I know I just wrote a post this morning about the new travel rules for traveling to Greece, but I wanted to make a separate post about travel to Greece for Americans since I know there is a lot of interest from the US! Hopefully, this will help. Leave a comment if you have other questions!
When Can Americans Travel to Greece?
In light of the latest policy from Greece (May 30), here is the information for when Americans can travel to Greece. Unlike as recent as last week, Americans no longer need to wait to see if they can even make it to Greece at all this year!
The new rules will allow Americans to travel to Greece as early as June 15 with testing or July 1 without mandatory testing!
Let’s break it down.
Required Testing – June 15 – June 30
If you plan to arrive in Greece between June 15 and June 30, you will need to have mandatory coronavirus testing at the airport when you arrive. Since only Athens and Thessaloniki will be accepting international arrivals, you will be tested at one of those two airports when you arrive.
Following your test, you will need to stay the night at a designated hotel while the results are handled. (I am trying to find out which hotel and how this will be accomplished re: cost, etc). If you are negative for COVID-19, you will need to self-quarantine for 7 days. If you test positive, you will be under supervised quarantine for 14 days (this will require you to check-in with health authorities and take your temperature regularly to report).
But, this will only apply if you are starting your trip to Greece from the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
If you are departing from one of the other states as your origination point (on a single ticket to Greece), as of June 1 according to this list, you will not need to face mandatory testing.
Open for Travel – July 1 and On
After July 1, there will only be random testing going forward. Also, international flights will be allowed to fly to any Greek island airport (the Greek islands have managed to stay pretty virus free). This means you could fly from your home US airport to Frankfurt and then Santorini or fly to London and then Mykonos, for some examples.
Greece has left it open that “Additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date.” You can pretty much count on the US being on this list of additional restrictions. I will update as soon as I know but these restrictions should be more along the lines of leaving information on arrival for where you are staying, what your travel plans are, etc instead of that you cannot travel to Greece. They could also require a test before departure from the US or have you tested when you arrive if you didn’t.
This all means that Americans should be comfortable planning for travel to Greece following July 1. While you can come before, you will be required to quarantine, even if negative. This would mean that you can only go out for necessities and will need to pretty much stay to your self. Unless you don’t want to leave your hotel or Airbnb for one week, don’t come before July 1.
Flights from the US to Greece
Both Emirates and American Airlines have flights scheduled from the US to Athens, Emirates already flying from July 1 and AA starting July 7. The Emirates flight departs out of Newark and the AA flight departs from Chicago. Delta starts up July 18 from JFK to Athens.
This is more than half of the flights that had non-stop options to Greece last year. Missing from this summer is Norwegian, a second Delta flight, and United out of Newark (as well as AA from Philadelphia). But, it is encouraging to see these flights still sticking with it for Americans that want to travel to Greece this summer
When Should Americans Travel to Greece?
While the official summer tourist season in Greece starts June 15, they are extending their summer season into October this year. The weather should cooperate with that as it is expected to be one of the hottest summers in years. So far, the last couple of weeks have been pretty mild but it should kick up soon.
If you want the new health protocols to be well established, I would advise you skip travel in July. While everything should be fine and may even be somewhat empty (compared to normal), things will likely open up even a little more and be more efficient in August and September.
Avoid the week surrounding August 15 as that is a huge holiday in Greece and the cities will essentially be shutdown and quiet and the beaches will be as packed as allowed. If you want a mix of great weather and value, consider mid-September or so. The weather should still be great, kids will be back at school, and prices will be lower (including for things like rental cars).
Another thing to consider is this – private beaches (for hotels, beach bars/cafes, homes, etc) will have social distancing enforced with distances between the umbrellas. But, the public beaches will likely be very packed. So, consider picking a hotel with its own beach if you want more space.
Getting a Rental Car
There are a couple of things to know if you are visiting Greece and you want to rent a car. First of all, make sure you are confidence on crowded, narrow streets! Greece has some, well, interesting and aggressive driving and accident levels can be high! Definitely use a credit card that has primary car rental insurance (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve) if you can!
First of all, new policies will make it more expensive for friends or people that are not from the same family to rent cars. The new health standards say that this is the minimum seat vehicle you will need if you are traveling as a family with children:
- 5 seat car – driver plus one passenger
- 6-7 seat car – driver plus two passengers
- 9 seat car – driver plus three passengers
Of course, the rental counter won’t know how many people will be in the car but you could be fined if stopped by police with more than the limit. Know that 9 passenger vehicles are very expensive during the summer months – like $150+ a day! In these cases, it may be better to rent a couple of smaller vehicles.
Next, you are required to have an International Driver’s Permit if you have a US driver’s license. Read this post for more information but the rental car company may not tell you this in your confirmation e-mail but you will not be allowed to rent the car without one.
Bottom Line – Americans Can Travel to Greece!
For those that really want to have a fabulous vacation, definitely take a look at Greece! Not only is it still fantastic, but it is also one of the few European countries that came through with very low coronavirus numbers. They have no desire to get hit with a second wave but they also want tourists so you can expect things to be healthy and welcoming