Photograph: ShutterstockBergamo, Gromo, Italy: 30 july 2020: Gromo, small town in the Seriana valley, Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy

The best alternative destinations to travel to from Singapore

Get your passports and explore these underrated cities you can VTL to this Christmas

Dewi Nurjuwita

Last festive season, international borders all around the world were still shut due to Covid-19 – and most of us living in Singapore got to celebrate a very tropical Christmas. Now that vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) have been launched between Singapore and a number of countries, we can once again travel to faraway lands this December.

Besides the usual hotspots like London, Berlin and Seoul, there are other alternative destinations in the VTL-approved countries you can consider for your next vacation. Need a calmer pitstop after Paris? Take a train to Lyon. Want to explore the wild side of the United States and be one with nature? All signs lead to Portland. Here, the best alternative cities to travel to this Christmas – no quarantine required. 

RECOMMENDED: Singapore extends quarantine-free travel to more countries 

Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany

Medieval towns 

If you've been to Berlin and Munich one too many times or looking for a different German destination to inspire you, Bietigheim-Bissingen is worth checking out. It's a sight to behold, with steep vineyards and rolling hills that line the river. The town's historical old town centre has a medieval appearance, contrasting against modern art that pervades in every corner. 

Jeonju, South Korea

History, culture and cuisine 

Get acquainted with South Korea's history and heritage at Jeonju, a rural city that was designated as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2012. Its name literally translates to "perfect region." At Jeonju, it's almost like time's stopped. You'll find that the city has retained its old school traditions, architecture and cuisine. Jeonju is also the birthplace of bibimbap, so get ready to slurp down bowls of the satisfying dish. 


Helsinki, Finland

A white Christmas 

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Finland's capital, which comes to life with festive lighting that light up the heaps of snow. Go ice skating, sip on some glögi or visit the Christmas markets. Of course, don't miss the popular sights the city is known for such as Suomenlinna, Helsinki Cathedral, Sibelius Monument and more. 

Portland, United States

Into the wild 

Portland is a nature-obsessed city – where else can you find gorgeous hiking trails and acres of forest in the middle of the city? Nature-lovers should go pack up for a road trip and go chasing waterfalls, marvel at volcanic slopes or explore stunning caves. The city itself has plenty to do and see, boasting vibrant food, cocktail and design scenes. 


San Sebastián, Spain

For a Spanish summer 

This beach town in the Basque country of northern Spain is something you'd see in a postcard. Plan a trip during summer and go suntanning on the beach, appreciate the architecture of old palaces, guzzle down some wine, and maintain a steady diet of pintxos. After all, food is truly king here. 


Lyon, France

French cuisine and everything in between 

Move over Paris, this city in the Rhône Valley is the gastronomic capital of France. The second-largest city in France, Lyon is an extraordinary city boasting a UNESCO-listed Old Town, stunning quays landscaped with peaceful water gardens and floating bars, a bounty of museums and more. But something you should definitely not miss is the city's gastronomy scene, thanks to a breed of creative Lyonnais chefs, both past and present.


Gromo, Lombardy

Italians love Christmas. In Italy, the celebrations go on for a few weeks. For an authentic experience, head to some of Italy's most beautiful villages, such as Gromo in Lombardy. for the past few Decembers, Santa has moved into the town's 14th century Palazzo Cattaneo, where children stop by for visits to hand-deliver their Christmas letters.

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