Here you’ll find useful information for preparing your trip to Greece. We give you practical tips on documentation, safety, healthcare, what clothes to pack, currency, tourist cards, public holidays… so you’re all set when you arrive. You’ll find the whole list below. Enjoy!
Capital of Greece : Athens
Official language: Greek
The currency : Euro(€)
Population: 11.306.183 (2010 estimate)
The country is a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy
Calling code: The international calling code of Greece is +30
Greece is a Member-State of the European Union and uses its uniform currency – the Euro. Greece, as is the case with the other Member-States of the E.U. uses eight coins as follows: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents (lepta in Greek) and 1 and 2 Euros. The banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros.
Currency exchange rates are clearly displayed in every bank that accepts currency exchange, while credit card holders may acquire money from the ATMs of the collaborating banks. Greek banks are open for the public from 8:00 to 14:30 Mondays to Thursdays and from 8:00 to 13:30 on Fridays. They are closed on Public Holidays.
Euros can also be exchanged for notes of other foreign currencies at exchange offices that are situated at the airport and certain main ports, in the larger cities, as well as at many tourist destinations. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.
Time Zone & Local Holidays
Time Greece: GMT +2
National celebrations and Holidays
-New Years Day: 1st of January
-Epiphany: 6th of January. Sea water is consecrated in the area of Piraeus. The priests throw the Cross into the sea and young men dive to catch it.
-Ash Monday: 41 days before Easter. It is the day people begin the Lent. On Ash Monday Greeks fly kites, eat meatless food and celebrate Koulouma. Athenians gather on Philopappou Hill.
-Independence Day & Celebration of Evaggelismos: 25th of March. Military parade.
-Easter: From Holy Friday until Easter Monday. On Holy Friday evening every church decorates the Epitaph (Bier of Christ). During the procession of the Epitaph the streets of every city or village in the country are full of people. It is a religious procession where everybody holds lit candles in their hands and sings hymns.
-Night of the Resurrection: It is celebrated in midnight before Easter Sunday with fireworks and candles.
-Easter Sunday: On Easter Sunday Greeks eat barbecue lamb. The celebrations include singing and dancing all day long.
-Labor Day: 1st of May. Flower feasts all around Athens.
-Pentecost: It is celebrated 50 days after Easter.
-Assumption of the Virgin Mary: 15th of August.
-28th of October: National Celebration. Military parade.
-Christmas: 25th-26th of December.
Health & Safety:
In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency. You can find more information about the EHIC in the official European Commission site.
In these cases, the necessary treatment in Greece is provided by:
-Social Security Institute Health Units (polyclinics) or doctor’s offices in the region;
-Regional clinics (former rural clinics) or the Health Centres of the National Health System; and
-the outpatients’ departments of the hospitals on contract
In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union wishing to visit Greece must consult their social security agency for information before travelling.
In case of emergency call:
– European emergency number: 112
– Ambulance Service: 166
– SOS Doctors : 1016
– Duty Hospitals and Clinics: 1434
– Pharmacies: 1434
– Open Line for alcohol drug Addiction: 210 36 17 089
– Poisoning First Aid: 210 77 93 777
– Police: 100
– Tourist Police: 1571
Before you travel:
Before you travel in Greece, it is advisable to bear in mind the following:
-Depending on your country of origin, you might need a passport and a visa; you could obtain a visa through the Greek consulate nearest to your residence.
-Call your bank or your credit card company to let them know that you will be using it in Greece.
-The Electric Current in Greece is 230V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a transformer and British ones an adaptor.
-In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency. Tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union must consult their social security agency for information before travelling.
-Contact your phone company in order to make sure that your can use your mobile phone in Greece.
-As a consumer, you are protected by Greek consumer protection law for all transactions you make while travelling in the country.
Dear friends of Greece,
When travelling to our country, it is advisable to bear in mind the following:
All visitors to Greece and anyone with a credit/debit card issued in a foreign country will not be affected by the measures to limit bank withdrawals. The measures announced recently, do not apply to those wishing to make transactions and withdrawals with a credit/debit card issued in their home country.”
As a consumer, you are protected by Greek consumer protection law for all transactions you make while travelling in the country. All enterprises, regardless of their nature (tourist or otherwise), are obliged to issue written receipts for the total amount they receive. Possession of a receipt safeguards the consumer in the event of any claim or dispute with the enterprises. Foreign visitors must ensure that they have valid medical cover before departing.
