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Just back from three weeks in Europe (Austria, Switzerland, Italy)

I realize restrictions may be about to change but wanted to quickly share my experience traveling from mid- to late August, as a double-vaccinated US traveler. Switzerland and Italy both required entry forms (including for transiting by air) including information about transportation and lodging. There was some pretense about checking these when entering Italy by train from Switzerland, but forms were only sporadically checked (I wasn't checked) by border personnel. At the time I was there, no tests were required for vaccinated Americans. Sights like museums were way below normal capacity -- not because of entry limits but because of less demand. Austrian and Swiss museums, churches, and restaurants did not check vaccination cards/green passes or temperatures in my experience, but almost all indoor sights in Italy did. While it sounds like some US travelers have been able to get the Green Pass by presenting vaccination records at pharmacies in France, etc., this did not seem to be possible in Italy -- checked in multiple cities. We had to explain every time we were asked for green pass and had to present vaccination cards instead -- learn how to explain this in Italian if traveling outside major tourist destinations.

I'd also say -- we had a really wonderful time. The stricter COVID controls in Italy helped make sights safer. We ate outside. I have no idea whether this was related to a sharp drop in tourist traffic but we lucked out with church and monastery caretakers who showed us around usually locked-down areas. As long as you wear a mask (medical-grade sometimes required, sometimes not) and respect protocols (always use hand sanitizer that's provided, e.g.), you should feel welcome.

Posted by
79 posts

Getting a test to reenter the US was also no problem -- ask your hotel what they recommend. I got an antigen test with no appointment, results in 10 minutes, for 26 euros in Milan. Free testing is available at major Italian train stations but the waits are very long and often make an appointment for later in the day for which you must return, rather than being tested at the time. The hardest part of the trip was reentering the US -- border control a nightmare.

Posted by
9885 posts

"The hardest part of the trip was reentering the US -- border control a nightmare."

Where did you come back in?

Otherwise, sounds like a good trip! It's good to hear first hand experience.

Posted by
79 posts

Cities visited, in order:
Flew into Vienna, train to Salzburg, train to Zurich (day trips to Lucerne and Bern), train to Genoa (including border control stop of ~1 hr where some documents were checked but not everybody's), train to Turin, train to Milan, flew out of Milan.

I flew back into Chicago, which does not have a US resident line, so the complicated cases and straightforward cases are all mixed up and we landed right after a huge flight from UAE with a lot of complicated cases, so it took hours to be processed.

Posted by
3078 posts

Yeah, yeah... I'm with Jazz. Tells us about the places you saw. We're all growing weary of COVID-19 talk; we want to hear real travel talk!

Posted by
3078 posts

Salzburg is one of my favorite places, but I know a lot of people can take it or leave it. What was your take?

Posted by
1439 posts

Thanks for the report. Those of us travelling soon appreciate hearing about all the covid talk as it helps us know what to expect.

When you were at O'Hare, did you happen to notice a special line for those using the Mobile Passport Control app? My understanding is that this app is supposed to speed up the inspection time.

Posted by
79 posts

Haha, I promise I'll write more in a few days!

Salzburg -- more fun when I visited years ago with my parents and brother. Not so much fun alone, when you're on a budget. Even restaurants don't want to serve you, really, when there are so many deep pockets around, and everything closes at 6 but restaurants. It's lovely -- but I wish I'd spent a few more days in Vienna instead!

Posted by
90 posts

Did you need to ensure you have a physical stamp placed in your passport upon arrival or a special form stamped due to the fact you were flying into 1 schengen country and home from another. My mom thought she read this and I cannot find a reference to it.
second question- did you need a entry form for switzerland even through you entered by train? I thought the entry was just for air arrival.

Posted by
79 posts

I did need to fill out a form for Switzerland -- it was submitted electronically but never requested to be viewed on the train.

Posted by
79 posts

Did you need to ensure you have a physical stamp placed in your
passport upon arrival or a special form stamped due to the fact you
were flying into 1 schengen country and home from another. My mom
thought she read this and I cannot find a reference to it.

No - just regular stamp on entering EU and on exiting, as usual.

Posted by
7689 posts

Did you need to ensure you have a physical stamp placed in your passport upon arrival or a special form stamped due to the fact you were flying into 1 schengen country and home from another.

I have never ever heard of this. Somebody has picked up some bad information somewhere.