After 9 months, which felt like a travel hibernation due to corona restrictions, we’re finally allowed to travel abroad from the Netherlands again! Since Covid-19 infections are currently decreasing in many European countries our travel restrictions are being relaxed, which means more and more countries are turning green or yellow on our world travel map, as you can see here:
Each country has their own system and colors, but in general green and yellow means ok to travel for most, even though both still have restrictions.
These codes are given out per country depending on a few combined factors:
number on Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people
the 7 day average of positive corona tests and of course the hospital capacity per country.
That's also why some countries with a low number of corona infections stay on orange longer, which means non-essential travel is advised against and a 10 day quarantine obliged upon return.
Currently many countries, even though green or yellow on our map also still require a negative PCR or antigen test, proof of Covid-19 recovery or a vaccination certificate to enter the country and regulations change daily.
Although a vaccine or the hassle of tests do not appeal to me, as a fervent traveler who has hardly traveled abroad the past year and with travel also being part of my job, I will have to endure it I’m afraid! This does make it quite challenging to plan upcoming trips and needs some more effort and preparation than before. Luckily our government decided to make the obliged Covid-19 testing for travel free for July and August. You can easily make an appointment at dedicated testpoints here: Rijksoverheid/free corona tests
I do feel that travel to many countries should be possible again the coming weeks and months if you research the developments per country well. You can do this through this blog, by installing apps that keep you updated about the situation and restrictions for your destination. And by always staying aware of the risks, local rules and regulations.
I love to explore locally, last year I did 8 trips in the Netherlands, but can’t wait to discover more of Europe either! Fortunately at the moment many countries become accessible again. And with the infection rates in my homeland and other countries steadily decreasing, I felt confident enough to travel to Italy again for a wedding and work last week!
I can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences in my next blog, but first I will happily share more info about the travel restrictions, rules and regulations per destination, based on my travel wishlist research, in the order of my travel schedule for this year.
The list includes 11 of my top destinations that have low infections rates, where the infection levels are decreasing, and which are already open to Dutch travelers and several other (EU) countries.
The mentioned number of active Corona-Covid-19 cases per country in this blog came from: Worldometers/coronavirus
Even though it had difficult times and several lockdowns, as infection rates went up and varied a lot per region, Covid numbers in Italy are now going down rapidly! Some days even lower than the Netherlands, while Italy’s population is 3,5 x higher.
Finally start June our government decided to add Italy to the yellow list as well and just in time to attend my friend's wedding in Northern Italy on the 17th of June, which had been postponed for a year. Although this was my first flight in 9 months and I was a bit anxious, it went very smoothly, I was never even asked for my negative antigen test results and it was great to revisit the lovely area of Como, which was not so crowded at the moment.
And since start July Italy has even been added to the green list for the Netherlands and also relaxed restrictions for travelers from many EU countries, as well as the US. To travel there you are still required to provide a negative molecular test (PCR) or antigenic test, no older than 48 hours, or proof of Covid recovery or vaccination and fill out a EU Digital Passenger Locator Form.
However beautiful nature areas with so much space and tranquility like the Dolomites or Como and surroundings truly make it worth the hassle in my opinion and are generally even safer to be, than an overpopulated area like my hometown!
Since the 27th of June wearing masks outdoors is no longer obliged in Italy either, only at closed indoor spaces and public transport. All other venues, attractions and accommodations are open again, although measures can differ per region, therefore do check the regional regulations for your trip in advance on the Italian government site.
To find inspiration for your trip to Italy you can also follow me on Instagram for more pictures and videos the coming weeks, or check out my Puglia and Dolomites blogs on this Italy page.
Last year I was still a bit hesitant to travel abroad by plane start July and missed a great trip to Tirol, but instead did visit South Tyrol in Italy by car end of July.
I was so impressed by the natural beauty, impressive mountains and stunning lakes of the region that I cannot wait to explore more of North Tirol in Austria now.
Luckily I am getting a second chance to join the Kulinarischer Jakobsweg event in Paznauntal 9 to 11 July this year and can’t wait to taste all that delicious Tiroler cuisine! And to show you the beautiful flowery meadows, imposing mountain views and pure nature that this region is so renowned for.
Austria was just added to the green list for the Netherlands too, so traveling there will be allowed without quarantines, but with a negative PCR test or antigenic test taken up to 48 hours prior to arrival, or proof of vaccination.
The infection rates in Austria have on average always been low and only keep decreasing:
Everything is open again, sometimes with regional restrictions, but in general much is possible as long as you follow normal Covid regulations and new relaxations have just been implemented.
To enter restaurants, hotels, attractions and events you now still need proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test, selftests with digital registration are supplied for this free of charge on different spots and accommodations throughout the country, which stay valid for 24 hours.
The government just cancelled the curfew for bars and catering and the use of facemasks outside or in these recreational areas is no longer obliged or very limited if you have this digital registration. It is however still obliged in Austria indoors at public spaces, supermarkets and public transport.
Although I love traveling abroad to explore new cultures, enjoy a change of scenery, local cuisine and experience that true holiday atmosphere, the Netherlands does have a lot to offer as well! And when the sun is shining and the temperatures rise I am also very content with traveling locally.
