Holiday companies are reporting a rush of bookings for February half term after the government’s announcement this week that it was scrapping the day two test for UK arrivals from February 11.
The move follows a decision to end pre-departure tests for tourists returning home. But fear not – there are still plenty of holidays left for a last-minute getaway.
Slope off for a ski break
Neilson’s trip to Val di Fassa in the spectacular Italian Dolomites, pictured, costs from £1,269 per adult and £1,099 per child
Neilson’s guests at the Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn, pictured, can avail themselves of free ski coaching
A cosy fire in the lounge area in the Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn. Chalet-board accommodation with wine at dinner is included on the Neilson tour
One of the double rooms at Neilson’s Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn. The Neilson trip sets off from Stansted on February 13
Ski amid the spectacular Dolomites in Italy, with free ski guiding and coaching at Neilson’s Chalet Hotel Dolomites Inn in the Val di Fassa. A week leaving Stansted on February 13 costs from £1,269 per adult and £1,099 per child, including chalet-board accommodation with wine at dinner, and flights (neilson.co.uk).
Or hit the 185km of pistes in the family-friendly resort of Kitzbuhel in Austria.
A week’s half board at the Hotel Edelweiss with flights from Manchester to Salzburg on February 12 is now from £1,049pp, saving £540pp (inghams.co.uk).
A trip with Inghams to the family-friendly resort of Kitzbuhel, pictured, is now from £1,049pp, saving £540pp
Inghams is offering a week’s half board at the Hotel Edelweiss (pictured) with flights from Manchester to Salzburg on February 12
A week in Tignes 1800 (pictured), a quieter alternative to Tignes, costs from £748pp with Peak Retreats
Pictured is a two-bedroom apartment at the Altaviva, at the foot of the Boisses gondola, where Peak Retreats’ guests will stay
In France, Peak Retreats has good availability for its Eurotunnel breaks to several alpine resorts.
For instance, a week in Tignes 1800, a quieter alternative to Tignes, costs from £748pp based on five sharing a two-bedroom apartment at the Altaviva, at the foot of the Boisses gondola (peakretreats.co.uk).
Cook in Spain or see Sicily’s carnival
Explore Gozo for £665pp on a self-guided walking holiday with Inntravel – your base will be a hotel near the harbour of Mgarr, pictured
Take the bus each day to the start of a different hike with Inntravel. The price of the tour includes seven nights’ B&B, two dinners and two lunches, a bus pass and ferry travel from Malta
Descend through Gozo’s terraces and weave between tidal salt pans on the Inntravel tour. Pictured are the salt pans near Zebbug
Go to Gozo for the week from February 19 on a self-guided walking holiday, based at the Grand Hotel above the harbour of Mgarr. Take the bus each day to the start of a different hike, perhaps descending through terraces to a Napoleonic fort before weaving between tidal salt pans, or following the path to the inland sea of Dwejra Bay.
The price of £665pp includes seven nights’ B&B, two dinners and two lunches, a bus pass and ferry travel from Malta. Return flights are currently less than £100pp (inntravel.co.uk).
Half-term in Sicily coincides with the carnival at Acireale, with floats, flowers, masks and parades. The company Wish Sicily has a selection of properties near the baroque city, including Terrazza sul Mare, a two-bedroom villa with views over the tiny fishing port at Pozzillo.
Visit Taormina on a week’s holiday with Wish Sicily from £992. Pictured is the town’s amphitheatre with Mount Etna in the background
Six night’s half board at B&B Finca Las Encinas (pictured) costs from £4,799 for a family of four with Sunvil
Sunvil’s guests can take cookery classes (pictured on the left) with B&B Finca Les Encinas’ chef and owner, Clive. Pictured on the right is one of the delicious dishes at the B&B
The pool at B&B Finca Las Encinas. Car hire is included in the Sunvil tour should you want to take day trips to Seville, Granada or Cordoba
Take a trip up Mount Etna, visit nearby Taormina or enjoy a family-friendly street food tour in Catania. A week for four costs from £992. Flights currently cost from £166 (wishsicily.com).
Foodie families can cook up a storm in the Subbética region of Southern Spain. At B&B Finca Las Encinas near Iznájar, chef and owner Clive gives hands-on lessons on four evenings, when you prepare your own dinners, and cooks welcome and farewell dinners for the family too.
Car hire is included should you want to take day trips to Seville, Granada or Cordoba. Six night’s half board from February 14 is from £4,799 for a family of four with flights (sunvil.co.uk).
The weather may not be great on a Northern Europe cruise, but on board P&O Cruises’ Iona, there’s a covered swimming pool, aerial shows and entertainment, kids’ clubs, a spa and even an onboard gin distillery. You may be so busy, you might not want to disembark to explore Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges.
Full-board including tips on the Southampton to Southampton voyage costs from £426 per adult, £329 per child (cruise.co.uk). Note that all over 12s must be vaccinated.
