Safety and security
Major pre-planned strikes and demonstrations
Demonstrations take place regularly around major squares in central Athens, in particular Syntagma Square. Nationwide strikes and protests can occur at any time and may disrupt road/air/sea travel and cause delays/diversions at border crossings. You should follow local media reports and check with your travel operator. You should 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.
Most visits to Greece are trouble-free, but theft of passports, wallets and handbags are common on the metro and in crowded tourist places, particularly in central Athens. 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. When renting mopeds or quad bikes, insurance sold by the hire company usually only provides third party insurance, which only covers the cost of damage to another vehicle. Quad biking is considered an extreme sport and carries the risk of serious injury or worse. Specific travel insurance to cover quad bike rental is essential to avoid you having to pay the costs of private health care and/or repatriation to the UK. Always take care to read the details of your insurance cover before you travel on holidays paying particular attention to the small print and exclusions on your insurance policy.
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.