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Greece

If you’re travelling to Greece, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Given recent terrorist attacks in European cities, Irish citizens are advised to follow the advice of police and local authorities and to exercise increased vigilance, especially if attending large public gatherings or other crowded locations. Attacks could occur at any time and could target tourist attractions, restaurants, transport hubs or other public areas.

Theft of personal belongings, in particular passports, wallets and mobile phones, is unfortunately common in central Athens, especially on the metro and in crowded places. Take extra care of personal belongings, especially on the metro. Only carry your passport when absolutely necessary, and always leave a copy at home or take a photo before you travel.

When travelling outside of Ireland, travellers should take more than one means of payment (cash, debit card, credit card). Visitors to Greece should be aware of the possibility that banking services – including credit card processing and servicing of ATMs – throughout Greece could potentially become limited at short notice. At present Irish visitors should be able to use ATMs as normal as long as the ATM has been replenished. Credit/debit cards are not widely acceptable as a form of payment on many Greek islands. Visitors should have enough money in cash to cover the duration of the stay, emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays, alongside appropriate security precautions against theft.

Visitors should be aware that shortages of some essential supplies are being reported, including medical supplies. Make sure you have sufficient medical supplies (including prescription medicines) for the duration of your stay and any unforeseen delays.

Forest fires are a common occurrence during the summer season. We recommend that visitors exercise vigilance if travelling in areas that are affected by fires, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Greece by dialling 112. Specific emergency numbers are:

  • Police: 100
  • Ambulance: 166

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Social unrest

The political situation in Greece is reasonably stable but there can be occasional outbreaks of social unrest. Strikes and demonstrations which can affect visitors travel plans are a common occurrence in Greece.

If a demonstration is in progress it is best to avoid central areas of Athens, particularly areas around Syntagma Square (Constitution Square), where the Parliament Building is located and where most demonstrations terminate.

Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Crime

Crime is relatively low in Greece as a whole but pickpocketing is common in central Athens. Always take sensible precautions:

  • Be aware that the tourist season attracts an increase in incidents of theft of passports, wallets, handbags etc. - particularly in areas and at events where crowds gather. You should leave valuables in safe custody at your hotel or apartment.
  • Be particularly vigilant when using public transport. In Athens, we recommend visitors take extra care of their personal belongings when using buses or the metro; especially when travelling to and from the airport or the port of Piraeus. Don't carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. Consider wearing your rucksack on your front, and do not leave valuables in accessible pockets.
  • Don't carry your passport unless absolutely necessary. Leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home, and consider keeping a photo of important documents on your phone or in your emails.

Personal attacks, including sexual assaults and rape, are infrequent in Greece. However, there is a higher incidence of sexual assault and rape on some Greek Islands. We advise that you do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended when in bars or nightclubs. We also recommend that you avoid walking alone in isolated areas at night.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Greece, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Athens if you need help or guidance.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Greece, you should take extreme caution due to the very high incidence of road traffic accidents and different driving customs.

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and quadbikes

Every year, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and quadbikes are associated with many serious accidents in Greece, often resulting in very serious or even fatal injury.

Failure to wear a crash helmet or to have the necessary driving license may invalidate your insurance if you are involved in an accident. Greek law requires you to wear a crash helmet on a scooter, moped or motorcycle. Quad bike riders require a full-face helmet (or non-full-face helmet plus goggles) under Greek law.

You should check that your travel insurance covers you for the relevant activity. Road insurance and a motorcycle license are also mandatory.

Pedestrians

Pedestrians should also be vigilant and aware that traffic will be coming from the opposite direction to Ireland. They should also take particular care when using pedestrian crossings at intersections; vehicles won’t necessarily stop when the signal indicates that pedestrians may cross the road.

Local laws and customs

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Alcohol

Visitors should be aware that alcoholic spirits are sold in significantly larger measures in Greek bars and restaurants than in Ireland.

Public behaviour

High standards of public behaviour are the norm in Greece. While there’s greater tolerance in tourist resorts, Greek courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently in public.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Holders of valid Irish passports do not require an entry visa for Greece.

We recommend you take a number of photocopies of your passport, as this will assist in the event that your passport is lost or stolen. We also recommend that you carry photo ID or a copy of your passport with you at all times.

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

European Health Insurance Card

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.

Vaccinations

Irish citizens don’t require any vaccinations when travelling to Greece.

Medical facilities

Citizens should be aware that the level of nursing care provided in most Greek public hospitals, particularly on the islands, is not as high as that provided in Ireland. Nurses deal solely with medical issues and do not provide assistance with cleaning and feeding.

In Greek society it generally falls on the family to provide for all non-essential care to the patient or, when needed, a privately paid nursing assistant. Citizens should ensure that their medical insurance cover will provide for private nursing care if required.