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    Athens: At the foot of the Acropolis

    Thanks to the around four million people living in Athens’ metropolitan area, the Greek capital is the largest city in the country in terms of population. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic Period; its most spectacular structure and iconic symbol is the 2500-year-old Acropolis, which stands on a rocky outcrop above the city. Most of Athen’s ancient sights are grouped around it, including the agorá and Hadrian’s Library. in 2004, Athens hosted the Olympic Games, an occasion that radically changed the city. Its once notorious traffic chaos has been largely eliminated; traffic calming has been introduced in the old-town district of Pláka, new hotel capacities have been created and a fresh wind has livened up the events calendar as well as the restaurant scene.

    New cultural and architectural impulses followed, in the shape, for instance, of the new Acropolis Museum inaugurated in 2009, the cultural center of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (2017) and the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in October 2019. These days, Athens is an attractive, vibrant, crisis-defying destination for culture and entertainment seekers.

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    Top 10 sights in Athens

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    Athen, Griechenland, Europa, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Travel Guide

    Acropolis

    Acropolis, Acropolis Hill
    Athens
    Greece
    Tel: 210 321 4172
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    Opening times: Daily 0800-2000

    This hilltop site, where the ancient city was founded, dominates Athens’ skyline. Its complex of ancient temples and sacred monuments is one of the great cultural wonders of the world.

    National Archaeological Museum

    44 Patission, Exárcheia
    106 82 Athens
    Greece
    Tel: 213 214 4800
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    Opening times: Daily 0800-2000

    For its astounding collection of ancient and classical Greek artefacts, this is the most important museum in the country. It’s too big for one day; most visitors focus on a few highlights such as the Mycenean Antiquities, Classical sculptures, and the Thira Frescoes.

    Ancient Agora

    Adrianou 24, Monastiráki
    105 55 Athens
    Greece
    Tel: 210 3210 0185
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    Opening times: Daily 0800-2000

    Lying just to the north of the Acropolis, this ‘market-place’ played a central role in ancient Athens’ daily life. Remains have been found of law courts, prison, schools and a theatre, dating from 600 BC, with some of the finest exhibits housed in its museum.

    Benaki Museum

    Koumpari 1
    Athens
    Greece
    Tel: 210 367 1000
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    Opening times: Wed and Fri 0900-1700, Thu and Sat 0900-0000, Sun 0900-1500

    Housed within the elegant former home of the Benaki family, this museum contains a magnificent collection of Greek art and crafts from prehistoric era up to the present day.

    Panagía Gorgoepíkoos

    Plateía Mitropóleos
    Athens 105 57
    Greece

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    Opening times: Daily 0700-1900

    This precious little church, standing in the shadow of Athens’ main cathedral, is affectionately known as the ‘Little Cathedral’. It dates from the 12th century and has original details reflecting Byzantine and Classical influences.

    Tower of the Winds

    Kirristou, Monastiráki
    105 55 Athens
    Greece
    Tel: 210 324 5220
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    Opening times: Mon 1100-1900, Tue-Sun 0800-1900

    This spectacular multi-faceted monument, part of the Roman Agora ruins in Monastiráki, was constructed in the second century BC as a combined weather vane and water clock.

    Monastiráki

    Monastiráki
    Athens
    Greece
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    One of the oldest areas of the city, with mosques dating from the Ottoman era. You could easily spend a day browsing its flea market and visiting the monuments, churches and museums.

    Museum of Cycladic Art

    Neophytou Douka 4, Kolonáki
    Athens 106 74
    Greece
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    Opening times: Mon, Wed and Fri-Sat 1000-1700, Thurs 1000-2000, Sun 1100-1700

    This private collection specialises in the Cycladic civilisation (3000-2000 BC), with beautiful exhibits including marble figurines and ceramics. It also houses artefacts from the Minoan and Mycenean ages, up to around 700 BC.

