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layover country on the way to Croatia

I am planning a trip to Croatia in October from San Diego. There will no doubt be a connecting flight in Europe. Will I be able to have a layover in an EU country which is otherwise excluding American tourists?

Posted by
162 posts

This link to the European Commision of the EU provides information regarding travel and transportation during the pandemic,

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/travel-and-transportation-during-coronavirus-pandemic_en.

It may be a source of general information that you can then use to find more specific answers depending on the airport you might fly through. It also states that the Europe Direct Contact Centre answers email and phone questions from the public about the EU.

Posted by
24867 posts

but nobody knows what the situation will be in October. I could say what I expect, but nobody knows.

Posted by
12131 posts

Since I am traveling mid-September I have done some research. London and Istanbul appear to be reliable transfer airports. Both have welcome signs up. Will this change? Who knows, but I suspect the odds are against it, as this is about transfers and not entry.

Right now the LHR website says: "Many passengers are taking flights that connect through Heathrow to their onward destination. We would like to reassure you that you are still welcome to transit through Heathrow; but will need to bear a few things in mind when preparing for your flight." https://www.heathrow.com/customer-support/faq/coronavirus-covid-19

I see British Air has some flights from San Diego through LHR that will work.

You might want to check https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/ Fill out the form and it will tell you if you are going to have issues. It is my understanding that this is the organization that the airlines reference to determine who can and can not get on the plane.

Posted by
4697 posts

If I were traveling to Croatia soon as US citizen, I'd aso be asking about Bosnia, given that if it's not unlikely one would travel through Bosnia while on vacation in Croatia - e.g. to drive from Split to Dubrovnik on land, you drive through the Neum Corridor, a brief cross into/out of Bosnia. So you have to obey the border crossing laws regarding negative Covid tests, etc. (Maybe it's possible to avoid this by taking a ferry instead of driving between Split and Dubrovnik.)

https://ba.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Posted by
4697 posts

Dang, it's SO tempting to go back at a time when it should be so much less crowded! On the other hand, if everyone else has the same idea and most other countries won't let Americans in...

Not sure how I'd go about getting a negative Covid test that's been taken just a few days before arrival - where I live, it can still take a week just to get results back. Nor am I sure I can even get a test without a good reason; "going on vacation" does not seem like a valid reason.

Posted by
4697 posts

Yeah, it sounds like a strict requirement: your test when you go through passport control at the airport must be no more than 48 hours old - and that 48 hour period starts as soon as they swab your nose for the test. Given that you would (I assume) need a paper copy of a negative test, you'd need to get the test and get the physical result right before you hop on the plane - a good 18 hour of travel time from the west coast of the US, at least for me. Too tight to be realistic at this point.

They say there is a reduced self-isolation requirement if I arrive with a negative Covid test that's more than 48 hours old - but I'll still need to get another Covid test locally in Croatia and wait for that to come back negative. I may need to self-isolate for a day or two at least before that comes back...and because I wouldn't personally have weeks for my vacation, I'd lose part of it just waiting around.

It seems like too much trouble and too much uncertainty.

Posted by
12131 posts

Given that you would (I assume) need a paper copy of a negative test,

I am about to find out if that is true in Hungary. I do know the Hungarians have an email you send your test to if you get tested once in the country, so I am "assuming" there is some flexibility there...... Hungary is both easier and harder. It is 2 tests at least 48 hours apart within 5 days prior to arrival. I found a place in my hometown that promises 48 hour email turn around. But I am still stuck with developing a schedule like this:

Monday noon (CST): Take test one
Tuesday: cross fingers
Wednesday noon: Receive test one and print / take test two
Thursday: take quick non PCR test to make sure I am negative, depart for Hungary with more crossed fingers
Friday noon (CST): arrive Hungary and hope test two is negative and in my email

Yup, its a hassle....

Posted by
4697 posts

I wouldn't make that assumption, Mike, about the border crossing agents at Neum not worrying about your Covid status. Maybe not - but I would definitely verify this conclusively.

I'd also make a "Plan B" for any trip plans right now. If your Covid test results are delayed as you leave the US and you don't get them before you get on the plane to Croatia - then what? Do you still get on the plane and plan to quarantine once you get there? Not get on the plane and try to wait and change your plane tickets? Is this something travel insurance would even remotely cover right now?

What if you get to the Neum border crossing and the rules have changed since you last checked? Things can change quickly in the world right now. Again - just have a Plan B: turn around at Neum if you are turned away; figure out how you might say take a ferry instead. Think about all of this ahead of time.

I visited Dubrovnik, Korcula, and Split in mid-October 2009, when things may have been slower than say 2019 due to the global recession of 2008 still lingering. But in October 2009, Dubrovnik was warm and sunny while I was there and still had tourists, but the day I left, the rains came and the temperature dropped 20F. A friend who had stayed behind (who had spent a lot of time there) said Dubrovnik basically closed up for the winter at that point - Buza Bar closed etc. Dubrovnik might be fun without the crowds...but on the other hand, what is open? What would you do if it is raining and a lot of things were closed? The rest of my trip that year in Korcula and Split was cooler weather and periods of heavy rain. Korcula Town was basically dead - a few restaurants were open but you couldn't tell unless you walked up to them, it was that slow.

So what would things be in October during the pandemic?

Honestly, I wouldn't go near Croatia in August of any other year - but this year that might be the time to go. Could be things will close up even earlier this year. But if folks do go in October, please report back - would be interested to hear what it was like there.

