Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Is it Safe to Travel to Greece Right Now? Absolutely.

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Corfu View

After spending time in Greece this summer, I’ve constantly been slammed by questions from travelers with one eye on their vacations and another on Greece’s financial crisis.

Is it safe to travel to Greece right now?

My short answer: ABSOLUTELY. Neither I nor several of my friends traveling in Greece this summer had a single problem with traveling in Greece right now. I’m going to break down how this will affect your trip.

What is going on in Greece right now?

If you’re not familiar with the Greek financial crisis, there are two ultimate guides that I recommend people read.

This first is 11 Things to Know About the Greek Financial Crisis from Vox, which breaks down everything so simply.

The second is Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained from the New York Times, which contains the latest developments.

Go read through those two — they sum it up succinctly and far better than I could.

Kate in Corfu Greece

My Personal Experiences in Greece

In June and July, I visited the Greek islands of Santorini and Corfu. In both of those destinations, if you weren’t reading the news, and didn’t speak to any locals about it, you would have no idea there were even any problems.

ATMs? They were all flush with cash.

Credit cards? All working fine.

Widespread panic? Riots? Parades? People crying in the streets? Frightened tourists running to book the next plane out of there? NO. Not whatsoever.

Obviously, the experience of a traveler is not the experience of a Greek person. That’s obvious, and I know you know that already, but I have to put that sentence in there because at least one person will post a rant in the comments if I don’t. This blog has always been for travelers looking for help in their travels, not Greeks looking for financial advice.

Times are very difficult for Greeks, and they will be for a long time. A Greek friend of a friend was actually stocking up on iPads so he could sell them for cash once things get worse. It’s going to be awhile before they’re out of the dark.

Santorini Sunset

But doesn’t Greece deserve to be punished for their actions?

Every time I post about the Greek financial crisis, somebody says something along these lines and it pisses me off.

Yes, a lot of people in Greece have made a lot of bad decisions that resulted in an economic meltdown. A lot of those people were from the Syriza political party.

But as someone who lived through two terms of George W. Bush, please don’t punish an entire nation for the mistakes of shitty politicians and their cronies.

When you make a decision to cancel your trip to punish Greece, do you know who you end up hurting the most? The family that owns a restaurant on a popular island. That tour guide at a set of ruins who worries about his hours being slashed and eventually having to find a new career in an economic meltdown. Taxi drivers in tourist hotspots. Guesthouse owners and gift shop owners all over the country.

These are the people you hurt when you choose to cancel your trip to Greece. Please don’t do that.

Ionian Sea Corfu

How should you prepare for a safe trip to Greece right now?

Stay up to date on the news. Read about what’s currently going on and you’ll be alert to major events taking place in Greece that could affect your travels, as well as any strikes or protests you should avoid.

Know that foreigners aren’t held to cash withdrawal restrictions. People with Greek banks accounts (Greeks and many people who reside in Greece) are limited to 60 euros per cash withdrawal. People with foreign or international bank accounts (i.e. all visitors) are not held to these restrictions.

Stay on the (relatively) beaten path. If your travel style is to go where tourists never go, it’s not the time to do this in Greece. Tourist areas will remain priorities for the Greeks, especially when it comes to keeping ATMs stocked with cash.

Carry lots of backup cash. You probably won’t need to do this if you’re visiting a popular tourist destination, but just in case you can’t get any ATMs to work, carry extra cash with you. Lock it up in your room, ideally with a portable safe. This is how and why I use mine.

Feel free to use your credit cards. They are working fine.

Don’t worry about Greece losing the Euro. On July 13, plans were announced that will keep Greece in the Eurozone. And even if they lost the Euro, it would take quite some time to put the drachma or another currency into action.

Know that prices haven’t changed yet, but that could change in the future. So far, this has not affected any prices — but do keep in mind that for Americans, the exchange rate to the euro is the best it’s been in more than a decade

A few months down the line, if Greece starts losing major tourism, you may see some rates slashed in hotels, or big international tour companies may reduce prices on their Greece trips, but don’t expect things to change with flights, restaurants, or on-the-ground expenses.

Know that any of this could potentially change at any time. Just be aware and follow the news.

Stock up on travel insurance. You should always use travel insurance, as they will help you out if you get yourself sick, injured, or into some kind of jam. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Remember that the American media is in the business of scare-mongering. News is a business. They try to scare people as much as possible to get their 24-hour news channels viewed. Take their ominous warnings with a grain of salt, and follow international coverage with the BBC and Al Jazeera.

