Europe was one of the regions hardest hit by the novel coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly in Italy and Spain. Thanks to strict lockdowns, many countries saw steep declines in death and infection rates in the summer, but as the fall comes around and more businesses reopen, cases in Europe are on the rise again. By October, Madrid was the first major city to go back into a partial lockdown and as France tightens restrictions, another lockdown may also be in the cards for Paris in the upcoming weeks.
Over the summer, the European Union (EU) banned citizens from the U.S. and other highly-affected countries from entering, most of Europe is slowly beginning to reopen, and tourism has already returned in some countries. Borders are somewhat open across the EU and the Schengen Area and on June 30, the EU council released a list of 15 non-European countries that have been deemed epidemiologically safe. This list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China (on the condition of reciprocity by China).
The list is just a recommendation, and EU member countries are not obligated to stick to it. Some countries are working off a more limited list, while others are allowing citizens of countries not on the list to enter. Because every European country is handling the crisis differently, some may need to tighten restrictions if the prevalence of the virus increases. Read on to learn which countries are open for tourism and the latest lockdown conditions in each.
As of September 2, U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Austria and a travel warning remains in place for Austrians who wish to visit the U.S. Austria first enacted strict social distancing measures on March 16 and began lifting those restrictions on April 14. After new cases remained manageable for several weeks, bars, restaurants, and museums reopened around mid-May.
Third-country nationals, who qualify for an exception and are flying into Austria from a Schengen Zone country need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours and will have to self-quarantine for 10 days. As of September 17, European citizens entering Austria only need to present a negative test.
The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania each took slightly different approaches to lockdowns, but all three closed their borders and entered lockdown in mid-March. After loosening lockdown restrictions in late April, the Baltics opened their borders to each other on May 15. All three countries remain closed to U.S. citizens, with some exceptions, but are open to travelers arriving from the EU, Schengen Area, and the UK. However, those travelers may have to show a negative test or agree to quarantine if they are traveling from a high-risk country. The ministries of health for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, each maintain their own lists. Originally, the three Baltic countries had formed a travel bubble, allowing free movement between countries, but after a rise in cases, Latvia put a hold on travelers entering from Estonia in September.
Belgium reopened its borders to tourism on June 15, but only to the European Union and the UK. Those allowed to travel will also be required to fill out a Public Health Passenger Locator Form, but no negative test or quarantine period is necessary. Every person traveling to Belgium for more than 48 hours will need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form. Visas are no longer being issued and it's unknown when Belgium will reopen to countries outside Europe.
Bulgaria is allowing citizens of the UK, EU, and Schengen Area countries to enter in addition to 13 countries on the EU's list, plus the United Arab Emirates. Hotels, restaurants, beaches, and tourist attractions are open, however social distancing and capacity limits may be in place. U.S. citizens will not be allowed to enter Bulgaria unless they qualify for an exception.
Choosing not to abide by the EU's decision to ban American travelers, Croatia is one of the only European countries that has opened its borders to all nationalities, including Americans. However, travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken 48 hours before arrival in Croatia, or they will be subject to a self-quarantine of seven days until they can take another test and show a negative result and receive clearance from a local epidemiologist. Many hotels, restaurants, and beaches have reopened and private boats will also be allowed to cross the country's sea border. Public transportation and ferries are running and as of October 12, masks will be required in all spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance. Additionally, travelers entering Croatia will also be asked to fill out an online form to register with the Ministry of Tourism.
The Czech Republic has relaxed border restrictions and reopened for tourism, but still has many limitations, and masks are mandatory in all public spaces. Anyone entering from anywhere other than the approved low-risk countries will be required to complete an online Health Passenger Locator form and take a test in the Czech Republic within five days after arriving and submit it to the nearest hygienic office. If not, a quarantine order will be issued. However, this does not apply to U.S. citizens who are not yet permitted to enter the Czech Republic.
U.S. citizens will not be allowed to enter Denmark unless they qualify for "a worthy purpose", which could mean anything from having a job interview to having a business meeting in Denmark. The Danish government is also issuing "sweetheart exceptions," for the romantic partners of Danish citizens or foreign nationals legally residing in Denmark. If you qualify for one of these exceptions, you will be required to show a negative test taken within 72 hours before arriving.
As cases rise in Europe, Denmark has stopped allowing entry from certain European countries and specific regions of low-risk countries. The Danish government keeps an updated list of banned countries on its official website.
Finland is reopening its borders gradually, a process that began on May 14. The country is now open for work-based and other essential travel, but arrivals are still strongly advised to self-quarantine for 10 days. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Finland for tourism unless they qualify for an exemption.
As of November 23, Finland is only allowing leisure travel between EU and Schengen countries, including the UK. However, if the country has infection rates above 25 per 100,000 people, travelers will have to get tested before leaving and upon arrival in Finland. They must also quarantine for 72 hours while awaiting the result of the test. Travelers arriving from EU and Schengen countries with a lower rate of infection, as well as the pre-approved countries of Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, and the Vatican will not have to quarantine or show a negative test.
