Greece Outlines Plans For Summer Tourist Season

Filed Under: Travel

Update: The EU is adding restrictions on who can travel as of July 1, which could impact who is allowed in Greece.

Greece is probably my favorite country in the world to visit in summer, as it never gets old, from the food, to the climate, to the landscape.

Over the past few weeks we’ve heard all kinds of conflicting details about what we should expect from Greece’s reopening for a summer tourist season. Just a couple of days ago we received some updated guidance, and now the government has issued new regulations again as of yesterday, so I wanted to share those.

Greece reopening to tourists in three phases

Greece is reopening to tourists in three phases, and the latest details published by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs presents a different plan than we may have been expecting.

Visiting Greece prior to June 15

Greece is currently in Phase 1, and with this:

  • All international flights are only allowed into Athens Airport
  • All visitors are tested upon arrival and are required to stay overnight at a designated hotel
  • If the test is negative, then the passenger must self-quarantine for seven days, while if the test is positive, the passenger must self-quarantine for 14 days

Keep in mind that as of now EU borders are closed through June 15, so outsiders can’t visit due to that restriction. It’s also always possible that EU border closures will be extended beyond June 15, though I know the EU is trying to avoid that.

Currently a mandatory quarantine is required for all arriving travelers

Visiting Greece between June 15 and June 30

Just a couple of days ago we believed that tourists from 29 countries would be allowed to visit as of June 15, but that’s not quite how it will work.

During Phase 2 in Greece:

  • All international flights are only allowed into Athens and Thessaloniki Airports
  • If your travel originated from an airport not on the EASA affected area list, then you are only subject to random testing upon arrival
  • If your travel originated from an airport on the EASA affected area list, then you will be tested upon arrival and are required to stay overnight at a designated hotel
  • If the test is negative, then the passenger must self-quarantine for seven days, while if the test is positive, the passenger must self-quarantine for 14 days

Greece will open to some visitors without restrictions as of June 15

Visiting Greece as of July 1

During Phase 3 in Greece:

  • International flights will be allowed to all Greek airports
  • Visitors will be subject to random tests upon arrival
  • “Additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date,” so we will have to wait and see what exactly that means

Greece will open to virtually all visitors as of July 1

Are Greece’s restrictions arbitrary?

Given how interconnected the world (usually) is, it can be tough for countries to decide how to create restrictions to keep high risk travelers out. Should it be based on your nationality? Where you’re a resident of? Where you’ve been in the past 14 days? Where your itinerary originates?

Greece has created a list of airports located in high risk areas, and between June 15 and June 30, that will determine your eligibility to visit Greece without being tested and self-quarantined for a minimum of seven days.

This is based on where your travel originated, which is seemingly open to interpretation. For example, looking at the list as it pertains to the United States, there are 22 “high risk” states on the list, which means flying from an airport in one of 28 other states would make you eligible to visit.

Greece seemingly won’t be asking in which state you live, but rather in which state your travel originated.

Greece’s restrictions are specific to where your travel originates

How can you fly to Greece?

While I hinted at these restrictions above, it’s maybe worth recapping what flights we should expect and when:

  • Through June 15, international flights exclusively operate to Athens
  • Between June 15 and June 30, international flights will exclusively operate to Athens and Thessaloniki
  • All of this means that through June 30 you’d have to get to Greek islands either by domestic flight or ferry
  • As of July 1, international flights will be allowed to all airports in Greece, including directly to islands

Currently only domestic flights are operating to Greek islands

As far as nonstop flights from the US to Greece go:

  • Emirates is scheduled to resume nonstop Newark to Athens flights as of July 1, 2020
  • American is scheduled to resume nonstop Chicago to Athens flights as of July 7, 2020
  • Delta is scheduled to resume nonstop New York to Athens flights as of July 17, 2020

The schedules for all of those flights remain subject to change.

Emirates is expected to resume Newark to Athens flights as of July 1

What kind of testing will Greece do?

Greece is currently testing arriving passengers, but there’s a stay near the airport required for one night, and then a minimum of a seven day self quarantine.

Once Greece welcomes visitors on a widespread basis, the country isn’t planning on testing everyone upon arrival, unlike Iceland. The only real testing for arriving passengers will come in the form of some spot COVID-19 tests.

