VISITING GREECE

HOW TO GET THERE

Each year Greece welcomes visitors from all over the world. In summer of course tourist movement soars as the Greek sun is synonymous with freedom and a carefree lifestyle, yet the countrys mild climate and many attractions, along with its excellent infrastructure, have made Greece a favourite destination in winter too.

One can travel to Greece in many different ways: by road, plane, train or sea.

Major roads link Greece with Europe and Asia. The countrys airports provide top-notch services. Rail connections with Europe allow for a lovely nostalgic journey. And last but not least, Greek ports welcome ocean-going ships and local ferries all year round.

By plane, ship, train or car, or even a combination of transportation means, traveling to Greece is relatively simple and quick, even though it is situated at the southernmost corner of Europe and the Balkan Peninsula!

VISAS

Greece is a Member-State of the European Union and has ratified the Schengen Agreement. Citizens traveling inside the E.U. just need to display their police I.D. Card without the need of a passport. However, a passport is necessary for a number of other transactions, such as currency exchange, purchases, etc.

Visas are not required by citizens of Member-States of the Schengen Agreement. Greece follows the provisions of the Schengen Agreement, which abolished controls on common internal lands, at air and sea borders and allows Member-State citizens to travel around without a visa for a short stay period of up to three (3) months. However, airlines and other carriers require a valid passport and/or police I.D. Card or other form of official identification means.

Citizens of the majority of the countries that are not Member-States of the Schengen Agreement require a visa to enter Greece and the E.U. Visitors from these countries can obtain further information from the Hellenic Embassies or Consulates in their countries, or even from their travel agencies.

TRAVELING TO GREECE BY AIR

Aeroplane journeys are particularly popular owing to their comfort and speed. Athens International Airport is one of the most modern in the world. Providing excellent ground services, it is a particularly attractive point of entry into Greece. Athens International Airport is linked to the suburban network, the underground metro and with many bus routes that run to central destinations in Athens, as well as to the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion very convenient for passengers intending to depart the same day for the islands.

From the first day it began operations in March 2001, Athens International Airport has won international awards and distinctions, but more significantly, it has won the hearts of the visitors who consider it to be one of the most functional and comfortable airports in Europe. It is situated 33 km southeast of Athens and there is rapid access to the airport via the Attiki Odos, a central road artery connecting Athens with the Mesogeia (Mediterranean) region, as well as through dense scheduling of the Metro and Proastiako Suburban Systems.

The airport Museum gives you the chance to learn about the emblematic figure in world history, Eleftherios Venizelos, seeing as the airport bears the name of this great politician.

Greece has many other airports that welcome direct flights from abroad. Alexandroupolis has the International Airport "Dimokritos", Thessaloniki the International Airport "Macedonia", Corfu the International Airport "Ioannis Kapodistrias", Rhodes the International Airport "Diagoras", Crete the International Airport "Nikos Kazantzakis", Airport of Heraklion, and the International Airport "Ioannis Daskalogiannis" of Chania, Kalamata the International Airport "Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos", Zakynthos the International Airport "D. Solomos", Kefalonia, Kos the International Airport "Ippokratis", Lemnos the International Airport "Odysseas Elitis", Samos the International Airport "Aristarchos", and Kavala the International Airport "M. Alexandros".

GETTING AROUND

By Car

Greece's road network covers 117,000 kilometres. Following the modernization of the two large national highways, the construction of a major section of the Egnatia Road, etc., driving along most of the national highway network is now easier and without problems. There are numerous gas stations, restaurants and parking areas sited along the length of the road network, allowing drivers and passengers to stop and rest briefly.

The border crossing points for entering Greece by road from the neighboring Balkan countries are Exochi Drama for Bulgaria, Evzones Kilkis for FYROM, Kakavia in the Ioannina, Prefecture for Albania, and Kipoi Evrou for Turkey

E.U. Member-State citizens may use their own national driving license, while citizens of other countries must have an international driving license together with their own valid national driving license.

Train

Greece's railway network is approximately 2,500 km long, covering the greater part of the mainland. The transportation of passengers, luggage and driver-accompanied vehicles is carried out through regularly scheduled routes that are amended every year.

The routes are carried out by high-quality Intercity-type trains (express and regular) and by regular trains (high-speed), etc. When traveling by train, it is worth looking at the architecture of the old stations along the line, most of which were built at the end of the 19th century, and are of unique workmanship and symbols of early industrial architecture.

Bus

The capitals of most of the Prefectures are connected to each other in a thick network of scheduled routes by intercity buses (KTEL), which comply with all modern specifications for the safer and more enjoyable transportation of passengers.

For more information call 14 505. It is a phone service providing official itinerary information of interurban busses (KTEL) all over Greece. The premium phone service can be reached from land and mobile phones of Greek telecom networks.

For further details concerning connections routes, ticket prices and bus departure and arrival times from Athens station to all over Greece, call 210-5124910/11

Boat, Ship or Ferry

Every year Greek ports welcome a huge number of passengers from all over the world. Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos, Patras, Igoumenitsa, and island ports serve those visitors wishing to travel to Greece by sea. Ferry routes to Europe are numerous. Many cruise ships and private boats also dock at the country's ports, as Greece is one of the favourite destinations in the world.

