Horseback riding in Greece

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Equestrian tours in Greece

Greece Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

Often cited as the birthplace of European civilization, Greece offers a heady mix of ancient archaeological sites, chic design hotels, rustic tavernas, family-orientated seaside resorts and hedonistic dance clubs.  

Ancient Greece reached its zenith in the fifth century BC when Athens became the cultural and artistic centre of the Mediterranean, producing magnificent works of architecture, sculpture, drama and literature.

There is no denying that the historical and cultural heritage of Greece continues to resonate throughout the modern Western world - in its literature, art, philosophy and politics. In fact, many travellers come here specifically to explore Greece's ancient wonders, from Athens' Parthenon and Delphi's Temple of Apollo, to the ruins of the Minóan city of Knossós on Crete.

Scattered throughout the calm blue waters of the Aegean and the Ionian are Greece's 1,400 islands - each with its own special story. The serenity of islands like Kefalonia and Amorgos contrasts with the hedonistic party islands such as Mykonos and Páros. Those interested in architecture should visit the medieval fortified towns of Rhodes and Corfu (both UNESCO World Heritage sites), and the whitewashed cubic houses of Thira and Oia on Santorini, typical of the Cyclades.

Sports enthusiasts will relish the Greek islands for their endless opportunities for scuba diving and sailing (there's no better way to explore the islands than aboard a chartered yacht), while keen hikers and mountain bikers can test their stamina in the rugged mountains of the country's largest island, Crete. And let's not forget, Greece's previous glory in sports was restored when the Olympic Games returned home in 2004.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

1

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

No

 

Passports

A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years is required by all nationals listed in the chart above except (1) EU nationals holding a passport or national ID card which is valid for the duration of stay.

If travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though. Note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required if travelling to/from these countries.

EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.

Passport Note

Greece is a signatory to the 1995 Schengen Agreement.

Visas

A visa is not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for the following durations:

-Nationals of most EU countries for stays of up to 90 days (EU/EEA citizens may stay a further three months if seeking work).
- Nationals of Australia, Canada and the USA for stays of up to 90 days.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Visa Note

Greece refuses admission and transit to holders of travel documents issued by the area of Cyprus not controlled by the Government of Cyprus, and holders of UN laissez-passers.

Money

Currency

Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency Exchange

Foreign currency can be exchanged at all banks, savings banks and bureaux de change. Exchange rates can fluctuate from one bank to another.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and other major credit cards are widely accepted (although less so in petrol stations).

Traveller's Cheques

All major currencies are widely accepted and can be exchanged easily at banks. Generally, banks in Greece charge a flat commission rate of €6.00 for the cashing of traveller's cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

Banking Hours

Mon-Thurs 0800-1430, Fri 0800-1400. Banks on the larger islands tend to stay open in the afternoon and some during the evening to offer currency exchange facilities during the tourist season. The Greek National Tourism Organisation bureau in Athens can give full details.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

June 1

£1.00=

€1.29

$1.00=

€0.89

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

No

Hepatitis A

Sometimes

Malaria

No

Rabies

No*

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

No

Yellow Fever

No*

* Cases of rabies are extremely rare, but there have been small outbreaks in Epirus, Western Macedonia, Central Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly. If you are travelling to those regions it may be worth getting vaccinated. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately. 
* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers over one year of age coming from infected areas.

Food and Drink

Tap water is drinkable in Athens and other cities – in fact, in areas where the local water is good, bars and restaurants are obliged by law to provide customers with glasses or jugs of tap water free of charge upon request. So don’t be ashamed to ask. However, visitors should be wary of drinking tap water in remote areas, and on many islands – even if the locals do it. Bottled water is widely available and prices are strictly controlled on the mainland and islands. Milk is pasteurized and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are considered safe to eat.

Other Risks

Visitors to forested areas should consider getting the vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis. In summer 2011, there were reports of several cases of malaria in Greece, attributed to local transmission. However, the situation has not been deemed serious enough to warrant foreign visitors taking anti-malarials prior to their visit, as Greece is still considered extremely low-risk.

Health Care

Members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are entitled to free emergency medical treatment providing they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Visitors from outside the EU are strongly advised to take out travel medical insurance before visiting Greece. Respective consulates and Athens-based embassies can help visitors find hospitals and doctors in Greece, should the need arise. Note that most Greek doctors speak basic English. If you plan to do any ‘extreme’ sports, such as scuba diving whilst on holiday, you should also look into extra insurance cover.

For minor problems, it may be sufficient to visit a pharmacy – pharmacists in Greece are highly qualified and can offer advice and medication for mild conditions.

Emergency care, in the case of accidents, is provided free of charge to all nationalities at public hospitals. However, be aware that there is a certain degree of corruption within the Greek healthcare system. Even in public hospitals, doctors often expect under-the-table payments from patients in return for priority treatment, and sometimes receive kickbacks for referring patients to private institutions. Public hospitals are frequently understaffed, so it is not unusual for family members to bring patients meals from home and sometimes even stay overnight to help with basic nursing care. Private hospitals usually require the proof of adequate insurance or cash before admitting foreign patients.

Note that the Greek health care system is heavily concentrated in Athens (and to a lesser extent Thessaloniki), so that people from the islands and rural areas usually have to visit to the capital to see consultants and receive treatment for more serious ailments.

For emergencies, ring 166 (public ambulance).

