Traveling to Athens and Crete during the COVID Pandemic
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Our family (with kids aged 4 and 1) traveled to Greece for 6 weeks. We were in Athens for 8 days and then took a ferry to Crete for a month. We worked remotely while trying to eat as much delicious Greek food and visit as many beaches as possible.
- How did you enter the country?
- Any difficulties with your vaccination card when entering the destination?
- No issues. Us adults were required to be vaccinated and follow the guidelines from the Greece health department to fill out a passenger locator form and provide our vaccination cards to the airline upon check in.
- Did your children need to be vaccinated before arriving? If so, which ages? Also, did they need to wear a mask?
- No, not at the time of our trip. The rules for entry were to provide proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID, or negative test. At the time of our trip, the vaccine was not available for kids under 12 and kids under 5 were exempt from any testing requirements. So, our kids didn't need to take a test either.
- Did the local government ask for travel or health insurance when you arrived?
- No, specific travel insurance was not required. But, because we were traveling for a long period we did purchase our own international supplemental insurance package.
- Did you experience any challenges with customs, immigration, or the health authorities related to COVID?
- No, we simply followed all the instructions from the Greek health department about COVID entry requirements. We filled out a passenger locator form (PLF) that detailed our travel plans within Greece and attested to not recently being in contact with any positive cases of COVID. The PLF provided us a QR code that we presented to anyone that asked upon arrival.
- If needed, were COVID tests easy to find and book at your destination?
- We actually never had to take a COVID test while in Greece. We didn't return to the United States from Greece, and our next destination (Malta) didn't require a test because we were vaccinated.
- Was this destination abnormally crowded or empty?
- We felt that Greece was relatively crowded. However, we did visit during their most busy time of year. It was probably less crowded than a normal year, but being that Greece was one of the first countries in Europe to open up to vaccinated travelers, there were plenty of tourists not only from the United States, but from throughout Europe.
- Did you have to show proof of vaccination on location? For example, when entering restaurants, shops, events, etc.?
- At the time of our trip, we never had to show our vaccination card in Greece except for one instance when wanted to dine at a restaurant that didn't offer any outdoor seating. They asked us for proof of vaccination so we could sit inside.
- Were you required to wear a mask inside restaurants, event spaces, or public transportation? If you were able to choose, did you feel comfortable wearing or not wearing a mask?
- Masks were required at indoor public spaces like public transit, grocery stores, shops, and when moving about restaurants. However, once seated at restaurants we could remove our mask. Also, due to so many open air and outdoor setting restaurants, beach cafes, etc, the enforcement was relatively lax. Public transit, shops, and grocery stores were much more strict.
- Did the destination adapt physical distancing in day-to-day situations?
- It appeared that most restaurants attempted to separate tables more than normal, and there were capacity limits being enforced at places like shops and grocery stores.
- Did restaurants, businesses, and public services take COVID-related sanitary precautions that you noticed?
- Yes, we felt that most businesses took it quite seriously. Outside of most restaurants and grocery stores there were hand sanitizing stations and normally there was someone at the door monitoring for masks and/or capacity limits.
- Were there additional requirements to travel within the region?
- We took multiple ferries and each time we had to fill out a new passenger locator form detailing our travel plans, even if it was just a day trip to a neighboring island. They would check vaccination status similar to how the airlines operated. Kids were still exempt per their ages.
- Were most attractions open? Were you able to visit the ones you wanted to attend?
- Yes, all attractions that we wanted to experience were open, perhaps with slightly altered hours.
- Anything else you think fellow travelers should know?
- Greece is a fantastic place. We fell in love with Crete, specifically the western side of the island. There are so many beautiful beaches to explore and many are absolutely perfect for young children. We enjoyed all the great food and because the weather was lovely we spent much of our time outdoors and at times it almost felt like COVID was an afterthought.