Traveling to Greece During COVID-19 - Summer 2021

by - June 10, 2021

My husband and I recently returned from a vacation in Greece and I thought it would be helpful to share our experience, so others who are considering a trip know what to expect during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our trip to Greece included visiting both Athens and the islands of Santorini and Mykonos and we travelled during the first week of June in 2021. At the time we travelled, Greece was open to tourists from the US, Europe and a number of other countries. Additionally to not be required to quarantine, you needed to provide one of following: 

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated
  • A negative PCR test from no more than 72 hours before arrival
  • Proof of previously having COVID 2-9 months ago

Entry requirements are changing frequently, so make sure to check here for the latest entry requirements for Greece. 

In addition to presenting one of these items, we also needed to fill out an online form before our arrival in Greece. The form was easy to fill out and needed to be completed more than 24 hours before our arrival. Only one form is needed per household. On the day of our arrival, we received a QR code by email to show proof of the form and had to show it when we arrived. We found all these entry requirements very straightforward and ran into no issues. 

We were not able to fly directly to Santorini or Mykonos from Amsterdam (it appears some direct flights should resume in July from Amsterdam), so we flew into Athens, spent the night, and flew out to Santorini the next morning. One very important thing to note, at the check-in for our flight, we were required to show one of the following:

  • Proof of vaccination
  • A negative PCR test from no more than 72 hours before the flight
  • A negative rapid test from no more than 24 hours before the flight
  • A negative self-test from no more than 24 hours before the flight
  • Proof of previously having Covid 2-9 months ago 

This was not an issue for us, but I do want to mention it as it was not clearly stated on the Greek Government's website when we traveled. Additionally in the case you use a test for entry to Greece, you will want to make sure that the test is still valid for this flight as well. This requirement helps keep the islands safe as even those living in Greece have to be tested to go to the islands. It appears from the Athens Airport website, that this in only in affect for air travel, but if you plan to travel by ferry to the islands, I would double check. Information regarding air travel from Athens and requirements can be found here under the COVID-19 Useful Information. We did not have to show any proof when we took a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos nor when we flew from Mykonos back to Athens. 

Regarding masks in Greece, you are required to wear them both inside and outside in public areas. However, our experience in the both Santorini and Mykonos was different than the official rules. Most people did not wear masks outside and no one was enforcing the mask requirement outside. In stores though, tourists and shopkeepers would wear masks. In both the Airbnb and hotel we stayed in, the staff were always wearing masks when they were interacting with us. Additionally, the staff at restaurants were always wearing a mask and we would wear our masks when entering and leaving the restaurant and if we got up to go to the bathroom. We also wore masks when riding in the car with a driver. The drivers were wearing masks as well. Separately from the islands, in Athens the majority of people were wearing masks outside and it was enforced at the Acropolis. 

Something to note regarding the islands and COVID safety. After the elderly, Greece has prioritized vaccinating the islanders, so a lot of the islanders were already vaccinated when we were there. Additionally, those who work in tourism on the island are required to do an at home test once a week. With this and the requirements for those traveling to the islands, the islands are very COVID safe. 

On the islands, there were other tourists, but it was definitely more quiet than it normally would be for this time of year. A lot of restaurants and places had only opened in the last few weeks and everyone we talked to said by the day they could feel more people coming. We felt very lucky to visit with out it being overly crowded. Because it still was not too busy, we had no issues booking any tours or getting reservations at restaurants with short notice. A lot of restaurants still had empty tables and were taking walk-ins. This though could quickly change depending on how busy the islands become this summer.  Lastly, there were a couple of restaurants in Mykonos that still had not opened for the season, so do double check that restaurants you want to visit are open. 

Depending on the country you will be returning to, you may need to get a rapid or PCR test to return home. We needed a PCR test and were easily able to get one in Mykonos for 60 euros. The quoted turn around time on their website was 24 hours, but it ended up taking 30 hours because they were overloaded with tests. I would recommend to give yourself a buffer between when the results are expected and when you need the results for travel. I am sure they will continue to be busy through the summer. The Athens airport also offers PCR and rapid tests with same day results though PCR tests take several hours for the results and there is no exact time window. 

Overall, we had a fantastic trip and did not feel hindered by the COVID restrictions. I'd highly recommend visiting Greece this summer if you have the opportunity! If you have any questions, please do reach out in the comments or by email. I am happy to help! My next post will be about where we stayed, ate, and what we did, so be sure to check that out! 

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