10 Things to know before traveling to Greece
November 08th, 2017 by Luiza
Few days ago we met a funny and nice couple from Canada who wants to spend their honeymoon in Greece. Why Greece? Because for them this means exotic! Turquoise waters, sandy beaches, extremely far from home 😛 . It’s how Caribbean means for Europe. Anyway, they came with some concerns about this trip, especially organizational ones, so it came into my mind that I can write an article about all you need to know before a trip in Greece. This post is based on our experiences we had while traveling in this beautiful country.
Greece it’s definitely not a trivial destination. This wonderful country, also known as Hellas, consists of peninsular mainland and numerous islands perfectly located between Europe and Asia.
Greece is also a true wonder for cultural tourism: traces of human civilization, museums full of creations and art, festivals, Classical, Medieval or Byzantine archaeological sites and monuments, these are just few of the many things that Greece has to offer.
Passports and Visas for Greece
Greece is a Member-State of the European Union since 1st January 1981 and it has also signed the Schengen Agreement. While traveling within the E.U., you only need a valid passport or identity card. Citizens coming from third countries may be required to possess a visa in order to enter Greece, thus, please consult the detailed information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before you start your trip. Furthermore, the Hellenic Embassies or Consulates in your country may help you with additional information.
How to reach Greece
By plane, by car, by train, by ship, or a combination of them. Traveling to Greece is relatively simple and this is a huge advantage. Even if you want to enjoy the fine sandy beaches and turquoise water or you want to understand more the Greek culture you will definitely find many ways to reach your destination.
There are lots of international airports, dozens of ports for passenger transport and a total length of about 2.500 km motorway network. Therefore, the only thing left to do is to choose the best option for you and to start your adventure.
So far, we opted to reach this country by car, coach and plane. You can read about our 27 hours bus trip experience here.
The local currency in Greece is Euro (€), which is a big advantage for the Euro zone countries.
But neither the other countries are underprivileged. There are plenty currency exchange offices that are very well positioned: airports, main ports, big cities or touristic zones. Doesn’t matter if you decide to exchange in one of those places, in the bank or directly in your country. However, it important to check the currency exchange rates, to be accurate and clearly displayed.
Credit Cards and Banks
Cards are used all over Greece, but it is still very common to use cash. There are also small family shops or restaurants where you cannot pay by card. So, in order to avoid cleaning dishes due to lack of cash, bring a few euros in cash with you wherever you go. 🙂
It is, of course, Greek. Well, you don’t have to worry, with patience and luck you will find Greeks speaking English especially in touristic destinations. In villages or small cities you may encounter some lack of English but at restaurants, hotels or tourist attractions you won’t deal with any language issues.
Still, it will be nice of you to try to learn few words in Greek, they will really appreciate it. Here are few of the most used ones:
- Καλημέρα read as Kaliméra (Good morning)
- Καλησπέρα read as Kalispéra (Good evening)
- Ευχαριστώ read as Efcharistó (Thank you)
- Παρακαλώ read as Parakaló (You are welcome)
Health & Safety
In order to have access to different health services while traveling, you should posses a valid travel insurance. Also the European Heath Card (EHIC) is available for EU citizens. For more information regarding EHIC card click here.
Regarding safety, I would say that Greece is a safe country but of course, normal precautions are always needed as pickpockets or thefts are occasionally reported. A minimum care must be taken: don’t leave your luggage unattended, lock the car and watch out your backpack.
We’ve been to Greece for 6 times and we always felt safe but, as well, we tried to apply the precautions mentioned before.
Best time to visit Greece
Simple answer: anytime, depending the type of holiday you want to have. Greece has a Mediterranean climate with warm and dry summers and mild and rainy winters. If you want to enjoy full sunny days around one of the 6000 islands that this country has, then summer months are definitely the most suitable.
It is not to be avoided either the beginning of autumn or the end of spring when the tourist areas are less crowded and the accommodation prices are really much lower than during the peak season.
The cold season is between December and March. But these months are great for hiking, exploring and sightseeing.
We consider that Greece is a cheap destination comparing with other European countries. But it is all about how you travel. Of course, traveling during the peak season is more expensive, especially on the islands. But you can save some money if you avoid the most expensive hotels and meals.
Greece is very recommended for its food: yogurt, feta cheese, olives, tzatziki, seafood. A nice restaurant dinner can cost you about €15-20 but if you want to spend even less this is possible too. You can quench your hunger with less than €3 with a delicious chicken gyro.
Accommodation in Greece can be cheap too. Depending on the area where you are traveling to, accommodation price can start from €15 per night for a dorm up to €50 per night or even more for private rooms. We always book a place through AirBnb and Booking. If you don’t have an AirBnb account yet, use this link to create one. You will get up to €41 off your first trip.
The standard voltage in Greece is 230V AC (50Hz frequency). Therefore, tourists coming with devices from North America need a transformer and from United Kingdom an adaptor. More info regarding plug type and mains voltage by country can be found on this page.
What to visit?
Hmm, perhaps the entire country. 😃 We cannot tell you what to visit but what we did visit.
During our holidays spent in Greece we chose to visit mainly the beautiful and exotic Greek islands. Thassos, an amazing place with crystal water and lush greenery. It is both an island for water sports and hiking but also a perfect secluded area for more private moments.
Lefkada and Zakynthos are two of the six large Ionian Islands that we consider the ideal place for a holiday. They combine deep and clear waters, luxuriant vegetation, high altitude and the most helpful and relaxed inhabitants.
Another beautiful island we enjoyed was Andros. It is one of the Cyclades islands, but uncrowded and serene. We spent an entire month there, here is what you need to know before traveling there.
Also a must visit place is Meteora. It is the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece after those placed on Mount Athos. This is the perfect place if you want to escape from the fast paced and stressful daily life. Change the landscape a little bit by visiting this holy realm where prayers, contemplation and peace is a way of living.
What else? Athens, of course. We’ve just came back from the capital of Greece and we can honestly say that it exceeded our expectations . It is a beautiful place where history, customs, friendliness and hospitality interfere perfectly. We wrote an entire travel guide for Athens. Here it is.
Any questions about Greece? Let us know!
Happy travels! And don’t forget:
Create the moments you want to remember!