Travel corridors: All the countries UK holidaymakers can visit this summer

Helen Coffey, Joanna Whitehead, Qin Xie
·14-min read
Alcudia beach, Majorca: istock
Alcudia beach, Majorca: istock

The list of countries that Britons can travel to without having to quarantine for 14 days on return is sadly diminishing week by week.

Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Jamaica are the latest to go. Last week it was Austria, Croatia and Trinidad and Tobago.

France, Malta and the Netherlands were removed from the exemption list in the middle of August, alongside Monaco, Turks & Caicos and Aruba.

They join Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas, as well as Spain, Serbia and Luxembourg.

All of these destinations were previously given the green light for travel, but have been removed after reporting spikes in coronavirus cases.

To confuse things further, the holidaymakers have to check two different government lists: the Department for Transport’s exemption list (so you don’t have to quarantine on return) and the FCO’s exemption list (it is currently advising against all travel to countries not on the list, which could affect your travel insurance).

While the lists are not the same, there is a significant overlap of countries and the lists are moving closer. For those looking to travel to one of the places where both elements of the “double lock” have been scrapped, there is another hurdle to overcome before holidays are possible though: the country in question has to have also lifted restrictions, allowing Brits to enter freely without quarantining on arrival.

For example, New Zealand was included on both lists – but is still all but closed to international arrivals.

With all that in mind, here’s where you can legitimately travel to this summer so far. (As well as being on the government’s exempt lists, all the countries highlighted below currently have no automatic quarantine on arrival for British nationals and don’t require a health certificate proving travellers are Covid-free.)

This list will be added to as more countries are announced.

Denmark

Germany

Gibraltar

Greece

Italy

Liechtenstein

Poland

Portugal

San Marino

Slovakia

Slovenia

Turkey

Denmark

Known for its cosiness that sparked a global movement (thanks hygge), superior Scandi design aesthetic and being one of the happiest countries in the world, Denmark offers some top city break locations. Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg – take your pick.

What are the rules?

Mask wearing is not mandatory in Denmark, but people are asked to maintain a distance of 1 metre from others. No more than 50 people are allowed to gather either outside or inside (apart from on public transport and in supermarkets, airports and work places).

What’s open?

Restaurants, shops and cafes were able to reopen from early May.

Cultural institutions, hotels, museums, theatres, art exhibitions, cinemas, public aquariums, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and botanical gardens are all able to open as part of phase three of Denmark’s road out of lockdown.

Discos, music venues, night clubs and indoor sport and leisure facilities such as gyms, waterparks and swimming pools won’t be able to open until August.

How do I get there?

Norwegian, SAS, Ryanair and British Airways all offer flights to Copenhagen.

Germany

Held up as the golden child of western Europe, Germany managed to implement a comprehensive track and trace programme early on which saw its coronavirus death toll stay comparatively low.

Travellers from the UK can visit with no need to quarantine on arrival.

What are the rules?

Wearing a face mask is required in certain public areas in all of Germany’s 16 states. Just one household can meet another household outside according to current rules.

What’s open?

Shops are open with social distancing measures in place. The re-opening of restaurants, hotels, theatres, cinemas, bars, trade fairs and other facilities will differ from region to region, reflecting local conditions.

How can I get there?

A number of airlines are flying between the UK and Germany from 10 July. British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair fly to Berlin; Eurowings and Ryanair have services to Cologne; and Lufthansa and BA operate between London and Munich.

Gibraltar

This British Overseas Territory on Spain’s south coast boasts the Rock of Gibraltar (a 426m-high limestone ridge) and the remains of a 14th-century Moorish Castle. And, hopefully, better weather than the UK…

What are the rules?

Gatherings of more than 12 people are currently not permitted. Face masks are mandatory on public transport and recommended in enclosed spaces, such as shops.

What’s open?

Lockdown restrictions are now in the process of being relaxed by the Government of Gibraltar, via a six-stage process named ‘Unlock the Rock’, which started on 2 May. The territory is now in phase five: shops, beaches, museums, restaurants, cafes and bars are all allowed to open, albeit with reduced capacity and social distancing measures.

How can I get there?

British Airways and easyJet are both offering direct flights from the UK to Gibraltar, with a flight time of around three hours.

Greece

The popular holiday spot was closed to the UK until 15 July, from when flights have been able to resume and Brits can enter without mandatory quarantine.

However, there are some hoops to jump through. Travellers must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before their arrival in Greece. They will then be issued with a QR code that they must show upon arrival.

