There are a number of places in Europe where sun-seekers looking for a European break could start visiting as soon as the end of this month.
They are islands that have safely navigated the Covid-19 crisis.
An official European Union ‘green list’ of holiday hotspots deemed “safest in Europe” is being prepared along with the pilot phase of the “vaccination passport” (European Digital Green Certificate) that includes a short list of participating countries, both expected to start soon.
The certificate – which will be issued by E.U. member countries and is proposed as a temporary pandemic measure lasting for 12 months – will allow travelers throughout the E.U. who have either proof of vaccination, a recent negative PCR test or proof of built-up immunity following infection with the virus.
For those anxious to get away and start traveling, the European Best Destinations organization (EBD) has prepared a list of “Safest Islands in Europe for a paradisiacal holiday combining safety and leisure this summer.”
The selection is based, among other factors, on the low number of Covid-19 cases during the pandemic and at the time of publishing of this classification, the existence of health charters put in place by local officials and recognition of vaccination certificates.
The islands selected don’t require a quarantine for travelers who test negative or have been vaccinated.
Portugal’s Madeira islands sits atop the rankings, followed by Greek, Croatian and Spanish islands.
“We continue to recommend prudence and strongly advise frail people to delay their travel until they have received two doses of the vaccine,” EBD advises.
More information on the vaccination passport here. “
The E.U. website, reopen.europa.eu, provides real-time travel regulations for each E.U. country.
By the end of May, all professionals in the tourism sector in Madeira will have been vaccinated and eager to welcome visitors to the best conditions for a safe vacation on the island which has been awarded the title of “most beautiful island in the world.”
With a negative PCR received within the previous 72 hours, or a vaccination certificate, visitors can register at www.madeirasafetodiscover.com.
The Madeira government offers free Covid-19 tests to all visitors that can be used to enter or before leaving the island (for those countries that require it).
Selected as the safest island in Europe, Madeira has remained in the green zone throughout the pandemic with an extremely high vaccination rate and the development of innovative health protocols that have inspired other destinations.
The regional government of Madeira doesn’t impose a quarantine on travelers with a negative Covid-19 test, vaccine certificates or those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the previous 90 days.
Many outdoor activities on the beach, hiking, surfing or paddleboarding don’t require masks. Hotels labeled “Safe & Clean” are committed to respecting strict hygiene standards to welcome the traveller in the best conditions.
“A true pioneer in the fight against Covid-19, Madeira appeals to travelers looking for sublime landscapes but also the ambience of a tropical island that can be visited all year round,” explains EBD. “Exotic, sporty and terribly trendy Madeira is a destination of unique experiences.”
2. Porto Santo, Madeira Islands, Portugal
Combining sun, wellness, beach, sport and relaxation, Porto Santo is among the top of the safest islands to add to your wish list.
“Awarded for its sublime sandy beaches, Porto Santo is a unique destination in the world,” according to EBD.
Wellness hotels, therapeutic sand treatments, a unique golf course, restaurants on the water and top views for sunsets are among the advantages of this island prepared to let you recharge your batteries and relax.
Porto Santo offers travelers with negative tests the option of staying without quarantine, as it does for travelers with a vaccination certificate and for those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days.
Porto Santo lies among the Madeira Islands archipelago and is connected to the main island of Madeira by ferry and by plane.
The Greek government has been a driving force in the process of recognition of a vaccination passport and the creation of clear standards for safe stays in Europe.
For the tourist season, Greece has already announced that it will lift lockdowns and quarantines. Travelers with a negative test or a vaccination certificate will be able to take their holiday in the country.
Greece has thousands of islands to discover and among them are some of the most beautiful in Europe. For the ranking of Safest Islands in Europe, EBD used the E.U. Covid-19 data to select those that remained in the green zone throughout the pandemic.
Antipaxos is famous for its beaches, among them Voutoúmi, with its exotic turquoise waters. Its fine white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and a population of only 20 permanent residents create the perfect ‘secret island’ for a Covid-free vacation this summer.
The island is also easily accessible by water taxi from from the port of Gaios in Paxos.
People who have completed the vaccination within at least 14 days prior to their arrival and provide a vaccination certificate are not required to have a pre-departure negative PCR test.
4. Corvo Island, The Azores, Portugal
Corvo is the world’s first 100% vaccinated island — all 430 inhabitants have been “jabbed.”
Volcanic in origin, Corvo is the smallest island in the Azores archipelago, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (along with Madeira) and offers landscapes of rare beauty. Ideal for travelers in search of authenticity and who wish to get away from the crowds.
The bottom of volcanic cones with their legends, houses stacked on the side of a ravine facing the sea, the vastness of the views, the simple and calm life of its small community are among the charms offered by the green and safe island.
It’s easy to access thanks to a 40-minute ferry departing from the island of Flores, which is well connected to the other Azores islands.
To visit the Azores, the SARS-CoV-2 screening test and negative results within 72 hours preceding the flight from the airport of origin is mandatory. The test must have clear identification of the person tested, the laboratory, the date and the signature of the person who conducted it.
5. Crete, Greece
Less affected by the Covid virus than most regions of Europe, Crete has put in place effective health measures to welcome travelers this summer.
