Greece Travel Guide: Safety Tips in Greece.

Greece is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. With its interesting history, beautiful beaches and amazing ruins, it’s no wonder it remains a top travel destination. It’s also the reason why it has become a haven for pickpockets, thieves and other criminals who want to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. Travelers going to Greece should be mindful of some Greece travel safety tips to ensure a safe and pleasant time in the country.

Also, unlike other nations in the Schengen Agreement, Greece does have some problems with riots and demonstrations, as well as some terrorist activities that may be of concern for tourists and travelers visiting the country. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself about the current situation in the country before you continue on your journey. Pay attention to any travel advisories and warnings. Also, it’s a good idea to contact your embassy in case of civil unrest and other dangerous activities to get the necessary support to ensure your safety.

The borders of Greece aren’t as easy to control compared to other nations because of the number of islands, as well as the open border policy it exercises as part of the Schengen Agreement. There have been some bomb threats as well as some violent public demonstrations that are a cause of concern.

Anti-government riots have increased due to the current economic and political problems of the country. Travelers are strongly advised to stay away from these demonstrations as you may get caught up in the riot. The police in Greece don’t hesitate to use tear gas and other methods to break up demonstrations and riots of this nature. Aside from riots, be aware of strikes by public transportation personnel. Keep tabs on these activities so you can plan your trip accordingly. Airline, sea and railway schedules and services may be affected, leaving you stranded in Greece.

Travelers should be aware of the proliferation of purse snatching and pick pocketing of petty thieves at major tourist spots. Areas of public transportation are another place where travelers have fallen victim to petty crimes. Purses, wallets, laptops, luggage and other personal belongings have been known to be snatched and stolen by thieves who operate in groups. The standard modus operandi involves distracting you while the accomplice makes off with your things. For example, a stranger may suddenly bump into you, sneeze on you, spill something or even start an argument with you. It’s best to stay alert and avoid confrontation. Even if you are speaking with someone else, have your hand on your belongings at all times.

Travelers should use basic common sense and stay alert when traveling. Greece travel safety tips include being especially vigilant when riding public transportation. A common place where thieves strike is the metro station from the airport, where they take advantage of tired and unsuspecting travelers. You may be busy, distracted, just had your money changed to euro and may be trying to get your bearings. This is an especially vulnerable time so be aware of your surroundings. When you get to Athens, the places where thieves and organized syndicates are known to operate are in Omonia, Vathi, and Kolokotroni Squares in Athens. Another area that is a high crime vicinity is Glyfada Square.

Leave your valuables at home when traveling. Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing expensive watches and jewelry while touring. Keep your camera strapped around your neck or around your wrist rather than slipping it in your purse. Don’t carry all your cash with you when you are touring. Wearing a money belt is a good safety precaution to observe. You must also carry some identification with you at all times, such as your passport, which you need to present to authorities when asked. Also, be sure to make copies of your important travel documents and leave it in the hotel safety deposit box so you can readily get a new passport reissued in case your original gets lost, stolen or damaged. Report a lost or stolen passport immediately. In many cases, this can be done online or at the consulate’s office of your country.

Another basic Greece travel safety tip to keep in mind is to be discreet about your travel plans when in public. It’s one thing to be friendly with the locals, but it’s another to make your self an open target and leave yourself vulnerable to criminals. Don’t announce where you are staying, whom you are with and how long you are staying for, especially when chatting with strangers.

Violent crimes are a concern in Greece. When you’re out and about, it’s not a good idea to go to a bar or club with someone you just met. Sexual assault crimes do happen in Greece. Don’t allow strangers to buy or carry your drink for you, and never leave your drink unattended. While Greece may seem like a country where you can go wild and let loose, it’s not a good idea to get drunk and lose control since you won’t be as alert or as vigilant and you may place yourself in danger or in a very compromising situation. Women are advised not to walk alone especially at night.

When you are out shopping, you may be tempted to buy fake goods or counterfeit goods. You’ll find a lot of these especially in street markets in Thessaloniki and Athens. When you return to the United States or your country of origin, these may be confiscated, as these are illegal.

When you shop, have a copy of the receipt with you especially when you are trying to depart and leave the country. There are very strict laws about what you can bring out of the country, especially when it comes to antiquities. Even rocks and other archeological items found in your possession may be subject to heavy fines and stiff penalties. With this in mind, take nothing but pictures and leave with only your memories and official souvenirs.