Posted by
12131 posts

mike1728,

Just in case doom and gloom does enter on the horizon, if you flew Turkish Air round trip to Istanbul, then a separate ticket to Zagreb you would have all sorts of flexibility without quarantine issues as Turkish Air goes a few places with no entry restrictions.

For my trip I am also buying "for any reason" cancelation insurance (about $300) which also covers COVID cancelation and medical. The day prior to departure I am getting a quick COVID test for peace of mind.

I love being in that part of Europe in early October!! Have a blast!!

Posted by
18138 posts

I overlooked the "October" part of the question until I read Andrew's response. My 2015 trip ended on October 13 after five days in Zagreb. Prior to that I had a one-night stop in Zadar along the coast and a week in Kotor (not far from Dubrovnik) and Podgorica, Montenegro. The weather was clearly shifting from summer to fall that entire time (and even a bit before that while I was in Bulgaria in late September). There were lots more clouds and days with rain. October 11 was marred by a deluge of biblical proportions and chilly enough weather to make for a miserable combination. Of course, the shift to fall doesn't take place at the same time every year, and I may have been unlucky in 2015.

It's also worth trying to figure out the ramifications of Independence Day on Thursday, October 8. I'd wonder whether many locals will opt to turn October 8-11 into a 4-day weekend, which could lead to a lot of small-shop and small-restaurant closures. There seemed to be some of that happening during my trip, with the streets of the capital being comparatively dead and trams running on a Sunday schedule.

Posted by
7112 posts

The day prior to departure I am getting a quick COVID test for peace of mind.

JamesE, you live somewhere they have results back in less than 24 hrs?

Posted by
10 posts

I am planning to have a covid test right before I leave for Croatia but I may not have the results before I arrive in Croatia. I just wanted to know if I will run into any problems landing in an EU country for a connecting flight to Croatia, even If i don't have a covid test result yet. Thanks everyone.

Posted by
12131 posts

Joe32F, the quick test for peace of mind takes 15 min to get results. But not the sort of test accepted by the Croatian or Hungarian officials... just for peace of mind. There is a place in town that turns PCR tests around in 48 hours via email.

October, my fav time in the region is mid Sept to mid Oct.

Public holidays? No better time to travel if you want a unique experience. Independence day in Ukraine was one of my greatest trips.

Montenegro, had some pretty strict entrance requirements last time I checked.

Posted by
83 posts

Following this thread with interest, as I'm thinking about planning the same thing in October (from Dallas). I will just share my thoughts for what they are worth, based on what I've found with some research: (a) Flight from US--try to pick one that maybe routes through a major European hub (like UK, Paris or Frankfurt) to reduce chances flight cancelled, (b) try to plan flight so it is as "direct" as possible (so you don't have to worry about what layover means in a country you can't leave airport), (c) Covid test--it isn't that hard at least in TX to get a test under 24 hours results (so I'm not finding that to be a problem to get into the country) and from what I've seen on Facebook forums and other posts in Tripadvisor, even if that doesn't work doesn't seem that hard to get the test on ground in Croatia (yes that might lead to some delays of "quarantine" there but that is just part of the risk), (d) plan to be flexible since everything is in flux, so have fallback plans, (e) on the specific question above about the land bridge and closure possibly of Neum, our plan (to avoid this) was to travel from Split to Hvar to Korcula (all by ferry) then by ferry to Pelagic peninsula anyway, and then on to Dubronik (and if you do this, you avoid that whole situation since you are in Croatia the whole time technically, or you could do it in reverse). The upside (if one is willing to take the risks of travel during this situation, which is a personal choice that each person has to weigh for themselves), to me is (a) if you are traveling, getting tested this way to enter Croatia seems the "safest" way to travel for sure (better than the US for instance where anyone can walk on a plane and go anywhere with no testing, for what that is worth), (b) crowds are way down, so may be a totally unique time to be able to go to a place at a nice time of year without crowds, and things seem to be "open" enough without being too crowded (so maybe that is further "safety" in Covid times. Just my two cents

Posted by
1 posts

American who traveled to Croatia on Sept 5 and currently living here for 90 days. No problem flying through Vienna and also talked to other Americans who flew through London this month with no issues. Came from Chicago (got negative test the day before I left so was less than 48 hours old when I landed Sunday) and flew into Split via Vienna. They took the covid test paper at the immigration desk which was probably useless (over 48 hours old) a few hours later anyway. No quarantine necessary.

I’m on this forum because I’m planning to drive to Dubrovnik via Bosnia in a couple weeks and trying to see if any Americans have done it successfully recently. Worst case looks like I have to get a ferry in Ploce. There is also a cheap flight the day I’m traveling ($50) but I’d like to take the scenic route and have heard a lot of flights are getting canceled.

If no one posts about the corridor before I go October 17, I will try and report back as to what happened!

Posted by
12131 posts

nora b. glad to hear things went well. How about a report on the flight over? Organization, etc..... And what is open and sort of normal in Croatia? I just got back from the Balkans through Istanbul. I wasn't brave enough to believe the rules in the EU wouldnt change. I will be going back right after Thanksgiving, this time Istanbul and something else. I am saving the something else until a little closer as things seem to change a lot. But I am guessing there will be at least one country on my bucket list open.

Far from official: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294449-i6233-k13363500-Neum_border_crossing_with_covid_eu_citzen-Bosnia_and_Herzegovina.html I know of a tour group that traveled from Albania to Istanbul by traveling through Bulgaria. The only restriction was they keep driving and dont get out of the bus.... So some countries are allowing transit. Hungary has similar rules for crossing their borders. Great fun.

and

https://ba.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Thanks for the update and good luck.