The UK government has given a date for the restart of foreign holidays in England: 17 May.

There are still no guarantees, but it’s very likely international travel can resume from this point, with a new traffic-light system in place.

Destinations will be labelled red, amber or green, with different travel restrictions assigned for each category.

Green countries will have the lightest restrictions, with arrivals required to show a negative rapid antigen or lateral flow test before departing for the UK, and take a PCR test within two days of arrival. Travellers from these countries need not quarantine.

Various countries have revealed they are keen to welcome back Brits this summer, including Spain, whose tourism minister said the nation was “desperate” to open its doors to UK tourists. And the EU has indicated that the UK could join its non-essential travel list of destinations from where travellers may enter for the purpose of holidaying. An Eu document seen by The Sun suggested that UK travellers, along with those from Israel and the UAE, should be allowed to return based on advanced vaccination programmes.

Although the lists won’t be revealed until early May, there are some indications of which European destinations could end up on the green list. The Independent sadly doesn’t have a crystal ball (yet), but here are the countries in Europe we think currently have the best chance of making the cut due to low infection rates and/or advanced quarantine programmes.


Iceland has announced it will welcome back visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a bid to boost tourism, the government confirmed that those who’ve had both doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency can enter the country without needing to get tested for coronavirus or undergo quarantine.

“The Icelandic government has announced that all those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine,” the government said in a statement on 16 March.

It could well be on the green list, with just 9.48 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days (as of 14 April) and a vaccine programme that has seen 25 people doses of the vaccine administered per 100 people.


Gibraltar has vaccinated all of its adult population, putting it in prime position to be placed on the UK’s “green list” for travel.

Departing soon? Sunbathers in Gibraltar, one of the countries likely to be on the ‘green’ list

(Simon Calder)

The British Overseas Territory, just on the tip of Spain, said that as of 12 April, it had administered 64,931 Covid vaccination doses.

The territory, which has a population of around 33,000 people, is a popular tourist destination, with beaches, VAT-free shopping and one of Europe’s most impressive landmarks, The Rock.


Malta has declared that British holidaymakers will be welcome this summer, so long as they have been fully vaccinated.

From 1 June, tourists from the UK who can show proof that they have had both coronavirus jabs at least 10 days prior to arrival are no longer required to present a negative Covid PCR test.

Passengers will need to show a vaccination card when boarding to travel to Malta.

Malta is second only to the UK in Europe (barring destinations with under 200,000 residents) when it comes to the proportion of adults who have received their first dose of the vaccine – currently 40 per cent – making it a strong candidate for green list status.


Portugal’s borders are closed to most British travellers right now, but the Portuguese government has indicated that it expects to open up to tourists at around the same time as the easing of restrictions in England – mid-May.

Lisbon, the Portuguese capital

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative. We hope to welcome British tourists from 17 May,” said Rita Marques, secretary of state for tourism:

“Everything will be ready by mid-May.”

With coronavirus rates low and continuing to fall, Portugal could well be on the green list. It has so far issued 2.2 million vaccine doses – or 22 doses per 100 residents.

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