Traveling to Greece

Greece is Open to Americans Now – Here is What You Need to Know

grand hyatt athens
Written by Charlie

Americans (and many others) can now travel to Greece. Here is everything you need to know, if you do want to do that, as well as answering if you should right now.

Last week, an anonymous Greek government official spoke to a news outlet and said that Greece would be opening to visitors from a number of countries this week, including Americans. However, all the official entry information continued to say this was not allowed – until this morning. Now, Greece is officially open to Americans and this is what you need to know.

Greece is Open to Americans – Now

Link: Travel Protocols for Greece

Who Can Enter Greece Right Now?

The official opening date for tourists into Greece is May 14 but Greece is doing something of a soft opening as of April 19 to travelers from the following countries:

  • EU+
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • USA
  • UK
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • UAE

The only addition to this list is the US. People from the UK, Israel, and the UAE have been coming for a while now and the other countries have been on the list for a longer period of time.

This soft opening gives family members of Greek people a chance to visit from America or tourists that are willing to accept the restrictions. It will allow Greece to test their border procedures for tourists in preparation of swinging the doors open in just about a month.

What You Need to Travel to Greece

Greece is again assuring everyone that a vaccination certificate is NOT required to visit Greece. In fact, they go so far as to say this “in no case is a vaccination or antibodies certificate considered a ‘passport’.”

Of course, if you have a vaccination certificate and have completed the process (14 days having elapsed since the last vaccination required), it will make entry a little easier. Vaccinations that will be accepted are:

  • Pfizer BioNtech
  • Moderna
  • Astra Zeneca/Oxford
  • Novavax
  • Johnson + Johnson/Janssen
  • Sinovac Biotech
  • Gamaleya (Sputnik)
  • Cansino Biologics
  • Sinopharm

You need to have a relevant vaccination certificate stating that you have completed one of the above vaccination regimens to qualify as a vaccinated traveler.

But, if you have not been vaccinated, you are still ok to visit. In this case, you will need to have a negative PCR test (from a laboratory) that was taken no later than 72 hours before arrival. This is required for all tourists from any country – over the age of 5.

Regardless of what avenue you choose to come by in terms of certification, you still may have to undergo a random health check. I will say this – I have entered Greece 3 times since Covid-19 began and each time was selected for another test, based on the fact that I had come from the US.

Entering Greece

Thessaloniki Airport – Courtesy of Fraport Greece

The big part about this new change is that all visitors from the countries listed above are now not required to observe the 7 day self-quarantine. Once you land, if your paperwork is in order and any random check returns a negative result, you are good to continue on your way.

You are only currently allowed to enter the country through one of the following nine airports:

  • Athens
  • Thessaloniki
  • Heraklion
  • Corfu
  • Rhodes
  • Kos
  • Chania
  • Mykonos
  • Santorini

Before arriving in Greece, in fact, no later than 23:59 of the day before arriving in Greece, you will need to fill out the special Passenger Locator Form (PLF). This form has been in use since last year and will help officials to quickly scan and determine the required information about where you have been before entering Greece. This form can be found here.

One unknown at this point is how you will be handled if you are transiting to Greece via a European airport. Normally, you enter the Schengen Zone at your point of entry but since much of the EU is still not welcoming visitors from the US without resident permits/etc, they may be treating flights to Greece as international flights. For sure, you would not be allowed to exit the airport for an overnight stay in most European countries so make sure you select an appropriate flight.

Visiting Greece Right Now

Want to Travel to Greece? Here is What to Expect

But, should you visit right now? Here is what you will encounter if you do decide to visit as of this week:

  • Most stores are still closed
  • Outdoor archeological sites are open
  • You cannot travel between regions of the country
  • Many/most hotels are still closed
  • Restaurants/cafes/bars are still closed or only available for takeout/delivery
  • You need to send a SMS or carry a form whenever you leave your residence and it can only be for one of 6 reasons, including exercise

In other words, there are still a lot of restrictions in place and Greece will require any tourists to observe the same restrictions that their citizens/residents do. Failing to do so can result in a fine of €300 (including for not wearing a mask in public) all the way up to €3,000 if you organizer a party, even for a small group.

