appeal, Instagrammable views, villas on stilts over crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches, year round sunshine and exotic marine life of the Indian Ocean, providers are introducing new wellbeing elements to add to their appeal. Vakkaru Maldives has new Ayurveda programmes, available from three days to a fortnight, as well as their immune boosting therapy and chakra sessions. Or you can just lie back in your hammock, swing between two palm trees and appreciate the beauty of the postcard perfect Baa Atoll setting.

For latest deals and prices see https://www.vakkarumaldives.com/

Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven-night all-inclusive stay staying at the five-star Atmosphere Kanifushiin the Maldives from £2,745 per person. The price includes complimentary speedboat transfers, complimentary airport lounge access and return flights from London Gatwick.

V&A Dundee's architect Kengo Kuma has numerous buildings to visit in Japan, including the Capitol Hotel in Tokyo.

Go Offgrid

Offgrid and off-the-beaten-track are on in 2021 as the stresses of working from home see travellers desperate to unplug and explore away from crowds. Namibia has the scenery and the wildlife, with the chance to capture the ‘big five’ through a camera lens. Camping safaris off the normal tourist route in the remote and isolated regions of the northwest of the country are the answer, with 11 nights glamping and one night in a hotel. Visit the Twyfelfontein, an area with the most San Bushman engravings in Africa, the Palmwag Concession nature reserve with its black rhinos and Etosha National Park, where wildlife outnumber people: desert elephants, lions, leopards, zebras and giraffes.  

Exodus Travels (exodus.co.uk) has a 14-night Namibia 4WD Desert Safari holiday from £3,949 per person, including B&B accommodation, international flights from London, meals as per the itinerary, all internal transport and transfers and activities as listed in the itinerary.

Wellness holidays

Travel with a touch of therapy is ticking the boxes in 2021, from yoga to art therapy and forest bathing. The Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Lake Constance, Germany has launched a new Immunity + programme on top of its ten-day and shorter non-fasting stays, and three and seven night health-focused breaks at the clinic which first developed its methods more than 100 years ago.

Bothan hut interior, Highland Shepherd Huts, Nethy Bridge.

Aimed at strengthening body and mind, the Immunity+ Programme aims to reduce risk factors for severe cases of coronavirus and chronic disease such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, liver disorders, and to boost the immune system.

The new programme includes analysis of coronavirus status taken with a throat swab and individual risk analysis (anamnesis, physical check-up, blood test including metabolic risk profile, a plan to strengthen body, psyche and immune system. Further checks and programmes offered focus on blood pressure, stress, pulmonary function, micronutrient infusion, individual hiking and smoking cessation.

Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic, Germany, rates: 10-day fasting programmes from £2,340 per person. The price includes two consultations with a doctor, daily nurse check ups, food/drink, fasting provisions and daily activities. Shorter, non-fasting stays are also available from £218 per night. 3- and 7-night health-focused breaks are also bookable. www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com

European break

Europe is our most searched destination right now, for short city breaks when restrictions allow and Amsterdam and Paris are always popular but how about visiting Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. Go a little further with the Diamond Circle, a new touring route in North Iceland, which opened in October and connects some of its most spectacular sites, such as Goðafoss waterfall, Mývatn lake, Dettifoss waterfall, Ásbyrgi canyon, and the town of Húsavík. Easy to get to from Scotland, the land of fire and ice awaits.

Three-day adventure – Travel North offers a three day Diamond Circle Adventure tour from £1,110 per person, including pick up and drop off, transportation and private guide, two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, lunches, entrance to Mývatn Nature Baths and GeoSea, entrance to Húsavík Whale Museum and Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum and one activity depending on seasons.

Day trip – Nonni Travel offers a nine hour Diamond Circle – Dettifoss and Mývatn tour from £145 per person. Price includes a tour guide, accommodation pick up and transportation.

Jet2.com and Jet2CityBreaks have a new programme of trips from Scotland for next winter, taking in Reykjavik, the Northern Lights, geothermal lagoons, spas and waterfalls with flight-only or package holiday options.

Edinburgh – two trips available, including a 4-night weekend trip on 14–18 October 2021 and a 3-night midweek trip, 18–21 April 2022. Glasgow – five trips in total, including a 4-night weekend trip on 7–11 October 2021, a 3-night midweek trip on 11–14 October 2021, a 3-night midweek trip on 7–10 February 2022, a 3-night midweek trip on 28 February–3 March 2022 and a 4-night weekend trip on 31 March–4 April 2022.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

The Coorie hut, Highland Shepherd Huts, Nethy Bridge.
The purpose-built interior of the Coorie hut, Highland Shepherd Huts, Nethy Bridge.