There are few ways to prepare for your trip to Greece. Besides the obvious “don’t over-pack” or “don’t look too much like a tourist to avoid being pickpocketed”, there are some rules you should never break in Greece.
Interested in exploring Greece? Join Culture Trip’s eight-day island-hopping adventure from Athens to Santorini, and avoid any cultural faux paus with the help of our Local Insider.
Show too much skin when visiting a church
With a number of stunning churches and monasteries, tourists are bound to enter a church. Be aware of the dress code: long shorts or trousers for men, long skirts for women, and no swimming suits. In some instances, women will be given a wrap. Religious or not, try to stick to this rule as much as possible.
Rely only on credit cards
Credits are convenient, for sure, but Greece loves cash. While you may have no problems paying by card at hotels and big restaurants, this may not be the case in more remote areas, or less touristy islands, or in more traditional tavernas, so always make sure to have enough cash on hand. Otherwise, make a trip to the nearest ATM.
Take a passive-aggressive attitude with smokers
In a country where close to half of the population smokes, it is not surprising that the indoor smoking ban hasn’t worked. Thankfully, with Greece’s sunny climate, there’s rarely a need to be stuck in a smoky enclosed space. But if you happen to be in one, avoid coughing or raising your eyebrow to make the smoker stop. If you really can’t stand it for any reason, simply politely ask the person if they could move away.
Take photos of military installations
In Greece, especially in the Aegean islands near the Turkish border, taking photos of military facilities is simply forbidden. Avoid any trouble with the authorities by respecting this rule.
Throw paper in the toilet
Hear us out. Every single toilet in Greece is equipped with a trash can, so avoid clogging the outdated sewage pipes (remember, Greece is an old country) with paper and throw it in the trash instead.
Eat or drink in the metro in Athens
Athenians are very proud of their metro. This recent innovation (which posed many troubles during construction) is definitely superb compared to many other capitals, and that’s because Athenians have learned to respect it. If there is one place Greeks follow the rules, it is in the metro. As such, they will never eat or drink in it (though water is allowed, of course), and they expect tourists to do the same.
Looking for a short getaway rather than a Greek odyssey? You should see our five-day Mini Trip to Athens and Serifos, where street art, secluded beaches and local wine all take centre stage.
Do the moutza
The moutza is an insulting hand gesture that consists of extending every finger while thrusting the palm forward towards someone’s face.
Touch artefacts in museums and at archaeological sites
Unless stated otherwise, do not attempt to touch any exhibit at archaeological sites or in museums. Most will be protected by a glass window or have specific rules (no touching, no flash photography). When in doubt, ask the staff.
Ask for butter
Guests are always served a bread basket before a meal. Don’t ask for butter as the bread is meant to be dipped in the salad bowl. Greeks usually avoid double dipping by tearing off chunks of bread every time before dipping. Go ahead and try it—we’re pretty sure you won’t be asking for butter anymore.
Eat at fast food chains
Even if you’re feeling homesick or nostalgic at some point, do not eat at a fast food joint from back home. Greece is known around the world for its delicious and healthy cuisine, and it would be sad to pass on the opportunity to discover Greek cuisine.
Put your new-found cultural knowledge to good use and book from our selection of dreamy island trips in Greece.
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