Is Europe open for travel?
European Tourism and COVID-19
Should you plan a trip to (or within) Europe in
the foreseeable future? We're inclined to say "Maybe,"
after the coronavirus pandemic has waned, but don't plan your trip without reading our updates and advice.
ABOVE: A vaporetto travels up the normally busy Grand
Canal in Venice, Italy. (See our article about the
coronavirus in Venice and Italy.)
Ever since COVID-19 spread from China to Northern Italy in February, 2020, tourism in
Europe has taken a massive hit. Flights have been cancelled, entire countries
have been locked down by quarantines, and travelers have been worried--with good
reason--about Europe's ability to cope with a pandemic.
plan a visit to Europe any time soon? Here's our advice:
Check official sources before committing to a trip.
The European Union's
Re-open EU Web site has up-to-date
information about travel restrictions in 24 languages. Also see the EU's page
about the "Green Pass" or
Digital COVID Certificate. For travel to the United
Kingdom, see the British government's information on
Entering the UK.
If you've already reserved flights, hotel rooms, holiday
rentals, a cruise, etc., then check with the vendors to learn where you
stand. (Airline schedules and cruise calendars are changing by the day.)
If you've been thinking of a cruise in Europe,
see our COVID-19
cruising update before booking.
Keep an eye on the news media for up-to-date stories about
reinfection surges, lockdowns, etc.
2. It's not too early to think about a visit in 2022.
The coronavirus pandemic won't last forever. Once enough people
have been vaccinated,
the spread of COVID-19 could ease, and you'll be in a better position to
We'd expect to see a cascade of travel bargains
in the months ahead as airlines, hotels, rental firms like Airbnb, tour companies, cruise
lines, and destinations try to make up for a disastrous 2020.
Still, we do suggest precautions:
If you're over 60 (and especially if you have underlying
health conditions), use common sense in deciding whether, when, and how to
travel. We suggest postponing travel until you've been vaccinated against COVID-19
and have built up full immunity. The risk of coronavirus infection won't go away overnight.
Be aware of cancellation policies or change fees when you book your airline,
train, cruise, or sightseeing tickets. Airline fares and other transportation tickets vary in
their cancellation and change policies. If you can't afford a fully-refundable
ticket, budget some money for ticket changes just in case. (Good news: Many
airlines have suspended change fees and "no refund" policies during the
When you book accommodation, make
sure that your reservation can be cancelled without penalty. Avoid prepaid,
discounted room rates that have a "no cancel" policy. (Most reservations
through our hotel partner,
are fully cancellable. When they aren't, the rules are clearly spelled out.)
Be especially carefully when renting holiday apartments,
cottages, or villas. Cancellation policies for vacation rentals tend to be
stricter than for hotels, although some of the big rental platforms are loosening their rules
during the coronovirus outbreak.
Finally, don't count on travel insurance to protect you
during the coronavirus pandemic. Most insurers and medevac providers are
treating the outbreak as a "known event," and your claim will be turned down
unless you've bought a high-priced "cancel for any reason" plan.
If vaccination efforts are successful and the coronavirus pandemic eases, the
first quarter of 2022 could be a tempting time for European travel, thanks to
discounts and smaller crowds as visitors slowly trickle back to popular tourism
However, the situation could change, so build
as much flexibility as possible into your travel plans.
Also, if you're in a
high-risk group, don't take chances with your health--or your life.