Omio Travel Trends

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National Trends

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

  2020/21 2019/20
1 London London
2 Paris Paris
3 Edinburgh 1 Amsterdam
4 Amsterdam 1 Edinburgh
5 Manchester 4 Brussels
6 Glasgow Berlin
7 Brussels 2 Prague
8 Berlin 2 Madrid
9 Birmingham Manchester
10 Lisbon Barcelona

*This breakdown given refers to the top 10 destinations only, not to all searches. The data is based on more than 10,000 searches travellers made between 1 September 2020 and 15 October 2020 and refers to searches made between 18 December 2020 and 3 January 2021.



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. While holidays to Ibiza and Positano were basically out, Brits took a closer look at their backyards for their summer holidays. Compare this to 2019 when it was all about Paris, Amsterdam and the like. From Brighton to Portsmouth to London, Brits stayed in Blighty but picked coastal backwaters and cultural meccas for their sweet escapes.

Beach, please

In 2020, British seaside towns had a renaissance! One thing is clear—Brits love the beach! Usually, it’s all about the sand and surf in Spain and Italy but this year Brits preferred coasts closer to home.

2020 2019
1 London London
2 Manchester Manchester
3 Brighton 1 Paris
4 Liverpool 3 Brighton
5 Birmingham Birmingham
6 Edinburgh 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.co.uk/travel-trends)

  • Bournemouth jumped nine spots from 2019 to the eighth most visited town. Other seaside spots such as Portsmouth, Eastbourne and Southampton all entered the top 20 for the first time this year. We really do like to be beside the seaside, especially on hot summer days (and we had plenty of them this year)

  • One of the biggest surprises for 2020 was the major decrease in Brits booking trips to European cities. For the first time in years, Amsterdam and Brussels dropped out of the top 20 most-booked destinations. Paris, which is invariably in the top five, dropped from the third most-visited destination in 2019 to the twelfth in 2020. Was Brexit a cause? Did people feel nostalgic for the family holidays of their youth? Was it because of fewer flights? Whatever the reason, European destinations were a no go this summer.

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A continental shift

Interestingly, the patterns seen in the UK are similar to those in Southern Europe. European locals in Italy and Spain have also been travelling to coastal regions in their countries. Who can blame them? With fewer tourists, popular beach resorts are now more appealing to locals.

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.co.uk/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.co.uk/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.co.uk/travel-trends)

  • 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 such as 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 mould, 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 from these trying times

  • Of course, we can trust the French to go against the grain! This year, they travelled 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!

From planes to trains

Another interesting shift in 2020 travel trends is the increase in people travelling by train and coach. 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 travelling by train and bus necessary. Since Brits spent 2020 mostly at home, it makes sense for them to travel by train rather than to fly. Distances between major metropolises in England, Scotland and Wales are not too great, making ground transport a comfortable and viable option. Coaches 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.

New seasonal destinations

Home and abroad, mid-sized and smaller towns are having a moment. Take inspiration from these local destinations, which have seen new-found 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 UK hotspot this summer.


Get inspired by our brand new magazine The Window Seat.


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