France began easing its lockdown in June, allowing cafes, bars, restaurants, and public transportation to resume operation with social distancing in place. As of October, cases in France have risen dramatically with more new cases per day than at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in April. Paris shut down the bars on October 6 to help curb the rise in cases, but many are anticipating another lockdown if the city returns to the "maximum" risk category. On September 26, Marseille closed down all bars, restaurants, and gyms for two weeks. On October 14, President Emmanuel Macron imposed a curfew in Paris and other cities from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Despite the rise in cases, the country is still open to travelers from any EU country, Andorra, Australia, Canada, Georgia, the Holy See, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Rwanda, San Marino, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter France, but it's possible to qualify for an exemption with the French Embassy if you are traveling to France for business purposes. If so, you will need to arrive with a negative test taken within 72 hours before your flight and will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Germany closed its borders with neighboring countries on March 16 and reopened to EU nations as of June 17. Hotels, restaurants, museums, and tourist sites are open in Germany with social distancing in place. Travelers from EU, Schengen countries, and the UK can enter the country without providing an entry reason, and citizens Australia, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and Uruguay will also be allowed to enter Germany. U.S. citizens are barred from entering at this time unless they qualify for an exception. Travelers arriving from a high-risk area are required to quarantine unless they have a doctor's certificate stating they show no signs of symptoms.
Greece has proposed a more aggressive reopening plan than many of its European neighbors. Since July, international flights to all Greek airports have resumed and hotels and restaurants have reopened with social distancing in place. Greece is welcoming citizens of EU countries, in addition to 11 countries on the EU's list, which does not include the U.S. However, due to a rise in cases, passengers arriving from the high-risk countries of Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, North Macedonia, and Poland, Romania, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates, must show a negative test taken within 72 hours of arriving in Greece.
After reopening in the summer, Hungary shut its borders in September to all international travelers, including the EU and Schengen countries, and the borders are set to stay close until the end of October. This decision followed a spike in cases and also increasing fears of a second wave as infection rates rise across Europe. Some exceptions for entry into Hungary may be granted for those wishing to enter Hungary, including U.S. citizens, but those travelers will still need to show a negative test and self-quarantine for 10 days.
Iceland has lifted travel restrictions from travelers from the EU, Schengen Area, and countries deemed epidemiologically-safe, but not U.S. travelers. Seeing a rise in cases, Iceland ordered bars, gyms, and other entertainment venues to close as of October 5. However, as of August 19, all travelers who arrive in Iceland must choose between a 14-day quarantine or a five- or six-day quarantine that requires testings negative for COVID-19 twice. You will be tested first upon arrival in Iceland and your quarantine location will need to be registered with the government.
Ireland never officially closed its borders and U.S. citizens are permitted to enter without needing to show a negative test. Instead of mandating quarantines by nationality, Irish officials instead are looking at which country each traveler is arriving from. Anyone, including Irish citizens, coming from a country that's not on Ireland's Green List will need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. A plan to introduce testing upon arrival and eliminate the need to quarantine is in the works.
Ireland is in phase three of its reopening plan, which means that retail, restaurants, pubs, hair salons, and more are open, but face masks must be worn at all times and social distancing is being enforced. Due to a rise in cases in September and October, some businesses like movie theatres have closed again and although restaurants are still open in Ireland, the government banned indoor dining for the time being.
After one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in Europe, Italy announced on May 16 that it would open its borders to travelers, but only those from EU member nations, Schengen countries, the UK, and 11 of the EU's safe third countries will not be required to quarantine. However, travelers from Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Spain will also need to show negative test results on arrival. Only travelers arriving from Romania need to quarantine. Additionally, anyone wanting to visit Sardinia, Sicily, Apulia, or Calabria, will need to register their trip again on the official websites of those regions. At this time, U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Italy unless they are traveling from an exempted country for a qualified exception.
Although Italy is also seeing a rise in cases amid Europe's second wave, it's not yet known if the country will go back into lockdown. However, an outdoor mask mandate has been implemented throughout the whole country and those who don't comply will face a hefty fine of $1,163. The government has also issued new rules limiting gatherings and forcing restaurants to close by 9 p.m.
The Netherlands lifted its travel ban on July 1 for citizens of the UK, Schengen Area, and EU countries, in addition to 11 of the EU's epidemiologically-safe countries. Dutch islands in the Caribbean, like Aruba and Curaçao, do not fall under the European travel ban. Throughout the Netherlands, restaurants, movie theatres, and hotels have been allowed to reopen under social distancing guidelines.
Experiencing a surge of new cases in the fall, the Netherlands is implemented new rules regarding mask-wearing, and restaurants and bars are now required to close by 10 p.m. On October 13, the government called for partial lockdown which put limits on indoor seating, gatherings, and enforced new closing times for cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Anyone traveling to Norway will be required to quarantine for 10 days, except for some European countries and regions that have been deemed low-risk. Norway is still closed to travelers outside of Europe, including U.S. citizens.