    Temple of Olympian Zeus

    Leofóros Amalías/Leofóros Vasilíssis Ólgas
    Athens 117 42
    Greece
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    Opening times: Daily 0800-2000

    Dedicated to the king of the Olympian gods, this is the largest temple in the ancient world. Damaged by earthquake and subsequently plundered, only 16 of its original marble columns remain; the triumphal Hadrian’s Arch stands on one corner of the site.

    Theatre of Dionysus

    Mitseon 25
    Athens 117 42
    Greece
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    Opening times: Daily 0800-1900

    Originally built to seat 17,000 spectators, this important open-air theatre hosted festivals dedicated to Dionysus, god of harvests. Plays by Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles were also held in the theatre.

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    Country information

    Country overview

    The rich cultural heritage of Greece and its natural beauty make the country a popular travel destination. Every year, it welcomes around 25 million visitors to its archaeological sites and museums, its mountains and beaches. Throughout the country, visitors will find archaeological evidence of millennia-old civilization, such as the Acropolis in Athens, the early Christian and Byzantine buildings in Thessaloniki, the ancient city of Epidaurus or the ruins of Olympia. There are a total of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece.

    Swimming and hiking, shopping and surfing – in Greece, you can do it all in one trip.

    Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981, and the country has been using the euro as its currency since 2001.

    Geography

    Greece is located in southeastern Europe and shares borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The eastern part of the country is on the Aegean Sea, and the western part on the Ionian Sea.

    Greece consists of the mainland, the peninsula of Peloponnesus, and the Greek islands, which comprise approximately one fifth of the country’s territory.

    The islands include Rhodes and Crete, the northern Aegean islands like Limnos, Lesbos, Chios and Samos, as well as the Cyclades islands such as Mykonos, Naxos and Paros.

    Greece’s highest peaks are the Pindus Mountains (2,637 m) and Olympus (2917 m).

    General knowledge

    Key facts

    Population: 10.7 million (2018)

    Capital: Athens

    Language

    Modern Greek. English and German – and sometimes French and Italian – are also spoken in the regions frequented by tourists.

    Currency

    Euro (EUR; symbol: €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins are in denominations of €2, €1, €0.50, €0.20, €0.10, €0.05, €0.02 and €0.01.

    Electricity

    230 volts AC, 50 Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

    Public holidays

    Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2020 – December 2021 period.

    2020

    New Year’s Day: 1 January 2020
    Epiphany: 6 January 2020
    Start of orthodox Lent: 2 March 2020
    Independence Day: 25 March 2020
    Orthodox Good Friday: 17 April 2020
    Orthodox Easter Sunday: 19 April 2020
    Orthodox Easter Monday: 20 April 2020
    Labour Day: 1 May 2020
    Orthodox Whit Sunday: 7 June 2020
    Orthodox Whit Monday: 8 June 2020
    Assumption: 15 August 2020
    Ochi Day: 28 October 2020
    Christmas: 25 and 26 December 2020

     

    2021

    New Year’s Day: 1 January 2021
    Epiphany: 6 January 2021
    Start of orthodox Lent: 15 March 2021
    Independence Day: 25 March 2021
    Orthodox Good Friday: 30 April 2021
    Orthodox Easter Sunday: 2 May 2021
    Orthodox Easter Monday: 3 May 2021
    Labour Day: 1 May 2021
    Orthodox Whit Sunday: 20 June 2021
    Orthodox Whit Monday: 21 June 2021
    Assumption: 15 August 2021
    Ochi Day: 28 October 2021
    Christmas: 25 and 26 December 2021

     

    All information subject to change.

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    Getting around

    Public Transport

    A network of buses, trolleybuses, and metro trains keep Athenians on the move (oasa.gr). Metro Line 3 connects to Athens airport. Public buses are blue, yellow and white, with routes all over the city. Electric trolleybuses also operate around the centre. Tickets for buses and trolleybuses must be bought in advance from a metro station or street kiosk; the same ticket is valid for all three systems.

    Taxis

    Athens’ bright yellow taxis are plentiful day and night. Tipping is not typical but welcome. Radio taxis are a reliable alternative; one reputable company is Athina (tel: +30-21/09 21 28 00).

