The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Greece is white houses and blue dome churches. Do a quick search and you will see that popping up everywhere. But Greece is so much more than that – history, ruins, architecture, food… Greece has been on my bucket list for quite some time now and though it probably would have been more romantic going with a significant other, it was still fun going with friends. During my time there, I gathered a list of random things to know before visiting Greece.
*Note: most of these notes are referencing Athens, Santorini and Paros, but can be applicable to the other cities in Greece as well.
Assuming you’re from the US, you don’t need a Visa to visit Greece as long as your stay is under 90 days and your passport is still active 6 months after you come back.
- The cheapest airport to fly into is most likely Athens.
- Getting around Athens: The metro is probably the best way to get around. You can buy a ticket at the metro station before you get on.
- Getting around the islands: The best way to get around the islands is the bus. There are taxis everywhere as well, but they are a bit pricey.
- Going between islands: the best way to go between islands is by ferry. I used viva.gr to book my tickets. We rode Blue Star Ferries and I recommend paying a little extra to reserve a seat. The non-reserved seats are first come first serve and are just plastic chairs in the communal area, while the reserved seating has a little more cushion. The bigger islands have airports, but it’s usually a bit pricier.
- We went in early May and the weather was cool/sometimes rainy on the mainland (Athens), but warm and sunny at the islands (Santorini and Paros).
- The best time to go is late April and early November when it’s warm, but not too rainy.
- June-September are going to be the hottest months.
- The currency in Greece is Euros and it was cheaper to exchange for them at a bank in Greece rather than at the airport. It’s also cheaper to get Euros from an ATM as well, but let your bank know you’re traveling or else you might not be able to get get your money. Always exchange some money before your trip for emergencies or in case the ATM doesn’t work.
- Most well established places, restaurants and attractions take credit card. Some don’t though and I would highly recommend carrying some cash just in case.
- It’s safe to drink the tap in Athens. Don’t drink it on the islands though and buy bottled water instead. Even the locals will tell you not to drink the water.
- Grecians eat pretty late. Unless it’s a cafe, restaurants don’t usually open until noon for lunch and around 7 or 8pm for dinner.
- To dine at a restaurant, no need to wait for a host (unless there is one) to get seated. Just take a seat where ever you like and someone will come and help you.
- Grecians like to take their time when they eat. Don’t expect super quick service. Take your time, enjoy, and ask for the bill when you’re done because they won’t bring it to you unless you’re ready. Don’t expect them to check on you either. Just wave them over if you need something.
- Tipping at restaurants is anywhere between 5%-10%. If you pay by credit card, sometimes they don’t take tip on there so it’s nice to have some cash to tip on the side.
- At some places, there are “take away” prices. If you don’t mind taking your food to go (usually gyros or a coffee), it’s usually a little cheaper.
- For the most part, you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in.
- Unless you REALLY care about how you look, I recommend wearing your most comfortable sneakers. The roads are built on uneven and cobblestone like roads. There are a lot of stairs everywhere and often times, it’s very slippery because of all the smooth stones of the cobblestone and tiny loose rocks. Even if you’re use to walking around a lot, you will not be able to survive a whole day of walking if you don’t have comfortable shoes. Even sandals are a little dangerous to walk in. I would recommend just bringing your nicer shoes if you want to take pictures as Greece is a very photogenic place.
- If you’re going to visit/tour any churches, make sure that you are dressed more conservatively and that your shoulders and knees are covered.
What to Pack
(Besides from the obvious)
- Converter – our hostels/airbnbs were not international plug in friendly. I’m sure some might be, but just in case. We were glad we had one.
- Portable battery pack – if you’re using your phone a lot.
- Super comfortable walking shoes