2020 surely hit the world real hard, especially the travel and tourism industry. But, with many countries administering vaccines to their people, 2021 does seem promising. Travelling is still doable, although it may be slow and precautions should be taken. If you are a travel enthusiast and wish to shake off those pandemic blues, we have curated a list of 10 countries that you may want to visit. Some countries in the list have the best numbers when it comes to vaccinations per capita.
So, here’s our Pick of the Top 10 countries to visit in 2021.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
As of April 2021, data shows that UAE has finished vaccinating 99% of its population, including residents. This in itself is the most convincing factor in its favor. The UAE government has declared the country open for tourism and assured of its safety. As someone who has lived in Dubai for over four years, I can vouch for it. The country has a lot to offer, both natural and man-made wonders.
Dubai is often known for the tallest, largest and biggest creations in the world. While, that is true and still pulls crowds in droves, it gets exhausting after a while. A couple of photos later, you feel that’s enough. Personally, for me, what’s most exciting about UAE is its culture, food and cosmopolitan outlook.
The UAE is the hub of business and trade in the middle east and majority of its 9.9 million population comprises of expatriates. This makes the country truly cosmopolitan. Having said that, it is a haven for food lovers and the variety of food is endless from the Tikka masala to roasted turkey and everything is available here.
While in UAE, you must visit the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai frame, Sheik Zyad Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. These buildings are architectural marvels and surely deserve a place in your Instagram feed. Desert safari and sky diving are activities that I would highly recommend you to cover during your stay as well. These are life time experiences and will get your pulse racing. You can have the bird’s eye view of the palm islands when you sky dive and at that moment, you truly feel on top of the world.
Last but not the least, the UAE is also a shopping paradise, with all the word’s biggest labels having set up shop here. The country boasts of some of the biggest shopping malls in the world and no matter how much online shopping advances, mall culture in the UAE will never go away. All in all, the UAE is your best bet for a vacation in 2021.
The economy of Maldives is heavily driven by tourism, however, with the pandemic, the country had to shut its door to visitors. But all that is a thing of the past and come 2021, Maldives is officially open.
If tropical weather, pristine beaches and coral reefs are your thing, then look no further and book yourself a ticket to the Maldives. I visited the Island nation in October 2020 and loved every bit of it. A vacation in Maldives seems like you are living in the perfect world.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner timings are informed to the guests in advance and in between, you can choose from the exhaustive list of activities you want to enjoy. During my stay, I covered Kayaking, snorkeling, dolphin safari and shark swimming (not kidding). Maldives is the most relaxing holiday you can ever be in. For me it was a four-day pampering session and I almost came back spoiled. Especially if you are a love water and enjoy snorkeling, then you should not miss Maldives. A cheaper alternative in Maldives is to stay in the capital Male, but then you would have to give up on the water villas and all the other comfort.
Quietly hidden in between the intersection of Europe and Asia is this gem of a country. Easily assessable from Dubai through a 5-hour flight, Georgia offers very relaxed visa norms as well, however, please check the visa norms for your country before planning your itinerary.
For a wholesome travel experience, Georgia is a great choice. From food, culture, tradition to picturesque vineyards and beautiful landscape, the country offers everything. I recommend booking a guided tour to visit Georgia, as you may get easily overwhelmed with the number of roads, variety of food and choice of transport. There are plenty of options available online though.
The most famous tourist destinations in Georgia are Tbilisi, Kazbegi, Prometheous caves, Jvari monastery, Ananuri, and Mtskheta. While Tbilisi is the capital and most modern city of them all, it is also home to amazing cuisine and culture. The largest cathedral in Georgia is also located in the capital which you should not miss to see.
As of 2021, Georgia is officially open to tourists and you may freely enjoy this lovely country and al that it has to offer.
Armenia is a country similar to Georgia in many ways, yet has its own identity in terms of culture, food and history. The Armenian adventure usually starts with a visit to the capital Yeravan which is also the largest city in the country and among the fastest growing cities in Europe. Yeravan is also a historical city and houses the grand republic square which is a must see. There are some amazing museums which will give you a deep sense of the country’s history.
If you prefer something away from the city, Armenia offers that as well. Plan a trip to the Shikahogh state reserve, Lake Sevan or the Dilijan national park. Armenia even has a dormant volcano located to the north of the country in mount Aragats which can quite a sight. My recommendation is that if you cover both Georgia and Armenia in a single trip to truly witness the beauty of the Caucasus region.
Very similar to Maldives, yet holding an identity of its own is this beautiful country located in East Africa. Seychelles, which is primarily an archipelago comprising of 115 islands is a spectacular display of beautiful beaches, coral reefs and rare animals. The country also has abundant natural resources that adds to the flora and fauna and even a rain forest of Morne National park.
