Updated March 2023
It’s safe to say that there’s really no place in the world quite like Europe! With its seemingly endless array of out-of-this-world destinations, diverse cultures, and unique culinary delights, a journey to the old continent promises travellers a kaleidoscope of memorable experiences unlike any other.
Fortunately, with rapid vaccination drives being carried out all over the world, European tourism has almost returned to pre-pandemic conditions.
So if you’re looking to recommence the age-old rite of passage of escaping the desert heat this summer, here are some countries open for those wishing to travel to Europe, along with some travel tips you may find useful.
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Schengen visa update
According to the latest information, the EU is getting closer to digitising the Schengen visa application. Applicants will not have to go through the hassle of waiting for visa appointments, as they can apply for the visa through a single unified platform. The use of stickers will also be replaced by a digital 2D barcode which is cryptographically signed, ensuring the most advanced visa security system.
As of now, Schengen visa appointments are still available with a typically shortened processing period. Make sure to consult your Embassy for a more specific processing time.
Restrictions for outbound travellers from the UAE
Under the UAE travel protocol for UAE Nationals 18 years old and above, they must meet one of the following requirements:
- Must have completed one (1) dose of an approved vaccine and a period of one month has not lapsed from the date of the vaccination and the date of travel; or
- Must have completed two (2) doses of an approved vaccine; or
- If not vaccinated, the passenger must present a valid negative Covid‑19 PCR Test certificate that is issued within 48 hours from the time of sample collection and the time of boarding the aircraft. The COVID‑19 PCR test certificate has to be issued from an approved health service provider and must contain a QR code.
The following categories of UAE Nationals are exempted from the specified travel conditions provided they obtain an official letter from the relevant health authority in the UAE:
- Individuals medically exempted from taking the vaccine
- Humanitarian cases
- Individuals travelling for medical and/or treatment purposes
Any exception must be obtained by the individuals from the relevant authorities before arrival at the airport or making travel arrangements.
European countries open for UAE travellers
Travellers no longer need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative PCR test in order to enter Albania.
There are no longer any COVID-19 entry restrictions for travel to Austria. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.
Passengers are no longer obliged to provide COVID-19-related documents (i.e., COVID-19 vaccination certificates, COVID-19 recovery certificates, COVID-19 medical examinations) in order for them to be allowed to enter the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina is open to all international travellers. There is currently no requirement to prove your COVID-19 status to enter the country. Testing and quarantine measures have also been removed.
There are no longer any COVID 19 entry restrictions for travel to Cyprus. This includes requirements for testing, vaccination, quarantine and entry forms.
Everybody from all parts of the world are welcome to Estonia without any restrictions (no vaccination or recovery certificate, no tests, no isolation). All public services are available to all people, vaccinated or not. There are no restrictions on the number of participants or the opening hours and masks are not mandatory.
France has recently ended all its COVID-19-related entry restrictions. Travellers to France do not need to show proof of vaccination or proof of having recovered from COVID-19. Pre-departure testing has also been done away with.
There are no quarantine measures in place.
From 11 Jun 2022, there are no longer any COVID‑19 entry restrictions for travel to Germany. Passengers are no longer required to hold a COVID‑19 vaccination certificate or COVID-19 test result and do not have to complete a passenger locator form to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.
All passengers must meet the general immigration requirements (e.g. passport validity, visa, etc.).
There are no longer any COVID-19 entry restrictions for travel to Greece. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.
Italy has opened its doors to all travellers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. There aren’t any testing, quarantine or other entry restrictions in place.
COVID‑19 vaccination certificate or a COVID‑19 test result is not required to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.
There are no longer any COVID‑19 entry restrictions for travel to Norway. This includes requirements for testing, vaccination, quarantine and entry forms.
Portugal has scrapped all entry restrictions for inbound travellers. All arrivals to Portugal (including Azores and Madeira) are no longer required to present proof of carrying out a COVID-19 test with a negative result or to present a COVID-EU digital certificate or vaccination or recovery certificate.
When entering the country, Serbian citizens and foreign citizens will not be required to have a negative PCR test, a rapid antigen test, proof of recovery from the disease or a vaccination certificate, regardless of the country they are coming from to the Republic of Serbia.
All passengers arriving in Spain, except children below 12 years old and international passengers, regardless of their country of origin, including returning Spanish nationals, must have one of the following documents:
- digital COVID‑19 certificate or EU equivalent,
- vaccination certificate against COVID 19 or
- negative COVID‑19 test certificate or a certificate of recovery
Passengers are no longer required to carry COVID‑19 test, recovery or vaccination certificates to be accepted for travel. Quarantine restrictions will also be lifted.
The United Kingdom
Whether you are vaccinated or not, while entering the UK, you do not need to:
- complete a UK passenger locator form before you travel to England from abroad
- take any COVID-19 tests before you travel or after you arrive
- quarantine when you arrive
There are no longer any COVID 19 entry restrictions for travel to Turkey. Passengers are no longer required to hold a COVID 19 vaccination certificate or a COVID 19 test result to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.
Some tips for your trip to Europe
Now that we’ve established which European countries you will be able to travel to, let’s go ahead and discuss some best practices and travel tips to ensure a hassle-free European excursion experience.
Learn all you can about your destination
One of the many requirements of international travel nowadays is that we cannot assume there’s a common policy or standard in place for all countries in a particular region. While most countries have opened up their borders with little to no restrictions, it is important to know that mask mandates and other COVID-19 rules differ between countries.
In short, the details matter, and it’s imperative that travellers take details such as these into account and plan accordingly.
Preferably, opt for a single country to visit
While it is tempting to travel around Europe by train or some other modes of transportation, we do advise travellers to stick to a single country for now and avoid crossing borders. While COVID cases have been dipping steadily, sadly we are not free from the pandemic yet.
To avoid potential problems and complications, we recommend putting off that great European tour until at least a year or two from now. Don’t worry, the continent will still be there awaiting your visit.
Be prepared to cancel
Unfortunately, when it comes to travelling amidst the pandemic the only certainty is uncertainty. No matter how carefully thought out your travel plans are, the possibility of countries abruptly closing their borders cannot be completely ruled out.
Border openings are largely contingent on the epidemiological conditions of individual countries. Should your destination country experience a surge in COVID cases, it will more than likely negatively affect your travel plans. Be sure to check the cancellation policy of your airlines and accommodations.