Greece is reopening for tourism – Here’s everything you need to know

Last updated on July 9th, 2020 at 06:09 am

As tourism reopens in Greece, your summer and autumn vacation may be quite different to what we knew in the past. Here is all the information you need as travel restrictions are gradually being lifted in Greece.

Summer and Autumn Travel To Greece When Lockdown Ends {Updated 9 July}

In March 2020, Greece went into lockdown. It’s been an interesting few months, and our new reality is very strange.

During the past few months, I have been reading all sorts of speculations and rumours concerning travel to Greece when the lockdown ends. In fact, I had seen quite a few foreign articles expressing certainty that all travel would resume as normal by May or June.

Will the Acropolis have many visitors when tourism reopens in Athens, Greece?

Newsflash: That’s not the case! Instead, a phased reopening of the Greek economy was followed by another plan to slowly allow tourists from other countries into Greece.

Summer and Autumn 2020 in Greece

I’ve written this blog post for people planning summer and autumn travel to Greece 2020, when the lockdown ends. The article lists all official information as announced by the Greek government, to help you plan your vacation to Greece in 2020.

The information is taken from sources including daily government TV announcements and a dedicated official website. I’ve translated the most important points from Greek, to help you plan a Greek vacation in 2020. I will be updating this article as often as new official announcements are out.

A church in Andros Greece

What you can do to stay informed:

  • come back to the article for any new info
  • like our FB page and join our FB group for instant updates
  • share this article with people that are planning a trip to Greece in summer or autumn 2020!

Travel to Greece 2020 – Flights to Greece {Updated 7 July}

International flights to Greece started resuming on 15th June 2020. The Athens and Thessaloniki airports were the first airports open to international flights originating from certain countries.

The airport in Athens Greece

As of the 1st July, all airports around Greece will be open to flights from abroad. The list of countries from which direct flights are allowed is constantly being updated.

As an example, on the 29th June the list includes all EU and Schengen countries, as well as 14 more countries, namely Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Tunisia, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay.

While Serbia was originally on the list of permitted countries, Serbian citizens can now not travel to Greece until July 15th.

Direct flights from the UK will resume as of the 15th July. There is no news yet for direct flights from Sweden and Turkey.

Passengers may be tested for the Covid-19, on a random basis. Any passengers who are tested positive must stay in quarantine for 14 days.
This is a phased introduction, and more countries will gradually be added to the list. The standards set by the Greek government are based on the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) list, which is continuously updated. 

Flight over Evia island Greece

Visitors flying into Greece from the 1st July onwards, are being asked to fill in a Passenger Load Factor (PLF) form at least 24 hours before they travel.

Strict rules are in place at airports and airplanes. Social distancing will need to be respected, and masks will be mandatory in all areas. Some airlines will only allow one item in the cabin, and it is likely that meals on offer will change. As an example, here are the Aegean / Olympic adapted travelling procedures.

For more information, follow your country’s news, get in touch with your airline, and come back to this article now and then. Also, check the latest official government announcements.

Travel to Greece 2020 – What about land and sea borders?

Land borders with Bulgaria reopened on the 15th June. Land travel from Albania, N. Macedonia and Turkey will be allowed as of the 1st July, but only for essential reasons.

It is no secret that Northern and Western Greece are popular destinations with our neighbours. Areas like Chalkidiki and Parga are among the first choices of travellers coming to Greece by road. This will enable thousands of visitors to travel to Greece in summer 2020.

Ferry travel from abroad resumed on the 1st July.

Again, all passengers  need to fill in a Passenger Load Factor (PLF) form at least 24 hours before they travel.

Travel to Greece 2020 – What to expect for COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 tests may be administered to randomly selected travellers upon arrival. These travellers will need to spend their night in a hotel in the city where they arrived, until the test results are out.

At the same time, there will be available tests in Greek destinations, in case a traveller needs to be tested once on vacation.

