Time Out, the global media and hospitality brand that helps people explore and experience the soul of the city, debuts its first global Travel Survey. The findings reveal that travellers are in search of a fusion of city and nature for their future trips. This emerging trend follows the results revealed from the global poll of more than 21,000 people, which indicates that more than a third are planning a city getaway this year.
Despite the pandemic emptying city centres in 2020, the survey reveals that just as many travellers are craving the unique culture and diversity of city holidays (41%) in 2021 as are planning nature and countryside escapes (42%). More people will be looking to travel with partners (16%) and family (14%) than friends (10%), with the majority (67%) saying they will travel by plane.
A fifth of respondents (19%) want to travel to both city and nature destinations this year. This has led Time Out editors worldwide to agree that when travel eventually resumes, there will be a greater pull toward two-part city and nature travel experiences. This ‘fusion trip’ trend will involve travellers exploring city neighbourhoods and their food and drink scenes, while discovering less-crowded culture spots and attractions. Following a few days of city exploration, travellers will venture out to find nearby nature trails, wide-open spaces and other outdoor activities.
Time Out International Editor, James Manning says: “It’s been a hard year for city life and for travel, so it’s incredibly heartening to see our Time Out Travel Survey identifying a huge interest in city breaks for 2021. We believe that cities will bounce back more quickly than anyone expects, given the huge pent-up demand for food, drink, culture and nightlife. Nevertheless, we’re expecting the surge in nature travel to continue too, with many people still preferring outdoor activities. The ‘fusion trip’ combines the best of both worlds: the vibe of the city, with a wave of travellers discovering the new urban phenomena emerging from the global shutdown, plus the relaxation (and built-in social distance) of a nature trip.”
Time Out city experts have identified 15 leading city destinations for a ‘fusion trip’ once international travel reopens, which combine exciting neighbourhoods to explore and things to do with easy access to an incredible nature spot nearby:
Europe & Middle East
Barcelona / Montseny
After a few days checking out the cathedrals, museums and vermouth bars of the Catalan capital, escape to Montseny – a beautiful and relatively untouched stretch of forested mountains less than an hour from the city. It’s at its most spectacular when the leaves change colour in autumn, making it a great place for a dose of nature in the second half of the year.
Dubai / Hatta
For a short city stay in Dubai, Time Out Market will soon be open offering the best culinary and cultural experiences in the city under one roof. After tasting the best cuisines, take a 90 minute drive out of the urban area to the mountain town of Hatta: an outdoor adventurist’s dream. Nestled in the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is home to hiking trails of varying difficulty and heaps of wildlife, while Hatta Dam is a stunning spot for kayaking or pedal boating. Set up camp under the stars, or check into a vintage airstream trailer or mountainside lodge to really get away from it all.
Istanbul / Büyükada
Spend a few incredible days in the tumult that is Istanbul, then hop a boat to Büyükada: the largest of the nine Princes Islands on the Marmara Sea. It’s only a half-hour ride from the mainland, but with acres of green, spectacular panoramas from its forested peak and a ban on motorised vehicles, it has a feel that’s completely its own.
Lisbon / Comporta
Once, Lisbon’s elite escaped to the nearby royal retreat of Sintra. Nowadays, clued-up residents of the Portuguese capital head instead to Comporta: a former fishing village just over an hour from Lisbon, surrounded by water, dense forest, nesting birds, rice paddies and one of Europe’s most spectacular beaches. It’s the perfect complement to a few days exploring Lisbon’s tile-studded streets, traditional shops and, of course, an unforgettable culinary and cultural experience of the best of the city at Time Out Market Lisbon.
London / South Downs
In a normal year, millions of visitors from the UK and beyond visit London’s attractions, shops and museums – but not many think to extend their trip southwards to discover one of the most beautiful bits of Britain. Spanning three counties, the South Downs is a paradise of chocolate-box villages, intensely green grass, dark skies and hilltop walks, all only a short journey from London.
