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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

EXPLAINED: The European countries on UK’s ‘green’ travel lists and what that means

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have published changes to their green list countries for travel. Here's the situation for the nine countries covered by The Local, and for Brits living in those countries.

EXPLAINED: The European countries on UK's 'green' travel lists and what that means
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

The UK is operating a traffic light system for travel giving each country a designation – red, amber or green – based on data including case numbers and vaccination rates in the country.

The UK government does not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, so these rules apply to all arrivals, even those who have had both doses of the vaccine.

On Thursday, governments in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland announced changes to their lists.

On the amber list are all the countries The Local covers; Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

However things have changed for Spain’s Balearic islands, previously on the amber list they have now been moved to the green list by England, Scotland and Northern Ireland – which means people who have visited the islands do not need to quarantine.

You can find the full list here.

People can travel from amber list countries for any reason – there is no need to prove that your trip is essential and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

However, there are rules on testing and quarantine in place.

Arrivals must;

  • Have a negative Covid test to show at the border
  • Complete the passenger locator form – find that HERE
  • Quarantine for 10 days – this can be done in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member and there is no need to pay for a “quarantine hotel”.
  • Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost around £200 per person.

It should also be noted that the UK government advises against travel to amber list countries for leisure or tourism reasons. This isn’t a travel ban, but this kind of official advice can invalidate travel insurance, so check your policy before you travel.

There are some exemptions to the quarantine for compassionate reasons or for people in certain professions – find out more here.

Most countries require a negative Covid test for arrivals from the UK and some have quarantine in place, so check carefully the rules of the country you are travelling to or from.

On the subject of vaccinated travellers, a spokesman for the British Department of Transport told UK media: “In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries.

Member comments

  1. Does anyone know whether we can use an NHS lateral flow test as the rapid antigenic test for entry into Italy? These are now provided free of charge to all in the UK and we are being actively encouraged to test twice a week so I can’t see why they couldn’t be used. A negative result is evidenced by a text or email from the NHS with one’s name, date of birth and date of test so would seem to fulfil requirements?

  2. Is anyone actually considering going to the UK for holiday if you have to quarantine for 10 days before your vacation even starts? Even if your vaccinated? I’m for sure not. My British family won’t risk coming to visit us either because they can’t quarantine upon their return to England? What good is vaccination if they still treat you like you are sick? What good is vaccinated most of the people if you still think they can get sick and die? It’s not logical. Who knows when we’ll ever see our UK family again.

  3. So my son and family come to visit us in France for 3 weeks and we do everything together. Then we travel back to the UK together in 2 cars. We are all double vaccinated weeks ago. When we arrive in the UK and arrive at our UK house, his family is British, resident in the UK so they won’t quarantine. We are British but resident in France so we must quarantine. Can someone please explain the science behind this.

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HIKING

Eight of the best hikes in Catalonia

Long-term Catalonia resident and hiking enthusiast Esme Fox shares her tips and knowledge of some of the best routes in the northeastern region, with stunning waterfalls, volcanoes and lakes on the itinerary. 

Eight of the best hikes in Catalonia

Almost every region in Spain offers a great array of hiking routes, but perhaps some of the best and most diverse can be found in the northeastern region of Catalonia, where you have the Pyrenees in the north, the coast to the east and countless natural parks in the interior. 

Camí de Ronda
The longest and most picturesque of all the routes in Catalonia is the Camí de Ronda or Camino de Ronda. It runs all the way along the coast from the border with France down to the border with the Valencia region. Passing through quaint coastal villages, along clifftops and even through tunnels, the route was originally created by smugglers who used to take their loot from one bay to the next. Later, these routes were joined together to form one long one by the civil guard, in order to control and catch the criminals.

The trail runs for a whopping 583km throughout the whole region, but the most spectacular and well-known sections of the hike lie within the Costa Brava, which starts from Blanes and runs all the way up to Portbou on the French border. This part is around 220km long and can be done in 12 stages, taking a total of 12 days. It’s not necessary to do the whole route, however, you could easily take a single stage and make a day trip out of it. It’s best done in early summer before the crowds arrive or in September when it’s still warm enough to swim along the way, but all the holidaymakers have gone home.  

