By Briana Seftel
Traveling to Greece? Here's what you need to know before you go!
Culture and customs
A hearty welcome!
Welcoming strangers is a Greek point of pride! In fact, it is said that Zeus would visit Greeks in disguise to test their hospitality.
Greeks love to break plates, but sadly it was outlawed in Greek taverns in 1969 because of too many injuries.
Due to its geographical position, Greece has mild winters and warm summers, cooled by different kind of seasonal winds. If you visit Greece during the high season from May to August, prepare to sweat. In the winter, temperatures drop significantly and Athens and Crete can even see snow. Shoulder season (April, September, October) sees milder weather throughout the country.
Greece uses the euro like the rest of Europe. When traveling in the country, it's a good idea to bring your own euros on you as long lines and limits on ATMs make it somewhat tricky to take out money. Try to avoid using card, as smaller shops and restaurants may be reluctant to accept credit and debit cards, preferring customers to pay in cash instead.
Eat and drink like a local
There is much more to Greek cuisine than Greek salad. On the streets of Athens, souvlaki is a popular fast food of skewered pork with tzatziki, lettuce and tomato in a pita. In Crete, locally grown snails sautéed in olive oil and garlic are a popular entrée. Don’t forget the holy trinity of Greek spirits: ouzo, tsipouro, and mastic!
Forget a car, take the ferry
Book ferry tickets online before your trip especially during peak season. You can book tickets the day of off season or lesser visited islands. Keep in mind some ferry trips can take up to 8 hours from Athens, so plan accordingly. Most ferries depart from three ports in Athens – Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrion. When planning your vacation, explore the different options of how to get around Greece.
It's all Greek to me
Learning a few key phrases in Greek will really earn you points with the locals. Hello is “Chaírete” Goodbye is “antio sas” and thank you is “efcharisto.” "Yamas" is the Greek cheers and means to your health.
A fun tip: Just say the name “Harriet Beecher Stowe” and you’ll never forget the Greek word for thank you!
You're more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion than any kind of crime in Greece. An unstable economy has led to an increase in pickpocketing - always be vigilant in busy bus stations, markets or on crowded streets.
Strikes are a common occurrence in Greece and can often affect airlines, taxis, trains and ferries. Greek unions will say strikes are the only way to get the government’s attention. Strikes occur mostly between June and September to have an maximum impact on tourism. It’s best to plan your trip without tight connections should a travel delay arise, but there is really no way of predicting or avoiding a strike.