Greece’s focus will instead be on safety measures within the country, including limiting the capacity of restaurants and hotels, improving treatment facilities, and having doctors readily available.

The country has fared quite well through the coronavirus pandemic. There’s quite a bit of debate about whether that’s because the government was actually effective, or if it comes down to Greece being quieter in winter, with few tourists, people fairly spread out, etc.

Greece is eager to restart tourism, given that it makes up about 20% of the country’s GDP.

Greece won’t do widespread testing for arriving passengers

Bottom line

Countries are constantly evolving their entry requirements for visitors, and Greece is no exception. What we heard from Greece’s Tourism Minister on Friday is different than what we’re seeing on Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website this weekend.

Virtually everyone will be allowed as of July 1, while as of June 15 travelers from “low risk” airports will be allowed without testing. How that will actually be enforced or determined remains to be seen…

Of course none of this answers the question of whether people should travel to Greece when it’s possible, which will be a personal decision for people.

Is anyone considering a trip to Greece this summer?

Comments
  1. Greece, Italy, France, and a few others are not worth booking for this summer, in my mind. If you should need to cancel for whatever reason, they are being beyond impossible with refunds (as you’ve posted about before). Not worth the hassle.

  2. Why would there be any reason to think that traveling to Greece would be enjoyable this summer? Health risks aside, from the unpleasant service reductions on flights, to hotels reducing amenities, to closed attractions (or limited numbers of people being allowed), to masked restaurant servers, etc., it all seems like a waste of money to me.

  3. Hilarious that China and Japan are on the list. They are falsifying data to appear to be doing a great job regarding COVID-19. Greece is falling for it just like that.

  4. You might want to edit your post to add that AA is restarting ORD-ATH on 7 July, so just after the travel ban might be lifted.

  5. Can’t help but feel your assumption that US tourists will be allowed to visit Greece from 1st July isn’t based on anything logical. To me, the most likely scenario is Greece opens up to France, Netherlands, Spain, etc. (i.e. the countries that are several weeks ahead of the US in terms of controlling the virus) on 1st July, but the US (probably the UK and Sweden too) have to wait a bit longer still.

  6. @CM I wouldn’t want Americans in my country after seeing how some of them are refusing to follow stay at home orders and refusing to wear facemasks.

  7. Another point to consider is that most Americans don’t even have a passport and probably travel to places like Mexico with a print of their birth certificate and drivers license. That won’t work going to Europe.
    Those Americans with passports often also have a European passport and they will have no trouble visiting Europe this summer.

  8. Is it citizenship based or country or travel origin based?

    For example Im Australian citizen (allowed) currently living in UK (not allowed)

    Could i enter Greece from Switzerland? (Allowed)

  9. Delos is one of my top trips I’m looking to book later in the year or early next year, when it’s reasonable/enjoyable, along with Syracuse. Really miss some mediterranean sun, food, wine, history.

    Also, since others are mentioning it, as an American, I’m really not surprised or bothered that we’re still excluded. Of course it makes logical sense. ‍♂️

  10. @Ruseell, that’s a very good question and I’m trying to find out myself as I’m in the same situation (although different way around, living in a nation which is allowed, but my nationality is a country which is not yet allowed). If I have to interpret Greek press, it is based on residency – not nationality.

    Also a Swiss or German loophole will probably not work. Dutch media reported that the Ministry of Tourism said that the Dutch (not allowed) cannot travel to Germany to board a plane there to Athens (Germans are allowed in). But how this is checked? I don’t know.

    Interestingly, the same counts for Aussies and Kiwis (allowed). How on earth do they travel to China? All on the Air China flight through Beijing, or can they transit let’s say Sydney-Singapore-Frankfurt-Athens, even though technically a stop in Singapore would disqualify them? Same ofc with Dubai/Doha which are by far the most common hubs for Australasian transit passengers going to Greece.

    I hope to hear back from a contact at the Greek Ministry of Tourism about this. Will report back here if I know more.

  11. We Australians can’t even leave the country. Zero chance any of us will be in Greece. I know of expats who came back to Australia for a home visit, who still had to apply to leave Australia.

