If it’s your first trip to Greece, here is everything you need to know about the essentials before you go. Information about visa, money, and health is among the most important. Read through our list as you plan so you will be prepared for a fun and safe vacation.
- What You Need to Know about Passport Requirements
- Driving Documents
- Health & Emergencies
- Don’t Forget the Things you Leave Behind when on Holiday
What You Need to Know about Passport Requirements
Your passport cannot have an expiration date that’s less than 6 months from your return date.
Even if the rule did not exist, you should have your passport renewed if it expires within 6 months of your return date, so you are covered in case of emergencies, or in case you decide to stay a bit longer than you planned.
Currently in the USA it takes more than 45 days to renew an expiring passport, so don’t neglect to check its expiration date way ahead of your departure date.
For US and Canadian citizens visiting Greece for a period less than three months, only a valid passport is required. For visits longer than three months consult the Greek Embassy near you.
Greece has ratified the Schengen Agreement concerning the visa issues.
The Schengen Agreement covers the following ten member-states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
Greece uses the Euro, so if you come from a Eurozone country you don’t have to exchange money.
All visitors to Greece who hold a tourist visa must have travel insurance.
Visitors from EU countries must bring along their European Health Card (EHIC) or their county’s Social Security service documents.
Check to see if your insurance covers you in case of Emergency abroad and if there are any forms you need to take along. Buy travel insurance if you are not covered in transit.
International Drivers License
Having an International Drivers License is a requirement for driving in Greece.
You must produce it alongside our regular driver’s license when asked by either police officers or car rental companies.
If you plan to drive in Greece, check to see if your car insurance covers you in case you drive abroad.
Don’t forget to call your cellphone provider to activate your phone abroad.
While you are at it, find out what the roaming charges are for voice, text, and data.
They will be happy to sell you international calling packages that could actually save you money.
Before you call though, make sure to read our using your cellphone in Greece page so you have a better understanding of all the complexities.
Health & Emergencies
Before you travel to Greece fill your prescriptions and find out if your medicine is available at your destination in case of emergency (i.e. if you lose your medication).
There are no immunization vaccines required for a trip to Greece if you are traveling from the USA or Canada. For all other countries, consult the Greek Embassy near you.
Don’t forget to pack a spare pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Emergency Phone Numbers
In order to get help in Greece during emergencies you can call one of the following numbers which respond at all hours and in all languages:
European Emergency Number (Police/Medical/Fire) 112
Police-Immediate Responce: 100
You will find three kinds of medical facilities throughout Greece.
The large cities have the largest and best equipped hospitals, while smaller city hospitals are adequate for emergency situations.
Smaller towns and villages have medical centers adequate for advice and first aid in case of emergencies.
In all Greek hospitals, outpatient services are offered in the morning by appointment (which you can make the same day) with the different specialists. These outpatient offices tend to be crowded and the appointments almost always run late.
If you are dealing with an emergency, go directly to the emergency room.
For simple medical issues you can visit private doctors in just about every town in Greece. Ask at a pharmacy to recommend the nearest one. Most doctors speak adequate English so communication should not be a problem.
Private doctor visits range in price between 30 to 100 Euro. If further lab tests are needed, the doctor would recommend a private lab nearby. Private labs are also crowded and their prices vary.
Keep all receipts to submit to your insurance when you return home.
Pharmacies in Greece
Pharmacies in Greece would also be able to provide first aid for simple matters, and would give you competent advice.
Pharmacies are recognized through a “Green Cross” emblem and they are open during normal business hours (8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM).
If you need medicine during the night or weekends, you can find which pharmacy is open by checking the schedule posted on every pharmacy door.
Unfortunately, the list is written in Greek so you might want to enlist the help of a friendly local who speaks your language.
Most staff in the pharmacies speak English, and the medicines are of the same quality as in other western countries.
Insect bites, especially mosquito bites, are the most common health problem you will encounter in Greece. While the bites themselves pose no danger, they can be uncomfortable for children and adults alike.
In certain areas of Greece it is impossible to be outdoors in early evening when mosquitoes are most active. Insect repellant is a good way to save yourself from being “eaten alive” while your try to enjoy yourself.
And for the cases where the “repellent” defense fails, keep a tube of an over the counter hydrocortisone ointment to relieve discomfort.
If you travel with children
Greece is a great place to visit with children, but as a parent you know that occasionally, you might have to pay the doctor or the hospital a visit due to the common cold, skin abrasions, insect bites, or even jelly fish encounters.
Visiting the nearest emergency room is the best recourse during an emergency. Every major city has an emergency room where they would provide first aid.
Heading for a hospital during an non-emergency illness might not be the best option since emergency rooms are usually crowded, and the wait can be long.
Outpatient offices in Greek hospitals can be frustratingly crowded and disorganized, besides being open only during the morning hours.
For simple and common illness you would be better off visiting a private doctor in the nearest city. The visit would cost a bit more, but the service is excellent and fast.
Ask at your hotel, at a pharmacy, or the locals for children’s doctor in town and they will point you the right way. Most doctors speak English or another language so communication should not be a problem, but make sure you call before you show up.
It is a good idea to present the doctor with any medication the patient might be taking, and the list of vaccinations the child has received, so bring that list along.
Don’t Forget the Things you Leave Behind when on Holiday
Bills and Services
Are there any bills that will be due while you are frolicking in Greece? If yes, what would be the ramifications of not paying them?
Make a list of what’s due during your vacation and find ways to take care of them.
To save money you might want to stop services like mail, garbage collection, and the such.