a white building with a blue dome and a blue roof

That’s the first good news bit, right? Yes, Greece is planning to welcome visitors back this summer, but much like other European neighbors the country is figuring out how to make things not only better, but safer than ever.

Both the Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have been vocal in recent weeks, setting out clear guidelines and ideas for summer 2021 and how the country plans to deploy technology to help screen potential visitors, while creating a friendly welcome. It’s a promising summer, without a doubt.

Greece Plans For Summer 2021 Tourism

First things first – Greece doesn’t plan to require vaccination for covid-19 as a requirement to enter the country this summer. Greece is working hard to vaccinate its own people as rapidly as possible, but sees mandatory vaccination as an unnecessary hurdle.

At the same time, Greece is pushing for the EU to create a standardized vaccination certificate, with enhanced security measures, so that anyone who has been vaccinated can travel around the world yet again, with greater ease.

a white building with a blue dome and a blue roof

It’s one of the ‘3 key’ things Greece sees to unlocking safe travel again: vaccination data sharing across borders, rapid testing and vaccination.

Many countries have already changed border policies for travel to allow entry for anyone who’s had both vaccination jabs, regardless of where they’re from, in a sign travel may rebound much faster than many think. Key issues remain about securely validating each certificate, and developing trusted standards for certificates.

3 Keys To Greek Tourism Reboot

Greece currently requires a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure for eligible visitors, and that may potentially continue into summer.

But during an address to the UNWTO, the Tourism Council of the United Nations, the country joined others including Spain, in stating that rapid antigen testing is the most important development in adding additional layers of safety, without ruining the travel experience until vaccinations reach critical mass.

It’s also the key to opening up borders by summer, allowing for the billions in vital spending travel brings. Over 300 million people around the world work in travel and tourism related roles, and Greece alone has more than 380,000 people in the sector.

Health experts at The Mayo Clinic estimate that with a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure, rapid testing prior to departure and rapid testing on arrival, the chances of someone slipping through the cracks as positive could be up around 1 in a million. With a singular PCR test within 72 hours of departure, it’s closer to 1:1,000.

Athens, Greece. After sunset. Parthenon and Herodium construction in Acropolis Hill

Is Greece Opening To Americans Or Non Europeans?

Greece hasn’t yet specified exactly which visitors outside of the EU, and Europe’s permitted list of outside countries will be eligible, but there’s been interesting airline developments which suggest a return of US visitors is at least possible.

American Airlines announced plans this week to fly between New York and Athens from June 2021, adding major competition to Emirates, which flies from New York’s Newark International to Athens. Both flights are now on sale. It’s unlikely American would’ve announced such a route launch in these challenging times without some assurance it would become viable.

Greece is also expected to reintroduce travel between areas of the country shortly, which will make shuttling between islands and prefectures much easier as travel rebounds. Further news on which visitors will be eligible this summer is expected by March, to help with more concrete planning, once vaccine rollout is more stable.

To stay on top of the most accurate and up to the minute news on any new rules and restrictions to enter Greece, be sure to use the IATA Travel tool, which is based on the official rules airlines see at check in.

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. I have never NEEDED a holiday as much as I do now and have booked PAXOS for 2 weeks flying out on 6th JUNE 2021

  2. This article is irrelevant. Without a pan global strategy and the implementation of a universal process for travel, screening, vaccination evidence etc. there is no way that borders will be freely opened to sustain tourism and the airline industry. It would be suicide to think this can happen. Global vaccination is the only way out. Tourism will take 10 years to recover, maybe more. Travel as we know it is a thing of the past. I am missing travelling, but my life and that of my families is more important. I may do a backpack global tour when I am 60.

    1. Haha what an intro to your comment “this article is irrelevant”.

      Let me counter: your comment is irrelevant. You’ve not stated fact in any regard, only dire opinion. Many countries expect to be vaccinated by fall, many others by the end of 2021. You don’t need 100% vaccination to bring covid-19 in line with the thousands of other illnesses people die from every year, in less significant figures.

      Your mindset is not a healthy one, or one rooted in fact. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, then settle in and discover actual facts and figures, which will help guide you to the only logical conclusion, which is that every vaccination is a huge leap forward, borders will reopen within a year, and travel will be booming within 4. We’re more resilient as humans than your comment would suggest. We’ve already proven that science can win, and that travel can be safe with effective measures. Technology will only improve that.

      Fear Inc is an effective business, but Fact Inc, and Science Inc typically prevail.

      1. Agreed, had enough of the doom and gloom. Some of us are more practical. Had my first vaccination, second soon.

  3. Let’s say the EU introduces the vaccine certificate. What about children, who clearly will not be vaccinated by the summer?

    1. Well, Greece is saying you wouldn’t need one to visit, so they’d be able to join. Depending on age, perhaps with a PCR test. In other countries it could be different, but that’s how Greece is indicating.

  4. I came to Greece September last year we came when medicane had just hit we felt safer there than in England the Greek people new how to do it to make you safe.our holidays to Greece every year last 20yrs sometimes twice in year.just love Greece

    1. really? they were wearing those barely there face visors everywhere I went, numerous islands and even in Athens last September/ October

  5. We visited kos in September, and felt very safe , more than we did back here. I just hope we can visit again this year.

  6. I am hoping to travel to crete 30th May 2021 to my dream destination does anyone know if that will go ahead

    1. I’ll be flying May 29 to Athens then Rhodes. Interested also. More concerned about booking a return test. Any info on arranging tests in Greece?

  7. I realy need to return to Rhodes but unless the COVID level and risk drop in the UK I don’t want to risk my family or my friends in Greece. I will be keeping a watch and make my own decision on risk not have it made for me by the UK government.

  8. I’m getting married in skiathos in September, 40 guests have also booked, I pray we are able to get there.

  9. Thank you for the article! I didn’t know AA finally will start selling flights from NY to Greece good to know, but now I’m wondering if we have to quarantine once we get there? My husband and I had the covid vaccines but not my kids since they’re minors. We’re planning a July holiday since our trip was canceled last July.

    1. Too early to say, I suspect. It will depend very much on how ‘essential’ to the economy American tourists are deemed to be (a similar value judgement will be made for tourists from here in the U.K.). Having the vaccine could put you at an advantage, however. EU guidance is very much against letting Americans into Schengen but Greece ultimately had the power to make its own rules.

  10. It has put me off travelling this year I go to Greece twice a year but I’m not paying for PCR tests on top of a more expensive holiday and the idea of vaccine passports. I’d sooner not bother 🙄

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