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Greece Travel Information

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.

Language

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

Travel Health

There are no specific health risks associated with Greece, but visitors who plan to walk through forested areas are advised to consider vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis. Travellers to Central Macedonia in the summer months should bring mosquito repellent to prevent exposure to West Nile Virus, as there was an outbreak in August of 2010. Medical facilities in Greece vary: those in major cities are excellent but many of the islands are some distance from a decent hospital. For this reason, it is best to take along any prescription medication you may require. 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. Despite this, all visitors are advised to take out medical insurance. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required for those arriving from infected areas. A hepatitis A vaccination may be recommended by some doctors for extended travel in rural areas.

Tipping

A service charge is often included in the bill at restaurants in Greece, it is best to see if this is the case when tipping. If not, leave between 10 to 15 percent. For drinks at cafes, round the bill up to the nearest euro. Taxis expect change as do cloak room attendants and porters.

Safety Information

There is a safety risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks and visitors are urged to be vigilant in public places, including tourist sites. Recent austerity strikes have been widespread and can bring the country to a halt - transport networks particularly suffer during strikes. Thus far, strikes in Greece have inconvenienced travellers without turning violent; however, tourists are advised to stay away from political gatherings as there have been clashes between police and protesters. Greece is otherwise considered a safe destination, but the height of the tourist season does usually see an increase in petty theft cases, particularly in crowded areas. Visitors are advised not to carry valuables on them and to make use of hotel safes for valuables. Do not display conspicuous wealth and make sure your valuable possessions are not easily accessible to pick-pockets. Violent crime is infrequent, but there have been incidents on some Greek islands and lone visitors are advised not to accept lifts from strangers.

Local Customs

Indecent behaviour is not tolerated and the police will not hesitate to arrest or fine offenders. Some form of official identification should be carried at all times.

Business

Business in Greece is conducted in a similar fashion to Italy or Spain rather than their northern European counterparts. A formal dress style is adhered to; dark, conservative suits for men and women are best. Punctuality is not often practiced in Greece and often hosts arrive late to meetings. A firm handshake with eye contact is the norm for greeting men and women for the first time. 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 don't expect to close a deal at the first meeting. Greek culture adheres to a hierarchical structure and respect should be shown accordingly. The giving of gifts is common in social circumstances though not necessarily in business. Business hours are generally 8.30am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

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 210. There are often surcharges on calls made from hotels and it is generally cheaper to use OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) offices for local and international calls. Calls can also be made from public card phone booths and cards can be bought from kiosks or OTE offices. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Coverage is exceptional. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts and are cheaper than accessing the internet from hotels.

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 over 22%, or 2 litres of dessert wine not exceeding 22% alcohol volume and sparkling wine, and 2 litres of table wine; 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for non-commercial value to the value of €175 for adults and €90 for children under 15 years.

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