Travel to Greece 2020 – What you need to know about hotels

Specific rules and regulations have been announced for hotels. The main aim is to minimize contact between customers, as well as customers and personnel.

Hotel personnel all around Greece will be educated along the lines of the detailed directions provided by the ministry. Cleaning and disinfecting will be a lot more frequent, and to specific standards. Check-out and check-in will be further spaced apart, to allow for enough time for rooms to be cleaned properly.

This year, rooms will only be equipped with the necessary objects, which will be disinfected between uses. Special rules will also be in place for swimming pools and hotel restaurants, to help with social distancing and minimizing contact. As an example, if your hotel offers a buffet breakfast, this will need to be served by a waiter.

Things to avoid in Santorini - Don't expect to swim

All hotels in Greece are different. They will need to adjust their policies individually, to be in accordance with the government’s guidelines. All hotels will register with a doctor, in order to have immediate help in case of a visitor with symptoms.

As a visitor, you will be informed of all precautions that are relevant to your hotel of choice upon arrival.

In our experience as we are travelling around the islands, hotel keepers are avoiding physical contacts such as the usual handshakes. It can create some awkward and funny moments, but this is the new reality. They are all wearing masks too, as required by law.

Ferries in Greece 2020 – How will Greek ferries run in 2020

Ferry travel is very important within Greece. This is the only way to get to certain islands, especially quieter islands like Andros, Tinos, Schinoussa and Iraklia.

Ferries in Greece will resume in May

After a long break, ferry services to the Greek islands resumed on the 25th of May. Certain regulations will be in place for ferry travel in Greece this summer and until further notice:

  • Before boarding the ferry, passengers will need to fill in a health questionnaire (official government document) and will have their temperature taken. {In our experience, we have now boarded four ferries, and never had our temperature taken, but always had to hand in the forms}
  • It is mandatory to use masks, for both passengers and crew. Passengers are required to bring their own masks. {In our experience, there are frequent announcements reminding passengers to wear masks, though noone is wearing a mask if sitting on the deck}

Ferries to the Greek islands

  • Safety precautions such as frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and keeping distances between passengers are in place
  • The maximum passenger numbers in ferries will be less than the normal maximum number, with the percentage changing from time to time. Measures will be taken to ensure distances between people, such as gaps between allocated seats.

Ferry travel in Greece 2020

These regulations will be continuously reassessed, and may be altered at any point. You can check out the official leaflet here.

Ferries to and from other countries, such as Italy, have resumed from 1st July.

Travelling around Greece 2020 – What about other means of transport?

Special rules are in place for taxis, rental cars and other means of transportation. As an example, at the time of writing, masks are mandatory in public transportation, including the Athens metro and Athens airport metro. Tourist buses can only operate with 50% of their maximum capacity.

Similarly, up to 4 people including the driver are allowed in any rental vehicle of up to 7 seats. Here is some more info about driving in Greece.

Driving in Greece - Vanessa

These rules are likely to change from time to time. It’s best to get in touch directly with the transportation company, who will be aware of the latest regulations. 

How will tavernas, cafes and bars in Greece operate after the lockdown {Updated on 30th June}

It’s hard to think of Greece without its tavernas and cafes. Still, these closed down in March, and only just started reopening in late May.

Taverna in Plaka Athens

To maintain social distancing, certain measures are in place. Each customer should have an area of two square metres. As such, restaurant tables are distanced apart further than normal. If there is a buffet, customers will be served by a waiter.

Additionally, only up to 6 people can sit at one table. Families with underage children will be an exception, as there will not be any limitation.

Menus will need to be disinfected after each use. Restaurants can use other methods not involving contact, such as disposable menus or menus with QR codes. {We have already seen this in one place – it took a while for the code to work!}

Greek taverna food - A local's guide to ordering Greek food

Customers will be encouraged to pay by card rather than cash, and to use stairs rather than elevators wherever possible. Apparently, the use of masks by customers is encouraged. {COMMENT – I really fail to see how we can go to a cafe or taverna with a mask on!}.

