The cost of living in Greece has increased astronomically since it joined the EU, particularly after the adoption of the euro and further increases in the VAT rate in 2011. Prices in shops and cafés now match or exceed those of many other EU member countries (including the UK). However, outside the chintzier resorts, travel remains affordable, with the aggregate cost of restaurant meals, short-term accommodation and public transport falling somewhere in between that of cheaper Spain or France and pricier Italy.
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Prices depend on where and when you go. Larger cities and the trendier tourist resorts and small islands (such as Sými, Íýdhra, Mýkonos, Paxí and Pátmos) are more expensive and costs everywhere increase sharply during July–August, Christmas, New Year and Easter.
On most islands a daily per-person budget of €50/£44/US$72 will get you basic accommodation and meals, plus a short ferry or bus ride, as one of a couple. Camping would cut costs marginally. On €100/£88/US$144 a day you could be living quite well, plus sharing the cost of renting a large motorbike or small car. See Accommodation prices.
A basic taverna meal with bulk wine or a beer costs around €12–20 per person. Add a better bottle of wine, pricier fish or fancier decor and it could be up to €20–30 a head; you'll rarely pay more than that. Even in the most developed of resorts, with inflated "international" menus, there is often a basic but decent taverna where the locals eat.
Crime and personal safety
Greece is one of Europe's safest countries, with a low crime rate and a deserved reputation for honesty. Most of the time if you leave a bag or wallet at a café, you'll probably find it scrupulously looked after, pending your return. Nonetheless theft and muggings are becoming increasingly common, a trend only likely to be increased by the economic crisis. With this in mind, it's best to lock rooms and cars securely, and to keep your valuables hidden, especially in cities. Civil unrest, in the form of strikes and demonstrations, is also on the increase, but while this might inconvenience you, you'd be very unlucky to get caught up in any trouble as a visitor.
Though the chances are you'll never meet a member of the national police force, the Elliniki Astynomia, Greek cops expect respect, and many have little regard for foreigners. If you do need to go to the police, always try to do so through the Tourist Police (t171), who should speak English and are used to dealing with visitors. You are required to carry suitable ID on you at all times – either a passport or a driving licence.
The most common causes of a brush with the law are beach nudity, camping outside authorized sites, public inebriation or lewd behaviour. In 2009 a large British stag group dressed as nuns was arrested in Mália and held for several days, having managed to combine extreme drunkenness with a lack of respect for the church. Also avoid taking photos in forbidden areas such as airports.
Drug offences are treated as major crimes, particularly since there's a mushrooming local addiction problem. The maximum penalty for "causing the use of drugs by someone under 18", for example, is life imprisonment and an astronomical fine. Foreigners caught in possession of even small amounts of marijuana get long jail sentences if there's evidence that they've been supplying the drug to others.
Voltage is 220 volts AC. Standard European two-pin plugs are used; adaptors should be purchased beforehand in the UK, as they can be difficult to find locally; standard 5-, 6- or 7.5-amp models permit operation of a hair dryer or travel iron. Unless they're dual voltage, North American appliances will require both a step-down transformer and a plug adaptor (the latter easy to find in Greece).
All the major ancient sites, like most museums, charge entrance fees ranging from €2 to €12, with an average fee of around €3. Entrance to all state-run sites and museums is free on Sundays and public holidays from November to March.
UK and all other EU nationals need only a valid passport to enter Greece. US, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and most non-EU Europeans can stay, as tourists, for ninety days (cumulative) in any six-month period. Such nationals arriving by flight or boat from another EU state not party to the Schengen Agreement may not be stamped in routinely at minor Greek ports, so make sure this is done in order to avoid unpleasantness on exit. Your passport must be valid for three months after your arrival date.
Visitors from non-EU countries are currently not, in practice, being given extensions to tourist visas. You must leave not just Greece but the entire Schengen Group and stay out until the maximum 90-days-in-180 rule, as set forth above, is satisfied. If you overstay your time and then leave under your own power – ie are not deported – you'll be hit with a huge fine upon departure, and possibly be banned from re-entering for a period of time; no excuses will be entertained except (just maybe) a doctor's certificate stating you were immobilized in hospital. It cannot be overemphasized just how exigent Greek immigration officials have become on this issue.
Greek embassies abroad
Australia 9 Turrana St, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2600 t02/6273 3011, wmfa.gr/sydney.
