Discover all you need to know about traveling to Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure your journey to and around the continent is as safe, smooth, and enjoyable as possible!
It has been over a year since the World Health Organisation declared the spread of Covid-19 a pandemic. International travel continues to be restricted as countries battle to contain the virus and rush to fully vaccinate their populations, and for many, this means a European holiday is long overdue.
Thankfully, however, the situation is quickly changing, meaning the well-earned break that so many are seeking is now within grasp. Before booking your getaway, however, it is important to be aware of the situation at your destination, and the steps you must take to ensure that your trip adheres to regulations and protects the health of both you and the locals.
Guide to Europe is proud to be doing our part in tackling Covid-19's impact globally by donating one vaccine to COVAX for every booking we receive; we promise to do this until the pandemic is over. COVAX is an initiative working to provide free, fair, and fast access to vaccines for everyone across the globe by speeding up their development, production, and distribution.
Deciding whether or not to travel to Europe during the (hopefully) last stages of the Covid-19 pandemic is a personal choice as much as it is an institutional one. All must be aware that any travel increases your risk of exposure to the virus, and this is particularly relevant for those in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.
Still, things are moving in the right direction. Those who are vaccinated or have already had the virus are dramatically less likely to catch it on their journeys, and with successful vaccination programs, lockdowns and curfews, many European nations are becoming more stable by the day.
It should be noted, however, that certain areas are at higher risk than others.
Examples of destinations with notably high rates of infection at the moment are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, and large swathes of Italy and France, making them particularly less safe for travelers.
Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Norway, and Iceland, meanwhile, are examples of countries that have greatly reduced Covid-19 in their communities, making them much more appealing to holiday-makers.
Other states, such as the UK, Spain, Denmark, Germany, and Greece, as well as popular archipelagos such as the Canary Islands, Azores, and Madeira, are currently somewhere in between.
As such, while certain areas are very safe to visit for responsible travelers, others will not be for several weeks or months.
As you will see in the upcoming border policy section, the rules about entering a country usually correspond with their current Coronavirus situation, but this is not the case exclusively. It is thus best to compare the policies with the national or regional statistics of your destination to make an informed decision.
These stats can be seen on the EU’s color-coded map, detailed below.
Aside from vaccinating their populations and enforcing measures such as lockdowns and curfews, individual countries and the EU as a whole have taken a range of steps to keep the virus contained and their populations healthy.
These steps have made many areas much safer to visit and helped to ensure confidence in concerned travelers.
The most important of these factors in making travel to Europe safe are contact tracing, the Re-Open EU platform and map, the Traffic Lights System, Digital Green Passports, and a fact-based approach to international tourism regarding countries with low infection rates.
Tracing apps have been adopted by many European states, and the EU has worked to ensure that these different apps can communicate warnings about possible virus exposure to each other. This has been essential in ensuring both locals and visitors are informed about potential risks to their health.
These apps, however, are largely voluntary, not all countries have them, and not all the countries that have them are connected to the European network. It is thus important not to rely on tracing apps, but it is heavily recommended to use them if they are available.
Travelers flying into Europe, however, will need to fill out a tracing form. In the EU, this is called the Common European Passenger Locator Form, and non-EU countries will have something similar. Completing these forms correctly and honestly is a legal obligation, and essential in protecting yourself and helping to contain the virus.
Since June 2020, the EU launched the platform ‘Re-Open EU’, aiming at encouraging safe tourism across the European member states. With new data and strains of the virus, however, the focus of this has been much more nation- and region-based, with recommendations on a case-by-case basis.
This more localized approach has helped identify Covid-19’s presence and spread in Europe, and led to the creation of a commonly cited, color-coded map.
This map identifies areas as ‘green’, ‘amber’, or ‘red’ based on their positivity rate and 14-day notification rate per 100,000 people. This information can be accessed either via the website or a free mobile app.
With this information, the EU was able to develop the ‘Traffic Light System’ as a guide for international travel.
Since November 2020, ‘the Traffic Lights System’ has been an EU recommendation for helping countries determine who is and who is not allowed in their borders, and what regulations the former travelers may face.
