What to Wear
Athenians are well-groomed and the younger crowd is trendy, so keep your smart clothes for the city. Nevertheless, in Athens and other metropolises such as Rhodes, Thessaloniki and Iraklio, you’ll get away with shorts or jeans and casual tops. Bars or fashionable restaurants require more effort – the scene is stylish rather than dressy. Think tops and trousers rather than T-shirts and cut-offs. In out-of-the-way places you can wear casual clothing; in summer, the heat will make you want to run naked; bring quick-drying tank-tops and cool dresses. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for the cobbled roads.
In cities and large hotels, restaurants and shops, you can usually use debit and credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Greece. American Express and Diners Club are accepted in larger tourist areas but unheard of elsewhere. In smaller, family-run places, particularly in out-of-the-way locations, cards won’t be accepted and you’ll need to have cash. Most towns have ATMS but they can often be out-of-order for days at a time. It’s therefore wise (and necessary) to carr_y extra cash in a safe place like a money belt. (Note, card companies often put an automatic block on cards after the ﬁrst withdrawal abroad as an antifraud mechanism. To avoid this happening, inform your bank of your travel plans.)
» Restaurants If a service charge is included, a small tip is appreciated. If there’s no service charge, leave 10% to 20%.
» Taxis Round up the fare by a couple of euros. There’s a small fee for handling bags; this is an ofﬁcial charge, not a tip.
» Bellhops Bellhops in hotels or stewards on ferries expect a small gratuity of €1 to €3.
» Eating 8: Dining Meals are commonly laid in the middle of the table and shared. Always accept an offer of a drink as it’s a show of goodwill. Don’t insist on paying if invited out; it insults your hosts. In restaurants, the pace of service might feel slow; dining is a drawn-out experience in Greece and it’s impolite to rush waitstaff.
» Photography In churches, avoid using a ﬂash or photographing the main altar, which is considered taboo. At archaeological sites, you’ll be stopped from using a tripod which marks you as a professional and thereby requires special permissions.
» Places of Worship If you plan to visit churches, carry a shawl or long sleeves and a long skirt or trousers to cover up in a show of respect.
» Body Language If you feel you’re not getting a straight answer, you might need literacy in Greek body language. ‘Yes’ is a swing of the head and ‘no’ is a curt raising of the head or eyebrows, often accompanied by a ‘ts’ click-of-the-tongue sound.
Like much of Europe, the Greeks dine late and many restaurants don’t open their doors for dinner until after 7pm. You will only need reservations in the most popular restaurants and these can usually be made a day in advance.
» Taverna Informal and often specialising in seafood, chargrilled meat or traditional home-style baked dishes.
» Estiatorio More formal restaurant serving similar fare to tavemas or international cuisine.
» Mezedhopoleio Serves mezedhes (appetisers); an ouzerie is similar but serves a round of ouzo with a round of mezedhes.
» Kafeneio One of Greeoe’s oldest traditions, serving coffee, spirits and little else.
Tourism is big business in Greece and being good business people, many Greeks have leamed the tools of the trade – English. In cities and popular towns, you can get by with less than a smattering of Greek; in smaller villages or out-of-the-way islands and destinations, a few phrases in Greek will go a long way. Wherever you are, Greeks will hugely appreciate your efforts to speak their language.
What to Wear