Cruise from Southampton to Hamburg, Rotterdam and Bruges on P&O Cruises’ Iona (pictured). A full-board trip on the ship costs from £426 per adult, £329 per child
The Iona features an onboard gin distillery, pictured on the left, as well as aerial shows and entertainment. Pictured on the right is the Iona’s covered swimming pool. You may be so busy on the ship that you might not want to disembark
Two of the eight swimming pools at The Princesa Yaiza Suite Resort Hotel on Playa Blanca. A week’s B&B from February 19, with Destinology, costs from £887pp
For temperatures more around the 20C mark, Lanzarote is perfect for a fly and flop holiday. The Princesa Yaiza Suite Resort Hotel on Playa Blanca has all the ingredients for a relaxing break, with eight swimming pools, a spa and kids’ club.
A week’s B&B from February 19, with flights from Gatwick, costs from £887pp (destinology.co.uk). Or control costs at the all-inclusive, contemporary Landmar Playa La Arena in Tenerife. A week with flights is from £1,118 (britishairways.com).
Winter sun: Indian Ocean idylls and adventure on the Nile
The Residence Zanzibar, pictured, is set in tropical gardens on a mile-long beach. Five nights’ half board with Kenwood Travel costs from £1,701 per adult and £1,351 per child
Unwind in a garden pool villa (pictured) at The Residence Zanzibar with Kenwood Travel
A pool at The Residence Zanzibar. Kenwood Travel’s trip to the island retreat includes flights from Gatwick on February 12
Guests on Kenwood Travel’s trip to Zanzibar can take day trips to spot red colobus monkeys. Pictured are a pair of monkeys drinking from a swimming pool on the island
Make it a really exotic break on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, where you can take day trips to spot red colobus monkeys or go dolphin watching at sea.
The Residence Zanzibar is set in tropical gardens on a mile-long beach and has a range of complimentary water sports from kayaking to sailing as well as a kids’ club and spa. Five nights’ half board costs from £1,701 per adult and £1,351 per child, staying in a two-bedroom garden pool villa with flights from Gatwick on February 12 (kenwoodtravel.co.uk).
Or head to Mauritius and stay on the scenic Morne peninsula, with a white sand beach before you and the Morne Brabant Mountain as a backdrop. The JW Marriott Mauritius has five restaurants, a private cinema and spa as well as the usual water sports and kids’ club. A week with flights from Gatwick leaving February 19 costs from £5,199 per family of four (with children under 12) including a 30 per cent discount if booked by January 31 (turquoiseholidays.co.uk).
Stay at the JW Marriott Mauritius on the scenic Morne peninsula, pictured, with the Morne Brabant Mountain as a backdrop. Turquoise Holidays’ trip to the resort costs from £5,199 per family of four
The Bar Terrace at The JW Marriott Mauritius. Guests can avail of a 30 per cent discount for their stay if they book with Kenwood Travel by January 31
A junior suite at JW Marriott Mauritius. Jet off from Gatwick on February 19 to stay in the hotel with Turquoise Holidays
Pictured is one of the pools at JW Marriott Mauritius – it also boasts five restaurants, a private cinema and a spa
Travel through the Valley of the Kings, pictured, on a donkey on an eight-night tour of Egypt with Stubborn Mule Travel, which costs from £7,690 for a family of four
If you can really splash out, take the kids on an educational break to see the temples and tombs in Egypt. Ride camels round the pyramids at sunset, travel through the Valley of the Kings on a donkey, or visit Karnak Temple in a horse-drawn carriage.
The trip highlight is a night on a traditional felucca on the Nile, sleeping under the stars.
Eight nights’ B&B with flights, some extra meals, and excursions costs from £7,690 for a family of four (stubbornmuletravel.com).
For those dreaming of a trip to the Maldives, there’s still space at Sun Siyam Olhuveli, pictured, for a half-term getaway with Away Holidays, priced from £6,408pp
Pictured on the left is a white-water rafting excursion on a trip to Sri Lanka with Families Worldwide. The trip costs from £1,845 per adult, £1,445 per child. The trip is ideal for families seeking adventure for active teens
Or families seeking adventure for active teens should consider Sri Lanka, where you can climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya, go white-water rafting, take the train to tea plantations and cycle along the coast.
Families Worldwide runs group trips, but you can form your own group with a minimum of four people, with a week’s B&B from February 13 with four lunches, two dinners, flights and transport from £1,845 per adult, £1,445 per child (familiesworldwide.co.uk).
Always wanted to go to the Maldives? There’s still space at Sun Siyam Olhuveli, where a week’s full board for a family of four, with children under the age of 15, will cost from £6,408pp, with flights leaving February 12. Watch manta rays swim by the jetty and eat in your choice of nine restaurants (awayholidays.co.uk).
Most countries require adults to be double vaccinated and to show evidence of a negative test before arrival; check requirements on gov.uk.