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Top 10 Safe Programs for 2021

Posted on 6/30/2020 12:00:00 AM in The Buzz

Serene lakes and ancient castles are emblematic of the #1 country on this list—which has zero active cases of COVID-19.

As we prepare to begin traveling again, we’ve been working closely with our 36 regional offices and more than 2,500 associates and Trip Leaders worldwide to determine which O.A.T. adventures we’ll be able to operate most safely. These 10 adventures visit countries with the fewest active cases of COVID-19. We believe that these low case counts, combined with the health and safety measures we’ve put in place for all Small Group Adventures, will create the safest possible experience for our travelers.

Please note: COVID-19 data is accurate at the time of writing, but cases fluctuate on a daily basis.

10. Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy—15-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Italy: 12,555 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Italy: Genoa, Cinque Terra—5 nights; Post-trip: Italy: Venice

Witness the awe-inspiring landscapes and cultural treasures of Northern Italy on a journey from the fashion capital of Milan and romance of the Lombardy Lakes to the snow-covered Alps and towering pinnacles of the Dolomites. Discover a different side of Italy, and explore the enchanting juxtaposition of Italian and bordering cultures in this scenic region of woodlands, vineyards, and valleys dotted with medieval villages. Witness hidden gems and off-the-beaten path locales that are exclusive to O.A.T.

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9. New! Georgia & Armenia: Ancient Lands of the Southern Caucasus—16-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Georgia and Armenia: 10,969 | Percent of population: 0.2%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Azerbaijan: Baku, Shaki—5 nights; Post-trip: Russia: Moscow—4 nights

For centuries, travelers and traders on the Silk Road passed through these legendary lands at the cultural crossroads of Europe and Asia. Everywhere we go in the South Caucasus, you’ll meet the warm and friendly people of these ancient lands—everywhere from workshops and wineries to a cooking class and refugee camp. And you'll enjoy a cuisine widely celebrated for its intermarriage of Eastern and Western flavors; including two Home-Hosted meals to experience the legendary hospitality of a culture that believes “every guest is a gift from God.” The rest of the world is slowly waking up to this enchanting corner of Europe—the time to explore these two treasures of the South Caucasus is now.

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8. Northern Greece, Albania & Macedonia: Ancient Lands of Alexander the Great—18-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Greece, Albania, and Macedonia: 4,940 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Greece: Athens, Crete—6 nights; Post-trip: Serbia: Novi Sad, Belgrade—6 nights

Journey into the past to explore legendary lands once traversed by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Visit ancient Thessaloniki, whose historic streets slope down to the Gulf of Thermaikos, witness the soaring clifftop monasteries of Meteora, and explore the wilds of Zagoria, home to ancient stone bridges and traditional Balkan mountain villages. Cross into undiscovered Albania to explore the Ottoman-era town of Gjirokaster, and Tirana, whose Communist-era trappings are fading into memory. Step into the homes of locals, where culture comes to life in intimate discussions. And, discover the Republic of Macedonia, a small Balkan nation rich in Greek, Roman, and Ottoman history, including lakeside Ohrid and the Macedonian capital of Skopje. Discover some of Europe’s most scenic and historic regions while walking in the footsteps of a man who changed the face of the ancient world.

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7. Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures—16-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Israel: 4,092 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Jordan: Amman, Petra—5 nights; Post-trip: Palestine: Bethlehem, Jericho—5 nights

While many tours focus on one religious tradition or another, we follow a multicultural pathway through Israel's many layers of religious heritage. And we explore contemporary issues, too—inviting you to peer behind the headlines to meet Palestinians and Israelis, native Sabras and Eastern European immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze. Plus, in our small group—and in the company of a local Trip Experience Leader—we'll have intimate chances to really get to know the local people, including joining them for meals in their homes.

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6. Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary—15-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary: 3,914 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Germany: Berlin, Dresden—5 nights; Post-trip: Austria: Vienna—5 nights

Journey with O.A.T. into Eastern Europe’s Bohemian heartland to discover the history, culture, and landscapes of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary—and prepare to enter an enchanting world of fairy-tale castles, Gothic cathedrals, and picturesque towns. In the Czech Republic, a region noted for its hearty Bohemian beers, witness the spires of Prague, the medieval splendor of Cesky Krumlov, and traditional ways of life in the Renaissance village of Slavonice. In Slovakia, discover the youthful optimism of Bratislava, the forested country’s historic capital. Then, enjoy an audience with the “Queen of the Danube,” and immerse yourself in the grandeur of Budapest, the lovely Hungarian capital infused with the vibrancy of a fiery paprika.