Santorini Sunset

So where in Greece should you go?

Ah, yes, let’s talk about something much more fun — the best places to go in Greece!

I’m not the best person to ask where to go in Greece, as I’ve only been to Santorini and Corfu, the latter quite briefly. But here are some destinations I’d love to visit, along with excellent guides!

Zakynthos — The beaches on this gorgeous island in the Ionian Sea look incredible, making it a fabulous getaway for fun in the sun. For more, see An Incredible Weekend Trip to Zakynthos on Pause the Moment.

Meteora — These monasteries topped with cliffs have to be one of the most spectacular sights in Greece. And I love the role they played in World War Z! For more, see Visiting Meteora: A Photographer’s Paradise on Finding the Universe.

Mykonos — Mykonos has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, famous for its beautiful beaches as much as its party scene. For more, see Causing Mayhem on Mykonos on Alex in Wanderland.

Paxos — This tiny island, not too far from Corfu, seems to be a hidden paradise that so few people know about. For more, see Finding Peace in Paxos on Young Adventuress.

Lesvos — So far east it’s almost in Turkey, Lesvos is a mountainous island filled with pretty villages and medieval fortresses. For more, see Your Road Trip Guide to Lesvos on Candice Does the World.

Ios — Ios is known as the big backpacker party island, but even if that’s not your scene, you can enjoy a lot of rural beauty. For more, see The Greek Islands: Ios on A Dangerous Business.

Syros — One of the lesser-known islands in the Cyclades, yet still with plenty of treasures to enjoy, Syros is quiet island living at its best. For more, see A Month on the Island of Syros, Greece: Ermoupoli, Finikas and a Lot of Blue on Legal Nomads.

Athens — Athens gets quite a divided reaction — plenty of people For more, see Athens: A Reinvented, Trendy City Beyond Its Ancient and Troubled Past on Borders of Adventure.

The Takeaway

Greece is open for business, and it’s safe to visit. In fact, visiting Greece is the single best thing you could do to help the many Greeks who rely on tourism for their livelihoods.

I’ve spent time in Bangkok during the protests of 2010 and 2013, I’ve flown to Mexico at the height of swine flu in 2009, and now I’ve been to Greece during the economic crisis of 2015. All have been remarkably normal. Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

PIN IT!

Is it still safe to visit Greece during the financial crisis? Absolutely!

Comments

63 Responses to “Is it Safe to Travel to Greece Right Now? Absolutely.”
  1. Ryan says:

    THANK YOU for sharing this, Kate. As someone who has spent the majority of the summer in Greece this year, I appreciate the fact that you’re shedding light on a lot of the assumptions that Greece is somewhat of a war zone at the moment due to the financial crisis. Thankfully that is not the case and everything is pretty much business as usual in mainland Greece as well as the islands. People are out and about, the cafes and bars are filled with locals and the country is still very peaceful. Yes, the Greeks are still under captial controls but even those restrictions will fade away sooner than later.

    Foreigners should have no issues withdrawing money from the ATM’s in the city or the islands but I think it’s advisable to use an ATM in a major city (ex. Athens) versus on an island due to the fact that there might be a shortage of money if there’s only a few ATM’s on the island that you’re planning on visiting. When in doubt always take out a little more cash than you think you might need.

  2. Thanks for writing this post, Kate. It saddens me that so many people cancel their holiday to Greece because of the sensationalist news coverage in North America – at a time where Greeks need foreign money the most.

  3. Sarah Lynn says:

    Great post!
    I just left the country yesterday after three weeks and had an AMAZING time and experienced ZERO problems.
    The ones who are missing out are the ones who have cancelled their vacations to this beautiful country, such a shame.
    Sarah Lynn

    • Rohizani says:

      I’ve got myself to blame for not doing fact finding before canceling my trip to Greece. Thank you Kate . Hopefully I will have another opportunity in the near future.

  4. Reese says:

    Looking forward this September!

  5. Kate says:

    Thanks for sharing such a great post, Kate!

  6. Eunice says:

    The person you punish is yourself for not visiting Greece!
    http://studentsntravelers.blogspot.com

  7. Gilda Baxter says:

    I just returned from a fantastic one week holiday with my daughter to the beautiful greek island of Zakynthos, we toured the island, ate delicious food and it was all business as usual, I fully recommend it.