Britain 1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP t020/7221 6467, wmfa.gr/london
Canada 80 Maclaren St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0K6 t613/238-6271, wmfa.gr/ottawa
Ireland 1 Upper Pembroke St, Dublin 2 t01/676 7254, wmfa.gr/dublin
New Zealand 5–7 Willeston St, Wellington t04/473 7775, wmfa.gr/wellington
South Africa 1003 Church Street, 0028 Hatfield, Pretoria t012/434-7351, wmfa.gr/pretoria
USA 2217 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008 t202/939-1300, wmfa.gr/washington
Gay and lesbian travellers
Greece is deeply ambivalent about homosexuality: ghettoized as "to be expected" in the arts, theatre and music scenes but apt to be closeted elsewhere. "Out" gay Greeks are rare, and "out" local lesbians rarer still; foreign same-sex couples will be regarded in the provinces with some bemusement but accorded the standard courtesy as foreigners – as long as they refrain from public displays of affection, taboo in rural areas. There is a sizeable gay community in Athens, Thessaloníki and Pátra, plus a fairly obvious scene at resorts like Ýdhra, Rhodes and Mýkonos. Skála Eressoü on Lésvos, the birthplace of Sappho, is (appropriately) an international mecca for lesbians. Even in Athens, however, most gay nightlife is underground (often literally so in the siting of clubs), with no visible signage for nondescript premises.
Despite EU healthcare privileges applying in Greece (see The European Health Insurance Card), you should consider taking out an insurance policy before travelling to cover against theft, loss, illness or injury. Before paying for a whole new policy, however, it's worth checking whether you are already covered: some home insurance policies may cover your possessions when overseas, and many private medical schemes (such as BUPA or WPA in the UK) offer coverage extensions for abroad. Students will often find that their student health coverage extends during the vacations.
Make any claim as soon as possible. If you have medical treatment, keep all receipts for medicines and treatment. If you have anything stolen or lost, you must obtain an official statement from the police or the airline which lost your bags – with numerous claims being fraudulent, most insurers won't even consider one unless you have a police report.
Rates at internet cafés tend to be about €2–4 per hour and any town or major resort will have at least one. Most hotels and an increasing number of cafés offer free wi-fi internet access to patrons.
Laundries or Plindíria, as they're known in Greek, are available in the main resort towns; sometimes an attended service wash is available for little or no extra charge over the basic cost of €8–10 per wash and dry. Self-catering villas will usually be furnished with a drying line and a selection of plastic wash-tubs or a bucket. Most hotels will charge for laundry services.
Living in Greece
EU (and EEA) nationals are allowed to stay indefinitely in any EU state, but to ensure avoidance of any problems – eg, in setting up a bank account – you should, after the third month of stay, get a certificate of registration (vevéosi engrafís). Residence/work permits for non-EU/non-EEA nationals can only be obtained on application to a Greek embassy or consulate outside of Greece; you have a much better chance of securing one if you are married to a Greek, are of Greek background by birth or have permanent-resident status in another EU state.
As for work, non-EU nationals of Greek descent and EU/EEA native speakers of English (ie Brits and Irish) have a much better chance than anyone else. Teaching English at a private language school (frontistírio) is still a relatively well-paid option but almost impossible to get into these days without a bona fide TEFL certificate.
Many people find tourism-related work, especially on the islands most dominated by foreign visitors, April and May being the best time to look around. This is often as a rep for a package company, although they recruit the majority of staff from the home country; all you need is EU nationality and the appropriate language, though knowledge of Greek is a big plus. Jobs in bars or restaurants are a lot easier for women to come by than men. Another option if you have the requisite skills is to work for a windsurfing school or scuba operation.
Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 2pm, though certain main branches are also open evenings and Saturday mornings. Airmail letters take 3–7 days to reach the rest of Europe, 5–12 days to North America, a little longer for Australia and New Zealand. Postal rates for up to 20g are a uniform €0.75 to all overseas destinations. For a modest fee (about €3) you can shave a day or two off delivery time to any destination by using the express service (katepígonda). Registered (systiméno) delivery is also available for a similar amount but is slow unless coupled with express service. Stamps (grammatósima) are widely available at newsagents and other tourist shops.
Parcels should (and often can) only be handled in the main provincial or county capitals. For non-EU/EEA destinations, always present your box open for inspection, and come prepared with tape and scissors.
Ordinary post boxes are bright yellow, express boxes dark red, but it's best to use those adjacent to an actual post office, since days may pass between collections at boxes elsewhere.
