Disclaimer: Please check this website for current rules and restrictions as things change daily, this post is based on my trip taken in August 2021.
Dreaming of a Grecian getaway? As borders open and close, it may be difficult to keep track of what’s required and what restrictions are in place.
To help you navigate things — check out these tips for traveling safely with Covid-19 restrictions.
As a note, I’ve been to Greece several times before, and this was my second time in Santorini. Even with restrictions in place, Santorini was busy as ever.
I also visited two new-to-me islands, Milos and Naxos; while I can’t compare how busy they were in the past, things were definitely bustling.
There were some different things this time around — a few places were closed, masks are required indoors, and proof of vaccination was required in several places — but a trip to Greece is definitively doable.
Here’s what you should know about traveling Greece right now with Covid-19 restrictions!
Some Things to Know
I figured I’d address some questions that are coming up:
This was written August 2021 — it’s important to stay up-to-date with country and CDC guidelines, and keep tabs on what is going on with requirements and border closures.
I have a US passport, was coming from the United States, and I am vaccinated.
Who Can Travel to Greece?
As of August 2021, Greece is allowing entry for those who reside permanently in the United States, along with those with EU and Schengen-region citizens.
The list of places Greece welcomes other travelers from is constantly changing, so check your respective embassy and Greece’s government website for updated information.
You’re required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before traveling and then present the QR code to board a Greece-bound flight.
This details the protocols for arriving in Greece.
Andronis Boutique Hotel
Are Vaccinations Required?
Yes and no.
At the moment, you’re allowed to enter Greece if you’re unvaccinated, BUT you have to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of ARRIVING.
This can be confusing.
Don’t take it 72 hours before you fly out; it needs to be 72 hours from the time you land. So, take the time of when you land in Greece, convert it to your time zone and work back 72 hours from that.
Another thing to note is that if you’re flying out on a Monday, it’s the most difficult day to do this. Typically, a lot of testing agencies don’t do lab work on Sundays (from my experience).
So, if you get tested on a Saturday and fly out on a Monday, and you don’t arrive until Tuesday — your tests are expired.
It could get pretty complicated if you are not vaccinated and want to travel around Greece right now.
Tips for Finding the Right Testing Facility
Cross-reference the type of test required by your destination, and confirm that is the test being performed by that particular lab, and they can get the results to you (ideally) same day, or the next day (whatever you need for your flight).
What Are the Restrictions?
Face masks are required by the FDA in all airports and on all flights; so far I’ve experienced this everywhere in the world. You will have to wear it throughout your flight.
I wore my mask for 20 hours straight — through all of my flights, connections, and layovers. Make sure you have a comfortable mask as this is quite a long time.
Outdoors you do need to wear a mask but you might need to wear one indoors, even if you’re vaccinated. Again, this is totally subject to change at a moment’s notice, so pay attention to what guidelines are when you’re there.
It’s safe to assume that the default is wearing a mask indoors.
In my experience, most tourists were very polite and participated in wearing a mask when going indoors, plan to pack and carry them with you.
From my understanding, if you are vaccinated, you can carry your vaccine card and dine indoors. Though I didn’t really see anyone needing to show it.
Luckily, most things are outdoors and I prefer it!
Traffic leaving the famous sunset spot in Santorini
Is It Busy?
Santorini is almost as busy as I remember it before Covid (when I went in July 2019) and it didn’t seem like tourism had slowed down.
While I hadn’t been to Milos before to compare, it was almost impossible to find a place to rent an ATV from. I think this speaks to how busy it is with tourism right now.
I also went in August which is typically the highest tourism season. I would definitely avoid Europe in August and instead visit in the shoulder seasons.
During Covid, I visited Santorini, Milos, and Naxos and you’ve also got a lot of tourism from Greek people who are traveling to the islands.
This was busier than I could have ever imagined it.
While I never felt like I was stuffed in an area full of people, it was very difficult to find accommodation at a reasonable rate and rent a car.
That said, I think September and October may be better times to visit.
Are Most Things Open?
Most things were open — at least on Santorini. But that might be different from island to island, particularly the smaller ones who rely on tourism.
I traveled to Mallorca after Greece, and I noticed a few more restrictions there in terms of limiting the number of people allowed in one space, and some things weren’t operating as usual.
Covid Requirements for Inter-Island Travel
Ferries & Flights
We were traveling through the Cyclades, and there were signs explicitly saying that you needed to complete a health form every time you got on a ferry or flight.
If you’re vaccinated, there’s nothing more you need to do.
However, they did specify that a negative test is required when traveling between the islands on a ferry for unvaccinated travelers. Whether or not they check for that, I can’t comment. I can only share that at the time that was the requirement for traveling on a ferry.
If you were traveling by plane throughout the islands, that might also be a requirement.
Testing to Return to the US
Obviously, there’s still a chance to get Covid whether you’re vaccinated or not, so realistically you need to evaluate if it’s worth it for you or not.
If you have to quarantine in place, are you in a safe place where you can get treatment? Can you afford the time of being in quarantine somewhere else than your home country?
These are the questions I asked myself to evaluate if it was worth traveling at this time.
That said, I did get a World Nomads Travel Insurance policy. They are the only travel insurance I know of that covers Covid-related travel insurance claims. So, if you get Covid while traveling, they will honor the coverage (if you need medical treatment or have travel interruptions because of it).
Secondly, even as a vaccinated traveler, the US currently requires a negative test to re-enter the US.
I would recommend the Abbott BinaxNOW or the Ellume Home Test.
These are a gamechanger. We were really worried about finding a testing center as we were only traveling to island destinations and we weren’t sure how accessible or convenient it would be to find a lab and get test results.
Plus, if possible, we didn’t want to waste an entire travel day to get test results.
So, we used these, and I can confirm they were accepted in August 2021 to reenter the United States (as a US Citizen).
An added bonus: they are simple to follow! You do a guided video at home (or at your accommodation) for a 15-minute test. You can take it the day before or the day of your travels and the test is currently accepted to reenter the US.
If you’re thinking about visiting Greece right now and are comfortable with traveling — I think Greece is lovely as ever.