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Four EU countries top world’s most powerful passports in 2024

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A man scanning a French passport at the airport
France tops the 2024 list of most powerful passports in the world granting visa-free access to 194 destinations

An unprecedented six countries share the top spot with visa-free access to a record-breaking number of destinations on the 2024 Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Four EU member states — France, Germany, Italy, and Spain — join Japan and Singapore in boasting the most powerful passports in the world, with their citizens able to visit an astonishing 194 destinations out of 227 around the globe visa-free. The two Asian nations have dominated first place on the index (which ranks all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa) for the past five years.

“The average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024. However the top-ranked countries are now able to travel to a staggering 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to just 28 countries without a visa,” says Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners.

Asian tiger South Korea joins Finland and Sweden in second place with visa-free travel to 193 destinations, and another four EU nations — Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and Netherlands — share a third place with access to 192. The rest of the Top 10 is largely dominated by European countries, with the UK climbing up two ranks to fourth place with visa-free access to 191 destinations compared to just 188 a year ago. Australia and New Zealand passport holders both improve their ranking to sit in 6th place with 189 visa-free destinations, while the US retains its 7th place with access to 188 destinations without requiring a visa in advance. It has been a decade since the UK and the US jointly held 1st place on the index in 2014.

The UAE remains the biggest climber on the Henley Passport Index over the past decade, adding an impressive 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014, resulting in a massive leap of 44 places in the ranking from 55th to 11th position.

Ukraine and China are also among the Top 5 countries with the most improved rankings over the past 10 years (a net total gain of 21 places each), and both have climbed a further two ranks in the past year.

10 most powerful passports for 2024, and how many countries they each grant visa-free access to:

  1. France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain
    194 destinations
  2. Finland, South Korea, and Sweden
    193 destinations
  3. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands
    192 destinations
  4. Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and the UK
    191 destinations
  5. Greece, Malta, and Switzerland
    190 destinations
  6. Australia, Czech Republic, New Zealand, and Poland
    189 destinations
  7. Canada, Hungary, and the US
    188 destinations
  8. Estonia and Lithuania
    187 destinations
  9. Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia
    186 destinations
  10. Iceland
    185 destinations

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Swiss Air Lines to offer direct services from Seoul to Zurich

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Swiss Air Lines to offer direct services from Seoul to Zurich
Non-stop service from Seoul to start on May 8, 2024 | Photo: Henrique Ferreira

Swiss International Air Lines will be further expanding its services in the 2024 summer schedule with the addition of Seoul to its long-haul network in Asia. Alongside the already announced new intercontinental destinations of Washington, DC and Toronto, Canada in the West, SWISS will also be enlarging its long-haul network in the East by connecting the South Korean capital of Seoul with Zurich, Switzerland.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, will receive its first-ever SWISS services in summer 2024. This metropolis offers a perfect blend of traditional charm and contemporary flair and delights visitors with sights like the Gyeongbokgung Palace and futuristic landmarks such as the N Seoul Tower. Similarly, Switzerland offers a mix of natural beauty and modernity with its majestic Alpine landscapes, including the Matterhorn and Jungfrau peaks, as well as the vibrant economic and cultural centre of Zurich.

“We are delighted to be further growing our network,” says SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Heike Birlenbach. “As well as our new long-haul destinations of Washington, DC and Toronto, which we’ve already announced, we’ll be adding the extremely attractive destination of Seoul to our Asian network in summer 2024. The capital of South Korea has a lot to offer leisure and business travellers alike. And our new Seoul service will help us even better meet our customers’ needs for non-stop services to and from the world’s key cities.” 

According to Leo Tonidandel, General Manager Korea, Lufthansa Group Airlines: “We are excited to launch Seoul as the first new destination in Asia for SWISS in 2024. As a premium carrier, SWISS will offer four cabins including First Class and Premium Economy Class and provide Korean passengers with more choices when traveling to Europe with direct flights from Seoul/Incheon to Zurich and beyond with connections in Zurich. In addition, SWISS, as a member of Lufthansa Group Airlines, gives Korean customers the opportunity to enjoy combined services with Lufthansa, including the same mileage program and various benefits.”

SWISS will commence its thrice-weekly non-stop service between Zurich and Seoul on 8  May 2024. The flights will be operated with an Airbus A340 equipped with First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class.

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Great places to stay in the Algarve that won’t break the bank

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A rooftop terrace in the Algarve, Portugal, where it is still possible to find an affordable holiday rental.
Despite the current cost of living in Europe, it is still possible to find affordable luxury accommodation in the Algarve, Portugal.

Known for its golden sandy beaches, good tourism infrastructure, and friendly weather all year round, it is not a surprise that the Algarve, in Portugal, is a sought-after destination for locals and tourists from around the world. And popularity comes at a price: according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), over the first semester of 2023 alone, the average property prices in the Algarve increased by 16.6% compared to the first quarter of 2022. In fact, in the past four years, the price per square meter of properties still available in the region has increased by an astounding 57% – a 10 percentage point increase above the national market average in Portugal.

Thankfully, you don’t have to buy a property in the Algarve to enjoy its 100+ beaches and 155 km coastline. Although the cost of living in Europe have pushed princes up, including temporary accommodation, it is still possible to visit Portugal and stay in decent places charging reasonably affordable daily fees in the Algarve.

