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 (Article last updated 6 September 2020)
This article about summer 2020 will no longer be updated. If you are travelling in Greece from 22 November 2021 onward, please refer to these two articles:
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.
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, trusted online sources in Greek and three government websites:
- Official website for travel to Greece (in English)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in English, includes other statements unrelated to travel)
- Official website for COVID-19 in Greece (in Greek)
- Civil Aviation Authority (in Greek)
- Civil Protection (in Greek)
I’ve put together the most important points, to help you plan a Greek vacation in 2020. I am updating this article as often as new official announcements are out.
What you can do to stay informed:
- follow our official website and your country’s / embassy’s news
- come back to the article now and then
- like our FB page and join our FB group for instant updates and information on any local lockdowns
- share this article with people that are planning a trip to Greece in summer or autumn 2020!
Travel to Greece 2020 – Passenger Load Factor (PLF) (Updated 29 August)
Anyone arriving into Greece from the 1st July onwards, is being asked to fill in a Passenger Load Factor (PLF) form. This needs to be filled in at least 24 hours before you travel. You should fill it in regardless of the way you are travelling, but air, land or sea.
After you have filled your form in, you should expect to receive a confirmation email. This will be later followed by a QR code. It seems that the QR code is sent at midnight (Greek time) on the night before you are coming to Greece, so don’t worry if you don’t receive it immediately.
If you are flying into Greece, your airline should update you on that. Even if not, make sure you have filled it in, or you are facing a hefty fine of 500 euro.
Greece 2020 Travel – What to expect for COVID-19 testing (Updated 6 September)
There will be available tests in Greek destinations, in case a traveller presents symptoms and needs to be tested once on vacation.
Visitors flying in from the following countries will need to produce a negative Covid-19 test in order to be allowed into Greece. This is currently in effect until 15th September:
- Spain – note that flights from Catalonia and Barcelona are banned from 1-15 September
- N. Macedonia
- Russia (in effect from 7 to 21 September)
In addition, a negative Covid-19 test is needed by all visitors travelling to Greece through the Promachonas land border with Bulgaria.
The test must have been administered in the last 72 hours prior to travel, and it must be in English. Children born from 2010 onwards do not need to take the test.
More information can be found here.
Greece 2020 Travel – Do I need to wear a mask? (Updated 31 August)
From the whole of August, wearing a mask will be mandatory in ALL indoors areas apart from cafes, restaurants and bars. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Supermarkets and all other grocery stores (bakeries, butchers etc)
- All other retail stores
- Offices and businesses where there is contact with customers (e.g. banks, public services)
- Doctors’ practices, other medical services
- Hair salons, beauty parlours
- All public transportation (metro, buses, ferries etc) and taxis
- Museums and galleries
- Churches and other religious buildings, for the congregation
- Army barracks, refugee camps and other similar places
Masks will also be mandatory for all EMPLOYEES in cafes, restaurants, tavernas and other places where food and drink is served. Apparently, the use of masks by customers is encouraged as well.
The fine for not wearing a mask is 150 euro. Children under 3 years old and people with certain medical conditions, under their doctor’s advice, are exempt from wearing a mask.
Attention – Masks will need to be worn everywhere, i.e. both outdoors and outdoors, in the following regions:
- The islands of Paros, Antiparos and Mykonos
- The regions of Chalkidiki, Chania, Heraklion, Lesvos and Zakynthos
The above measures are currently in effect until 15 September 2020.
Travel to Greece 2020 – Flights to Greece (Updated 6 September)
International flights to Greece started resuming on 15th June 2020. The Athens and Thessaloniki airports were the first airports that opened to international flights originating from certain countries. In July, all airports in Greece opened to flights from abroad.
The list of countries from which direct flights are allowed is constantly being updated. As of the 6th September, the list includes EU+ and Schengen countries, including the UK.
In addition, visitors with passports from these countries can visit Greece for tourism purposes: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates.
Direct flights from Turkey remain suspended, and flights from Albania and N. Macedonia only arrive to the Athens international airport. Flights from and to the Catalonia region in Spain are banned from 1-15 September.
Travellers from Israel can only fly into the Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Corfu and Kos airports. There will be a limit of 1,200 travellers from Israel per week. All passengers from Israel must have a negative COVID-19 test.
The above measures are currently in effect until 15th September.
Travellers from Russia can only fly into the Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion airports, and must have a negative COVID-19 test. There will be a limit of 500 travellers from Russia per week. This is initially in effect from 7-21 September.
Strict rules are in place at airports and airplanes. Social distancing will need to be respected, and masks are mandatory in all areas. Some airlines 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.
Travel to Greece 2020 – What about land and sea borders? (Updated 29 August)
Promachonas land border with Bulgaria is open for all travellers. Everyone travelling through this border will need to fill in the PLF form and bring a negative Covid-19 test.
All the remaining land borders are open for essential travelling, i.e. Greek citizens, permanent residents of Greece, transport workers and travellers for essential professional reasons. These travellers can use Kakavia, Krystallopigi, Evzoni, Nymfea and Kipi borders.
Note that these borders are are open from 7.00-23.00. These travellers will need to have a negative Covid-19 test in addition to the PLF.
