22 Best countries without COVID travel restrictions in 2022 – UPDATED
Since early 2020 one of the most popular questions we’ve received is “Where can I travel without COVID restrictions?” And the answers until recently were extremely disappointing. Countries without COVID travel restrictions were nowhere to be found and basically the entire world locked down and closed their borders.
The summer of 2021 was looking a little promising, until the Delta variant took over in May and almost every country tightened restrictions rather than loosening them. Even finding places to travel without a COVID test was almost impossible, but finally that has changed in a big way.
In case you haven’t heard, many of the world’s best travel destinations decided in early 2022 that they were entering a new phase of the pandemic where they decided it was safe enough to let residents and visitors be as careful as they’d like to be, and get on with life.
Where can I travel without a covid test or vaccination
As of May 2022, there is an impressive list of great destinations that no longer check for vaccination and don’t require any kind of pre-entry COVID test, much less a quarantine. The list is below and there is something for everyone.
There are several Caribbean countries that don’t require covid vaccinations for travel, including the most popular ones for all-inclusive resorts. In most cases, Americans (and most other nationalities) can travel without even so much as a COVID test.
UPDATE: As of June 12, 2022, the United States has joined the list below and visitors (and returning citizens) NO LONGER NEED a negative COVID test before entering the country. This is a huge development for some people because even if you went to a country that has dropped testing and restrictions, you’d still get the testing when you came home.
The authorities say that testing may be required again in the future if things get quite a bit worse, so fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen.
Countries that don’t require COVID vaccinations for travel
Latin America and the Caribbean
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed, but visitors may be subject to health screenings on arrival.
Mexico has been the go-to destination for Americans and Canadians through most of the pandemic, with few restrictions since the earliest days. The country has had its fair share of COVID cases, but it hasn’t seen large tourist outbreaks because most dining, shopping, and recreation are done outdoors all year round anyway.
Almost criminally underrated, Mexico City has surprisingly mild weather all year round due to its elevation, and the culture is world-class. The tourist districts are generally clean, modern, gorgeous, and welcoming, although it does help if you know at least a bit of Spanish.
Combining Mexico City for a few culture days with a few beach days at one of the resort towns can be a great and refreshing week.
The huge Cancun airport has incoming flights from everywhere and it serves all of these nearby resort areas in addition to the trendier Tulum just to their south. The summer weather in this area is quite bearable, especially with the constant sea breezes.
If you want a big resort then Cancun might be the best option, but if you prefer a town with far more dining and shopping options then Playa del Carmen is the place to go.
Anyone in the western half of North America might find it faster and easier to get to Puerto Vallarta than Cancun. This historic town is also packed with culture and lovely sunset beaches, along with plenty of great resort options either north or south of the main town center.
There are many really nice resorts directly on the beach and close to the airport, but still also only a short taxi ride into the tourist zone of the old town area.
The southern tip of Baja California is an upscale and busy resort area that is popular with celebrities and other west-coasters. The fun and busy marina in Cabo San Lucas is the best place for shopping and nightlife, but there are also dozens of great resorts along the beach between the marina and San Jose del Cabo, which is the slightly larger town closer to the airport.
Since the Cabo area is so isolated from the rest of Mexico, geographically speaking, it has kind of an island feel to it. The area also feels totally safe, which unfortunately isn’t true of some of the other traditional resort areas such as Acapulco.
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed
Arguably Central America’s most well-organized country for tourists (sorry, Panama), Costa Rica has lifted all COVID restrictions and everyone is welcome. The country is obviously known for its beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, but it’s also got a popular volcano and a great number of national parks that you can visit.
The country’s capital is nothing special, but it does have the main airport so it’s where most visitors land to begin their stay. San Jose is also the main transportation hub for the country, so you can get almost anywhere in a reasonable time.
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is very different from the Pacific coast and many people prefer it. Unsurprisingly, the Caribbean coast tends to be more laid-back and mellow.
The main beach resort area along the Pacific, the Guanacaste area also has its own large airport and so it’s more convenient for anyone coming to stay at a resort or in one of the many fishing towns that are now also tourism hubs along the coast.
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed, but visitors have to complete an electronic travel form and have their temperatures checked upon arrival. If you aren’t vaccinated or if you show symptoms you might be selected for a COVID test upon arrival, but vaccination itself isn’t mandatory.
Some history buffs might appreciate the DR for having one of the oldest capital cities in the Americas, but honestly almost everyone comes here to spend most or all of their time at a resort. More specifically, the all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic are among the great travel bargains of the world, and many of them are just as affordable as a beach hotel where you have to pay separately for food and booze.
The large region along the southeastern coast of the island, Punta Cana is by far the largest and arguably nicest cluster of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. The beaches are clean and lovely, and the modern airport is surprisingly efficient.