Travelers from countries that have spent the past 14 days in ‘green’ areas are likely to face no or few restrictions upon entry to a European country, often only having to produce a negative test result. Travelers from ‘orange’ or ‘amber’ areas will need to produce this at a bare minimum and are also likely to face quarantine or further tests on arrival. Travelers from ‘red’ areas will likely have to meet both these conditions, and may even be banned from entering.
The Traffic Lights System is only a recommendation so far, and not all EU countries have adopted it. Furthermore, some non-EU countries, such as the UK, are adopting their own versions.
As of March 17th, 2021, those living in the EU can apply for a Digital Green Certificate for free movement between member states. These documents are safe and secure ways to show that you have either been vaccinated, received a negative test, or already had and recovered from Covid-19.
While the core European principle of free movement largely stands without the certificate, some member states require proof of testing for certain services and rights.
If you live in a member state, you can get such a document from your local health center, testing center, or hospital for no cost. They can be given to you in either print or digital form, are written in your native language and English, and have a QR code that can be scanned for security and authenticity.
There are no limits to your movement throughout Europe if you have such a certificate, unless, of course, the EU/Schengen nation you are in is under a stay-at-home order or a state of medical emergency.
Unfortunately, these do not apply to those arriving from outside of the region, unless you come from a country with very low Covid-19 rates.
Based on the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU’, which has been in effect since June 30th, 2020, an updated list of countries with low rates of the virus is published every two weeks.
For these countries, it is recommended that travel restrictions are eased, although sometimes these recommendations come with the condition of reciprocity.
Currently, the following countries are on the list:
Note that these recommendations are given to all EU member states as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican, but are not necessarily enforced.
Though travel to Europe is, as a general rule, becoming increasingly safe, Europe is a vast continent, and one rule cannot apply to every place. While many countries have successfully curbed the spread of the virus and are now comfortable opening their borders to different degrees, others are still under lockdown or else completely inaccessible to non-essential travelers.
This is further complicated by the political structure of Europe. There are 48 independent countries on the continent, 27 of which are in the European Union and 26 of which are in the Schengen Area (meaning they have free movement between them).
Some countries are both in the EU and Schengen (such as France, Italy, and Germany); some are just in the EU (such as Croatia and Bulgaria); some are just in the Schengen Area (such as Norway and Iceland), and some are in neither (such as the UK and Belarus).
Furthermore, all of the EU states, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein are members of the European Economic Area (the EEA).
These different categories have different ways of defining their borders, and even then, there are national restrictions that mean countries in the same group may have different rules. For example, it is generally easier to visit Poland at the moment than it is Austria, despite them both being EU countries in the Schengen Area.
Furthermore, there may even be different restrictions within countries based on regions, particularly countries with geographically isolated islands, such as Spain.
We have thus attempted to make this as easy as possible by categorizing all 48 countries of Europe below under four categories; countries with few restrictions on international travelers, countries with moderate restrictions, countries with strict restrictions, and countries closed to tourists.
We have also made note of the rules specific to Europe’s most popular archipelagos.
We will update these and change the categories of the countries as we get new information.
Before looking at the border rules of the European country you wish to visit, however, there are a few notes to consider.
The following countries are the most open to international travelers, with some actively encouraging guests, and others simply allowing them entry on the condition they follow regulations. Note that while many are open to almost all guests, some have travel bans or specific rules for certain origin countries.
Albania: There are no restrictions on most travelers, and all land borders are open. However, those who begin their journey in Greece or North Macedonia will need to quarantine for 14 days.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: A negative test must be presented before departure to gain entry unless you are vaccinated or can prove a past recent infection.
Croatia: No tests are required for anyone from a green zone country, nor anyone who has been vaccinated over 14 days ago. Non-essential tourism is only allowed if the property has been rented in Croatia, and the traveler presents a negative test result or proof of vaccination or prior infection.
Cyprus: Travelers from green zone countries require no restrictions upon entry. From non-green zone countries, travelers must present a negative test upon arrival, or else proof of vaccination.
