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Country Guides for Europe



Greece is a country of amazing light, deep blue water, olives, grapes and oranges, where ancient history and mythology meet the modern world. From the northern heights of Mt. Olympus where Zeus once ruled and the dramatic hillside monasteries of Meteora, southward to the archeologically rich Peloponnese, and Athens where the Acropolis and Parthenon contrast with busy, noisy, traffic-jammed streets, from the stunning natural beauty of the Cyclades and Ionian Islands to the relaxing beach resorts, terrific museums and spectacular mountain scenery of Crete, Greece lives up to its reputation as a premier travel destination. Note: The air in Athens and the surrounding areas can be extremely smoggy.

Language: Greek 99% (official), English, French.

Major International Airport:


From City
AthensAthens Int'lATH22 miles NE

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in Western Europe depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. For most areas of this region, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.

Travelers' diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E.coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

The CDC recommends the following vaccines as appropriate for age (See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect):

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). You are not at increased risk in Northern, Western, and Southern Europe, including the Mediterranean regions of Italy and Greece.
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months in Southern Europe, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don't share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Travelers to Greece are at risk from leishmaniasis transmitted by sandflies, and some tick-borne diseases. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The water supply in Greece is contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The U.S. Government remains deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad. In the post-9/11 environment, Greece shares with the rest of the world an increased threat of international Islamic terrorism. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Greece's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Additionally, certain Greek domestic terrorist groups have, in the past, assassinated U.S. government personnel and Greek anarchist groups have recently targeted U.S. commercial interests. While strikes and demonstrations are a regular occurrence in Greece, civil disorder is rare. Visitors should keep abreast of news about demonstrations. When there are demonstrations, visitors should be aware of and avoid places where demonstrators frequently congregate, such as the Polytechnic University area, and Exarchion and Syntagma Squares in Athens, and Aristotle Square in Thessaloniki. The presence of unattended bags and other suspicious occurrences should be brought promptly to the attention of the nearest police or security officials.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME: Crime against tourists (purse-snatchings, pick-pocketing) is on the rise at popular tourist sites and on crowded public transportation, particularly in Athens. Reports of date or acquaintance rape have also increased, with most of the offenses occurring on the islands. The usual safety precautions practiced in any urban or tourist area ought to be practiced during a visit to Greece.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Greece enjoys a climate of hot, dry summers with lots of sunshine, and cool, wet winters. The weather is moderated by altitude - the higher you go the cooler it gets.

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Greece's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

A passport is required, but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. For other entry requirements, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Tampa, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Greece and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Greece web site at for the most current visa information.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Greece is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Greece would be 7:00 pm

The unit of currency in Greece is the euro (EUR).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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Other Travelers' Experiences in Greece

"We go to the Island of Crete,to a village where my husband's parents were born, married and eventually came to Chicago, Ill. It is truly a wonderous place. The food is spectacular, the french fries are the best in the world, the people good and very friendly. Then of course it helps to be related to most of the village because of my husband and his parents. My husband's greek name is Eleftherios after the great man who helped to unite Crete and Greece as one nation. Bring your appetite, your curiousity and your sense of humor. It's marvelous. We go often."

"I stayed at the most lovely little hotel on Mykonos - the Albatros Inn. I would wake up early and sit on the veranda just outside my room and watch the sun rise over Panormos Bay while enjoying the lush foliage which made a striking contrast to the brown rocky earth of the surrounding hills. I spent an afternoon climbing around the ruins of Delos, which was an experience I'm not likely to ever forget. That was just Mykonos. I also stayed on Santorini, where I discovered the rumors are indeed true -- the most beautiful sunsets in the world can be found at the Santorini caldera. The sea and the sky meld seamlessly into an ethereal shade of blue that simply has to be seen to be believed."
- M Kissinger, , PA,