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Time to dust off that suitcase, because for couples dreaming of a Euro getaway, the never-ending wait has come to an end with the European Union recently announcing that it will accept vaccinated travelers from the United States this summer.
The Latest Travel News
You read that right—the president of the European Commission told the New York Times that they would be opening to everyone that is vaccinated with an approved vaccine by the European Medicines Agency—which includes the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson jabs most Americans are already getting. Though the logistical details and stipulations are still being worked out, this means Americans who received one of those vaccines will likely be able to travel freely within the European Union sometime this summer.
It’s important to note, though, there still isn’t a target reopening date announced for travelers, so you’ll want to keep your eyes and ears glued for the latest announcements.
Meet the Expert
- Steve Hafner is the CEO of KAYAK, an online travel agency and search engine that connects travelers with flights, hotels, and cars around the world.
- Dr. Terika L. Haynes is the founder and CEO of Dynamite Travel, a top-rated travel consultancy based outside Orlando.
- Brian Kelly, also known as the founder and CEO of The Points Guy, is an expert in travel, credit cards, and loyalty programs.
As you can imagine, just this small glimmer of Euro travel hope has already started to impact the travel industry, and Steve Hafner, the CEO of KAYAK, weighed in for us over email. “This past week has been the best period of international travel demand since March 2020,” he told us. “We’re finally starting to see European hotspots like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona pop again with searches to these cities up between 25 and 75 percent following the E.U.’s news,” he adds of the news announced at the end of April.
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts to give you of-the-moment advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and latest on travel restrictions and requirements, check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.
Where Can Travelers, Vaccinated or Not, Travel in Europe?
There are a few notable European countries opening their doors to American travelers already, many with plans set before the E.U.’s broader announcement. But remember, as of this writing, travelers returning to the U.S. still need to present a negative COVID-19 test for re-entry. So even if you’re a fully vaccinated traveler who can now technically skip a test on your way into Greece, you will still have to take a test in Greece to get back home—capeesh?
As of April 21, 2021, if you have been vaccinated at least 14-days before traveling, you don’t need a negative test to travel to Greece. Just bring your vaccine card and you’re all set. That said, if you haven’t received the vaccine, be prepared to supply a negative PCR test within 72-hours of your departure.
Croatia started welcoming travelers on April 1, 2021. To visit, ou need to have taken a PCR test or a rapid antigen test within at least three days to take advantage of the stunning coastline and charming, history-rich cities this country has to offer. Similar to Greece, if you’ve been vaccinated at least 14 days prior to leaving, you can skip the test and present your vaccine card in its shiny laminated pocket.
If you’re having recurring dreams of dipping a Pain au Chocolat into a cappuccino alongside the Seine, you’ll have to hang tight a little longer: “While not yet open to American tourists, France is expected to allow some US visitors to enter as early as June,” Brian Kelly of The Points Guy shares with us. (The country is hoping to welcome travelers beginning June 9.) And since press time, France’s president Emmanuel Macron has laid out a reopening plan for those who are vaccinated or can show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
What European Destinations Are Trending With Americans?
For those waiting on this news to reschedule a delayed honeymoon or take that dreamy, Call Me By Your Name-inspired trip to Italy, or perhaps an Emily in Paris-influenced trip to Paris, we’d argue there’s no time like the present to get planning. Travel expert Dr. Terika L. Haynes, the founder and CEO of Dynamite Travel, a top-rated travel consultancy based outside Orlando, had some predictions about this summer’s potential it destinations in Europe.
“I predict that destinations near the water will be highly requested,” says Haynes. “We will see large numbers of travelers for destinations such as Greece, and Italy, specifically the Amalfi Coast.” Haynes tells us that the water-surrounded island of Malta is even providing incentives for travel such as a credit of up to $120 per person for a stay of 3 nights or more, though it’s important to note that until further announcements are made, Americans are still not permitted to enter Malta unless they're willing to jump through a few hoops.
The Greek Isles
That said, if you’re looking for a must-visit spot that’s already technically reopened to Americans, Haynes advises you to zero in on Greece. “Even if you have traveled to Greece before, with so many islands there is always room to explore new places within the country,” she says. “My main tip would be not to ignore the less mentioned islands. In addition to the popular spots such as Santorini and Mykonos, there is also beauty in destinations such as Crete, Milos, and Corfu, and they should not be overlooked.”
For a spellbinding Greek experience, travelers can consider island hopping on Variety Cruises’s dreamy, wooden yacht named Galileo to explore those smaller, hard-to-access spots, like hidden beaches and secret lagoons.
Travelers that do opt for those more sought-after Greek islands should consider booking ahead, as pent-up demand from travel-starved Americans is likely to cause sellouts and pricing relative to that demand.
With one look at the recently-opened, all-suite rooms at Kalesma in Mykonos, it might be worth it either way. On equally popular Santorini, consider Andronis Luxury Suites or the Andronis Concept Wellness Resort if you and bae are looking to get your wellness back in check. Both of these properties also boast sweeping views, insanely stunning suites, and some of the tastiest restaurants around.
If you and your S.O. are seeking an alternative to the Amalfi Coast and want to book prior to further E.U. announcements, consider the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. Not only is it equally stunning, but it’s also already open and an ideal stop to let out some post-vaccine stress during a stay on Yacht Week—the insanely fun way to sail for couples or groups of friends who love to party. The Dalmatian Coast is also home to the contemporary cool Brown Beach House, where you can wake up with a view of the stunning aquamarine water and sweeping mountains if you’re after chill vibes.
In addition to Greece and Croatia, bucket list spots like Spain and Portugal are also hopping off the charts, according to data on flight trends from KAYAK. In Spain, we’re confident you’ll fall head over heels with the unexpected city of Valladolid and the nearby monastery-turned-luxury-hotel Abadia Retuerta LeDomain—did we mention it’s surrounded by vineyards? In Portugal, you’ll want to bookmark the extravagant honeymoon hotel, Six Senses Douro Valley, set in the picturesque wine region famed for its Port.
With additional reporting by Brittany Loggins