Some visitors may be directed to take a health screening, including a coronavirus test, after which they must self-isolate until they receive their results – usually within 24 hours. Those who test negative may continue their holiday as planned, while those who test positive must self-isolate for 14 days, either in their accommodation or, if instructed, in a government-mandated facility (paid for by the Greek authorities).

What are the rules?

You must wear a face mask at all times when on an aeroplane or ferry travelling to or from Greece; and whilst at airports. 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.

Travel in a private car or a taxi is limited to a maximum of two adult passengers per vehicle, in addition to the driver. Any children in the vehicle do not count towards this limit.

What’s 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.

Hotels and airbnbs are also allowed to open.

How can I get there?

EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, Aegean and British Airways are all offering flights to various Greek destinations.

Italy

While it may have started out as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, Italy has since managed to admirably flatten the curve and open up to visitors again.

Brits have been allowed back in since 3 June, provided they haven’t travelled outside the Schengen area in the previous two weeks.

What are the rules?

It’s currently compulsory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces including public transport or anywhere where it may not be possible to exercise social distancing.

What’s open?

Concert halls, theatres, cinemas, cafés, bars, pubs, restaurants, ice-cream shops, patisseries and other eateries are now permitted to open with certain restrictions on the number of patrons.

Parks and beach resorts can also open, as can most shops and hotels – again, with social distancing measures in place.

Cultural attractions have started opening including the famed Doge’s Palace in Venice and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

How can I get there?

EasyJet is currently set to resume flights from London Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino from 17 July and to Venice from 8 July (at a whopping £281.99 one way).

Ryanair has been operating services from London Stansted to Rome Ciampino since 27 June, and resumed flying to Venice from 3 July.

British Airways has been operating London Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino flights for much of June.

Liechtenstein

This tiny principality (just 25km long) sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland may be small, but offers up pretty Alpine villages, mountains, idyllic hiking trails and medieval castles.

What are the rules?

Social distancing of at least 1.5 metres must be maintained with others at all times.

Wearing a face mask is compulsory when travelling on public transport and failure to do so is punishable by a fine (though children under the age of 12 are exempt).

What’s open?

Shops, markets, restaurants, cultural institutions, mountain railways, campsites and tourist facilities, all entertainment and leisure facilities (such as cinemas, concert venues, theatres, casinos and gambling halls) can reopen, as can indoor and outdoor swimming pools plus wellness facilities. Groups of more than four people can now sit at a table in restaurants and bars, and even events of up to 1,000 people are permitted.

How do I get there?

Liechtenstein’s nearest airport is Zurich. Swiss, easyJet and British Airways all currently fly there from the UK.

Poland

This sprawling country in Central Europe has plenty to explore, from city breaks in capital Warsaw and charming Krakow to its 23 national parks.

What are the rules?

Masks are mandatory on public transport, with fines of £1,000 to £6,000 (5,000 to 30,000 PLN) for those caught breaking the rules.

In shops but you must cover your nose and mouth and wear single-use gloves. At restaurants and pubs, you must wear a mask when not seated at the table. Masks are also required in most indoor public spaces, and social distancing of 2 metres is recommended even when outdoors.

What’s open?

National Forests, parks and beaches are open, as are shops, restaurants and pubs. Museums, libraries and cultural venues are open, plus cinemas, theatres and concert halls (with capacity limited to 50 per cent).

Swimming pools, gyms, indoor play centres and theme parks, saunas, and massage salons are all open.

How do I get there?

Wizz and Lot are flying regularly into Warsaw and Krakow, while BA also has some availability.

Portugal

Finally Portugal has made it onto the “low-risk” list, though it’s probably too late to save the summer season at this stage. But there’s nevertheless still time to enjoy the beaches of the Algarve, the sights of Lisbon and the exquisite ports of Porto.

What are the rules?

Throughout Portugal, the use of non-surgical masks is mandatory in enclosed spaces, such as supermarkets, shops, beauty salons, schools, public services, at the airport, in taxis and on public transport, for anyone over the age of 10.

You’re also required to remain two metres apart from other people when in public, respect the rules on maximum capacity on public transport, in shops and other establishments, and practise good hand hygiene.

Contactless payment is also being encouraged wherever possible.

Drinking alcohol in public places, except for pavement cafés and restaurants, is banned, and gatherings are limited to 20 people, except for religious ceremonies and family events, such as weddings and christenings.

What’s open?

Hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, beaches, museums, galleries and other attractions are all open. Bookshops, hairdressers, beauty salons, libraries, sailing clubs and golf courses are open, as are zoos and aquariums, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

How do I get there?

TAP Air Portugal, easyJet and Ryanair are all flying regularly from London to Lisbon.

