Greece has officially opened for tourism for the summer of 2021. Read this Greece travel advice before you go in order to make your vacation go smoother!
Can I visit Greece?
There's two sides to this question. The first, is that Greece is currently only allowing permanent residents of certain countries to enter.
The second, is that some countries such as Australia and New Zealand are not allowing their citizens to travel outside the borders. Others, such as the UK are currently only recommending travel to certain countries.
Before planning a trip to Greece, you should first check that your own country will let you out. (That sounds crazy to even write that sentence, but such are the times we live in!).
If you have no restrictions, you can then check if Greece is open to you.
As of the 14th of May, the doors of Greece are open to permanent residents of the following countries:
- EU and Schengen countries (includes Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland)
- United Kingdom
- North Macedonia
- New Zealand
- United States of America
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
People arriving from these countries must complete the inbound PLF (Passenger Locator Form). You can find it here at the official Greece travel website.
Do I need to be tested to enter Greece?
Greece has put in place a number of different entry requirements. Permanent residents of the above countries aged 5 and above must comply with any of the following:
(A) Have completed their final round of vaccination at least 14 days before arriving to Greece AND carry a vaccination certificate including their name, surname, type of vaccination and number of doses they have taken. Acceptable languages are English, French, German, Spanish, Italian or Russian.
(B) Present a negative PCR test, which has been taken maximum 72 hours before their arrival.
(C) Present a certificate, issued by a public authority, that they have contracted COVID-19 two to nine months before travel. Quoting travel.gov.gr: “A certificate of a positive PCR molecular test result, confirming that the holder recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, performed at least 2 months before arrival, and no later than 9 months before arrival”.
The above is currently in effect until Monday 24th May 2021, 6am.
Important Things to Consider
- Your carrier may have different requirement for travel than Greece does. For example, although Greece will allow in passengers who can prove they have been vaccinated, an airline may still insist on a negative test. You should check with your airline what the travel rules are for boarding.
- If your flight transits through another country, that country may have its own rules. For example, I heard of a situation where a flight connection was to be made in Germany. The German requirements at the time were a PCR test within 48 hours, and so the passengers were refused boarding. Again, check with your airline so you've got all the angles covered.
Can I travel around Greece?
Greece had one of the strictest lockdown protocols in the world. That has now been eased as Greece opens for tourism, but some restrictions do still apply. Here are the current rules for internal travel:
For domestic flights to the mainland, no vaccination or test is currently necessary.
For domestic flights and ferries to the islands, all passengers over 5 years old needs to meet one of the following conditions:
- Have completed the vaccination for COVID-19 at least 14 days before arrival and to present a vaccination certificate issued by a public authority
- Display a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before scheduled travel time (in paper form or electronically)
- Display a negative rapid test, taken up to 24 hours before the scheduled travel time (in paper form or electronically)
- Have been diagnosed negative in a self-test, taken up to 24 hours before the scheduled travel time, which needs to be declared in this form
- Present a certificate, issued by a public authority, that they have contracted COVID-19 two to nine months before travel Quoting travel.gov.gr: “A certificate of a positive PCR molecular test result, confirming that the holder recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, performed at least 2 months before arrival, and no later than 9 months before arrival”.
Accepted languages for any of the above paperwork are Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian or Russian. The documents will be checked by the airline employees during boarding.
Recommended for booking ferry tickets: Ferryhopper
What if Scenario
If you are planning to visit Athens from overseas, stay in the city for a couple of days and then want to travel to an island, you will need to take another test if your first test has expired. This is unless you are vaccinated, or have official paperwork proving you have contracted COVID-19.
What restrictions can I expect in Greece in summer 2021?
- There is a curfew from 00.30 – 05.00. Movement during these hours is only allowed for work or health reasons.
- Masks need to be used everywhere, for anyone over 4 years old. The only exceptions are cafes / restaurants, private cars (for members of the same family / people living together / first-second degree relatives) and exercising.
- Social distancing (1.5 metres) needs to be maintained
- Up to three people total (driver + two passengers) are allowed in both private vehicles and taxis. There are exceptions for families with young children, for people in need of medical assistance, and for teachers and students in rural areas.
- Tourist coaches run at 85% capacity, ferries at 50-85%, depending on the type of ferry. Cruise boats and yachts also run with limited capacity, depending on the size of the boat.
- Tavernas and bars can serve outside only.
- There seems to be no plan for nightclubs to open any time soon.
Important note: All of the above may change at very short notice if last year is anything to go by.
All of the above information is what is actually happening right now. Below, is a roadmap for further reopening. The dates may be moved depending on circumstances.
Roadmap to activities reopening
These businesses and services are scheduled to reopen in the next few weeks:
- Friday 21 May: Outdoors cinemas
- Friday 28 May: Open theatres and open-air concert venues, only for seated viewers
- Monday 31 May: Gyms and similar activities, wellness services
- Monday 31 May: Catering services
- June: Weddings
- June: Music in restaurants and cafes is likely to resume
- Indoors service at restaurants / cafes etc is planned to resume when 50% of the population has been vaccinated.
The following businesses and services remain closed for now and there is no scheduled date for reopening:
- Bars / nightclubs
- Indoors theatres and cinemas
A few helpful insights for traveling Greece 2021
If 2021 is anything like 2020, you can expect rules, regulations and circumstances to change with little notice. My advice here is to be as flexible as you can in your travel planning, and also make sure you have fully refundable travel arrangements.
Companies that I recommend (although you should still read their policies) for travel in Greece include:
- Welcome taxis – For airport transfers (so you can avoid crowded public transport systems)
- Booking – For hotel and apartments (but check their cancellation policies)
- Get Your Guide – For organizing day tours and trips
If you've got any questions about traveling to Greece in 2021, leave a comment below and I'll get back to you!
You might also want to read:
- My Newsletter: Sign up here.
- Athens – Airport Transport: How to get from the center to the airport
- Piraeus – City Center Transport: How to get from the port at Piraeus to the historic center
- Sightseeing: My 2 days in Athens itinerary
- Accommodation: Best hotels near the Acropolis.