  8. Kristen says:

    I agree with you that tourism is incredibly important to Greece right now and it is overall a safe place to visit, but I would hesitate to deem it absolutely safe – particularly as your experience was in very tourist-friendly areas. I work with American study abroad students who study in Thessaloniki – the 2nd largest city in Greece and a very student-friendly city but not on must-visit spots in Greece for tourists (although I love it). As it’s a major city with high unemployment rates, especially now, my students have been in many unsafe circumstances and quite a few have gotten robbed – and this was in the main and very popular square in town.

    Granted, these are college students who don’t exercise the best judgement, but compared to our students studying in other major cities who don’t get robbed as often (including London, Dublin, and Melbourne) it is something to consider.

    Having lived in cities like DC, London, and Boston, I think Greece remains safe as long as the visitor travels smartly and exercises common sense. You may face unsafe circumstances no matter where you are traveling and are more likely to be in such a circumstance in your hometown (as you yourself have mentioned on your blog). I simply speak up to emphasize that that no place is absolutely safe, and in my personal experience, I advise a bit more of the open-eyes philosophy to those traveling to Greece – especially outside the tourist areas.

    P.S. I still love Greece and would travel back tomorrow – I just want to make sure people consider their surroundings and make good choices!

  9. It’s crazy that people would cancel their trips to Greece because of this. This is when Greece needs your holidays most, people! As many foreign tourists as possible, pumping extra money back into the economy. Such a good post, Kate – thanks for sharing!

    http://www.secondhandhedgehog.com

  10. Thank you for this article Kate. I could not agree more. I was in Santorini and Athens the week before you were there and you are spot on… I wouldn’t have even known there was economic turmoil if I wasn’t watching the news. Greece is fantastic and I think of my financial contributions to the tourism industry there as my charitable work… I know… I’m such a good person 😉

  11. Well said and very helpful. I need to share this with a few of my overly cautious family members… 😉 Thanks!

    Happy travels 🙂

  12. Ron says:

    ” But as someone who lived through two terms of George W. Bush ” Loved it !! I just don’t understand how about half of the voters checked his name the second time. But more importantly, Greece and its people are some of the warmest, kindest and most awesome dancers you can hope to meet.

  13. Kelly says:

    HAH loved your not-so-subtle dig at good ole George W. Seriously, if Americans don’t understand the impact that one or two terrible politicians can have on the economic well-being of an entire nation, I don’t know who will.

    • SUCH AN IMPACT. I think that 50 years down the line, he will be viewed as one of the worst presidents of all time, up there with Buchanan, who pretty much allowed the Civil War to start.

  14. I’m going to Greece next year and I couldn’t be more excited. I completely agree — refraining from giving Greece tourism business will do more harm than good. Great post!

  15. dalia vedalia says:

    Hello to everyone that has alredy booked their vacations in Greece or plans to.

    I am Greek and I have booked my vacations for a week in the island of Ikaria. First of all, there are no riots, no violence, no upheaval, no alien invasions, no martial law, no curfew implimantations or earth sattering events! NOTHING OF THE KIND anywhere! I don’t know what else to think of!!!

    My brother who lives in the US for the past 17 years has come to Greece for vacations with his family. They will go to Rhodes and Paros. There is no problem whatsoever. There are no money limits in banks and currency exchange for tourists. Yesterday he went to one of those at Omonoia square in the center of Athens and traded dollars for euros and it was quite the amount. NO PROBLEM! No problem with the tickets. No problem with his reservations. NO PROBLEM. The only thing that might and will be affected as far as prices are concerned is the raise of the VAT in services and goods.

    Nobody will give you grief. Nobody will give you troubles. There are no limitations or restrictions for your shopping, your sightseeing, your everyday plans to do whatever you wish to do! Planes, ships, public transport, taxis, car rental agencies, bars, cafeterias, restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops, Super markets, museums, malls, kiosks, hotels, hostels, hospitals, doctor offices (those who are not on vacations themselves) all work just fine.

    As I am greek I don’t know what the media in your countries report. All I can say is that any reports for violence or social concerns are not true. What on earth are they reporting in your countries!?!?!? There is not war in Greece!! For crying out loud! Economic difficulties for the greek people have nothing to do with everyday life as we know it.

  16. Anand BV says:

    I think this is probably one of the best time, as it would help them as well as us due to their marginal fall of their currency. I’ve heard, it is one of few places in Europe i which Indian currency make us feel rich!!!

