Greece Is The Word: Why It’s The Most-Booked European Destination For Summer

Greece vaccinated Americans
In May, Greece topped the list of most-booked summer destinations on Hopper, a booking app. GETTY

When it comes to attracting visitors for what is shaping up to be a huge summer travel season, it really pays for destinations to get out ahead of the pack. Last week, the European Union announced that its member countries would soon open to vaccinated travelers from outside the bloc, including Americans.

Very soon, those who are fully inoculated with E.U.-approved vaccines — including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — will be allowed to enter E.U. countries without having to produce a negative Covid test result or quarantine upon arrival.

But Greece already has a jump on its E.U. partners. The gorgeous Mediterranean nation is already open to travelers inoculated against Covid-19, and that has fueled something of a boom.

On the travel deal-finding site Hopper, bookings to Europe are up 38% in May compared to April, and travelers are looking for places they can go with little hassle. While many Americans are already booking flights to the usual suspects — London, Paris, Madrid and Rome — in anticipation of the E.U. bloc’s reopening, it’s clear that Greece’s head start has paid off.

So far this month, Hopper users have booked more summer flights to Greece than to anywhere else in Europe. Overall, booking volume for Athens is “up significantly” compared to this time in 2019, says Adit Damodaran, the site’s economist.

And there’s another big reason why Americans are booking getaways to Greece, points out Damodaran. Flights from the U.S. to Athens cost 18% less this summer than they did in 2019.

Greenlighting vaccinated travelers before most of the Continent clearly got the attention of the major airlines. There have never been so many non-stop flights from the U.S. to Greece, with new routes to Athens from Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The upshot is that Greece is not only cheaper but more convenient than in past years. And once in Athens, travelers can easily connect to one of Greece’s sensational islands, like Mykonos, Santorini or Corfu.

Lisbon cheap Europe this summer 2021
Bargain hunters should consider Lisbon this summer, says Hopper, the travel-booking site. GETTY

Iceland, another country that reopened early to vaccinated travelers, is also among the most-booked European destinations for summer, according to Hopper’s data. Like Greece, the land of fire and ice is a comparative bargain this summer. Delta and United added new routes to Reykjavik, which has kept fares 19% lower than in summer 2019.

But for travelers looking for the best European bargain of all, Hopper recommends Lisbon. “Athens and Lisbon are both up significantly in booking volumes compared to this time in 2019, with Lisbon offering particularly good deals on airfare,” says Damodaran.

That’s an understatement. Airfares from the U.S. to Lisbon are down a staggering 48% compared to pre-pandemic 2019. A “good deal” roundtrip flight to Lisbon costs $516 this summer, per Hopper. Compare that to roughly $850 for a roundtrip ticket to Paris and over $900 for London or Rome.

It’s something to consider when the floodgates to Europe finally open, perhaps as early as next week.

Source: Forbes



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