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.


CLIMATE

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.


HEALTH

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.


SUNBURN

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.


TOURIST INFORMATION

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.


MONEY

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.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE

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.

CREDIT CARDS

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

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 yellow.

POSTAL SERVICE

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
Open:
daily: 07:30-20:00
Sat: 07:30-14:00
Sun: 09:00-13:00
100 Aiolou Str., Omonia Sq.,
Tel: 321.60.24 / 325.35.86
Open:
daily: 07:30-20:00
Sat: 07:30-14:00
Sun: 09:00-13:00
Metropoleos Sq.,
Tel: 321.81.43
Open:
daily: 07:30-20:00
Sat: 07:30-14:00
Closed on Sunday
East terminal,
Tel: 961.27.20
Open:
Mon-Sat: 07:30-20:30
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.


TELEPHONE TELEGRAMS

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.


ELECTRIC CURRENT

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.

TIME

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 Creek).

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

TRADITIONAL FESTIVITIES

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


ABBREVIATIONS

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.



button