Iceland: Any can enter Iceland if they have proof of their vaccination or previous Covid infection. If you do not have these documents, you must have a negative test before arrival, and two after arrival - one immediately, and one after five to six days in obligatory quarantine.
Kosovo: A negative test must be taken before departure is required if from a red or amber region of the EU map, but not otherwise.
Luxembourg: Travelers arriving by air from an EU or Schengen country must prove their vaccinations, antibodies from a past infection, or a negative test prior to arrival. Travel from countries outside of this region is barred from entering for non-essential reasons until September 30th.
Montenegro: All travelers to Montenegro over the age of five must prove that they have either had a negative test before departure or a complete vaccination over seven days prior. Failing to do so will require 14 days of self-isolation. Those from European Union member states, Israel, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and North Macedonia are exempt from these rules and do not have to face requirements.
North Macedonia: Self-isolation is required only for those who have been exposed to Covid-19, or are waiting for a test result they suspect will be positive. There are no other restrictions except the fact that travelers from India must isolate for 14 days.
San Marino: There are no prerequisites for traveling into San Marino, but the only way into San Marino is through Italy, which has strict rules.
Serbia: A negative test is required before departure for all over the age of 12, and is not available upon arrival. Nationals can elect to quarantine for ten days instead.
Slovenia: Slovenia's borders are open to any who have proof of vaccination, antibodies from a past infection, or can prove negative tests before and after departure.
Spain: Spain follows the Traffic Lights System and those from EU and Schengen countries need not prove anything upon entry and vaccinated travelers from elsewhere only need proof via a certification. Otherwise, only third countries on this list are permitted entry for non-essential reasons and must present either a negative test or proof of antibodies from a past infection.
These countries have notable restrictions on who may enter their borders, although vary widely in what they are and how they are enforced. Travel to many of these countries is discouraged but not illegal, whereas some, such as Iceland, are simply reopening their tourism industries as safely as possible.
Andorra: Andorra can only be entered via France and Spain, which have their own national restrictions. All guests must have taken a negative test before entering, and UK travelers will also need one upon arrival.
Austria: Those from EU and Schengen countries, as well as those from a specific list, must either be vaccinated, have proof of recovery from Covid-19, be tested negatively within 48 hours of departure, or get a negative test within 24 hours of arrival. From countries with higher infection rates, travel into the country is prohibited unless you are a citizen of the EU or Schengen Area.
Belarus: Travelers to Belarus require a negative test 72 hours before entry and travel insurance to enter, although its land borders are closed. Belarus does have unique restrictions for some countries. Due to the unorthodox and controversial arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich, many countries are currently not flying to Belarus.
Belgium: Travel to Belgium is banned for travelers from many places outside the EU. The Traffic Light System is in place for the countries which are permitted entry, with non-resident ‘red zone’ travelers requiring a negative test and needing to quarantine for ten days. This can be shortened to seven following a negative test. Those from other countries can enter with just proof of a negative test before arrival.
Czech Republic: The Czech Republic now allows travel from all EU and Schengen countries for any reason, and follows a traffic light system. Those from green countries face no entry restrictions; those from orange countries must have proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or proof of a negative test on arrival; and those from red countries must do this while also isolating until producing a second negative test in five days. Those from grey countries cannot enter for non-essential reasons.
Denmark: Denmark follows a green, yellow, orange, and red traffic lights system. Travelers from green countries face no restrictions, whereas yellow countries do not need to have a worthy reason for entering but must provide a negative test before departure and 24 hours after their arrival. Those from orange and red countries must have a good reason for entering Denmark, provide these test results, and quarantine for 10 days. If from an orange country but have proof of full vaccination, however, you are exempt from these restrictions.
Estonia: Estonia follows its own system of identifying high-risk countries. Those from these countries must show proof of a negative test, then quarantine for 10 days, or six following a second negative test. Those from other countries must instead present just a negative test. These rules do not apply, no matter where you are from, if you are vaccinated or have evidence that they recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months.
