Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Post-pandemic travel is opening our favorite European destinations

(Editor’s note: This post on post-pandemic travel in Europe will be updated. Also see our guide here to countries embracing vaccination passports.)


We can think about quarantine-free travel in Europe again. Across the continent, we’re seeing the preliminary steps toward a return to freedom of movement. And in the United States, President Joe Biden has stated he wants to reopen travel by 4 July, American Independence Day.

This represents the convergence of two positive trends. The first is, more COVID-19 vaccines are getting into people’s arms from Portugal to Poland. The second is, travel and tourism revenues are a significant enough piece of European economies to keep countries such as Greece and Croatia from sliding into recession. So, there’s an economic impetus to get heads in the beds and butts on the beaches.

Are we recommending that you go? Kinda. Our legal staff makes us include caveats such as “check local pandemic restrictions and local regulations and know that travel entails certain hazards.” But you know … we’re just as tired of staring at the same four walls as everyone else, so go for it.


Croatia is among the countries jumping on the COVID passport bandwagon, desperate to restart its tourism sector, which accounts for a whopping 25 percent of GDP … at least.

The country also has started a “Stay Safe in Croatia” program, designating airlines, hotels and accommodations, ground transport and tourist attractions that have adopted national and world standards for health and hygiene protection.


Cyprus will allow in travelers with full immunization starting 17 May, according to the BBC. COVID-19 tests are administered at the ports of entry, including airports, and arrivals must pay 30 euros.

Here are the official rules and requirements.


Sky News is reporting that France is on the verge of lifting travel restrictions. French Foreign Ministry officials have announced that people flying in from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore will no longer need to have a compelling reason to travel.

If you’re a European Union citizen or resident, you’re already allowed to travel to France. BUT, you must be able to prove you have been vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours old.


Greece is – as far as we can find – the only country to put a date on reopening travel. On 14 May, Greece will allow in anyone who has been vaccinated or who has tested negative for COVID-19, according to the Guardian.

Tourism and travel contribute anywhere from seven percent to Greece’s GDP to 36 percent, depending on the source. So, yeah, the Greeks are anxious to get people back to work and the economy back up to speed.


Iceland was the first country to introduce a COVID-19 passport. And the island nation expects to have all its citizens vaccinated by mid-summer 2021. But it’s still not allowing in Americans.

Iceland currently admits EU citizens as well as EEA/EFTA citizens from Liechtenstein, Norway, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican. Iceland also permits travelers from the European Commission’s approved list of non-EU countries, which include Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. 

You can see the rules here.


CNN is reporting that Italy has come up with a concept for “COVID-free trains” to the main tourist destinations such as Rome and Venice starting with Rome to Milan. Just as with Italy’s COVID-free flights, passengers and crew will be tested before boarding, and passengers are required to arrive at the station an hour ahead of boarding.

You can read more here on the website of the official Italian train system Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.


Billionaire Dispatches readers, you’ll be relieved to know Monaco is open and listed among the safest destinations in Europe.

There are, however, pandemic rules in place till 19 March including a pretty punitive curfew – 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., which has to be killing the casinos. (Like the Monégasque need the money.)

However, there’s still the sea, with March and April temperatures in the 60s (16 degrees-plus Celsius). Restaurants are open, with parties limited to six. Bars are closed.


While mainland Portugal was hugely impacted by COVID-19 and is now only exiting the pandemic, the Portuguese island of Madeira is ranked among the safest places to travel in Europe. The island also is hosting a digital nomad village this summer.

Read more about Madeira here from Dispatches travel writer Beth Hoke.

And by the way, as of 12 March, the land border with Spain is still closed.


Spain is still having a very difficult time shaking the pandemic, with 637 deaths reported on one very bad day this month, 5 March. But like much of Europe, travel and tourism is a crucial piece of the economy. So, Spain is planning to join in May the countries embracing COVID passports.

If we missed a country you’re interested in, ping us at: [email protected] and we’ll include it.

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