Ranking the green list: 
 All 13 green destinations 

Where's on the new green list?

The UK government's initial green list included just 12 destination (though of course pretty much everywhere is expected to open up by summer). One of those, Portugal, was removed in the first review at the start of June; and two more, Jersey and Ireland, are in practice green because they are part of the Common Travel Area. We take a look at the 13 green (or de facto green) destinations and see which are viable for holidays.

If you'd rather see the all the places that plan to reopen for the summer, head over to our "where's open?" guide. And remember (a) from May 17 it's legal to fly anywhere that'll let you in, not just the green list and (b) the green list is only going to get bigger as summer rolls on.

13. St Helena, Ascension Islands and Tristan da Cuhna

12. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands

11. The Falkland Islands

10. The Faroe Islands

9. Brunei

8. Singapore

7. Australia

6. New Zealand

5. Israel

4. Ireland

3. Iceland

2. Gibraltar

1. Jersey

Where's going to be open for summer?

Lots more places to travel in 2021

13. St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cuhna

In clear 13th (and last) place for holiday feasibility is the administrative territory of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cuhana, three widely-spaced clusters of islands in the Atlantic run as a single administrative area. The very least accessible of the three is Tristan da Cuhna.

Tristan dan Cuhna

Tristan da Cuhna, described by Wikipedia as "the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world", is home to 271 people living 1500 miles from Cape Town, 1300 miles from St Helena (its nearest neighbour) and 2500 miles from the Falklands. It has no airstrip of its own and is ordinarily accessible by (very occasional) supply boat, a (roughly and somewhat changeable) seven-day voyage from Cape Town. The climate is notable for almost no sunshine, perpetual rain and strong winds; there is one pub (The Albatross) that according to visitor accounts appears to open largely at whim; and both guidebooks and the local government are at pains to make it clear that there is almost nothing for visitors to do on the island except revel in the unrivalled peace and quiet.

Tristan da Cuhna

The Tristan da Cuhna archipelago is made up of multiple islands, which include a rock literally called "Inaccessible Island" some thirty more miles away, which is very occasionally visited by adventurers who, perhaps, didn't find getting to Tristan da Cuhna itself enough of a challenge.

Ascension Island

Ascension Island sits about two and half thousand miles north of Tristan da Cuhna, roughly halfway between Africa and Brazil. The island has at various times been served by air routes from the UK, from South Africa (sometimes via Cape Verde) and even by an inter-island air shuttle taking passengers between the island and St Helena. During the pandemic it has been served instead by supply flights from RAF Brize Norton. There appears to be no way of visiting the island recreationally at the moment, though at other times attractions have included fishing and "the worst golf course in the world". While the island consists primarily of military bases there is one hotel so it is in theory possible under normal circumstances to visit recreationally, with some difficulty and the advance permission of the local authorities.

St Helena

St Helena, by far the most accessible of the three islands in this cluster, is nonetheless so remote that it is best known as the island upon which Napoleon was imprisoned in the C19th so as to guarantee the impossibility of escape.

St Helena from space

Image: NASA, used under a creative commons license

Until 2018 almost all visitors to the island arrived aboard the Royal Mail Ship St Helena. The ship was decommissioned in 2018, at which point a new airport become the main way of arriving on the island. For a while the airport hosted semi-regular flights from South Africa, but these of course largely ceased during the pandemic. Even at the best of times 60-kmph tailwinds make landing at St Helena's airport so challenging that it has been called one of the most dangerous airports in the world, and planes are accustomed to taking several hair-raising attempts to land.

The St Helena tourism authorities had ambitious plans to attract 25,000 visitors a year by 2025, but at the absolute peak of its tourist popularity (in February 2020) 242 tourists visited the island. This number fell to almost zero during the pandemic - like Tristan da Cuhna and Ascension Island, St Helena is currently closed to visitors.

12. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands

In 12th place, and stretching the definition of "territory" to absolute breaking point, South Georgia is a 100-mile-long rock in the Atlantic Ocean with no permanent population, no airbase, no scheduled passenger ferries or flights and a national economy worth about £4.5m a year (roughly the income of a modestly successful village post office).

To visit South Georgia, one must therefore first fly to the Falkland Islands, a journey which presents its own challenges (see below) and then take a boat. The only way for most people to visit is five days' sailing from the Falklands on a cruise ship which then necessarily doubles as accommodation on arrival. Under normal circumstances it's not uncommon for cruise ships to extend a voyage from the Falklands to South Georgia, though of course during the pandemic these sailings have ceased.

