Summer travel: Where can I book a holiday? Countries with and without quarantine rules
As the UAE relaxes travel restrictions, these destinations are now laying out the welcome mat for holidaymakers
Dubai has announced relaxed travel restrictions from Tuesday, June 23, which means that residents with a Dubai visa can travel to any country to which flights are operating, so long as the destination will accept them.
The update came after the UAE announced it would relax travel restrictions to some countries from this week, with further announcements still expected.
After months of travel restrictions and international flights being suspended, UAE citizens and residents are now permitted to travel abroad again.
But before you start booking time off work and packing for that long-awaited holiday, keep in mind that while the UAE may have eased travel restrictions, several countries around the world currently have strict entry rules in place. Many others have international flight suspensions or lengthy quarantine rules for visitors.
The International Air Transport Association's interactive travel map is a good place to start to see which countries are currently open to tourists and what restrictions are in place. It makes sense to review the current rules for any destination that you might be planning a visit to and all holidaymakers heading out of the UAE should also be aware of the new regulations for before, during and after travel.
If summer holidays are on your radar, here are the destinations open for visiting now, or very shortly.
Countries where travel is open and no lengthy quarantine is needed
One of the first countries to welcome tourists again, Greece opened to holidaymakers on Monday, June 15, which means it's a good choice if you want to head somewhere that's had time to work out its post-Covid arrival procedures. International flights will resume on Wednesday, July 1.
Travellers from several countries, including the UAE, will be tested upon arrival for Covid-19. An overnight stay either at a designated hotel or at a hotel / residence of choice (in Athens) is required. If the test is negative, travellers can move to their final destination. If the test is positive, the visitor is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Summer in Greece offers something for everyone – from archaeological wonders in ancient Athens to sugar-cube hotels on both its famed and lesser-known islands.
From the UAE, you can fly direct to the Greek capital in about five hours, Emirates offers flights from Dubai with fares for July starting from Dh3,005. If you want to venture to Santorini, Milos, Mykonos or one of the countless other Greek islands, there are options for domestic flights or ferry crossings; cruising services have also reopened to tourists.
Turkey lifted most of its Covid-19 related travel restrictions on June 12, with travellers allowed to enter the country so long as they follow the official health advice and safety regulations in place. Travellers must wear face masks on all flights arriving into the country and passengers will undergo a medical examination.
Anyone with symptoms will be tested for the coronavirus and positive results will mean that entry into the country is refused. Some movement restrictions are still in place in various parts of the country, so travellers should familiarise themselves with local policies ahead of travel.
Turkey is huge and packed with Unesco World Heritage sites, beaches, mountains, coastlines and delicious food. And if you're craving sunshine-filled days, seaside restaurants and dips in the ocean, the coastal areas have you covered.
Emirates restarted flights to Istanbul from Dubai on Thursday, June 25.
Jamaica reopened its borders to international tourists on June 15, and flights to and from the island nation have resumed. All travellers must complete a pre-authorisation form for approval to visit, and anyone coming from a country deemed high-risk will have to take a Covid-19 test at the airport. Travellers will be notified of the results and isolated if necessary.
While it's not an easy destination to get to from Dubai, flights are available with stops in Egypt, Turkey, Europe or Canada. Travellers should book stays in certified hotels that have been authorised to reopen by Jamaican tourism authorities. The Caribbean beach destination has also implemented what it has called a 'Covid-19 resiliency corridor' spanning the island's coastline from Negril to Portland. From July these measures are set to be relaxed.
Tanzania (including Zanzibar)
Travel restrictions into Tanzania, and to neighbouring Zanzibar, have been lifted and international commercial flights are operating again. Travellers from all countries can visit, but should check whether visas are needed depending on nationality. A previous 14-day quarantine period for travellers has been lifted, but tourists must have comprehensive insurance that will cover medical costs if they contract Covid-19.
Temperature checks, mask wearing and social distancing are in effect across the country.
For safari visits, the best time to visit Tanzania is now, which is the dry season and when wildlife viewing is at its best. The great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti happens in June and July and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Travellers who prefer island vibes can travel by plane or boat from the mainland to Zanzibar, where pristine beaches, an impossibly blue ocean and the freshest of seafood are on the daily menu.
It's almost back to normal in Serbia, where all travellers who could visit the country before the pandemic can do so again with visa-free policies in place for many nationalities. There's also no Covid-19 testing or quarantine rules in place.
