21 of the Best Destinations to Visit in 2021

21 of the Best Destinations to Visit in 2021

We’ve reconfigured, reconsulted and redrawn the destinations we’re looking forward to visiting in 2021 (or 2020 part two, as we’re calling in it). Get ready to plan your escape.

as last year’s 20
destinations to visit in 2020
didn’t go as planned, we’ve
reconfigured, reconsulted and redrawn the destinations we’re
looking forward to visiting in 2021 (or 2020 part two, as we’re
calling in it). Featuring some old favourites, recommended places
from the year that wasn’t meant to be and the locales drawing on
community spirit to lead a cultural resurgence, these are the
must-visits for 2021. Ready, set, escape.

Plan your escape: 21 destinations to (hopefully) visit in



Leave the dreamcatcher tattoos and fedora-wearing influencers in

and, instead, schlep across to this easy-going, Mexican
surfing town. Attracting counterculture icons since the 60s – big
names such as Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac and Timothy Leary, who
organised an LSD convention at Hotel Catalina – Zihuatanejo has
managed to stay relatively under the radar thanks to its
hard-to-reach location. Closer to Guatemala than the US, slammed up
against mountainous terrain and requiring a layover in Mexico
, Zihua – as it’s affectionately known – has kept its sense
of grit and lack of pretension. You’ll see it in the lunch carts
selling tamales, in the throbbing central market and in the
fishermen that sell their catch at Paseo del Pescador. It’s little
wonder that the pristine beaches were the IRL location for Andy and
Red to live out their post-prison days in The Shawshank Redemption
– post-pandemic, we’ll be joining them.



Staycations are here to stay. We’re billing this once-forgotten
British seaside town as the new Shoreditch, and not just because
it’s being populated by Londoners
priced out of the capital. Pack up all preconceptions of grotty
bingo halls, forgotten piers and faded seaside glamour as
Southend-on-Sea is shaking off its brash image and undergoing a
cultural revival thanks to a community of grassroot creatives.
Focal Point Gallery works directly with local schools and
neighbourhoods to get young people to challenge the way people
think about locality, while “artistic laboratory” Metal takes
disused buildings and turns them into cultural hubs. Southend’s
contemporary-art scene is booming. Check online for an extensive
calendar of events and workshops run by local artists.


After being cooped up for so long, we’re itching to embark on a
proper adventure. Having watched
emerge as an alternative safari destination for intrepid
travellers, we’re re-tipping this larger-than-life African nation
as a must-visit destination for those wishing to throw themselves
out of their comfort zone. Trek the Sahara, embark on a
conservation-focused safari, visit the lively port capital of
N’Djamena or visit Lake Chad, one it’s one of the largest
freshwater lakes in the world – slow-placed towns cluster at the
water’s edge. Gaze beyond the headline attractions to discover
diverse landscapes and a vibey cultural scene.



A rural part of Spain that remains relatively unspoiled by
visitors – Teruel is less Costa del Sol and more Wild West in
topography thanks to the gorges cut by rivers, ravines fringed by
pine forests, medieval villages fed by hot springs – oh, and
Michelin-star worthy tapas bars. It’s beautiful but it’s difficult
to get to. You’ll need a car, a sturdy one, as there’s no motorway
from Madrid or
direct rail service, but herein lies its rustic allure. Potter –
literally, the roads are a pot-holed filled nightmare – around the
province’s capital, Teruel, where a beguiling mishmash of medieval
and Neo-Mudéjar architecture awaits. Imagine the modernist
architecture from Barcelona next to the Moorish buildings from
and you’re somewhat there. Still not sold? There are more wine bars
per capita in Teruel than any other Spanish city.



Plenty of islands in Japan have garnered our attention over the
past few years, such as art-filled Naoshima and Ise-Shima, home to
Shinto shrines and the Ama free-divers. But we’re especially
excited by the news that Ikuchijima island will welcome Adrian
Zecha – the brains behind hotel brand Aman – and Japanese
hospitality group Naru Developments’ new hotel brand Azumi in the
early spring. Consider Ikuchijima Japan’s answer to Greece’s Ionian
Islands – expect citrus groves, forested slopes and shrines
teetering on the edge of rock faces. Aside from Azumi Setoda, which
is set to take root in a 140-year old Japanese compound, you’ll
find Santorini-blue beaches, a thriving market town and a section
of the 70km Shimanami Kaido cycling route.



A more adventurous alternative to the Windows 98′ screensaver
beaches of Mustique, St Barths or the Cayman Islands. Montserrat
was dubbed the “Pompei of the Caribbean” after the eruptions of
Soufrière Hills volcano in the 1990s forced the island to abandon
its capital and evict most of its population. Yet two decades on,
the island population is increasing, lured by job opportunities in
the sand-mining and geothermal energy industries. A trickling of
travellers are also following suit, eager to embark on
volcano-focused escapades but also attracted by the breezy, bygone
charm of a Caribbean island that has yet to succumb to the pressure
of cruise ships and tax-evading expats.