Bottom Line

If you are an adventurous traveler that would like to see Greece before many others enter, this time between now and May 14 could give you an unprecedented time of empty beaches and quiet areas. But, it is still cool in many parts of the country and you are restricted in your movement so, for most, it would simply not make sense to visit right now. You will be missing out on many of the things that make Greece such a wonderful place to visit.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

24 Comments

  • what is the best way to find out about my flight? my trip to Santorini was originally scheduled for last Sept and got moved to this June 4-12 my flight has a layover in Germany. what is the best way to find out if my trip will still happen based off of my flight info. as of right now the flight is still scheduled.

    • Hi, Monica – As long as the flight is still scheduled, you are good for right now. I think much more will be known by early May as to what they will be doing with tourists and the protocols which, in turn, could potentially affect flight schedules. But, June should be a ramp up to their busiest time this year and I do not anticipate the airlines canceling many flights in June at this point. But, again, it could depend on whatever protocols Greece decides on in the coming weeks. I will be doing an update post when we know more.

  • So will Greece allow the “CDC” card that one gets when they get vaccinated here in the USA? Or do you need something else?

    • Hi, Andrew – Yes, the CDC card should be fine. They only require a “relevant vaccination certificate” for whichever vaccine was received. I think they are going to make it as lenient as possible in terms of required papers because they need tourists. If they do have a doubt, they will have that traveler(s) undergo another test at the airport (which isn’t a big deal) just to be sure. Your CDC card should be just right.

  • Charlie to do you think more Greek hotels will have areas for PCR testing for foreign visitors as a negative test even with a vaccine may be required by many governments? I’m not coming back to the US until the end of September, so who knows what it will look like then. Just trying to anticipate the need.

    • Hi, Sam – Greece was originally planning on offering tests to all tourists for departure but they scrapped it due to the millions they anticipated it costing. PCR testing is quite easy to find here with the big airports offering it (with under 24 hour turnaround) and fairly inexpensive (€50 and under).
      I think some of the resorts/higher-end hotels on the islands could offer some kind of testing options. They are starting at-home testing now (I know that is now allowed for travel) so that could ease the load on the tests they have on hand and I could see hotels wanting some of those. At present, the US has not required only PCR so the antigen/rapid tests would be good and those are very easy to find. By September, it should be just fine and I doubt that testing will even still be required by then. I think we will know for sure by the end of May – on both the part of Greece and the US.

  • Non stop flights from the US, In particularly, JFK to Athens, were all cancelled a couple of weeks ago (now on Delta you must go through AMS or CDG) and now do not start again until June 5. Being as Greece seems to be ahead of schedule and the target date of opening May 14th seems like it’s going to happen, do you foresee any of the US airlines, say Delta, re-instating the daily nonstop from JFK to ATH that they pre maturely cancelled only a couple of weeks ago?

    Heading to Greece the last week of May, so we hope restaurants and such might be open by then, any thoughts? Thanks

    • Hi, Lincoln – Back when the airlines set their early schedules, I had said I did not think they would last there. I thought it was too ambitious but also that they were anticipating a situation where Americans would only be able to fly just to Greece. At this point, I doubt that they will change the schedules. I think most of the airlines are on the weekend of June 3-5. If an airline were to move it back a bit, I would bet it would be Delta.
      If you want, shoot me an e-mail – charlie at runningwithmiles.com – and we can keep in touch about openings, especially based on where you may be headed here in Greece. The word I got from some restaurants this past weekend is that they are being told they can open after Easter (May 2) for outdoor dining. We will see! They have been closed now for almost 6 months!

      • Looks like Delta did indeed move back up their non stop flights from JFK to ATH and ATH to JFK starting on May 28/ May 29 as of now, was June 5th as of yesterday. Just an FYI. Now if we could only get them to move even more deeply into May!