The climate is polar, meaning temperatures sit around zero for most of the year, plunging below during the winter.

The Sandwich Islands, yet another 350 miles off South Georgia, are altogether less hospitable and even more trouble to reach. Completely uninhabited and not normally visited even by cruise ships, it is not clear how even the most determined visitor would hope to get to them without their own boat and crew, so their inclusion on the UK government's green list should be considered a largely hypothetical matter.

Where can I really go on holiday?

From the start of June, much of Europe is open to UK visitors

And later in the summer, we expect restrictions on coming home to ease too - see details below

11. The Falkland Islands

Flying to the Falklands from Chile is normally straightforward when a weekly commercial flight runs from Santiago de Chile to the islands. (However Chile is not itself on the green list, so this may not currently help, and the route from Chile to the Falklands is in any case suspended until October 2021.) Starting instead from the UK, one flies to the Falklands not via a commercial airport but on the twice-weekly flight operating from RAF Brize Norton (for a fixed fee of £2,222 per adult, half for children). Currently flights are limited to essential travel, mainly for residents and their families only, as determined by the Falkland Island government, and are not therefore open to holidaymakers.

Cruise ships also visit the islands ordinarily, mainly in the southern hemisphere summer between October and March (next sailings would ordinarily therefore be in approximately six months) - currently these too have been interrupted by the pandemic.

More than 40 hotels and guest houses are listed on the Falkland Islands, mostly in the capital, Port Stanley, plus a dozen or so bars and cafes. The local tourist board describe the islands as "one of the last great wilderness adventures", and the main draw for visitors appears to be the wildlife, historical battlefields, and of course the sheer perverse joy of travelling to somewhere so inaccessible and then telling people about it back home.

10. The Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands

Halfway between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are normally just an hour's flight from Edinburgh (or a 36-hour ferry from Denmark). Currently no passenger planes appear to be listed flying to the islands.

While excitingly remote, the Faroe islands offer good hotels and restaurants for travellers. More than 100 restaurants are listed on the Visit Faroe website; with so much fresh fish on the islands there is one sushi restaurant; and if you inexplicably miss the global monoculture while you're here a Burger King has even appeared in the capital.

Faroe Islands

As a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the islands fall under the general Danish requirement for visitors to declare a "worthy purpose" to visit (effectively prohibiting tourism). As soon as Denmark opens up to holidays though, it's expected that we'll be able to visit the green-listed Faroe Islands too.

The Green Green Green list

Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.

9. Brunei

Brunei is a tiny independent Sultanate on the island of Borneo, Southeast Asia. Almost all of the island's landmass is made up of other countries, specifically the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and part of Indonesia; Brunei takes up only about 1% of the island and has a total population under half a million. An odious islamic dictatorship which has incorporated sharia law into its penal code, Brunei has a consequently appalling record on human rights, especially women's and LGBTQ rights, and even at the best of times it would be inadvisable to go there. Currently the problem does not arise because the country is closed to visitors.

Flights to Brunei typically connect in Singapore, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, all of which are also currently closed to UK visitors.

8. Singapore

A tiny, futuristic sovereign city-state on an island just off the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia, Singapore is ordinarily an extremely popular tourist destination. Its airport, Changi, is widely considered the best on earth and the city, while extremely densely-populated, offers a rich mix of south-east Asian culture and food, a thriving ex-pat community, colonial history (most notably the wonderful Raffles hotel, home of the Singapore Sling), shopping, beaches and one of the world's best zoos.

Singapore is currently closed to short-term or leisure visitors; all arrivals require advance permission to land; and if you can get in, arrivals to the island must quarantine for 14 days at a government hotel at a cost of $2000.

Tristan da Cuhna

7. New Zealand & 6. Australia

Neither country needs any introduction. Just before the latest global travel lockdown, Australia invested heavily in a push to attract British tourists with a Kylie-fronted ad campaign that ran from the end of 2019 and the Antipodes have long been a feature of every British adventurer's long-haul, once-in-a-lifetime bucketlist. Both nations combated the pandemic by locking down hard, closing their borders and pursuing a zero-Covid eradication strategy - they are now, therefore, essentially Covid-free, and consequently operate a travel bubble between the two countries but are otherwise closed. You cannot, therefore, currently visit Australia or New Zealand for a holiday, and borders are expected to open late next year. (It's also, as the Ozzies would delight in telling you themselves, a bloody long way.)

