In a word, travel to Greece right now is easy. In two words, easy and wonderful. The only thing better than Greece is shoulder season Greece, and visiting is even easier at the moment than I imagined.
After being in Spain last week and finding it to be stellar, I’d say this is even a bit better.
If you’re considering a trip, here’s what you’ll need to get into the country as well as what to expect once you arrive, from mask etiquette to restaurants, bars and hotels.
Before Traveling To Greece
Unlike many European countries, Greece isn’t demanding that all visitors are fully vaccinated right now. Instead, unvaccinated visitors can test before arrival for entry.
If you’re vaccinated, things are so much better, as they should be. Vaccinated travelers who have received the full regimen of an approved vaccine are able to enter Greece without any testing, and basically just a singular Greek PLF form.
Allowing fully vaccinated visitors not to test before departure of after arrival gives greater confidence for trips to go ahead and allows for streamlined entry. As long as you have your PLF uploaded online, you can typically check in for flights to Greece online, which saves time at the airport.
Greek PLF: One Form Per Traveling Group
One nice feature created by Greek authorities is that you only need to fill out one passenger locator form per traveling group, pretty much regardless of whether you are family.
You still enter information for everyone, but it saves a lot of time with redundant bits which can become painful for 3, 4, 5 or more people. Instead, just one main form with extra bits for each person is manageable, and actually really easy to present at Greek immigration, upon arrival.
For vaccinated visitors, you’ll typically find a big “V” next to your QR code. And yes, be sure to have a version of the PLF saved for offline use, or printed out, just in case you don’t have service when you land. More often than not, it will be checked, however briefly.
Arrival Experience In Greece
I flew into the much improved Santorini Airport, where the status quo remains.
You deplane from the front and rear of the aircraft, so either sit as far front as possible, or as far toward the rear, if you want to be first through immigration. Groups are called in rows of 5 or 6 to keep decent spacing.
Families with young children are often fast tracked and pulled out of line, which is a courteous move to visitors where patience may be running low after a long flight. If you see it, don’t be bashful!
Unlike many countries I frequent, such as the US and UK, I find immigration to be incredibly polite and conversational in Greece. A nice officer smiled at our daughter and made conversation with her, while going through formalities.
I don’t know whether it’s because the airline is responsible for checking proof of vaccination first anyway, but I was not asked to present my vaccination card at the border. It was pretty simple and painless.
All told, it probably took between 5-15 minutes for most people on our flight to be processed, and certainly no more than half an hour for the whole plane.
Visiting Greece Right Now
It’s October, which means it’s shoulder season. Many places which typically close in the next week have extended their season until November at the earliest, because many people who missed out on spring and early summer trips are now heading to Greece.
Basically, it’s less crowded than the chaotic times of peak summer, but there’s still a nice buzz around the islands and it’s expected to stay that way, perhaps well into early November.
If you’re planning to visit in 2022, the earlier is probably the better. Many in the Greek tourism industry here expect the summer of 2022 to be one of the most booming on record, since many visitors from key tourism areas still can’t easily enter.
Mask Protocols In Greece
It’s expected that all taxi and car service drivers in Greece wear masks, and generally that riders wear masks when in cars as well. You’ll see exceptions, certainly, but that’s the gist.
Outdoors you absolutely do not need to wear a mask anywhere, or to be seated at a table outdoors when dining or doing pretty much anything else. In shops and indoor restaurants, it seems to be “as you wish”. Some shops may ask, others may not care.
Dining Out In Greece Right Now
Unlike some of the 16 European countries and counting, Greece hadn’t required proof of vaccination to dine indoors until just this week. They now do, with various levels of enforcement, depending where you eat.
Plus, it’s Greece — if you’re eating inside, you’re doing it wrong?
Basically, it’s really easy to sit down and grab a table outside, and once in the country I haven’t seen or felt any need to carry around my vaccination card or any other details for any reason. That may slowly change over time, but while the sun is shining, I’ll be outside enjoying it.
Greece was famous for food long before any pandemics came along and changed the way the world works, and in a way, it’s made them better. Virtually all restaurants now accept card and most have newer machines equipped with Google/Apple Pay.
I’ve hardly carried my cards around this year, and that’s not been a problem, yet.
Travel In Greece Is Wonderful Right Now
This was a trip which was unnerving at booking, and up until the weeks before travel. We weren’t sure if Greece would follow some other European countries in banning US visitors, while the US was still banning EU and UK visitors.
When that changed, we felt a lot more confident, but any travel these days feels like a bit of a gamble. In the end, this trip became one of the easiest and best in years, both for my family departing the UK, and my parents departing the US.
Greece has figured out how to blend safety with convenient guest experience, and these Aegean waters are always worth traveling for.