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces will be a lot more frequent. Depending on their job description and tasks, waiters and other employees may need to wear masks and gloves.

All in all, personnel working in Greek tavernas and restaurants have needed to adjust to stricter regulations. This will be an exceptionally challenging year for them, and wearing a mask when it’s so hot is really unpleasant. Please tip liberally!

And what about bars, dance clubs etc? These resumed operation on 8th June, which was earlier than expected. Social distancing measures are in place, and customers cannot hang out at the service area.

Can I go to the beach in Greece this summer?

With so many thousands of kilometres of beaches, Greece is a paradise destination for those who love the sea. Summer is here already, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to go to the beach a few times in the past two months.

Snorkeling near Athens

Organized beaches in Greece reopened in mid-May, though certain new rules were introduced. As an example, umbrellas and loungers need to be further spaced apart than normal. Like everywhere, social distancing will need to be respected.

Canteens and beach bars can serve food and drinks as normal. However, these businesses are discouraged from organizing events that can attract many people. In fact, a couple of famous clubs in Mykonos and Athens got big fines for organizing big beach parties.

Super Paradise beach Mykonos Greece

This is the famous Super Paradise Beach in Mykonos, without the loungers

Of course, you can always choose to go to a non-organized beach, where you are likely to find a little more space.

Shinias beach close to Athens

Can I visit archaeological sites and museums in Greece after the lockdown? 

Of course! Archaeological sites already opened on the 18th May. In fact, due to the lack of foreign visitors, the Acropolis and other popular sites have been exceptionally quiet these days.

{COMMENT – Wouldn’t it be great to have a reduced ticket for this period, instead of the normal 30 euro combined ticket? This would encourage more locals to visit the sites. Just an idea!}

Inside the Acropolis Athens Greece

As for museums, they reopened to visitors on the 15th June. I am looking forward to visiting some of the museums in Athens again!

The usual distancing and disinfecting measures will be in place in sites and museums. As expected, there will be limitations to the number of people that can enter simultaneously. Also, visitors are encouraged to avoid touching handrails and other surfaces as much as possible.

In our experience, we were asked to wear masks in a couple of museums we visited in Syros. Take one with you to be on the safe side.

How about other cultural activities in Greece summer 2020? {Updated 11th June}

Greeks love outdoors cinemas! There are quite a few in central Athens that are also popular with visitors, such as Cine Paris, with a view to the Acropolis, or Cine Thisio.

Outdoors cinemas opened on the 1st of June. They are only accommodating 40% of the maximum number of visitors to begin with, with seats being spaced out. Tickets are going on sale much earlier than normal, to ensure that seating procedures are smooth. In addition, a couple of drive-in cinemas have been launched!

Concerts, performances and similar activities will resume in July. The Athens and Epidaurus festival has now announced its modified programme.

A performance in Herodion theatre

At the same time, the Minister of Culture has revealed that a series of cultural events will take place inside certain archaeological sites in Greece, such as Delphi, the temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Roman Agora in Athens.

These events will take place from mid-July to the end of August 2020, and they will be free to attend for people visiting the sites.

This is very exciting! We will update our article when more information is out and the official website has been launched. We will also keep an eye on other major events that may be announced.

Can I go shopping in Greece in 2020?

Of course you can – most retail businesses are open again. The only difference is that there is a limit to the number of people allowed in a shop at the same time. Larger shops, such as supermarkets, will typically give you a numbered tag such as this one.

Shopping in Greece summer 2020

Smaller shops will allow a certain number of people inside, and you may need to queue for a few minutes. {COMMENT – Although Greeks famously don’t respect queues, I’ve been very surprised with our orderly queuing during the past few months}.

While masks are not mandatory for customers, it’s recommended to wear one.

Travel to Greece 2020 – Main things to keep in mind

To sum up all the above in just a few words – safety comes first! All establishments mentioned above have been given very clear protocols on disinfecting, hand-sanitizing, social distancing and other practices. Please help our tourism professionals by respecting those new regulations.

