I’ve always loved to travel and discover the world, and I’ve never imagined there would come a time when I would no longer be able to do so. Right now, all these far-away places I’ve dreamed to tick-off my bucket list seem even more alluring than ever before.
Whilst for now staying home is the right thing to do it does not mean we can’t dream of future travels.
If you follow my blog, you will know I am usually putting together a travel wish list at the beginning of the year and I did so for 2020 as well. And of course, I also have a huge bucket list of destinations and things I want to do that could keep me going for years.
So why I am putting together yet another bucket list?
There is a very simple reason. It is pretty clear it will take some time until we all will return to a normal life, and restrictions will be lifted only step-by-step over a longer period. Travelling, especially for leisure, will be among the last things we will be able to do. In addition, even when hotels and restaurants will open again, crossing borders or boarding a plane might still be more complicated.
Therefore, I have put together a travel bucket list reflecting what I think is a more realistic scenario of travelling after the global pandemic. It considers a step-by-step reduction of current restrictions and a slow return of international travel.
My post Covid-19 travel bucket list – short term
A road trip through north Hesse, the home of Brothers Grimm
You tend to neglect visiting those destinations the closest to you. Living just north of Frankfurt, I am literally a stone’s threw away from the places where the famous Brothers Grimm were born and the region where their famous fairy-tales are located is just around the corner.
It is one of this typical German countryside areas dotted with many historic small half-timbered towns, several old castles, small rivers and national parks.
I bet you have never heard of places such as Melsungen, Fritzlar, Bad Wildungen, Frankenberg or Bad Zwesten, just to name a few. Yet it is absolutely worth putting this region largely unknown to international travellers on your own bucket list.
As soon as it will be safe, I will start to visit lots of these locations so stay tuned for more to come on the area.
Visiting the Mosel wine region
I still have a trip booked to the Mosel for June, but I am almost certain this will not happen, given how the situation currently unfolds.
However, I fully intend to head to this beautiful part of Germany as soon as it will be possible to do so.
The area is well-known for its amazing steep vineyards, excellent wines, historic castles and many gorgeous half-timbered historic villages such as Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Traben-Trarbach as well as Beilstein, which is often described as one of the most gorgeous German wine villages.
If like me you favour short culinary trips, the Mosel area with ab abundance of small boutique hotels offering lovely accommodation in combination with seasonal food and award-winning wines should be on your bucket list too.
Germany’s oldest city, Trier which I have been visiting only last year is also part of the area. The city boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and if you have never been, read my post 10 awesome reasons why Germany’s oldest city Trier should be on your bucket list, if you wonder why it’s worth going.
Exploring Germany’s castle hotels
Though the exact number is not known, there are likely around 20,000 castles in Germany. Many of them are only ruins but there’s still a huge number standing to this day, and a lot of them are open to visitors.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Burg Eltz or Hohenzollern Castle are likely among the best known but there are many more worth visiting. In fact, several have been converted to luxury hotels.
Admittedly, I have been only to a hand full of these hotels even though living close by. Therefore, I’ve started to put together a list of castle hotels in Germany. There are so many, it will likely take some time but I am determined to slowly explore most of them.
Therefore, as soon as it will be possible, I’d like to start visiting those below; and I am sure the list will only grow over time.
Castle Hotel Schönburg, Oberwesel, Middle Rhine Valley
Burghotel Schnellenberg, Attendorn
Hotel auf der Wartburg, Eisenach, Thuringia
Castle Hotel Münchhausen, Aerzen
Schloss Lieser, Lieser, Mosel Valley – an Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott
Wasserburg Anholt, Isselburg; part of the 100 castles route
Spending a weekend in Hamburg
I love city breaks and whilst I am more than familiar with Hamburg, having lived there for nearly 10 years, I can’t wait to spend some time in this beautiful city again. There is always something new to discover from restaurants to bars, shops and lots of interesting events going on.
In addition, there are so many locations in this city that I will never get tired to revisit. Among my favourites are the inner-city Alster lake, the harbour area and of course the UNESCO World Heritage Site Speicherstadt, the historic warehousing district.
Also not to be missed is the still ongoing waterfront regeneration site Hafencity with its mix of historic and modern buildings, including the already famous Elbphilharmonie and many trendy restaurants and bars.
Since it’s more than a year since my last visit, I still have a large list of new restaurants I am keen to explore, and I am hoping they will be still around once we are getting to travel again.
As for where I want to stay during my next visit, high up on my list is the new Ameron Hotel located in the historic Speicherstadt district. Having meandered around the area so many times, I can just imagine how amazing it must be to wake up to the view of the small canals lined by the historic brick houses.
My post Covid-19 travel bucket list – medium term
Travelling again outside our own countries might take a bit longer, especially where it involves flying. And the further away a destination is from our home, the more difficult it could be to get there either due to continued limited flight options likely coupled with continued strict travel policies over a longer period.