Water sports and boat trips are plentiful, but there isn’t much culture to see or even traditional towns to see how the locals live. If you want a weirdly affordable beach hotel to relax and enjoy some wonderful food and drinks, Punta Cana is about as good as it gets.
Samana, Puerto Plata, and La Romana
These are three alternatives to Punta Cana if for some reason you’d prefer to go elsewhere. Puerto Plata is more old-school along the north coast, and sometimes even cheaper than Punta Cana. The other two are smaller and a bit more exclusive, although you’ll find many of the same resort names at all of them so they are a bit interchangeable.
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed and no restrictions of any kind
If you want to stay at a beach resort and you prefer an island where everyone speaks English, then Jamaica is probably your cheapest and best option. Similar to the Dominican Republic, this is an island where most visitors fly in and then spend most or all of their holiday on the grounds of their resort. There are three main clusters of resorts along the northern and western coasts, and all three of them are served by the busy airport in Montego Bay.
The most convenient of the three main resort areas, Montego Bay has an airport almost at the edge of its modest downtown zone, so visitors can walk off the plane and then be checking into their hotel less than an hour later. The tourist zone is known as the Hip Strip, but it’s probably not even worth a visit so the move is to just pick a nice hotel in the area that has everything you need, and then just stay there.
Upscale travelers who are looking for something special might enjoy booking an overwater bungalow at Sandals Royal Caribbean, which is also surprisingly close to the airport.
Also a cruise port, Ocho Rios is a small town along the northern coast of Jamaica with a similar array of all-inclusive and beach resorts to choose from. In fact, there are large and lovely hotels spread all along the coast between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, and many of the better ones are in between.
Visitors to Ocho Rios can also expect a disappointing tourist zone so it’s best to choose an all-inclusive resort and plan on staying there. The Dunn’s River Falls is a pretty fun recreation zone and worth a day trip, hopefully when there isn’t a cruise ship in port.
Along the west (sunset) coast of Jamaica you’ll find scores of different kinds of small hotels and big resorts in the greater Negril area. Again, the town itself barely exists, but unlike the other areas Negril actually has loads of small beach shops, restaurants, and bars, so it feels far more local and old-school.
Negril also has affordable family-run hotels right along Seven Mile Beach, mixed in between some of the major resort hotels. If you really want to feel like you’ve been to “Jamaica” instead of just a beach resort in Jamaica, then Negril is your best choice.
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed, but you do have to fill out a health form before you arrive. Aruba also requires you to buy Aruba Visitors Insurance, which is only US$15 per person for your whole stay.
These three Dutch islands in the southern Caribbean could be interesting alternatives for those who want to find something more low key. They are all mostly flat (rather than volcanic) and none of them are known for having an abundance of amazing beaches. They are all known for great diving and snorkeling, and there are many other water sports available as well.
Another advantage to the ABC islands is that their location just north of Venezuela keeps them in the lowest probability zone for hurricanes in the Caribbean, so they are even a reasonably safe choice in September when the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have some potential of being menaced by a tropical storm or worse.
>>>Aruba.com current entry requirements (the others should be the same as they are all part of the Netherlands)
COVID situation: This Caribbean island is famously run by the French in the north and the Netherlands in the south, and since the airport is in the Dutch part, the island is open to unvaccinated visitors who can show a negative COVID test a day or two before arrival.
Probably the most photogenic of the Caribbean islands on this list, Sint Maarten could be another good choice for those who don’t want to go through a huge airport and stay at a large all-inclusive resort. The island has quite a few large hotels, but also plenty of smaller ones, and its share of casinos as well.
As you might expect, the food tends to be better in the French part of the island, but aside from that there isn’t much difference between them. When checking hotels online they are all on the same list, so just choose the best deal and don’t worry about which zone it’s in.
After two years of being mostly closed to the outside world, a surprising number of European countries have decided in early 2022 to transition to living with the endemic and are now completely open to visitors, just as they were in 2019.
COVID situation: No vaccination or testing needed in any of the European countries below
United Kingdom and Ireland
Two countries that don’t need much of an introduction, it’s fortunate that both of them have dropped their COVID restrictions so it’s possible to visit both of them on the same trip.
London has no shortage of fans and it’s easily the largest and most popular of the cities that have finally lifted restrictions for incoming travelers. It would take at least two or three whole paragraphs to discuss all of the reasons why you should visit London, but chances are you already know.
If you’ve never been to London, what are you waiting for? And if you’ve already visited then you know why you want to visit again already.
