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Top 10 Dream Destinations for Christmas and New Year’s 2020/2021*

  2020/21 2019/20
1 New York City Paris
2 Paris 1 London
3 Chicago Amsterdam
4 London 2 Barcelona
5 Leavenworth Madrid
6 Frankfurt am Main Rome
7 Amsterdam 4 Berlin
8 Boston Prague
9 Los Angeles Venice
10 Washington Brussels

*The data is based on more than 10,000 searches travelers made between September 1, 2020 and October 15, 2020 and refers to searches made between December 18, 2020 and January 3, 2021.

Europe stays home this summer

Twenty-twenty will be remembered as the year that changed travel forever. With flights grounded, ever-changing restrictions and a pandemic to manage, the travel industry has rarely had to deal with such complex challenges.

The past year has been a volatile one, for sure, one in which travel essentially halted. But the thirst for it never quite went away. Intrigued to see the impact COVID-19 had on travel and our customers, we looked at our booking data from June and July this year and compared it to the same time last year.

By taking a deep dive into this data, we’ve noticed the shifting patterns in our customers’ choices. This trend report shows that although COVID-19 did its best to dampen travel this summer, it didn’t stop people from exploring altogether. All over Europe, travel patterns changed, with local coastal or port towns gaining popularity—think Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, Taranto in Italy and Chipiona in Spain. A big surprise is that some of Europe’s biggest cities such as Paris and Amsterdam waned in popularity while “smaller” metropolises such as Munich and Zurich gained more visitors, especially when they were French and German.

A continental shift

Summer 2020 was the season for Europeans to explore their own countries.

2020 2019
1 Madrid Madrid
2 Malaga 1 Barcelona
3 Sevilla 2 Malaga
4 Valencia Valencia
5 Barcelona 3 Seville
6 Alicante 1 Pamplona
7 Marbella 4 Alicante
8 Zaragoza 2 Florence
9 Bilbao Bilbao
10 Chipiona Zaragoza
11 San Sebastian 2 Marbella
12 Pamplona 6 Granada
13 Segovia 1 San Sebastian
14 Matalascañas Segovia
15 Almería Toledo
16 Sanlúcar de Barrameda Venice
17 Granada 5 Gandia
18 Conil de la Frontera Paris
19 Salamanca 1 Rome
20 Jaca Salamanca

Click here to download the table of Top Destinations in Spain (source: omio.com/travel-trends)

Top Destinations for the French

2020 2019
1 Paris Paris
2 Toulouse 2 Lyon
3 Marseille 2 Lille
4 Lyon 2 Toulouse
5 Montpellier 2 Marseille
6 Lille 3 Bordeaux
7 Bordeaux 1 Montpellier
8 Brussels 4 Rouen
9 Rouen 1 London
10 Barcelona 1 Nantes
11 Munich Barcelona
12 Nice 5 Brussels
13 Berlin Avignon
14 Aix-en-Provence Grenoble
15 Le Havre Geneva
16 Rennes 3 Strasbourg
17 Perpignan 3 Nice
18 Deauville Caen
19 Milan Rennes
20 Caen 2 Perpignan

Click here to download the table of Top Destinations in France (source: omio.com/travel-trends)

Top Destinations for Italians

2020 2019
1 Naples 2 Milan
2 Rome Rome
3 Milan 2 Naples
4 Bari 3 Florence
5 Bologna 1 Turin
6 Florence 2 Bologna
7 Salerno 4 Bari
8 Turin 3 Venice
9 Genoa Paris
10 Venice 2 Rimini
11 Taranto Salerno
12 Catania 3 Pisa
13 Paris 4 Verona
14 Gallipoli Foggia
15 Lecce 4 Catania
16 Diano Marina Padua
17 Foggia 3 Matera
18 Rimini 8 Bergamo
19 Finale Ligure Lecce
20 Riccione Palermo

Click here to download the table of Top Destinations in Italy (source: omio.com/travel-trends)

