Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, countries have clamped down on border control and introduced strict travel measures. But as the rate of infection slows down in Europe, governments are gradually preparing to loosen restrictions as plans for when we can travel again are put in place.
At Condé Nast Traveller we are starting to think about what the future of travel will look like and where we’ll be able to travel closer to home. As lockdown laws change and the new UK travel quarantine comes into play, we will be bringing you a regularly updated list of countries in Europe that are beginning to alter their restrictions and those that are opening their borders to travellers.
Before planning to travel, please always check the Foreign Office website for official travel advice.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO ITALY
Some lockdown restrictions were relaxed in early May in Italy as citizens were allowed to exercise outdoors, attend funerals and visit relatives within the same region. The government urged people to act responsibly as they entered the second phase of the country’s coronavirus emergency, with an estimated four million people returning to work in industries such as construction and manufacturing. On 18 May, bars, restaurants, shops, hairdressers, museums, libraries and churches reopened with social-distancing and masking measures, and gyms and swimming pools followed on 25 May. Masks remain mandatory in enclosed public spaces. Serie A football is set to return on 20 June. Certain tourist attractions such as the Leaning tower of Pisa and the Colosseum have reopened with reduced capacity, while schools will remain shut until September. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte lifted the European travel ban with no travel restrictions on 3 June, and citizens could also start moving freely across the country’s regions. Hotels are beginning to follow: Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como will reopen on 18 June, Hotel Il Pellicano from 26 June and Costa Smeralda has been receiving guests since 3 June. Sicily has announced it will subsidise travel for tourists once it is safe to return.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO PORTUGAL
Regions within Portugal have taken different approaches to loosening lockdown measures. Restaurants, bars and hotels have been open since 18 May, and since 1 June cinemas and theatres have been open. Although a date has not yet been announced for international travel, Madeira and the Azores are open to travellers, subject to a health screening on arrival and self-isolation of 14 days. The Algarve region is opening beaches to tourists with new safety measures from 6 June as flights resume to Faro from the UK. There are currently no quarantine requirements on entry to mainland Portugal. The government has suggested an air bridge may be possible between the UK and Portugal. An announcement is expected on 29 June.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO SPAIN
Spain has been gradually easing out of its total lockdown state. The country outlined a four-stage plan on 4 May, and on 1 June it moved into the second phase. Schools are to remain shut until September, while public transport has started up again, with mandatory masks and social-distancing rules in place. The country’s La Liga football league restarted on 11 June, nearly all beaches, hotels, museums, bars and restaurants have reopened. Some of the Canary and Balearic islands are testing wider easing of restrictions before the cities. On 21 June 2020 the country lifted its state of emergency and opened its borders to visitors from the UK and EU countries, with no requirements to quarantine upon arrival. Citizens do have to continue to wear face masks, however. The government has suggested an air bridge may be possible between the UK and Spain. An announcement is expected on 29 June.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO GREECE
Around six weeks after the beginning of the lockdown in Greece, the Prime Minister announced certain measures to gradually relax restrictions. High schools, all non-essential shops, cafés, restaurants and beaches have already opened with social-distancing measures (including mandatory masks). Travel to the islands resumed on 25 May for mainland Greeks, and the country’s borders have reopened to certain international arrivals. Travellers from countries deemed high risk will face mandatory testing and self-isolation on arrival, while other countries face only random testing. Direct flights from the UK are not scheduled to restart until 1 July, however the government has suggested an air bridge may be possible between the UK and Greece. An announcement is expected on 29 June.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO CYPRUS
Since Cyprus began easing lockdown restrictions, certain businesses (construction, some retail shops, hairdressers, outdoor restaurants and cafés) have been allowed to reopen. Restrictions on internal movements, including the curfew, were lifted from 21 May; the country’s airports reopened to a limited number of countries (not including the UK) from mid-June, and the government is hoping to partially open to further tourists from July. Only travelers from countries with sustained low-infection rates are currently allowed in. All visitors must carry health certificates proving they have tested negative for Covid-19 at least three days before departure. In an attempt to kickstart tourism, Cyprus has announced that it will cover costs for anyone whose holiday is affected by coronavirus (by providing free healthcare to patients infected in the country and paying for hotel expenses for their dependents). Greece soon followed Cyprus’ initiatives by removing the need for travelers to quarantine.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO GERMANY
