a deck with chairs and a view of the ocean

Just days ago, the glorious Italian island of Sicily declared a $50m fund to lure back tourists, with cheap flights, comped hotel nights and more. There’s just one problem – you probably can’t use it.

Italy’s only references to potential border openings are for wider travel in 2021, which kinda kills the buzz around an Italian island holiday this summer, at least for non paisans. Even if the country does open, travel won’t likely be available until autumn at the earliest, which leaves those glorious summer months unfulfilled.

But Italy is not the only destination in Europe, and early buzz is that some countries will be open, and the dreams of going somewhere after the joys of more than a month in lock down lift, aren’t entirely in vain. Here’s the early word on what might be out there…

a deck with chairs and a view of the oceanGreece

Greece is weighing a variety of measures to ensure a balance between relative safety and keeping vital tourism alive. The country is in talks with the EU regarding potential for health passports, which would add improved levels of safety, but allow the country to enjoy at least a few months of visitors.

Greek Ministers have been quoted saying a July to September tourism period would be a positive outcome, but in a boost for local businesses, demand is expected to increase in shoulder season months as well.

a pool with lights on it and a building in the backgroundBalearic Islands, Spain

Spain, at least the landmass of Spain, has hinted at border and travel restrictions until the very end of 2020, which likely means 2021. But the Balearic Islands aren’t having it. Majorca hopes to open to at least some tourists by May, and other islands such as Ibiza are targeting an August return.

Who, and how is yet to be seen, and it may be largely restricted to those outside of the EU, but it’s something to hold on hope for. Everyone could use a night out in Ibiza when this is over…

a trolleys on a streetAustria

Austria will re-open hotels in late May, in an aggressive plan to revitalize the economy. Initial suggestions are to only rent rooms to travelers from “neighboring countries, or those with low infection rates” but there’s no telling how that would be enforced.

The move is contingent upon travel restrictions across European borders easing bilaterally, but the sentiment is clearly one of “let’s get travel going”, which is good news for people hoping to travel.

a city on the cliff

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Croatia was a country just beginning to enjoy its ripest years of tourism when the pandemic hit, and naturally they’re eager to hold on to some visitors. Talks are already in motion to create easier cross border access for Czech tourists, and every effort is being made to reopen to all ASAP.

The Dalmatian Coast of Croatia is one of the more stunning stretches in Europe, and one of the few where amazing bargains can still be had. If it’s under consideration, keep your fingers crossed!

a sign on a poleSweden

Sweden is the most unique country in Europe, at least in relation to its response to the virus. Other than social distancing, few measures have been put in place, and things throughout the country are far more normal than others, with restaurants and other businesses open.

Borders are even open right now for Europeans, or flights from within the EU, with flights bookable to Sweden as soon as today. If Sweden has been atop your bucket list, this is one of the better bets for summer travel, particularly for Europeans.

Red sky evening with castle. Beautiful sunset view of the Your Own Country

For many readers across Europe, pessimism is to be expected as to whether cross border travel on a larger scale is responsible, or feasible. But that doesn’t mean “travel” is dead, it’s just a new travel that will emerge in the short term.

Road trips and other domestic journeys can still create wonderful memories, and people rarely appreciate all that their own country has to offer. In reality, there’s a fair chance your country has some stunning mountains, beaches, forests or fields. Keep your distance and go play in them, if nothing else…

a close up of a passportShould You Travel?

World leaders throughout the world are currently undertaking one of the toughest assignments in modern history: balancing health risks against a world with continued, perilous financial ruin.

Health is always more important than wealth, but if too many people lose employment or even the opportunity to make an income and feed their families, new health risks are created. Travelers can only hope that governments will find acceptable solutions to mitigate health risks, such as screening and increased distances wherever practical.

If you are healthy, and don’t suffer from preexisting conditions, there’s nothing wrong with hoping to get back out into the beautiful world we live in this summer. After all, we’re only able to if respective governments create solutions they deem acceptable, so it’s ultimately not our choice.

If they open the doors on travel and tourism, many people on the other side will be so glad if you walk through them in a spaced out and orderly fashion.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. If travel restrictions are lifted, but social distancing isn’t, how do we ‘socially distance’ at the boarding gates and luggage carousels? Even bus, train, and taxi queues will snake back into the terminal at 2m between people/families. Think of Gatwick’s station!

  2. It’ll be interesting to see how the Schengen external border situation develops. I saw the French President quoted as saying he thought Schengen external restrictions ought to remain in place through September 2020. But I haven’t come across any other comments from national leaders, so it’s hard to tell what the majority sentiment is. Of course things can change as the virus situation changes.

    You’re right we often overlook travel within our own countries…and even local areas/regions. Much to be appreciated there if we stop and think about it.

  3. Good article. Your final points are really key – while health concerns are taking over practically everything else now the long term impact of continued shutdowns versus allowing some level of continued spread (with a clear understanding healthcare systems can handle the load) is imperative. I completely understand people, especially the most vulnerable, being scared and worried primarily about themselves. However if the world economy doesn’t move in a positive direction in 2020 you will see widespread homelessness, starvation, rise in other diseases (article yesterday in US about kids not getting vaccinated and people avoiding medical care due to COVID concerns). Then you add suicides due to depression/financial concerns, abuse, drug/alcohol addiction, etc and frankly we are starting to hit the point as a world that continuing the measures in place today will harm more than would doubling the virus death rate. Sounds callous I know and people don’t want to favor an approach that will almost certainly cause more to die but the alternative may be worse. Sometimes the cure really is worse than the disease. BTW, I have a lot of faith in the treatments being studied to greatly reduce the most extreme conditions when people are infected, hope that infection is as broad as some suggest (up to 20-30% in parts of the US) with some level of immunity and that a vaccine actually will be available around the end of the year. Regardless at some point all countries will have to develop “Plan B” to move ahead even understanding the risks – they really don’t have any other choice.

  4. AC thankyou for your thoughtprovoking comment Makes you think maybe some places you could normally travel fine could have become less safe.Thebetter solution would be for those problems to be fixed anyway because they are problems anyway.

  5. So–I am American and our only daughter and grandchildren are in Germany (permanently). I would rather visit them once again and risk dying of Coronavirus afterwards, than stay here and avoid travel, even though my husband and I are higher risk.

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