San Marino

In April, this mountainous microstate in Italy of just 34,000 people was the world’s worst-affected country in terms of Covid-19-related deaths per capita. An aggressive testing policy of the entire population was rolled out and the curve has since flattened, however.

What are the rules?

It is currently unclear whether masks are mandatory or not; wearing one in any enclosed spaces and on public transport is probably the safest bet.

What’s open?

Restaurants, cafes and bars in San Marino are open, as are museums and other places of culture, social centres and leisure centres.

How do I get there?

San Marino is not the easiest place to reach, with no public airport or rail network. Visitors can fly direct with Ryanair to Rimini in Italy, which is situated 12km from the San Marino border, before catching a bus or hiring a car to reach their destination. Alternatively, Ryanair flies direct to Bologna, 128km from San Marino.

Slovakia

As of 28 July, Slovakia will join the DfT’s list of travel corridors, meaning travellers returning from there will no longer have to quarantine. It is also on the FCO’s list of countries exempt from its blanket warning against non-essential travel.

You may enter Slovakia without restrictions if you have spent all of the previous 14 days in a country listed on the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. As of 20 July, this includes the UK.

What are the rules?

Wearing face masks outside is no longer required but it remains compulsory in most indoor situations (such as on public transport, and in shops, cinemas and theatres).

What’s open?

Most shops, restaurants, services, nightclubs, schools and tourism and leisure facilities have reopened, but with social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

How do I get there?

Flights to and from the UK resumed on 20 July. While The Independent found direct flights from London to Bratislava from Wizz and Ryanair, most return flights required a stopover in Dublin or Split, Croatia.

Slovenia

As of 28 July, Slovenia will join the DfT’s list of travel corridors, meaning travellers returning from there will no longer have to quarantine. It is also on the FCO’s list of countries exempt from its blanket warning against non-essential travel.

There is no mandatory quarantine for Brits on arrival. However, health checks are conducted at all border entry points. If you display signs of coronavirus infections you will be refused entry, unless you hold a permanent residence permit for Slovenia.

What are the rules?

Protective masks (or other material covering the nose and mouth) must be worn in indoor public areas where social distancing is not possible, including in shops and on public transport. The requirement to follow social distancing measures is also in place.

What’s open?

Most services have been permitted to reopen where social distancing can be maintained, including shops, restaurants and bars. Nightclubs remain closed.

How do I get there?

There are currently no direct flights. However, Lufthansa, Lot and Air France are all offering flights from London to Ljubljana with a stop in Frankfurt, Warsaw and Paris respectively.

Turkey

Turkey has long been a favourite with British holidaymakers, thanks to its hot weather, sandy beaches bordering the Aegean sea, and fascinating history and architecture found in cities like former capital Istanbul.

What are the rules?

Those under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is under 65 when travelling within Turkey.

Anyone wishing to undertake intercity travel using public transport must get an “HES” code (“Hayat Eve Sığar”). This can be done through the e-Devlet system, the ‘Hayat Eve Sığar’ smartphone application and by SMS.

The wearing of masks is obligatory throughout Turkey in crowded places and specifically in markets and supermarkets, hairdressers and barber shops. Masks are also compulsory on all public transport, and whenever outside the home in the following provinces:

Adıyaman, Afyonkarahisar, Agri, Amasya, Ankara, Ardahan, Aydın, Balıkesir, Bartın, Batman, Bilecik, Bingöl, Bitlis, Bolu, Burdur, Bursa, Çanakkale, Denizli, Diyarbakır, Düzce, Elazığ, Erzurum, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Giresun, Iğdır, Isparta, Istanbul, İzmir ,Kahramanmaraş, Karabük, Kayseri, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Konya, Kütahya, Malatya, Mardin, Muğla, Muş, Nevşehir, Ordu, Osmaniye, Rize, Sakarya, Siirt, Sinop, Sivas, Şanlıurfa, Şırnak, Tokat, Tunceli, Uşak, Yalova, Yozgat and Zonguldak.

Those who do not abide by this rule may be issued with a fine of 900 TL (£106).

There is currently a curfew in place for those with a chronic medical condition, plus adults over 65 years old must stay inside between 8pm and 10am.

What’s open?

Restaurants, bars, cafes and beaches all re-opened on 1 June, alongside museums and ancient sites.

How do I get there?

Turkish Airlines is offering (unsurprisingly) the greatest range of destinations in Turkey. Regular flights from the UK are already in operation, with four direct flights a day between here and Istanbul, and daily nonstop services to Dalaman and Antalya.

British Airways starts flying from London Heathrow to Istanbul from 16 July, to Dalaman from 17 July, and to Bodrum from 1 August.