Travel News

Greece May Let Americans Visit, Sooner Rather Than Later

Written by Charlie

Greece may be open for Americans to visit in as soon as the next few weeks – if certain conditions are met. Find out why your Greek summer plans may not be ruined – yet!

It was a big blow to many Americans with family in Greece or vacation hopes for Greece when the EU ruled that people from America were not welcome when the EU opened their borders on July 1. Well, that could change for Americans and Greece in the coming weeks.

Greece May Be Open to Americans… This Summer

There was some noise that Greece was a leading voice in opposition to keeping Americans out and that Greece may even go ahead and still open their borders to people from America. In the end, they followed the European Commission’s recommendation and kept the doors to Americans closed.

Read: What it is Like to Visit Greece During Covid-19

Greece May Be Open – Depending on the Data

For a country within the Schengen Zone to open their own borders to a people that the EU/Schengen has agreed to keep out means that internal borders would be closed or limited. For Greece, this is nothing new as they had been allowing people to enter Greece from Qatar, for example, throughout the time that Europe had external borders closed.

Greek spokesman, Stelios Petsas, said yesterday that Greece is open to welcoming Americans yet again, as soon as by the end of July/first of August. “Depending on the development of epidemiological data, we will consider opening to other countries, such as the United States, from the end of July.”

Still Some Requirements for Americans or Others

This does not mean it is a slam dunk decision for Americans to visit but that if the data starts to trend the right way, Americans could find Greece open to them in just a couple of weeks. But, it will not be as easy as buying a plane ticket.

Mr. Petsas also said that travelers from America and similar countries would be required to pack a negative Covid-19 (PRC) test, taken within the previous 72 hours. Many locations are requiring this now and this could be the biggest problem for Americans since some testing sites are way backed up.

Testing Enroute?

While it would be possible to grab a test enroute in country which had an airport offering this, (like Germany and Austria), they could pick up such a test on a long layover, it is probably not best to do this. If the traveler tested positive, they would then be at the mercy of quarantine laws in the country they happen to be in at that point.

Balancing Tourism vs Risk

Greece has done a great job of containing the virus and incorporating check points for it for visitors that visit (see my experiences entering Greece in June). At the same time, this is what is also bringing some concern to locals. Two-thirds of positive tests on some days this past week (where a high day is 60 positives) were found at the border of Bulgaria/Greece.

It is a careful balance for Greece – with international flights into some airports down a staggering 70% from last summer, they need to get tourists back again. But, they also do not want to be dealing with a full-blown outbreak of the virus if visitors bring it in. Fortunately, Greece has a great plan in place for tourists and this could help mitigate the risk of something like this happening.

If you are an American itching to visit Greece, don’t buy a plane ticket yet. But, also do not write off the hope of visiting Greece sometime in August or the fall months (which Greece is just still calling “summer” for this year!).

 

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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.

15 Comments

  • Charlie does Greece really expect to be successful like this? I saw the Minister’s quotes: “we will look to consider resuming direct flights from the US end of July”. Did Greece not get the memo that all direct flights have been cancelled from the US until September? What direct flights is he talking about this summer? They cancelled all of them.

    Greece may want US citizens there in the fall, but the reality is most Americans are back to work in September and have decided to go elsewhere after the many back and forths and incoherent policy.

    I’m sorry to be this cynical but I feel like they blew it. What revenue were they expecting by opening to their Slavic neighbors to the north? I predicted cases would rise with no rise in revenue. And look, it didn’t take an economist to get that one right. rise in cases with no real revenue. Poor risk reward bet.

    Now, they’ve blocked anyone with a wallet from entering. And wonder why bookings are down?

    Meanwhile Croatia is allowing US citizens in and I know several who are going that route. Hungary is also letting US citizens in from Wednesday with a negative test or quarantine.

    If other EU and other Schengen countries can do this then why can’t Greece?

    I talk to ministers there and members of Parliament who don’t even know that US citizens cannot enter. One member of parliament told my friend today that “you can go to Frankfurt and transfer to Athens, so what’s the problem?” They don’t even know their own rules. It’s a joke.

    You may get some pensioners in the fall to come (MAYBE), but you blew it and this is latest “announcement” just another rumor. Greece thinks they’ll flip a switch and the US will come? We p,an in advance and all the messaging thus far has been sorry you are not welcome. Among my friends and family I was literally the past holdout.

