Thinking of traveling to Greece this summer but can’t quite hit the GO button? Here is a play-by-play on how to travel to Greece during the pandemic. I’m currently on the ground in Greece for a month with my family (my husband and my two tweens). We flew from our home in Seattle to New York's JFK airport, so we could catch a direct flight to Athens. Today I’m off to the islands. Here’s how traveling in Greece works.
1. Bring your vaccination card. It will be checked by the airline when leaving the US and by immigration upon arrival in Athens. For those who aren’t vaccinated (i.e. children), obtain a PCR test within 72 hours of your flight and present your negative results at check in.
2. Before leaving for Greece, fill out the Greek Passenger Locator Form (PLF). By the time you land in Greece, you will have received the PCR code on your phone that all passengers must present upon arrival. Do this in advance. Do not wait until your flight is taking off.
3. On the ground, hotels are making huge efforts to make sure guests are comfortable. Frequent cleaning, sanitization, mask wearing, and temperature checks are the name of the game everywhere this summer.
4. When flying domestically among the islands, passengers are required to show proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test, or a 24-hour antibody test. These tests can be conducted at the airport for ease and convenience, just allow for extra time and prepare to pay around 60 euros per test. If you are a planner like me, you can bring your own self tests, as Greece also allows for 24-hour self administered tests along with a self declaration of negative result. This form can be found on the Aegean Air website.
Another option is to purchase self tests through eMed and download their companion app, NAVICA, which connects you to a virtual lab tech who watches you administer the test over a webcam, then certifies the result with a document sent to you phone. Pretty slick! I used both methods when traveling to the islands with my unvaccinated children and both were accepted.
If you are traveling in the islands by ferry, rest assured all passengers are required to wear masks. Rules are strictly enforced by crew members patrolling the ships reminding people to pull up their masks if they aren’t eating or drinking.
5. Masks are required everywhere in Greece, especially on flights. In restaurants, staff are masked and gloved, but patrons can remove their mask when seated. Small hotels are more liberal about requiring guests to wear masks on property, though staff always are masked. I tested mask etiquette at the main grocery store in Milos by walking in without a mask. The ladies at the front immediately called me out and handed me a mask. That wouldn’t happen in the United States. I’d say Greece is a step up from my neighborhood Whole Foods when it comes to Covid protocol. My advice is do what feels comfortable to you and don’t rely on others to always follow the rules. (Life advice for sure.)
6. Lastly, for ease of travel (I’m coming from the west coast), I chose to book flights that route direct from the US to Athens. By avoiding flights that connect through the UK and other Northern European countries that may not be as open as Greece or the US, my hope was to avoid unforeseen hassles related to rapidly evolving government restrictions.
Parting words: I feel very safe traveling in Greece with my family right now. There are fewer people for sure, especially from Northern Europe. Most of the travelers I've seen are Greeks exploring their own country. No matter where you are or where you are from, those working in the travel sector are very happy to have us and are doing everything in their power to continue with business as usual during an unusual time.