Many thousands of Irish visitors enjoy holidays safely and peacefully in Greece every year. The advice on this page is intended to help Irish visitors to avoid certain risks by taking simple precautions.
Demonstrations and Strikes in Greece
In current economic and social circumstances, strikes and demonstrations which can affect visitors travel plans are a common occurrence in Greece. Demonstrations can take place in major cities and, while generally peaceful, can turn violent without warning. When a demonstration is planned or is in progress visitors should seek advice on and avoid the route marchers plan to take.
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.
Further details can be obtained at the links below, but the Embassy cannot verify this information or guarantee its accuracy.
Large demonstrations can disrupt traffic in Athens and other major cities and, at times, there has been violence associated with demonstrations in limited city centre areas.
There will be a 24 hour General Strike on Wednesday, 6 November. Some methods of public transport will be affected. There is a possibility that flights into and out of Athens International Airport as well as internal flights will be affected by a three hour stoppage. Travellers are advised to contact their airlines before travel.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Greece. You should check that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake and take note of any policy exclusions such as pre-existing medical conditions and injury or illness caused by alcohol or drug use.
Irish Citizens should note that the Embassy does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation.
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.
Before travelling, you should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) free of charge which entitles you to emergency medical treatment. This card is NOT a substitute for travel insurance; it does not provide for assistance with emergency medical repatriation expenses. See www.ehic.ie for further details. The EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid. There have been 44 reported cases of West Nile Virus in Greece this year, including three fatal cases.
Holders of valid Irish passports do not require an entry visa for
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport, as this will assist in the event that your passport is lost or stolen. It is recommended that you carry photo id or a copy of your passport with you at all times.
SECURITY, CRIME & PERSONAL
Most visits to Greece are trouble-free. However, you should be aware that the tourist season attracts an increase in incidents of theft of passports, wallets, handbags etc. particularly in areas and events where crowds gather. You should leave valuables in safe custody at your hotel or apartment. Particular vigilance should be exercised 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. It is recommended that you obtain sufficient travel insurance to cover against the loss or theft of your belongings.
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. Do not lower your level of personal security awareness because you are on holiday.
LOCAL LAWS & CUSTOMS
High standards of public behaviour are the norm in Greece. While there is greater tolerance in tourist resorts, Greek courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently in public.
Visitors should be aware that alcoholic spirits are sold in significantly larger measures in Greek bars and restaurants than in Ireland.
There is no tolerance for Illegal drugs of any kind. Possession of even small quantities can lead to long terms of imprisonment.
Most Irish mobile phones with roaming facilities will operate on the Greek network, check with your mobile company before you travel. Credit can be added to pay-as-you-go phones by a friend or relative in Ireland using an ATM. The international code for Greece is 0030 and the local code for Athens is 210. You must include the local code when dialling. The local emergency service telephone numbers are 100 for the police and 166 for an ambulance.
Irish citizens driving in Greece should be exceptionally cautious in view of the very high incidence of road traffic accidents and different driving customs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will most likely invalidate any insurance coverage and you may incur severe penalties under Greek law. Police on the islands have advised that all incidents involving drink-driving will be prosecuted.
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 will not necessarily stop when the signal indicates that pedestrians may cross the road.
Every year, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and quadbikes are associated with a many serious accidents every year 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. Visitors should note that an Irish provisional driving license is not recognised in Greece.
You should check that your travel insurance covers you for the relevant activity. 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. Road insurance and a motorcycle license are also mandatory. You should also confirm that any insurance provided by the rental company is fully comprehensive. You may be arrested if you do not. You should be aware that when hiring a vehicle, hire companies will often demand your passport as a form of security. You are advised not to hand over your passport under any circumstance. You should also check any waiver which will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged.
Earthquakes: Many parts of Greece; including islands visited by Irish tourists are located in seismically active zones. While there has been no serious earthquake in recent years, quakes do occur and tremors are frequent.
Forest fires: In the past few years widespread forest fires have occurred in many parts of Greece which have resulted in a high number of casualties and significant damage to property and the environment. These fires can spread very rapidly in high winds Visitors should, at all times, act in a responsible manner when visiting wooded areas and under no circumstances light barbecues or leave any litter behind.
The Irish Embassy in Athens is located at Leoforos Vasileos Konstantinou 7, 10674 Athens opposite the old Olympic marble stadium, tel (0030) 210 7232771, fax. (0030) 210 7293383. The Embassy can also be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Embassy is open to the public from 09.00am to 13.00pm from Monday to Friday.
The Embassy may be contacted by telephone from 09.00 to 16.00 from Monday to Friday. Outside of these hours, urgent messages can be left on the answering machine service of the Embassy.Top