Where to get your first faff-free short-haul slice of sunshine this year

This is the part of the year when we dream of simple pleasures. Specifically, the simple pleasures of a gentle stretch of beach, plenty of hours of sunshine, and the absolute essentials of a country that enjoys a much better climate than anything Britain can offer in the middle. from the freezing gloom of February. In an ideal world, this splendid destination should also be on the map within a reasonably short flight of home. No more than four hours; five at once.

That, you might think, shouldn’t be too much to ask. And in ordinary times, this is not the case. But “the ordinary” has been distinguished by its absence for two years, and while the pandemic continues to shake the windows, it risks remaining a rare commodity for a few more months.

Unfortunately, this disclaimer still applies to travel – and vacation finding in the golden weeks of spring and Easter. As recently as the fall, Europe in particular seemed to be reopening with minimal fanfare. But the arrival of the omicron variant has caused a new wave of restrictions – including, frustratingly, in several of the countries we’d normally consider for a blue sky escape in March or April. At the time of this writing, France, Italy and Greece are all asking even fully vaccinated Britons to take a PCR or antigen test before boarding the plane, and mainland Portugal is doing the same. request – but except for those who can prove a recent recovery from Covid.

That doesn’t mean you can’t visit these countries, or that these must-have hoops will definitely still be around when the Good Friday airport rush begins. But, for now, that makes for more complicated propositions. If you want to book as early as possible, with as few obstacles in your way as possible, you may need to look elsewhere.

Or exactly? Maybe at one of the following places. Spain, Croatia, Turkey, Malta, Madeira and even Egypt – which at the moment might just be the easiest options for a short-term tanning getaway. That’s not to say these six destinations don’t present minor hurdles to jump through — and even with that helpful half-dozen, there are issues if your party includes unvaccinated teenagers, or only some of them.

But if you’re watching the rain and thinking you can’t wait to plan a vacation, now is the time.

Spain

Flawless Rating: 7/10

Covid Considerations

An online health form (spth.gob.es) must be submitted for all passengers prior to departure. Fully vaccinated tourists and children under 12 can enter the country without testing – but at present unvaccinated tourists are not allowed to visit.

Can I take my teenagers?

Only if they are fully vaccinated

Tenerife

April temperature: 20C

Flight time: 4.5 hours

Who should go?

Families, couples, retirees – in fact, anyone looking for warmth and light in what is surely Europe’s most reliable option for good weather at almost any time of the year.

What’s the attraction?

Tenerife is an ocean giant that combines volcanic majesty with top-notch resorts, especially along the Costa Adeje, which forms its southwestern corner. From here it’s an easy drive or day trip to Teide National Park (volcanoteide.com), the protected area that surrounds what is Spain’s highest peak as well as the heart of the island’s caldera. Pay a visit during Semana Santa, Spain’s Holy Week (April 10-17 this year), and you can witness all the pomp and procession of Tenerife amid its pre-Easter rituals. Then again, parking in a lounge chair – and staying there – is an equally shrewd strategy.