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The list of European countries that U.S. citizens can currently visit is short — but that does not mean all of Europe should be overlooked. From the white-sand beaches and natural beauty of Croatia’s lakes and parks to the glens and lochs of the Scottish Highlands, there is much to be explored in these destinations.
Here are some of the places in Europe open to U.S. travelers, along with what to do while there.
Prior to any travel, be sure to review the most up-to-date news regarding quarantine requirements and other travel restrictions in each country.
RELATED: The Latest Update on Future Travel to the U.K.
Most of England’s hospitality industry began to open to international travelers on July 4 weekend, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland subsequently have reopened to international tourists. (Note: According to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom, U.S. visitors will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival before exploring further in Britain.)
Attractions such as Kew Gardens in London, England; the Roman Baths in Bath, England; and Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England have all reopened, with tickets available for timed entry (must be booked in advance). Other indoor attractions are introducing measures such as one-way tours and smaller group admissions for a more intimate experience. Ferries to outer islands such as the Isle of Sky in Scotland now issue limited tickets to reduce capacity of visitors.
“To escape the crowds, visitors are also encouraged to seek out destinations that are lesser-known, including not only remote destinations, but also neighborhoods in bigger cities,” said Gavin Landry, director and executive vice president of the Americas for VisitBritain. “The U.K. has dynamic and varied tourism offerings all year round, from idyllic villages and national parks to lake towns and coastal walking trails.”
One notable upcoming outdoor attraction on Britain’s coast includes the completion of the England Coast Path. Scheduled to officially open in 2021, it will be the longest continuous coastal walking path at around 2,800 miles, and it will enable visitors to walk the border of England. Clients visiting Scotland can now explore the Loch Ness 360 Trail, a new walking, cycling, running and outdoor activity trail in the Scottish Highlands. The trail winds around the entire circumference of Loch Ness; though it starts and finishes in Inverness, clients can join the path at any point (Fort Augustus).
View this post on Instagram A post shared by VisitScotland (@visitscotland) on Aug 2, 2020 at 11:20am PDT
A post shared by VisitScotland (@visitscotland) on Aug 2, 2020 at 11:20am PDT
Croatia is another excellent European destination open to U.S. travelers at present. (Note: According to the U.S. Embassy in Croatia, U.S. visitors must present a negative PCR test not older than 48 hours, starting from the time of taking the swab until arrival at the border crossing. Otherwise, they will be ordered to quarantine/self-isolate for at least seven days prior to taking a local PCR test; those who refuse a local test must quarantine for 14 days.)
Anna Zgorelec of Visit Croatia, an independent website focusing on travel to the destination, says one draw is that the country is much less crowded than normal.
“The busiest places so far this summer have been regions that are easier to reach from other parts of Europe — many of Croatia's foreign visitors simply drive down to the country,” Zgorelec said. “So, places such as Dubrovnik, which mostly sees foreign visitors arriving by air, are far emptier.”
She recommends exploring Croatia by road, particularly destinations such as Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka National Park, Zadar and Split. Farther off the beaten path are Croatian islands such as Vis, the film location for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which can be easily reached from Split.
Laura Motta, editorial director of The Points Guy, says the most important thing is careful research and planning.
“Travelers should abide by local restrictions and do everything they can to protect themselves, and the local population, including wearing masks and distancing,” Motta said.
She also recommends focusing on the outdoors.
“Look for national and regional parks; nature-based activities such as hiking; and beaches where social distancing is possible,” she said. “It’s safer than being indoors, and it can enhance your understanding of a place.”
Tiffany Browne, a luxury travel advisor and owner of Lounge Couture, an affiliate of Travel Leaders, says the lack of crowds in Croatia will allow for a unique experience.
“I think it would be a huge advantage to see these places in this time,” Browne said. “You’ll have really good weather, you can be outside, you can go to the beaches and you can social distance if you want.”
She also underlines the importance of only booking these places for the right type of traveler. According to Browne, a more adventurous or flexible client would be best due to health and safety requirements.
“You have to make sure it’s the right type of client who’s willing to look at all the pros and cons [of the present travel landscape] and what potential problems could arise,” she said. “Set the expectation that travel currently isn’t going be seamless and perfect. However, that’s the advantage of having a travel advisor — we’re in it with you.”
The DetailsLounge Couturewww.loungecouture.com
The Points Guywww.thepointsguy.com