European vacation destinations you can visit without testing restrictions this summer
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements in Austria and Serbia. It was originally published on May 9, 2022.
We’re just weeks away from what promises to be a busy summer travel season for U.S. travelers heading across the Atlantic Ocean to visit Europe — many, for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
As travel ramps up, there is a growing list of European countries that have opened their borders and cut out all pandemic entry restrictions.
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On May 16, the Austrian government lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions for tourists heading to the motherland of Wolfgang Mozart, Sigmund Freud and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Travel to Austria is possible for touristic purposes,” authorities announced. “From May 16, proof of vaccination/recovery or a test is no longer needed.”
Bulgaria’s latest border rules are as fresh as a newly-prepared shopska salad (the country’s sumptuous national dish).
Which is to say, as of May 1, the Bulgarian government lifted all restrictions on travelers entering the country.
On top of that, visitors no longer have to adhere to any domestic COVID-19 restrictions, either.
“Our country has been in an extraordinary epidemic situation for almost two years, but at the moment, the situation is being monitored and managed in a predictable way,” the government announced in April. “There is no need to maintain restrictions on citizens and businesses.”
Croatia lifted all travel restrictions effective May 1, effectively returning the country to “pre-pandemic times”.
“All travelers entering Croatia can now do so under the same conditions of entry that were in force before the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e with valid travel documents,” the country’s tourist office said.
Darija Reic, director of the tourist board’s U.K. office, told TPG it’s well-positioned for the summer travel season, with flight service returning and the tourism sector prepared.
“With a number of new hotels, restaurants, and events confirmed for this summer, Croatia is set for a strong season ahead,” Reic said.
April 9 was the Czech Republic’s day of travel freedom, as the country’s government lifted all restrictions on visitors seeking the restorative pleasures of “Czechia’s” natural, architectural and cultural treasures.”
“The Ministry of Health repealed the existing protective measures with regard to the current epidemiological situation in the Czech Republic and abroad,” the ministry’s statement said.
U.S. visitors — along with all others, too — can now arrive in the Czech Republic without any restrictions.
The people of Denmark took up the vaccine with a level of enthusiasm unmatched by most other European nations. As a result, Denmark became the first country in Europe to do away with all domestic restrictions in February.
Then, on March 29, the country dropped all testing requirements for international visitors.
“Since March 1, 2022, the only remaining COVID-19 entry restriction has been a requirement for testing within 24 hours of entry into Denmark for persons who have not been vaccinated … This requirement will be lifted at midnight … after which there will no longer be COVID-19 restrictions on entry into Denmark,” the announcement said.
Initially, the decision saw more flip-flopping than a beach in Faliraki but, in the end, Greek authorities officially confirmed that it would remove all COVID-related entry measures on May 1. Masks are still required indoors, but given that most tourist activities on the Greek islands take place outdoors, that mandate may be barely noticeable for many vacation goers.
Another country to get a head start on restriction-free travel was Hungary, which scrapped international pandemic entry requirements back in March.
Authorities there said visitors, regardless of their country of origin, could now enter Hungary without having to present a vaccination, recovery, or test certificate upon their arrival. Social distancing measures were also ditched, as well as the requirement to hold a valid vaccination or recovery pass to enter cafes, restaurants, bars, cinemas, and museums, among others.
Iceland may have been the last place on Earth to be settled by humans, but the Land of Fire and Ice was among the first places on Earth to drop all COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
It happened on March 1, when all COVID-19 border restrictions were lifted, meaning anyone could enter the country with nothing more than their passport in their pocket.
Famous for its volcanoes and its glaciers, its black-sand beaches and, of course, views of the Northern Lights, Iceland has gotten rid of all internal COVID-19 measures as well.
“All official epidemiological measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted, both domestically and at the border,” Iceland’s health ministry said in a press release.
“This eliminates all rules on restrictions on gatherings and schooling, as well as the requirement for isolation of those infected with COVID-19.”
On March 6, Ireland lifted its “last remaining” COVID-19 restrictions on travelers coming to the country, including its passenger locator form (PLF).
Previously, passengers arriving in the Emerald Isle were required to fill out the dreaded PLF as well as show proof of vaccination/immunity or a negative COVID-19 test.
But now, visitors need to show nothing but their passport to get in.