The most reliable general touring maps of Greece are those published by Athens-based Anavasi (wanavasi.gr), Road Editions (wroad.gr) and newcomer Orama (wnakas-maps.gr). Anavasi and Road Editions products are widely available in Greece at selected bookshops, as well as at petrol stations and general tourist shops countrywide. In Britain they are found at Stanfords (t020/7836 1321, wstanfords.co.uk) and the Hellenic Book Service (t020/7267 9499, whellenicbookservice.com); in the US, they're sold through Omni Resources (t910/227-8300, womnimap.com).
Hiking/topographical maps are gradually improving in quality and availability. Road Editions, in addition to their touring maps, produce 1:50,000 topographical maps for mainland mountain ranges, including Áthos, Pílio, Parnassós, Ólymbos, Taiyettos, Ágrafa and Íti, usually with rudimentary route directions in English. Anavasi publishes a series covering the mountains of central Greece (including Ólymbos) and Epirus, some on the Peloponnese, the White Mountains and Psiloritis on Crete and Mt Dhýrfis on Évvia. The map-and-guide booklets published by Marengo Publications in England also prove very useful for areas including Crete, Corfu, Kálymnos, Lésvos, Messinía, Párga, the Pelion, Sámos, Sými and Thássos.
Greece's currency is the euro (€). Up-to-date exchange rates can be found on wxe.com. Euro notes exist in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 and 2 euros. Avoid getting stuck with counterfeit euro notes (€100 and €200 ones abound). The best tests are done by the naked eye: genuine notes all have a hologram strip or (if over €50) patch at one end, there's a watermark at the other, plus a security thread embedded in the middle. If you end up with a fake note, you'll have no recourse to a refund. Note that shopkeepers do not bother much with shortfalls of 10 cents or less, whether in their favour (especially) or yours.
Banks and exchange
Greek banks normally open Monday to Thursday 8.30am–2.30pm and Friday 8.30am–2pm. Always take your passport with you as proof of identity and expect long queues. Large hotels and some travel agencies also provide an exchange service, though with hefty commissions. On small islands with no full-service bank, "authorized" bank agents will charge an additional fee for posting a travellers' cheque to a proper branch.
A number of authorized brokers for exchanging foreign cash have emerged in Athens and other major tourist centres. When changing small amounts, choose those bureaux that charge a flat percentage commission (usually 1 percent) rather than a high minimum. There is a small number of 24-hour automatic foreign-note-changing machines, but a high minimum commission tends to be deducted. There is no need to purchase euros beforehand unless you're arriving at some ungodly hour to one of the remoter frontier posts. Travellers' cheques (best in euros rather than dollars) can be cashed at most banks, though rarely elsewhere. Cashing the cheques will incur a minimum charge of €1.20–2.40 depending on the bank; for larger amounts, a set percentage will apply.
ATMs and credit cards
Debit cards have become the most common means of accessing funds while travelling, by withdrawing money from the vast network of Greek ATMs. Larger airports have at least one ATM in the arrivals hall and any town or island with a population larger than a few thousand (or substantial tourist traffic) also has them. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Visa Electron, Plus and Cirrus cards; American Express holders are restricted to the ATMs of Alpha and National Bank. There is usually a charge of 2.25 percent on the sterling/dollar transaction value, plus a commission fee of a similar amount. Using credit cards at an ATM costs roughly the same; however, inflated interest accrues from the moment of use.
Major credit cards are not usually accepted by cheaper tavernas or hotels but they can be essential for renting cars. Major travel agents may also accept them, though a three-percent surcharge is often levied on the purchase of ferry tickets.
Opening hours and public holidays
It's difficult to generalize about Greek opening hours, which are notoriously erratic. Most shops open 8.30/9am and close for a long break at 2/2.30pm. Most places, except banks, reopen around 5.30/6pm for three hours or so, at least on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Tourist areas tend to adopt a more northern European timetable, with supermarkets and travel agencies, as well as the most important archeological sites and museums, more likely to stay open throughout the day. If you find yourself needing to tackle Greek bureaucracy, you can't count on getting anything essential done except from Monday to Friday, between 9.30am and 1pm.
As far as possible, times are quoted in the text for tourist sites but these change with exasperating frequency, especially since the economic crisis. Both winter and summer hours are quoted throughout the guide but to avoid disappointment, either phone ahead or time your visit during the core hours of 9am–2pm. Monasteries are generally open from approximately 9am to 1pm and 5 to 8pm (3.30–6.30pm in winter) for limited visits.