The German government has eased more restrictions. All stores in Germany can now open, but masks are mandatory (as they are on public transport). Hairdressers, playgrounds, churches, museums, restaurants, schools and some hotels have reopened, and the Bundesliga (Germany’s top football league) restarted behind closed doors on 16 May. Each of the 16 federal states is handling the easing of lockdown rules individually, and there is an emergency brake plan if the country sees a surge in infections. Borders are now open to travellers from the UK, Schengen zone and EU countries, with a gradual increase in flight schedules planned over the next month. Entry is not permitted to countries from outside the EU.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO FRANCE
Since reporting its lowest coronavirus death and infection rates in early May, France began to introduce less stringent measures as nearly the whole country falls into a ‘green zone’, where restrictions can be eased faster (Paris has moved from a red to an orange zone). Travel, exercise and social-gathering restrictions have been partially lifted (masks are mandatory on all public transport), and schools and most shops are open again. Phase two saw the reopening of restaurants, bars, parks and gardens on 2 June, with plans to start including beaches and cinemas. Many of Paris’s most famous sites such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower are reopening with new safety measures. Since 15 June, the country’s borders have been gradually reopening to tourists from the UK, Schengen zone and EU countries. Arrivals from outside of Europe must provide an international travel certificate, while arrivals from the UK and Spain must self-isolate for 14 days. The Eurostar is running a limited service between Paris and London, but passengers are required to wear masks. The country’s borders to non-EU countries will open from 1 July. The government has suggested an air bridge may be possible between the UK and France. An announcement is expected on 29 June.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO ESTONIA, LATVIA AND LITHUANIA
These three Baltic states have agreed to reopen borders to each other to create a free-travel zone. Following an announcement in early May from Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš that all three countries had successfully contained the virus, a new freedom of movement began on 15 May. Anyone arriving from outside the ‘Baltic bubble’ must still self-isolate for 14 days. Only tourists from within this ‘travel bubble’ of Baltic countries are allowed into the countries.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO ICELAND
With a high testing and recovery rate, the country has stated that it plans to lift non-essential international travel restrictions by 15 June, with arrivals subject to a free Covid-19 test unless they are carrying a health certificate. (It’s likely summer visitors will be required to download the country’s coronavirus tracing app.) Until then, all arrivals must quarantine for 14 days. Social distancing is still in place, but hotels, restaurants, shops, gyms and nightclubs are open, public gatherings of up to 200 people are now allowed, and schools and universities have begun to reopen.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO DENMARK
One of the first European countries to begin reducing lockdown laws, Denmark has started a comprehensive testing routine for anyone showing symptoms of the virus as schools, restaurants, cafés, nurseries, hairdressers, libraries and parks reopen in the country. From 15 June, tourists from Germany, Norway and Iceland have been allowed to travel to Denmark with documentation of a valid booking to stay outside of Copenhagen for at least six nights. Larger institutions (sports facilities, theatres and cinemas) are not planning to open until at least 8 June, when the government has suggested larger groups and events of more than 10 people will be allowed.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO SWEDEN
In the early stages of the virus, Sweden decided to let larger parts of society operate rather than take the more severe lockdown measures adopted in most of Europe. Schools for students under the age of 16 are open, restaurants and bars are operating with social distancing and gatherings of under 50 people are allowed. Sweden’s coronavirus death rate is considerably higher than its Nordic neighbours with stricter laws, leaving the country several steps behind other European nations. Borders are currently open to UK nationals and most EU countries, but reports suggest that the country is unlikely to open to non-Europeans before August. While Norway and Denmark will allow citizens to travel between the two countries, Sweden has been excluded from these plans.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO NORWAY
After a period of decreased infection numbers, Norway began to relax certain emergency restriction measures. Schools and specific shops such as hairdressers have been allowed to reopen, and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced a timetable for when most of the remaining restrictions will be lifted. The country is hoping to reduce almost all restrictions by 15 June, although there is a ban on major events until 1 September. Norway has opened its borders to Denmark and Germany, but it is suggested that its borders will remain closed to other EU countries until at least 20 August.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO CROATIA
Parks, shops, libraries, museums, theatres, hotels and outdoor restaurants and bars are open with precautionary measures, and public transport is operating. Mass gatherings of up to 40 people are allowed with social-distancing restrictions. Croatia Airlines’ domestic flights resumed on 11 May, and from 16 May Croatia began opening its borders to foreign tourists who have pre-booked accommodation. Hotels are starting to reopen, including Hotel Excelsior (13 June), Hotel Dubrovnik Palace (30 May), Villa Orsula Dubrovnik and Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik (open now). The country is now allowing EU travellers to enter, excluding those from high-risk countries (such as the UK and Sweden).
