Travel to Greece: What you need to know

June 30, 2015 |

travel-to-greece-what-you-need-to-know-athens-acropolisThe economic situation in Greece and its effect on the EU and the rest of the world continues to change and evolve rapidly. If you’re planning to go to Greece on business travel or vacation travel in the near future, the State Department has provided some important tips. You can read the full article, but below are the most important things to keep in mind:

Bring Euros.
Although it’s generally not advisable, in this era of electronic payments, credit cards with no international fees, etc., you can get away with traveling to Europe without stopping by the currency exchange counter first. Don’t do it when traveling to Greece right now. If you’re not a Greek citizen with a Greek-issued bank card you can take out as much money as you like, but ATM withdrawals in Greece are shaky at best, with many having been already emptied and others requiring long waits in line. You might even run into issues if you are traveling to the country from another European airport, as travelers have been stocking up on cash before they get on the plane. Bring multiple forms of payment to be safe, including debit cards, credit cards, and as much cash as you can safely bring that will get you by for the amount of time you’re there.

Expect the unexpected
While traveling in Greece, ATMs may not the only place where you’ll experience long waits. Supermarkets and other stores selling necessities have seen large lines and potential fuel and electrical shortages could make travel within the country difficult. So far, these areas are unaffected but it is good to be prepared.

Stay alert
Strikes, demonstrations and rallies in Greece continue to be likely. Be aware of your surroundings and have a plan for what to do should you encounter a potentially unsafe situation. In the words of the US Department of State, “If you find yourself too close to a demonstration, move in the opposite direction and seek shelter.”

Should you change your travel plans?
It’s really up to your discretion at this point. The State Department is not actively discouraging travel to Greece at the time of this publication and only an alert regarding banking disruptions has been officially released. Time reports that most tour operators, hotels and other travel suppliers in Greece have been unaffected so far, and Greek tourism officials are welcoming visitors.  In fact, should Greece abandon the Euro as is speculated, the cost of hotels, goods and services in Greece could plummet – resulting in incredible deals for travelers. You’ll still have to deal with the issues above, however. Before boarding that plane to Athens, have a plan in place and speak to your travel advisor about what to do should the situation worsen during your trip.

The US Embassy in Athens has also provided its contact information should you need assistance while you’re in the country. Consider adding the contact information and address into your smartphone so you’ll have it if you need it:

Location: 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, except for Greek and U.S. official holidays and the last Wednesday of every month.
Phone: 210-720-2414
Phone (for after-hours emergencies): 210-729-4444

Are you planning on traveling to Greece soon? Have you been there? We’d love to get your firsthand thoughts on the situation and any advice you have for travelers. Leave a comment or Tweet us @TandTNews.