Social distancing rules exist throughout the country and face masks are recommended, but it's very much business as usual for everything else. Malls are open, as are markets, restaurants, hotels and some tourist attractions such as museums and galleries are operating, too.
Summer weather in Serbia is lovely and the landlocked country guarantees history, nightlife and culture in abundance. The Balkan favourites of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis will not disappoint anyone craving an eclectic city break mixed with an outdoor scene that's ripe for exploration. Flydubai can get you to Belgrade direct from Dubai with a flight time of less than six hours.
Commercial flights to and from Egypt have resumed from July 1. The country is welcoming travellers from most countries, including the UAE, but passengers arriving from destinations where Covid-19 cases are high, will need to submit negative test results before being allowed entry to Egypt.
Tourist resorts at the Red Sea, Sharm El Sheikh and Matrouh have also reopened, and the government has waived the need for travellers heading to these particular regions to get tourist visas until Saturday, October, 31. Those exempt, who are travelling to these destinations for up to 15 days, will get a stamp waiving the need for a tourist visa at the airport. Travellers should check if their passport qualifies for this exemption before booking.
Lebanon's Beirut airport has resumed commercial flights from Wednesday, July 1. Visitors coming into the country are not required to self-isolate and will instead undergo testing for the coronavirus. Travellers will be split into two categories, with the first group coming from countries where Covid-19 tests are conducted; this includes the UAE.
Travellers must show negative results of a test that's been taken within 96 hours. These tourists will take another test when they land in Beirut. Travellers from countries where Covid-19 testing is restricted, will need to take a test upon landing in Lebanon, then self-isolate for 72 hours, before taking a second test.
The fee for tests conducted at the airport will be paid for by the operating airlines, but travellers must cover all other test fees. All tourists need travel insurance that will cover the expense of coronavirus medical treatment if tests come back positive.
Several airlines fly direct from Dubai to Beirut and the journey is fewer than four hours. With no quarantine period in place, it might be a good pick if you're planning a short summer break.
Cyprus: entry suspended for UAE travellers from July 6
Cyprus is ready to welcome tourists and has restarted international flights. The country is open for holidaymakers from several destinations, initially including those from the UAE. However, Cyprus is updating its list of approved countries on a weekly basis and the latest report, effective from July 6, sees the UAE, Lebanon and Jordan removed from the list. Travellers will have to keep a close watch on the evolving situation if a trip to Cyprus is planned.
"We are waiting for you to explore and enjoy our beautiful island once again," reads the online portal where travellers can apply for the Cyprus Flight Pass, a document required to travel to the island.
Visitors will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.
Brimming with timeless archaeological sites, glorious coastal cities and pristine beaches, a summertime visit to Cyprus could be the change of scenery you need. And while it's hot, temperatures are consistently cooler than a Dubai summer – but keep in mind that air-conditioning won't be as widely available. Emirates hasn't yet resumed its four-hour direct flights to Larnaca, but you can reach the island from Dubai via Istanbul or Athens.
It might not spring to mind when it comes to travelling from Dubai, but the Bahamas has reopened to all international travellers from July 1. You won't be able to fly there directly from Dubai, but you can reach this group of 700 islands and cays with a stopover in London, Toronto or one of several US cities.
It's going to be a time investment, with a journey time of around 18 hours including stopovers, but an idyllic playground awaits at the other end.
Upon reaching the islands, you'll need a negative Covid-19 test that's fewer than seven days old to get in, but you won't need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms during your stay. The Bahamian capital of Nassau, on the aptly named Paradise Island, is best known for its picturesque beaches, laid-back island vibes and amazing waters.
For those craving a home away fr om home, Atlantis Paradise Island (the sister property of Atlantis, The Palm Dubai) is reopening to guests on Tuesday, July 7, with the water slides and thrills of Aquaventure a guaranteed hit for those travelling with children. Across the archipelago, there's plenty of history to discover, as well as many adventure travel opportunities and a vibrant cultural scene.
Countries open to travellers but with quarantine rules in place
International travel to Ireland never closed and tourists are welcome to fly into the Emerald Isle. However, a 14-day quarantine rule for arriving travellers is in place until at least Thursday, July 9. Some museums, bars, and tourist attractions are also currently closed but, again, this is subject to review. If Ireland still appeals, you can fly direct from Dubai, with a flight time of about eight hours.