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO BELGIUM
The country allowed shops to open from 11 May and schools followed on 18 May but with limits on the number of pupils in each class. Restaurants are planning to open from 8 June. The country is likely to extend the travel ban until 15 June, with more information being released at the end of May. Essential travel between the UK is permitted, with a reduced Eurostar service. Shops and museums are open, and cafés and restaurants are aiming to reopen from 8 June. Currently all arrivals must have proof of residence and must self-isolate for 14 days.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO AUSTRIA
Since the beginning of May, Austria has allowed gatherings of up to 10 people, and larger shops, shopping centres and hairdressers have opened, as have restaurants since 15 May, followed by swimming pools. Hotels have been open since 29 May, and since 4 June the country’s borders have been open to Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, subject to a valid health certificate stating the traveller does not have coronavirus, or self-isolation for 14 days. From 16 June, the country has announced it has opened its borders to 31 different European countries excluding the UK, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, and the government has stated it has ended quarantine requirements for some of the countries permitted to enter.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO FINLAND
Shops are currently open and restaurants, bars, cultural institutions and gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed from 1 June, although social distancing will remain in place. Finnish borders reopened for essential travel from the Schengen Area from 14 May, although hotels remain closed. There has been no announcement of dates for reduced border restrictions.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO SLOVENIA
This was one of the first countries to come out of lockdown, with shops, galleries, small hotels, bars and restaurants currently open, although large events are still banned. Wearing masks and social distancing is mandatory in enclosed public spaces. From 14 May, the government began easing travel restrictions and lockdown measures. Special agreements have been established at the borders with Austria, Italy and Hungary, and travelers from within the EU can now visit Slovenia, although anyone with a positive coronavirus test will be refused entry.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO POLAND
Since 4 May, Poland has been gradually reducing restrictions. Travel between cities, to parks and beaches is allowed, and hotels are operating. Since 30 May the fourth phase of easing lockdown has been underway. Face covering is no longer essential in public spaces as restrictions on numbers in shops and restaurants have been lifted, both subject to social distancing. From 6 June, cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools are allowed to open, and gatherings of up to 150 persons are now permitted. Nightclubs are still closed. Borders have been closed since 15 March, and are aiming to open for international travel from 13 June, subject to 14-day isolation.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO THE NETHERLANDS
Shops were the first to open, and outdoor restaurants, bars, theatres and music venues followed on 1 June. Borders are closed to travellers from Schengen Area and EU countries, including the UK, except for essential travel. Some shops, outdoor bars, terrace restaurants and hotels have opened. Events of more than 100 people will not be allowed until September.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO IRELAND
All shops will reopen from next week, and residents will be allowed to travel within the country. Restaurants and pubs are not due to open until 29 June, followed by hotels, museums and galleries on 20 July. While some flights and ferry services are operating from the UK, all arrivals are subject to 14 days’ self-isolation. UK nationals are exempt from self-isolation when returning to the UK.
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO MONTENEGRO
Claiming to be Europe’s first coronavirus-free country with no active cases, Montenegro has opened its borders on 1 June to visitors from countries with low infection rates (fewer than 25 active cases per 100,000 residents).
WHEN CAN WE TRAVEL TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Shops, outdoor restaurants, pubs and other institutions are currently open, and domestic travel is permitted. Borders have opened to tourists from the UK, EU and Schengen area countries, subject to testing on arrival or self-isolate for 14 days. Countries will be regularly assessed for their risk level and entrance rules will be adjusted accordingly. Hotels opened on 25 May with relaxed PPE requirements.
Source: Conde Nast Traveler