General Useful Information for Your Trip to Greece With Kids
Capital of Greece: Athens
Official language: Greek
Currency: Euro (€)
Regime: Presidential Parliamentary Democracy
Calling code: The international calling code of Greece is +30
Every city has a different area code (e.g. for Athens 210 or 211 for new numbers). Note that in Greece the area code must always be dialed (all Greek phone numbers are 10-digit).
Visas: Many travelers to Greece will not need to obtain a visa for visits to Greece of up to 90 days. This includes citizens of all other European Union countries, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United States.
However, as security arrangements change rapidly, visa requirements can also change. Please consult the list from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece
Exchange Currencies: 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 and 200 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.
Euros can also be exchanged for notes of other foreign currencies at exchange offices that are situated at the airport and certain main ports, in the larger cities, as well as at many tourist destinations. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.
Credit Cards: The majority of the retail stores in Greece accept credit cards. However, some small grocery stores, kiosks, remote taverns and the flea market will probably not take credit cards, so you better ask before you buy.
Time Zone: GMT +2
National celebrations and Holidays
- New Year’s Day: 1st of January
- Epiphany: 6th of January. Sea water is consecrated in the area of Piraeus. The priests throw the Cross into the sea and young men dive to catch it
- Ash Monday: 41 days before Easter. It is the day people begin the Lent. On Ash Monday Greeks fly kites, eat meatless food and celebrate Koulouma. Athenians gather on Philopappou Hill.
- Independence Day & Celebration of Evaggelismos: 25th of March. Military parade
- Easter: From Holy Friday until Easter Monday. On Holy Friday evening every church decorates the Epitaph (Bier of Christ). During the procession of the Epitaph the streets of every city or village in the country are full of people. It is a religious procession where everybody holds lit candles in their hands and sings hymns
- Night of the Resurrection: It is celebrated in midnight before Easter Sunday with fireworks and candles
- Easter Sunday: On Easter Sunday Greeks eat barbecue lamb. The celebrations include singing and dancing all day long
- Labor Day: 1st of May. Flower feasts all around Athens
- Pentecost: It is celebrated 50 days after Easter
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary: 15th of August
- 28th of October: National Celebration. Military parade
- Christmas: 25th-26th of December
Seasonal events in Greece
- Apokreas (Carnival season): One of the most colorful and festive times to be in Greece but it also is the holiday that lets you know that the winter will soon be over and spring is on its way. Apokreas is Greece’s Carnival season which precedes the 40 days of fasting that leads up to Easter
- Hellenic Festival: Held every summer in Greece, is one of the greatest celebrations of artistic performance in the world
- August Moon Festival: The full moon festival in August is the only day of the year when travelers can enjoy free admission to participating archaeological sites and museums after sunset.
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.
In these cases, the necessary treatment in Greece is provided by:
- Social Security Institute Health Units (polyclinics) or doctor’s offices in the region;
- Regional clinics (former rural clinics) or the Health Centres of the National Health System; and
- the outpatients’ departments of the hospitals on contract
In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union wishing to visit Greece must consult their social security agency for information before travelling.
Ambulance Service: 166
SOS Doctors : 1016
Duty Hospitals and Clinics: 1434
Open Line for alcohol drug Addiction: 210 36 17 089
Poisoning First Aid: 210 77 93 777
European emergency service: 112
Shop Opening Hours
Although the opening hours of shops vary from region to region, in large cities they are usually as follows:
Downtown shops, department stores and supermarkets: 9am-9pm, except on Saturdays, when they close at 8pm.
Local shops: 9am-2.30pm & 5.30-8.30pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) and 9am-3pm (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
Shops are closed on Sundays, except for local mini-markets, tobacco shops and street kiosks, some of which operate almost 24 hours a day, including Sundays, especially in tourist areas.
Legislation in Greece prohibits smoking in workplaces, transport stations, taxis and ferries, as well as in all enclosed public spaces. Smoking is also prohibited in large entertainment venues, such as restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs.
Road conditions & rules in Greece
Greece has a large system of National Roads, with motorways, four lane/dual carriageways with central barriers and two-lane roads without a separating barrier. The road system connects all of mainland Greece.
Recent years have seen much investment in the Greek infrastructure, including new motorways. However, road conditions vary from one region to another. Surfaces may be uneven, and roads may be very wet after rain, as they often do not drain water well. In rural areas, sharp turns are very common.
Speed limits, unless indicated otherwise, are:
- Built up areas: 50 Km/h for cars
- Out of towns: look for speed signs, limit is usually 90 Km/h or 110 Km/h
- Motorways: 120 Km/h
- In Greece you drive on the right and overtake on the left.
- Drivers must give way to vehicles coming from the right, unless on a main road, as indicated by signs. At traffic circles, priority is given to vehicles coming from the right, unless the other vehicle is instructed to give way.
- Seatbelts must be worn both in front seats and in back seats.
- Children under 12 years of age are not allowed in the front seat.
- It is compulsory to carry a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and warning triangle, and it is forbidden to carry cans of petrol.
- Helmets are compulsory for motorcyclists if the motorcycle is 50cc or more.
Non-EU travelers will be required to hold an International Driving Permit (IDP) together with a valid national driver’s license if they wish to rent vehicles in Greece.
Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones. Most other phones can be set to roaming. US and Canadian phones need to have a dual- or tri-band system.
If you need help, there are 3 main mobile service providers in Greece: Wind, Cosmote and Vodafone. All of them have shops all around Athens center as well as on many islands and cities.
Alternating current, 220 volts, 50 Hz. Appliances for 110 or 120 volts may be operated by using step-down transformers of 220/110 volts connected to each outlet, provided that these transformers have two separate windings which will eliminate any danger of electric shock.
WiFi can be found in the majority of restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels throughout Greece and is likely to be both fast and reliable.
Food & Water
Greek cuisine (Elliniki kouzina) is a Mediterranean cuisine. Olives, cheese, and wheat are integral parts of the local diet, appearing in salads, stews, and breads. Seafood at restaurants – often squid, octopus, mussels, and fish – is likely to come fresh from the Mediterranean, especially on the Greek islands.
Greek cuisine is simple but incredibly varied. In terms of popular dishes, you will find: moussaka (aubergine & lamb casserole), souvlaki (spit-roasted meat), saganaki (deep fried cheese), yemista (stuffed tomatoes or other vegetables with rice and various herbs or minced meat), ntolmades (vine leaves stuffed with meat & herbs).
Meat-free options include briam (roasted vegetables in tomato sauce), and of course, Greek salad (choriatiki) with olives & feta cheese.
Restaurants and taverns in summer are usually open all day. Greek eating hours are different from other countries. In Greece people usually eat lunch at about 3 in the afternoon and start dinner from 9 in the evening till after midnight.
Proposed dishes for children in Greece-kid friendly menu
- Souvlaki – roast chicken or pork on a skewer
- Yemista – Vegetables (usually tomatoes) stuffed with rice
- Keftedakia – fried meatballs
- Spanakopita – Spinach pie
- Pastitsio – “Greek lasagna” uses a creamy sauce over spaghetti and minced meat
Snacks for kids
Do not forget to try “koulouri”: a soft bread ring covered in sesame seeds
Another Greek delicacy loved by children is “Loukoumades”: small fried doughnut-like balls drenched in honey syrup and sprinkled with various toppings such as cinnamon or crushed walnuts.
In the major cities, it’s generally safe to drink water from taps and also from drinking fountains. However, it is strongly recommended to stick to bottled water on most islands and in rural areas.