Three mobile phone networks operate in Greece: Vodafone-Panafon, Cosmote and Q-Telecom/WIND Hellas. Coverage countrywide is good, though there are a few "dead" zones in the mountains, or on really remote islets. Contract-free plans are heavily promoted in Greece, so if you're here for more than a week or so, buying a pay-as-you-go SIM card (for €15–20) from any of the mobile phone outlets will pay for itself very quickly. Top-up cards – starting from €8–10 – are available at all períptera (kiosks). Roaming charges within the EU are capped at €0.51 equivalent per minute (or €0.26 to receive calls). North American users will only be able to use tri-band phones in Greece.
Land lines and public phones are run by OTE who provide phone cards (tilekártes), available in denominations starting at €4, from kiosks and newsagents. If you plan on making lots of international calls, you'll want a calling card, all of which involve calling a free access number from either certain phone boxes or a fixed line (not a mobile) and then entering a twelve-digit code. OTE has its own scheme, but competitors generally prove cheaper. Avoid making calls direct from hotel rooms, as a large surcharge will be applied, though you will not be charged to access a free calling card number.
You can feel free to snap away pretty much anywhere in Greece, although some churches display "No photography" signs, and museums and archeological sites may require permits at least for professional photographers. The main exception is around airports or military installations (usually clearly indicated with a "No pictures" sign). The ordeal of twelve British plane-spotters who processed slowly through Greek jails and courts in 2001–2 on espionage charges should be ample incentive.
Standard Greek time is always two hours ahead of GMT. For North America, the difference is usually seven hours for Eastern Standard Time, ten hours for Pacific Standard Time. Greek summer time begins at 2am on the last Sunday in March, when the clocks go forward one hour, and ends at 2am the last Sunday in October when they go back. This change is not well publicized locally, and visitors miss planes and ferries every year.
Public toilets are usually in parks or squares, often subterranean; otherwise try a bus station. Except in tourist areas, public toilets tend to be filthy – it's best to use those in restaurants and bars. Remember that throughout Greece, you drop paper in the adjacent wastebins, not the toilet bowl.
The National Tourist Organization of Greece (Ellinikós Organismós Tourismoú, or EOT; Visit Greece abroad, wvisitgreece.gr) maintains offices in most European capitals, plus major cities in North America and Australia. It publishes an array of free, glossy, regional pamphlets, invariably several years out of date, fine for getting a picture of where you want to go, though low on useful facts.
In Greece, you will find official EOT offices in many but by no means all of the larger towns and islands where, in addition to the usual leaflets, you can find weekly schedules for the inter-island ferries – rarely entirely accurate, but useful as a guideline. EOT staff may be able to advise on bus and train departures as well as current opening hours for local sites and museums and occasionally can assist with accommodation.
Where there is no EOT office, you can get information from municipally run tourist offices – these can be more highly motivated and helpful than EOT branches. In the absence of any of these, you can visit the Tourist Police, essentially a division (often just a single room) of the local police. They can sometimes provide you with lists of rooms to let, which they regulate, but they're really the place to go if you have a serious complaint about a taxi, or an accommodation or eating establishment.
Greek national tourist offices abroad
Australia & New Zealand 51 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW 2000 t02/9241 1663, e[email protected]
UK 4 Conduit St, London W1R 0DJ t020/7495 4300, e[email protected]
USA 305 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017 t212/421-5777, e[email protected]
Travellers with disabilities
In general the disabled are not especially well catered for in Greece, though, as relevant EU-wide legislation is implemented, the situation is gradually improving. In cities, wheelchair ramps and beeps for the sight-impaired are rare at pedestrian crossings, and outside Athens few buses are of the "kneeling" type. Only Athens airport, its metro and airline staff in general (who are used to handling wheelchairs) are disabled-friendly. Ancient monuments, one of the country's main attractions, are usually inaccessible or hazardous for anyone with mobility impairments.
Some advance planning will make a stress-free holiday in Greece more likely. The Greek National Tourist Office is helpful; they also publish a useful questionnaire that you might send to hotels or self-catering accommodation. Before purchasing travel insurance, ensure that pre-existing medical conditions are not excluded. A medical certificate of your fitness to travel is also extremely useful; some airlines or insurance companies may insist on it.
