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Travelling safely in Greece

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Is Greece a safe country to visit? In short, yes. Even for solo female travellers, Athens is about as safe to visit as London, Dublin or any other European capital.

As a member of the Schengen zone, Greece is an easy place to travel to. However, due to its position in the Mediterranean, there are issues with poverty and immigration.

Some of the worst criminal activities in Greece involving illicit trades and trafficking won’t affect tourists. The main safety concerns for travellers to Greece are petty crimes like pickpocketing and minor scams.

Theft and scams in Greece

Rural Greek destinations like the Aegean islands are much safer in regards to petty theft than populous cities like Athens. That said, it's best to always exercise some basic safety precautions when travelling.

Petty thieves generally target built-up areas like the Parthenon and Monastiraki, often working in teams - one will distract a traveller before another steals any belongings. It’s good to only take what you need for the day, and leave a spare bank card and any personal documents at your accommodation. While it’s best to always carry ID, a photocopy of your passport is fine.

Using a money belt is a great way to dissuade thieves, as there is no obvious cash on show. In Athens, squares known as pickpocket hangouts include Omonia, Exarcheia, Vathi, and Kolokotroni.

Taxi scams from Athens airport are one of the most common issues. Arrange your travel beforehand or make use of the modern metro system instead.

Riots and strikes in Greece

The large squares in Athens often hold local protests against Grecian politics. Syntagma Square is a popular demonstration area, but they can happen across the city of Athens.

It’s best to follow the latest advice from the government and simply avoid any large gatherings of people if you experience a rally. Conflicts with police are not usually violent, but tear gas can be used to disperse crowds.


Alcohol adds a dimension of danger to any city, and although assault is uncommon in Greece, it unfortunately can still happen. It's best to avoid Omonia, Glyfada, Exarcheia, Vathi, or Kolokotroni squares at night-time.

Stick to touristy areas and avoid south-western Athens, as the bars and clubs here have ties to organised crime syndicates. Even small amounts of drugs can lead to heavy fines and tough prison sentences.

Respecting local culture

Being the cradle of Western civilization, Greece has many important archaeological sites over which they are quite rightly protective. It goes without saying to never touch or deface historic artefacts or works of art, but it’s also important not to photograph military outposts or buildings - even in tourist areas.

Learning a few words in Greek will help you out in many situations, as well as making you less of a target for common scams. It’s also worth noting that the public transportation service is a point of Grecian pride, and littering is not tolerated.

Keeping safe in the outdoors

Hiking trails are generally well-marked but it’s always best to plan out a route, have a backup plan, and let others know of your timings and whereabouts.

Like anywhere, water activities do come with their risks in Greece. Stick to established and well-known water sports operators on the islands, and take care to only swim in lifeguard-protected areas - there can be very strong currents around some of the islands.

Heat and hydration

The tap water isn't safe to drink on many of the islands, so it’s best to always ask before drinking the water or carry a filtered drinking bottle. Restaurants will generally serve bottled water to tourists.

Athens can be incredibly hot in June, July and August with average temperatures of 30 °C, although temperatures of over 40°C are not uncommon. If you are travelling to Greece at this time of year, consider staying inside during the hottest part of the day. The islands are often much cooler due to the summer winds.

National disasters

While natural disasters are uncommon in Greece, parts of the country are affected by forest fires from June to September, and there are sometimes earthquakes.

These can disrupt travel plans but do not pose a major risk to most tourists. To find out what to do in such an event or see up-to-date information by area, visit the Greek Civil Protection website.

Healthcare and insurance

Of course, it’s always best to have comprehensive travel insurance when travelling. Greece does have a public healthcare system but the hospitals are crowded so it can be much easier to go private if you have insurance.

You can get many ‘prescription only’ products from pharmacies in Greece, staff are well-trained and can diagnose many common issues so often a doctor's visit isn’t necessary. Some of the larger Greek Islands have hospitals, but some smaller islands only have one doctor.

LGBTQ+ considerations

Same-sex relationships are legal in Greece, and places like Mykonos, Santorini and Ios are particularly welcoming to everyone.

However, there are still some conservative areas in Greece as a heavily Christian country. In more rural areas, it may be best to avoid public displays of affection.

Planning a trip to Greece? Read our Greece travel guides

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 24 May 2024

Chora village and the old harbour of Astypalea island in Greece


In many ways, Greece is the perfect holiday destination. From white, sandy beaches and clear waters to amazing food and historical sites, Greece has you covered.