How the pandemic changed where Britons want to go on holiday, with Alicante and Malaga the top hotspots in 2019 but Cuba, Melbourne and Egypt most popular in 2022

  • No.1 in 2022 is Varadero, which has seen a 950 per cent increase in popularity
  • Melbourne in Australia is second, with a 719 per cent popularity increase
  • London, New York, Dubai and Paris all fail to make the top 20 in 2022 

The pandemic has had an enormous effect on tourism, including a dramatic change to Britons’ bucket lists, as new research reveals.

The study analysed the top 20 foreign destinations for Britons in 2019 versus 2022, with the pre-lockdown era dominated by Spain and the post-lockdown era seeing a strong showing by Greece, but with the ranking topped by hotspots in Cuba and Australia.

In 2019 the top five most popular places for Britons were Alicante (first), Malaga (second), Tenerife (third), Amsterdam (fourth) and Lanzarote (fifth). But fast forward to 2022 and the picture is entirely different, from top to bottom.

A study analysed the top 20 destinations for Britons in 2019 versus 2022. Pictured above is Varadero, 2022’s most popular destination

The second-most popular spot for Britons in 2022 is Melbourne, which has seen a 719 per cent increase in popularity

The No.1 spot is occupied by Varadero in Cuba, which has seen a 950 per cent increase in popularity according to the study, which analysed 1.8million trips booked since the start of the year.

The research, by Holiday Extras, reveals that Melbourne is in second place (719 per cent), followed by Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt (third, 449 per cent); Tirana, Albania (fourth, 139 per cent); and Santorini, Greece (fifth, 135 per cent).

The rest of the top 10 in 2019 comprised Palma de Mallorca (sixth), Faro in Portugal (seventh), Dublin (eighth), Belfast (ninth) and Geneva (10th).



1. Alicante

2. Malaga

3. Tenerife

4. Amsterdam

5. Lanzarote

6. Palma de Mallorca

7. Faro

8. Dublin

9. Belfast

10. Geneva

11. Barcelona

12. London

13. Dubai

14. Gran Canaria

15. Paphos

16. Krakow

17. New York

18. Fuerteventura

19. Paris

20. Budapest



1. Varadero, Cuba

2. Melbourne

3. Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt

4. Tirana, Albania

5. Santorini, Greece

6. Mykonos, Greece

7. Zadar, Croatia

8. Antalya, Turkey

9. Dalaman, Turkey

10. Lefkada, Greece

11. Rhodes, Greece

12. Crete, Greece

13. Izmir, Turkey

14. Skiathos, Greece

15. Kos, Greece

16. Bodrum, Turkey

17. Menorca, Spain

18. Girona, Italy

19. Sardinia, Italy

20. Kefalonia, Greece

 Source: Holiday Extras 


Alicante was the most popular spot for Britons in 2019

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, Malaga was the No.2 foreign destination for Britons

But it’s all change for the rest of the 2022 top 10, comprising Mykonos, Greece (sixth, 132 per cent); Zadar, Croatia (seventh, 126 per cent); Antalya, Turkey (eighth, 123 per cent); Dalaman, Turkey (ninth, 122 per cent), and Lefkada, Greece (10th, 90 per cent).

Conspicuous by their absence in the 2022 list are the big-ticket cities of Barcelona (11th in 2019), London (12th in 2019), Dubai (13th in 2019), New York (17th in 2019) and Paris (19th in 2019).

Instead, in 2022, they’ve been replaced (mainly) by destinations renowned for talcum-powder-soft beaches and turquoise waters: Rhodes, Greece (11th, 85 per cent); Crete, Greece (12th, 84 per cent); Izmir, Turkey (13th, 83 per cent); Skiathos, Greece (14th, 73 per cent); Kos, Greece (15th, 66 per cent); Bodrum, Turkey (16th, 58 per cent); Menorca, Spain (17th, 55 per cent); Girona, Italy (18th, 47 per cent); Sardinia, Italy (19th, 46 per cent), and Kefalonia, Greece (20th, 44 per cent).

Simon Hagger, Deputy CEO at Holiday Extras, commented: ‘With all the changes to travel over the past three years it’s inevitable that travel habits have gone through some changes too.

‘It’s great to see the world open back up, and people are reuniting with friends and family in Australia, or heading out for long-delayed bucket-list holidays to Egypt and the Caribbean.

‘People who flew in 2020 and 2021 found themselves exploring new places because their old favourites were closed, and this year they’re going back again – hence the incredible rise in popularity of Greece and Turkey as destinations, both of which stayed open almost all the way through the travel lockdowns.

‘And of course, for many people the cost-of-living crunch means finding cheaper options, so some of the new top picks – such as Turkey and Albania – are amongst the cheapest destinations for a budget summer holiday this year.’

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