It will definitely be a very different summer. Being Greek, visiting a few of our islands without the crowds has been a blast. It reminded me of vacations with my family back in the 80s…

Mykonos Greece summer 2020

At the same time, tourism needs to resume. It is the main source of income for so many Greeks and other locals, myself included.

Still, this could be a chance for Greece to review its tourism strategy, and perhaps apply certain regulations to avoid overcrowding in the future? Just my thoughts… Feel free to share your opinion down below!

Travel to Greece this summer

36 comments

  1. Does it mean that anyone arriving from these countries will be allowed to enter (subject to regular visa restrictions?…or does it mean entry will be allowed to citizens of these countries? I am a UK citizen permanently living in the republic of Cyrpus with a residence permit here – do you think I can travel to Greece from the 15th of June?

    1. What matters is the country of origin of the flight. In your case, you would be flying in from Cyprus, which is one of the 29 listed countries, so yes, you could travel to Greece from the 15th of June. Just make sure you check your airline’s rules as they are bound to be different to what we are used to. We do wonder what happens for people who drive from, say, the Netherlands to Germany and then catch a flight here… Watch this space!

      1. Hello, I live in Germany and I’m planning to fly from Munich to Athens on June 17th, and then on the same day from Athens to Santorin. is this possible?

        1. In theory with what has been announced until today (3 June), yes it should be fine. However, you MAY be randomly selected for testing, and we understand that airport procedures might take longer than normal. Do you already have your onward ticket from Athens to Santorini? If not, try to book it several hours apart, just in case. Enjoy!

  2. I’m a UK Citizen .
    Would I be allowed to drive into Greece when the northern land borders re-open on June 15th or would I have to wait until air passengers from UK were allowed to fly in?

    Can Italians come via the ferry after 15th June ?

    1. Where do you live? If you are planning to drive all the way from the UK, you’d have to make sure that all the countries on the way to Greece would let you in. If you are living, for example, in Bulgaria, there shouldn’t be an issue – to our understanding, what matters is the country of entrance rather than your nationality.
      As for the Italy-Greece ferry, I doubt that they will resume on the 15th June, since Italy isn’t on the list of 29 countries published today. More countries will be added to the list, but there is no certain indication of when. We all have to wait and see…

  3. Hi, I booked a direct flight from the USA early July. I dont see it listed on the list of countries. When will this list be updated? Efharisto!

  4. I am Belgian and my boyfriend is from the UK. When we fly from Nicaragua to Athens via Panama and Frankfurt, are we allowed?

    1. There is no sufficient information for us to say. In theory this shouldn’t be an issue if they only check your last airport, but we are not sure how they will monitor people’s previous travels. Have you got your tickets already, and if so for what dates?

  5. Hi.
    Thanks for this very interesting article. We are French and we are still in Greece with our motorhome right now (since November last year). So you say that there will be probably no ferry between Greece and Italy as Italy is not on the list.
    What about the international flights ? I tried to call Aegean airlines but didn’t succeed. As French citizens living in France (Strasbourg), do you think we can take a flight from Athens to Frankfurt or Stuttgart in Germany around 20th of June ? Do you think we can take our dog which is 14 kgs ? Or do you think we should take the ferry beginning of July ? Thanks

    1. Salut! In terms of ferries from Greece to Italy, we haven’t been able to find any solid information. Given that this is the opposite route though, you may want to follow the Italian news. At the same time, ferry tickets seem to be available on sale on several websites like ferryhopper.
      In terms of flights, how about trying to get in touch with Aegean (or other airlines) through their social media accounts? We’ve read reports saying that this works. I will update the article if there’s any new info on ferries to – from Italy.
      That said, please allow me a comment! If you are able to stay longer, why rush? It will be a unique chance to see Greece in June, one of the best times of year for weather, and without the usual crowds 🙂
      Please let us know what you’ve done, it may be useful to other people!

