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8 of the top European countries to visit this summer

June 25, 2021
10 min read
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It's possible to travel to many countries across Europe right now, though some have easier entry requirements than others -- especially if you plan to travel with children who aren't yet eligible for vaccination. If you can't wait to get back to Paris, Barcelona or Santorini, we've got the information you need to know below.

Here are the entry and testing requirements for several of our favorite European countries for visits this summer, plus what to expect when you land.

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Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia (Photo by Dawid Rojek/Shutterstock.com)

Entry requirements: Americans can visit Croatia with a negative COVID-19 test if the traveler is 14 days past completing their vaccinations (and can show the certificate) or has recovered from an infection. Travelers can also test upon arrival and self-isolate until receiving a negative result. They must also provide proof of accommodation paid in advance in full or they will not be permitted to enter the country.

Can children visit? According to the government, children under 12 years of age traveling with a parent or guardian are exempt from presenting a negative test result and self-isolation if the parent or guardian has a negative PCR or RAT test result. A Digital COVID Certificate or a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 administered by a European Union Member State or proof of recovery are also accepted.

What's open: Most businesses, as well as museums, galleries and casinos (with capacity restrictions); restaurants and bars are now open for both indoor and outdoor dining; nightclubs are closed and alcohol sales in other venues must end at 11 p.m.; public transportation is running.

What it's like: "My husband and I were in Croatia May 7 to May 30," said Mary Mimi Pirro, a member of TPG's Facebook group. "We picked up a rental car in Zagreb and zig-zagged all the way to Dubrovnik. We then drove back to Zagreb, stopping at different towns along the way. There were so few tourists there, we sometimes felt like we had the country to ourselves."

The story you should read: The cheapest ways to get to Croatia using points and miles

France

Paris, France (Photo by V_E/Shutterstock.com)

Entry requirements: France implemented a “stoplight” system for tourists entering the country. There are three different colors: green, orange and red. Those coming from green countries (which now includes the U.S.) can enter without restriction if vaccinated. Travelers can also enter with a negative COVID-19 test.

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Can children visit? Proof of vaccination is not required for children when accompanying an adult with proof, according to Republique Francaise.

What's open: Indoor dining at cafés and restaurants has resumed at 50% capacity, while outdoor dining has resumed at full capacity. TPG's senior points and miles reporter Andrew Kunesh, who visited in June, suggested buying tickets in advance for popular museums such as the Louvre since capacity at museums is limited.

What it's like: "Masks are mostly worn all around France, but I noticed less compliance in Nice when compared to Paris," Kunesh said. "France’s cafe culture is alive and well and museums, beaches and other attractions are operating per usual despite capacity restrictions."

The story you should read: France is open to Americans; Here’s what it’s like now and when to go

Germany

Berlin Modern Cityscape/ Photo by Matthias Makarinus / Getty Images.

Entry requirements: Travel to Germany for all purposes will be permitted again. However, proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result is still required for entry.

Can children visit? Children under 6 are exempt from testing requirements.

What's open: Hotels, cafes and restaurants are allowed to open while testing requirements for outdoor events (up to 500 people) are waived.

What it's like: "It felt very similar to the restrictions in the U.S.," said social media producer Mimi Wright, who flew to Germany when it reopened on June 20. "People wore masks in the museum and servers [and] customers wore masks when going in and out of restaurants. On public transport, masks were also worn. For the most part, it felt very easy and relaxed. It was nice to be a tourist with so few other tourists around; I really got a sense of [Frankfurt]."

The story you should read: I was one of the first American tourists to enter Germany: Here’s what it was like

Greece

Crete, Greece (Photo by Gatsi/Getty Images)

Entry requirements: Americans can visit Greece with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival or a negative antigen (rapid) test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival, according to the Greek government. Fully vaccinated travelers and travelers with proof of COVID-19 antibodies can also visit. All travelers must also complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 48 hours before their travel date. The requirement to self-isolate has been lifted for those with a negative test or proof of completed vaccination.

Can children visit? According to Greek officials, children under 12 will not be required to undergo a PCR test.

What's open: Hotels and resorts are open; cafes, bars and restaurants reopened for outside dining on May 3, 2021, while museums and retail shops reopened on May 14, 2021. There's currently a curfew from 1:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., according to the U.S. Embassy in Greece.

