With international travel bans effectively ruining vacations this year, people around the world have been wondering where to travel now? With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s safe to say we’re already daydreaming about the best places to visit in 2021.
Although uncertainty still hangs in the air and border closures are ever-changing, 2021 is shaping up to be the year to visit destinations in the Caribbean, America, and some European countries too.
And as frustrating as the travel industry is right now, one positive has been the increased flexibility cruises, hotels, and airlines have granted customers. Airlines like Delta and United, among others, have officially gotten rid of change fees for most trips so that you can plan for next year’s travels without fear.
Here are our top recommended places to visit in 2021 with bucket-list worthy destinations to inspire your deepest sense of wanderlust! Be sure to check current travel restrictions and guidelines before you go.
Best Places To Visit in 2021
1. St. Lucia
Best known for the striking views of the island’s two large volcanoes, St. Lucia is a Caribbean island that has a bit of everything. Take your pick from epic hiking and snorkeling adventures to something a little more relaxing like beaching and chocolate tours. This lovely little island is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and is often a stop on Caribbean cruises.
St. Lucia entry requirements*: All arrivals must show a negative PCR COVID test no older than seven days before arriving in Saint Lucia.
For those seeking a no-stress beach vacation, look to Aruba. The island’s soft white sand beaches are set against clear turquoise waters and are considered some of the best in the Caribbean. When the sun sets, indulge in the vibrant nightlife and gourmet eateries.
Aruba entry requirements*: You’ll need proof of a negative COVID test, or you can take one when you arrive at the airport and quarantine until you receive the results.
Barbados is a budget-friendly island that boasts beaches ideal for sunbathers. Other top attractions include the unique Harrison’s Cave formation and stunning 17th-century colonial architecture. The main island’s capital of Bridgetown is a cruise-ship port home to glittering Carlisle Bay and Brown Beach.
Barbados entry requirements*: Visitors from medium to high-risk countries must show a negative COVID test no older than 72 hours.
Jamaica is an escape to a slow pace of life where you can disconnect and recharge while exploring reef-lined beaches, lush rainforests, and the rolling hills of Blue Mountain Peak. This popular Caribbean island is best for spicy food, all-inclusive resorts, and short trips from the United States.
Jamaica entry requirements*: All incoming visitors need a negative test no older than ten days.
5. Turks and Caicos
For luxury resorts and high-end shopping, we recommend Turks and Caicos. This laid-back Caribbean archipelago is comprised of 40 little islands dotted in the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Major highlights include Grace Bay Beach, impressive scuba-diving sites, and quiet, pristine beaches free of crowds.
Turks and Caicos entry requirements*: You must obtain pre-travel authorization via the island’s TCI Assured portal, as well as a negative COVID test five days before your flight, and proof of insurance that covers COVID.
6. U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands offer Americans a carefree tropical destination while enjoying the comforts of home. Made up of four larger islands and a smattering of smaller isles, look to St.Thomas for shopping and nightlife, St. John for hiking and nature, and St. Croix for quiet and history. A visit to the Virgin Islands National Park is also a must.
U.S. Virgin Islands entry requirements*: Set to open back up to tourists in October 2020, passengers must show a negative test if coming from a high-risk state, and must be on the positive list of countries for the U.S.
Belize is a beautiful jungle-filled nation in Central America who’s entire eastern shore meets the Caribbean Sea. Besides tropical beachscapes and luxury resorts, travelers can marvel at ancient Mayan ruins and experience a vibrant and diverse culture. Belize is an exciting destination for all budgets and styles of travel.
Tourism opens October 1, 2020, and travelers must obtain a certified negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure and book approved housing.
Off the beaten path from Europe’s most popular destinations, the charm of Montenegro‘s quaint coastal villages is catching notice. Positioned across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, visitors are quick to fall in love with the fresh local seafood, medieval landmarks, and glacial lakes. The Bay of Kotor, Durmitor National Park, and lush mountain peaks are all must-see attractions.
Montenegro entry requirements*: Montenegro is welcoming U.S. visitors with a negative COVID test that must be no older than three days before entry.
A neighbor to Montenegro, Croatia attracts more visitors each and every year with its enticing scenic coastline and charming seaside villages. Comprised of over a thousand islands, picturesque landscapes, and several UNESCO Sites, there’s a lot to love about Croatia. People come for the natural beauty but stay for the excellent cuisine and wine.
Croatia entry requirements*: Must present a negative PCR test result no older than 48 hours to enter the country.
The Maldives is a tropical paradise in Asia renowned for its stunning sugar-sand beaches, crystal clear coastlines, and incredible all-inclusive, high-end resorts. Sleeping in the islands’ famous overwater bungalows that float above turquoise waters is a must. The Maldives is a top choice from our list of recommended places to visit in 2021.
