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What is it like traveling in Europe now? (August 2021 or later)

What is it like traveling in Europe now?

Are restaurants and bars open for inside dining? Or only outside?
How have hotels changed?
How were schedules of museums and sites of interest - tourist attractions? Open 6 or 7 days a week or a shorter week?
How many places have not reopened?
How easy was it to talk to local people and to be in their neighborhoods?
How did it feel?

And did you enjoy your travels?
Thanks,
Tom

Posted by
19214 posts

If you are interested in one or more countries in particular, I recommend that you tell us which ones they are. The situation seems to vary quite a bit from country to country.

Posted by
38 posts

I’m open to which countries I travel. I’m willing to get outside my comfort zone.

Traveling is different now. How different?
How much fun was your traveling now?

Posted by
150 posts

In Germany (at least around here in the north):
--restaurants and bars are open for inside for vaccinated and recovered (and in some cases tested) people, but mask restrictions whenever you aren't sitting at the table (being seated, going to the restroom) remain in place. Some places are still limited in terms of hours or have slow service because of a staffing shortage, and some places still have alcohol sale restrictions.
--I can't speak to hotels.
--Many museums and sites of interest are back in operation, though results vary. Most places here are back to full or nearly full hours of operation (always best to check in advance) but may have vaccination requirements or maximum capacities. Masks are pretty much always required indoors.
--Big festivals, concerts, and events may not have reopened, but most other things have.
--I have not noticed any change in how locals react to foreigners. I think it should be as easy as ever (which in northern Germany is not very easy ;) ) to engage locals.

All of this may change tomorrow, so keep that in mind. Also, all masks are surgical or FFP2 (N95).

Posted by
4412 posts

As has been stated, Europe is a continent of 44 separate countries all with differing levels of rules, restrictions and adaptations. Rules are different even between the countries of the UK so trying to explain the differences between all countries is impossible.

You need to be more specific and aim your questions at a particular country or countries in general.

Posted by
15 posts

I can reply to hotels in Northern Germany (Hamburg). We were there in August.
-No housekeeping unless staying over 3 nights. They will provide clean towels if requested, but are limiting their entry into rooms.
-Breakfast, they request a specific time to limit overcrowding in dining room. No buffet or self service unless prepackaged.
This a similar experience that we had in July in Italy and Rome. People are engaging and happy to see tourists back for the most part. Hesitant about non conformance to the rules, shopkeepers and restaurant people are concerned about fines if breaking rules.
-Use Luca app to register self at restaurants and a lot of stores for contact tracing.

Posted by
4894 posts

I am currently on holiday in Wales and live in England. Any remotely touristy areas are much busier than normal as people have been taking staycations. There are reports of cottages prices doubling or more during the peak school holidays.

There are currently no restrictions for inside or outside dining, although most places request that you wear a mask inside when walking to and from your table. This seems to be more prevalent in Wales where all shop and cafe staff are wearing masks.

Hotel prices have increased. There is a shortage of staff in the catering sector as many Europeans that worked here went home at the start of lockdown and don’t earn enough to qualify to come back and work post Brexit. My local cafe is running a much reduced menu due to lack of staff.

In Wales, a number of hotels have closed. If they haven’t opened for the summer season, I presume they won’t be opening for the winter, so question if they will ever reopen.

I have seen a number of cafes that haven’t reopened. Shops have been the biggest casualty of Covid - some towns in Scotland that I have seen have 25%+ vacancy rates.

Many attractions are having timed admissions and reduced entry numbers. Some are running reduced hours. The National Trust was running a booking only system but this has now been scrapped.

You will find that some people will talk to you whilst others will want to avoid you (nothing personal, but many are still keeping a distance from people).

Although restrictions have been lifted in England, but it still doesn’t feel like it did in pre-Covid times. Covid infection rates are high and with schools in England returning soon, the pattern is likely to follow Scotland (schools are already back) where infection rates have rocketed. What this means for travel in the next few months isn’t clear.

Posted by
13 posts

We have been in Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic for the last 3 weeks. There are no
Masks on the streets, but some public transportation, museums, churches and some restaurants require them. Sadly, some small businesses and shops have closed. Guides have said that travelers are about 1/10th of usual crowds. We are welcomed! It is so pleasant to go into churches and museums and restaurants and be able to get around and enjoy Europe this way. We feel so fortunate to have made the trip now instead of later!

Posted by
119 posts

Where in Europe? Differences between countries can be huge

In Poland the only difference compared with pre-covid is that masks are required in enclosed public spaces (which up to 90% of the population ignores, btw)

Posted by
1465 posts

We were in Italy for two weeks in August. We did wear masks any time we were indoors, and on public transportation (trains, ferries, and vaporettos). We had to show our CDC cards and passports to enter any tourist site or to eat indoors at restaurants (not outdoors, and not to go into grocery stores). There were some changes in opening hours in Venice with many museums being open fewer days. St. Mark's was not illuminated at all, like it usually is during certain hours. I wish I had seen St. Mark's lit up but other schedule changes were inconsequential to us.