  • Great news and thanks for including all the info about domestic restrictions inside Greece – important to know, but some other articles I’ve seen have omitted that info.

    There should be plenty of options for connecting flights. For example Germany permits 3rd-country citizens to transit so long as they’re admissible to the destination country and don’t remain in Germany any longer than the time needed to connect. The EU site https://reopen.europa.eu/ is the best place to start as you can check entry, transit, etc for each country and there are usually links to their gov’t websites as well.

    Transit in the UK is also allowed.

    • Thanks for that update, Ryan! I am curious how this will work coming up. I remember last time I transited Germany (in January), there were border police in arguments with some passengers about how they could not let them enter the EU even though their destination was (not sure what country it was or even it would be applicable to this). In the end, it will all likely come down to some airline employee at a regional airport where the traveler is beginning from! 🙂 You know they never want to get slapped with some penalty and I have had harder times convincing them about visa situations than I ever had at a border!

  • Any news on transit through Turkey into Greece? I know their case count is high. Thanks again for all the great articles and responses.

    • Hi, Tony – Greece started allowing flights from Turkey back a couple of weeks ago and Turkish has been loading up their schedule with flights to Greece again as a result. I am not 100% convinced that the stoppage of flights from Turkey was all about coronavirus as the tensions between Turkey and Greece have been high for months and just now talks are starting to happen.
      Thanks!

  • A minor point in the grand scheme of things, but last time I checked, falling foul of the regulations on any of the six reasons to go outside, the police fine is 500 euros. That is no small some in my pocket. The fines did start out at 300 euros.

    • No, they are still €300. There are different fines that go up much higher but the €300 is the standard one (the PM raised them to €500 but pulled back quickly due to parliamentary pushback). But, you are right that – either way – it is no small change!

  • hi Charlie – I would like to travel to Greece mid June. Right now I can get round trip tickets from US to Greece for under $1000 which is a good deal. Do you suggest I wait to purchase tickets till 1st week of May or do it right now? I want to ensure most places are open and restaurants are open for atleast outdoor seating / patios. what do you suggest?

    • Hi, Narmeen – Mid-June should be ok but things are still up in the air a bit right now. The plan is to completely open the country to tourists on May 15 but they also say that tourists must follow the same rules/restrictions as citizens/residents. That means that they could keep some things closed.
      The plan is to open restaurants for outdoor dining on May 3. I think we will know for sure by next Thursday. Travel between regions is still restricted as well but that should open by May 9.
      By next weekend, we should know a lot more so if you could wait until early May to book, that could be best. Also, depending on where you want to go, it is very unseasonably cool right now. Some places have even dropped their prices for early June because it is taking so long to warm up and that means the water may not be that warm in early June.

      • hi Charlie! So do you think its now a good time to buy tickets to Greece for mid June? What are the updates? From Houston, I dont see any direct flights. From Houston, there is Turkish airlines to Athens ($850) but nothing to Santorini. How easy is it to buy flights from Athens to Santorini? I see British Airlines connecting flights to Santorini as well ($1400). Any input would be greatly appreciated!! thank you!

        • Hi, Narmeen! I think it is a good time. Greece is still on track to welcome all tourists on May 15 and they are planning on removing almost all restrictions by then as well.It is very easy to get flights to Santorini from Athens but it is not always that cheap for summer. Check on Aegean’s website (definitely buy through them as opposed to using an online travel agency like Orbitz,etc) and use flexible dates. If you have kids, the kids fly free if you book in the next two days (just pay airport fees, which are high for Athens).
          Flights have been coming back into Greece from Turkey regularly for about a month now so Turkish is a solid option. Long flight from Houston, though! 🙂

          • Great – thank you! I think this weekend I am going to pull the trigger to buy tickets!! Do you know if the fast speed Ferries are all open to go between different islands?

            Thanks again Charlie!

          • Many of the ferries are running again, but they will require full vaccinations (at least 14 days since the second dose) or a negative test taken within 72 hours of the ferry trip. Even self tests available at the pharmacies here will work for this.

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