A GENERAL GUIDE for TRAVELLERS to GREECE
WHEN TO GO
If you are wondering when is the best time to come to Greece, from the point of view of things to see and do, any time of the year is the answer. The tourist season lasts from April to October,
peaking in August, On the whole, the best months are April, May, June, September, October and
November, Consider very seriously a winter holiday in Greece. In winter you can enjoy the city
and the countryside without the many tourists who traditionally visit in the summer.
You will find the mainland climate generally mild. It can get hot, however, during June, July, August, but it is bearable because the air is so dry. Try to avoid fitting in a lot of sightseeing
expeditions between noon and 3pm on summer days. Summer temperatures hover around 80
deg.F - 90 deg.F and winter ones around 50 deg.F - 60 deg.F. In January, February and early
March it can get a little chilly and windy, but rainfall is only 15 inches a year and mostly in short
showers in winter. Rain can be expected 12 or 13 days each month from October to April. We
will not tire you with any detailed statistics about the weather. All the statistics in the world cannot
do justice to the Athenian evenings, especially if you find yourself sitting in a cafe or restaurant
by the sea or on a hill in full view of the Acropolis. Words cannot describe the cool, scented
breeze of the Athenian evening. Remember that Greece is the country where the sun shines 300
days a year and the climate is reputed to be one of the best in the world.
WHAT TO PACK WHAT TO WEAR
You are expected to dress in a respectable manner when visiting churches and monasteries: long trousers for men, sleeved dresses and no miniskirts for women. Other than that the Greeks
will not expect you, as a tourist, to dress as they do. Tourists in informal dress are tolerated
wherever they go. When in Athens, however, remember that it is a cosmopolitan city and that
people tend to dress smartly. At night in clubs, restaurants, casinos and theatres, dress
standards are the same as expected the world over. Pack or buy locally a pair of: a) sandals -
they are appropriate day or night; b) plastic shoes for the sea they can be real "life savers" when
swimming In waters containing rocks or sea urchins; c) comfortable, rubber soled shoes - they
are highly recommended for climbing the Acropolis, scrambling over all the marble ruins and the
narrow, streets of Plaka. Remember that a light sweater, jacket or cardigan is useful even in
summer, as the sea breezes can get quite chilly in the evenings.
You should feel perfectly safe to eat and drink everything and the tap water is safe. The health services are good and you will be able to find an English speaking doctor easily. Residents of EU
countries are eligible to receive free emergency medical care. Medical insurance is always a
good idea for additional cover.
Each year hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists are badly burned by trying to tan too quickly or not paying the necessary attention while sunbathing. So be warned and be careful. Always wear
a sunhat and a suntan lotion when sunbathing swimming or even sightseeing.
GNTO: (EOT in Greek).
The GNTO staff will provide you with all the travel information you need. Do not hesitate to contact them before and / or during your visit to the country. The GNTO has offices in major
cities all over the world. You can obtain information about Athens and the rest of the country
before your arrival You will also find helpful staff in the GNTO information bureaux in Athens and
many major tourist centres throughout Greece.
The unit of currency is the drachma (GrD). You will have to deal with coins of 5, 10 (silver), 20, 50 & 100 GrD (bronze), and notes of 500 (green), 1,000 (brown), 5,000 (blue) and 10.000 GrD
(purple). You must remember that any amount of foreign currency over US$ 200 or the
equivalent must by law be declared at the customs entry point.
Exchange Rates fluctuate daily, so you need to find out the current rate before exchanging your money. You can do that by calling any Greek or foreign bank or the National Bank of Greece:
Tel: 3341000 (Athens).
All major international banks have branches in Athens and some other major cities.
Banking hours: each bank has its own but if you do your banking in the mornings, all of them are
certain to be open from Monday to Friday, 08:00-13:00.
All major Credit Cards as well as Eurocheques are recognised and accepted in most Athenian hotels, shops, travel and car rental agencies and restaurants. Stickers in the front windows will
advise you as to which cards are acceptable. In case of loss or theft of your credit card contact
nearest bank immediately.
Traveller's cheques issued by all the major companies are widely recognised. You can cash your travellers' cheques in all Greek and foreign banks and big hotels, but do not forget to have your
passport with you. Identification is necessary for the transaction.
