Everything you need to know about visiting Greece this summer

Helen Coffey
The Acropolis watches over the city: Getty Images

As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.

With sun, sea and dolmades, Greece has long been a popular travel destination for Britons in need of some vitamin D.

But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we even be welcome?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Greece from the UK?

At the moment, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential international travel – including to Greece.

The ban doesn’t make travel abroad “illegal” as such – but it does invalidate your travel insurance and means you may find it tricky to get help from the embassy or consulate if things go wrong.

However, the government is expected to announce that this blanket warning will be relaxed from 6 July, alongside the ditching of compulsory quarantine for inbound travellers from countries deemed “safe” according to a new traffic light system that grades countries red, amber or green.

Experts seem to think Greece is a dead cert to be on the “green” list, meaning the FCO travel ban would be lifted and travellers returning to the UK from there would be exempt from the 14-day quarantine period.

How could I get there?

At the moment, you couldn’t. Air links with the UK have been suspended since March.

They were originally expected to be reinstated from 1 July, when other European nationalities (except Sweden) are being permitted entry into Greece.

But the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has confirmed that no flights from the UK will be allowed until 15 July.

Ryanair had been due to resume flights between London Southend and Corfu from 5 July, with bargain prices of just over £63 return, but these services will now have to be cancelled, with tickets refunded accordingly.

From 25 July it’s possible to fly to Mykonos with easyJet, with return fares starting from just under £100 at the time of writing.

It is not clear if any steps will be taken to prevent UK holidaymakers reaching Greece by other routes.

Will they let me in when I arrive?

Not yet. From 15 June, Greece opened its border to visitors from Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Malta, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Australia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Hungary, South Korea, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Finland.

The UK, with the third highest death toll in the world, didn’t make the cut.

Nor did it make the second round – from 1 July, most European citizens will be allowed into Greece, apart from those from the UK and Sweden.

The UK is an important market for the Greek tourism industry; British visitors are the second largest market after Germany, and spend more than any other nationality.

However, the Greek prime minister has pushed back the date when Brits can enter the country to 15 July.

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?

It’s moot before Greece lifts its ban on British tourists. However, when it does, the answer is “maybe”.

According to Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority, travellers from high-risk countries are required to take a mandatory Covid-19 test – if it’s positive, they’ll be quarantined “under supervision” for 14 days.

Those from low-risk countries are only subject to random testing.

Can I travel within Greece including between Greek islands?

Once you’re permitted entry (from 15 July), yes. Flights are operating within the country, and travelling throughout Greece, including the islands, has been permitted since 25 May.

If you’re travelling via ferry, you will need to complete a health questionnaire and hand it to the ferry operator before boarding, according to the FCO. “The necessary forms will be provided by the operator: you should contact them directly if you need further information. Temperature checks may also be carried out before boarding; and it is obligatory to wear masks on all ferries, whose capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.”

Those travelling on internal domestic flights will also be required to wear a mask. Specific measures relating to check-in, baggage allowances and other details are in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Are hotels open?

Yes. Previously only year-round hotels could open but, as of 15 June, seasonal hotels in tourist destinations have also been allowed to admit guests.

Airbnb accommodation also remains available.

Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?

Restaurants, fast-food joints, bars, internet cafes, shops and open-air nightclubs have been open since 6 June.

From 15 June, museums, historic buildings and areas, theme parks, gyms, saunas, spas and thermal springs have also been able to open to visitors, albeit with new rules in place, such as limiting the number of customers per square metre.

Archaeological sites are now operating on extended summer hours (8am-8pm) and visitor numbers per hour are capped to avoid overcrowding.

What rules are in place?

It’s mandatory to wear face masks on public transport (including ferries), in taxis, in all medical facilities and in lifts. The use of face masks is strongly recommended in other enclosed spaces too.

Will I have to quarantine when I come home?

For the moment, yes. When you arrive back on UK soil, you’ll currently have two weeks of mandatory quarantine to look forward to.

The policy was implemented on 8 June and put in place indefinitely.

However, the government is expected to announce that the current rules will be relaxed from 6 July for a range of destinations.

Countries regarded as “safe” by the Joint Biosecurity Centre – which was set up to coordinate the government’s response to the pandemic – will be exempt from mandatory quarantine.

The centre is categorising countries with a “traffic light” system. Each country is rated green, amber or red, depending on the prevalence of coronavirus, the trajectory of the disease and the centre’s assessment of the data’s reliability.

Quarantine will apply only to nations rated red.

While a full list has not yet been confirmed, Greece is being touted as one of the key destinations likely to be given the green light, meaning those returning from a holiday there would not be subject to current self-isolation rules. From 15 July, when Greece reopens to Brits, there should be nothing standing in the way of travelling there.

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