European destinations without testing restrictions this summer — including Austria, Greece and Croatia
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As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across the continent, the sunshine of a summer break without restrictions is poking through the clouds.
While many countries are continuing to hold firm on measures like pre-departure testing and vaccination certificates, there’s a growing handful of European nations that welcoming anyone with a passport and a thirst for foreign travel with open arms.
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Here are the European nations where travel restrictions are but a foggy memory.
On 16 May, the Austrian government lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions for tourists heading to the motherland of Wolfgang Mozart, Sigmund Freud and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Travel to Austria is possible for touristic purposes,” authorities announced. “From May 16, proof of vaccination/recovery or a test is no longer needed.”
Bulgaria’s latest border rules are as fresh as a newly-prepared shopska salad (the country’s sumptuous national dish).
Which is to say, from 1 May, the Bulgarian government lifted all restrictions on travellers coming to the country.
Not only that, but visitors no longer have to adhere to any domestic restrictions, either. “Our country has been in an extraordinary epidemic situation for almost two years, but at the moment, the situation is being monitored and managed in a predictable way,” the government announced in April. “There is no need to maintain restrictions on citizens and businesses.”
Croatia’s authorities lifted all travel restrictions on 1 May, effectively returning the country to “pre-pandemic times”. “All travellers entering Croatia can now do so under the same conditions of entry that were in force before the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e with valid travel documents,” the country’s tourist office said.
Darija Reic, director of the tourist board’s U.K. office added: “We are happy to confirm that Croatia has dropped all Covid entry requirements for Brits.
“In 2019, we welcomed around 900,000 travellers from the UK, and with the return of numerous flights this year from the UK to Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb, we hope this news will incite many more to choose our sunny coast and lustrous inland for their well-deserved summer break.
“With a number of new hotels, restaurants, and events confirmed for this summer, Croatia is set for a strong season ahead.”
9 April was the Czech Republic’s day of travel freedom, as the country’s government lifted all restrictions on visitors seeking the restorative pleasures of “Czechia’s” natural, architectural and cultural treasures.
“The Ministry of Health repealed the existing protective measures with regard to the current epidemiological situation in the Czech Republic and abroad,” read the ministry’s word-stew of a statement. All persons can now arrive in the Czech Republic without any restrictions, regardless of whether they are travelling from a non-EU country or from the European Union.”
The people of Denmark took up the vaccine with a level of enthusiasm unmatched by most other European nations. As a result, the Scandinavian promontory became the first country in Europe to do away with all domestic restrictions in February.
Then, on 29 March, all testing requirements for international arrivals were abolished, with the words: “Since March 1, 2022, the only remaining COVID-19 entry restriction has been a requirement for testing within 24 hours of entry into Denmark for persons who have not been vaccinated … This requirement will be lifted at midnight … after which there will no longer be COVID-19 restrictions on entry into Denmark.”
Initially, the decision saw more flip-flopping than a beach in Faliraki but, in the end, Greek authorities officially confirmed that they would remove all COVID-related entry measures on 1 May. Masks would still be compulsory indoors, but given that most tourist activities on the Greek islands take place outdoors, that mandate may be barely noticeable for many holidaymakers.
Another country to burst out of the travel blocks early was Hungary, which scrapped international entry restrictions back in March.
Authorities there said visitors, regardless of their country of origin, can now enter Hungary without having to present a vaccination, recovery, or test certificate upon their arrival. Social distancing measures were also ditched, as well as the requirement to hold a valid vaccination or recovery pass to enter cafes, restaurants, bars, cinemas, and museums, among others.
Iceland may have been the last place on Earth to be settled by humans, but the Land of Fire and Ice was among the first places on Earth to drop all COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
It happened on 1 March, when all COVID-19 border restrictions were lifted meaning anyone can enter the country with nothing more than their passport in their pocket.
Famed for its volcanoes and its glaciers, its black-sand beaches and, of course, views of the Northern Lights, Iceland has relinquished all internal COVID-19 measures as well.
“All official epidemiological measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted, both domestically and at the border,” Iceland’s health ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
“This eliminates all rules on restrictions on gatherings and schooling, as well as the requirement for isolation of those infected with COVID-19.”
On 6 March, Ireland lifted its “last remaining” COVID-19 restrictions on travellers coming to the country, including its passenger locator form (PLF).
