Updated with new reopening plans of April 21, 2021.
Did you know that planning a trip—that is, just thinking about travel—can boost your mental health? And yes, given the current state of international travel and forecasted readiness to fly—nearly half (46 percent) of travelers planning to travel this year said they’d wait to take an international flight until September—many of us will be sustaining our wanderlust with memories (or dreams) of Europe a bit longer.
That said, in the spirit of trip inspiration and planning, I took a closer look at where many American travelers said they want to go for a 2021 bucket list trip, added some tips to help you start planning, and provided some alternative destinations in Europe should you be seeking an off the beaten path option, as well.
Hillside vineyards. Dramatic coastlines. Art. Fashion. Cuisine. Italy’s myriad splendors attract American tourists year after year. And the love affair endures: In a survey conducted by TripIt, U.S. travelers said that not only is a trip to Europe atop their bucket lists, Italy ranked number one for the continent, as well.
Is Italy open to Americans? Not yet. While Delta Air Lines announced quarantine-free trips to Italy on their COVID-tested flights from the U.S., the trial (that started April 1) is currently only available to Italian citizens, EU members, and essential travel. Hopefully non-essential travel (i.e., tourism) will follow.
Get started planning
Here are some resources to help you plan a trip to Italy:
- Visit Italy (official tourism website)
- Discover Tuscany with Tuscan Trails (small group tours)
- Before you go: Take a cooking class with Sicilian farmers (virtual experience)
If you love Italy, you should also consider... Slovenia (when it reopens for tourism). The neighbors share a number of commonalities: fine wine, excellent cuisine, and magical landscapes—castles, dragons, and folklore, anyone?
Whether you’re exploring the blue and white mosaic that is Santorini or the monuments of Athens, Greece is a one-of-a-kind destination steeped in rich history and cultural experiences.
Is Greece open to Americans? Indeed it is! Earlier this year the country had announced plans to reopen its borders in mid-May. Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said the country was targeting May 14, 2021, for reopening to all visitors who have been vaccinated, test negative, or show antibodies for COVID-19.
Since then, Greece moved up its reopening timeline and the country is now open to some international travelers, including Americans. Under the new rules, arrivals from the EU, UK, United States, Israel, Serbia, and the UAE who have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test up to 72 hours prior to arrival can enter.
Get started planning
Here are some resources to help you plan a trip to Greece:
- Visit Greece (official tourism website)
- Go eco-friendly with a tour of Athens on e-bikes (small group tour)
- Before you go: Discover Greek cuisine from home with an Athenian food guide (virtual experience)
If you love Greece, you should also consider… Malta (when it reopens for tourism in June). This island nation is a year-round destination and offers much of the same appeal as Greece, including sun-kissed shores, water sports, historic landmarks, and, of course, distinct cuisine.
A stroll along the Seine would be oh-so-good for the soul right about now. As would a visit to a vineyard in Provence, or a beach day in St-Tropez.
Is France open to Americans? Not yet—but perhaps this summer. French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he's “finalizing” plans to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit this summer as part of a broader tourism reopening.
Currently, only travelers arriving from countries within the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, Japan, and a handful of others can enter. These travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure to France, as well as provide a declaration indicating that they have no COVID-related symptoms.
To keep track of border re-openings, changing requirements, and new guidelines, TripIt Pro users can research pandemic-related information for destinations right in the app. As a Pro user, you can search the COVID-19 Travel Guidance feature for the latest guidelines, restrictions, and requirements for the places you’re planning to visit without needing them to be part of a TripIt itinerary. This includes current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, testing requirements, and other information travelers need to know before visiting the area.
Get started planning
Here are some resources to help you plan a trip to France:
- Visit France (official tourism website)
- Discover centuries of wine history with Paris Wine Walks (small group or private tours)
- Before you go: Tour the Louvre from home (virtual experience)
If you love France, you should also consider… Georgia. The country announced that, effective February 1, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers from any country are allowed to enter as long as they present documentation confirming their COVID-19 vaccination status (where relevant, proof of both doses must be provided). Unvaccinated travelers arriving from the U.S. (alongside a long list of other nations) must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result conducted within 72 hours prior to travel at the Georgian border, as well as submit to a second PCR test on their third day in the country.
Oh, and did I mention Georgian wine? *chef’s kiss*
Home to some of Europe’s best beaches, excellent wine, and culture-filled city breaks, Spain has long attracted visitors from around the world. Its laid-back vibe reminds tourists what it means to vacation (that is, kick back, unplug, and soak in the sun)—so it’s no surprise Americans are eager to return.
Is Spain open to Americans? Not yet. U.S. citizens are not currently allowed to enter Spain unless they have specific approval from the Spanish government. However, many EU citizens, alongside visitors from countries like Australia, China, South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand are allowed to enter Spain without quarantine. Most recently, Spain announced it will lift restrictions for those traveling from the United Kingdom, as well.
Get started planning
Here are some resources to help you plan a trip to Spain:
- Visit Spain (official tourism website)
- Discover Barcelona and beyond with Spanish Trails (small group, private, and day tours)
- Before you go: Learn how to paint with red wine (virtual experience)
If you love Spain, you should also consider… the Azores (when it reopens for tourism). While you likely won’t head to the Azores for soaking in the sun (the islands’ temperate climate doesn’t equate to guaranteed beach weather), visitors will relish the varied terrain and access to the sea (and seafood, of course). Not to mention the UNESCO World Heritage vineyards on the volcanic island of Pico where wine production dates back to the 15th century.
Whether you spend your time hiking the dramatic hills and valleys of its Highlands, exploring its charming seaside towns, raising a dram at its distilleries, or immersing yourself in cultural experiences in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland truly offers something for every kind of traveler.
Is Scotland open to Americans? Not yet. At the time of publication, most areas of Scotland are under 'Stay Local' travel restrictions. International visitors are not likely to be allowed until at least mid-May—and perhaps later.
Get started planning
Here are some resources to help you plan a trip to Scotland:
- Visit Scotland (official tourism website)
- Discover all Scotland has to offer with Rabbie’s Tours (small group or private tours)
- Before you go: Learn traditional ceilidh with an interactive (virtual) experience
If you love Scotland, you should also consider… the Faroe Islands. The remote islands’ rugged landscape, tiny seaside towns, and love for soccer—nay football, are reminiscent of Scotland but on a much (much) smaller scale.
As of April 1, 2021, the islands reopened to fully vaccinated travelers without having to quarantine, but with the requirement to test for COVID upon arrival at the traveler's expense. Travelers are also asked take a follow-up test on the fourth day of their stay.