  12. “Bitter Americans will complain in 3, 2, 1,…..”

    And those will be the exact same idiots who refuse to wear a mask in public, who refuse to social distance, and who claim this is all overblown and unnecessary. In other words, the exact Trump supporters who are responsible for America’s complete failure to manage this crisis, those are the clowns that will keep everyone from getting back to international travel.

    Thanks, MAGA-hat wearing keyboard warriors!

  13. So interestingly, I have been following all of this closely.
    A group of us have a sailing trip planned for July 11 – 17th and the refund policies is pretty much garbage. That said we have tickets purchased for July 8th on the ORD-ATH route so this has put us all in a unique situation. Do we all feel confident in the precautions. Do we feel comfortable making the rest of our reservations and do we now have to choose only large hospitality companies so we can feel more confident in refunds if delays continue to happen. And further-more will a summer trip to Greece still meet our new more limited expectations on what we will get out of this trip

  14. @Ed a birth certificate hasn’t worked to Mexico since shortly after 9/11. Millions of Americans still go to Mexico — those same folks can go to Europe (in normal times). 42% of Americans have passports according to recent data so that’s 138 million of us with them… That’s more than the population of any one European country (except Russia)

    So your statement is true “most” Americans don’t have passports.

  15. As American you must be very blue-eyed, naive and optimistic to go to Greece this summer looking at the US infection numbers…. but hope dies at the very last

  16. Dick Bupkiss
    It’s all DEM states not Trump states WHY is that Leftwinger ???
    ORD>ATH 9/1
    #stayincave

  17. I go to Greece every year to visit family and friends. With travel restrictions and flight schedules constantly changing, I recently made the painful decision to not go this summer. I’m really bummed I won’t be seeing everyone but many have told me that there are rumors that Greece won’t open to Americans or Canadians until mid-September anyway. Also, summer in Greece will be a lot different this year because they are taking social distancing very seriously (unlike everyone here in the US). No partying at the crowded nightclubs until sunrise, no sharing a meal with your all of your extended relatives at a taverna, etc. That makes my cancellation a little easier to swallow.

    My family and friends are also angry that China is on the initial list of approved countries. Greece has fared really well during the coronavirus pandemic because of the tough restrictions they put in place from the beginning and the diligent compliance of the Greek people. I understand that the Greek economy depends on tourism but to me it seems shortsighted to allow Chinese tourists to enter and potentially undo the amazing success Greece has had so far. No one truly knows what is going on in China.

  18. Greece has just declared the travel ban on American, British and Swedish tourists and all others from high risk COVID-19 countries. That will be a benchmark of countries opening borders but still intends to keep out foreign covidiots.

  19. As an Italian national, I’m offended that Greece is banning Italian travelers in June. Despite a rough start, Italy now has a contained the epidemic. There are less than 100 deaths a day and generally under 500 new cases a day — really impressive for a country of 60 million people.

  20. @dfw88 – you should know most airline schedules post-July 4th are still “fake”. Look at any UA city-pair 7/5 onward, and it is 100% of a normal schedule, when in reality it will be ~25% of that. I’m assuming AA is in the same boat – next to zero chance they fly ORD-ATH in July.

  21. Concur with @MDA !
    Greece says “come visit us (from June 15)” , Australian Government says “No, you can’t go! “.
    I feel like a naughty schoolboy getting detention.

  22. As an Australian and knowing that the US would be permitted, I wouldn’t go- I seriously dont believe they will be permitted entry any time soon unless they get COVID19 under control

  23. @glenn t. Totally get that! Now that we are ALLOWED to stay in hotels I am going to do a road trip. We have to take one weeks leave.

  24. Is less than 100 deaths a day and 500 new cases daily REALLY impressive? Try telling that to the affected families. is life that cheap? Australia has had 103 deaths with a population of 25 million.
    And before you mention the land mass, the Eastern seaboard has the main volume of population.
    As mentioned by MDA we can’t leave the country anyway in order to help contain this dreadful virus, and we won’t let anybody in.

  25. I’ve been looking at Santorini in August as it seems a good time with less or non-existent cruise traffic (which is the main crowding issue on the island). But, alas, still expensive and nothing in the way of deals. What Greece will lack in overseas travelers they will well make up for in Europeans looking for a closer vacation.