      1. Thanks for this reply. Yes of course we would like to stay longer but family problems in France need our return… We will let you know if we have other information. I will try FB for Aegean airlines. Thanks again !

  6. We have a flight to Athens at 5.6.20. we will make a covid test at wednesday here in Germany. Does the greek government accept this test? If the test is negeative , is the 7 day quarantine from Wednesday? Thank you for an answer

    1. Oh dear… There has not been an announcement for tests administered abroad, so I understand that you will still have to do a test here. The new rules are than anyone coming from 1-15 June will need to self-isolate for anywhere between 7-14 days, depending on the test result. Here is the official government link https://www.mfa.gr/en/current-affairs/statements-speeches/greece-welcomes-the-world.html?fbclid=IwAR1BWsKQTMlXDbpYOZ4HvDKL4Ix6a0YC_B3WB1eSdKoLCxvxtaJszfVTTmQ

  7. Hi, thanks for all the info. What about outdoor activities, for instance hiking the Samaria gorge? Any news when and it it will open this season? I was planning to hike the gorge this year… Thanks!!

    1. Thanks for your really interesting question! I haven’t seen any specific news on this, it might be best to get in touch with a company organizing the tour (even if you are planning to do it independently) as they will definitely be better updated. I will keep it in mind to look though!

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for the great article!
    I would appreciate your advice on the following: I read that there are limitations on the number of adult passengers in a car, maximum 2 adults in a regular car, with an exception of minor children. Is this valid also for private family cars? I am asking because one of our children is 18 years old, so I don’t know if 4 of us can travel with one car. Thanks!

    1. Hello! Thanks! The latest that we have seen is ΦΕΚ1757/07.05.2020, which in fact mentioned “two adults PLUS the driver” for a normal car of up to 5 seats, whether this is a taxi or a private car. “Για επιβατηγά οχήματα δημόσιας χρήσης (Ε.Δ.Χ. ΤΑΞΙ) και επιβατηγά ιδιωτικής χρήσης (Ε.Ι.Χ.) οχήματα με οδηγό του ν. 4093/2012 (Α’ 222) μέχρι πέντε (5) θέσεων, επιτρέπεται η μεταφορά δύο (2) επιβατών, πλέον του οδηγού”. We later read a clarification according to which underage children do not count towards this number, though we haven’t seen an official gazette for it.

  9. Καλησπερα, έχω τουρίστες από ουκρανία που κανονικά θα ήταν στην Ελλάδα οδικώς στις 7 Ιουνίου για διαμονή 22 ημερών στην Κρήτη. Ξέρετε αν μπορούν να φτάσουν; Αν καταφέρουν να περάσουν όλα τα συνορα η μέσω Τουρκίας, θα μπουν σε ξενοδοχείο 1 ημέρα για να τους γίνει το τεστ? Που θα γίνει αυτό; Στα σύνορα; στην Αθήνα; ευχαριστώ

    1. Καλησπέρα στην όμορφη Κρήτη και σας ευχαριστώ για το μήνυμα! Σύμφωνα με τις πρόσφατες ανακοινώσεις, τα βόρεια σύνορα δεν θα ανοίξουν πριν τις 15 Ιουνίου, και θα γίνονται δειγματοληπτικά τεστ (η διαδικασία δεν νομίζω ότι είναι γνωστή ακόμη) ενώ για την Τουρκία δεν έχουμε δει κάποια συγκεκριμένη ανακοίνωση. Μια που μιλάτε ελληνικά, θα πρότεινα να ελέγξετε το επίσημο site https://covid19.gov.gr/ καθώς και το https://www.mfa.gr/index.html. Αν έχετε κάτι πιο συγκεκριμένο, ενημερώστε με ώστε να ενημερώσω κι εγώ το άρθρο. Φιλικά!

  10. Hi,

    I am looking at getting a flight to Athens from Luton UK on the 23rd June. I then need to fly to Rhodes from Athens. The Athens airport website states that passengers from the UK would need to be quarantined for 24 hours on arrival at Athens airport, unless the passenger is in transit. I would be using two separate airlines which would mean re-checking in for my second flight, do you think this means when I arrive to Athens I would have to be quarantined before my second flight? Or could I continue onto the next leg of my flight that day? Thank you!

