The louvre

Europe is opening up to Americans. How to see the Louvre, Buckingham, the Colosseum, etc.


The door to European destinations continues to open for Americans – and in some cases it has been wide open for weeks already. But even if coronavirus-era border restrictions continue to fall, travelers shouldn’t expect their trips to feel like pre-pandemic visits.

“We are delighted that the EU is welcoming Americans back, but ‘open’ does not mean ‘pre-Covid standards’, and whatever rules exist today, they will no doubt continue to change in the days, weeks and months ahead,” Jennifer Tombaugh, president of tour and river cruise operator Tauck, said in an email.

This word of caution applies especially to some of the continent’s most popular attractions, which are often overwhelmed with crowds even in normal times. With social distancing measures and reduced capacity, getting to a favorite place – especially in tight indoor spaces – could be more difficult than ever.

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Tombaugh says travelers should do advanced research for any place they hope to visit, allow extra time and bring proof of vaccinations if they are going to a place that requires it. She suggests working with a travel consultant or tour operator who will keep up to date with local requirements.

Countries and attractions will emphasize safety and security, Luís Araújo, president of the European Travel Commission, said in a statement. He said travelers should check the websites of national tourist boards, the Re-Open EU app or Visit Europe for information on rules from country to country. And visitors should check if advance reservations will be required at popular venues.

“However, with appropriate safeguards in place, we are confident that American travelers will finally be able to fully enjoy their favorite European destinations,” he wrote in the statement.

Some of Europe’s most visited attractions are open or will reopen soon, with new restrictions travelers should keep in mind. And while many countries like France, Italy, Spain and Greece are open to American travelers with some restrictions, others like England still require Americans to quarantine upon arrival.

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The famous museum in Paris requires everyone, even those eligible for free admission, to book a time slot for their visit. Payments to the museum can only be made by card.

Masks are mandatory for anyone over the age of 11 and will not be provided by the museum. Visitors must use the hand sanitizer dispenser before entering and they must observe social distancing rules.

Restaurants and cafes are closed, but some outdoor dining facilities are open. Some rooms are temporarily closed and the Salle des Etats – where the Mona Lisa is on display – has separate doors for entry and exit.

The iconic Paris attraction reopens on July 16, with tickets already on sale in advance – and early reopening dates are tight. Face masks and physical distancing will be required.

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Britain’s royal residences have introduced advance booking and timed ticketing and reduced the number of people who can visit. A long list of security measures is available online.

Face coverings are mandatory in indoor spaces and security checkpoints, but not in outdoor spaces. They can be removed once seated at a table in cafes.

Some areas, such as the Royal Palace Stables, are temporarily closed to the public.

The monument in England limits the number of visitors and requires advance booking, even for those who can access free tickets. Face coverings are mandatory inside, including on shuttles. Visitors should bring their own. Some parts of the sites may be closed and some may have different routes than usual to follow.

Visitors to the Barcelona Basilica can only purchase tickets online. Everyone must wear a mask and keep a distance of six feet from others. People are asked not to bring bags to speed up the security process. Some spaces where distancing is not possible will remain closed.

Visitors to the Athens Archaeological Site should keep approximately four and a half feet apart. The maximum number of visitors allowed in a group is 20, unless the members belong to the same family. Masks are mandatory for ages 4 and up.

Reservations are required and certain areas of the ancient site of Rome are prohibited. Masks are mandatory and visitors’ temperatures will be taken at the entrance. Everyone must keep a distance of one meter.

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The Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, require advance reservations with specific entry times. Entry is staggered in 30-minute intervals, and if anyone shows up late, they will not be allowed entry and will not be eligible for a refund.

Face coverings are mandatory to enter the Vatican Museums and Gardens, and everyone should have their temperature checked. Visitors should avoid gatherings and keep a distance of more than three feet from others.