After two long years of closed borders, quarantines and restrictions, travel is back with a vengeance – if you can find a place to go that’s not fully booked. Travelers trying to make plans for coveted destinations will find limited flight options and crowded hotels.
Those still thinking about making a last-minute trip to breathe in waves of vines, hike rocky mountain trails, and sample wonderful, home-cooked food needn’t worry about runaway demand. The curators of the Origin app, a travel planning company, have compiled a list of the five countries it recommends for phenomenal vacations that aren’t grossly overbooked. So check out these alternatives to overlook goals and start planning.
Our newest Where Can I Go? feature harnesses the sophistication of search algorithms and the brilliance of travel experts to prepare individual travelers for the uncertainties of COVID restrictions. Read more: https://t.co/mdmSH8WXXK
– Origin (@OriginDot) March 23, 2022
Skip the Tuscan crowds for Portugal’s Douro Valley
If sipping a wine surrounded by rolling vineyards seems like your kind of rest and relaxation, steer away from the crowds of Tuscany and set sail for northern Portugal’s Douro Valley. Indulge the senses with fermented delights as you sit back and watch as the region’s eponymous river meanders through rolling green mountains and carves out one of Europe’s most picturesque winelands.
Perhaps best known for its dry reds like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca, the Douro Valley doesn’t skimp on whites. Among the best known are Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Viosinho and the effervescent Vinho Verde grapes – the perfect refreshment for a summer afternoon.
Dozens of wineries dot valley after valley, presenting the Douro Valley’s most enduring challenge: where to go next?
Instead of dialing into the Dolomites, dial into Western Norway
Italy’s northeastern Dolomites are an extension of the Alps, forming a stunning natural tapestry that makes for the perfect outdoor playground… which is why the Dolomites are flooded with visitors all year round.
Alpine summers are not only found in Central Europe. A more distant trip to western Norway puts visitors right in the middle of almost 300 mountain peaks over 6,560 feet and a thousand mountain peaks over 5,400 feet above sea level. That means almost endless viewpoints and far fewer people to encounter while hiking, biking, or boating. And there are few places in the world that can match the breathtaking beauty of a fjord kayak trip.
To refuel, there are a number of quaint towns in western Norway that serve up traditional Bergen cuisine – cinnamon rolls, raspeballer (potato balls), cod, mountain trout and specialty coffees.
Avoid Rome’s crowds… Head to Rio
Insane hordes occupy in summer Rome, everyone is hoping for a taste of its former glory. With so many tourists and hot weather, a dream trip can quickly become a burden. Skip the lines but stick with the big city vibe and visit Rio de Janeiro during the city’s warm winters. June, July, and August are flipped in the southern hemisphere, but there’s definitely no snow on Rio’s steamy tropical beaches. When travelers tire of the sand in Brazil’s biggest party city, Rio’s cosmopolitan side reveals itself in the central Lapa district, filled with trendy bars and restaurants and the sound of samba music.
Get the best of the Amalfi Coast… Via Costa del Sol, Spain
Translates directly to “Coast of the Sun”, south Spain sets an awfully high bar, with 320 days of sunshine a year beating down on big cities like Malaga or Marbella, as well as whitewashed houses overlooking the Mediterranean that look like an old-world dream.
Formerly a string of small fishing settlements, the region is now known for its idyllic coastal towns that are not yet overrun by tourists. For travelers looking for the perfect summer vacation, the Costa del Sol has it all. Soak up the Spanish sun next to a sea that feels like bathwater before striding through nights warm enough to wear shorts. The Costa del Sol is in Andalusia, where the Mediterranean dishes mix perfectly with the cold beer and the freshly fried seafood.
Skip Sicily and head to Crete
Sicily is a wonderful island to visit, but tourist crowds increase during the summer months. If you are looking for an alternative, you will find relaxation and adventure on another island, Crete.
Somehow Greece’s largest island is still untouched. Maybe it’s the gods who still protect the place. After all, Crete is the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, as well as the head of the Olympians, Zeus.
On Crete lie the marble ruins and ancient remains of the people who worshiped these deities. Primeval mountain landscapes plunge into fertile valleys and steep gorges, all surrounded by sparkling beaches and the Mediterranean blue. And that’s without mentioning the food.
The local cuisine – salty cheeses, savory olive oils and endless seafood – is now harvested with sustainability in mind. This applies to the fine wines of this ancient civilization.
No matter where the journey goes, people must travel to get there, and that is no easy task in a post-COVID-19 world. To avoid long queues, Origin offers some assistance: only store carry-on baggage and if necessary, as the travel company can assist in shipping things to travelers’ destinations.
When you book with Origin, customers receive an automated VIP greeting upon landing, which also means assistance from customs and airport staff—skip the line. An Origin organized itinerary starts at $600 per person per day and includes accommodations, private tours and experiences, domestic flights, private transfers, breakfast and all necessary on-site logistics.