The number of people travelling through the Kakavia and Krystallopigi borders will be limited to 750 and 300, respectively, people per day. This means that no more than 750 / 300 people per day can fill in the PLF form.
In addition to the above, anyone entering Greece through the Kakavia or Krystallopigi borders, will have to self-isolate at home for a week. This is currently in place until 15 September.
Ferry travel from abroad resumed on the 1st July. Check the relevant section below for more information on ferry travel.
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.
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. We were also asked if we actually want the usual daily cleaning, changing of sheets etc.
Ferries in Greece 2020 – How will Greek ferries run in 2020 (Updated 3 August)
After a long break, ferry services to the Greek islands resumed on the 25th of May. Certain regulations are 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 boarded five 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, in all areas of the ferry, including the deck / outdoors. Passengers are required to bring their own masks. (In our experience, there are frequent announcements reminding passengers to wear masks, though in reality noone was wearing a mask if sitting on the deck)
- 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.
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 a percentage 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.
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 29 August)
It’s hard to think of Greece without its tavernas, cafes and bars. Still, these closed down in March, and only just started reopening in late May.
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.
On 7 August, it was announced that customers in businesses serving food and drinks will need to remain seated. This affects tavernas, cafes, bars and nightclubs all around the country.
As an example, dancing or standing by the bar is not allowed. This is going into immediate effect, and will remain in place until at least the end of August.
Restaurants, tavernas, cafes and bars will remain closed from midnight to 7 am in the following areas:
- Whole regions of Crete, East Macedonia and Thrace
- The regional units of Thessaloniki, Larissa and Corfu (Kerkyra)
- The municipalities of Santorini, Volos, Katerini, Rhodes and Kos
- Attica, the Argosaronic islands and Kythera island
- The regional units of Karditsa, Pella, and Pieria in mainland Greece
This is currently in effect until 31 August.
In addition to the curfew, stricter regulations apply for certain regions, where only up to 4 people (6 for families) are allowed per table:
- The islands of Paros, Antiparos and Mykonos
- The regions of Chalkidiki, Chania, Heraklion, Lesvos and Zakynthos
The above measures are currently in effect until 15 September 2020.
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 swimming. I consider myself super lucky to have travelled around the Greek islands in the past few weeks!
Here’s our itinerary for 4 days in Santorini.
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.
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.
Maybe try outdoor activities in Greece?
If social distancing is a priority for you, you’ll fin that outdoor activities such as hiking and windsurfing are ideal!
During our post-lockdown travels in June we thoroughly enjoyed kayaking in Mykonos!
Can I visit archaeological sites in Greece after the lockdown? (Updated 12 July)
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 this summer.
(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!)
All in all, anyone visiting the sites in Greece this year will have an amazing experience, as the usual cruiseboat passengers won’t be here. Check out as many as you can, like Delphi, Ancient Mycenae or Ancient Olympia.
Even better, you can catch a show at the magnificent Ancient Epidaurus theatre – check below for more info.
Are museums open in Greece in Summer 2020? (Updated 31 July 2020)
Museums all around Greece reopened in June 2020. Distancing and disinfecting measures are in place, and you can see hand sanitizer everywhere. In addition, there are limitations to the number of people that can enter simultaneously.
Most importantly? Visitors will also need to wear masks, at least for the whole month of August. So if you are planning to visiting some of the museums in Athens or other cities in Greece, make sure you bring a mask with you.
During our trip to the Cyclades in June-July, we were asked to wear masks in a couple of museums we visited in Syros, but not in others.
Similarly, when I visited the Athens Museum of Illusions, masks were not mandatory. Disinfecting and cleaning, on the other hand, was very frequent, and the employees wore masks.
My family and I had lots of fun in the Museum of Illusions and I totally recommend it, with or without mask. You can read more about our experience in this article.
How about gatherings and cultural activities in Greece summer 2020? (Updated 24 August)
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.
These events will take place from mid-July to the end of September 2020, and they will be free to attend for people visiting the sites. Here’s the full list.
Unfortunately, many of the above events are being suspended throughout the country. It’s best to check the event you are interested in.
The famous Greek panigiria, our local festivals with food, drink, dance and open-air markets, will not be resuming until at least the end of August, if at all.
Similarly, religious processions will not be happening this summer. This is particularly important as the 15th August is a day with major religious importance.
Finally, the number of people allowed for gatherings varies a lot throughout the country. In some areas, there is a limit of 100 people, while others (e.g. Poros, Pieria, Karditsa, Pella, Imathia) are restricted to 50 or even fewer people.
Gatherings of over 9 people are not allowed in Paros, Antiparos, Mykonos, Chalkidiki and the whole Chania and Heraklion regions.
Can I go shopping in Greece in 2020? (Updated 28th July)
Of course you can – most businesses are open as normal. Masks are mandatory in all shops around the country.
In addition, 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.
Smaller shops will allow a certain number of people inside, and you may need to queue outside 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).
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, wearing masks and other practices. Please help our tourism professionals by respecting those new regulations.
It is definitely 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…
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!
And, before you go, have a look at this article with some useful words and phrases in Greek!
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