Welcome to Friday Around the Planet, a roundup of some of the travel-related news and inspiration you might have missed over the past week.
While it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that we’re almost halfway through the year (how is it May already?), by now, it feels like anyone who’s lucky enough to travel this summer has already made plans. Bookings are up and all signs are pointing to a busy summer travel season as more countries forge ahead with reopening plans.
One of the biggest reopening stories this week came from New Zealand: the south Pacific nation reached a major milestone on Monday, opening its borders—for the first time in more than two years—to tourists from places like the US, the UK, Singapore, Germany and more. Travelers at the arrivals gate in Auckland got a warm welcome where they were greeted by Māori cultural performers and with locally made chocolate bars as the first international flights touched down.
Thinking about visiting New Zealand? Need some inspiration? Check out these 12 incredible road trips that will bring you off the beaten track to show you some of the country’s best natural wonders.
Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, Fiji streamlined its entry process and ruled that vaccinated travelers can now visit without pre-arrival COVID-19 testing. It’s one less task on the to-do list (testing is still required on arrival) leaving you with more time to find an affordable resort in Fiji or to figure out what needs to be included on your itinerary.
Italy has abandoned the Green Pass for entry this week ©Boris-B/Shutterstock
Europe continues to roll back restrictions
Greece took a giant leap forward this week by getting rid of all of its pandemic entry requirements. No more vaccination or recovery certificates are needed to get into the country or to enter hospitality venues. In fact, it’s pretty much business as usual, but you shouldn’t abandon all precautions as face masks remain necessary indoors in public places until June.
Croatia played a similar move by dropping restrictions this week. And neighboring Italy abandoned its Green Pass, which means people no longer have to show their vaccination certificates to gain entry to venues. Although you will need to show it (or a recovery or test certificate) to enter Italy so don’t leave it at home.
A sure sign that things are moving in a positive direction in Europe is the news that Oktoberfest will return to Munich this year after a two-year cancellation. Cheers to that!
Oktoberfest returns to Munich this September © FooTToo/Shutterstock
Must-do cultural activities
Anyone in the US who can’t make it to Europe this summer should try to check out this free event in Washington, DC. It will let you feel like you’re there, or in any country for that matter, when embassies open their doors to the public.
You can also take another trip around the world, of sorts, by visiting these 12 essential Asian American destinations in the US. From New York’s vibrant Chinatown to San Francisco’s Angel Island, the list will show you where and how you can learn more about the contributions of AAPI Americans and their experiences in the US.
Elsewhere in DC, a ground-breaking Afro-Atlantic exhibition is taking place at the National Gallery of Arts, tracing the harrowing history of the transatlantic slave trade and its effects on the African diaspora.
Escape the noise
Maybe you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, but one that takes you away from the crowds. Well, you can start planning a trip to Grand Canyon’s North Rim as national park officals announced this week that it will reopen for the season on May 15.
If the current political news cycle is leaving you feeling drained and exhausted, you might want to seek out these places around the world that offer visitors a peaceful and serene experience and the chance to disconnect from doom-scrolling. They’re more or less free from man-made noise pollution so you can have a minute to catch your breath, clear your head, and leave the noise behind.
“Afro-Atlantic Histories” at the National Gallery of Art, 2022 © National Gallery of Art
More streamlined journeys
In other travel news, the rise of ultralong-haul flights continued this week as Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, announced it’s moving forward with plans to connect New York and London with cities like Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane on non-stop flights. Flights will be a slog, clocking in an average of 19 hours for a direct Sydney to New York route. But it will be a while before anyone can avail of them anyway as they’re not slated to launch until 2025.
One streamlined journey that is getting off the ground soon is the long-awaited Crossrail high-speed rail line in London. The first phase will launch on May 24, but one of the most significant phases of the project for travelers will launch this fall. If you’re visiting the city and land in Heathrow, you’ll be able to arrive from the airport to the center of the city in a very speedy 38 minutes. That’s one-hour less than it currently takes on the Underground. We love a speedy and streamlined journey, especially one that’s climate friendly.
The post Friday around the planet: Travel news and inspiration for the week ending May 6
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