Even if you’ve been to London a few times it’s possible that you’ve neglected Scotland, and it’s time to change that. Edinburgh is the historic capital and it does feel a bit like London in some ways, but it’s very different in others. It’s also compact enough that most of the main sights are within walking distance of each other within the gorgeous historic center.
If you’ve got a few more extra days you should treat yourself to a visit to Inverness, which is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. The northern and western parts of Scotland have some of the most gorgeous scenery in all of Europe, and a fascinating culture to go along with it.
Ireland’s capital is definitely worth a visit if you’ve got the time, but honestly most visitors get more joy out of exploring the islands small towns and general scenery. You can get around by train or bus, although many recommend renting a car so you can see everything and stop wherever you want along the way.
Even the secondary cities such as Galway and Cork are worth a look if you’ve got time. Fortunately, Ireland is relatively small so you can see a lot in just a few days as long as you plan in advance.
Joining the list as of June 1, 2022, Italy has dropped all restrictions for travelers including a vaccination requirement. This is a big development as Italy is always at or near the top of the most popular countries for non-European visitors each year. In fact, Italy is one of the best countries on this list where first-time visitors can come and spend one to two weeks moving around and feel like you are seeing new things in each stop.
Italy is famous for its “Big 3” tourist cities and those should all be on any first-time itinerary if possible, but there are more great choices on the link above for those with more than a week to spend.
The capital and largest city, Rome has one of the country’s two busiest airports so it’s a great first and/or last stop. Packed with famous and important sights, The Eternal City is perfect for about three days, but maybe not longer on your first visit. It’s somewhat chaotic and hotels can be surprisingly expensive.
Venice has been a tourist stop for hundreds of years and it’s unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else in the world. You might see cities calling themselves “the Venice of (some other country or region) and none of them are even close to the real thing. Fortunately, Venice is also compact enough that you can see the main sights in a day or two.
Florence is between the other two, and the three of them are conveniently connected by high-speed trains. This was the cultural capital of Europe during the renaissance period so it’s packed with worthwhile sights, and it’s surprisingly different from the other two. Plus, Florence is the capital of Tuscany so it’s probably the best food stop of the three.
If you are looking for Europe’s most scenic country, you’ve found it in Switzerland. Unfortunately this is also Europe’s most expensive country so it’s important to plan ahead and make a few compromises if you aren’t yet rich. Zurich is the largest city and it’s known for bank headquarters and watches, and it’s probably better to skip it unless you have quite a bit of extra time and money.
The small and touristy town of Interlaken is the transportation hub and headquarters for the area that contains some of the world’s best sceneries and vistas. Specifically it’s the Lauterbrunnen Valley, just a bit south of Interlaken, that you won’t believe even if you see it in person.
Plan to spend at least two or three days in this area and choose from the Jungfraujoch railway to Europe’s highest train station, or the cable car up to Schilthorn, which has similarly amazing views across the valley. Do both if you can afford them because they are very different from one another.
Switzerland has a few larger cities and they tend to be duds for tourism, but Lucerne is a real winner and is definitely the other place that you should include in your trip to Switzerland. Take a cruise on the lake and combine that with a cable car or train ride up one or more of the nearby peaks.
Unlike Interlaken, Lucerne is a lovely city that is a pleasure to visit and explore. Interlaken is fun and touristy, but Lucerne is a classy and lovely small city that actually lives up to the stunning views in the Alps in the south of the country.
Just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia is famous for its long coastline, beach towns, and islands. The capital city of Zagreb feels like a dud compared to the beach areas, and it’s probably not worth visiting for most tourists.
Croatia’s most famous city is truly a stunner, but it’s also small and extremely touristy so it may not be the best choice for everyone. The historic area inside the impressive city walls is absolutely worth a visit, especially if it’s a rare day with no cruise ships in port.
The good news is that there are hotels along the beach all throughout the area and most of them have access to smaller local restaurants and shops, so you don’t have to spend time in the heavy tourist zone if you’d rather not.
Perhaps a bit less impressive than Dubrovnik, Split is also surprisingly similar with a historic district made almost entirely out of marble. It’s also a bit older with more history, if maybe not quite as flashy. And since there isn’t a big cruise port in Split, it’s much less touristy feeling and quite a bit cheaper as well.
There are also beach hotels up and down the coast from the historic center, as well as nearby islands that are easily reached from frequent service from the port right in town.
You may know it as Czech Republic, but they prefer to be called Czechia and I prefer it as well. Prague is the obvious first choice to visit here, but not the only choice.
Easily one of Europe’s most beautiful and interesting cities, Prague is a place that everyone should try to see at least once. It’s true that it’s not as cheap as it once was, but it’s still great value compared to the likes of Paris, Rome, or London.