Getting There

Getting There by Air

Olympic Air (OA) (www.olympicair.com) and Aegean Airlines (A3) (www.aegeanair.com) run direct flights from London Heathrow. The cost of flights to Greece peaks in July and August when most Europeans take their holidays. Throughout the rest of the year prices vary according to demand.

Air notes

As of spring 2010, when Greece’s economic crisis became serious, flights have often been disrupted by strikes – especially on Tue, Wed and Thurs. Greek workers are less likely to take industrial action Fri-Mon.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Athens is 4 hours; and from New York is 10 hours.

Main Airports

Athens (ATH) (Elfetherios Veniselos) (website: www.aia.gr) is located 33km (23 miles) northeast of the city. To/from the airport: There is a six-lane motorway linking the city and the airport, and regular airport buses run 24 hours from the centre and the port of Piraeus. In addition, metro line 3 has been extended so that some trains run between Monastiraki in the city centre and the airport. Facilities: Duty-free shops, car hire, banks, ATMs, bureaux de change, bar and restaurant facilities, post office, business centre and hotel.

Thessaloniki (SKG) (Macedonia) is 16km (10 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: Regular coach and taxi services are available. Facilities: Duty-free shops, restaurants, bars, banks/bureaux de change, car hire and a post office.

Corfu (CFU) (Kerkira) is 3km (2 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: Regular coach, taxi and local bus services are available. Facilities: Duty-free shop, cafe, bar and car hire.

Rhodes (RHO) (Paradisi) is 16km (10 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: Coach, taxi and local bus services are available. Facilities: Duty-free shop, car hire, bank, bureau de change, cafe and bar.

Heraklion (HER) (N. Kazantzakis) is 3km (2 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: Taxi and local bus services are available. Facilities: Duty-free shop, car hire, bank, bureau de change and bar.

Departure Tax

€12.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Corfu, Heraklion, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Piraeus (Athens) and Rhodes.
 
International car ferry lines link Patras and Igoumentisa with Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Venice in Italy year round, and there are also summer services from Corfu to these ports. There is also a service between Rhodes and Marmaris in Turkey.

Major ferry operators covering the international routes are Superfast (tel: 210 891 9000; website: www.superfast.com), Minoan (tel: 210 920 0020; website: www.minoan.gr) and ANEK (tel: 210 323 3481; website: www.anek.gr).

Greek ports (notably Piraeus, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Heraklion) are used by a number of cruise lines.

Getting There by Rail

The national railway company is Hellenic Railways Organisation Ltd (OSE) (website: www.ose.gr; tel: 1110). A good way to travel from the UK is to take the Eurostar through the channel tunnel, from London to either Brussels or Paris, both of which have onward connections to Greece. For further information and reservations, contact Eurostar (tel: 0870 518 6186, within the UK or +44 1233 617 575, outside the UK; website: www.eurostar.com) or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, within the UK; website: www.raileurope.co.uk).

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass is available in durations of one month and 22 days for those looking to travel continuously; otherwise there are passes that allow for 5 days of travel to be used over a ten-day period or a ten-day pass to be used over a period of 22 days. Each pass is valid across all countries. 

The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days to be taken in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064; website: www.raileurope.co.uk/inter-rail). 

Eurailpass: the global Eurail pass offers unlimited train travel in 20 European countries. Select, regional (Greece is grouped with Italy) and one-country Eurail passes are also available. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months. The passes cannot be sold to residents of Europe, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, or the Russian Federation. Available from The Eurail Group (website: www.eurail.com).

Getting There by Road

It is possible to ferry cars and caravans across to one of the major ports of entry. Points of overland entry are from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia via Evzoni, and Niki; from Bulgaria via Promahonas or Kastanies and Kipi. From Serbia, the route is via Italy (Trieste), Austria (Graz) and Belgrade. The journey from northern France to Athens is over 3,200km (2,000 miles). For car ferry information, see Getting There By Water.

Bus:
There are routes from Athens via Thessaloniki to cities in Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Information and bookings are available from the Hellenic Railways Organisation Ltd (OSE) (website: www.ose.gr; tel: 1110), which operates international coach services.

Climate

Greece has a warm Mediterranean climate. In summer, dry hot days are often relieved by stiff breezes, especially in the north and coastal areas. Athens can be stiflingly hot, so visitors should allow time to acclimatise. The evenings are cool. Winters are mild in the south but much colder in the north. November to March is the rainy season.

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothes during summer months, including protection from the midday sun. Light sweaters are needed for evenings. Waterproofs are advised for autumn. Winter months can be quite cold, especially in the northern mainland, so normal winter wear will be required.

 

Contacts

Embassy of Greece (Hellas) in the UK

1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP, UK
Tel: (020) 7229 3850 or 7221 6467 (visa section) or 09065 540 744 (24-hour visa information line)
Website: www.greekembassy.org.uk
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1300. 

Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) in the UK

4 Conduit Street, London W1S 2DJ, UK
Tel: (020) 7495 9300.
Website: www.visitgreece.gr

Embassy of Greece (Hellas) in the USA

2217 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 939 1300/6 (consular section).
Website: http://www.mfa.gr/washington

Greek/Hellenic National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) in the USA

305 East 47th Street, New York, NY, 10017, United States
Tel: (212) 421 5777.
Website: www.visitgreece.gr

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