Poland restricts entry of all foreign nations except for citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, Tunisia, and Australia. U.S. citizens may be allowed to enter if they meet qualified exceptions, but they will be required to self-quarantine. Within Poland, restrictions have eased to allow businesses to open up under mandated safety guidelines and social distancing. Seeing a rise in new cases in the fall, Poland implemented a mask mandate for all public spaces on October 8.
Portugal is in phase three of its reopening and has opened its borders, without requiring a 14-day quarantine, to citizens from the EU and other European nations and 12 of the countries deemed epidemiologically-safe by the EU. However, all travelers flying to the island territories of Madeira and the Azores will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before departing. Americans are not allowed to travel directly to Portugal from the United States, but they will be allowed to enter if they arrive from an EU member state or an epidemiologically-safe country that they are a resident of.
Romania reopened for tourism for EU and Schengen Area countries in July, but now restricts entry from high-risk countries, which includes the U.S. After seeing an increase in cases, Romania entered a "state of alert," and restaurants, bars, and movie theatres were closed in Bucharest until the rate of coronavirus cases decreases.
Russia has kept its borders closed to all non-Russian citizens, except for those who are traveling to Russia for medical treatment or to care for a relative. On August 1, international flights to Russia resumed, but only travelers that have a valid Russian visa or can demonstrate citizenship will be allowed to enter. Everyone traveling to Russia will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours of their arrival, or they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
After reopening for tourism in June with few limitations, the Serbian government introduced new restrictions in the fall requiring all foreigners, including U.S. citizens, arriving in Serbia to take a self-assessment test online, which will determine if they need to report to a COVID-19 clinic. They must also retake the test 10 days after arriving in Serbia. All foreigners must also provide a negative test taken within 48 hours before they arrive in Serbia, but there's no need to quarantine.
One of the harder-hit countries at the start of the pandemic, Spain's borders did not open to citizens of EU and Schengen-Area countries until July. Hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, beaches, and tourist attractions have been open with social distancing in place. However, the country is now grappling with an aggressive second wave and one of the highest infection rates in Europe. New lockdowns are now in place in major cities like Madrid and mid-size cities like León and Palencia, but there is no national lockdown. On October 14, all bars in and restaurants in the region of Catalonia were ordered to close for 15 days.
Spain still grants entry to citizens of 12 of the EU's list of epidemiologically-safe countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Travelers coming from approved countries are asked to complete a health control form online, which will give them a QR code they will need to show upon entry in Spain in addition to undergoing a health check. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Spain unless they qualify for an exemption.
Despite Sweden's controversial decision to stay open at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government is encouraging those residing in the country to avoid non-essential travel to high-risk countries outside of Europe. Travelers from within the EU, Schengen Area, and 10 of the EU's epidemiologically-safe countries will be permitted to enter Sweden without needing to be tested or self-quarantine. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are banned from entering Sweden until October 31. For those who enter, Sweden does not impose testing or quarantine but instead expects individuals to act responsibly and follow safety recommendations.
In October, cases in Sweden spiked dramatically and another lockdown may be on the horizon. Swiss borders are still open to citizens of the EU, UK, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, as well as a few non-Schengen Area and non-European countries like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. If you are coming from a country on Switzerland's list of high-risk countries, which includes the U.S., you will be subject to a 10-day quarantine. U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Switzerland for business meetings, among other exceptions, that can only be held in person and can't be postponed. Traveling for tourism is not allowed. Switzerland has no requirement to show a negative test or quarantine, but you may undergo a health screening at the airport.
Turkey reopened its borders to travelers from many countries, including the U.S. in June. There's no need to show a negative test or quarantine if you're not showing symptoms, but all passengers traveling to Turkey will undergo a health exam upon arrival. As of October 15, all Turkish residents will be required to present a Hayat Eve Sigar (HES) code while utilizing hotels and booking airline tickets. If you've booked a flight to Turkey with Turkish Airlines, the airline may have further rules and requirements depending on your country of origin.
Most businesses and services within Ukraine are open, including hotels and restaurants, though the country's "adaptive quarantine" will be in place until October 31. Because the U.S. is considered a "Red Zone" country, U.S. citizens are allowed to enter, but they will have to enter into self-quarantine or be tested upon arrival at the airport in addition to showing proof of health insurance.
The UK has not enforced an outright travel ban but currently enforces a 14-day quarantine for visitors coming from outside of approved countries within the travel corridor. Each country within the United Kingdom has its own list of approved "travel corridors," which can be found on the official government websites of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, respectively. As of October 15, the United States is not on any of these lists, but U.S. citizens are eligible to travel to the UK so long as they fill out the proper Passenger Locator Form and commit to self-isolating for 14 days.
The UK reopened its economy over the summer but in October a new alert system was introduced to lock down specific virus hotspots. These restrictions apply only to England, so if you travel to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you may encounter different social distancing rules. For example, on October 15, it was announced that bars and pubs in Northern Ireland would be shut down for four weeks.
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