People in England can visit Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel from May 17 without self-isolating on their return, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
They are the only popular summer short-haul destinations on the Government’s new green list for travel.
Meanwhile Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the red list.
People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
The DfT also announced that from May 17, people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to demonstrate their status on the NHS app currently used to book medical appointments and order repeat prescriptions.
People who do not have the app – which is different from the Covid-19 app – will be able to request an NHS letter from that date.
The green list also consists of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands and the Falklands.
This is in addition to the remote territories of the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
Despite being on the green list, people will not be able to go on holiday to Australia, New Zealand or Singapore as they are closed to UK tourists.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the removal of international travel restrictions was “necessarily cautious” and that the Government must “make absolutely sure” the countries the UK reconnects with are safe.
He said: “We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid. But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably at the moment in India.
“In fact, more new cases of Covid have been diagnosed around the world in the last seven days than at any time since the pandemic began.”
He added: “That’s why today’s announcement, removing the stay in the UK restrictions from May 17, is necessarily cautious.
“We must make absolutely sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe, that their infection rates are low and their vaccination rates are high.
“It means making sure we are not incubating the most dangerous variants that they’re not and that they have safe and secure surveillance in place.”
The most popular European destinations with UK holidaymakers – such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece – are on the amber list.
That means people returning from those countries must self-isolate at home for at least five days.
But Mr Shapps said “you should not be travelling to these places right now”.
Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual when leisure travel resumes.
He said: “Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet.
“Travel will be different and, as the Transport Secretary says, we still need to be cautious.
“There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.
“These measures have been put in place to protect the hard-fought gains and sacrifices that have been made by individuals and society in the UK, minimising the risk of importing variants while protecting the success of our vaccine rollout.”
A Heathrow Airport executive recently said passengers are queuing for up to six hours due to coronavirus paperwork being checked.
No plans for the resumption of foreign holidays have been announced by the UK’s devolved administrations.
It “may take a few days” for Scotland and Wales to outline their policies due to election counts, according to Mr Shapps.
The Cabinet minister said he held a call with the devolved administrations earlier on Friday, and the four UK chief medical officers “have met and agreed the principles” of the traffic light system.
Turkey’s addition to the red list means Manchester City and Chelsea supporters “should not travel” to the Champions League final in Istanbul, Mr Shapps warned.
He added that the UK is “very open to hosting the final” but admitted that is “ultimately a decision” for Uefa.