Greece Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +2

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts and 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European-style two-pin and the round three-pin.

Money: The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widespread.

Currency Exchange Rates

EUR1.00 = USD 1.10GBP 0.90CAD 1.46AUD 1.63ZAR 16.65EUR 1.00NZD 1.74
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in Greece. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period for holders of passports with any other endorsement. Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa to visit Greece.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. No visa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. No visa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter Greece.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. No visa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Greece. No visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All of these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Non-EEA travellers to Greece must hold visible means of financial support to cover their stay in the country - entry may be refused if proof of sufficient funds (at least EUR 50/day) cannot be shown. It is also recommended that non-EEA members hold return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Passengers not holding onward tickets may be asked for proof of sufficient funds for their return/onward journey. Visitors requiring a visa are also required to have medical insurance, covering them for their full period of stay in Greece. Note that the admission of visa-free nationals into Greece is considered upon their arrival in the country. Visitors wishing to extend their stay in the country must register at the Aliens Police Department or at the Security Police Department BEFORE (i) the expiry date of their visa, or (ii) the end of the period of visa-free stay. NOTE: It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from the travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no specific health risks associated with travel to Greece. Most heath problems relate to overexposure to the sun, overindulgence of food or alcohol. There's also the risk of coming into close contact with sea urchins, jelly fish, and mosquitoes. Medical facilities in vary, those in major cities are excellent but some of the smaller islands are some distance from a decent hospital. The larger towns and resorts have English-speaking private doctors and the local pharmacies are highly professional and can usually deal with any minor complaint. Travellers should take along any necessary prescription medication. Food and water are safe, but those visiting for short periods should consider sticking to bottled water. UK nationals are entitled to a refund on emergency hospital treatment under a reciprocal agreement between the UK and Greece, and a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be taken on holiday for this purpose.

Tipping: A service charge is automatically added to most restaurant bills and an additional tip it not expected, but always welcome. For drinks at cafes, rounding the bill up is sufficient. Taxis will expect a tip, as do cloakroom attendants and porters.

Safety Information: Greece is a safe destination, though peak tourist season usually sees an increase in petty theft cases, particularly in crowded areas. Visitors should store valuables in hotel safes instead of carrying them. It's also advisable to conceal conspicuous wealth and make sure valuable possessions aren't easily accessible to pick-pockets. Violent crime is infrequent, but there have been incidents on some Greek islands. Lone visitors should not accept lifts from strangers.

Local Customs: Most Greeks are extremely friendly and welcoming, to an extent that might seem intrusive to reserved British tourists, although they are more traditional than the British in some aspects. Swimwear is of course expected on the beach, but tourists should dress properly in bars and restaurants. Greeks are the heaviest smokers in Europe, and will often ignore the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Business: Greeks favour a formal dress style, with dark, conservative suits for men, and stylish outfits for women. Punctuality is important, though the meeting may not start immediately. A firm handshake with eye contact is the norm for first-time greetings with men and women. Business cards should be printed in both Greek and English, although there is no ritual surrounding the exchange. Greeks like to get to know their business colleagues before conducting any serious business, so a deal is unlikely to materialise at the first meeting. Greek culture adheres to a hierarchical structure and respect should be shown accordingly. Gift giving is common in social circumstances, though not necessarily in business.

Communications: The international access code for Greece is +30. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The city code for Athens is 21. Free wifi is available at cafes, restaurants, hotels and other similar establishments throughout Greece. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.

Duty Free: Travellers from non-EU countries do not pay duty when entering Greece for 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco; 1 litre of spirits with alcohol volume under 22 percent, or 2 litres of dessert wine not exceeding 22 percent alcohol volume, 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer.