If you’re wondering when you can visit Europe after coronavirus, you’re not alone. I was supposed to be departing on my next trip to Europe in just a couple of weeks.
It was only about 30 minutes ago, in fact, that my airline emailed me, confirming what I’d known for weeks would come to pass: My flight had been canceled due to “ongoing global health issues.” Ongoing? I sighed as I archived the message. Or eternal?
I know many aspects of life, travel especially, can seem hopeless right now—I’m not immune from this despair. However, I assure you things will go back to normal one day—we’ll all go back to Europe, one day—maybe sooner than we’re all expecting.
When Can We Travel to Europe After Coronavirus?
When the European Union first announced that the external boundaries of the Schengen Zone would be closed on March 15, most people assumed it would only last a month. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 spread throughout the continent, authorities opted to extend this closure several times, and also to reinstate borders between members states, something that hasn’t occurred on a large scale in more than two decades.
Although authorities in some countries have expressed a desire to begin opening up in June or July, it’s unclear whether travelers from outside Europe will be allowed on the “Welcome” mat. Additionally, even if certain countries allow the entry of foreign tourists, it’s likely that the border-free zone within the Schengen area will remain obstructed until a vaccine or game-changing therapeutic emerges.
Where I Plan to Go in Europe After Coronavirus
As many of you know, I have started niche sites for Japan, Thailand and Taiwan in the past couple of years. What you might not know is that the month-long Italy trip I scheduled for this summer was meant to seed a new Italy site. It pains me that this will have to be delayed until 2021 (and maybe longer, depending upon when the Italian government decides to open its borders to non-American foreigners), but Italy is definitely worth the wait.
After exploring Italy, I was going to head back to France for the first time in many years. I was so excited, although at this point I am thankful I didn’t book Eiffel tower tickets just yet. In addition to updating my content about Paris, I was planning to visit my friend Leah, whom I haven’t seen since 2018, when she came to visit me in Bangkok (where I was living at the time). Oh well, she isn’t going anywhere!
Another place I want to travel in Europe after coronavirus is pretty far east indeed, but still very much part of the continent. I’ve wanted to visit Ukraine for many years, a fact several recent events (first among them, the spectacular Chernobyl miniseries) has enhanced. Whether or not I end up taking a day trip to Pripyat, where the doomed nuclear reactor still stands, I can’t wait to explore the city of Kiev, which I imagine will be one of the grandest places I’ve ever visited.
Heading all the way back west, I would also love to visit Portugal’s Azores islands. In fact, I had tentatively been planning a trip there with my long-term travel buddy Dora before all this coronavirus nonsense happened. We still expect to visit the island group, which is sometimes known as the “Galapagos of Europe” as soon as possible. The question, of course, is precisely when it will be possible—no one seems to know.
The Fantasy of Travel Bubbles
One idea that has been floating in the media, largely by people who know nothing about travel (and based on statements by bureaucrats and politicians, who are clueless about most topics apart from winning elections) is the travel bubble. Initially discussed in conjunction with quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand, this concept assumes that certain areas currently victorious over COVID-19 will remain so, and envisions corridors within which their citizens can freely travel.
Many American travelers are apprehensive about such bubbles; they assume the number of cases and deaths in our country (although, on a per-million basis, they are lower than those in almost every country in Europe) will exclude us from being part of any. I say there’s nothing to worry about. The amount of red tape leaders would need to clear in order to set up these exclusionary travel networks would probably necessitate more time than a vaccine, by which point they’ll be pointless.
Other Places to Visit After Coronavirus
While visiting Europe after coronavirus is alluring for many people, it’s obviously not the only place on the planet. Here are some other destinations I’m eager to visit once border restrictions start being rolled back:
Where do you want to go once it’s possible for all of us to travel again? Feel free to leave me a comment explaining where you want to go, and why!
The Bottom Line
We’re all itching to visit Europe after coronavirus—trust me, no one wants to go back as much as me! Unfortunately, due as much to bureaucratic red tape as to the virus itself, it’s unclear when foreign tourists will once again be able to set foot on the European continent. For now, all we can do is plan prospective future travel, and stay informed about legal restrictions without going crazy about how illogical many of them are. Although the crisis of closed borders has become a wholly global one, the good news is that it may abate in Europe (at least parts of Europe) before it lets up elsewhere.