Safety and security

Major pre-planned strikes and demonstrations

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.

On 5 July, the government held a referendum on whether Greece should accept the latest proposals from its creditors. The outcome of this referendum may lead to an increase in demonstrations across the country.

Crime

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.

Local travel

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.

Road travel

Take particular care when travelling by road. In 2012 there were 1,027 road deaths in Greece (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 9.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population, compared to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.

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.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Greece.

Swimming

Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.

Political situation

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 severe economic crisis and its financial system is fragile. On 30 June, the country’s European Financial Stability Facility financial assistance programme expired and it also failed to make a payment due to the International Monetary Fund. On 5 July, Greece held a referendum on whether to accept reform proposals from its creditors. The government campaigned strongly for a ‘No’ vote, rejecting the proposals. The result of the referendum was 39% ‘Yes’ in support of the proposals and 61% ‘No’ against. During the referendum campaign there were a number of rallies by supporters on both sides of the debate. There is a risk of further economic difficulties and demonstrations.