Maldives entry requirements*: There are currently no travel restrictions.
11. Sedona, Arizona
Noted for its dynamic art scene and comfortable desert climate, Sedona is a beloved Arizona city about two hours north of Phoenix. Enjoy the finer things in life with the city’s fabulous shopping, art galleries, and luxury spas and resorts. All around Sedona are the mesmerizing sights of the Tonto National Forest, epic red-rock buttes, and steep canyon walls for those who appreciate the great outdoors.
Arizona travel notices*: There are currently no travel restrictions.
12. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a premier U.S. travel destination that attracts millions of visitors annually. This large freshwater lake up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains straddles the state lines between California and Nevada. It boasts incredible vistas, miles of lovely hiking trails, and fantastic skiing opportunities. You’ll also find high-end shopping, gourmet cuisine, and a vibrant night-life.
Nevada travel notices*: There are no state-wide restrictions in place.
13. U.S. National Parks
2021 is the year to explore America, and there’s no better place to start than the nation’s national parks. Consistently ranked in America’s top travel destinations, the unforgettable sights of Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park are hard to beat. We recommend finding a cozy cabin rental with luxury amenities – think hot tub, panoramic views, a cozy terrace – and prepare for relaxation in nature.
NPS travel notices*: In response to the global pandemic, some attractions in the national parks have closures; please check individual park websites for more information.
14. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe proudly dons the nickname “The City Different” and will make you feel like you’re strolling the streets of an entirely different time and country. The downtown district has been designated as a historic area and is filled with pueblo-style architecture along twisting streets. New Mexico’s capital is carefully tucked into the Sangre de Cristo foothills offering a city escape immersed in nature.
New Mexico travel notices*: Individuals from high-risk states must show documentation of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before or after entry or must quarantine for 14 days.
15. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor is a small New England city perched on Maine’s largest island of Mount Desert in Frenchman Bay. Scenery chasers and foodies flock to this part of the state to see the luxury yachts and lobster boats, beautiful Porcupine Islands of the Atlantic, and the impressive mountains and cliffs of Acadia National Park. Boutique hotels and charming B&Bs are the best way to experience the charm of Bar Harbor.
Maine travel notices*: Out-of-state visitors must show a negative test from the previous 72 hours or quarantine for 14 days.
16. Seward, Alaska
Nestled between the ocean and towering mountains, Seward’s striking landscape was carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. Enjoy once in a lifetime experiences such as walking on glaciers, observing breaching whales, and cruising through Kenai Fjords National Park. The historic town overlooking Resurrection Bay offers its own set of incredible things to do. It’s no secret why Seward one of the best places to visit in 2021.
Alaska travel notices*: All out-of-state visitors must show a negative test from the previous 72 hours or pay for one at the airport and quarantine while awaiting results.
17. Hawaii’s Big Island
Often overshadowed by the romance of Maui or family-friendly beaches of Oahu, Hawaii’s Big Island is an underrated destination that boasts so much more than just the state’s namesake. Visitors can enjoy fewer crowds and a variety of landscapes on this geographically unique locale. We recommend renting a car to marvel at the epic volcanoes, colorful sand beaches, lush waterfalls, ocean cliffs, and snow-capped mountains.
Hawai’i travel notices*: Out-of-state visitors must participate in Hawaii’s Safe Travels program and provide a negative COVID test upon arrival or a go into a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
18. New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy may be rambunctious, but there’s much more to this Louisiana city than Mardi Gras and a 24/7 nightlife. Gracefully poised on the Mississippi River, New Orleans is a melting pot of American, African, and French cultures. Unique cuisine, Creole-style architecture, and colorful street murals are what make this city so special.
Louisiana travel notices*: Louisiana does not have any travel restrictions.
19. Napa Valley, California
Just over an hour from San Francisco, the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley spread far and wide. Take your pick from hundreds of well-established wineries and recharge in the tranquility of the California countryside. Napa is also home to notable gourmet eateries and sparkling wine, the best of which can be found in Oxbow Public Market and the small town of Yountville.
California travel notices*: There are no travel restrictions at this time.
20. St. Augustine, Florida
Settled by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, St. Augustine is America’s oldest city steeped in European influence today. Its location on the northeast coast of Florida means the area boasts sandy Atlantic beaches, ocean cruises, and fresh fare from the sea. St. Augustine is the place to indulge in a bit of luxury while immersed in the old-world charm of Spanish colonial architecture.
Florida travel notices*: There are currently no travel notices for Florida.
*Entry requirements for our best places to visit in 2021 are up to date as of September 2020. Be sure to check for current travel restrictions and guidelines before traveling.
While we patiently wait for this year to end so we can explore these top places to visit in 2021, here are some ways to enjoy the rest of summer.