Passenger Passport Control

With the application of the terms of the Schengen Agreement in the country, all passenger ships/ferries sailing regular routes from Patras and Igoumenitsa to Italy and back (without visiting any non-Schengen third-country ports) are included in the category of ships executing domestic routes. As a result, passengers travelling in these ships, whose only destinantion is to those ports situated on the sovereign land of the Schengen countries, do not have to undergo passport control.

WHAT TO DO

There is a variety of activities that someone can follow in Greece. One of the most unique that also started to become more and more well known is, during the trip from Athens to Thessaloniki, a stop for few days at Mount Olympus, the mythic palace of the 12 Gods of the Greek Mythology.

If you travel on Greece's mainland then don't forget to visit Meteora. This unique place offers exceptional connectivity and relative short distances to most of Greece's major population centers, touristic places and transportation hubs. It's the ideal place to be used as a point of origin for daily tours and excursions to ancient Macedonian sites, Olympus mountain, Pelion, Skiathos, Delphi and many other places. All those sites are no more than 2 to 3 hours driving distance from Kalambaka town. Enjoy staying in Meteora, taste exceptional local cuisine and seize the chance to explore mainland Greece participating in lot's of outdoor activities.

A list of things to do in Meteora, Greece:

CURRENCY EXCHANGE

Greece is a Member-State of the European Union and uses its uniform currency the Euro. Greece, as is the case with the other Member-States of the E.U. uses eight coins as follows: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents (lepta in Greek) and 1 and 2 Euros. The banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros.

Currency exchange rates are clearly displayed in every bank that accepts currency exchange, while credit card holders may acquire money from the ATMs of the collaborating banks. Greek banks are open for the public from 8:00 to 14:30 Mondays to Thursdays and from 8:00 to 13:30 on Fridays. They are closed on Public Holidays.

BARGAINING

But for minor exceptions (like the Athens Monastiraki district), bargaining is considered impolite and it is quite ineffective.

CUISINE/FOOD

Greek cuisine is a blend of indigenous traditions and foreign influences. Neighboring Italy and Turkey have left a major impact on Greek cuisine, and there are shared dishes with both of these nations. The traditional Greek diet is very Mediterranean, espousing vegetables, herbs, and grains native to the Mediterranean biome. Being a highly maritime nation, the Greeks incorporate plenty of seafood into their diet. The country is also a major producer and consumer of lamb, beef, pork, and chicken is also popular. Olive oil is a staple in Greek cooking, and lemon and tomatoes are common ingredients. Bread and wine are always served at the dinner table.

The cuisine in Greece can be radically different from what is offered in Greek restaurants around the world. Greek restaurants abroad tend to cater more to customer expectations rather than offer a truly authentic Greek dining experience. One example is the famous gyros (yee-ros), a common item on Greek menus outside Greece. While it is a popular fast-food item in Greece today, it is actually a relatively recent foreign import (adapted from the Turkish döner kebap) and is considered by Greeks as junk food. It is never served in the home and is generally not found on the menus of non-fast-food restaurants.

Eating out is Greece's national pastime and a rewarding experience for visitors; however, not knowing where to go or what to do can dampen the experience. In the past, restaurants that catered mostly to tourists were generally disappointing. Thankfully, the nation's restaurant industry has grown in sophistication over the past decade, and it is now possible to find excellent restaurants in highly-touristed areas, particularly areas that are popular with Greek tourists as well. Thus, it remains a good idea to dine where Greeks dine (Go search for them at the times Greeks dine: 21:00-23:00). The best restaurants will offer not only authentic traditional Greek cuisine (along with regional specialties) but Greece's latest culinary trends as well. A good sign of authenticity is when you get a small free dessert when you ask for the bill. Bad signs are when desserts are listed on the menu, and also when the waiter is taking your plates away while you are still sitting at the table (traditionally everything is left on the table until the customer is gone, even if there is hardly any space left).

Restaurants serving international cuisine have also made a presence in the country, offering various options such as Chinese, French, Italian, and international contemporary.

COVER FEE OR TIPPING

It's common to officially charge a cover fee in cafe's (i.e. stating it in a receipt), such as 0.30% to 2% per person, but if it's tending towards 2% you should really consider eating somewhere else.

ELECTRICITY

The Electric Current in Greece is 230V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a transformer and British ones an adaptor.

TELEPHONE

Greeces area code is +30.

International calls can be made from most hotel rooms, but it is adviseable to check with front desk first. Mobile services are available from local network providers. There are coin phones for local calls and card phones for both local and overseas calling.

HEALTH & SAFETY

In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency.

TIME

EET or GMT+2

DRIVING

If you wish to drive while in Greece, unless you have an EU Drivers License, you must present a bonafide International drivers license as well as your native country Drivers License. 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1 New Year's Day
January 6 Epiphany
January 30 The Three Holy Hierarchs
March 25 25th of March National Holiday
May 1 Labour Day / May Day
July 24 The Restoration of Democracy
August 15 Dormition of the Holy Virgin
October 28 The Ochi day
November 17 Polytechneio