This is it! You’ve just booked your ticket to Greece. Now what? Despite having to wait a few more days, weeks, or months to get there, you can start to prepare. Of course, this is not a list that’s going to tell you what to take with you, such as a plug adapter as electrical outlets in Greece supply electricity at 220 AC. No, Culture Trip is going to provide you with useful travel tips you should know before heading to Greece, because forewarned is forearmed.
Unlike other European countries, Greece is big on cash, so make sure to have enough money with you. If not, you can find ATMs, especially in the center of big cities, though this may be an issue on lesser-known islands where many restaurants and establishments do not accept credit cards. Do not despair, though, as credit cards are accepted in the majority of big stores (shopping stores, large supermarkets, malls, restaurants in busy locations). But try always to have cash with you; just in case and when in doubt, always ask before getting to the register.
Unfortunately, Greece is not well prepared and organized for people with disabilities. If you are a person with special needs or are traveling with someone who is, be sure to book a room or cabin for the disabled in hotels and ferries early. If you plan on visiting some Greek islands, try to stick to ‘flat’ islands as access to many facilities are not made for the disabled.
It is estimated that roughly 50 percent of Greeks smoke, which can be very annoying for non-smokers. While a ban on smoking indoors has been introduced, it is still very common to enter a café or restaurant where people smoke, although a lot of new places are enforcing the ban. But when it comes to outdoor smoking, unfortunately, not much can be done.
You should know that Greeks drive rather aggressively, especially in Athens. If you are planning on renting a car, always be careful. Outside of the city, however, the situation is a bit better, but be cautious. Motorcycles won’t stay behind you when driving and tend to zigzag a lot, while other drivers may overtake you on the left or the right. Therefore, be vigilant and try to refrain from driving in the Greek capital, but on the islands and elsewhere, you should be fine.
Taxi fares in Greece are rather cheap, except for the airport rides. But in the city, you can find taxis virtually everywhere. Once you’ve flagged one down, the driver may ask you your destination first before deciding if it suits him or not. While this is unusual elsewhere, in Greece, it is common. Also, do not be surprised if the driver stops to take other people while you’re in it. Few drivers do it, but it may happen. And if it does, note that you will not share the fare with them.
During high season, the earlier you book your tickets or your hotel, the less you’ll pay. If you are traveling during the busy season (mid-July to the end of August), note that islands and ferries are crowded since Greeks and tourists alike are on holidays.
Greeks drink regularly, but you will rarely see them drunk. As such, they expect the same from you.
You can drink water from the tap in virtually any city in mainland Greece, but on the islands, it’s best to stick to bottled water. The majority of Greek islands do not have sufficient water, and the little that they do have is used for hygienic purposes and laundry.
Throughout Greece, shops, department stores, and supermarkets are open from 9 AM-9 PM. (On Saturdays, most stores close at 8 PM.) As far as small stores and local shops, the hours are as follows: 9 AM-2:30 PM & 5:30-8:30 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Mondays and Wednesdays, they open at 9 AM and close at 3 PM. Shops are usually closed on Sundays, except for mini-markets and kiosks (periptero).
In Greece, except in remote and isolated places, you can get an internet connection virtually anywhere. WiFi spots are available in many public spaces, as well as in hotels and cafés/bars. Don’t be afraid to ask for the password if the connection is secured; this is common practice in Greece. Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid internet card at a kiosk.
Do not throw paper in the toilet: this sign is omnipresent in Greek toilets. You are kindly requested to use the bin for this purpose. Why? Simple. Greek sewage pipes are 50 millimeters in diameter and easily get clogged if toilet paper is flushed. Don’t forget that Greece is an ancient civilization. And although sewage pipes are not that old, they just cannot support the quantity of flushed paper. And if you are worried about possible issues, the bins are emptied at the end of each day and usually have a lid.
Greece is a beautiful country. It has beaches, mountains, lakes, verdant valleys, and cities to boot. And while the islands welcome tourists by the thousands during summer, other destinations, especially on the mainland, are worth seeing. Even better, they are usually cheaper and less crowded than some of the top destinations – an ideal solution if you’re looking for a truly relaxing vacation or if you’re on a budget.
To report any theft, loss, or any other major issue, contact the Tourism Police. The agents are fluent in many languages and can offer help and information (they are not tourist guides, however, so refrain from asking for specific touristic things). You can reach them by dialing 171 from all over Greece 24/7.