The global spread of the coronavirus is disrupting travel. Stay up to date on the science behind the outbreak>>

Our 12 most-read travel features of 2021

The pandemic still hasn't stopped our readers dreaming about travel. From vegan food and outdoor bars to city guides and campervanning, here are the 12 most-read articles of the past year.

The Old Man of Storr against an ominous autumn sky. The dramatic rock formation is the result of an ancient landslide, though is said to be the remains of a perished giant.

Photograph by Daniel Alford
Published 29 Dec 2021, 06:06 GMT

This year, like the last, has been somewhat turbulent, to say the least. Amid the ups and downs, National Geographic Traveller (UK) and National Geographic Traveller Food (UK) have continued to bring tales of travel and culinary inspiration to our dedicated readers. You visited our website in record numbers, especially at times when we found ourselves either grounded or finally able to plan those long-awaited trips. 

You came to us for all things Covid-19-related, whether it was the latest update to the ever-changing Green List over the summer months or guidance on which face mask to wear on your flight. But besides Covid-19, it seems you relied on us for expert advice on everything from cycling to campervanning (both, interestingly, fairly pandemic proof). You'll notice remote working and outdoor bars in London were popular (among the more positive effects of the pandemic). Of the hundreds of inspiring articles published online this year, browse through our 12 most-read, below.

1. Five cycling experts share their favourite routes in the UK
Team GB’s cyclists may have impressed us in the velodrome, but cycling isn’t solely the preserve of track titans — the sport is more popular than ever with amateurs, too, with 22% more bikes sold in the UK in 2021 compared to 2019. Over the various lockdowns, it appears people have discovered the joys of jumping on the saddle, from its myriad health benefits to the thrilling sense of freedom. From the wilds of Scotland to London’s leafy parks, we take a two-wheeled tour through the UK as five cycling experts share their favourite rides.

2. Experts share their tips for exploring the UK by campervan this summer
Campervan rentals in the UK have been given a big boost by travellers seeking private accommodation that allows open-road freedom between lockdowns. Joining the established car hire players in the market, a number of boutique operators now offer revamped retro rides, and several van-sharing websites have a wide choice of privately owned vehicles. Rentals run the gamut from all-mod-cons family-size motorhomes to rustic 1960s VWs.

In Warsaw, veganism goes hand in hand with political activism, and wholefood co-ops and cafes are a great way into Poland’s counterculture.

Photograph by Getty Images

3. The eight best cities for vegans
We’re living in a time when vegan food has never been easier to find — with even big brands like McDonald’s and KFC getting in on the trend. But it takes more than a couple of fast-food joints for a city to stand out as a real vegan hotspot. In Bangkok, Buddhist food is spilling out of temples and into Michelin-starred restaurants, while in Bengaluru, cashew milk is proving perfect for blending into creamy, vegan curries. With plant-based culinary innovation happening all over the world, we look at eight of the most vibrant and creative dining scenes.

4. Seven of England's best historic pubs
For hundreds of years, pubs have provided food, drink and entertainment to locals and weary travellers alike. Here are seven English favourites that have stood the test of time, from the riverside pub that claims to be the oldest in London to the Cornish inn that was once the haunt of smugglers and pirates.

A boat trip passing Graslei, bustling with people. 

Photograph by Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo

5. The inside guide to Ghent, Belgium's quietly cool city
The most surprising thing about Ghent is that it isn’t already hugely popular with visitors. Easily accessed by train from the UK, it has it all: a medieval heart crammed with buildings repurposed into restaurants, bars and boutiques; winding, canal-side paths, and a decidedly relaxed pace of life. Above all, Ghent is very much a city for its residents — its food and drink scene is aimed squarely at local tastes, and a large student population keeps its cultural life fizzing.

6. Warrior queens, fairies and feuding clans: exploring legends on Scotland's Isle of Skye
Shaped like a raven’s wing spreading into the Sea of the Hebrides, Skye is a theatre of natural drama, where legends like Scáthach’s have played out for centuries. It’s a suitable setting for tales of warriors and witches, given the brooding mountains, moorland, tumbling waterfalls and loch-frayed coasts that hint at a violent, elemental past. Indeed, the weather on Scotland’s second-largest island is equally as dramatic as its landscapes, changing at a moment’s notice like the whims of a god. After all, it didn’t earn the nickname ‘Misty Isle’ for nothing.

Cities around the world including London, New York, San Francisco and Melbourne fully embraced the takeaway cocktail last summer, or ‘walktail’, as some tried to call them.

Photograph by Getty Images

7. The 12 biggest global food trends for 2021, from vegan innovations to letterbox cocktails
Predicting the food and drink trends that will shape a year is a tough task at any time, let alone during a pandemic. Yet, through 2021, people found food more important than ever, whether it meant cooking new dishes to entertain themselves at home, ordering deliveries to shake up their routine, or — when government rules have allowed — dining out at restaurants. Much remains up in the air, but one thing is certain: keeping mealtimes interesting is, for many, crucial.

8. 13 incredible family glamping experiences in England and Wales
If you thought glamping was merely camping with a few extra frills, then think again. The trend for bedding down under a glammed-up canvas has taken off since the first yurts started popping up in the early noughties — so much so that ‘glamping’, or ‘glamorous camping’, was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. 

Tinside Lido on Plymouth Hoe, looking over Plymouth Sound. This fabulous Jazz Age complex commands great views and the round pool, stripey bottom and art deco fountain give it a unique shape and style.

Photograph by Alamy

9. The 10 best British lidos
A delicious dip in water that's sometimes toasty, sometimes cool and sometimes absolutely freezing is a daily pleasure for so many of us. Outdoor swimming is firmly in vogue. Our most popular participation sport has waxed and waned though. When the great lidos of Britain were opened, mostly in the roaring 1920s and 30s, an outdoor dip was what everyone did. This was before all homes had bathrooms and cheap flights abroad were within everyone's grasp — it was a way to relax and socialise, and offered a taste of the exotic.

10. Meet the travellers who have taken remote working to the extreme
As the world moved from typewriter to tablet, and wi-fi crept into even its remotest corners, the number of gig-economy employees and ‘portfolio careerists’ also grew — the way we work shifted. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and that shift went up gear. According to a recent YouGov survey, 68% of British employees had never worked from home prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, but once the crisis is over, four in 10 now say they want to do so. In fact, most people (57%) say they want to be able to continue working from home.

People’s Park Tavern, near Victoria Park in east London, has its own on-site microbrewery, a barbecue kitchen and a pop-up cocktail bar.

Photograph by People’s Park Tavern

11. The 15 best bars and pubs in London for outdoor drinks
Across the board, expect to see crafty solutions for socially distanced seating, freshly created drinks menus, new from-your-table ordering apps, orderly one-way systems and, most notably, the addition of plenty of outdoor heaters to combat the capital’s changeable weather. Here’s our round-up of some of the best spots in the city for al fresco drinks.

12. The best books on European cities
Hold the conventional guidebooks for a moment. We’ve picked a few of our favourite reads that offer a different take on some classic European cities, from Andrea di Robilant's Autumn in Venice, a tale of Ernest Hemingway's love affair with a young Venetian, and Berlin by comic artist Jason Lutes, a story of the Weimar Republic's fall through the eyes of Berliners.

Check out our favourite travel photography from 2021

Follow us on social media

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Read More

You might also like

Travel
The scandal of 'ghost flights': are empty planes haunting our skies?
Travel
Six music festivals making a positive impact in 2022
Travel
The National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition 2022 is open for entries
Travel
Five alternatives to the Amalfi Coast for an Italian road trip
Travel
Five of the best adventures around Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us

Subscribe

  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved