As the rate of COVID-19 infections continues to fall in most of Europe, countries have opened their borders to tourists once again. The latest list of approved countries issued by the European Union includes Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, but not travelers from the United States. This does not mean travel is out of the question for those in the US though. If you are a US resident, you can visit the United Kingdom and Ireland, provided you self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers can enter any EU country into the helpful Reopen EU website and receive the most updated information on travel regulations.
One country that is open to all international travelers is Croatia. You don’t need to quarantine yourself either if you can show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival, according to AFAR magazine.
Where is safe to travel to Europe?
The big question, of course, is safety. To help you navigate which places in Europe are the safest to visit, the European Best Destinations Organisation has compiled a list of 20 places that have been the least affected by the pandemic. Another benefit of these destinations is that their ratio of hospital beds to population is higher than in most European countries.
The first destination on the list is Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a country that has managed to keep infection levels at a rate 260 times lower than other European countries. Other destinations include the Madeira Islands in Portugal, which is among the sunniest destinations in Europe and is ranked among the safest beach destinations on the continent as well. The Greek island of Corfu is another destination that EBD deemed safe to visit.
The EBD also offers a list of the safest beaches in Europe. Topping the list is Preveza in Greece, home to Monolithi beach, the longest beach in Europe. The town authorities have instituted several safety and health measures in their accommodations, shops, and restaurants. Comporta in Portugal and Hel Peninsula in Poland round out the top three recommendations.
One general rule to keep in mind is, the warmer the destination, the better. This will allow you to spend more time outdoors later in the year, which means less of a risk of catching COVID-19.
Some destinations are even offering monetary incentives to visit. Sicily is offering to pay half the cost of your flight ticket, some of your hotel costs, and will provide free tickets to museums and cultural sites. Cyprus is hoping to attract tourists by promising to provide free healthcare and hotel expenses if you contract COVID-19 while visiting.
Since it can be hard to keep track of the different rules and regulations for COVID-19 travel in Europe, one way to make sure you are in safe hands is to book your vacation through a trusted travel expert. You can then relax and enjoy your holiday knowing that the proper precautions have been taken upfront and that you have access to expert assistance if anything goes wrong.
“As a tip for anyone who has reservations about booking a trip now, I would say: beautiful cities and hotspots like Athens, Porto, Meteora, and Lisbon are nearly empty of tourists at the moment. There is no crowding in the streets and you don’t have to wait in line for long. The hotels have very few guests, and this is especially noticeable in larger establishments where you will find plenty of empty sunbeds by the poolside and much more peace and quiet than usual.”– Mrs. Brennhäußer, Enchanting Travels Guest in Portugal & Greece, Summer 2020
Safety Tips for Traveling to Europe
If you are worried about flying, it may not be as risky as you think. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes”. According to the Wall Street Journal, practically all commercial jets use High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters similar to those used in hospital operating rooms. Cabins are also cleaned with anti-microbial disinfectants between flights. Still, you should take the following precautions for air travel:
- Wear a mask. Most airlines require you to wear one for the entire duration of the flight.
- Maintain social distancing as much as possible in the airport and on the plane. Some airlines are underbooking flights to keep middle seats open, which increases your ability to keep six feet of distance.
- Wash your hands frequently and carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to ensure your hands stay virus-free. Avoid touching your face or eyes.
- Avoid using airport and airplane restrooms as much as possible as well. If you do use one, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds afterward.
- Consider bringing your own refillable water bottle and snacks as services are limited both on the plane and in many airports.
Our travel experts are keeping an eye on our destinations across the world to bring you updated information on travel restrictions due to COVID-19 (and any other safety issues). Check back for updates or follow us on Facebook to see the latest.
Thinking about a European getaway? Talk to a Europe destination expert today and see what the continent has to offer!