Travelling with children
Children are worshipped and indulged in Greece, and present few problems when travelling. They are not segregated from adults at meal times, and early on in life are inducted into the typical late-night routine – kids at tavernas are expected to eat (and up to their capabilities, talk) like adults. Outside of certain all-inclusive resorts with children's programmes, however, there are very few amusements specifically for them – certainly nothing like Disney World Paris. Water parks, tourist sites and other places of interest that are particularly child-friendly are noted throughout the guide.
Luxury hotels are more likely to offer some kind of babysitting or crèche service. All the same basic baby products that you can find at home are available in Greece, though some may be more expensive, so it can pay to load up on nappies, powders and creams before leaving home.
Most domestic ferry-boat companies and airlines offer child discounts, ranging from fifty to one hundred percent depending on their age; hotels and rooms won't charge extra for infants, and levy a modest supplement for "third" beds which the child occupies by him/herself.
Full-time students are eligible for the International Student ID Card (ISIC; www.isiccard.com), which entitles the bearer to cut-price transport and discounts at museums, theatres and other attractions, though often not accepted as valid proof of age. If you’re not a student but aged under 26, you can qualify for the International Youth Travel Card, which provides similar benefits to the ISIC. Teachers qualify for the International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC), offering insurance benefits but limited travel discounts.
Seniors are entitled to a discount on bus passes in the major cities; Olympic Airways also offer discounts on full fares on domestic flights. Proof of age is necessary.
New Year’s Day.
Clean Monday (katharí dheftéra), 7 weeks before Easter.
Good Friday and Easter Monday (see Easter for dates).
Whit Monday, 7 weeks after Easter.
Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Christmas Day/Boxing Day.
Phone codes and numbers
All Greek phone numbers require dialling of all ten digits, including the area code. Land lines begin with 2; mobiles begin with 6. All land-line exchanges are digital, and you should have few problems reaching any number from either overseas or within Greece. Mobile phone users are well looked after, with a signal even in the Athens metro.
Phoning Greece from abroad
Dial t0030 + the full number
Phoning abroad from Greece
Dial the country code + area code (minus any initial 0) + number
New Zealand t0064
South Africa t0027
Greek phone prefixes
Local call rate t0801
Useful Greek telephone numbers
Fire brigade, urban t199
Forest fire reporting t191
Operator (Domestic) t132
Operator (International) t139
Speaking clock t141
Tourist police t171 (Athens); t210 171 (elsewhere)
Health advice for Greece
There are no required inoculations for Greece, though it’s wise to ensure that you are up to date on tetanus and polio. The main health risks faced by visitors involve overexposure to the sun, overindulgence in food and drink, or bites and stings from insects and sea creatures.
British and other EU nationals are entitled to free medical care in Greece upon presentation of a European Health Insurance Card. The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have no formal healthcare agreements with Greece (other than allowing for free emergency trauma treatment), so insurance is highly recommended.
Doctors and hospitals
For serious medical attention you’ll find English-speaking doctors (mainly private) in all the bigger towns and resorts: if your hotel can’t help, the tourist police or your consulate should be able to come up with some names if you have any difficulty. There are also hospitals in all the big cities. For an ambulance, phone166.
Pharmacies, drugs and contraception
For minor complaints it’s enough to go to the local pharmacy (farmakío). Greek pharmacists are highly trained and dispense a number of medicines which elsewhere could only be prescribed by a doctor. In the larger towns and resorts there’ll usually be one who speaks good English. Pharmacies are usually closed evenings and Saturday mornings, but all should have a schedule on their door showing the night and weekend duty pharmacists in town.
If you regularly use any form of prescription drug, you should bring along a copy of the prescription, together with the generic name of the drug; this will help you replace it, and avoids problems with customs officials. In this regard, you should be aware that codeine is banned in Greece. If you import any you might find yourself in serious trouble, so check labels carefully; it’s a major ingredient of Panadeine, Veganin, Solpadeine, Codis and Nurofen Plus, to name just a few.
Contraceptive pills are sold over the counter at larger pharmacies, though not necessarily the brands you may be used to; a good pharmacist should come up with a close match. Condoms are inexpensive and ubiquitous – just ask for profylaktiká (less formally, plastiká or kapótes) at any pharmacy, sundries store or corner períptero (kiosk). Sanitary towels and tampons are widely sold in supermarkets.