Things felt very normal except that the tourists in Lake Como and Verona did not speak English at all and people were very surprised that we were able to travel. In Venice, where there were direct flights to the U.S. at least on Delta, there were more Americans (and it was more crowded). Every day there was a long line of people at the train station waiting get covid tests to be able to fly back to the U.S.

Our trip was far more affected by the August heat we encountered than by Covid. We didn't do some of the hikes I had planned for Lake Como and spent more time at the beach than I intended, for example. Restaurants were open indoors although most people were eating outdoors (including us). We didn't stay in any hotels but rather air bnbs, because there were seven of us so can't comment on that.

It was a fabulous trip and we keep wishing we were still there!

Posted by
71 posts

Hi Tom,
I get it- you are looking for ideas. I was in the same place last spring when I told my husband we were going to Europe- I just didn't know where. We waited for the first countries to open, got advice from a few friends, and then went to Portugal.

We went mid-August. Almost everything was open, just a couple place that were not for museums and site of interest. They seemed to be at normal hours for a summer season. Restaurants and bars were open inside and out. When we were there, if you didn't have an EU Digital pass and were there on a weekend, you had to take a rapid negative test on the spot (not a big deal), not sure if this is still required. We specifically sought out small business owners via the tours we booked and the shops we visited and had lovely conversations with small shop owners. Conversations with random strangers a bit harder with everyone masked. But it was possible once sitting down places. Testing to come back to the US was easy because we prescheduled our tests with Ellume. Just do it through the apps on your phone (test kit packed and brought with from US).

I approached the planning with an open mind and a healthy does of resilience. There is of course more forms, testing, etc and you have to be very patience as folks on the other side are just trying to sort it out while the regs keep changing. With all this in mind, we had one of the best vacations of our lives! I'm really not kidding. We were able to get experiences booked that probably would have been booked our much further in advance, and the Portuguese were completed delighted to have their tourists back. Precautions being taken by all the tours were great, and the people were awesome. We're definitely going to back to Portugal another time in the next few years. We even just booked the winter trip- this time to Barcelona. So how did I decide on Barcelona?

Normally we would go somewhere in Asia over the holidays, but that is a non-starter this year. I feel comfortable now and understand a little more about how Europe is approaching their cautions, and frankly I like what I experienced. To pick our next destination, I looked at flight schedules. I would suggest you do the same. A website called Cranky Flier talks a fair bit about airline schedules, and I have been following this closely. You can also look on Flightaware to see if a route you are looking at is actually being flown right now. I would suggest you see who is flying where and with what regularity. There are many places in Europe you can go, but can you be certain to get there and back without massive hassle and at a price you want to pay? Booking airfare the last few weeks has been eye opening, with prices bouncing all over the place and capacity cuts.

My next filter is who did I think was going to remain open to US tourists (with PCR tests and vaccinations)? So I asked myself which countries consider it super important to have International tourists? I may be 100% wrong on who this ultimately is. But as you research, you will find some countries that essentially say they are just going to figure out a way to deal with this and plan to remain open. Others on the forum have been echoing this too.

As you dream about where to head, I would try a couple of these filters and see if it is helps you a bit in narrowing in on where to visit.

Posted by
2651 posts

I'm sitting in my hotel/B&B room in Berlin as I type this.

Traveling in Germany is great right now, as far as I'm concerned. My stay in Berlin really does not seem that much different than previous ones other than some indoor/transportation mask use. As noted by others, there is little mask use outdoors, but masks are required in restaurants, shops, and on public transportation. Some places require N95; some just require a medical mask; just go with N95 and you don't have to worry about it.

Restaurants are open inside and out. I've eaten inside twice at off hours to avoid crowds. I wear a mask to enter the restaurant and to move about the restaurant (per local regulations). I was asked about vaccination but not required to show proof.

My B&B is the same as the last 7 or 8 times I have stayed here. The owner is vaccinated, and guests must be vaccinated. No one in the 4-bedroom B&B wears masks. Breakfast is around a communal table with other guests (an optometrist couple from Switzerland and a journalist from elsewhere in Germany). I stayed at a slightly larger Gästehaus in a small town in Bavaria. Masks were required for movement around the facility (local regulation). Breakfast was served at individual tables instead of the typical buffet. In Saxony, my hotel required masks only in the elevator and in the dining room.

Large museums are open as usual, but most require reserving (free museums) or buying a time-specific ticket online. Some small museums have reduced hours and ask for a call before coming. I had zero trouble getting tickets for the museums I wanted to see on the day of my visit.

I attended an outdoor concert. People needed a negative test (testing facility onsite ) or proof of vaccination to enter.