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    Nightlife in Athens

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    Athens offers a cosmopolitan programme of world-class entertainment, from classical concerts to beachside nightclubs.

    If you are a hard-core rembétika fan, the unmistakably Greek music is still played in Pláka.

    Hoxton

    Voutadon 42
    118 54 Athens
    Greece
    Show on map

    Massively popular bar in Gazi, currently Athens’ trendiest district, with arty décor, comfy old sofas, and the young crowd spilling out onto the piazza on balmy nights.

    Akrotiri Lounge

    Sellei 3
    Athens 105 58
    Greece
    Show on map

    Buzzing beachside club, about 15 minutes drive from the city centre, with resident DJ, pool illuminated at night and restaurant.

    Halfnote Jazz Club

    Trivoniavou 17
    116 36 Athens
    Greece
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    Athens’ most famous jazz club, a snug and atmospheric venue in the south of the city, attracts top international and Greek artists.

    Rempetiki Istoria

    181 Ippokratous
    114 72 Athens
    Greece
    Show on map

    For fans of Greek traditional music, this is one of the most reputable clubs, with its resident group playing live (closed on Mondays).

    Mousikís Megarón Concert Hall

    Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias
    115 21 Athens
    Greece
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    This grand modern auditorium is one of the top venues for ballet, classical concerts and opera.

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    Restaurants in Athens

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    Dining out in Athens offers a wonderful array of cuisine from all over the country: from kebabs at street stalls to innovative gastro temples.

    Fresh local ingredients focus particularly on fish, lamb, olives, cheese and pastries soaked in honey or syrup.

    Spondi

    Pirronos 5
    Athens 116 36
    Greece
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    Excellent Michelin-starred French-fusion cuisine at one of Athens’ top restaurants, with romantic outdoor tables in a leafy patio.

    Jimas Ginger

    Dorileou 10
    Athens
    Greece
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Famous for its warm, lively atmosphere, serving great fresh fish dishes and other local specialities.

    Arsenis Taverna Iseris

    Syntagmatarchi Zisimopoulou 19
    Athens, Paleo Faliro 17564
    Greece
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    A traditional Greek taverna serving similarly homely local cuisine; live music at weekends.

    43 Sarantatrio

    43 A Frantzi Str.
    Athens 117 43
    Greece
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    A small and cosy restaurant, serving Greek staples with an adventurous twist, including vegetarian options.

    To Trikyklo

    Pitheou 34
    Athens 117 43
    Greece

    Show on map

    Price: Budget

    Superb Greek food using traditional fresh ingredients; a bit out of the way, but great value for money and well worth the trip.

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    Calendar of events

    Apokries (Carnival)

    28 February – 5 March 2019

    Venue: Pláka, Moschato and throughout the city

    Greeks celebrate Apokries (carnival) during the three weeks preceding Lent, when the devout then begin a 40-day fast in the run up to Easter. Although the country’s biggest carnivals are held in Patras, 215 km (134 miles) west of Athens, the capital also sees festivities, notably in the neighbourhoods of Plaka and Moschato, with parties and fancy dress parades. Carnival ends on Kathari Devtera (Ash Monday), which is a public holiday.

    Independence Day

    25 March 2019

    Venue: Syntagma Square and throughout the city

    Greece had been occupied by the Ottoman Turks for almost 400 years, when on 25 March 1821 an uprising began on the Peloponnese. The Greek war for independence ensued (1821-1832), with the Great Powers (Great Britain, France and Russia) sending naval forces to help the Greeks. In Athens, the anniversary of the beginning of the end of Ottoman occupation is celebrated with patriotic military parades.

    Easter

    19 – 21 April 2019

    Venue: Churches throughout the city

    The Greek Orthodox faith’s most important celebration sees Athens animated by Good Friday night candlelit processions, and solemn masses on the Saturday, culminating in midnight firework displays to herald Christ’s resurrection. Family lunches of spit-roast lamb take place on Easter Sunday. Greeks greet one another saying, “Hristos anesti” (Christ is risen). Most Athenians leave the capital for their villages over the Easter break and many restaurants close for the weekend.