Despite being grounded for almost the entirety of 2020, there’s
a smattering of destinations that have seen their flight schedules
increase as opposed to drastically decline. A testament to curious
travellers’ growing interest in Pakistan, British Airways and Qatar
Airways have both upped their weekly flights to the country’s
capital, Islamabad. After trawling the bustling and sometimes
overwhelming city filled with the country’s most iconic mosques,
monuments and museums, you’ll want to reset. Divert to the Kaghan
Valley where mountain-top lakes and tales of Pakistani folklore
shroud the area in a beautiful, fairy-tale haze. Heavy snowfall
between November and May can seriously disrupt travel plans in
Pakistan. We’d recommend visiting in June or July, when the roads,
valleys and the Babusar Pass are sure to be uninterrupted by

Bosnia and Herzegovina

No longer characterised by images of war and trauma, Bosnia and
Herzegovina is a country brimming with bountiful nature and a rich
history that provides an insight to Europe’s multi-faceted past.
Sidestep the dark-tourism sites – buildings peppered with the scars
of gunfire and shells – in favour of seeking out the country’s
lush, dramatic valleys.
should be top of your list for a break with bae; it’s
jagged, mountainous backdrop and romantic bridges make it a more
affordable (and less crowded) option to Venice. Schedule a stop in
Neum, Bosnia’s only coastal town, which flies almost completely
under the radar of tourists.



Oahu is undergoing something of a cultural resurgence
kickstarted by a community keen to turn the spotlight to their
eccentric artistic history. Between its galleries and museums,
you’ll find Paiko boutique hosting workshops on the island’s
traditional crafts and Waikiki Beachcomber, a boutique hotel that’s
played a huge part in the resurgence by showcasing local artist’s
work – spot it in the room, see murals by the pools and sculptures
scattered through the grounds.


United Kingdom

As 2021’s City of Culture, Coventry is intent on celebrating the
arts at a time when the sector is under intense pressure.
Highlighting its resilience and determination, the city will embark
on an all-eventualities-covered calendar of celebrations. The
Turner Prize lands at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum from
September to January; a canal boat will ring a bell each time a
book is taken from its onboard library; and, as part of the Streets
of Cultures programme, poetry will be scribbled on pavements, dance
parties hosted on front lawns and al fresco dinner parties thrown
in driveaways. We’ll take a seat at that table, please.



Dubbed the “door of the desert” thanks to its proximity to the
Sahara, Ouarzazate is often seen as simply a pit-stop to rehydrate
before you board your vehicle (camel/ quad/ 4×4) into the desert.
But since the roads between Ouarzazate have started to be repaired,
visiting the arid city has attracted the attention of those wishing
to avoid the medinas of Marrakech
and Tangier. Film fan? The town and its surrounding areas have
hosted so many productions they’ve been nicknamed “Ouallywood” –
the nearby citadel of Ait Ben Haddou appearances as Yunkai in the
Games of Thrones. Alongside touring the kasbah, fit in a sunrise
visit to Fint Oasis.



Costa Blanca may be plagued with brutalist 80s resorts and
over-development, but catch a fishing boat across to Tabarca Island
and you’ll an unspoiled taste of the Mediterranean that scarcely
exists elsewhere. It’s just off the coast of Alicante, less than
two kilometres long and has no roads, no cars and some of the best
scuba diving in the world thanks to the 1400-hectare marine
reserve. In high season, hundreds of day-trippers descend on the
shanty seafood shacks serving up portions of caldero tabarquino – a
rice dish not too dissimilar to paella but with potatoes and aioli
instead of a tomato-based sauce – so we suggest visiting
off-season. Springtime will likely see just you and a handful of
the 60 permanent islanders soaking up sun on the shores.



Yerevan, Armenia’s largest and capital city, featured on our 20
hot destinations to visit in 2020 list. That list never got off the
ground, so we’re revisiting its best recommendations. Famous for
more than giving us the Kardashian klan – and images of Kanye
splashing about in Swan Lake – Yerevan is a visual interpretation
of old vs new, east vs west. Traditional pandoks (taverns) teeming
with locals rub shoulders with moody, European-style wine bars;
spaceship-looking, Soviet-era buildings shoulder modern structures;
and the food scene rivals that of the Basque Country – Armenian
wine is drunk more freely and frequently than imports. If it’s a
foodie foray you’re after, you’d be foolish to overlook this city.



Of course, all types of travellers have had it hard this year –
the spa breakers are DIY-ing and the fed-up foodies have blitzed
everything in the fridge – but it’s the shackled city breakers that
we particularly feel for. If you’re seeking wild weekends filled
with bars, museums and trolley-hoping to neighbourhoods that are
nearly pretty as Vienna and as purse-positive as Warsaw, then
consider Lithuania’s second city. Basking in all things
alternative, you’ll find some of Lithuania’s largest street murals
occupying disused buildings in the old town, vintage markets
cropping up in courtyards and a devil-worshipping museum –
shockingly the only one in the world – should you want to find your
housemate an appropriate souvenir.