The following is valid during your stay:
The hotelier is obliged to lisence vacant rooms to customers and provide all advertised amenities.
Within 3 days of receiving an enquiry for a room, by any means (telephone, letter, or email), the hotelier is obliged to inform the customer by print whether or not they accept the booking, and include details on the booking (type of room, length of stay, price). A written response protects both the customer and the hotelier.
The deposit for the booking cannot exceed the 25% of the total accommodation cost, and on the other hand cannot be less than the charge for one night.
In the event that the customer wishes to cancel a booking, and the cancellation is made 21 days prior to the agreed arrival date, the hotelier is obliged to refund the deposit in full, while for cancellations made within 21 days, the customer must pay the hotelier the 50% of the total cost of the cancelled booking.
In the event that the hotelier is unable to provide rooms they have confirmed with customers, they are obliged to secure customers’ stay in alternative accommodation of at least the same category, in the same town, which offers the same amenities and services as those advertised by their own establishment.
The hotelier is only responsible for valuable belongings entrusted to them by the customer, and for which they have issued the relevant receipt.
Keeping pets of any kind in a hotel is forbidden, unless the hotel provides a designated area for pets. In all cases, a prior arrangement on this issue must be made between the hotelier and the tourist-consumer.
The following is valid for transactions with tourist agencies:
The tourist agency is responsible to the consumer for all the services they have sold, including those provided by third parties (hotels, restaurants, car rentals, etc.), except in cases of personal or third party liability, or force majeure.
In all cases, the customers of a tourist agency or car rental agency must be informed by print about the terms under which services or products are provided prior to making a purchase.
Specifically, for Organized Trips (P.O. 339/96), which Greek law defines as a fixed combination of at least two of the following elements, i.e. transport, accommodation or other services (participation in meetings or events of a professional, cultural or artistic nature, meals, guided tours etc.), it is obligatory to sign a relevant contract, which includes:
The terms attached to the services included in the contract (cost and category of accommodation).
Means of transport, meals included, itinerary, information pertaining to passports and necessary visas, cancellation policy, guided tours, entry to archaeological sites and museums, other recreational services, etc.).
An insurance policy which will state by print that in case of insolvency or bankruptcy of the tourist agency, the consumer, above and beyond other claims, will be entitled to a refund of the full amount paid, as well as immediate payment of repatriation expenses.
In all cases, the tourist-consumer:
Should acquire, for their own convenience, detailed information regarding the use of public transport at their destination, especially with regards to the cost of the journey, ticket validity and cancellations, and recommended arrival times in advance of the departure of the service.
Has to be aware, when using taxis, that drivers are obliged, upon request, to issue official receipts for the total cost of the journey, which include vehicle’s registration number and owner’s name.
In the event of any omission or violations of the above, you may submit a complaint or claim on a 24h basis to the Tourist Police at the number 1571.
Climate – Weather:
Greece has a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine, mild temperatures and a limited amount of rainfall. Due to the country’s geographical position, its rugged relief and its distribution between the mainland and the sea, there is great variation in Greece’s climate. In summer, the dry hot days are cooled by seasonal winds called the meltemi, while mountainous regions have generally lower temperatures.The winters are mild in lowland areas, with a minimum amount of snow and ice, yet, mountains are usually snow-covered. Moreover, a common phenomenon is the occurrence of different climactic conditions during the same season (for instance, mild heat in coastal areas and cool temperatures in mountainous regions).
Data from the National Observatory of Athens www.meteo.gr
Passports and Visas:
Greece is a Member-State of the European Union and has signed the Schengen Agreement. While traveling within the E.U., you only need your Identity card. However, a passport is necessary for a number of other transactions, such as currency exchange, purchases, etc.
Visas are not required by European citizens from countries that are part of the Schengen Area. Greece as a member of the Schengen Agreement, has abolished controls on common internal lands, at air and sea borders and allows Member-State citizens to travel around without a visa for a short stay period of up to three (3) months. However, keep in mind that airlines and other carriers require a valid passport and/or identity card.
Citizens coming from countries that have not yet joined Schengen Area may require a visa to enter Greece. The E.U. visitors from these countries can acquire further information from the Hellenic Embassies or Consulates in their countries, or from their travel agencies. Before visiting Greece, please consult the detailed information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website and find out whether you require a Visa.
Note: During your stay in Greece, if you require a Visa, you are advised to have suitable insurance coverage for emergency medical or other needs.