Here our readers share the places and areas they have chosen to stay while in the Algarve to make the most of this popular destination without emptying their wallets.

Olhos de Água for affordable boutique hotels

“I spent 12 days in Algarve while backpacking throughout Latin American and European cities. While searching through different hotel booking sites, I came across Velamar Boutique Hotel, in Olhos de Água, which cost me € 85 per day, which is reasonable given the number of amenities the hotel provides including an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, as well as game and meeting rooms.”

Shreya Patel – Marketing Manager at Lowest Flight Fares

Portimão for riverside tranquillity

“I typically head to Spain’s Costa Brava for a quick beach getaway. Last summer, I wanted to treat myself to a little luxury in a new location, so I decided upon the Jupiter Marina Hotel – Couples & Spa – in Portimão, Algarve. It is a luxurious 4-star hotel ideally positioned in Portimão, just a stone’s throw from the riverside and close to the  marina and beach. I particularly enjoyed the comfort of the rooms and the ambiance of the rooftop bar. Reasonably priced from €56, I found it almost half the price of other luxury accommodation in the area.”

Guy Sharp – Relocation Manager at Andorra Guides 


Ferragudo for timeless beauty

“Nestled between the vibrant cities of Lagos and Albufeira, Ferragudo unveils the essence of a quintessential Portuguese fishing village. During my visit last year, I found myself enchanted by the town’s authenticity, momentarily setting aside my camera to soak in the natural beauty that surrounded me. Positioned at the mouth of the Arada River, Ferragudo retains its timeless beauty, offering a tranquil riverside route. While there, also take time to visit Praia do Pintadinho Praia dos Caneiros and the Ferragudo Lighthouse for breathtaking panoramic views.”

Olly Gaspar – Adventure Travel Publisher & Photographer

Daily rates for accommodation in Ferragudo start from €50.

Entire holiday homes in the Algarve can be booked from as little as £69 per day

Roja-Pé for family Airbnb near the beach

“I like to stay at nice places, but I try to avoid busy hotels whenever possible. And as someone who often travels with a family of six members, that is why I first look at Airbnb to see if large properties are available. This works out more economically than booking several rooms separately. For two years in a row, I have stayed at Casa D’ Cor, a spacious townhouse in Albufeira with a rooftop terrace, within walking distance from Falesia Beach and Olhos D’agua Beach. It is a very residential area so, besides feeling safe, I find it close enough to  bustling places during the day – yet still very tranquil for those looking to rest at night.”

Celine Allard – Retired teacher

Booking the entire Casa D’Cor, costs from £69 per day during the low season (November – March).


Porches for luxury within budget


“During my recent trip to the Algarve, I stumbled upon this fantastic spot called Vila Vita Parc by Azure Retreats. It’s a luxury resort offering 7 nights from £1,105pp, including flights, transfers and breakfast. It is Tucked away in the countryside with great views. If you are up for a bit of luxury that won’t wreck your budget, give Azure Retreats a shot – totally worth it!”

Maarten Cox – Director at Gecko Routes

Luz for luxury within budget

“As a travel and lifestyle writer with over 12 years of extensive travel experience, one of my most recent adventures took me to Luz, in the Algarve, where I stayed at the Luz Beach Apartments. These self-catering apartments appeal with their balance of comfort, luxury, and affordability. With fully equipped kitchens, spacious rooms, and stunning sea views, it was far superior to my average Airbnb stays. Being able to enjoy the golden sands within just a short stroll from my temporary home added a unique convenience and luxury that is rare to come by, especially without burning a hole in your pocket. Plus, with eateries and local marketplaces in the vicinity, I could truly immerse in the local culture and lifestyle.”

Amelia Thompson – Travel writer

Sea view studios at Luz Beach Apartments cost from €70 during the low season (November – March)

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Platform for Venice entry fee for day trippers is now live

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View of Venice's main canal on a sunny day
New access fee to enter Venice aims to discourage daily tourism during peak periods | Photo: Angelo Casto

Following the announcement of new tourist rules for Venice launching this year, the platform for visitors to purchase the €5 fee to enter the city for day-trippers is now live, allowing visitors to make their payment before visiting the city. The fee does not apply for visitors that stay overnight in the city.

The authorities in Venice have officially enforced the entry fee, also known as the Venice Access Fee, for day visitors sightseeing in the ancient City of Canals during 29 designated dates in the year. The initiative aims to preserve the daily life of Venice residents.

This Access Fee initiative, seeks to discourage daily tourism during peak periods. The 5-euro per day fee is applicable only to the historical parts of the city.

The platform issues a QR code upon payment, simplifying the entry process and making it more efficient for travelers to explore the iconic city. The fee is applicable on specific days from 25th April to 5th May and on weekends in May, June, and July, from 8:30 am to 4 pm, excluding access to the islands.

What if I don’t pay?

Day-trippers not purchasing a €5 ticket to enter Venice on selected days in 2024 will face a fine. The penalty ranges from €50 (£43) to €300 (£258), plus an additional €10 (£8.60) for the entry fee. In exceptional circumstances (for example, if you do not have access to the internet) visitors will be able to pay the entry fee at a kiosk on arrival in Venice, Italy.

How to pay in advance the €5 fee to enter Venice

The Venice council has launched an online platform allowing you to prepay if you’re visiting for the day, here.

Click on pay the fee – you’ll then be taken to a landing page run by Venezia Unica, the city’s official tourism site.

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