  26. My wife and I would love to travel to Greece in October this year. I’m a US citizen and my wife is a Chinese citizen, but we both live in the US. Does anyone know if it would be ok to travel to Greece in October being a US citizen? I would really like to make reservations soon. Thanks.

  27. I’m secretly overjoyed that Americans are banned from entering Australia for the duration! It makes total sense being virtually Covid free! My state (SA) is totally Covid-free. No diagnosed cases, no hospital admissions for weeks; I want to see it kept that way!
    Likewise, since I have no ties in the US now, visiting there is off the agenda for a few years at least, especially if Mr Orange-glo is still hanging around……

  28. Very disappointing that one of the other Eds on here seems to have swallowed the line about China falsifying its tests. After a bumpy start China has the virus under control and I’d be happy to visit or transit through there. Japan is under testing and undercounting but not falsifying, something that applies to a lot of places.

    Interestingly enough Israel has been pitching to join the AusNZ virus free travel zone that is being mooted, both as a tourist destination in its own right but so El-Al can hub people to places like Greece.

  29. @Ed
    Chinese government sleeper cell/troll confirmed. New reports prove that the Chinese are falsifying documents.

  30. Ben, where exactly is the location of the second picture?? Looks beautiful.

    Besides Mykonos & Santorini, anyone have tips on Greek Islands with sandy beaches and a good hotel? My priority is stunning beaches & swimming and ofc a solid hotel w/ pool

  31. countries who voted against giving free money to Greece (again!!) are banned. 🙂 Which was a good decision because they don’t reform the government so no free money. Can’t care less. LOL

  32. Honestly I could give a rip if some countries bar Americans. A this point if they would be cutting restaurant capacity by 50% I don’t think worth going. Would rather wait till 2022 regardless then consider countries based restrictions if they still have any at that point.

  33. In New Zealand we haven’t had any new cases for 7 days due to tough/harsh lockdown rules, many of which are still in place. We also have no live cases now.

    I wouldn’t visit Greece seeing some of the countries included on that list. The numbers out of some of those countries are either falsified or low due to lack of testing. Would not want any residents of those countries entering New Zealand either.

  34. Lucky,
    This is the official announcement of the Greek government: https://www.mfa.gr/en/current-affairs/statements-speeches/greece-welcomes-the-world.html

    The criterion is the origin (I guess they will be checking connections), not the nationality.

    In a nutshell, starting from June 15th visitors from High-Risk countries (see link for list) will be tested and set in 7 (14) days self-(supervised) quarantine, if the result is negative (positive).
    Visitors from Low-Risk countries will be subject to random tests with no quarantine if the result is negative. The list of High Risk countries will be updated on July 1st.

  35. We’ve had to cancel our trip to Crete in August. It’s just too risky with cancelled flights and the various travel restrictions. The challenge has been, as noted by others, getting airline refunds.

  36. glenn t – your state may have no new cases but Australia has not had nine days of zero new cases like New Zealand. Until you do that you really shouldn’t take the high road.

  37. There is absolutely no point travelling there until Mandatory quarantine is lifted. Moreover in a designated hotel for everyone for 7 days probably at an exorbitant cost therefore forcing people to stay at least 2 weeks.

  38. @ Icarus — Realistically the mandatory seven day quarantine is lifted for most as of June 15, and seemingly for just about everyone as of July 1 (though that’s subject to change).

  39. So if I took a flight from DC to Frankfurt, then on to Athens, after June 15th, I would not be subject to the overnight stay at a hotel?

    Or if I just booked a separate ticket from Frankfurt to Athens, the same would apply?

    I’m a US citizen.

  40. @Ben(Lucky) – what do you make of the following, as we are still a bit confused even after the Greek government’s clarifications this weekend? We are US citizens in Japan, planning to travel from Tokyo to Athens on June 15, albeit transiting/connecting through Doha, Qatar – all on a single ticket booking. Namely, that Japan is on the list of 29 non-quarantine countries, and Qatar is not. And that Tokyo is not on the EASA list of airports, while Doha is… Though we are very pleased to know we’ll be permitted into Greece no matter what, we’d feel better knowing if we’re subject to mandatory quarantine or not. I’ve excerpted three parts of the Greek government’s clarifications that leave us still feeling a bit uncertain. Please let us know your thoughts or if you can offer any additional clarity. Thank you!