The architecture here is a real highlight with more distinct styles in one place than almost anywhere else in the world. Hotels can be pricey, but if you book a place just a bit out of the way you can still find a great deal. And the excellent beer is still very cheap by most standards as well.
If you are going to Prague and you have an extra two or three days then you owe it to yourself to visit Cesky Krumlov, which is Czechia’s second busiest tourist city in spite of its tiny size. This is a storybook medieval town with a castle poised over the town center, which is surrounded by a very photogenic serpentine river.
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland
All of the Scandinavian countries are open to visitors with no restrictions in 2022, so let’s discuss the main highlights of all of them together, shall we? One thing they all have in common is an extreme northern latitude, which means that it stays light until almost midnight in June and July. If you haven’t experienced that yourself, it’s definitely a worthwhile novelty.
Another of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Copenhagen is worth visiting even if you don’t have Danish lineage yourself. It’s true that the only semi-famous checklist attraction is the rather disappointing Little Mermaid statue, but it’s really the whole central city that is the star here.
The Tivoli Gardens amusement park is right in the heart of town, and the Stroget pedestrian shopping street is one of the oldest and most impressive of its kind in Europe. Hotels and alcohol are expensive here, but there are plenty of free and cheap things to do as well.
While Oslo is Norway’s largest city and capital, it’s honestly kind of a dud compared to Bergen along the west coast. Not only is Bergen the gateway to the Norwegian fjords, but it’s also a lovely and historic fishing city that is unlike any other town you’ve probably seen.
If you’ve got more time to spend in Norway then visiting Oslo is worth a couple days as well. They also have extremely scenic fjord cruises that last anyway from a few hours to a week.
The description of Copenhagen above could also mostly cover Stockholm because they have a lot of things in common, although they don’t actually look much alike. Stockholm is set on a series of islands and the water and bridges dominate the scenery in much of the city. Again, it’s the pleasantness of the city that is a big part of its appeal, although it’s hard to describe until you’ve experienced it yourself.
Reykjavik and Iceland in general
Somehow Reykjavik developed a reputation is a party city, but honestly it’s quite bland and insanely expensive compared to most other European capitals. The real reason to visit Iceland is the scenery itself, so it’s best not to linger in the capital for more than a day or two before you rent a car and drive the Ring Road around the perimeter of the island.
If you don’t have a week to drive the whole Ring Road then it’s best to focus on the southern coast of Iceland, which contains the greatest concentration of major sights. Hotels and food in Iceland are also quite expensive, but almost all of the sights (including parking) are actually free.
High on the list that every serious traveler should visit at least once in their lives, Greece has both history and hedonism going for it. First-time visitors should absolutely stop in Athens for at least two or three days, and then head to one or more of the famous islands for a bit of relaxation and recreation.
Even those who didn’t pay any attention at all in history class know the Athens is one of the world’s oldest and most important major cities, so at least a short visit is a must. The main sights such as the Acropolis and Parthenon can comfortably be seen in two or three days, and that is probably long enough for most casual visitors as well.
The historic center of town is a pleasure to experience with the outdoor cafes and trendy bars mixed among the shops. As long as you don’t seriously dislike Greek food, the culinary experience here will be a pleasure, with fairly reasonable prices as well.
These are arguably the three most famous of the Greek islands, with Santorini being the standout all things being equal. Each of them has some historic sights and culture, but mostly they are packed with Europeans enjoying the sunshine during the day and the restaurants and bars in the evenings.
Santorini is the most photogenic, but also the most crowded unless you can visit on a day when there are no cruise ships in town. There are hundreds of other Greek islands and dozens of them with beach hotels and such, so those wanting something quiet can find it with only a bit of research.
One of Europe’s great travel bargains, Hungary is a great option for those who have been to London, Paris, and Vienna, and want to see something a bit different.
On the surface, Budapest has an awful lot in common with Prague (see above) and you can practically use the same city map to visit both of them. But Budapest is much more grand in scale and it feels very different once you are there.
Budapest is much cheaper than Prague and most other similar cities, and you can even find great hotel bargains as long as you book something without a river view. And of course the famous hot spring spas around town are a novelty that no one should skip on their first visit.
Also very high on the value scale, Poland is a magnet for budget travelers who want to experience gorgeous cities and interesting cultures without breaking the bank. The capital city of Warsaw is a bit out of the way and not as interesting for most tourists, so the best place to go is Krakow.
Every year we produce a list of the cheapest cities in Europe for backpackers, and Krakow is always near the top of the list. Fortunately, it’s also as lovely and interesting as it is cheap. The city center is dominated by a historic square that is uniquely surrounded by a pleasant park.
Among the most visited sights are Auschwitz, which is as unforgettable and somber at the same time. But Krakow also has great nightlife and food, all at prices that are shockingly cheap considering how nice the place is.