An upsurge in Covid-19 cases is hampering travel to most of the world’s most popular tourist destinations — but less famous, more remote retreats are enjoying a resurgence.
From hiking hidden hillsides to riding remote routes, there are plenty of ways to escape the crowds and have a socially distanced holiday either at home or abroad.
Walk Japan’s wild paths
With the country still largely off-limits to international visitors, now is a good time for local holidaymakers in Japan to explore their own backyard without the typical crowds.
An old teahouse on Nakasendo way, a historic route known as “the road through the mountains,” which connects Kyoto to Tokyo.
A great way to see the sights is via a self-guided walking tour. Travel operators such as Walk Japan have dedicated close to three decades to uncovering the country’s greatest hidden gems. Hikers can opt to get off the beaten track among the beautiful temples and hot springs of Kunisaki in the south, or explore Nakasendo’s hidden highway from Kyoto to Tokyo, with a selection of seven weeklong tours spanning the breadth of the country.
In July, Japan launched its Go To travel campaign to encourage domestic tourism in the country with subsidies on hotels and travel for local residents. The country is reportedly considering opening to international tourists as early as spring 2021 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July.
Roam the U.S. RV routes
RV rentals are a great way to get away from it all on the open road.
Holidaymakers can immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring nature of Colorado National Monument, complete with its red rock spires and deep-cut canyons. Alternately, travelers can try a trip to the expansive vineyards of Napa Valley. For a truly socially distanced trip, vacationers can visit the mountains, deserts and dunes of Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
As the festive season approaches, RV hire companies are anticipating a further surge in demand, with rental website RVShare noting in a recent survey that half of the travelers are considering RVs as a way to visit family during the holidays.
Hike Italy’s hilltop homesteads
Months after the virus wracked Italy, that country’s remote villages have positioned themselves as rural retreats for travelers in need of some peace and quiet.
Sunset scene of the rural country villages of Siena, Italy.
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With an estimated 5,800 small villages — half of which are thought to be abandoned — travelers can make themselves at home in the hillside, spending days hiking hidden pathways. Meanwhile, camper van rentals and a recently expanded cycle route connecting 240 kilometers (149 miles) of Tuscan villages let holidaymakers conquer an entire region.
In May, the Italian government earmarked 30 million euros ($35 million) to breathe new life into its historic centers, with a particular emphasis on villages in five southern regions in a bid to boost domestic and international tourism. Meanwhile, a recently reimposed, tiered lockdown has limited movement into and around some of the country’s most densely populated cities, including Milan.
Cycle France’s secret stretches
Home to the iconic Tour de France cycle competitions, France boasts some of the world’s most beautiful bike routes for cyclists of all abilities.
The plethora of cycle routes in Provence, France provide plenty of ways for holidaymakers to explore the local region.
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Holidaymakers looking for a socially distanced getaway can choose from rural routes across the country via guided or self-guided routes. Operators including Discover France and Tour Radar allow cyclists to experience the dramatic mountains of the Pyrenees, the historic chateaus of the Loire Valley, or the open fields of Provence.
France is under a second national lockdown, with domestic and international tourism off-limits until at least the end of November.
Drive Scotland’s remote roads
Scotland’s expansive highlands and islands can make for some of the most scenic and socially distanced getaways for last-minute holidaymakers.
The Isle of Skye is one of numerous stunning spots roadtrippers to Scotland can enjoy away from the crowds.
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Roadtrippers can take their pick of the country’s most remote routes, whether with a drive through the Isle of Skye’s rugged mountain range or a journey to the Highlands’ Knoydart peninsula (topped off with a pint in the U.K. mainland’s most remote pub).
Meanwhile, for a taste of the festive season, travelers can explore the snow-capped peaks and rugged glens of the Snow Roads scenic route tucked away in Cairngorms National Park.
With the U.K. still battling growing coronavirus cases, the Scottish government said this week it is “actively considering” putting into law a ban on traveling in and out of Covid-19 hotspots.
Sail Singapore’s shoreline
As the Southeast Asian city-state opens to cruises to nowhere this month, Singapore residents will once again enjoy a taste of overseas travel.
A private boat hire can offer one means of socially distanced escape.
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But locals hoping for a more socially distanced excursion may do well to opt for a private boat hire, which has all the fun of the open seas without the crowds. Boat rental platforms including GetMyBoat, which saw a 3,900% surge in demand between April and October, offer daily rates for budget and luxury charter from around $188 per day.
In July, Singapore launched a $32 million domestic tourism campaign, with a string of incentives to encourage residents to take a so-called Singapoliday in their own backyard.