Europe is a popular destination for American tourists. It’s home to some of the most famous landmarks in the world like the Eiffel Tower, The Roman Coliseum, The Brandenburg Gate, and more. As popular as Europe is for tourism, it has been very hard for Americans to enter the continent for the last couple of years due to strict COVID restrictions. Finally, it seems like Europe is opening up to full capacity with a few caveats. Some countries are a bit more relaxed than others and it’s not always clear what rules you have to follow where.
Let’s run through a few European countries that have vastly different COVID and travel restrictions, even though they might be neighbors…
Make sure you have your KN95/FFP2 mask ready when you visit Austria because they strictly observe their masking rules. Masks are still required everywhere in Austria and it’s very rare to see this rule not followed. Proof of vaccination is required to eat anywhere (even outside). The good news is, the CDC white card is accepted but expect a few strange looks from waiters while they decipher the handwritten proof. Entry into Austria is a breeze if you’re vaccinated, if you are not…there are stringent testing rules that apply. You can find out more here.
Restaurants, bars, and cafes are open throughout the country with limited restrictions in place as far as capacity. Austria still feels like it is very much in the midst of a pandemic.
Slovenia was one of the first countries in Europe to drop all of its entry requirements. At the time this was unheard of for the continent. This makes entering Slovenia feel like it was before the pandemic. Masking is still technically required on transit but not 100% observed. Overall, traveling through Slovenia feels much like it did before the pandemic.
If you take the above two examples and combined them…you get Germany. As of this past Friday, masks are no longer required anywhere but the public continues to wear them. In fact, large activism groups and NGOs have come out against the repealing of the mask mandate, citing some of the surges caused by the new variant.
Besides the gray area surrounding masks, Germany is largely finished with pandemic restrictions. Proof of vaccination is no longer required anywhere and large events are being allowed to take place again. Entering the country can be tricky if you are unvaccinated though as you’ll need to prove that you have a reason to visit.
The above three countries are all located within the Schengen Area. Meaning that once you’re in one of them, you can enter the rest without going through border control. Think of driving from state to state in the U.S. Now let’s take a look at a country outside of this visa area.
Croatia has been an interesting example of pandemic rules. The country was one of the first to reopen to Americans in the summer of 2020. It became a hotspot for tourism of all kinds because of the diversity of destinations within the country. Whether you want a beach vacation or to explore a picturesque European city, Croatia has it all.
Entry into Croatia has been simple throughout the pandemic and currently. If you are vaccinated, you can just walk in. If you’re not vaccinated, they require a negative test. Once inside the country, everything is pretty much back to normal. Masks are still required, but not always worn and all restaurants are opened to full capacity.
A Busy Summer
To summarize, Europe is opening up. Maybe at different paces, but all moving in the same direction. This summer is shaping up to be a huge tourism season for the continent and the relaxing of these requirements is making it possible. If you plan on visiting Europe this summer, book soon or you might find yourself paying some hefty prices.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com