In general being a tourist in your own country can be the easiest and safest option and I am more than happy to support our local hotels and business, especially now.
That's why I try to combine both as much as possible. For this summer I already have 3 trips planned to discover even more regions of my homeland and as always several daytrips to Unesco sites and other local attractions.
And of course I can also highly recommend to visit the Netherlands as soon as you’re allowed! Infection levels have been decreasing steadily here and just recently the Netherlands has cancelled its restrictions for visitors from even more countries outside Europe, like the US and Hong Kong, among others.
All hotels, restaurants, terraces, shops, museums and other attractions are open again. In the Netherlands restrictions like limited seating and 1,5 meters distance still apply, but in general tourism is still quite low, which means more space and tranquility on the most popular sites.
Also they just relaxed the corona restrictions even more here, which means events, clubbing or going to bars is possible again from July, some however with a negative test result.
And currently the wearing of masks is no longer obliged indoors or outdoors, except on airports and public transport.
Find out more about the current rules to enter the Netherlands here and for more reasons to visit my lovely homeland you can find plenty of inspiration on this Netherlands page filled with photogenic spots and the most unique accommodations to visit.
4. Dutch Caribbean - Aruba
The Dutch Caribbean islands are doing very well lately and 2 even have green status for the Netherlands, which means hardly any restrictions. The active number of infections on Aruba currently even dropped to 30, with almost no new infections per day. The island only closed its borders for a short while last year, but since July 2020 re-opened and stayed open for most countries.
I was supposed to go to Aruba for a campaign last year June, which was postponed twice, but is now finally scheduled for September this year and I can’t wait to revisit.
I have been there 2 years ago already and found it to be a very tranquil and pure island. Although the capital and some touristy areas naturally can get busy, most places are very quiet and spacious with an abundance of beautiful nature areas and beaches low on tourists.
The curfew and most restrictions on the island are currently lifted and mouth masks only apply in public transport and busy indoor areas if 1,5 meters distance can not be kept.
Hotels, shops, café’s, and restaurants are open again with the obliged 'Aruba Health & Happiness Code’ seal, ensuring the highest health and safety protocols. All certified businesses are listed on the Department of Public Health website.
You can travel to Aruba by filling out the online ED card, including a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours for travelers over 15 years old, an immigration card and a mandatory visitors health insurance costing $30 for everyone aged 15+, find out more on: Aruba.com
5. Road trip Germany
Finally our neighbor has re-opened due to a big decrease in infections, it has been just put to green on our travel map and since the 27th of June Germany has lifted all travel restrictions for Dutch residents that come by car. Do note that when you travel by plane negative test results or proof of Covid-19 recovery or vaccination is still required.
But as I love a good road trip and Germany is easy to reach by car and train in a few hours from my hometown, a spontaneous trip there is certainly high on the list for this summer!
Venues, attractions, hotels and restaurants are re-opening again in several German regions, but varying a lot per area, which can be checked in advance on this German website.
Also for Germany in certain regions a maximum 24 hour old negative test result will be required for hotels, restaurants and other recreational facilities,. These are however provided free of charge in Germany, but do make sure to check this in advance for your exact destination.
At the moment masks are no longer mandatory outside, except in busy areas and 1,5 meters distance is still required.
But with its abundance of beautiful nature areas, castles and unique regions I can't wait to explore more of our neighboring country, which I haven’t visited in a long time!
For your own visit you can find more Germany inspiration here, to which more blogs will be added soon.
To me France and Paris are always a good idea! We used to go on family holidays to Corsica each summer by car 12 years in a row since I was born. And after that I have been to France 15 x during my adult life as well!
I keep coming back for more, as it's so diverse with many unique departments to explore. Most EU countries are currently welcome to visit France again, be it with proof of Covid-19 recovery, vaccination or a negative PCR or antigen test, both no older than 72 hours and you're requested to register online in advance.
As active corona infections keep decreasing in France as well, regulations are relaxed more and more with the curfew lifted, mouth masks outdoors no longer obliged and shops, restaurants, cafés and bars re-opened, but the 1 meter distance rule does apply. Some outdoor and indoor attractions still have limitations, but things are being relaxed even more in July.
For more regional info on local restrictions it is advised to check this website before your trip.
One of my favourite countries and one of the most diverse in Europe in my opinion.
Perfect for culture-, nature-, and city trip lovers, but also island hopping and road trips! That’s why I visited this country 3 times already and would love to go back for more this year.
With currently less than 600 infections in such a big country Croatia feels like a safe destination to visit, especially since it was also just added to the yellow list for the Netherlands and all venues are open again. With a coastline of 5,000 kms, 1,000 islands, 19 nature parks and 500 camp-sites there is something for everyone!
Croatia is building a reputation as a safe destination with priority for vaccination of tourism staff and numerous test points for tourists. As part of the 'Stay safe in Croatia' campaign, tourism workers are at the top of the list to be vaccinated, of which thousands should be vaccinated this summer already.