What you need to know before you travel abroad this summer
Travel within Ireland is slowly reopening with people allowed to travel from county to county from Monday, June 29, which is ideal timing for an Irish road trip, if you've got enough leave to wait out any quarantine period.
Entirely driveable thanks to its size, start in Dublin where you can take in culture, history and famous landmarks such as the Ha'penny bridge over the River Liffey, Kilmainham Gaol and Dublin Castle, then hop in the car and head out to explore a country famed for its beauty. The Wild Atlantic Way will take you from Donegal to picturesque Kerry, or hit up the Ancient East route and drive along the coast from Cork to Wexford. A self-driving trip means you can take everything in at a pace that suits you, and you can arrange accommodation in places as remote as you would like.
Like Ireland, the UK has no travel restrictions in place for incoming visitors, but a 14-day self-quarantine rule is mandatory for all arrivals. There are also various restrictions on movement across the country, with different rules in place for England, Scotland and Wales on what people can and can't do.
Recent easing of restrictions mean few parks, shops and restaurants have reopened in some parts of the country, but others remain a lot more restricted. It might not be the best time to visit, as the UK is still grappling with high numbers of coronavirus cases, but if you are from the UK and need to head home, so long as you can handle the two-week quarantine, then you can get there from Dubai. Emirates is already running regular flights to London Heathrow.
South Korea has reopened to visitors with a comprehensive four-step plan in place that includes health declaration forms, temperature scanners and a mobile app that travellers must download and use to submit their health status while in the country. All travellers will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival, with tests paid for by the Korean government. Travellers must self-quarantine for 14 days.
If you have time to spare and want a fascinating holiday to the land of K-Pop, beauty products and delicious cuisine, Emirates has resumed flights to Seoul with fares for the eight-hour journey starting from about Dh4,600.
The first European country to declare an end to its coronavirus epidemic, Slovenia has also reopened to travellers with restrictions dropped on May 15. Tourists from several countries can visit, with those visiting from outside the EU, including the UAE, having to undertake a two-week quarantine upon arrival. Strict safety regulations have been implemented at hotels, on public transport and at tourism sites across the country, so that once quarantine is over, you can feel safe getting out and exploring.
And there's plenty of exploring to do thanks to the country's enviable location surrounded by the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Basin, a trip to Slovenia is the ideal antidote to months spent indoors. The country is building a name for itself as a gastronomic hub, with the launch of its first ever Michelin guide in June this year. There are no direct flights from Dubai, but you can get there via Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt, or fly direct to Vienna with Emirates then drive from Austria into Slovenia.
Ukraine has opened its borders to travellers from all countries including the UAE, however some tourists must self-isolate upon arrival. Ukrainian authorities have listed all countries as either green or red, depending on how many active cases of Covid-19 they have. Red countries mean a place has more than 40 cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 people. The UAE is currently listed red, so travellers visiting Ukraine must undergo a two-week isolation period. This can be done in a place of residence or in a government-selected facility. Travellers who choose to self-isolate will have to install a state-developed app called DIY Vdoma, which monitors people via their location.
Even travellers with negative Covid-19 test results need to isolate.
Summer can be an amazing time to visit Ukraine with sunny days and cooler nights. Hiking and trekking in the Carpathian Mountains, bathing in mineral springs at the Truskavets or enjoying a city break in Kyiv, perhaps one of the most atmospheric cities in all of Europe, should be on your to-do list.
The Seychelles (open to private jets and yachts only)
While you can technically visit the Seychelles, only travellers arriving by private jet are currently being welcomed into the Indian Ocean nation with no other commercial flights available. Even the elite travellers face strict rules, with 14-day quarantine procedures in place, as well as Covid-19 testing. Across the islands, hotels, restaurants, beaches and national parks have started to reopen. Phase two of the islands' reopening will commence in August, when the airport will be opened to scheduled flights.
Tunisia reopened land, sea and air borders on Saturday, June 27. Initially the country said it would reopen to all nationalities but this has been delayed with entry restricted to countries on Tunisia's green or orange safe lists. The UAE is not included so anyone planning to travel to the North African country will have to wait a bit longer.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate and rolling coastlines, some of the oldest cities in this region of Africa and plenty of history, it's worth waiting for. Opt for beach views in Gammarth, where The Residence Tunisia is welcoming guests and taking safety seriously. The resort has increased hygiene and disinfection measures, social distancing is in place across restaurants and on the beach, and gloves and masks are obligatory for children attending the kids club.