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5. Sicily’s Ancient Landscapes & Timeless Traditions—16-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Sicily: 2,809 | Percent of population: 0.1%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Italy: Matera, Lecce—5 nights; Post-trip: Italy: Pizzo, Civita, Salerno—5 nights

On this Sicily travel experience, you'll discover an Italian island with more than 3,000 years of history. Once home to a Greek colony, a Roman province, an Arab emirate, a Norman kingdom, and more, traces of ancient conquerors can still be found in Sicily’s well-preserved ruins, elegant architecture, and gastronomic delights. Zip along Modica’s narrow streets in an iconic, vintage Fiat 500; spend the night in an agriturismo, a traditional Sicilian farmhouse; and even sit down to a home-cooked meal with a farming family in the pastoral Sicilian countryside. The island beckons … so bring an open mind, a spirit of adventure, and a hearty appetite.

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4. Irish Adventure: Dublin, Belfast & the Northwest Counties—16-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Ireland: 933 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Dublin—4 nights; Post-trip: Ireland: Dingle, Killarney—5 nights

Ireland holds a controversial history that often goes undiscovered, and we'll uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly of Ireland's heritage though conversations with those who've endured these tough times. Upon the Emerald Isle, we'll trace the influence of the infamous Troubles across the country through exclusive experiences and local interactions—first exploring the era's influence on bustling Dublin before traveling to Belfast, where the heart of the period unfolded during the late 20th century. Stay in both quiet country settings and in the heart of Ireland's musical cities. Whether it’s the stunning Cliffs of Moher rising from the Atlantic or the cozy pubs lining cobbled city streets, the rich history and natural splendor witnessed across Ireland is sure to captivate you.

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3. Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia—18-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia: 859 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Albania: Tirana—4 nights; Post-trip: Serbia: Novi Sad, Belgrade—4 nights

On this adventure, which has an 87% traveler excellence rating, journey to the countries of Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia—southeastern Europe’s multicultural lands of forgotten beauty. Discover the heritage of the Balkans while witnessing stunning coastal scenery, exploring ancient walled cities, and experiencing the pride and resilience of the people of these re-emerging nations. Because we travel in a small group, we'll get to engage with locals in each country we visit and learn about their current lives, thoughts on Tito’s legacy, and wartime experiences—and discover how varied ethnic identities and traditions have often led to differing views about the events of the complicated breakup of Yugoslavia.

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2. Untamed Iceland—13-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Iceland: 5 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Iceland’s Westman Islands—3 nights; Post-trip: Greenland: Ammassalik, Kulusuk—4 nights

One of the least-populated nations on Earth—and nowhere near as cold as its name implies—Iceland is a verdant paradise of electric green valleys punctuated by craggy mountains, steaming hot springs, boiling mud pools, and lava fields said to be inhabited by elves. Here, our small group will afford us the opportunity to meet hardy locals who have historically carved a living from both the land and sea in farming communities and fishing villages, as well as discover the history of this isolated nation preserved in a series of medieval tales known as the Sagas. Their customs and traditions are inspired from centuries of folk tales passed down from generation to generation, and are full of magic, ghosts, elves, and huldufolk (hidden people).

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1. New! Scotland Revealed: Legends, Lochs & Highland Landscapes—15-day O.A.T. Small Group Adventure

Active cases in Scotland: 0 | Percent of population: 0%

Optional extensions: Pre-trip: Scotland’s Isle of Skye: Inverness, Portree, Stornoway—6 nights; Post-trip: England: Bath, Windsor—5 nights

Rolling hills dotted with castles and churches overlook picturesque lochs ... winding cobbled streets hug stacks of stone buildings ... unspoiled Isles reveal secluded beaches and verdant pastures ... these settings have provided the background for Scotland's rich history, which is the stuff of legends. It's here that the Protestant Reformation changed the religious landscape of the country; where the beloved sport of golf originated; and where kings and queens shaped Scotland's politics. As we trace the coast of Scotland all the way down to its capital city, we'll get an intimate glimpse into the country's past, and we'll meet the warm, inviting locals that call Scotland home along the way.

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