Some Balkans countries are open to Americans, but should you go?

Jul 24, 2020

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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

The novel coronavirus has (most of us) frozen in place, quarantining at home and dreaming of when we can travel again. 

The State Department advises against traveling internationally right now, as COVID cases continue to spike in the U.S. and the advisory level remains at 4 — Do Not Travel.

Americans are finding something very new when they go to plan international travel: closed borders. Most countries are not allowing U.S. visitors right now because of the pandemic. The United States remains one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, recording nearly four million coronavirus cases and over 140,000 deaths.

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For Americans, choices for international travel are limited. Much of the Caribbean is open to U.S. travelers, but large swathes of the European Union remain off-limits. For now, that means your dream Parisian vacation or riding the Tube in London won’t happen. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina is only open to citizens and residents of E.U. and Schengen countries with a negative PCR test. U.S. citizens are banned from Bulgaria unless they are Bulgarian nationals or traveling for humanitarian reasons. Montenegro opened its borders only to countries meeting strict criteria and countries not on that list are subject to quarantine. U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Romania are encouraged to contact the embassy. U.S. citizens with residency in an EU country may enter Slovenia.

Several countries that make up the Balkans, including Croatia, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, are open to Americans, however. Croatia, for instance, is a dream summer destination for boaters and beachgoers. But should you go? 

"Dubrovnik city skyline at dawn, Dalmatia, Croatia"
“Dubrovnik city skyline at dawn, Dalmatia, Croatia”

Croatia reopened for tourists from all countries in early July but amended its COVID-19 policies due to an increase in cases. Incoming travelers from the U.S. must now produce a negative COVID PCR test taken less than 48 hours before departure. You can still enter the country with a test taken before that 48-hour period, but you’ll be asked to quarantine and take another test — at your own expense — once you’re in the country.

If you turn up at the border without a negative COVID PCR test, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory. This can be reduced to 7 days if you take a COVID PCR test in Croatia at your own expense, and test negative.

There are several flights to Dubrovnik (DBV) available in September on carriers like Aer Lingus and Turkish. If you book the latter carrier using Aeroplan miles, it’ll run you 75,000 miles plus $55 in taxes. There are several points hotels across the country, including five World of Hyatt properties starting at 25,000 points a night.

Related: Visiting Croatia in the age of coronavirus

Albania’s land borders are now open for travel but there’s a restriction on commercial air travel. According to the State Department, only European Union residents and nationals are eligible to board outbound flights to the EU from Albania at this time.

While Kosovo is open to American citizens, the State Department urges citizens not to travel to the country due to the fragile COVID situation.

“We understand the desire to visit family and friends, but we urge you to postpone or cancel travel to Kosovo this summer,” a bulletin reads on the website. “The health situation is deteriorating, and public institutions are struggling to keep up with demand. It is possible that border restrictions could be reimposed with little notice, and the frequent changes are causing confusion at airports and borders.”

Featured photo by Kite rin / Shutterstock

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