Top Destinations for the Brits

2020 2019
1 London London
2 Manchester Manchester
3 Brighton 1 Paris
4 Liverpool 3 Brighton
5 Birmingham 0 Birmingham
6 Edinburgh 0 Edinburgh
7 Brussels 2 Liverpool
8 Bournemouth 9 Glasgow
9 Leeds 3 Brussels
10 Glasgow 2 Amsterdam
11 Sheffield 9 Oxford
12 Paris 9 Leeds
13 Middlesbrough Horley
14 Eastbourne Cambridge
15 Southampton Bath
16 Bristol Newcastle
17 Portsmouth Bournemouth
18 Bedford York
19 Cambridge 5 Nottingham
20 Southend-on-Sea Sheffield

Click here to download the table of Top Destinations in the UK (source: omio.com/travel-trends)

  • In the U.K., the British seaside had a renaissance of sorts. Southern coastal towns such as Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Southampton and Eastbourne saw a spike in popularity—most probably thanks to the uncharacteristically hot weather Great Britain experienced this summer. 
  • International cities such as Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam saw a huge dip in popularity for Brits, with the latter two dropping out of the top 20 completely. It seems the U.K. is really intent on getting Brexit done. 
  • European locals in Italy and Spain have also been traveling to coastal regions in their countries. Who can blame them? With fewer tourists, popular beach resorts are now more appealing to locals. 
  • Like the Brits, Southern Europeans have been less interested in international cities such as Paris and Amsterdam. Spaniards are choosing domestic cities rather than international ones—think Madrid, Valencia and Bilbao. Likewise, Italians are keeping things local and are heading to port cities such as Taranto and Genova instead of bigger destinations, at home and abroad. Both Taranto and Genova are gateway cities to smaller coastal towns and islands, offering a seaside escape from the everyday. 
  • Known for their love of the sun, Germans in 2020 broke the mold, spending the summer in cities such as Freiburg, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland, that have easy access to wide-open spaces. The great outdoors offer a respite in these trying times. 
  • This year, the French traveled abroad more than ever—particularly to international cities such as Brussels, Munich and Berlin. Perhaps, they were taking advantage of these popular destinations being quieter than usual? Or maybe, after a strict lockdown, they were ready to see the sights of a different country? Either way, it shows the French love to visit cultural hubs, even during a pandemic! 
  • Across Europe, there was less interest in visiting big international cities. Paris took the biggest hit, particularly with the U.K. and Germany, where it dropped nine and eight places, respectively. This was most probably due to the strict lockdown rules in France.  

From planes to trains

Another interesting shift in 2020 travel trends is the increase in people traveling by train and bus. The shift started in 2019, as conversations around the environmental impact of flying became more prevalent, mostly thanks to Swedish teen Greta Grunberg.

This year saw the majority of flights grounded, making traveling by train and bus necessary. Since Europeans spent 2020 mostly at home, it makes sense for them to travel by train rather than to fly. Buses have also seen a rise in popularity, as they are a cheaper alternative for getting around and can often get to more remote locations than trains.

2020’s biggest hits

Throughout Europe, mid-sized and smaller towns are having a moment. Take inspiration from these local destinations, which have seen newfound popularity this year.

Chipiona

In the southern tip of Spain, Chipiona is a jewel in the Cadiz region. Although remote (it’s only accessible by bus), the white sand of Playa de Regla stretches across seven miles, making it well worth the journey. The town itself is small but full of history—it dates back to Roman times—and interesting architecture.

Munich

There’s a lot more to see in this German city than Oktoberfest, we promise! Explore the neo-gothic architecture of Marienplatz, take a look around the plentiful markets, and, yes, definitely indulge in a beer or two. Surrounded by natural wonders, Munich is also a great base for exploring the Bavarian countryside.

Taranto

A port town in the heel of Italy, Taranto is one of the most lively destinations in the Puglia region. Learn about the city’s ties with the ancient Spartans and discover Centro Storico, the quaint but charming old town that sits on a man-made island in the aqua waters of the Mar Piccolo lagoon.

Zurich

Surrounded by Lake Zurich, this Swiss city exudes calmness. Meander down the pristine streets of the charming old town and indulge yourself in some of the world’s best chocolate! With an up-and-coming art scene, Zurich is the place for anyone who likes a side of culture with their holiday.

Portsmouth

With four miles of sandy coastline, plenty of fish and chip joints and great maritime museums, a day at this Hampshire port town is fun for all the family. Just two hours away from London by train, it’s clear why this lively coastal town became such a U.K. hotspot this summer.


Get inspired by our brand new magazine The Window Seat.


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