The move was particularly good news for Ireland lovers across the world, as it came just in time for St Patrick’s Day on March 17.
St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland and the country’s largest festival. In pre-pandemic times, it attracted up to 500,000 visitors to Dublin to witness the city’s spectacular St. Patrick’s Day parade, according to the Visit Dublin website.
This year held a special significance, marking the hotly-anticipated return of the pageant after it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
“As of April 1, the requirement to present an interoperable vaccination or disease certificate or a negative COVID-19 test certificate for entry into Latvia has been abolished.”
Those were the words of Latvia’s Transport Ministry last month, noting that the rules only apply to citizens of countries that are not on the country’s list of “high risk” areas.
But there are no countries on that list right now, so Latvia’s arms remain open.
On May 1, the Lithuanian government did not beat around the bush (or boulder, for that matter. Lithuania is famous for its ancient boulders).
“Travelers arriving in Lithuania from anywhere in the world will no longer be subject to any COVID-19 management requirements: they will no longer need to take a COVID-19 test before traveling, even if they are ill or vaccinated, and will not have to complete a National Public Health Centre questionnaire,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Health said.
It is home to some of the most rugged — and beautiful — terrain in Europe. Montenegro’s entry protocols, however, are now as smooth as the crystal waters of the famous Sveti Stefan beach (pictured).
No need for vaccine passports, or pre-travel testing here. Just your passport, a thirst for adventure and a high tolerance for jaw-dropping natural beauty.
Masks are mandatory on public transportation inside the country, however, and recommended in indoor spaces.
Norway has for months led the charge toward restriction-free travel, and on February 12 became the first European country to lift all COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a great threat to the health of most of us,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, as he flung open the doors to anyone with a thirst for fjord-focused adventure.
Among other things, anyone inside the country is no longer required to wear face masks or conform to social distancing requirements in public places, either. “The one-meter rule has prevented us from living normally together as human beings,” said Støre.
Polish authorities scrapped the need for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or recovery on March 28. On top of that, travelers, as well as citizens of the country, are no longer required to wear a face mask when in public places or attending gatherings.
As of March 9, visitors to Romania only needed to remember their passport and ticket when entering the country. Proof of vaccination or recovery is no longer on the “to-bring list”.
“I thank the Romanians for the responsibility they showed because they understood to respect the rules of health protection and chose to get vaccinated, thus limiting the spread of the Covid pandemic,” Minister of Internal Affairs Nicolae Lucian Bode announced earlier this year. “Together we managed to overcome difficult moments, and this attempt will give us the strength to overcome all the challenges that the future holds for us.”
Serbia joined the smooth entry club on May 4.
“Starting from midnight, Serbian citizens and foreigners will not be required to show proof of a negative PCR test, rapid antigen test, proof of recovery from COVID-19, nor a proof of vaccination upon entering Serbia, regardless of from which country of the world they enter the Republic of Serbia,” its government said in a statement.
“As of February 19, 2022, restrictions due to Covid-19 no longer apply when entering Slovenia,” Slovenian authorities announced.
“This means that the RVT (recovered/vaccinated/tested) condition no longer has to be met at the border, and travelers will no longer be ordered to quarantine at home.”
However, while visitors don’t have to test or provide information about their vaccination status, they do still have to fill out a passenger locator form to enter.
It was only a matter of time before the Scandinavian. dominoes began to tumble. It started with Norway, then Denmark, and then Sweden lifted restrictions on foreign travelers from April 1.
“As of April 1, 2022, people traveling to Sweden from countries outside the EU/EEA are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 test, a vaccination certificate, or any other type of certificate,” the Swedish Ministry of Justice solemnified.
Switzerland lifted restrictions on international visitors as of May 2… just in time for the summer hiking season.
Visitors can now the country’s beautiful, sweeping mountain ranges, snowy peaks and tumbling rivers without having to provide proof of vaccination or recovery on entry.
Switzerland also ended its masking requirements on April 1, meaning life in the country has pretty much returned to normal (the pre-pandemic kind of “old normal”, that is).
Of course, despite many destination countries loosening testing requirements, it’s important to remember you currently still have to get tested before your return back to the U.S.
So far, no sign of the federal government loosening those restrictions, so before your trip, make sure you know how and where you will get your government-approved test done.
Featured photo by the seaside village of Brela in Croatia. Photo by Janoka82/Getty Images
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