Europe Covid; Holiday ‘back door’ into Europe from Portugal is open

Overseas travel is restarting in Europe as vaccine drives gather pace and Covid infections fall.

Britons are now allowed to holiday abroad after the government repealed a law banning non-essential travel abroad.

The UK is using a traffic light system to determine who has to quarantine when they get home, but that is only part of the puzzle – holiday-makers will also have to find a country willing to let them in.

So, where in Europe is allowing UK tourists to visit?


A favourite destination of UK sun-seekers, Portugal also has the distinction of being one of a few countries included on the government’s travel ‘green list’ meaning people do not have to quarantine after arriving home.

After some flip-flopping on the issue, Portugal agreed to allow British arrivals into the country starting on Monday.  

All arrivals will have to take a PCR test no more than 72 hours beforehand, and bring the negative results with them to be allowed into the country.


Visitors from any foreign nation are being allowed into the country provided they can show proof of vaccination or a previous Covid infection.

Tourists then have to take a PCR test on arrival and wait in their hotel for the results, but border authorities say this will be no longer than 24 hours and is usually over in five or six hours.

There is a complicated list of exemptions for those who are not vaccinated, but it is unlikely that most people will qualify.

Iceland also has the benefit of being on the UK’s green list, meaning you won’t need to quarantine after arriving home.


Since April, Greece’s borders have been open to foreign arrivals provided they can show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure or that they have been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved Covid jab.

Arrivals also need to complete a passenger locator form including details of where they have travelled and where they are staying so it can be used by test and trace authorities in the case of an outbreak.


Tourists are welcome to travel provided they have taken a negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure, have evidence of previous infection, or are fully vaccinated.

Arrivals will also need to provide evidence that they have paid for accommodation within the country – which can include campsites – or own property there.

Travellers are also required to complete a form, which can either be done on arrival or in advance online.


The Mediterranean island is welcoming tourists provided they have been fully vaccinated, can show evidence of a previous infection or have taken a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure.

Travellers also need to register for a flight pass no later than 24 hours before departure.

For those using a PCR test to get into the country, details of the test will need to be entered into the online form, meaning they will have to plan the timing of the test carefully.


Despite the country being in almost-total lockdown, Turkey is allowing tourists in without a PCR test or evidence of vaccination.

Tourists are largely exempt from the lockdown rules – which have confined Turks to their homes for weeks – while hotels and other businesses involved directly in tourism have been allowed to remain open.

However, many other businesses – such as shops and restaurants – remain closed. City streets are also deserted, which could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your idea of a good holiday.

Other major European tourist destinations have also begun laying out plans to let tourists back in, though have not finalised them yet. They are…


Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that Italy plans to run its own ‘green pass scheme’ which would allow tourists in from any country provided they are vaccinated, have previously been infected, or have tested negative.

Mr Draghi said the scheme would be in place by ‘mid-May’, raising hopes that it might be ready in time for Britain’s rules to relax on May 17.

But since his initial announcement, no further details have been published leading to frustration and confusion among those hoping to travel. 


Currently, France is allowing people into the country for non-essential reasons provided they have a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. 

However, all UK arrivals must also self-isolate for seven days after arriving or face a £1,000 fine – ruling out a large amount of tourist travel.

Plans are in the works to drop the self isolation requirement, with Emmanuel Macron giving a date of June 9 for the rules to change.  

Under the new plans, all visitors would have to obtain a Pass Sanitaire, essentially a green certificate with evidence of a negative Covid test or vaccination required to qualify.

Like the UK’s roadmap, France’s unlocking requires infections to be falling in order to progress, meaning it could be called off or delayed. 

Cases are currently declining in the country, though at a very gradual pace. 


Fernando Valdes, Spain’s tourism minister, laid out his plans for reopening the tourist economy last month and predicted the country will be ready to welcome back foreign arrivals in June.

Like other countries, entry would be dependent on some kind of green pass scheme requiring evidence of vaccination, a past infection, or negative test taken shortly before travel.

Valdes said a pilot scheme would run throughout May and that Spain would be ‘ready to receive visitors in June’.

No further details have been given. 

Other European nations are currently not allowing tourists in, and have not announced plans to allow it. 

This includes Germany, which has made it illegal for companies to transport people there for non-essential purposes. 

Others nations which ban non-essential travel include the likes of Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.