    Labour Day

    1 May 2019

    Venue: Various throughout the country

    A public holiday in Greece, Labour Day is celebrated with parades in many cities. The stongest tradition, though, coincides with the height of springtime and the profusion of flowers in the countryside. There is a general exodus out of the towns for picnics and kite-flying, with Athenians favouring the verdant slopes of Mount Parnitha, north of the capital. Flowers are gathered and made into wreaths to decorate houses, cars and even donkeys.

    Athens & Epidaurus Festival

    May – October 2019
    Website

    Venue: Various

    Founded in 1955, the summer festival sees world-class concerts, opera, theatre and dance, staged at various open-air venues in Athens, with the main stage in the ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus, below the Acropolis. Past performers have included stars such as Maria Callas and Rudolf Nurejev, and although the economic crisis has seen a reduction in funding, recent names include Jose Carreras, Vanessa Mae, and the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra.

    European Music Day (Fête de la Musique)

    June 2019
    Website

    Venue: Squares and public spaces in centre; main stage on Kotzia Square

    The idea of ‘Fête de la Musique’ was a European initiative, launched in 1982 as the only Pan-European cultural event dedicated to music. Held over the night of the summer solstice (in Athens, it extends to three nights), it brings together traditional music, orchestras, choirs, pop, jazz, rock, rap and techno. In Athens, the festival has taken off like a rocket, giving rise to a three-day party when the squares and parks of the centre are filled with crowds enjoying free concerts into the early hours. Past performers here include the Scissor Sisters and Transglobal Undergound.

    Rockwave Festival

    Juli 2019
    Website

    Venue: Terra Vibe

    The premier festival of rock music in Greece takes place north of Athens, in the 40-acre Terra Vibe Park. Founded in 1996, the three-day event attracts big name performers from around the world – previous guests include Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, The Prodigy as well as Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal from the band Placebo. The music line-up is complemented by on-site activities and entertainments such as bungee jumping, stilt walking, a skate park and acrobatic performances – all under the warm Greek sun.

    Ochi Day Parade

    28 October 2019

    Venue: Main Roads of Athens

    For many visitors this might be less of an attraction than something to avoid, as towns and cities all over Greece tend to grind to a halt for a few hours. 28 October is Ochi Day – Ochi meaning No – the anniversary of General Ioannis Metaxas’ flat denial to the Italians’ request for free passage to invade Greece during WWII. Today it is marked with extravagant military parades involving soldiers, students and tanks along the capital’s main boulevards.

    Athens Marathon

    November 2019
    Website

    Venue: From Marathon to Athens

    A sporting event rooted in ancient history, the marathon race was born here in Athens, when the soldier Pheidippides brought news of the Athenian victory over the Persians from the battlefield at Marathon in 490 BC. Today the Athens marathon is run over the same 42.195km (26 miles 385 yards) route followed by Pheidippides, beginning at the ancient battlefield of Marathon and ending at the Panathinaikon Stadium. The route is mainly flat but with hilly stretches in the middle.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.

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    Hotels in Athens

    ListMap

    Athens has hundreds of hotels and hostels to cater for all tastes and budgets, and standards have improved a lot since the 2004 Olympics. In and around

    Syntagma Square is the most exclusive area; but also try Psirri, near Monastiraki, the heart of Athens’ alternative scene. Advance booking is highly recommended during July and August.

    InterContinental Athenaeum

    Syngrou Avenue 89-93
    Athens 117 45
    Greece
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    One of the biggest hotels, with all the expected amenities and facilities, plus views of the Acropolis from its rooftop restaurant.

    Periscope

    Charitos 22
    106 75 Athens
    Greece
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    This slick modern designer hotel is just a taverna plate’s throw from Kolonaki Square. Rooms have Wi-Fi, and there’s also a gym, restaurant and bar.

    Nefeli

    Corner of Hatzimichali 2 and 16 Iperidou
    105 58 Athens
    Greece
    Show on map

    Category: Budget

    Plain but comfortable rooms make this a good-value hotel in the central Plaka district.

