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Erechtheion in Athens

Greece travel advice

Practical Information

Greece is a land with a rich history, dramatic coastline and warm, jovial people. It continues to draw visitors year after year. From the mountainous north to the whitewashed villages of the islands, Greece offers you much in return for your visit.

Planning your trip

Although Greece is a well-visited destination, we still strive to create unique, tailor-made trips there. Our Greece specialists have inspected properties and tried out experiences throughout the country, so they can make recommendations for your trip that fit with your preferences and help you see Greece in a new way.

Language

Greek is the official language of Greece, which is written using the Greek alphabet. English is widely spoken in the cities and on the more-visited islands, although in smaller towns and more local areas it’s less common to find English speakers. Street signs, as well as signage in the airports and ferry terminals, are mostly written in Greek and English.

Food & drink

Greek people are proud of their cuisine, and rightly so. The rich and hearty dishes are well known outside Greece, including moussaka, souvlaki and stuffed pies such as spanikopita.

Throughout the country, it’s common to eat meze style – ordering a selection of smaller dishes to share among your table.

Fresh, local vegetables feature prominently in the traditional Greek salad and simple-yet-delicious horta (cooked greens), while lamb and goat are popular meat choices. On the islands local fishermen provide restaurants with their catch of the day which ranges from tiny whitebait to swordfish steaks.

The sticky, flaky, honey-soaked desserts at the end of meals complement fiery Greek liqueurs like ouzo and tsipouro.

While Greece isn’t traditionally known for its wine production, the Nemea region of the Peloponnese and the island of Santorini both have a history of viniculture and today produce some fine wines.

Festivals & public holidays

The Greeks know how to celebrate, and customarily do so with food, wine and family. There are 12 public holidays throughout the year, many of them related to the Greek Orthodox church, as well as numerous local festivals paying tribute to local saints or traditions.

Orthodox Easter is the biggest holiday of the year, and the week leading up to Easter is very much part of it.

Communities celebrate the name days of their churches’ patron saints with feasts and festivities, when you can see traditional dancing.

  • 1st January - New Year’s Day
  • 6th January - Epiphany
  • February/March - Clean Monday (beginning of Lent)
  • 25th March -  Greek Independence Day
  • April/May - Good Friday
  • April/May - Orthodox Easter Sunday
  • 1st May - Labour Day
  • May/June - Pentecost Monday
  • 15th August - Feast of the Assumption
  • 28th October - Ochi Day (or Ohi Day)
  • 25th December - Christmas Day
  • 26th December -  Synaxis of the Mother of God

Tipping

It’s common to tip in restaurants and for taxi drivers or hotel porters. Some restaurants add a small service charge to the bill. Otherwise, a tip of roughly 10% is the norm.

Taxi fares can be rounded up. A Euro or two is usual when tipping a hotel porter in the cities, but it’s appropriate to increase this in places like Santorini if porters are carrying bags up many stairs.

Money & Expenses

Greece uses the Euro, which you can buy easily before you travel. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express less so and Discover cards rarely so. In smaller shops or for small purchases, you might be asked to pay in cash.

You’ll find banks and ATMs in all areas, though be aware that banks only open for limited hours during the day.

Exchange bureaus are common in bigger cities and the busier islands, but also keep limited hours and can be harder to find in smaller places.

Communications

The country dialling code for Greece is +30. It can be very expensive to call internationally from hotel phones, but almost all hotels and some restaurants and cafes offer complimentary Wi-Fi for their patrons. It’s a good idea to contact your phone provider before you travel to check their policies and charges for international calling.

Travel Advice

Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.

When to go to Greece

You’ll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Greece.

More Information
  • Flight Time

    9 hours 15 upwards dependent on airline (New York to Athens)

  • Time Zone

    UTC +3