Finland: All vaccinated passengers with evidence may enter Finland, as can those from the EU and Schengen areas and the EU's green-listed countries if they have antibodies or a negative test. This system is changing quickly on the ground, however, so keep an eye on the national border policy.
Germany: Germany has unrestricted entry to a number of countries. Others must have a negative test before entering the country. If coming from an 'area of concern' or 'high incidence area', you must also quarantine for 10 days, or 14 if from an area with a more contagious variant.
Greece: Greece is open to travelers from the EU & Schengen Area countries, USA, UK, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrein, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Qatar, the Russian Federation*, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UAE, and Ukraine. These travelers must present a negative test prior to departure unless they are fully vaccinated.
Italy: Italy has a unique way of classifying areas, with an A-E list. There are no restrictions for travel in those in List A and B; those on List C and D need either proof of vaccination, antigens from a past infection, or to take negative tests before arrival; and those on List E cannot enter for tourism reasons and must isolate for 10 days.
Ireland: Ireland follows the EU traffic light system. Travelers from red-listed countries must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel, which can be shortened to five following a negative test, regardless of vaccination. Those from non-red listed countries must also do this if they are unvaccinated or do not have antibodies, although if they do, they are exempt from all regulations other than the requirement to fill out a passenger location form.
Latvia: Travel from EU, Schengen countries, and a list of approved countries are allowed so long as the traveler has proof of vaccination, antigens from a past infection, or takes a negative test prior to departure. Travelers from amber and red countries must self-isolate for 10 days.
Malta: Malta has a unique list of ‘travel corridor’ countries, from which guests can arrive if they have a negative test result. Failing to provide such a result will require you to take a test on arrival, or enter 14 days of quarantine. Only essential travelers are allowed from countries that are not on the list.
Moldova: Travel to Moldova is discouraged. Non-vaccinated travelers who do not produce a negative result must self-isolate for 14 days.
Poland: Travelers from the EU and Schengen area can enter with either a negative test before arrival, proof of vaccination, or proof of antibodies. All other travelers must isolate 10 days, other than those from the UK, who must isolate for seven, unless fully vaccinated.
Portugal: All over the age of two need to have a negative test before departure to Portugal. If coming from a country with more than 500 cases per 100,000 people, you must quarantine for 14 days, and non-essential travel is banned from Brazil, India, Nepal, and South Africa. More information can be found on the government website.
Romania: Romania has its own traffic light system. Those from green countries, which have under 1.5 cases per 100,000, can enter without restrictions. Those from amber countries, which have between 1.5 and 3 cases per 100,000, must take a negative test before departure, and quarantine for 10 days until a negative test is presented unless vaccinated. Those from red countries, which have more than 3 cases per 100,000, must quarantine for 14 days or 10 with a subsequent negative test, again unless vaccinated.
Slovakia: Slovakia has its own traffic light system. Regardless, all unvaccinated travelers must quarantine 14 days, but those from green areas can end it on the fifth day with one negative test. Vaccinated passengers are exempt from all restrictions other than signing a passenger locator form.
Sweden: Sweden has its own traffic light system. Travelers from the EEA can enter with a negative test, proof of vaccination, or a negative test, as can those from a few other countries. Travelers from Nordic countries face no restrictions unless symptomatic.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein’s borders are handled by Switzerland, with whom they permanently have an open border, and Switzerland has a unique list of at-risk regions and countries. While many countries remain on a ban list, some are not. For those who are come from low-risk areas, either proof of a vaccine, a negative test, or past antigens are all that is required for entry; those from areas of concern that are still allowed in can only do so with proof of vaccination or of antigens. Otherwise, you must quarantine for at least seven days.
Turkey: Everyone six and over needs to prove a negative test upon arrival. Certain countries are subject to travel bans, however; currently, this is limited to Brazil and South Africa. Travelers from India also must quarantine for 14 days.
Ukraine: Everyone over 12 must present a negative Covid test before departure, as well as valid health insurance. Travel from India is not allowed. Ukraine continues to discourage tourism due to its ongoing internal restrictions.