Those visiting Seychelles cannot miss Mahe Island, which is the largest and most popular in the country. The capital, Victoria city is also located in Mahe island which in itself is a beautiful tourist attraction.
Apart from Mahe, Aldabra Island which is a UNESCO World heritage site for being the world’s largest raised coral atoll is a beautiful island to visit.
The other unmissable locations include Praslin Islands, La Digue Island and Cousine Islands. Seychelles is obviously a perfect example of how beautiful our planet is, but it’s a dream come true for shutterbugs.
You could capture endless pictures of animals, birds and the beautiful beaches. It is the ultimate chill holiday of 2021 for sure.
Zanzibar is yet another archipelago located in the Indian Ocean comprising of pristine beaches, clear blue water and small secret islands never visited before.
It’s a perfect getaway if you are looking for a relaxed vacation far from the hustle and bustle of the city and wish to sun-bathe your way through the day.
Some of the prominent places to see are Cheetah’s rock, Nakupenda beach, Stone town and Jambo spice farm.
The island is also home to various endangered species of animals and birds and is a paradise for photographers. Just one piece of advice to all who are heading there for the first time, be aware of your surroundings while travelling.
You might encounter some petty crime and robbery, but it should be alright if you are taking proper precaution.
Serbia, located in the central and southeastern Europe is slowly but steadily becoming a tourism hub. It’s capital city Belgrade is one of the main attractions and home to various historical architecture including the Beogradska Tvrdava fortress and Nikola tesla Museum. Belgrade is also well known for its vibrant nightlife.
While in Belgrade you can also visit the Kalemegdan Park, Temple of saint sava and the Republic square. If you move away from the hustle bustle of the city, Serbia also has some spectacular wildlife and nature to offer as well.
I suggest Tara, a mountain located in the western part where you will see the Zaovine lake and may enjoy hiking trails and watch flower meadows. Serbia also has a rich history and offers delicious cuisine.
As of 2021, Serbia is open for travel, however, it is advised to take proper precaution before making the move.
Perhaps the most unheard and newest country to make it to your travel checklist, Kyrgyzstan is surprisingly beautiful.
It is a landlocked country in Asia. It’s capital Bishkek is the largest city in the country and the most commercial as well. Kyrgyzstan is a country rich in history and it has been predominantly inhabited by tribes and clans.
While in Kyrgystan, you can travel to Ala Archa waterfall which is a mountainous region and see the Burana tower situated near Tokmok city. Burana tower is the last remaining evidence from the mediaeval city of Balasugan.
The country also offers beautiful gorges which very easily qualify for your Instagram feed. Most of the beauty of Kyrgyzstan lies in its mountains and landscape. Since it is still unpopulated by tourists, the natural beauty has been preserved. Give it a try and I am sure you will be delighted.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Probably the most unheard destination in the entire list is Bosnia and Herzegovina, but I would urge you to visit this beautiful country on the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe and let it surprise you.
Bosnia is a hidden gem hardly polluted by tourist footprints and extremely affordable too. Of all my European tours, Bosnia was easily one of the cheapest, but also the most memorable one. Bosnia is a mix of both the modern and the traditional.
The capital Sarajevo is obviously the most popular destination, but once you move away from the city, you start seeing the real beauty. From snow covered mountains to beautiful architecture and historical landmarks, the country has much to offer.
Bosnia was a war- torn country until recently, and is slowly recovering from its violent past. Make sure to visit the Old town in Sarajevo and explore its rich history. Also do not miss visiting Mostar and Prokosko lake. They are among the most beautiful sites in the country.
Perhaps one of the most famous countries in the African continent and undoubtedly a paradise for animal lovers, Kenya is up there on most traveler’s dream list. My visit to Kenya was mainly reserved for Masai Mara, however, I stayed in Nairobi for a night as well, which was on the day I landed.
Nairobi is the capital and you may undertake a day tour around the city if you wish. However, the real beauty of Kenya lies in the grasslands and national parks.
Masai Mara National Park is a treasure trove for those who love wildlife photography. Apart from seeing various animals like Lions, hyenas, elephants, Rhinos, giraffes, zebras and cheetahs you may also witness the wildebeest migration which is a spectacular sight in itself.
To see the wildebeest migration, you need to visit Masai Mara between July and September and if you are lucky, you may get to see a hunt as well. Make sure to also see these animals popularly known as big five Kenya – Lions, Elephants, buffalos, Rhino and Leopard.
Apart from Masai Mara, you may also visit Gede ruins, Mombasa and Lake Nakuru.
All in all, a visit to Kenya is a different experience in itself. It among the best that Africa has to offer.