If freshwater and forests are more your thing, head to Lake Ichkeul or Ain Draham or visit Douz, Tunisia's gateway to the empty dunes of the Sahara. From the UAE, the flight time is approximately six-and-a-half hours and Emirates flies direct with fares from about Dh3,000.
Countries you'll be able to visit: these are opening up soon
Where better to find isolation that feels like paradise than in a country made up of 200 islands? After flirting with the idea of a lengthy minimum stay and expensive tourism visas, the Maldives will reopen to travellers with neither of these restrictions.
The islands are opening to travellers on July 15. When that date rolls around, you can fly from Dubai with fares for the four-hour flight starting from about Dh4,000. Known for its luxurious resorts, overwater villas and pristine shorelines, only your budget dictates what type of holiday you'll have.
Want to indulge in a tropical island all to yourself with a team of socially distanced staff to cater to your every need? The five-star Naladhu Private Island Maldives by Anantara can be booked exclusively for you and up to 50 of your friends and family. The tropical oceanfront isle doesn't come cheap, with rates from $35,000 (Dh128,000) per night. If, like most people, that's a bit beyond your budget, several of the island's resorts are trying to encourage travellers to return by offering complimentary seaplane transfers, room upgrades or all-inclusive options, so hunt for a good deal.
Prime minister Giorgi Gakharia restarted domestic tourism in Georgia on June 15, and said international tourists will be admitted from Friday, July 31. The reopening will be done in a phased manner, and it's not yet clear which phase the UAE will fall into.
In the interests of safety, the government has collated a list of approved hotels across the country that travellers can book into where hygiene standards and sanitation procedures are deemed up to par.
If it's a coastal escape that you need, head to Batumi, where the subtropical climate, the Black Sea and a picturesque Old Town await. Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, offers an old-world city break with culture around every corner and affordable places to dine and shop. Fewer than four hours away, travellers can fly directly from Dubai to Tblisi with Flydubai.
Malta is gearing up to welcome back tourists. The Mediterranean island reopened to travellers from 22 European countries including Germany, Austria and Norway, from Wednesday, July 1. Restrictions on all other flight destinations will be lifted on Wednesday, July 15.
Tourists will undergo thermal screening on arrival and have to fill in a self-declaration form, detailing their whereabouts in the past 30 days. Face masks or shields will be compulsory in places where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.
The island – part of an archipelago that consists of Malta, Gozo and Comino – will allow travellers to move between the destinations, with ferries and boats to Gozo and Comino operating as normal.
Malta is located 93 kilometres south of the Italian island of Sicily, and is known for its beautiful ocean landscapes, ancient archaeological sites and sunshine-laced climes. Emirates will operate flights to Malta, with a connection in Cyprus, from August, according to its website.
If you’ve been dreaming of an African safari, things could be looking up as Kenya is poised to reopen to travellers.
Kenya will reopen to international flights and tourists from Saturday, August 1, said President Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised address on July 6. The country will also lift internal travel restrictions on the same day so that people can move freely around the country. A movement ban in and out of Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and Mandera in the northeast has been lifted immediately, but an overnight curfew remains in place.
The east African nation has been closed to visitors since March 25. Summer is peak tourism time for many parts of Kenya as it is the country’s dry season and the best time to spot wildlife. It’s also when tourists flock to its wildlife-filled lands to see the Great Migration.
No news has yet been released on entry requirements and there is also the possibility that reopening may be delayed if there is any peak in Kenya’s Covid-19 case numbers. So while it might not quite be time to book a flight, it’s definitely one to keep on your radar.
The Indonesian resort island is preparing to reopen to foreign arrivals in September. The idyllic Southeast Asian island will gradually reopen in July for domestic tourists, while maintaining strict health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Tourism is Bali's main source of income and hotels, restaurants and attractions across the island are preparing to welcome international tourists back by implementing and improving new health protocols. The island has contained the spread of Covid-19 effectively with only 20 deaths reported.
Known for its lush jungles, countless temples and stunning shorelines that are also a surfer's paradise, it's worth putting on your visit list for when September rolls around.
Updated: July 9, 2020 12:48 PM