Demonstrations take place regularly around major squares in central Athens, in particular Syntagma Square. The police have used tear gas to disperse demonstrators. You should follow local media and avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Road closures are common in Athens and are not always announced in advance. Demonstrations can be called at short notice, but there are certain dates on which demonstrations traditionally occur: 1 May, 17 November, and 6 December. There may also be demonstrations in reaction to developments in Greece’s negotiations with its international creditors.
Most visits to Greece are trouble-free, but theft of wallets and handbags are common on the metro and in crowded tourist places. Leave valuables in a safe place at your hotel or apartment. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. There have been some racially motivated attacks, mostly in inner-city areas.
Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are generally rare in Greece, although there have been incidents involving British nationals in some holiday resorts frequented by large numbers of youth tourists. In some cases the alleged attackers were also British nationals. In many cases excessive drinking by either the victim or the offender preceded the incident.
Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK.
Certain border areas are militarily sensitive. Although you can visit these areas, you should avoid taking photographs or video footage. You should also avoid approaching or taking photographs or video footage of military installations.
Take particular care when travelling by road. In 2015 there were 805 road deaths in Greece (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 7.4 road deaths per 100,000 of population, compared to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.
Make sure any vehicle you hire is in good condition and check that you’re insured. Hire companies sometimes ask for your passport as a form of security. Don’t hand over your passport under any circumstances. Check the terms and conditions regarding any damage to the vehicle.
If you intend to hire a moped you will need a valid driving licence with at least category A1 - ‘light motorcycle’. Category P, which is valid in the UK for driving mopeds up to 50cc, is not valid in Greece.
By law you must wear a crash helmet on a scooter, moped or motorcycle. Quad bike riders must wear a full-face helmet (or non-full-face helmet plus goggles). Failure to wear a helmet might invalidate your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.
Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.
Since 1974, Greece has been a stable parliamentary democracy, with its head of state elected by the Parliament. It joined the European Union in 1981. At present, Greece is going through a long-running economic crisis and its financial system is fragile. Greece and its international creditors have finalised the terms of a new package of international support, but there remains a risk of further economic difficulties and related demonstrations.
There is a general threat from terrorism and acts of political violence. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners. High profile British interests in Greece should be vigilant and regularly review their security measures.
There have been several attacks involving explosives and automatic weapons against Greek institutions, shopping malls, media interests, diplomatic targets and the police. On 26 September 2013 there was an explosion at the tax office in Kifissia, northern Athens, which damaged the building and cars parked outside. On 4 October 2013 there was an explosion at the Panathinaikos football supporters’ club in the Athens district of Petralona, which caused serious damage to the premises, adjacent stores and several parked cars.
On 9 October 2013 there was an attack on the political office of the Greek Shipping Minister, which caused extensive fire and smoke damage.
On 30 December 2013 gunmen fired automatic weapons at the German Embassy in Athens just before dawn; there were no reported injuries.
In the early hours of 10 April 2014 there was a large explosion outside the Bank of Greece in central Athens; there were no reported injuries.
In the early hours of 24 November 2014 there was a large explosion in central Athens, close to Syntagma Square. There were no reports of any injuries, although there was extensive damage to buildings in the neighbourhood.
In the early hours of 12 December 2014 gunmen fired automatic weapons at the Israeli Embassy in Athens; there were no reported injuries.
On 12 October 2016, there was an explosion in the Exarchia area of central Athens; there were no reported injuries.
On 10 November 2016, there was a grenade attack outside the French Embassy (close to Syntagma Square); a policeman received minor injuries.
British nationals aren’t normally considered a specific target, but attacks could happen in places visited by foreigners.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Indecent behaviour, including mooning, is not tolerated. The police will make arrests and the courts are likely to impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently. Some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and therefore against decency laws.
Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind, and don’t bring drugs - including ‘class C’ drugs - from the UK. Possession of even small quantities can lead to a long prison sentence.
Driving any vehicle while over the legal drinking limit can result in a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
If you are seeking employment in bars or night clubs in Greece, you will need a health certificate/licence issued by the local authorities. Failure to have such a certificate is punishable by a fine and or imprisonment.
Make sure you get a receipt for any goods or services you buy. If you buy pirate CDs or DVDs in Greece you could be imprisoned.
Don’t buy any offensive weapons like knuckledusters or knives with a blade length of 10cm or above.
It’s illegal to smoke in all indoor public places. The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to €500.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
You don’t need a visa to enter Greece. As a British passport holder you can stay as a visitor for 3 months. For longer stays, you will need to apply for a residence permit.
UK Emergency Travel Documents are valid for entry, airside transit and exit from Greece.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
If you’re visiting Greece you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Greek nationals.
If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
The Greek National Health system has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service. Treatment and facilities are generally good on the mainland, but may be limited on the islands. The standards of nursing and after care, particularly in the public health sector lag behind what is normally acceptable in the UK. The public ambulance service, which will normally respond to any accident, is basic. There are severe shortages of ambulances on some islands.
There have been some media reports of a shortage of medical supplies in Greece. While pharmacies across the country appear to be functioning relatively normally, you should make sure you have sufficient medical supplies (including prescription medicines) for the duration of your stay and any unforeseen delays, adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
There have been cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Greece during the warmer summer months and 1 death caused by WNV was reported in 2014 by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 or 166 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.