Horseback riding in Greece

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Equestrian tours in Greece

Greece Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

A flavorful melting pot of sparkling nightspots, fresh seafood, sizzling Mediterranean passion and mythical legend, Greece is a fascinating and enchanting destination.

The country has long held appeal for travelers, who decamp to its shores to lounge on beaches, explore ancient relics and take advantage of the legendary Grecian hospitality.

Yet, despite its popularity, there is still an undiscovered feel to parts of Greece with Mount Olympus, the Peloponnese coast and some of the more remote islands slipping, for now at least, under the radar of mass tourism.

The first port of call for most visitors is Athens, the country's stunning capital, which combines a modern center with the stark of ancient beauty of the Parthenon and a position overlooking a cerulean stretch of the sardonic Gulf.

Like the rest of the country, Athens was built on a classical civilization that produced some of the world's greatest thinkers, philosophers and poets. The ancient Greeks also brought the world democracy, which locals cheerfully remind visitors about, and a pantheon of deities, who are celebrated through statues and local folklore.

Everywhere has its own legend; from the tiny island Ithaca, home to the wandered Odysseus, to the rugged stretch of the Peloponnese, the onetime playground of divine beings.

While modern Greeks might not be hitting the intellectual heights of Pericles, les country remains one of Europe's leading holiday destinations, thanks largely to its gorgeous collection of islands, which are scattered like confetti across the Mediterranean Sea.

Greece boast 1,400 islands in all, amongst them Rhodes, which was home to the ancient Minoan culture and, legend has it, the terrifying Minotaur. Today, it is better known for its stunning beaches, charming seaside towns and lively nightlife.

The islands of Corfu, Crete and Santorini are also established hangouts for sun-seekers and merrymakers, while Kos has begun to attract deities of a very modern kind - the world's rich and famous. Ultimately, though, in democratic Greece, everyone is welcomed.

 

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.

Types and Cost

Transit/ short-stay Schengen visa: €60 (£50.40).

Validity

Schengen visa: 90 days within a six-month period.

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). ATM's are widely available in all cities and town, on the mainland and the islands. They are generally reliable.

Traveller's Cheques

All major currencies are widely accepted and can be exchanged easily at banks. 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.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

€1.14

$1.00=

€0.82

 

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 three months before their date of travel.

The mosquito-borne illness West Nile fever occurs occasionally. Travelers are advised to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

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

Greece's main carriers are Olympic Air (OA) (www.olympicair.com) and Aegean Airlines (A3) (www.aegeanair.com). Other airlines operating flights from the UK include British Airways (www.ba.com), easyJet (www.easyjet.com), and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com). 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.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Athens is 3 hours 40 minutes; 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

Included in the airfare.

Getting There by Water

Greece's main port for international ferry arrivals is Patras (www.patrasport.gr), with daily overnight services from Venice, Ancona, Brindisi, and Bari in Italy. The main port for internal passenger arrivals is Athens' port, Piraeus (www.olp.gr), with dozens of daily ferry and catamaran departures for the Greek islands.
 
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: +30 210 891 9700; website:
www.superfast.com), Minoan (tel: +30 2810 229 602; website: www.minoan.gr) and ANEK (tel: +30 210 419 7900; website: www.anek.gr).

Getting There by Rail

The national railway company is Hellenic Railways Organisation Ltd (OSE) (tel: 14511, in Greece only; www.trainose.gr).

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 (from Italy, then overnight ferry). The journey takes and average of around 48 hours. The Man in Seat 61 provides all the options (www.seat61.com/Greece.htm).

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 29 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, 15 days, one month, five days in 10 days, or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Reductions are available for travelers under 26. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required fro some high-speed services, seat reservations, and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).

Eurailpass: Offers unlimited train travel in up to 28 countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months, three months, five days in 10 days, 10 days in two months, or 15 days in two months. The Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries. The Regional Pass lets you travel in two bordering countries. The One Country Pass offers travel on one of 27 countries.

Adult passes are valid for first-class travel, while youth passes (under 26) are valid for second-class travel. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. The passes cannot be sold to EU citizens or residents. Available from Eurail (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 (550km from Athens), and Niki (630km from Athens); from Bulgaria via Promahonas (610km from Athens); from Turkey via Kastanies (920km from Athens) or Kipoi (840km from Athens).

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 , with temperatures occasionally exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104F) in July. Winters are mild in the south but much colder in the north, where it is not uncommon to see snow and temperatures plummeting to well below zero. November to March is the rainy season, most notably on the lonian islands.
 
If you are planning a beach holiday, the sea is warm enough to swim from June through September, and hardier types will also manage in May and October. Seaside hotels are generally open from Easter through to late October, so are water sports facilities.

Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons for hiking and mountain biking, when the days are sunny but not unreasonably hot. Spring sees the Greek countryside dappled with wild flowers, while in autumn the trees take on russet hues.

Although few people think of Greece as a winter destination, it is in fact possible to ski and snowboard here. Two of the most popular mountain ski resorts are Arahova (near Delphi) and Kalavrita (on the Peloponnese), both much loved by wealthy Athenians, and therefore also well provided with cozy hotels and authentic rustic eateries with blazing log fires.

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothes (cotton is best) during summer months, including protection from the midday sun and sunglasses. 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 in the UK

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

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
Opening times: Mon and Thurs 0930-1300, 1400-1600; Tues, Wed, and Fri 090-1300.

British Embassy in Greece 

1 Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens 
Tel: (210) 7272 600. 
Website: www.ukingreece.fco.gov.uk
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0830-1300

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