All my favorite places in Berlin are alive and well except SpätzleExpress, a quick-serve Swabian restaurant in Kreuzberg, which closed during the pandemic.

People seem to be fine with me being here. I think there is the assumption that visitors are good global citizens who have had their immunizations. Conversations with people have been easy and comfortable. No one seems to be afraid of me bringing them COVID.

I got my COVID-19 rapid test this morning for my return flight in 2 days. Easy-peasy. Results e-mailed to me as a pdf, which I was able to upload to Delta's partner for managing return COVID-19 testing.

I have much enjoyed my trip. COVID-19 has been a minor inconvenience at most. The train strike is a bigger inconvenience.

Posted by
7727 posts

It's as HowlinMad in Germany describes. We have been in France for a couple of months, living in our own apartment, but we stayed in a couple of hotels and a hostel last week.

Before the health pass was required, hotel breakfast rooms were closed. Once the Health Pass became required, life for those vaccinated or with a negative test has become nearly normal. It's different today compared to even early July. As an example of our activities--and note that we are old: last weekend, we stayed in 2 hotels with open breakfast rooms, went to a conference with fifty other people, and traveled with the fifty to local sites by bus. Since the pass was implemented in July, we have gone to concerts inside concert halls, restaurants inside and out, museums, guided tours, rode in trams, buses, taxis and Ubers, had meals at friends' homes, gone to malls and giant hardware stores, etc. Life is very similar to before the arrival of C-19 because we are all masked and are filtered for contagion by our health passes. It's not a big deal; it's not political. We mask and wash our hands and live normally. Not much has closed. Business is booming where I am in the south and a lot of people come for vacation.

Posted by
12400 posts

What I have heard from Germans living there in North Germany pretty much coincides with that being described by Howling Mad and Dave in regards to wearing masks, daily behavior , etc.

I don't find it so difficult to get locals in North Germany to talk with me, based on all the trips there since 2009, be it in Kiel, Minden, Dresden, Berlin, Magdeburg, etc. My projected plans are to get back there next summer.

Posted by
7948 posts

Not traveling, but live here.
It feels fairly normal (after a year and a half of being a lot stricter), but you still need to wear a mask on public transportation, in stores, and in buildings like churches or museums. Restaurants will want to see one of the 3 Gs - Geimpft, Genesen, Getestet. (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) You have to wait to be seated now and they will want you to sign in with Luca, but if you don't have that, they usually have contact forms to fill out. Wear your mask until you are seated, walking to the WC, or leaving.
People are pretty good about their masks, especially on the trains and if they aren't, someone will say something. Stuff, like pull up your mask over your nose, things like that.
Sanitizer dispensers are everywhere! Entrance to churches, stations, stores, banks. You hardly need to carry any with you.

People haven't changed. Either they like talking to new strangers, striking up conversations, or they don't.
Lots of hotels have closed as well as restaurants. The amount of money they got from the state to get over the time they had to be closed just wasn't enough. Lack of staff in restaurants and hotels are apparent too, with lots of help-wanted signs in the windows Lots of people had part-time jobs with no contracts and they moved on to something that gave them a contract or a salary.

Buffets are non-existant. Some restaurants may have shorter hours or a more limited menu. Small stores may close earlier.

2 weeks ago, I did a Rhein cruise from Bingen to St. Goar. There was NO social distancing and most people were not wearing a mask. A good portion of the people on the cruise were German, Dutch, and French, but there were lots of Americans too, who seemed to have been local but with family visiting. (yes, I eavesdrop) Families stationed in Weisbaden, for example. The ship was pretty full.

Posted by
258 posts

We were in France for two weeks in August. Our trip was quickly put together after England dragged their feet about opening to Americans (although not as badly as the US has done the same to Europeans). We spent 9 nights in 9 towns in Brittany then 4 more nights in Paris.

Our experience is that it's much like us in Califronia - masks indoors everywhere except when sitting in a restaurant. One of the B&Bs we were at was really sanitary about their breakfast but the rest were no different than in previous years. (Pastries, ham, cheese, etc. set out without coverings.) Our hotel in Paris recommended a pharmacy where we could be tested before returning and an hour after the test we received the email that we were good to go home. The weather was gorgeous so we ate outside whenever we could but inside dining was allowed. Restaurants were very careful with servers all wearing masks at all times. (One restaurant where we had reservations in Paris decided to close for August. We were notified a week before we left and easily made a reservation nearby.)

We drove ourselves around Brittany and only took buses in Paris which made it easier to socially distance. Everyone on the buses wore masks and the buses weren't full because it was August (when, it seemed, all the Parisians were in Brittany).

In Paris we didn't try to visit museums because we've been there a few times. The one museum-like place we scheduled was the Opera Granier. It didn't seem crowded at all and walk-up visitors didn't have to stand in a long line. We were walking by l'Orangerie and there was no line so we decided to visit and went right in.