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    Best time to visit

    Today: Saturday, 07.12.2019 03:00 UTC

    partly cloudy

    temperature


    12°C


    wind direction

    north

    wind speed

    0 mph

    7 days forecast

    Sunday

    08.12.2019

    17°C / 9°C

    Monday

    09.12.2019

    16°C / 8°C

    Tuesday

    10.12.2019

    16°C / 9°C

    Wednesday

    11.12.2019

    16°C / 13°C

    Thursday

    12.12.2019

    17°C / 12°C

    Friday

    13.12.2019

    16°C / 13°C

    Saturday

    14.12.2019

    16°C / 12°C

    Climate and best time to visit Greece

    Greece has a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild winters. The summer heat is alleviated in the north and on the coast by the refreshing breeze, but it can be oppressively hot in Athens and other big cities. Crete and Rhodes are farther south in the Mediterranean, where it stays mild even in the winter.

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    72 %

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    68 %

    62 %

    58 %

    52 %

    48 %

    49 %

    56 %

    66 %

    73 %

    73 %

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

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    absolute maxabsolute minØ absolute maxØ absolute minrelative humidityØ precipitationdays with deposit > 1mmsunshine duration
    Jan22 °C-6 °C12 °C6 °C72 %45 mm64.5 h
    Feb25 °C-6 °C13 °C6 °C71 %48 mm65.1 h
    Mar28 °C-6 °C16 °C8 °C68 %43 mm66.0 h
    Apr32 °C0 °C20 °C11 °C62 %28 mm48.0 h
    May38 °C5 °C25 °C15 °C58 %17 mm39.8 h
    Jun42 °C11 °C29 °C20 °C52 %10 mm111.4 h
    Jul42 °C14 °C32 °C22 °C48 %4 mm< 112.1 h
    Aug42 °C15 °C32 °C22 °C49 %5 mm111.5 h
    Sep39 °C8 °C28 °C19 °C56 %12 mm29.4 h
    Oct36 °C5 °C23 °C14 °C66 %48 mm47.0 h
    Nov30 °C-1 °C18 °C11 °C73 %51 mm55.5 h
    Dec22 °C-4 °C14 °C8 °C73 %67 mm74.4 h
    year42 °C-6 °C22 °C14 °C62 %378 mm467.9 h

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    Phone calls & Internet

    Telephone
    Country code: +30

    Mobile telephony and Internet
    Since June 2017, EU citizens traveling within the EU, and also in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein have been able to use their cell phones and surf the Net without incurring any extra charges: In other words, customers pay the same price for phone calls, text messages and data volume as they do at home. Restrictions do apply to the constant use of SIM cards abroad, however, and caps may be set on data packages.

    For full details, contact your mobile telephony provider in your country. Travelers using a SIM card from a non-EU state do not benefit from the new arrangement.

    Free Internet access via Wi-Fi is possible in many busy tourist spots. When using public Wi-Fi networks, it is a wise precaution to ensure encryption of all passwords, credit card details and banking TANs entered. Use of a VPN app or security software to check the safety of a hotspot is recommended.

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    Shopping in Athens

    Key Areas

    Athens offers a plethora of wonders for shopping addicts, despite its recent economic struggles; with wonderful street markets and bazaars, as well as chic boutiques and giant modern malls. Upmarket Kolonáki has antique galleries and fashion designer outlets, particularly in and around Sólonos and Skoufá. Monastiraki, Syntagma Square and Athinas are great areas for browsing, with flea markets, second-hand bookshops and herb and spice stores. Pláka is the heartland of tourist souvenir stores.

    Markets

    Monastiraki has one of the best flea markets, open from early Sunday morning, along Adrianou and adjacent streets; there’s also a daily, more touristy market here, on Ifaístou and Pandrósou. The Central Market (Varvakios Agora) has a wonderful spread of fruit and vegetables; open every day except Sunday, off Athinas between Monastiraki and Omonoia metro stations. Other neighbourhoods also have their own smaller local street markets.

