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

This is the part of the year when we dream of simple pleasures. Specifically, the simple pleasures of a soft stretch of beach, ample hours of sunshine and the absolute essential that is a country that enjoys weather considerably better than anything Britain can offer amid the chilly gloom of February. In an ideal world, this splendid destination should also dot the map a reasonably short flight from home. No more than four hours; five at a push.

This, you might think, shouldn’t be too much to ask. And in ordinary times, it isn’t. But “ordinary” has been notable by its absence for the past two years, and as the pandemic continues to rattle the windows, it may remain a scarce commodity for a few months yet.

Unfortunately, this disclaimer still applies to travel – and to the search for a holiday in the golden weeks of spring and Easter. As recently as the autumn, Europe in particular seemed to be reopening its doors with minimal fuss. But the arrival of the omicron variant prompted a new wave of restrictions – including, frustratingly, in several of the countries we would normally consider for a blue-sky escape in March or April. At the time of 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 making the same demand – albeit with an exception for those who can prove a recent recovery from Covid.

This doesn’t mean you can’t visit these countries, or that these must-jump-through hoops will definitely still be there when the Good Friday airport rush begins. But, for now, it makes them more complicated propositions. If you want to book sooner rather than later, with the fewest possible obstacles in your path, you may need to look elsewhere.

Where exactly? Perhaps to any of the following places. To Spain, Croatia, Turkey, Malta, Madeira and even Egypt – which, at present, may well be the most faff-free options for a short-haul suntan escape. This isn’t to say these six destinations don’t present minor hurdles to be leapt – and even with this helpful half-dozen, there are issues if your party includes teenagers who are unvaccinated, or only partly so.

But if you are looking at the rain and thinking you can’t wait any longer to set up a holiday, the time is now.

Spain

Faff-free 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 aren’t permitted 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 seeking heat and light in what is surely Europe’s most reliable option for good weather at almost any time of year.

What’s the attraction? 

Tenerife is an ocean giant that combines volcanic majesty with first-rate resorts – not least along the Costa Adeje, which shapes its south-west corner. From here, it’s an easy drive or day trip up to Teide National Park (volcanoteide.com), the protected zone that ring-fences what is Spain’s highest peak as well as the island’s caldera core. Pay a visit during Semana Santa, Spain’s Holy Week (April 10-17 this year), meanwhile, and you can witness all the pomp and procession of Tenerife in the midst of its pre-Easter rituals. Then again, parking yourself on a lounger – and staying there – is an equally sagacious strategy.

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