We've had our two jabs but we're still very careful. We don't strike up conversations in bars and pubs but everyone we had contact with seemed to be happy to see tourists visiting them.

Posted by
9835 posts

Tom,
We are in Switzerland and everything feels quite normal except for the ever-present masks in restaurants, stores, and on public transportation. We are only eating outdoors so thank goodness the weather is mild for lunch. We prepare dinner in our apartment to avoid being in close contact with too many unmasked people.

The “crowds” are not what we have experienced in the past. Very light compared to past trips, mostly German speakers (may be Swiss or visitors from Germany) and few Asian tourists where before there were many young Japanese couples and larger tour groups from all over Asia. We hear very little North American-accented English. There are few tourist coaches because few tours.

Many restaurants have reduced days or hours. Some businesses are only open Fri/Sat/Sun.

Posted by
129 posts

Just finished a 3 week trip to Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Feels basically normal.

Masks on transit, scan vaccine QR code at restaurants and attraction. Outside those things felt business as usual.

With the bonus of next to no East Asian tourists. Nothing against that cohort in general! But removing a large block of the bodies normal at tourist attractions made everything easier, more relaxed. And overall fewer tourists from everywhere. It was interesting this trip see usually overrun places with few people outside locals and touring Europeans. Pretty special really, grateful for the opportunity.

Posted by
12576 posts

What is it like traveling in Europe now?

I spent all of July in "Europe". The six countries I visited were not handling things any differently than my home town in the US.

Posted by
1170 posts

I am in my third city since Sept 4. In Dubrovnik, masks are expected to be worn anywhere inside and I saw good compliance (in shops, the one museum I went into, the cable car, and at a small church concert). All dining appears to be outside. I did see masks worn some in the narrow streets. The part of being there that is probably NOT normal is no crowds.

Then I drove for an overnight in Mostar with a couple of stops. The only mask I saw anywhere in Bosnia Herzegovina was on a French lady at my BnB. None in streets, none at restaurants, anywhere - no one. And no restrictions I came across.

I am in Trogir now and it just struck me that I have almost forgotten about Covid over the last 2 days. That said, I don’t shop so not sure about that and all eating is outside.

I am mostly in Croatia for a vacation that is outdoors, with almost all activities outside, a rental car, and stays generally in small apartments. Normal except for no crowds.

Posted by
486 posts

I live in Italy and I have been in Austria and Hungary in August - only an hour in transit in Germany. Also been in Greece in June.
First, study carefully access procedures. There are not big problems if you are vaccinated or tested (traveling for work, I was often both), but for example Greece needs an advance electronic registration, you get an access code on your phone at midnight on the day you are entering, and they are very strict about it. Also Italy need the pdlf, but frankly speaking, it was never checked and I passed borders several times by car, train and air.
Austrians are very stricts about checking your vaccination state in cafes and restaurants; hungarians did not look overly concerned. All considered, it looks to me that Italians are the ones generally taking things more seriously.
Everywhere I was returning, I found that a lot of shops and restaurants did not survive the covid shock.
About face masks, somewhere ffp-2s (or KN95) are mandatory in some places, but the attitude seems mostly relaxed. Almost everywhere required for public transportation. Personally I think that as an Italian I am used to wearing masks more extensively than people in places I have visited.

Posted by
158 posts

Was in Sweden for the second half of August. Masks in the airport and on the airport train. After that, we saw almost no one wearing a mask for the rest of our trip. This was a big culture shock after the last year of mandatory indoor masks in Switzerland!! In general, things felt almost "normal" there and there were few signs of disruption to daily life.
Some who were obviously tourists (mainly German and Italians) wore masks in museums or when entering restaurants. Among the locals, there were probably around 5% of people wearing a mask anywhere. This includes rush hour on packed subway cars in Stockholm!! Restaurants, hotels and bars - things were open more or less as normal and it felt like pre-Covid atmosphere.
Social distancing measures were minimal for individuals (max group size indoors at restaurants and some floor markings, only small crowds allowed at sports matches). They made announcements at the museums about maintaining social distance, but in practice this was not really heeded by many people. Luckily there were relatively few tourists and not many crowds in the museums. No contact tracing or 'covid passport' anywhere, but I did need a Swiss covid certificate to enter the country.

I met many people under 40 who had only had one dose of the vaccine, but no one seemed particularly worried about Covid. We had a nice time and people were friendly, but it is not for those who want to be extra cautious or would feel uncomfortable around lots of unmasked people, that's for sure!! Probably also a bad idea for those who are "tested" but not vaccinated.
We went to visit family that we hadn't seen in 2 years, so we were willing to accept the conditions and tried to avoid too many 'risky' situations. Not to mention that Sweden actually has far fewer cases than Switzerland....