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Traveling to Greece: All You Need to Know in the Coronavirus Era

Some of Athens’ first tourists of the 2020 season take treasured photographs of the Caryatids, at the Erechtheion on the Acropolis. Source: Apostolis Makris/Greek Reporter

Editor’s Note: Some of the guidelines on who and when can travel to Greece have been changed and are described in detail here: Greece Opens to All Tourists Regardless of Nationality on June 15

Greece is open again to receive foreign visitors beginning the middle of next month, following almost three months of a stringent nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourism in Greece is restarting gradually, based on rules and standards of transport and travel throughout the European Union, following all appropriate health protocols.

Visitors can enjoy the great natural beauties and archaeological sites of the country, but all health precautions must be taken and all instructions by authorities should be followed. However, the traditional hospitality of the Greek people will have no restrictions whatsoever!

When can tourists arrive in Greece?

The Greek government has announced that international tourism will begin on June 15, when seasonal hotels will be allowed to open their doors again. However, direct international flights to tourist destinations in Greece will gradually resume beginning on July 1st. No prior coronavirus test will be required for travelers.

Just who can travel?

Unfortunately, not everyone will be allowed to travel to Greece right away. The Greek government has decreed that, initially, residents from only twenty countries will be able to visit Greece.

Specifically, people who are residents of Cyprus, Israel, China, Japan, Australia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are welcome in Greece as of June 15.

The Greek government will consider lifting the ban on citizens of other countries based on what it considers the success of pandemic control in each nation. Currently, flights from the USA, UK, Russia, Italy, Spain, France and Brazil into Greece are banned.

How different will air travel will be this year?

Naturally, very strict health measures will be taken at the airports of departure and in Greek airports as well, including the wearing of masks and the liberal use of hand sanitizer gel. The same strict hygiene rules will apply inside all aircraft this year. Also, keep in mind that random coronavirus tests will be administered to arriving passengers upon landing in Greece.

Taxis  and mass transport in Greece

Traveling by mass transport, including buses, trams and trains, in Greece now requires wearing a mask, while fewer passengers will be allowed in all vehicles. The same even applies to taxis, with only two passengers allowed per ride — which means you may have to wait a little longer than usual to board.

Hotels and airbnb accommodations

While year-round hotels open on June 1st in Greece, seasonal hotels and all Airbnb accommodations reopen later, on June 15. Again, strict health measures are in place. Guests cannot serve themselves from a breakfast buffet, but rather will be served by a waiter. Hotels will be required to keep a contact record of all guests in case one is infected with Covid-19 and contact tracing needs to be undertaken.

Santorini. Source: Norbert Nagel/Wikimedia commons

Visiting the Greek islands

Once in Greece, beginning June 15 and onward, foreign visitors can travel freely to any island. However, be advised that ferries and boats will be sailing at half their normal passenger capacity.

Passengers traveling on ferries must hand in a filled-out questionnaire when they board the ship more than half an hour away from embarkation time.

Social life — restaurants, coffee shops, bars, beaches, entertainment

Credit: Apostolos Makris/Greek Reporter

By June 15, all eating and drinking establishments will be open throughout the country. Their appearance will be quite different, however, as tables will be .70 — 1.70 meters (2 — 5.5 feet) apart from each other and only up to six people will be allowed per table.

This measure puts strict limits on the capacities of restaurants, bars and cafes. Waiters are also required to wear masks, while for customers masks are optional. However, masks are mandatory inside all stores in malls and shopping centers.

Greece’s unique open-air summer cinemas will again be operational this year, but viewers will have to keep a safe distance from each other once inside.

Social distancing measures will apply on beaches as well, with umbrellas and sunbeds placed far apart on all organized beaches.

Museums and archaeological sites in Greece

Like any other year, there will be innumerable fascinating sites to visit while in Greece. The only difference this summer is that you may have to wait just a little longer to admire the Parthenon, for example, because social distancing measures apply there and all other historical sites as well.

Overall, the Greek people strictly followed the rules the government put in place to curb the Covid-19 pandemic — and they seem to be continuing to do so now that the spread of the virus has subsided significantly. So by any measure, Greece is safe, and it is open for tourism.

So as long as you bring your good spirits with you, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and keep a safe distance from others who are not your family, you will be able to have a fabulous vacation in Greece. See you soon!

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