Greece is truly a piece of paradise on earth. Stunning images of the sparkling blue waters, the whitewashed houses by the sea, and the blue shutters make it into practically every travel brochure and website. No wonder this quintessential bucket list country sees 30 million visitors each year!
However, like every country, Greece has unique customs and societal norms that one must be familiar with to enjoy their time in Greece. If you plan to visit Greece, then this article is for you. We will discuss ten things you need to know about Greece before heading out there.
#1 There is No Urgency
Whether you visit mainland Greece, Athens, or the Greek Isles, there is no sense of urgency anywhere in Greece. Expect things to be a bit delayed. The restaurant may not open when they said they would on the dot.
If there are employee strikes, ferries are often delayed by hours – if not days. Taxis will arrive a bit late and expect a little delay in your airport transfer and hotel check-in.
Honestly, this relaxed attitude towards timekeeping is refreshing – especially when you are going away to unwind and relax from your fast-paced life.
Our recommendation is to embrace this attitude and adjust your schedule accordingly. Don’t try to pack too many activities that require several transfers and transport needs on the same day. Relax and chill for a bit.
#2 Greek Hospitality is Legendary
Greek people are some of the friendliest people on earth. They will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Their insistence on hospitality may surprise you at times, but it is a treat.
If you befriend a local on your travels, expect them to shower you with a ton of delicious foods and drinks and take you out as your tour guide.
Pick up any Greek islands travel guide, and they will tell you the same thing – expect amazing Greek hospitality when you get there.
#3 Expect to Negotiate and Haggle
Like many middle-eastern and Mediterranean countries, Greek vendors expect you to bargain and negotiate in most cases. Although some department stores and retail outlets are exceptions, expect to bargain for most other things.
This is the most important thing you need to know if you are exploring Greece’s markets and streets and plan on doing some shopping.
The way to know if you can negotiate the price of an item is if someone offers you a product at a certain price and then says you can have it for a bit less than what they quoted. That is your cue to haggle further.
Don’t be shy to offer 50% of the original price in those cases; chances are you will meet somewhere in the middle.
#4 Bottled Water Only on the Islands
While it is safe to drink tap water in big cities and mainland Greece, always drink bottled water if you are visiting the Greek Isles. It is good to stock up on bottled water when going to the islands.
#5 Cash is King in Greece
While some big department stores and restaurants in big city centres offer ATM and POS payment systems where you can use credit cards, cash rules the land for the most part still.
So, it is advisable to carry enough cash with you to pay for your way when in Greece.
#6 Driving is Tough in Greece
While many European destinations offer beautiful driving routes and picturesque highways by a sea coast, Greece is a bit different. Thanks to its rough terrains and slightly more rustic roads and relaxed driving rules, driving in Greece is risky and tough.
Unless you are a great driver used to driving on rocky terrains and negotiating the roads with high-speed drivers, we don’t recommend driving, especially when visiting the islands.
#7 Clothing is Optional in Some Beaches
Greek beaches are stunning, and the Aegean sun and the sand are perfect for an all-over tan, especially if you’re travelling in summer. Some people love to embrace this sunshine au natural. So, be prepared to come across some clothing-optional beaches in Greece, like in many southern European coastline vacation destinations.
#8 Stores Are Closed on Sundays
Sundays are strictly a day of rest in Greece. So, expect to see many shops and stores closed. In addition, some stores will close early on Mondays and Wednesdays as well. That is the island paradise way.
#9 No Flushing of Toilet Paper Allowed
This is specific to the Greek islands. Due to the smaller size of the plumbing pipes, they don’t allow toilet paper to be flushed down the toilet. Simply roll it up and throw it out in the trash can. That is the Greek way.
#10 A Little Bit of Greek Goes a Long Way
Greeks love to hear foreigners put in a bit of effort to learn their beautiful language. So, it would help you connect with many people if you learned a few Greek words like “Kali Mera” (good morning/day ) or “Yassou” (hello), and Kali Spera (for good evening/night).
Rich in ancient history, culture, climate, topography, and gastronomy, Greece is an ideal vacation destination.
There is no doubt that any type of traveller will love the top places to visit in Greece and check out the beautiful sunshine and the sea beaches while trying out the delectable feta, olives, dolmades, and Ouzo.
The charming hospitality, the quaint village-like vibes of the islands, and the stunning sparkling Aegean sea are worth a visit at least once in your lifetime.
To have an unforgettable gorgeous trip, make sure you know these ten things before you go to Greece. Bon Voyage!