GETTING AROUND PUBLIC TRANSPORT
If you are staying in downtown Athens, you can walk to almost all of the major museums, sites and attractions. Public transport, on the other hand, is available, inexpensive and reliable. Your
third option, if you do not drive your own or a rented car, is of course a taxi. All Greek taxies are
Signs denoting post offices are usually bright yellow, as are postboxes. All post offices in Athens are open Monday to Friday from 07:30 to 14:00. There are, however, the four following post
offices which stay open until later:
Metropoleos Str., Syntagma,
Tel: 323.75.73 / 324.10.14 / 322.62.53
100 Aiolou Str., Omonia Sq.,
Tel: 321.60.24 / 325.35.86
Closed on Sunday
Sun & holidays: 09:00-18:00
If you need to send a letter after these hours there are stamp vending machines and postboxes outside all central post offices. Parcels sent abroad must be inspected, so do not wrap and
seal them beforehand. Brown paper, soft padded envelopes and cardboard boxes can be bought
at the post offices themselves.
OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) offices are the cheapest way to make local or international calls. To do so, just walk in and wait for a booth to be free. At the end of the call, the desk operator will present you with a bill. OTE offices are open from 08:00 to 14:00. The four following central OTE offices, however, remain open until later:
15 Stadiou Str., Syntagma Sq.,
Open daily 24 hours a day
Omonia Sq., Stoa Protodikiou,
Open daily, except Sat & Sun: 07:00-22:00
50 Athenas Str., Kotzia Sq.,
Open daily, except Sat & Sun: 07:00-22:00
85 Patision Str.,
Open Mon-Fri: 07:00-23:30
Sat & Sun: 08:00-23:00
Local and international calls can also be made from kiosks (periptera) equipped with meters and public cardphone booths. Telecards can be purchased from kiosks and OTE offices.
The standard in Greece is 220V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a
transformer and British ones an adaptor. We recommend that you pack one together with your electrical appliance, so that you do not have to spend valuable time looking for adaptors and transformers during your stay.
Greek time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and an hour ahead of Central European Time Along with the rest of continental
Europe, the clock is advanced one hour during summer - from the end of March to the end of
September - almost a month earlier than the UK, the US and Canada. Therefore keep in mind
that the time difference with these countries is one hour greater for some weeks in April and
October. If you want to find out what is the exact time call Tel: 141 (recorded message in
New Year's Day: January 1st.
Epiphany: January 6th. The seas around Piraeus are blessed. A Cross is thrown into the sea and
young men dive to retrieve it.
Ash Monday: 41 days before Easter. Lent begins. On Ash Monday, Greeks fly kites, eat lenten food and celebrate the koulouma. Athenians gather on the Hill of Philopappou.
Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation: March 25th. Military parade.
Easter: Good Friday-Easter Monday. In the evening of Good Friday, every church decorates an Epitaphios. The Epitaphios processions, followed by people holding lit candles and chanting hymns, fill the streets of every city, town and village in the country.
Anastasi: celebrated with fireworks and lit candles at midnight, on the eve of Easter Day.
Pascha: on Easter Day Greeks traditionary eat lamb, spit-roasted on charcoal. The festivities include singing and dancing through the day.
Labour Day: May 1st. Many Flower Festivals all over Athens.
Whit Monday: 50 days after Easter.
Dormition (Assumption) Of The Virgin: August 15th.
October 28th: rejection of the Italian ultimatum in 1940 Military parade.
Christmas: December 25th - 26th
OTHER TRADITIONAL FESTIVITIES:
Apokries: 3-week carnival festivities, ending on Ash Monday. In Athens the main carnival events take place in Plaka.
Wine Festivals: organised by various municipalities.
Naval Week: celebrated in Faliro
There are several common Greek abbreviations you are bound to come accross quite frequently when visiting Athens.
EHS: The urban rail line of Athens.
ELPA: The Touring and Automobile Club of Greece.
ELTA: The Post Office.
KTEL: The private bus system.
OASA/ETHEL: public bus system.
OSE: The Railway Organisation.
OTE: The Hellenic Telecom munications Organisation.
ANIMALS TRAVELLING TO GREECE
Animals require health and rabies inocculation certificates issued in the country of origin before being allowed into the country. The certificate must be issued not more than 12 months before
arrival in the case of dogs. 6 months in the case of cats and no less than 6 days before arrival.
Birds must have a certificate stating that they are free from psittacosis.