5. Israel

With its combination of rich cultural and religious history, Mediterranean beach resorts and the Dead Sea to float in, Israel is often overlooked as a beach holiday destination - perhaps because, at a shade under 5 hours' flight, it's a little further out than Greece, Cyprus or Turkey with much the same weather. But with relatively few options, at least once travel first spins back up in May, Israel may well be your best shot at swimming in the Med before June.

Another great vaccine success story, like the UK Israel has rolled out Covid protection to more than half its adult population and normal life has more-or-less resumed. Israel has signed reciprocal deals with a number of countries including Greece, Cyprus and Bahrain to allow fully-vaccinated travellers to visit unimpeded, and is expected to do the same with the UK from May 23 for vaccinated travellers as part of organised tour groups. Once the deal is signed, that's good news for vaccinated British holidaymakers willing to join an organised tour, and independent travel is expected to resume by July.

At time of writing (June 7) the UK government FCDO advises against non-essential travel to much of Israel. Not only do we recommend following the government's advice here, it's worth bearing in mind that standard travel insurance policies are usually invalidated if you fly against FCDO advice so some trips to Israel at the moment would need specialist insurance.

4. Ireland

The Emerald Isle is a bonus green destination for our list - not on the green list because it doesn't have to be. Part of the Common Travel Area, an agreement that includes Ireland, the UK, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man and predates not only Brexit but the EU, in theory UK visitors can come and go from Ireland without any paperwork at all. In practice a passport is advisable.

From Northern Ireland, it's convenient and easy to travel to Ireland - the restrictions on visiting from overseas don't apply. From the rest of the UK, for the moment you'd need a test and a period of self-isolation, making most holidays impractical.

The good news - coming back from Ireland to the UK you don't even need a negative test. More good news - as of the start of June, one of Europe's strictest lockdowns is coming to an end as pubs and other hospitality in Ireland start to reopen, so it's not just possible but once again worthwhile to visit Ireland.

3. Iceland

Just three hours' flight from London, Iceland is a great wilderness adventure practically on the doorstep. Its otherworldly landscape, unique cuisine, and utterly deserted roads makes any holiday here both peaceful and breathtaking. The tiny population of Iceland (less than 400,000, half of whom live in the capital Reykjavik) has all but eradicated the virus, and welcomes visitors who are either fully-vaccinated or can prove they have recovered from the virus from a short list of countries now including the UK. There's about a day's quarantine when you enter for a test result to come back, so Iceland probably wouldn't suit a long weekend, but if you're going for a week or more Iceland will make a great option for an adventure.

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2. Gibraltar

A British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of Europe, the Rock enjoys a North African climate so balmy it is home to the only indigenous monkeys in Europe. With such a small population and territory, Gibraltar has been able to offer 100% of adults full Covid vaccination so is now effectively Covid-free. Gibraltar reopened to UK visitors from May 17. Vaccinated visitors may simply book a Covid test to take on arrival; unvaccinated visitors must now complete a negative Covid test before they set off. Other restrictions are in place if you've been outside Gibraltar's green list, but at time of writing Gibraltar's green list was the same as the English list, plus Spain.

1. Jersey

For fully-vaccinated travellers, Jersey is probably the easiest place currently available for a holiday. Requiring just a test on arrival and no test to return to the UK, the recently-reopened Channel Island is simpler to both enter and leave then almost any other destination. Jersey categorises regions of the UK (by local authority) as green, orange or red according to its own scheme, and at time of writing ranks most of Scotland orange, much of the North-West and parts of London as red, but the rest of England and Wales as green. So long as you haven't been to an orange or red area in the past 14 days, entries to Jersey is simple. For those who live in, or have travelled through, an amber or red area of the UK there are more restrictions - see the Jersey travel website for more details.

Where next?

While the first green list released on May 7 may have been mostly distant rocks and places that have temporarily closed their borders, the list of places that are planning to open up and should end up on the green list is a lot more extensive.

Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Malta and many more of our favourite holiday destinations have already published plans to get visitors back this summer, so while at the start of June your options may still be limited, by summertime holidays should be pretty much back to normal.

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