  17. Thank you for this information! As a solor female traveler, some places I would love to go to, but second guess myself all the time! Your information was very detailed and helpful. I’m excited to visit soon 🙂

  18. I need to print this out so I can hand out copies. Whenever I mention that I would love to travel to Greece, that LOOK inevitably shows up. The one where they think you are crazy and just asking for trouble? Ugh. Honestly, thank you so much for sharing this and being so in depth and honest about it. You’re so right, when people don’t travel there, they are hurting the “little guy.” And if the situation were reversed?? I think a lot of people would have to look at their judgments and reasses.

  19. vannguyen says:

    Well, the weather is wonderful in this trip of Kate. And I see you in the latest images again. You look really lovely, hi. Greece is great

  20. Matt says:

    Heading to Italy in September and going to travel all over Europe. Good to know that Greece is good to go!

  21. Lodgek says:

    Greece is one of best destinations i wish to go for visit. Because always i see beautiful advertising about it, and now you confirmed to us how much it’s wonderful. I like read your experiences, you present brave female.

  22. Lexi says:

    I would love to visit greece one day and wouldn’t hesitate if we had not already made plans for asia. The media in Australia is the same though, they’re always over blowing things and trying to scare the public.

  23. Thank you for writing this Kate. I, too, have been getting seriously pissed off with the amount of people blaming the country for it’s problems. Surely wherever you’re from in the world you are familiar with how mistakes made by a few can impact the majority through no fault of their own.

    Now is not the time to be avoiding this beautiful island and punishing the Greek people for the actions of their leaders – it’s the time to help it and help them.

    With this in mind we’ve booked to head back over to the stunning Mykonos in October and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

    Great post – it needs to be shared. 🙂

    Gabby

  24. Amy M says:

    It really annoys me when people scare monger so thank-you for posting something that actually portrays it for those visiting in a refreshing and prepared way! xo

  25. Nicole says:

    I’m glad someone is out there trying to offset the media fear mongering going on! I was at work and mentioned Greece as probably being a good place to go right now, and they looked at me like I was insane as if I was telling them ‘yeah, go ahead, travel to an active war-zone’. Just because of what issues they are having economically and politically right now, doesn’t make it a dangerous destination.

  26. Elise says:

    Wonderful post! It was quite informative. I’d love to go and visit this great country one day and see all the beautiful attractions.

  27. Allysa Andal says:

    I love your blog! It tells everything about Greece. It reminded of the safety tips and how beautiful Greece is. I want to go there soon! I think it is such a nice place and also the pictures we’re so cool. I also knew in this blog the few things that i should prepare and do before going to Greece. It was a wonderful and excellent blog overall. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this blog and I hope to enjoy your other blogs too.

  28. Jen Knoedl says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I have been asking this exact question recently- and I like the “green light” that is this post. Keep it up and safe travels!

  29. Laurence says:

    Thanks for the shoutout 😀

  30. Amanda says:

    My husband, toddler, and I just spent three weeks traveling around Greece (including arriving in Athens the day of the main vote), and we felt safe, and had no problems. Tourism was well protected, and it was great to see the country and talk to people. We loved Greece!

  31. Thomas M says:

    Well said! Just returned from a trip in Greece; it was safe like what you’ve said. I stayed in an apartment in Oia, Santorini, and it was perfect. Our kind host (the apartment was booked on roomorama) left a list of recommendations of what to see and do there, and made us feel at home. The people of Greece are very friendly and hospitable; there is really nothing to worry about travelling here!

  32. July Gadabot says:

    Thank you so much for the post! My friend and I are going to visit Greece this August but we were not sure if this is really good idea and you make it clear now. Hope we will enjoy!

  33. I have visited Greece many times, and each time I felt at home with an extremely beautiful country and people that knows how to be happy. The country is a blend of tradition and modernism, with a rich culture and one of The Seven Wonders of the World, Acropolis. The people are easy-going and usually very rooted in their tradition, land, family and gastronomy. Greece will always be safe.
    Congrats for the post.

  34. Ritika Gupta says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you for the post. Would you happen to know if it is goos to visit Greece or other adjoining european nations in december?
    Me and my fiancee trying to plan our honeymoon and europe is our favorite. But people across keep telling us that eurpoe is totally freezed up. Would you know what are good places to visit in december in europe?

  35. ammaara says:

    Hello there everybody,

    I am also interested with the same question as Ritika [above]. I am planning to visit Greece in early January. I would like to know if this is a good idea. What is the weather condition? Is life more expensive in Greece than in other European countries or relatively the same?

