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Greece Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +2

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts and 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European-style two-pin and the round three-pin.

Language

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

Travel Health

Travellers don't need to worry about specific health risks when visiting Greece. Most health problems come from too much sun and too much food or alcohol, though there's also the risk of encountering sea urchins, jellyfish and mosquitoes.

Medical facilities in major cities are excellent but some of the smaller islands are a long way from a decent hospital. Larger towns and resorts have English-speaking private doctors and the highly professional local pharmacies 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 -- though always welcome. Rounding up the bill is sufficient for drinks at cafes; taxis, porters and cloakroom attendants will expect a tip.

Safety Information

Though Greece is a safe destination, peak tourist season usually sees a spike in petty theft cases, especially in crowded areas. Visitors should conceal valuables or store them in hotel safes and watch out for pickpockets. Violent crime is rare but there have been incidents on some islands; visitors travelling alone should not accept lifts from strangers.

Note: 28/11/19

Storms with gale force winds have struck Greece, causing flooding and landslides in various parts of the country. Affected regions include Antirion, the Halkidiki peninsula, the island of Rhodes and Kinetta. Strong winds have also caused the cancellation of some ferry services linking the ports in Rafina and Lavrion to the Cyclades islands.

Local Customs

Though more traditional than the British in some ways, most Greeks are friendly and welcoming enough to seem intrusive to reserved British tourists. Greeks are also the heaviest smokers in Europe and will often ignore the smoking ban in public places. Swimwear is expected on the beach but tourists should dress properly in bars and restaurants.

Business

Greeks prefer to dress formally in dark-coloured suits for men and stylish outfits for women. Punctuality is important to them though meetings may not start immediately. Visitors should offer a firm handshake and maintain eye contact when greeting Greek men and women for the first time, and print business cards in both Greek and English. There is no ritual surrounding the exchange of business cards.

As Greeks like getting to know their colleagues before conducting any serious business, it's unlikely a deal will take shape at the first meeting. The local culture follows a hierarchical structure and visitors should show respect in the same way. Gift giving is common in social settings but not necessarily in business.

Communications

The international access code for Greece is +30 and 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, hotels, restaurants and similar establishments throughout Greece. Purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option to paying high international roaming costs.

Duty Free

Travellers visiting from inside the EU can bring in 800 cigarettes, or 200 cigars, or 400 cigarillos, or 1kg of tobacco, 10 litres of spirits with an alcohol volume over 22 percent, 20 litres of spirits with an alcohol volume under 22 percent, 90 litres of wine and 110 litres of beer - provided they are for personal consumption.

Visitors arriving from outside the EU and are over the age of 17 will not pay duty for 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 100 cigarillos, or 250g of tobacco (if arriving by air), 1 litres of spirits with an alcohol volume over 22 percent, 2 litres of spirits with an alcohol volume under 22 percent, 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer.

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