Also present on last year’s list,
is arguably South America’s best-kept secret. Capital
city Georgetown is heavy on the Caribbean vibes, while the raw
natural landscapes teeming with rainforests surrounding it are
prime territory for raw adventures along bumpy roads. Travellers
that have been captivated by Costa Rica’s eco-conscious credentials
will be big fans of the community-run wildlife projects that help
preserve Guyana’s remote rainforests. Can’t figure out where it
sits on the map? It’s sandwiched between Venezuela, Brazil and
Suriname and with a five-hour flight time from New York’s JFK
airport, it’s not as hard to reach as you might have

Hel Peninsula


Seeing as we’re huge fans of our own UK seaside revival –
Margate, Deal and Whitby are the site of some of our favourite
summer-staycation memories – we’re keen to sing the praises of the
wallet-friendly Polish Riviera. German sun-seekers have long been
fans of the 33km fine-sand beaches backed by beech forests, but
it’s taken a little longer for the UK to catch on. Sidestep the
ritzy Sopot – dubbed the Polish Monaco – in favour of Rewal. It’s a
little more off-grid but you’ll be blessed with back-to-nature
beaches. Like this? Take a trip to the Masurian Lake District where
you’ll find lakes prettier than Slovenia’s Bled and design-driven
dwellings such as Hotel 69, which are breathing new life into a
Soviet-era building with its artist residence projects.

Muskoka Lakes


After our stint with the Great Indoors, we’re fleeing for the
hills. Offering big gulps of fresh air and plenty of freshwater
lakes – ideal for ice skating in the winter and water-skiing in the
summer – it’s billed as the Canadian version of the Hamptons and
fondly called “cottage country” by Ontario natives. Indeed, the
Muskoka Lakes is set to be our next great escape. Despite the
influx of A-list celebrities and part of Lake Rosseau being billed
as “Billionaire’s Row”, there’s still part of the lakes that retain
a wholesome allure. Eschew the super-charged speedboats in favour
of the paddles and canoes found in the northern lakes and pitch up
in Algonquin. It’s here you’ll find the cabin-porn cottages you’ve
poured over on Pinterest and the pancake houses dishing up
breakfast drowning in locally sourced maple syrup.

Kelham Island

Sheffield, UK

“Island” is probably a misleading term. Don’t expect swaying
palms and azure waters. Sheffield’s former industrial hub has
transitioned into the city’s coolest quarter. If we want to get
technical, it’s not an island at all but a man-made goit on the
River Don that was constructed to power the water wheels in the
19th century. Fast forward to the 1980s and the first seeds of
Kelham’s regeneration had been sown – although it wasn’t until
recently that the area’s potential fully bloomed, fuelled by a
cooperative of independent business. Make reservations at Jöro,
housed in a shipping container with a locavore menu that’s got
Michelin sniffing around, and nibble your way through Cutlery
Works, the largest food hall in the north.



Truth be told we’re a little sick of Greek islands touting
themselves as the “new Santorini“.
Instead, we’re seeking out the low-key islands that have fought off
foreign investment and retained even the slightest bit of whatever
attracted everyone there in the first place. Often overshadowed by
neighbouring Dodecanese islands Kos and Rhodes – not that we’re
complaining – Symi is our 2021 summer spot. Elaborate Italianate
mansions can be found lining the harbour, grapevine-covered
courtyards dish out freshly squeezed sorbet and, on some of the
island’s beaches, such as Marathounda, you’re more likely to be
joined by a herd of goats than other guests. We recommended
captaining a boat to Nanou Beach, where lunchtimes are spent
scooping up traditional Symi shrimp from taverna Spitiko. Make use
of the hilly terrain and follow the old donkey trails that lead you
to some of the island’s most captivating views.

Charleston, South Carolina

United States

One of several US cities facing up to their turbulent history
after the successful revival of the Black Lives Matter movement,
Charleston is carving out a new identity. For a long time, the city
has relied on its southern-belle charm to woo visitors but let’s
not forget that it once was the epicentre of the slave trade – 40
per cent of all slaves in the US passed through Charleston. In 2022
the International African American museum will open – instead of
shying away from the city’s past, they’re working on ways to honour
it. Black Food Fridays, started by KJ Kearney, a community
organiser and Charleston City Paper columnist, sets out a food map
to honour the incredible Black-owned restaurants, food trucks and
takeaways in the area, while conNECKtedTOO has compiled a list of
the Black makers, movers and creative shakers that have massively
influenced this South Carolina city’s arts, culture and music



Long lauded as the closest thing to heaven on Earth, Jiuzhaigou
is a real-life Monet painting with its labyrinth of
rainbow-reflecting lakes, ribbon-like waterfalls and sing-song bird
soundtrack usually heard accompanying an Attenborough documentary.
We realise Jiuzhaigou isn’t exactly off the beaten track and plenty
have experienced its natural beauty in the past, but considering
we’ve spent the last year staring at the same grey walls we’re
seeking out beautiful landscapes like a magpie hell-bent on seeking
out silver.

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