    I would love visit Athens and meet the Greek people

    Thank you for a quick reply

  36. Christina says:

    I am a frequent visitor to your blog and really enjoy it, Kate. I spend about 8 months of the year in Greece and have just got back to the UK until after Christmas. It is important that we live our lives and just take sensible precaution, wherever we are. Keep up the good work – I’m looking forward to get back to Mykonos!

  37. David says:

    It is always the case that you just need to take precautions. That applies in every country that you travel to. Things in Greece are certainly quite safe at the moment and it is a wonderful time to travel. Thanks for encouraging people to go 🙂

  38. Siti Musliha says:

    Thanks for this website! Me like many others are concerned with the situation in Greece. I have booked my vacation in April to May. Would love to see their easter there. But I’m now really enlightened since I read ur post which helps me and husband at slight ease as this is our honeymoon trip. Any ideas or advices what shold I do if my ferries got canceled or will there be taxis if public transport got on strike? Thank u! 🙂

  39. Abbie says:

    Hi.

    I’m thinking about taking my son, a Percy Jackson fan, on a tour of Greece. Driving from Athens to olympus and more. What are your thoughts? Thanks

  40. Janna says:

    My daughter and four girlfriends 17-18 years old just graduating from High School in California want to travel to Greece with no adult.

    What are your views on this? I have not been to Greece myself so I do not have insight.

    If they were to go, where would you suggest? They are on a limited budget. What do you think of the hostels?

  41. Ed says:

    My wife and I are US Citizens and planning our first trip to Greece the first full week in April 2016……we’re looking for any and all advice as to where to stay, go and eat……PS We both enjoy beach’s but are not to sure if there’s much to do at any of those in early April…….we’re all ears everyone……….Thanks.

  42. Marietta says:

    Reading your blog for the first time I was curious to see what you had written regarding whether it is safe to travel to Greece right now. Thank you for taking the time to visit our beautiful country and for realising that yes it is absolutely safe and sharing this on your blog! I hope you enjoyed Corfu (one of my personal favourites) and Santorini, and hope you make it back again to see the many more beautiful islands and towns Greece has to offer. Happy and safe travels!!

  43. lazyamble says:

    We’re so glad someone else thinks like us. We visited Greece in Sept 2015 and it was all good. We were anxious before we went and we are glad we didn’t change our destination. Just exercise caution – common sense even if you travel to any other country.

  44. Lazyamble says:

    We spent 12 days in Greece and we find it perfectly safe for tourist. We went to Athens, Santorini, Paros, Delphi, Meteora before using Thessaloniki as a base to venture into Macedonia. We learned something, don’t mention that you are heading to Macedonia, just say you are heading to Skopje. (political and historical reason behind this)

    Meteora is great. If you are on public transport, you are limited to just a few monastery unless you don’t mind doing some hiking. If you are on day tour, you may not be able to spend enough time in each monastery. The choice is yours.

    While we were researching on which islands to go, we narrow down to a couple of them:
    Santorini or Mykonos
    Paros or Naxos
    Crete
    In the end, taking in consideration of time, we dropped Crete and opted for Santorini and Paros. So our ferry itinerary goes like this:
    Athens Piraeus to Santorini, Santorini to Paros and Paros to Athens Piraeus.

    If you are into ruins, you should not miss Delphi (besides the Acropolis in Athens) In Delphi, the ruin and the museum is next to each other. You can choose individual ticket or a combo ticket for both attractions.

    Lastly, Thessaloniki is a place you can visit and a place to catch a transport to Skopje.

  45. Koko says:

    I enjoyed your article until you started bashing GWB. What a joke, GWB is 10x the president Obama will ever be.

    Also, Al Jazeera? You’re kidding me right? They are basically a mouthpiece for Islamist Movement.

    Lastly, the Greeks do deserved to be punished. We as tourists shouldn’t try to “punish” them by not going, but they deserve strict fiscal regulations.

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  1. […]  Is it Safe to Travel to Greece Right Now? Absolutely … http://www.adventurouskate.com/ This first is 11 Things to Know About the Greek Financial Crisis from Vox, which breaks down everything so simply. The second is Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained from the New York Times, which contains the latest developments. … Every time I post about the Greek financial crisis, somebody says something along these lines and it pisses me off. Yes, a lot of people in Greece have made a lot of bad decisions that resulted in an economic meltdown. A lot of those people … […]

  2. […] Adventurous Kate; Lonely Planet; Let’s Go […]



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