Summer 2021 Travel Tips: Getting a COVID-19 Test in Mykonos, Greece
Ah…the most fun part of traveling right now: COVID-19 testing before heading home. If you live in a country that still requires a COVID-19 Antigen or PCR test to return, read on to find out our experience getting a COVID-19 test in Mykonos Greece.
What’s the difference between PCR and Antigen?
First off, let me start by saying, we are spoiled by the ease of getting a COVID test in the Dominican Republic. There are many countries around the world who have been doing an exceptional job handling COVID-19 and tourism, and unfortunately Mykonos was not one of those places. We, frankly, took for granted to easy access to a clean, reliable clinic in the DR and considering Mykonos is one of the most visited tourist islands in Greece, we kind of expected the same, even better, than we had in the DR. If you’re heading to Mykonos and think hotels will handle the COVID testing for you like they do in the DR, Mexico and other countries, you are wholeheartedly incorrect. So here’s what you need to know:
First of all, let’s start with the difference between PCR and Antigen at the most basic level. A PCR test is still required in a number of countries around the world. You can read more about the specifics of a PCR test here, but in general, this test is more expensive and takes longer to get a result because it is a much more intricate process to verify the results. The USA only requires an Antigen test. You can read about antigen testing here, but in general, this operates much like a pregnancy test. It’s quick, hence the name “Rapid Antigen”, and takes much less machinery to operate, making it cheaper. One thing to note is that any Antigen test must be viral, aka nose or throat swab. Mykonos is only offering this type of antigen test anyway, so shouldn’t be an issue. The USA requires either an antigen or a PCR. Antigen tests are quicker, cheaper and typically much more accessible than PCR. This has been the requirement since January 26 and appears to be continuing for the rest of the summer. With that in mind, DO NOT forget to check your destination’s travel entry requirements to confirm which test you need.
1. There are only a few testing options in Mykonos
There are a few testing options on the island, and many of them will even come to you, or so they say. We booked an appointment with Sea Medical and they never bothered to show up for the appointment, so I do not recommend using their services. They do have walk in options and since they are a private clinic will cost you more than the local clinic. PCR testing at Sea Medical is 80 Euros and if they come to you, it costs 95 euros. As a note, at the time of writing this article, their website does not work so not sure what’s going on there.
During our debacle where Sea Medical did not show up, we ended up taking a cab into Mykonos and going to Mykonos Hygeia. They are located close to Mykonos Old Town and their testing is significantly less expensive. They charge 20 Euros for Antigen testing. I could not get a straight answer about the cost of the PCR test, but it appears to be 30-40 Euros.
Note, the antigen test will come back the next day. You can ask them to email you the results, but otherwise you will be required to pick up the results in person. The PCR test will take 2 days and they automatically email you the results.
There appears to be a new COVID testing option for significantly higher prices targeted at American travelers: Drip Hydration. At the lovely price of $229 for an antigen and $299 for the PCR, they too, claim to come to your home. Their turnaround time is not any faster than the clinics and for that price, you can test your whole family by going to the clinic.
2. Appointments for the clinics are not necessary
We spoke with many travelers in the line at the clinics who said they had made appointments, but ended up lumped into the general line with everyone else. If you plan to head to the clinic, the best time to show up is when they first open or around 3-5pm to avoid the lines. We arrived around 1 and the entire process took about 1 and a half hours, even with a long line.
3. Be persistent
The whole process was a bit of a mess, if we’re being honest. The line was a mess, the paperwork was a mess and no one really seemed to know how to control the crowds and get through it efficiently. Once we eventually got through the line and completed the paperwork (make sure you get the right document: PCR versus Antigen!!), the actual test itself was pretty quick. However, afterwards they told us we had to come back the next afternoon for our results. We told them that’s impossible, the rapid antigen test takes maximum 1 hour and we were departing in the morning. We needed the results by email and by that night to confirm. They pushed back pretty insistently but after some discussion, they agreed to email us the results by that evening.
4. It’s not the most sterile environment, so bring your mask and your hand sanitizer
Given the amount of people and the speed at which they were trying to get through the crowd, it wasn’t the most sterile environment. I never saw the doctors change gloves between travelers, which did seem a little be unsanitary. We did the best we could and hung back from the group, sanitized our hands and never touched anything else. One tip is to bring your own pen, because the doctors also touched the pens with the same gloves they used to do the tests.
5. If you book an appointment where they come to you…
There are a few options that involve the clinic coming to you, which is amazing when it works. Others in our travel party had great luck with this service. One thing to keep in mind is that if you do schedule this type of appointment, call the day before or the morning of to confirm they will show up. Due to how busy the clinics are in high season, many appointments get lost in the shuffle. There is no worse stress than worrying about getting your COVID test in time for your flight. If you are staying at a hotel, make sure you have them call the clinic to confirm your appointments. If you’re in a villa, give them a call yourself. Trust us, if we had done this, we wouldn’t have had to go to the clinic and spend our last day stressing about this!
Was it stressful? Yes. Was it fun? Absolutely not. But we made it! The results did come in that night and we were on our way home. At the end of the day, my recommendation is just to go to the clinic and get it done first thing in the morning or at the end of the day two days before your flight. The uncertainty of the clinic actually showing up to your scheduled appointment is not something I would take the risk on again, knowing that these clinics are just completely overwhelmed by visitors. Have you had COVID testing done in Mykonos? Let us know your experience in the comments!