    1. Hi! Thanks for your question. I am surprised that you can actually get a direct flight from the UK, but things change all the time. The way I understand it, you wouldn’t really be in transit, therefore you’d need to be tested, quarantine for one night in Athens, and then self-isolate for seven days assuming your test is negative. This is taking in mind explanations we’ve seen as of today (6/6). https://www.mfa.gr/en/current-affairs/statements-speeches/greece-welcomes-the-world.html?fbclid=IwAR1BWsKQTMlXDbpYOZ4HvDKL4Ix6a0YC_B3WB1eSdKoLCxvxtaJszfVTTmQ Please let me know if you have other information as there will be other people asking the same questions. Good luck!

  11. Hi,

    I’m UK/USA duel national living in Bulgaria since January (still waiting on my visa to stay in Bulgaria long term). My husband who is Bulgarian has booked us a long weekend (4 days) holiday in Greece starting on the 18th of June. Is there anything official that clarifies if I as a UK citizen can enter via personal car from Bulgaria? Do you know if there is anything we would have to provide to prove that I’ve not come through other countries?

    Many thanks for your help. Your article was very insightful.

    1. Hello! Thanks for your comment. According to official announcements until today (8/6), what matters is the point of origin / entry rather than the citizenship. Since the northern borders are scheduled to reopen on 15th June, everything should be fine for you. At the same time, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a proof of permanent address just in case, though you will presumably have Bulgarian numberplates so it will be easy to know your origin is Bulgaria.
      If you remember, it would be great to let us know what you did and if you had any issues at all! Please feel free to post in our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/RealGreekExperiences – it may help other travellers! Have a lovely holiday!

  12. Do you have information about the random test for travelers that are coming from permitted countries after June 15 ? If we are chosen for random test, do we still need to quarantine for 1 night ? What percent of people will be chosen for random test ?

    1. Hello! The best information we have is summarized here – so no, you won’t need to quarantine, but unfortunately this doesn’t answer your second question. If an answer comes up, I will let you know. Cheers!

        1. In fact, the 7-day-quarantine (which definitely applies until today, 14th June) has not been mentioned again on the extended presentation (in Greek) on the 12th June. My interpretation is that the 7-day quarantine in case of a negative result wouldn’t be going on, otherwise they would have made a specific mention, BUT I am not 100% certain and am waiting for a clarification.
          At the same time, if someone is chosen for random testing and is found positive, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be allowed to continue their vacation as planned and they have to be quarantined… Don’t you think?

          1. Agreed that anyone with positive result should not be traveling. Even better if you get tested before flying to Greece. Problem of course is the 7 day quarantine for those with negative results – which as you say is currently the policy in place today – and this is the major issue in deciding whether or not to go to Greece and I’m not sure what that policy is trying to achieve ?

          2. The 7-day policy (which I also didn’t understand, but I think it was to discourage people from travelling) seems to have been lifted as of the 15th June. This is updated news on the 15th June. Things really change by the day…
            As for testing before travelling, I’m not even sure if that would be good enough, because you could always contract the virus after being tested, or even on the plane. Still, according to the latest announcement, “Subject to evaluation, such tests can be accepted”.
            Are you still planning to travel this year? I think that if I was coming from abroad, I would be rather sceptical to travel to Greece (or to any other country for that matter, depending on their protocols) this summer. Fortunately I live here so will be going around the quiet islands 😀

  13. Hello
    Can you help me please to tell me if I have to complete PLF also for children? Or is enough to put our under 18 kids on our PLFs. We travel to Greece by car, in July.
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for your question! According to the official page, “As of July 9th 2020, all travelers must complete their PLF at least 24 hours before entering the country”, my understanding is that this includes children. I have seen in FB groups that children may be tested as well.

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