Madrid / Sierra de Guadarrama
After a few days in the tapas bars, flea markets, parks and museums of the Spanish capital, head north for a dose of spectacular nature in the nearby Guadarrama mountains. The scenery here is so breathtaking that there’s even a hiking trail inspired by JRR Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
Paris / Seine Normande
You could spend a lifetime exploring Paris’s bistros, bars and boulevards. But for a breath of fresh air, head upstream and spend a few days in the Boucles de la Seine Normande regional nature park. This dramatic, verdant landscape traces the River Seine as it meanders through Normandy, passing by towns, traditional cottages and ancient abbeys.
Chicago / Indiana Dunes
Once you’ve soaked up Chicago’s architectural marvels and visited Time Out Market Chicago in the city’s up-and-coming West Loop neighbourhood, head along the shore of Lake Michigan. Just over the Indiana state line, there’s sand and solitude at the Indiana Dunes National Park. You’ll find 50 miles of dune trails for summer as well as wetlands, prairies, rivers and forests that are perfect for snowshoeing and spotting animal tracks in the winter snowfall.
Los Angeles / Santa Monica Mountains
First, spend a few days ticking off L.A.’s best restaurants, museums, studio tours and beaches. Then escape to the Santa Monica Mountains, stretching west from the city: a mix of rocky peaks, green meadows, canyons, wineries and winding roads, all right near the ocean.
New York City / Hudson Valley
The five boroughs are a whole world on their own. But if you are planning a trip to NYC, make time to venture to Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood. Just below the Brooklyn Bridge, Time Out Market New York offers an array of world-class cuisine from New York City’s top chefs. Then head out of town to the Hudson Valley, where you can discover sleepy towns, gorgeous autumn leaves, grand hotels and newer, ultra-cool spots like farm-to-table restaurants and galleries.
San Francisco / Mount Tamalpais
Spending a few days in SF should be on anyone’s bucket list. But don’t miss the chance to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and up to the peak locals call Mount Tam. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin amidst thousands of acres of redwoods, waterfalls and hiking trails – plus unbeatable views over the city.
Hong Kong / Sai Kung
The seaside town of Sai Kung is Hongkongers’ favourite escape – a place of fresh seafood, stunning beaches and hiking trails, as well as some great alfresco drinking and dining spots. The islands and bays here rival any in Asia, and they’re only an hour from the world-class restaurants and bars of Hong Kong’s central district.
Tokyo / Okutama
There’s nowhere else quite like Tokyo: the world’s biggest metropolis has everything you could want from a city break. But don’t miss out on a few days in Okutama. It’s a taste of rural Japan right on Tokyo’s outskirts, where you can explore forests, mountain hikes, rivers, caves and a 300-year-old sake brewery.
Singapore / St John’s Island
Singapore’s high-tech, high-density reputation belies plenty of green space – but to really get away from it all, take a ferry to St John’s Island. Despite a dark past as a quarantine island, it’s a vision of blue lagoons, sandy beaches, rare wildlife and forested trails. And it’s one of the few Singaporean islands where you can stay overnight without camping.
Melbourne / Bellarine Peninsula
Less well trodden than the Mornington Peninsula on the other side of the city, the Bellarine Peninsula is Melburnians’ secret escape, filled with beautiful beaches and some of the best wineries in the state of Victoria. From here you could even head further down the Great Ocean Road to the rainforests and redwoods of the Otways. It’s the perfect double-up with any trip to Australia’s cultural (and coffee) capital.
Sydney / Ku-Ring-Gai Chase
Of course you should check out the city’s harbour, the world-famous beaches and ocean pools – but don’t miss out on the national parklands that cover thousands of hectares around Sydney. Many head south to the Royal National Park, but Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, in Sydney’s north, could be the smarter option: beautiful lookouts, beaches and day hikes plus stunning places to stay along the shores of Pittwater.
Get more travel tips from Time Out’s worldwide network of experts at https://www.timeout.com/travel
The Time Out Travel Survey interviewed 21,343 Time Out users between January 4 and January 19 2021.