    How can you get a covid test result back in 72 hours when any legitimate testing lab here says it takes 5 to 7 days? And we test more than anyone in the world. Not like the fake negative tests their neighbors to the north are producing now. This won’t work.

    No one will come now they are making other plans. I as well, which very much saddens me; I will meet my Greek girlfriend in Croatia.

    Sorry to be this curt but this is the reality and they killed any demand for it, from eveyone I talk to here we gave up mostly beginning July but the last hold outs gave up this weekend after we all saw our flights get cancelled. Ironic the Greek minister says this the Monday after Delta and Emirates cancelled everything for the summer to Greece.

    Anyway thanks for all your work on this Charlie.

    ps. the constant talk of epidemiological data is ridiculous because Greece nor the EU do not really adhere to it. If they did NO ONE from a hot spot like Florida would be let in, regardless if they have residence in Greece or another EU country. Also, what happened to the EASA list, hm?

    If Greece was astute they would reference the EASA list and say starting from X date we are letting in flights from Chicago and New York (both hubs for direct travel to Greece and both with numbers way under most EU nations, due to successful lock-down measures taken early on). That would have required work though and again, that ship sailed.

    • I honestly believe that Greece was forced into this position by the EU. Now, with huge drops in incoming tourists and flights, they are trying their best to salvage at least part of a season that they were really prepared for.
      Better than any other EU country, I believe, Greece was prepared for incoming tourists from countries with high Covid numbers. They had been working towards this for months but then they got caught with the EU Commission and, I believe, political moves by people like Merkel.
      At this point, I think they know there is no chance for regular American tourists to visit Greece – at least not in August or September. I think it is more about signaling to the tens of thousands of Greeks who regularly come here every summer that they still may be able to do that before the summer is out.
      Not only are flights down, but rentals are down, hotel numbers are down, etc. Of course, that would track but they thought there would be more European traffic here. So far, it is mostly Serbian, Albanian, and Bulgarian. While some of them are coming here for things like the casino in northern Greece (so they have money), many more are coming to be with family that live here and so not spending money in the travel industry. Many are coming back here for work as well, which really isn’t helping the travel economy either.
      I feel really bad for you but hope countries will have a better plan in place for next year to handle things like this. I don’t think this situation is going away very quickly so it will be more about how countries are set up to adapt to these changes instead of making 11th hour decisions. Remember – more countries were supposed to be added today or tomorrow for entrance to Europe – silence so far.

  • I hear you. BUT countries like Austria, Denmark and Norway are allowing Americans in if they are dating a resident of those countries. Why can Greece not apply this as well since it was already recommended by the EC? Or apply it more broadly to Greeks who have family in Greece if they really wanted to do this (most of us do not have dual citizenship and it is a nightmare trying to get it!).

    And why are Croatia (ok not a Schengen) and Hungary (definitely a Schengen) saying Americans are welcome with quarantine or a negative test?

    EU states ARE going their own way, so why couldn’t Greece at this point?

    The communication has been abysmal.

  • Charlie,
    I’m a tourist (and a runner) who has a vacation booked in Greece beginning 8/1 and have been anxiously awaiting an update from you and the Greek government. Have you heard any updates? Are they still considering letting Americans in soon?

    • Hi, Rachel – it has actually been strangely quiet lately, especially considering the latest EU list should be out tomorrow. But, Greece has been seeing an uptick in cases lately from tourists. Also, they have not set up testing stations that they would need to test all American tourists so I would say it won’t happen in the next week or so. 🙁 Such a shame but don’t cancel yet! Give it another day or so. So sorry for the trip if it doesn’t work out!

  • Hi Charlie,
    Today is the 29th of July here in Los Angeles, CA, and wondering if Greece has made any decisions yet for American tourists.
    August is still nice in Greece!
    I hope so

    • Hi, Isabel. The European Commission will announce today that the US is still not on the safe list which would close the door to American tourists for another 2 weeks at least. Greece could still act independently of this but the tourism season has not materialized the way they thought it would and more rules are going in place as cases are ticking up. So, I think it is safe to say, at this point, Greece is no longer interested in acting separate from the EU recommendation and Americans will not be welcome for at least the next two weeks. So sorry!

  • Hello Charlie,
    I am in a group of six who plan to travell to Greece next June. What are your thoughts on the ban being lifted by then.

    Zee – Orlando FL.

    • Hi, Zee! Greece in June is beautiful! I definitely would think that it is lifted by then. Even if the virus is still around and causing the same level of sickness, governments will have testing in place in a much more efficient way to let people travel. Enjoy!

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