What it's like: "Coming through the border was an absolute breeze," said David Ocamb, a moderator for TPG's Facebook group, who visited in early June. "When you're there crowds are super small and no lines so the experience is good. [I] can't recommend it highly enough."

The story you should read: Greece officially welcomes tourists back as it lifts most lockdown measures

Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland (Photo by L. Toshio Kishiyama/Getty Images)

Entry requirements: Travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can travel to Iceland without being subject to testing and quarantine measures.

Can children visit? Children born in 2005 or later who travel alone are obligated to undergo a test, according to the U.S. Embassy.

What's open: Most hotels and businesses, as well as public transportation, are open. The famous Blue Lagoon thermal area reopened to visitors in April. The volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula near Reykjavík has resulted in some road closures.

What it's like: "I visited in March when vaccines weren’t as widespread in the country and cases were on the rise," Kunesh said. "People wore masks pretty much everywhere, though I saw many locals maskless outside."

The story you should read: Traveling to Iceland during the coronavirus pandemic — the complete guide

Italy

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy (Photo by hocus-focus/Getty Images)

Entry requirements: Americans can visit Italy without quarantining if arriving on a “COVID-tested flight." These flights require two additional COVID-19 tests; one before boarding and one after arrival. Travelers not on COVID-tested flights are required to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival and test again. All travelers must fill out a digital Passenger Locator Form.

Can children visit? Children ages 6 to 18 must provide proof of full vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Children under 6 are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements.

What's open: Most regions are now in the “white zone” and many businesses have been allowed to reopen. In "white zone" areas, all activities are open, including arcades, casinos and amusement parks. Nightclubs are open -- but dancing is banned, according to Alitalia, Italy's national airline. There is a 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew as of June 7, 2021.

What it's like: "The tourist sites still aren't crowded, but some currently have different ticketing and opening hours compared to pre-pandemic," said TPG senior writer Katie Genter, who went to Italy in mid-May on a COVID-tested flight. "Expect to wear a mask in public (including outdoors) except when you're eating or drinking. And although you can now dine indoors in white and yellow zones, you may still find many restaurants offer outdoor dining."

The story you should read: Italy is reopening: 11 things I learned as a tourist there this week

Portugal

(Photo by www.victoriawlaka.com/Getty Images)

Entry requirements: Nonessential travel — which includes tourism — from the U.S. to mainland Portugal is now allowed with proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Travelers must provide proof of a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours before boarding or a rapid test performed within 24 hours of boarding.

Can children visit? The testing requirement applies to all travelers including children, except those under the age of 2.

What's open: Restaurants and cafés are open until 1 a.m., cultural facilities are open until 1 a.m. at 50% capacity. Sports venues are operating at 33% capacity.

The story you should read: Portugal is now open to American tourists with a negative COVID-19 test

Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by MasterLu/Getty Images)

Entry requirements: Only fully vaccinated U.S. travelers are permitted for tourism and are exempt from testing requirements. Unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. cannot enter Spain for tourism purposes and must be traveling for what's called an “exceptional situation.” Unvaccinated travelers must receive permission from the government and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test issued within 48 hours of arrival.

Can children visit? Children under the age of 12 who are unvaccinated can travel to Spain with their parents but need their own QR code from the Spain Travel Health form. Children 12 and older must present proof of vaccination.

What's open: Spain began welcoming back fully vaccinated American tourists on June 7, 2021. Hotels, restaurants and most businesses are operating with limited capacity.

What it's like: "[I've] been here five days and so far, so good," said TPG reader Maggie Williams, who is currently in Spain. "We have been able to do walking tours, boat rentals [and] eat at restaurants. The tour guides and restaurant employees we’ve talked to have all been happy to have tourism returning. There have been one or two places we wanted to go, mostly restaurants, that have funky hours or require reservations as a result of [COVID-19] and limited seating, but after the first night we learned to call ahead and make our reservations."

The story you should read: It’s official: Spain has reopened to fully vaccinated Americans

Additional reporting by Victoria M. Walker.

Featured image by The mediterranean town of Hvar, near the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. (Photo by Dreamer4787 / Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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2 - 10X points
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75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023