    Shopping Centres

    Notos Galleries is one of the biggest department stores; another is Attika, which is smaller but more upscale. The Mall Athens, near the Olympic Stadium on Andrea Papandreou, is one of the largest shopping malls, with more than 200 stores, as well as restaurants, bars and a multiplex cinema.

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    Traveler etiquette

    Social Conventions

    Greeks are proud, have a real sense of their own traditions, and are very hospitable. Children, in particular, are always welcomed with open arms. The Greek Orthodox church is quite influential, especially in rural areas. Casual clothing is acceptable almost everywhere, but even in the hot summer months, it is inappropriate to wear swimwear to a restaurant. Instead, visitors should at least wear a t-shirt and pants, or other light summer clothing. Clothing that fully covers the body is expected when visiting monasteries or churches.

    Smoking

    Smoking is prohibited on public transportation and in all public buildings, including cafés, bars and restaurants.

    Tipping

    A ten-percent tip is customary at restaurants, and it can generally be left on the table. Taxi bills should be rounded up. The cleaning staff at hotels always appreciate a small tip on the day guests check out.

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    Health

    Main emergency number: 112

    Food & Drink

    The tap water is generally chlorinated and relatively clean, but drinking it may still cause mild digestive issues as travelers acclimate. For this reason, bottled water is recommended for the first few days of your stay; it is available everywhere. When buying bottled water, ensure that the original packaging has not been opened.

    Other risks

    There is the risk of contracting Lyme disease from ticks from April to October throughout Crete, especially near grasses, shrubs and undergrowth. The risk can be minimized by wearing clothing that covers the skin and by using insect repellent.

    Warnings regarding tick-borne encephalitis are mainly issued for the region west of Thessaloniki. However, the risk of contracting this tick-borne disease is low. A preventative vaccine is recommended for people who will be working or participating in recreational activities in endemic regions where they would be exposed to ticks. If you are bitten by a tick and have concerns, seek medical attention.

    Cases of hepatitis A and hepatitis B occur on Crete. A vaccination to protect against hepatitis A is generally advisable. For longer visits or visits involving close contact with the local population, or with children and young people, the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended.

    Kala-azar, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, primarily occurs in the south and on the islands (including Crete). The risk can be minimized by wearing clothing that covers the skin and by using insect repellent.

    Isolated cases of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever occur in the northeast. The disease is usually transmitted by ticks; it can be transmitted from person to person when there is close contact or in a medical care situation. Tourists are at low risk. Due to the risk of other tick-borne diseases, however, it is strongly recommended that visitors wear the appropriate gear (repellent, sturdy shoes, long pants, etc.) to protect themselves from tick bites during outdoor activities. Additionally, ticks should be immediately removed with an appropriate tool (tick-removal tweezers).

    Isolated cases of leishmaniasis, a parasitic infection transmitted by the sand fly, occur on the Greek mainland, the Ionian Islands and Crete. The risk can be minimized by wearing clothing that covers the skin and by using insect repellent.

    There are occasional epidemic outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis. To protect themselves, visitors should be vaccinated and avoid large crowds. Children and young people, in particular, should be vaccinated. The meningitis vaccine is recommended for certain groups of people (children, young people, students) if they are planning a longer stay. Travelers should consult their doctor regarding which vaccines are necessary and recommended for their destination.

    West Nile fever occurs in northern Greece. Effective protection against mosquitoes is recommended.

    Contractual physician of Lufthansa

    Dr. Anastasakou, Kornilia
    Messinias 58
    Athens 11527
    Greece
    Tel. +30-210-779329 (office)

    Please note that Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for the treatment nor will it bear the cost of any treatment.

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    Visa & Immigration

    IATA Travel Centre

    The IATA Travel Centre delivers accurate passport, visa and health requirement information at a glance. It is a trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements. The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate source available because it is based on a comprehensive database used by virtually every airline, and information is gathered from official sources worldwide, such as immigration and police authorities.

    IATA Travel CentreIATA Travel Centre

    Flight and accommodation