Whether it will be later this year or only next, my medium-term bucket list includes a couple of places I’ve not visited in a long time but had been keen to re-visit for a while already. I guess this is the time to stop thinking of returning and finally do so.
Andalucía round trip – Malaga, Cordoba and Granada
This is a trip I had planned to do over the Easter week in April but obviously had to cancel. It is now scheduled for late September with flights and hotels all postponed, so fingers crossed this timing will work.
I’ve been to Sevilla twice and also made a quick trip to Cordoba a few years ago, which left me with the desire to explore more of Andalucía. In particular the world-famous Alhambra in Granada has been on my bucket list for quite a while. Thus, planning around visiting Granada and locally taking the train rather than driving the best round trip turned out to be Malaga – Cordoba – Granada – Malaga; and I am so looking forward to it.
Finally returning to Florence and Tuscany
Could you believe it’s more than 20 years that I last visited both Florence and Tuscany? Yep, me neither.
You can imagine, it’s been on my list for some time. Right now, more than ever I think it is important to support Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in Europe by the coronavirus.
Returning to Florence and from there heading out to the Tuscan countryside is therefore one of the first places I am planning to go once borders are open again and I will feel confidently safe to board a plane.
Florence alone is a place you can spend at least a week without running out of things to see and the Duomo, the world-famous Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens would definitely among the places I want to see again.
As for Tuscany, Siena, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Greve in Chianti or Castellina in Chianti are only some of the stunning small medieval towns not to be missed. Then of course a winery tour and hitting some of the small, family-led local restaurants to enjoy the wonderful local cuisine is obviously another must on the list.
Heading to Verona and Lake Garda
Another beautiful Italian region I actually know very well having once lived there but where I have not been back for quite a while is the beautiful Veneto region with its main city Verona, the nearby Valpolicella wine region and Lake Garda.
Although Lake Garda has become quite touristy, it is still a stunning destination and during shoulder season the crowds are usually much thinner.
With approximately 20 minutes drive time into Verona and the surrounding wine areas, my plan would be staying somewhere at the lake, giving me the opportunity to revisit the many small lovely towns around Lake Garda, spending a day in Verona and venturing into the nearby vineyards.
Revisiting the Amalfi Coast, Italy
There are so many stunning locations in Italy it is difficult to rank them in order of beauty or which ones you need to visit first. Without doubt, however, the Amalfi Coast is one of the most amazing.
Regardless of what destinations you have already seen in the world, driving along the small winding roads along the steep rugged coastline high above the sea is an experience that will stick in your memory forever.
The Amalfi Coast is a fantastic place to visit from April through to October although I would always prefer the shoulder season to avoid the summer crowds and possibly go in autumn when the chances of warm sunny weather are usually better than the more unpredictable springtime.
That said, the Amalfi Coast is also known for its abundance of lemons grown across the area and from March through July is the main lemon harvest time. During this time, you will see lots of busy workers hand-harvesting the precious fruit in the lemon orchards nestled on the steep, rocky slopes.
Exploring Marseille, the Camargue and the Languedoc
A trip I had planned for this summer – but not yet booked – is still on top of my post Covid-19 travel bucket list.
France’s Languedoc is a well-established yet still slightly overlooked wine region dotted with a number of stunning Chateau not only producing wine but also offering beautiful accommodation.
With Marseille being the closest international airport and the Camargue sandwiched between the city and the Languedoc region, it’s a great opportunity to combine the destinations into a weeklong trip.
On route to the wine region lies historic Montpellier, Languedoc’s regional capital and time permitting I’d also love to include the cities of Avignon and Nimes.
My post Covid-19 travel bucket list – long term
Returning to Napa and Sonoma wine country
If you are a wine lover, Napa Valley and the nearby Sonoma County are a must on your bucket list. Though I’ve been there a few years ago, there is so much to explore there, from beautiful landscape to award-winning wineries and one of the best restaurant scenes in the world, it is one of the top places on my list I definitely want to return once long-haul travel feels safe again.
I know it’s difficult to recreate past memories, especially when these are based on unexpected experiences. Back at the time, I used to do less research and preparation before visiting a new destination. I even would go to certain places without pre-booking a hotel. Especially when going on a road trip, I would drive a loosely pre-planned route and stop wherever it seemed best and where I would find a nice place for the night.
This way, the last time I discovered the gorgeous small town of Healdsburg (which I did not know existed before driving into it) and my favourite hotel in Sonoma County the beautiful MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa. Two places I absolutely want to revisit among several others.
A road trip along the US east coast
There are lots of places I’d like to explore (or rediscover) along the US east coast and it is probably too large a region for only one trip.
Hence splitting it up, I’d like to start with a tour from Washington DC to Virginia Beach via the Blue Ridge Mountains, including stops at beautiful Alexandria, Williamsburg and Fredericksburg.
Another trip on top of my long-haul bucket list would be indeed the opposite direction, exploring Vermont and Maine.
What is on your bucket list once we can travel again? Have you been to any of the destinations above? Let me know.