If needed passengers can also get tested at Zagreb and Split airports or at other local test locations throughout the country. Furthermore additional medical services are deployed on the coast during summer months.
From the Netherlands you can now enter the country with proof of Covid-19 recovery, vaccination or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, or antigen test no older than 48 hours. All visitors are also requested to register online in advance.
Normal regulations still apply like wearing a facemask indoors, and only outdoors when a physical distance of 1,5 meters can not be maintained.
Another country I visited several times already, but keeps pulling me back. I've been to the north several times, yet only once to the south and therefore would love to explore even more of the island, which was scheduled for last year.
Although Ireland is on the yellow list for the Netherlands, a quarantine period upon arrival is unfortunately still required. But as infections are steadily declining here as well, the government is relaxing restrictions more and more.
From the 19th of July travel there from the EU is possible again without quarantining, but with registration, proof of Covid-19 recovery, vaccination or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours. Find more info on day-to-day developments on this Irish government website.
And to get inspired for your own Ireland trip you can check out these blogs!
Do note that different rules apply for Northern Ireland, as it is part of the UK.
Our scheduled holiday to the Algarve last year was cancelled, but I am certainly planning to go back this year, as it's such a nice region and sunny almost year round.
Portugal is a big country with regional numbers varying a lot. At the moment infection rates in Portugal are rising again, because of which it has been set back to orange for the Netherlands, for which different measures apply, but hopefully only for a short while..
I am not in a hurry though as a visit to the Algarve is perfect in autumn, when the weather is terrible in the Netherlands, but the sun still shines and the temperatures are pleasant in the south of Portugal.
And when it is possible again to travel there without quarantine it's nice to know that the Algarve has 200 kms of coastline with enough space and clear safety measures have been put in place in the areas around the beaches.
You can also use the app 'Info Praia' to see if there is enough space on the beaches in the region, thanks to the implemented (real-time) traffic light system! The Algarve has been recently declared Europe’s Leading Beach Destination with an abundance of nature and tranquility away from mass-tourism.
Furthermore many tourism businesses in the region are well prepared and have the 'Clean & Safe' certification, which means that they provide the necessary sanitary facilities to avoid contamination risks and guarantee tourist activities are safe.
Note that in Portugal the 2 meters distance rule applies and wearing masks indoors is however still mandatory.
10. Balearic or Greek islands
Continental Spain is still on the orange list for the Netherlands, but the Balearic, as well as the Greek islands and the mainland were some of the first to turn yellow. Therefore no more quarantine or negative test results are needed upon return to the Netherlands.
But also for these islands negative test results are still required upon arrival. The cheaper antigen rapid test, with negative result no older than 48 hours for visitors over the age of 12, is however allowed, as well as proof of vaccination or Covid recovery, from the 1st of July.
I am a big fan of islands, because of the variation in nature and road tripping options to explore the beaches and towns, which are usually more quiet and authentic on islands.
In Europe the Greek islands, Mallorca and Formentera are certainly among my favourites, and I would like to revisit Ibiza in winter to explore more of the quaint villages, coves and rural areas of the north.
Due to the lower count of Covid-19 cases the Balearics feel safer to visit at the moment than the mainland of Spain and combining a visit to Ibiza with Formentera is always a good idea😊
In both Greece as the Balearics almost everything is open again and regular restrictions with 1,5 meters distance still apply.
Do note that for Greece there are still more limitations to the amount of visitors per site. Restaurants and bars only offer outdoor seating at the moment and wearing a mask is still required both indoors and outdoors with heavy fees as penalty . Also you will need to fill out this locator form latest 24 hours before your trip to enter Greece.
Furthermore it’s nice to know that the Balearics have a good health network with plenty of hospitals and Greece has also taken measures for worst-case scenarios in order to reach a hospital within a maximum of 2 hours from any island.
Fortunately from the 1st of July Sweden is also switching to a yellow status for the Netherlands as active infections are decreasing rapidly there as well.
The Swedish government will be easing more restrictions soon an no more quarantine or negative test results are needed upon return from Sweden.
A negative antigen rapid test no older than 48 hours or proof of vaccination or Covid recovery is however needed to enter Sweden from the 1st of July.
It's also advised to check the recent updates on this Swedish site in advance.
But I'm actually not in a hurry, as I'd prefer to explore more of this lovely country in autumn or winter, as I have been to Southern Sweden in August already.
This was however a very memorable trip, about which you can read all in this Skane blog.
And of course there are many more countries with a yellow and even green status that I would like to explore or revisit, like Iceland, Hungary, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic. Difficult to choose and certainly nice that more is possible again after such a long time without the freedom to travel!
For more detailed info per destination you can also check this website and for the specific travel restrictions for your homeland always check your local government site, which for the Netherlands is: Nederland Wereldwijd.
I hope this blog was helpful to you too, but do note that this is not an official travel advice and the corona measures and local restrictions are subject to daily change!
The current developments and Covid-infection rates in most European and Caribbean destinations are however hopeful and I can't wait to travel more freely again the coming months.
Are you planning to travel abroad this year, once you're allowed again? And if so, which summer or holiday destinations in Europe or elsewhere are on your list?