Common health problems
The main health problems experienced by visitors – including many blamed on the food – have to do with overexposure to the sun. To avoid these, cover up, wear a hat, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid any danger of sunstroke; remember that even hazy sun can burn. Tap water meets strict EU standards for safety, but high mineral content and less than perfect desalination on many islands can leave a brackish taste not suited to everyone. For that reason many people prefer to stick to bottled water. Hayfever sufferers should be prepared for a pollen season earlier than in northern Europe, peaking in April and May.
Hazards of the sea
To avoid hazards by the sea, goggles or a dive mask for swimming and footwear for walking over wet or rough rocks are useful. You may have the bad luck to meet an armada of jellyfish (tsoúkhtres), especially in late summer; they come in various colours and sizes ranging from purple “pizzas” to invisible, minute creatures. Various over-the-counter remedies are sold in resort pharmacies to combat the sting, and baking soda or diluted ammonia also help to lessen the effects. Less vicious but far more common are spiny sea urchins, which infest rocky shorelines year-round. If you’re unlucky enough to step on or graze against one, an effective way to remove the spines is with a needle (you can crudely sterilize it with heat from a cigarette lighter) and olive oil. If you don’t remove the spines, they’ll fester.
Bites and stings
Most of Greece’s insects and reptiles are pretty benign, but there are a few that can give a painful bite. Much the most common are mosquitoes: you can buy repellent devices and sprays at any minimarket. On beaches, sandflies can also give a nasty (and potentially infection-carrying) sting. Adders (ohiés) and scorpions (scorpií) are found throughout Greece. Both creatures are shy, but take care when climbing over drystone walls where snakes like to sun themselves, and – particularly when camping – don’t put hands or feet in places, like shoes, where you haven’t looked first.
Finally, in addition to munching its way through a fair amount of Greece’s surviving pine forests, the pine processionary caterpillar – which takes its name from the long, nose-to-tail convoys – sports highly irritating hairs, with a venom worse than a scorpion’s. If you touch one, or even a tree-trunk they’ve been on recently, you’ll know all about it for a week, and the welts may require antihistamine to heal.
If you snap a wild-fig shoot while walking, avoid contact with the highly irritant sap. The immediate antidote to the active alkaloid is a mild acid – lemon juice or vinegar; left unneutralized, fig “milk” raises welts which take a month to heal.
The media in Greece
Greeks are great devourers of newsprint – although few would propose the Greek mass media as a paradigm of objective journalism. Papers are almost uniformly sensational, while state-run TV and radio are often biased in favour of whichever party happens to be in government. Foreign news is widely available, though, in the form of locally printed newspaper editions and TV news channels.
Newspapers and magazines
British newspapers are widely available in resorts and the larger towns at a cost of €2–3 for dailies, or €4–5 for Sunday editions. Many, including the Guardian, Times, Mail and Mirror, have slimmed-down editions printed in Greece which are available the same day; others are likely to be a day old. In bigger newsagents you’ll also be able to find USA Today, Time and Newsweek as well as the International Herald Tribune, which has the bonus of including an abridged English edition of the same day’s Kathimerini, a respected Greek daily, thus allowing you to keep up with Greek news too. From time to time you’ll also find various English-language magazines aimed at visitors to Greece, though none seems to survive for long.
The main local English-language newspaper, available in most resorts, is the Athens News (weekly every Friday, online at athensnews.gr; €2.50), in colour with good features and Balkan news, plus entertainment and arts listings.
Greece’s airwaves are cluttered with local and regional stations, many of which have plenty of music, often traditional. In popular areas many of them have regular news bulletins and tourist information in English. The mountainous nature of much of the country, though, means that any sort of radio reception is tricky: if you’re driving around you’ll find that you constantly have to retune. The two state-run networks are ER1 (a mix of news, talk and pop music) and ER2 (pop music).
The BBC World Service no longer broadcasts to Europe on short wave, though Voice of America can be picked up in places. Both of these and dozens of others are of course available as internet broadcasts, however, or via satellite TV channels.
Greece’s state-funded TV stations, ET1, NET and ET3, nowadays lag behind private channels – Mega, Star, Alpha, Alter and Skai – in the ratings, though not necessarily in quality of offerings. Most foreign films and serials are broadcast in their original language, with Greek subtitles; there’s almost always a choice of English-language movies from about 9pm onwards, although the closer you get to the end of the movie, the more adverts you’ll encounter. Although hotels and rooms places frequently have TVs in the room, reception is often dire: even where they advertise satellite, the only English-language channels this usually includes are CNN and BBC World.