Previously, passengers arriving in the Emerald Isle were required to fill out the dreaded PLF as well as show proof of vaccination/immunity or a negative COVID-19 test.
But now visitors need to show nothing but their passport to get in.
The move was particularly good news for Ireland lovers across the world, as it came just in time for St Patrick’s Day on 17 March.
Related: 16 of the best hotels in Ireland
“As of April 1, the requirement to present an interoperable vaccination or disease certificate or a negative COVID-19 test certificate for entry into Latvia has been abolished.”
Those were the words of Latvia’s Transport Ministry last month, noting that the rules only apply to citizens of countries that are not on the country’s list of “high risk” areas.
But there are no countries on that list right now, so Latvia’s arms remain open.
See Switzerland, which handles immigration and customs matters for Liechtenstein. But in short, there are no restrictions on entering the Alpine territory.
On 1 May, the Lithuanian government did not beat around the bush (or boulder, for that matter. Lithuania is famous for its ancient boulders).
“Travellers arriving in Lithuania from anywhere in the world will no longer be subject to any COVID-19 management requirements: they will no longer need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling, even if they are ill or vaccinated, and will not have to complete a National Public Health Centre questionnaire,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Health said.
No COVID-19 documentation is required to enter Moldova. Though, due to its proximity to Ukraine, its airspace is restricted.
It is home to some of the most rugged — and beautiful — terrain in Europe. Montenegro’s entry protocols, however, are now as smooth as the crystal waters of the famous Sveti Stefan beach (pictured).
No need for vaccine passports, or pre-travel testing here. Just your passport, a thirst for adventure and a high tolerance for jaw-dropping natural beauty.
Masks are mandatory on public transport inside the country, however, and recommended in indoor spaces.
Norway has for months led the charge toward restriction-free travel, and on 12 February became the first European country to lift all COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a great threat to the health of most of us,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, as he flung open the doors to anyone with a thirst for fjord-focused adventure.
Among other things, anyone inside the country is no longer required to wear face masks or conform to social distancing requirements in public places, either. “The one-metre rule has prevented us from living normally together as human beings,” said Støre.
Polish authorities scrapped the need for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or recovery on 28 March. On top of that, travellers, as well as citizens of the country, are no longer required to wear a face mask when attending different public places and events.
From 9 March, visitors to Romania needed only to remember their passport and tickets when entering the country. Proof of vaccination or recovery is no longer on the “to-bring list”.
“I thank the Romanians for the responsibility they showed because they understood to respect the rules of health protection and chose to get vaccinated, thus limiting the spread of the Covid pandemic,” Minister of Internal Affairs Nicolae Lucian Bode rousingly announced. “Together we managed to overcome difficult moments, and this attempt will give us the strength to overcome all the challenges that the future holds for us.”
Serbia joined the smooth entry club on 4 May.
“Starting from midnight, Serbian citizens and foreigners will not be required to show proof of a negative PCR test, rapid antigen test, proof of recovery from COVID-19, nor a proof of vaccination upon entering Serbia, regardless of from which country of the world they enter the Republic of Serbia,” its government said in a statement.
“As of February 19, 2022, restrictions due to Covid-19 no longer apply when entering Slovenia,” Slovenian authorities announced.
“This means that the RVT (recovered/vaccinated/tested) condition no longer has to be met at the border, and travellers will no longer be ordered to quarantine at home.”
However, while visitors don’t have to test or provide information about their vaccination status they do still have to fill out a passenger locator form to enter.
It was only a matter of time before the Scandi dominoes began to tumble. It started with Norway, then Denmark, then Sweden lifted restrictions on foreign travellers from 1 April.
“As of April 1, 2022, people travelling to Sweden from countries outside the EU/EEA are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 test, a vaccination certificate, or any other type of certificate,” the Swedish Ministry of Justice solemnified.
News just in, Switzerland has lifted restrictions on international visitors as of 2 May… just in time for the summer hiking season.
Now, visitors can enjoy the Alpine beauty spot’s sweeping mountain ranges, snowy peaks and tumbling rivers without having to provide proof of vaccination or recovery on entry.
Facemasks in indoor venues were also abolished on 1 April, meaning life in Switzerland has pretty much returned to normal (the pre-pandemic kind of “old normal”, that is).
Featured photo: Getty Images.
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