United Kingdom: The UK is following its own traffic lights system but vaccinated US and EU citizens can enter without quarantine. Travelers from the green list must take both a test before and within two days of arrival, but do not need to quarantine if both are negative. If from the amber list, you must do the same then quarantine in a hotel or at home for 10 days, taking another negative test on the eighth. The same applies to those on the red list, although they must quarantine at a pre-determined hotel.
These countries have strict border restrictions. They have greatly reduced the number of countries from which travelers may hail, and may insist on quarantine even for guests that have produced negative test results. Again, the rules vary in what they are and how they are enforced. Travel to these countries is often discouraged but not illegal.
Bulgaria: If from an approved country those who take a negative test prior to arrival, have proof of their second vaccination dose, or a negative test after recovering from Covid-19 in the last 15 to 180 days can enter Bulgaria.
France: France has its own traffic lights system. Non-vaccinated passengers from all areas have to take tests upon arrival, and those from orange and red countries are subject to 7- and 10-day quarantines. Vaccinated travelers are exempt unless from a red country, where they will need to quarantine for 10 days.
Hungary: Hungary has no restrictions on those with a vaccination certificate from Serbia, Montenegro, Bahrein, Croatia, Turkey, North Macedonia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Mongolia, Republic of Moldova, or Slovenia. It is otherwise closed to all other non-essential travelers, who must quarantine for 10 days (which can be shortened with two negative tests, 48 hours apart.
Lithuania: If the traveler is from an approved country, they can enter with a negative test or proof of antibodies, from either a vaccine or past infection. Other travelers from orange and red countries must quarantine for ten days, which can be reduced to seven following another negative test. The rules of this quarantine differ based on the point of departure, with some being allowed a few additional privileges.
Monaco: Monaco requires travelers from a list of countries to take a negative test on arrival, and another after isolating for 7 days. All others must only produce a negative test before departure.
Netherlands: A negative test is required 24 hours before boarding, or else 72 hours before boarding with another negative result upon arrival. Guests must then quarantine for 10 days, which is reduced to 5 following another negative test. Quarantine restrictions do not apply to anyone from anyone on the Netherlands' safe list.
Vatican City: The Vatican City is only accessible via Italy, and many exhibitions and experiences are restricted or suspended.
These countries are currently closed to non-essential travelers; some even have stipulations on citizens and residents returning home, and on the access of essential travelers.
Norway: Norway has limited all entry apart from travelers to whom certain exceptions apply. If these travelers are arriving from a high-risk area, they must show a negative test before departure and quarantine for ten days, reduced to seven following another negative result.
Russia: A negative test is required before arrival for everyone over two years old, and all arrivals are temperature checked. Travelers from the UK must quarantine for 14 days. Russia’s restrictions have less clarity than many other countries, which is why they have been categorized here.
In some cases, border rules for the island territories of some countries differ from those of the mainland. The most popular European islands and their border rules are discussed below.
Azores (Portugal): A negative Covid-19 test must be presented before departure to the Azores. The only accepted form of test is one performed with the RT-PCR methodology.
Canary Islands (Spain): A negative Covid-19 test must be presented before departure; if arriving from a high-risk area, then another must be presented upon arrival at the Canary Islands. All passengers must also take a temperature check and register below 37.5 degrees Celsius. The Canary Islands include Tenerife.
Madeira (Portugal): A negative Covid-19 test must be provided either before departure or upon arrival at the Madeiran archipelago.
If a flight you booked through Guide to Europe is canceled due to Covid-19 or you test positive for the virus before your departure, we will provide you with a full refund as soon as you request one. Please note that your bank or credit card company may take a few days to process this.
Even though we are not responsible for tour, event, and activity cancellations that may occur due to Covid-19 on your trip (for which you will need to speak with your travel agent or the company responsible), we can still provide you with help and resources in finding other things to do.
Our team of Europe experts has roots across the continent, a passion for what each country has to offer, and a dedication to ensuring every moment of your trip is as memorable as possible.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that all of us are overdue for a fantastic holiday to recoup for lost time. Even though we cannot guarantee that measures to curb the virus will not have an impact on your journey, we will do all we can to give you the Europe trip that you deserve.