Here’s what to expect this summer

Now that most Covid restrictions in Europe have disappeared, what should travelers expect this summer?

For now, Europe is more stable than it has been for two years, at least when it comes to travel. But it’s still not 2019. If you’re heading to Europe this summer, you should always expect the unexpected – at least, that’s the consensus of tourism officials.

Europe will be occupied. According to the European Travel Commission, despite the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, European traveler sentiment has reached a new high. Almost 8 out of 10 Europeans plan to travel to their country by September.

A new survey from Allianz Partners predicts that travel to Europe will increase by 600% compared to last year, as countries reopen to visits from the United States. London, Paris, Dublin, Reykjavik and Rome are the most popular destinations.

What to expect before traveling to Europe’s most popular destinations

What are the European travel restrictions? Here’s what to expect if you cross the pond this summer:

England

You do not need to complete a UK Passenger Locator Form before you travel. You also don’t need to take a Covid-19 test before you travel or after you arrive. And you don’t have to self-quarantine, according to the UK government.

France

France has lifted its vaccine pass requirements, but you may need to fill out paperwork before entering the country, according to the French government. You must always present a travel certificate attesting that you are vaccinated or that you have recovered from Covid-19.

Ireland

All travel restrictions related to Covid-19 have been removed. You no longer need to complete a passenger locator form. You also no longer need proof of vaccination or recovery, or a Covid-19 test, according to the Irish government.

Iceland

“There are no Covid-19 restrictions in Iceland, either nationally or at the border,” according to the Icelandic government. “Iceland welcomes you.”

Italy

From May 1, travelers must present either a green Covid-19 certificate or an equivalent certificate. He must check your vaccination and booster status or your recovery status, or you must take a rapid antigen test before arriving, according to the Italian government.

Travel restrictions in Europe: here’s what it looks like on the ground

Europe seems almost normal now. In some places, it is impossible to say that there has been a pandemic.

I have been in regular contact with a friend who lives in Venice, Italy. For the past few weeks, I’ve asked her to show me the view from her room while talking to her on WhatsApp. The scene feels like 2019 all over again. There’s a crowd and not a mask in sight.

I traveled through Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, and saw the same thing. In late April, Turkey lifted one of its last remaining pandemic restrictions: the wearing of masks in crowded indoor places. There is a sense of joy among the population that the pandemic finally seems to be over.

At Istanbul International Airport, I saw an employee remove stickers from seats that warned people to maintain social distancing. The passengers watching her work applauded her. But masks are still mandatory on flights, and some Turks continue to voluntarily wear face coverings.

Most travelers from the United States with proof of full Covid-19 vaccination can enter Turkey and do not need a PCR test or antigen, according to Turkish Airlines. You need a valid passport and an electronic visitor visa, valid for 90 days. The airline says travelers should wear masks when using public transport, during flights and at the airport.

In hotels, masks are mostly off.

At the Izmir Marriott, a full-service hotel overlooking the Aegean Port of Izmir, guests and visitors are no longer wearing face masks. But you can see some employees continue to mask themselves.

“Face masks are not mandatory,” says Sercan Korkusuz, general manager of the property. “But as we have had a number of cases in Turkey, we are encouraging our team to wear masks to prevent any risk, especially in catering areas and kitchens. This is not required by law. is a precaution.”

Further up the coast, at Hotel GAIA Alaçatı, a boutique property in the ancient city of Alaçatı, there are no masks to be seen and the vibe is more relaxed. Tourism officials here now say the Turkish government has scrapped some of the latest requirements, they expect one of the busiest summers in years, and possibly ever.

Already the streets are packed with visitors from Turkey, France and Russia – the first of what is sure to be many more.

In conversations with visitors across Europe about travel restrictions, I get the same impression. Like Alaçatı, most of Europe has quietly rolled back most of its Covid restrictions. Tourism officials believe it will be the first “normal” summer since 2019, and so far it looks like visitors are coming back.

What to expect this summer if you visit Europe

But what will happen with European travel restrictions when summer begins?

“We are cautiously optimistic,” says Lysandros Tsilidis, president of the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourism and Travel Agencies.

Since May 1, Greece no longer requires vaccination certificates or Covid tests to enter the country. This is a relief for many travelers who struggled to follow previous regulations.

“Local businesses are eager to welcome visitors and people are ready to travel,” he adds.

Greece has already seen an influx of visitors from Europe and North America, both in Athens and across the country. Tsilidis says Covid is still out there, “and there’s still a feeling to be careful.”

Perhaps the biggest questions for visitors to Europe are the further uncertainties this summer.

“Everyone is aware that there is a war and that there is a question mark around the energy supply,” says Tsilidis. These problems are more likely to derail a fragile recovery in tourism. So far, there is no evidence that they are reducing the crowds of visitors expected in Greece, Turkey and the rest of Europe this summer.

Tips for visiting Europe in summer

If you’re thinking of heading to Europe, here are some strategies for surviving an uncertain summer.

Keep an eye out for European Covid restrictions

They could change at any time. Official sources, such as the ones I linked to earlier in this story, are the best. But the travel information site Sherpa also does a great job of bringing together all the travel requirements. Read them within 36 hours before you are supposed to travel.

Consider Ground Transportation First

Getting to Europe may be the easiest part this summer. Travel will be more difficult. The rental car shortage that plagued tourists last summer is back. Supply chain issues and fleet shortages made prices unpredictable. Insider tip: Go somewhere where a car isn’t necessary.

Consider travel insurance

And not just any insurance, but the “cancel for any reason” variety. It allows you to cancel your trip for any reason and get “a 50% to 75% refund of your prepaid, non-refundable expenses. If travel restrictions in Europe tighten again, it’s your solution.

For now, it looks like Americans have the green light to travel to Europe this summer. And Europeans feel the heavy weight of Covid is slowly being lifted. Whether it will stay that way remains to be seen.

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