American tourism might be picking back up, but some countries are experiencing lockdowns and case surges. If you plan a trip to Europe this summer, it's important to pay close attention to reopening policies in each vacation destination. Most of Europe will allow U.S. residents to enter, but you'll typically need proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Traveling Europe This Summer
The U.S. isn't the only country experiencing a surge in tourism this summer. In fact, tourism is expected to be high throughout the world, including Europe. Although you won't need to present your vaccination card at the airport to fly domestically, the rules change once you leave the U.S. borders.
Things are gradually opening up across Europe, but during the post-COVID transition, travel can be a little complicated and, unfortunately, even more expensive than usual. For best results, make sure you're fully vaccinated before you leave and carry your vaccination card with you. Some countries may also require a negative COVID test before you'll be allowed to enter.
Travel Restrictions by Country
Before you make flight reservations, it's important to research your destination and monitor for updates. Even if things are open now, that could change if another variant emerges or there's a spike in cases.
As of now, here are the travel policies of some of the most popular European travel destinations.
- Britain: If you're flying to Britain, you'll need to check restrictions specific to your destination. England is still in Step 3, which restricts public gatherings. You will be required to self-isolate for 10 days and test upon arrival.
- France: France requires proof of vaccination at entry. Unvaccinated travelers aged 11 and older must provide proof of a negative test taken less than 72 hours before your flight. Restaurants and other indoor establishments are also gradually reopening to customers.
- Portugal: Currently, Portugal is open to U.S. travelers who can provide a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of boarding. You might be required to quarantine.
- Italy: You'll need to qualify for a European Union travel certificate to enter Italy, which requires full vaccination, documentation of COVID-19 recovery within the past six months or a negative test within the past 48 hours.
- Greece: The spike in cases in Greece so far this summer has led the CDC to issue a travel advisory. The CDC recommends vaccination before traveling there.
Summer 2021 Travel Costs
Even if your desired destination is wide open, this might not be the best summer for flying to that location. Ticket prices are higher than usual due to increased demand, and hotels and vacation rentals have been filling up quickly. Before you start finalizing reservations, make sure you've priced every aspect of your trip.
Another thing to consider is the volatility of the current situation. It might seem like things are back to normal, but with COVID variants still buzzing around, there are no guarantees they'll stay that way. This is the perfect year to make sure your reservations are protected against last-minute cancellations or, at the very least, to purchase trip insurance.
Alternative Travel Options
If you can't find a great deal on a plane ticket, a European cruise might be in order. Cruise lines are just starting to open up, so you'll have to look around. You might also check with tour groups heading to Europe since they can get group discounts.
It's also important to consider how you'll get around once you arrive. Eurail is a creative way to see various areas of Europe. As a bonus, the train personnel can also help you navigate the various COVID-19 restrictions in the areas you're visiting.
This could be the perfect summer for that European vacation you've been hoping to take. But the post-COVID vacation surge could make prices much more expensive than normal. Make sure you plan well in advance and build in cancellation protection in case your destination suddenly has to tighten restrictions.
- ABC News: A Look at Travel Rules in Popular European Destinations
- U.S. Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom: COVID-19 Information
- Gov.UK: COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (Summary)
- France Diplomacy: Coronavirus - Advice for Foreign Nationals in France
- Afar: France Has Reopened To Vaccinated Travelers—Here’s Everything You Need To Know
- U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Portugal: COVID-19 Information
- European Commission: EU Digital COVID Certificate
- CDC: COVID-19 in Greece