The global pandemic has had an impact on travel in more ways than one.
From the grounding of flights to ever-changing border restrictions and airlines only accepting passengers who have been vaccinated, the travel spectrum over the past two years has been something of a minefield to navigate.
One of the more annoying aspects of travel in the age of Covid-19 is the requirement for PCR tests before flying. Not only is this an inconvenience, it can be a significant expense for travellers, especially families.
But travel restrictions for an increasing number of destinations are slowly being phased out, with pre-departure tests no longer required for those heading to several tourist destinations.
And while several nations have recently opened, many, including Morocco and the Maldives, still require PCR tests for travel. But there is a growing number of places you can fly to for a swab-free getaway.
That being said, testing rules change frequently so be sure to check the most up-to-date information on your destination before you travel. And keep in mind that some airlines — including Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline — require passengers to have a PCR test before being allowed to board a flight, no matter where they are flying to.
Here are some of the top destinations where, depending on your vaccination status, you can now (or soon) travel to without a PCR test.
France is the latest country planning to ease Covid-19 testing requirements for vaccinated travellers.
Tourists headed to the City of Love, Provence’s lavender fields or the coastal towns of the French Riviera will probably not need a PCR test to travel from next week, according to local news outlets.
No matter where travellers are flying from, negative tests won’t be needed so long as proof of vaccination can be shown, said a report on Tuesday from French TV station BFM, citing government sources.
At present fully vaccinated passengers arriving in France from within the EU and Schengen zone do not require a test, but all travellers — vaccinated or not — from many non-EU countries, including the UK, the US and the UAE, need to show a negative test taken within 48 hours in order to enter the country.
France also only accepts vaccine certificates for a second dose taken within the past nine months, after that you will need a booster shot to qualify as fully vaccinated when you enter the country.
Portugal no longer requires vaccinated visitors to show a negative PCR test on arrival in the country.
Travellers can now fly to the European tourist destination without a pre-departure test so long as they can show valid proof of vaccination. The same applies to the Portuguese island of Madeira, famed for being the birth place of Cristiano Ronaldo.
All visitors to Portugal must still fill in a Passenger Locator Form and will receive a corresponding QR code before being allowed to board flights to the country.
Travellers who can prove that they are fully vaccinated can skip the pre-departure PCR test to visit Greece.
The Mediterranean nation made the move on February 7, ditching a previous requirement that all incoming visitors had to have a negative PCR test regardless of vaccination status.
Greece has also said it will only recognise jabs given in the last seven months, with a booster shot needed to qualify as fully-vaccinated after this time-frame.
Travellers to the tiny kingdom of Bahrain no longer need a negative PCR test to fly, regardless of their vaccination status. The new rules came into effect on February 4 and simplify travel to Manama and its surrounds.
Previously, tourists had to have a test before travel and another one on arrival. The latter is still required regardless of vaccination status and travellers need to foot the bill — which is 12 Bahraini dinars ($31) per person.
Unvaccinated travellers need to undergo quarantine for seven days on arrival in Bahrain, although children under 6 are exempt from all testing and quarantine requirements.
A destination that has very much marched to its own pandemic beat since the onset of Covid-19, Sweden has recently dropped requirements for travellers to have a negative test before arriving in the Scandinavian country.
From February 9, travellers hoping to visit the bustling capital city of Stockholm or charming Swedish towns such as Karlstad, Sunne and Mora can do so without needing a negative PCR test result.
An entry ban remains in place for tourists coming from most countries outside the European Economic Area, unless they are resident in a country on Sweden’s exempted list. The UAE is not one of them, meaning travel is open, but travellers still require a negative PCR test until at least March 31 when the ban will be reviewed.
If Berlin’s restaurants, Munich’s markets and the unbridled drama of the Black Forest appeal, then Germany is for you. Having ditched strict entry requirements put in place at the end of last year to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, travellers to Germany now only need to show proof of vaccination for entry.
The proof needs to be in English, German, French, Italian or Spanish and must show that a complete dose of an approved vaccine has been take at least 14 days before travel. Minors who have not been vaccinated can still fly to Germany, but they will need a PCR test before travelling if they’re over the age of 6.
In light of new EU rules on vaccination expiry dates, Germany now only recognises vaccination certificates for jabs taken in the past 270 days — about nine months. So if you were vaccinated earlier than that, you’ll need a third dose before flying to Germany.
Travellers to Turkey have not needed to show a PCR test on arrival since October last year when the popular holiday destination changed its entry rules.
Home to beautiful beaches, untouched mountains and the wonders of Istanbul, Turkey no longer requires negative results from double-vaccinated tourists. This applies to all tourists over the age of 12 and children younger than this do not need to be immunised or take PCR tests. There’s an online health form for travellers to fill out, which needs to be done a maximum of 72 hours prior to travel.
For a scenic road trip or a panoramic train tour, Switzerland has you covered, with pristine lakes, grand forests, charming cities and quaint villages. And now, you can take it all in without a pre-departure PCR test.
Switzerland dropped these tests in January for vaccinated travellers. So now all you need to do before you go is show proof of vaccination or of recovery from the virus and complete an online entry form before flying.
Norway has lifted all special restrictions that it introduced last year to help prevent the spread of the Omicron variant meaning the country is now open again for travel.
Ideal if you’re craving nature, ski slopes, fjords and more. Vaccinated travellers no longer need to show a negative PCR test before flying to Norway and there’s no testing requirements for children. However, those vaccinated with the Sinopharm jab may still need to have a PCR test and should check before travelling.
Everyone aged 16 and over needs to complete a registration form at least 72 hours before flying. If you happen to be headed to the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard from the mainland, then you will still need to take a PCR test before you go.
As the first EU country to lift all Covid-19 restrictions inside its borders, Denmark has also eased entry requirements for travellers. From February 1, vaccinated tourists and those who have recovered from coronavirus can enter Denmark from any destination without testing or isolation meaning that the nation’s untouched dunes, twisted forests and traditional seaside towns are within easy reach.
Travellers to Denmark are considered vaccinated if they have had the complete dose of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organisation. Vaccines are valid for 270 days from the date of completion, after that you’ll need a booster to travel to Denmark test-free.
Croatia’s islands, cobbled streets and sun-drenched beaches appeal to tourists who previously had to have a negative PCR test to visit. But the Balkan country has since ditched pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated travellers.
So long as you can show proof of having received the full dose of a vaccination at least 14 days before travel, and no more than six months prior, then you can enter Croatia without any tests. If it’s been more than 180 days since you received the jab, you’ll need a booster certificate.
Children under 12 are exempt from testing requirements in the country. Travellers arriving from outside the EU will also need to show proof that they have pre-booked accommodation, or own property in the country before they are allowed entry.
From February 15, vaccinated travellers arriving in Lebanon no longer need to take a pre-departure test. To qualify as fully vaccinated for entry to this tiny destination on the edge of the Mediterranean, you’ll have to have received your second or third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the past six months.
Tourists must upload vaccine certificates on the MOPH website to get a QR code that will be checked on arrival at Beirut airport. And if you’re not vaccinated, you can still skip the PCR test. Instead, take a Rapid Antigen test no later than 24 hours before boarding your flight.
Vaccinated travellers don’t need a PCR test to travel to Egypt, meaning the land of the pharaohs, Pyramids, the Red Sea and more is a good pick for those seeking a holiday.
Previous rules that meant PCR tests were needed before flying to Egypt were dropped for many travellers in November last year. Instead, if you’re headed to Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada or one of Egypt’s other tourist attractions, you will just have to complete a health declaration and show proof of a full dose of a Covid-19 jab.