The Camino de Ronda takes you right along the coast. Photo: Esme Fox
 

Mont-Rebei Gorge
The Congost de Mont-Rebei gorge is one of the most striking in the whole of Catalonia, where incredible aquamarine waters run between dramatic ravines and lofty cliff tops and vultures soar overhead. It’s a popular route and is moderately challenging with several ascents and dips walking along narrow pathways or staircases clinging to the edge of the rock. It’s situated approximately a three-hour drive west of Barcelona on the border with Aragón. You can choose to hike longer or shorter sections of the route, but the main and most popular part is around 12km there and back.

Hike along the sides of a gorge at Mont Rebei. Photo: Ramon Perucho / Pixabay

Ruta dels 7 Gorgs
Near the small village of Campdevánol​​​ in the province of Girona, close to the foothills of the Pyrenees, you’ll find one of the most thrilling hikes on our list – the route of the seven waterfalls. It’s exactly like it sounds, a hiking route between seven different waterfalls. It’s best to go in summer as you can swim in each of the falls, letting the icy water from the Pyrenees cool you down on those hot Spanish days. It’s a circular route of just 10km, with an extra 6km if you’re walking from Campdevánol​​​ train station, but it could end up taking all day if you plan on swimming in each. The route is relatively easy, but there are some tricky steep parts getting down and up again from some of the waterfalls. Because it’s so popular, the number of people allowed in per day is limited and you must pay an eco-tax fee of €5 per person from June to November.

Take a dip in the Campdevánol waterfalls to cool down. Photo: Alberto-g-rovi / WikiCommons
 

Camí del Vi
Catalonia’s wine route lies within the Penedès, an area known for producing excellent wines and cavas and home to some of the best wineries in the region. It starts in the town of Vilafranca del Penedès, the capital of the wine region and runs for 3.5km, taking around three hours to complete in total, there and back. From the tourist office, you’ll walk through the town and then out into the vineyards themselves. Along the way are eight different stations where you will learn about wine production and the life cycle of the vine, as well as the different varieties of grapes that grow in the area. There are plenty of bodegas (wineries) near by where you can stop for a drink too. 

Hike the wine route in Catalonia. Photo: Esme Fox

Ruta de los 7 Lagos del Circ de Colomers
Between the National Park of Aigüestortes and the Vall d’Aran, just went of Andorra in the high Pyrenees lies the route of the seven lakes. It’s a total of 15km, but there are taxis that can take you from the car park to the beginning of the route and back, taking it down to just 7km. One of the most spectacularly beautiful hiking routes, as the name suggests, it passes seven glassy mountain lakes hemmed in by towering peaks and verdant forests. It’s of medium difficulty level, meaning it’s best if you have a bit of experience with hiking in the mountains.  

This hiking route takes you past seven mountain lakes. Photo: rodolfo7 / Pixabay

Ruta por los volcanes de la Garrotxa
Just north of Girona lies La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, which offers one of the best examples of volcanic landscapes on the Iberian Peninsula, featuring 40 ancient volcanic cones and around 20 old lava flows. One of the best ways to explore it is via the various hiking routes throughout the park. The best is the circular hike from La Fageda d’en Jordà to the Santa Margarida volcano and on to El Croscat volcano, which is 12km and takes just over four hours complete.

Hike through the land of ancient volcanoes in La Garrotxa. Photo: Carquinyol / WikiCommons

Subida al Pedraforca
The most challenging hike on our list is the ascent of Mount Pedraforca, located in the high Pyrenees, just below Andorra. It’s one of Catalonia’s most iconic-looking mountains – resembling a pitchfork with a small dip in between two soaring pointed peaks, one measuring 2444m and the other 2506m. The starting points generally begin at the Mirador de Gersolet viewpoint, but there are several routes to reach the top. It takes between five and seven hours to complete, depending on your experience but is best avoided in winter and early spring from December to April when the snow can make it even more difficult.

Challenge yourself with the ascent of Pedraforca. Photo: Josep Monter Martinez / Pixabay

Ruta de Carros de Foc
Another hike within the mighty National Park of Aigüestortes is the grand Carros de Foc or Chariots of Fire. It’s a circular route of 65km and takes between five to seven days to complete between nine different mountain refuges, where you can stay the night. The route is characterised by high mountains and large granite boulders, as well as several sparkling mountain lakes. You’ll need some experience and stamina to complete this one. 

Hike the Ruta de Carros de Foc. Photo: Ferran Ventura / Unsplash
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