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
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:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
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
- Astra Zeneca/Oxford
- Johnson + Johnson/Janssen
- Sinovac Biotech
- Gamaleya (Sputnik)
- Cansino Biologics
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.
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:
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
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.
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.