When using public transportation, it’s highly suggested that you ask the taxi driver the estimated fare before you get in. It’s very common for cab drivers to take advantage of tourists and hike their rates. To avoid this, negotiate your fare beforehand. You may also ask the hotel concierge an estimate for the taxi fare from the hotel to where you are going. This will give you an idea if the taxi driver is hustling you or if you are being charged the correct fare.

When you ride the train, keep your validated ticket with you and be ready to present it onboard. A ticket inspector does make rounds and if you are unable to present your ticket, you may become subject to a heavy 60 euro fine.

If you plan to drive in Greece, remember that the road conditions may not be what you are typically used to in your home country. Greece has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in Europe. This alone should indicate that you should take extra precaution when crossing the street, operating a vehicle or when riding a motorbike. A helmet is a must if you plan to ride a motorbike. Familiarize yourself with your route and drive defensively because there are many aggressive drivers in Greece. It’s also not uncommon to see other drivers violate traffic safety rules to bypass other vehicles on the road. Never use your mobile phone while driving, as this is illegal in Greece.

You need to have an international driver’s license as well as a copy of your US license if you plan to stay in the country no longer than six months or 185 days to drive in Greece. Be sure to apply for your international driver’s license before you leave your home country. Many rental companies will not issue you a vehicle, whether a car or a motorbike, if you are not able to present your valid international driver’s license. If you do not have an international driver’s license and you are caught operating a vehicle without one, you may be subject to heavy fines, police detention and other penalties.

Also keep in mind that you may experience some seismic activity during your stay in Greece. Some earthquakes are quite common in the islands. There is a tourist disaster preparedness pamphlet available at the airport and likely from your hotel concierge. Familiarize yourself with the exits and always remember not to panic in case of an emergency.

Travelers should be aware that it is illegal to smoke indoors and in confined spaces. Smoking fines stand at about 500 euros so watch where you light up. When discarding your cigarettes, make sure you stub or put it out completely. Throw it only is the proper receptacle. In the summer season, forest fires are quite common so take the necessary precautions so as not to harm the environment during your stay in this beautiful country.

When it comes to your medical care, it’s always a good idea to travel only when you are in the best of health. If you must take prescription medication with you, be sure to pack it in your carryon luggage instead of your check in luggage. Have a copy of the prescription from your doctor. Also, you need to avail of travel medical insurance if you plan to travel to Greece, as many medical insurance policies do not extend coverage outside of your own country. The travel insurance should cover you starting on the day of your departure and until you return to your home country. Know the claims procedures as well as what may or may not be covered by the policy. It’s especially a good idea to get travel medical insurance if you plan to engage in some high risk water sports activities such as scuba diving or white water rafting.

During the summer, use sunscreen to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure. At the same time, bring some insect repellant. This is to protect yourself from the many mosquito-borne and insect-borne diseases that have been reported in the country, especially during the warm summer season as well as in the spring and autumn seasons.

Pay with your credit card for medical services that you need to get reimbursed by your medical travel insurance policy. Keep your receipts, as well as any medical certificates, diagnosis, prescriptions and test results so you can present these to the medical insurance company when you return. There are many good medical facilities in Greece, although if you are in the provinces in the islands, you may need to go to the mainland in order to receive better medical care. Not all medical facilities in the smaller islands have an English speaking staff.

When eating out, choose items that are well cooked and eat at places that appear clean. There have been some hepatitis outbreaks in some areas. As a precaution, consult your doctor if you want to get some vaccination shots before you leave for Greece. Bring along some anti-acids in case you have a difficult time digesting all the delicious lamb and cheese.

As a general reminder, travelers are subject to the local laws of the country you are visiting. Blend in and follow the rules and be considerate of others. Remember that when in Greece, the hours between 3pm and 6pm are considered siesta time, so keep you noise levels low. In some instances, the police may be asked to help enforce this. If you follow the laws and are mindful of your actions, you should have a pleasant time in Greece.

These are just some of the most useful and practical Greece travel safety tips that you should keep in mind. By taking the necessary precautions and practicing basic common sense precautions, you can be well on your way to have an enjoyable time during your visit to the Greek Islands. You can have a fabulous time while remaining safe as you go around touring and exploring Greece. Use our handy Travel Guide Greece so that you can have a convenient information travel companion to take with your during your stay in one of the most breathtaking countries in the world.

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