    1. “If your travel originated from an airport not in the EASA affected area list (https://www.easa.europa.eu/SD-2020-01/Airports#group-easa-downloads), then you are only subject to random tests upon arrival.” [my understanding is that our travel “originates” from Tokyo]

    2. “15 June inaugurates the gradual return to normalcy. Compulsory testing and quarantine will be limited only to travelers, irrespective of nationality, arriving from airports of affected areas with high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 infection, as assessed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).” [except in this case, we are technically arriving from an airport, Doha, assessed as high risk by the EASA]

    3. “Q: Is there a difference whether travel is direct or via transit? A: No. The same rules apply whether travel is completed directly point-to-point or via transit.” [and we don’t even know what to make of this, given the ambiguities above]

    I felt better before our non-quarantine status before the weekend’s updates, because now seemingly anyone can board our connecting Doha-to-Athens flights, which would put us in proximity with those outside the list of 29-approved countries. Thanks in any case!

  41. From the 1st of July they will reopen international flight unless Europe keep the outside Schengen border closed.
    So if you are for UK it’s very likely it will be good for you.
    If you are from Europe it shall be ok.
    For other countries you have to wait what will be the EU policy for the borders.

  42. It’ll be interesting to watch this all play out. The current data and science suggests this virus is relatively infectious (although some of the asymptomatic/outdoor spread fears have been shown to be lower risk than thought). It also has a tiny mortality rate in the general population. Worst case is when it runs loose in a care home/hospital. Countries which are now actually reporting cases (ie definitely not Japan) and have a maximal view of their death count (ie the UK who has relaxed rules to put Covid on a death certificate) aren’t going to be immediately allowed in. I get the logic.

    But. All of this is symbolic and based on the fact that all the data globally is a mess. In reality – if the disease behaves in the way our best understanding of it suggests it does, this list won’t keep it out. As the virus has already burned through vulnerable populations, we’ll start to see numbers increase without detection in healthy populations as they begin to mix more. Depending on your country’s testing regime these are highly unlikely to be detected because they just won’t lead to hospitalisation (check the numbers, under 65 and you’re at minimal risk).

    So numbers in Greece will go up. It’ll be hard to stop. Maybe not in the summer, maybe into autumn. What then? Another lock down? I really hope not. Instead I hope, alongside this gradual opening, Greece has put in the policies we all should have put in place 6 months ago – protect the vulnerable by massively increasing hygiene standards and testing at hospitals/nursing homes. They did well for the last few months, I hope that success and this plan doesn’t make them complacent.

  43. Now that I’ve seen this article I may stop in Greece on my way back to the UK at the end of the summer. I’ve been studying in Saigon since last June, and had planned on coming home the long way via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Since that’s not happening, Greece seems like a nice alternative. As a side note, it’s been great riding the virus out in Vietnam.

  44. @ Vasilis
    We are having the same issue , trying to fly from Hong Kong to Athens , so we can get home to Cyprus . I have decided NOT to fly through Qatar because it is an ”affected” country on the Greek list and I do not want to risk 14 days isolation when I have an onward flight .
    My point of origin -Hong Kong/China are permitted (like Japan ) but if we go through Doha , I think Qatar will be taken as my point of origin as the flight number changes in Doha, your boarding pass shows Doha and you will transit there for 2 or 3 hours . There have been 33 imported cases of Covid into Hong Kong from people arriving on Qatar Airways , mainly from Pakistan and India , who transited in Doha . Another good reason to stay away in my view . I am looking at HK to Athens via Vienna, Frankfurt or Zurich – all possible after 15th June

  45. I am a dual Hong Kong/Canada passport holder. I will be flying to Hong Kong from Toronto, doing my 14 days of quarantine, then staying for 7 days. Then I will fly to Athens via Istanbul. Since I’m flying from Hong Kong to Athens on my Hong Kong passport, does that allow me in?

    I should be okay, considering that I am going to be COVID free by then, if I have caught anything!

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

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