Greece

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 12 December 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with updated information. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Greece.

Greece overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Greece.
  • You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia, and monitor the media and other sources for information on local travelling conditions.
  • Protests and demonstrations can occur in cities across Greece with little warning. Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Areas in Athens that have been affected by demonstrations and riots include Syntagma Square, Monastiraki and Omonia.
  • Strikes affecting air, sea and rail transport, as well as taxi services happen regularly in Greece. If you are affected by transport disruptions, you should monitor the media, maintain contact with your airline, your travel agent and your insurer, and be prepared to change your travel plans.
  • If you intend to hire cars, quad bikes, motorcycles, jet skis or engage in adventure sports such as bungee jumping, talk to your travel insurer to check if these activities are covered by your insurance policy, and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as if you are not licensed for those vehicles in Australia). Read more at our Travel insurance page.
  • If you intend to drive in Greece with an International Driving Permit, you must also carry a valid Australian drivers licence.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • In April 2014, a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece building in central Athens. No injuries were reported however buildings in the vicinity sustained damage.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Entry and exit conditions (such as customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate, visit the embassy website at Embassy of Greece or visit the official Greek Tourism website for the most up to date information.

Greece is party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Greece without a visa in some circumstances. For further information read our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention. In emergencies, Australians may for a fee, apply to extend their stay in Greece at the Kentro Allodapon (Aliens Police).

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the EU carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Australian citizens born in Greece should note that they may encounter problems entering Greece on travel documents that use place names (for example, place of birth) not officially recognised by Greece. There have been cases where Australian passport holders have been denied entry into Greece on this basis, particularly when attempting to enter Greece from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Greece. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia, and monitor the media and other sources for information on local travelling conditions

Terrorism

Groups opposed to the Greek Government, Greek institutions and Western commercial and diplomatic interests have bombed government, commercial and other buildings in Greece on several occasions. Such attacks have resulted in injuries, and further attacks cannot be ruled out. Attacks have included:

  • April 2014, a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece building in central Athens. No injuries were reported however buildings in the vicinity sustained damage
  • January 2013, bomb attacks at several locations in Athens
  • 2010a serious attack on a government building.

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Protests and strikes can occur in cities across Greece. Air, sea and rail transport services, as well as taxis may be disrupted by industrial action. Strikes, including by air traffic controllers, can occur with little warning. We recommend you monitor the media and be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions. In the event that you are affected by transport disruptions, you should contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance. For information on possible disruptions to flights you can contact Eleftherios Venizelos airport information on +30 210 3530000.

Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Areas in Athens that have been affected by demonstrations and riots include Syntagma Square, Monastiraki (tourist area) and Omonia.

Rioting can break out with little warning in Athens and other Greek cities, including Thessaloniki. Australians should be particularly vigilant during days of national or commemorative significance such as 25 March (National Independence Day) and 28 October (Oxi Day), as the likelihood of civil unrest may increase.

Crime

Crime, including pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs in tourist areas and on public transport. Australians should exercise particular caution around tourist attractions in central Athens and the islands.

You should be vigilant when walking alone in isolated areas after dark especially in the Athens suburb of Omonia, and the two railway/bus stations of Larrissa and Peloponissos. Tourists have been the victims of serious physical and sexual assaults in Greece, including in Athens and on Greek Islands.

Australians should be aware that racially motivated, and homophobic attacks have also been reported in Greece.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

In Greece, report the theft of your passport to the Australian Embassy in Athens on +30 210 8704067.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Driving in Greece can be hazardous due to aggressive driving practices and poorly maintained roads and vehicles. For further advice, see our road travel page.

A valid Australian driver’s licence and an international driver’s licence are both required to legally operate a vehicle in Greece. Drivers’ licences should be valid for the type of vehicle being driven, including for ‘quad’ motorbikes, mopeds, scooters and other similar motorised transport.

When travelling by motorcycle or motor scooter, both the operator and any passengers must wear a helmet. Failure to do so is illegal, and may also invalidate your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.

If you intend to hire cars, quad bikes, motorcycles, jet skis or engage in “adventure sports” such as bungee jumping, talk to your travel insurer to check if these activities are covered by your insurance policy, and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as if you are not licensed for those vehicles in Australia). Read more at our Travel insurance page.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Greece.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security..

Laws

When you are in Greece, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

You must carry photographic identification, such as a clear photocopy of your passport, with you at all times. It is recommended that your original Australian passport be kept in a safe location.

Driving offences attract heavy penalties.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of drugs, even small amounts, include heavy fines and prison sentences. See Drugs: Don’t carry or consume drugs overseas - Ever.

As in Australia, carrying offensive weapons, including knuckledusters, can lead to heavy penalties and even prison sentences.

It is illegal to take photographs of military installations, military personnel, and locations where signs are displayed prohibiting photography.

Be aware that behaviour and dress acceptable in tourist locations and resort islands, may not be appropriate in other locations. Penalties can include heavy fines and prison sentences.

Smoking is illegal in indoor public places and can result in fines of up to 500 euros.

The export of Greek antiquities is subject to strict customs regulations. Penalties for illegally exporting antiquities range from large fines to prison terms. Further advice can be obtained from the Greek Ministry of Culture or the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate.

Homosexual activity is not illegal but is not widely accepted in Greek society. See our LGBTI travellers page. Public displays of affection, by heterosexual or homosexual couples, are not recommended especially in rural areas.

Prostitution is illegal in Greece for both heterosexual and homosexual acts, and any sexual conduct with a minor (under the age of 18 years) is illegal and treated as a criminal act.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Australian /Greek dual nationals should be aware the Greek Government introduced a new series of passports in 2007 and old style Greek passports issued before 1 January 2006 ceased to be valid from midnight on 31 December 2006. Greek/Australian dual nationals should ensure that they travel on the new series of Greek Passports and/or a valid Australian passport. Holders of old-style Greek passports issued before 1 January 2006 should contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate if they wish to obtain a new Greek passport.

Australian/Greek dual national males, or those of Greek descent born outside of Greece, could be subject to compulsory military service and other obligations. Under the Greek Military Penal Code there are penalties for non-compliance. Adult male travellers who hold, or may be eligible for Greek citizenship, are strongly advised to seek further information and advice from the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate, well in advance of travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Greece varies from basic to international standard. Private hospital costs are expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, particularly when in a remote country area or on a Greek island, medical evacuation to Athens, or to another destination with the required facilities, might be necessary. Costs could be considerable.

Outbreaks of food-borne diseases (including brucellosis) occur from time to time. We recommend you avoid raw and undercooked food, and avoid unpasteurised dairy products.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station, or on the emergency assistance number 112. You should always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Greece for consular assistance. See contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Athens

Thon Building, Level 6
Cnr. Kifisias and Alexandras Ave.
Ambelokipi
Athens 115 23 GREECE
Telephone: +30 210 870 4000
Facsimile: +30 210 870 4055
Website: www.greece.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be obtained from:

Australian Honorary Consul, Thessalonki

28 Archeologikou Mouseiou Street
Thessaloniki 546 41 GREECE
Telephone: +30 2310 827 494
Facsimile: +30 2310 827 494

If you are travelling to Greece, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Greece is in an active seismic zone. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic activity, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months in Greece (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested regions. In the event of fire, updates in English are available from local authorities by calling +30 210 324 8098.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice and obey instructions of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.