Chania’s Venetian Harbor, Heraklion and its temples, Elafonisi and its pink sand beaches, Vai Beach and its clear waters, the Samaria Gorge, Rethymnon Old Town or the famous “Balos Lagoon” are among the treasures to be discovered on the Greek island.
Along with the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Grand Canary and Lanzarote) and Malta, Crete has been declared safe by the British Foreign Office in a major boost to hopes of an overseas holiday.
The list includes other Greek islands: Corfu, Rhodes, Zante and Kos.
6. Flores, The Azores, Portugal
Flores and Corvo are the westernmost island of the Azores archipelago.
With some 4,000 inhabitants, Flores has two main municipalities: Santa Cruz and Lajes, and owes its name — Flowers — to the profusion of wild flowers (especially blue and pink hydrangeas) and small indigenous botanical species.
Deep valleys and high peaks, lagoons bordered by hydrangeas, cliffs carved by grottos, hot springs, and the remains of old volcanoes combined with pastures, farms and vineyards complete the make-up of the landscape.
To visit the Azores, a negative SARS-CoV-2 screening test within 72 hours preceding the flight from the airport of origin is mandatory. The test must have clear identification of the person tested, the laboratory, the date and the signature of the person who conducted it.
A favorite destination for British travelers, Malta is one of the safest islands combining safety and leisure for sunny summer vacations in Europe.
The Maltese authorities have made every effort to protect the local population and welcome travelers in the best health conditions. Malta has been recognized many times by the European Commission for its commitment to sustainable tourism.
With its year-round mild and sunny climate, Malta counts as a paradise for lovers of nature, history, gastronomy and sports and a favorite destination for those seeking autumn and winter sun.
A special bonus of €200 has been announced by the country’s tourism minister, Clayton Bartolo, for visitors who stay a minimum of two nights.
A negative Covid test or a vaccination certificate are required.
8. Corfu, Greece
Greek actress Angela Gerekou, now president of the Greek Tourist Office, describes the island of Corfu, her birthplace, as a “destination in contact with nature for unique and authentic experiences, a destination that has shown the way to a sustainable tourism growth respecting the environment.”
Corfu is considered one of the most beautiful of the Ionian islands. With its rugged mountains and a resort-studded shoreline, it reflects a cultural heritage defined by Venetian, French and British rule before it was united with Greece in 1864.
A negative Covid test carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival or a vaccination certificate will allow visitors to stay on the island without quarantine.
9. La Gomera, Canary Islands
Unspoiled nature, wild beaches, crystalline waters and exotic vegetation are on hand at La Gomera, one of the Spanish Canary Islands and a trendy destination for 2021.
The second-smallest of the Canary Island chain, marked by craggy volcanic mountains crisscrossed with 600 kilometers of hiking trails, dense and high-altitude forests of ferns, charming hamlets and terraces of crops perfectly tended on the sides of the ravines, La Gomera has been declared a biosphere reserve, where harmony between human activities and nature has been possible.
“Less touristic than Tenerife or Gran Canaria, La Gomera appeals to nature lovers as well as celebrities looking for tranquillity away from the crowds,” writes EBD. “With its ancient subtropical forest of Laurisilva (laurels), its cliffs and wild beaches, La Gomera is a biosphere reserve of rare beauty and one of the most important unspoiled natural ecosystems in the world.”
A negative Covid test carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival or vaccination certificate are required.
Croatia boasts 78 islands and 524 islets that have been declared “safe” by the ministry of tourism.
The country has been preparing to position itself as a safe and welcoming destination for the summer of 2021, highlighting the “Croatian Islands as a Covid -free zone.”
A map hosted on www.safestayincroatia.hr shows that the Croatian islands have remained in the green zone throughout the pandemic.
Known as “Little Dubrovnik” for its medieval squares, churches, palaces and houses, Korcula Island is the sixth largest island in Croatia and renowned for its dense forest, which makes it ideal for a secluded holiday.
“From Vela Luka you can take a taxi boat to the paradisiacal Proizd island where you will find nothing but nature, crystal clear waters, beautiful forests and a small restaurant for light refreshments,” according to EBD.
A PCR test or rapid antigen test is all you need to stay in Croatia. If your stay lasts more than 10 days, a second test will be requested.
A natural and calm environment geared towards nature, Menorca, one of Spain’s Balearic islands (together with Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera), is still unspoiled by mass tourism. Local authorities have given precedence to the preservation of nature over the economic and tourist development of the island.
Menorca has 216 kilometers of highly varied coastline, from the rugged shores and reddish beaches of the north, to the gentle sandy ones of the south, with their golden sandy coves.
A negative test or a vaccination certificate is required.
Since May 10, travelers from more than 60 countries around the world can visit the island nation of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, without quarantine upon arrival.
A negative test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival or vaccination certificate are required. The list of permitted countries include all the members of the Schengen Zone, the United Kingdom, Canada, United States and Australia, among others.
The third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus offers an ample selection of experiences for all manner of traveler.
“Come and bathe in the ‘Aphrodite Bath,’ take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Cape Greko or kiss your loved one on the ‘Bridge of Lovers’ near Agia Napia,” invites EBD. “Treat yourself to lazy days on the most beautiful beaches of Cyprus, the famous Nissi beach, Konnos beach, Coral beach in Paphos and Aphrodite Rock Beach.”