Articles

Traveling to Europe in Summer 2021: What to Know

In a typical year, more than 12 million Americans—including many Indagare members—visit Europe. But since March 2020, most U.S. travelers have been prohibited from entering countries across the Pond. It now seems we’ll be seeing a return to Europe in the near future. On April 25, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The New York Times “one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated” with the three approved jabs from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. And on May 3, the EU released its plan, with further details into what summer travel to Europe may entail.

The team at Indagare is excited about the prospects of revisiting some of our favorite destinations, and we’re monitoring and assessing the situation as it continues to evolve. Here’s what to know now:

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety in Europe, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, the safest routes or transportation options available, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas.

The Reopening of Europe Will Be a Country-By-Country Decision

The May 3 announcement means the European Commission is removing its recommendation that EU member countries restrict vaccinated international arrivals. It will be up to individual countries to change their own policies. Non-EU members, including Montenegro, Iceland and the UK (where England and Scotland both have quarantine requirements), along with EU members Croatia, Greece and Ireland are already open. Other popular destinations are poised to let Americans in soon, too: Italy‘s prime minister announced it would allow foreign travelers as early as mid-May; France expects to reopen on June 9; Spain is also aiming for June, and Portugal will likely have similar dates. Malta may be an early opener as well: more than 50 percent of this island nation’s citizens have already received their vaccines. Time will tell when other countries, including other non-EU members such as Switzerland, will follow suit.

Traveling with Kids Will Be Possible, With Caveats

According to the May 3 announcement, unvaccinated children “should be able to travel” with vaccinated adults if they provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Countries could require additional testing upon arrival, as is currently the case in Iceland (where non-vaccinated arrivals must take a second test and quarantine for five days before taking a third test and continuing with their travels). In Greece, though, only the initial test result is required. The bottom line: Traveling with children will likely be possible in most places, but may involve extra Covid tests as well as quarantine periods. We recommend purchasing travel insurance and evacuation coverage in case of illness as a precautionary measure.

Related: Indagare’s Guide to Traveling Safely and Responsibly During Covid

Europe Isn’t Back to Normal Yet

As in the U.S., the day-to-day situation in Europe is currently not yet back to pre-pandemic normalcy. In many European destinations, especially cities, indoor dining is prohibited and non-essential shops are still closed. Most hotels will continue to require their staff to wear masks on-property (though several of our partners in Sweden—which has not enacted face mask mandates—have signaled they will not). By summertime, many of these restrictions will hopefully lessen as the continent continues to improve its vaccination rollout.

Yes, You’ll Still Need a PCR Test to Come Home

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not reversed its policy of requiring all international arrivals—including vaccinated U.S. citizens—to show proof of a negative viral test result (PCR or rapid) before re-entering the country. This means that travelers to Europe will need to schedule a test and receive results within 72 hours prior to their return flight. Note that some states also require a quarantine period at home following international travel. Indagare is working closely with our partners to help our members locate reliable testing sites, where possible, during their travels.

When Should You Go?

Traveling nowadays is a deeply personal choice. And while vaccinations are proven to significantly lower the risk of getting Covid-19, there are still some risks. Yale School of Medicine infectious diseases expert Dr. Manisha Juthani recommends travelers head to destinations with a low rate of new Covid cases. With case numbers still worrisome, the State Department has issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel warning to every EU country except for Austria.

The good news, however, is that daily case numbers are dropping and vaccination rates are increasing. The European Commission has doubled down on its claims that, by mid-July, enough people will have been vaccinated to reach herd immunity. With that in mind, it seems likely that many of the restrictions—shop and museum closures, indoor dining bans, etc.—will be lifted sooner. We are in close touch with our partners all across Europe, and are eagerly awaiting more news.

Still have questions about traveling in the age of Covid? Read our FAQ.

Related: Coronavirus Travel Information: What’s Open to Americans Now

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety in Europe, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, the safest routes or transportation options available, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas.

– Peter Schlesinger on April 28, 2021

Column

Quotable

One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated.
~ Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President

Become an Indagare Member Today!

Join Indagare sign in