SkyEurope Airlines announced on 1 September the cancellation of all its European flights for the foreseeable future due to bankruptcy. Travellers who booked directly with the airline are unlikely to get a refund and should make enquiries with alternative carriers. Travellers who booked with a credit card may be able to get a refund at a later date, but should in the meantime make enquiries with other carriers. Travellers who booked through a Tour Operator should contact them to make alternative flight arrangements. A number of airlines (British Airways, Olympic, Aegean and Easy jet) offer flights to various London airports from Athens.
The Greek Government have confirmed a number of cases of Swine Flu in Greece. You can check for updates on the number of cases and their locations through the World Health Organisation (WHO) website at: www.who.int. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised its Pandemic Threat Alert Phase to Level 6. You should monitor local media reports for any developments and advice. There is a dedicated Swine Flu page on this website. Guidance on Pandemic Flu can be obtained on the UK Department of Health website at www.dh.gov.uk. Information on the Greek National Influenza Pandemic Plan can be found on the website for the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEPLPNO) on www.keel.org.gr
The Metro line which connects the Airport to central Athens is currently suspended because of major engineering works. Express buses to central Athens and Piraeus leave at regular intervals on a 24 hour basis from outside the Arrivals area.
There is a general threat from anarchist-related domestic terrorism, which has been on the increase in recent months. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There is a history of domestic terrorism in Greece. High profile British interests in Greece should remain vigilant and regularly review their security measures. No attacks have been directed against British tourists, nor have tourist areas been affected.
Domestic anarchist groups remain active and the number and scale of attacks have increased since the shooting of a Greek teenager in December 2008, and the serious riots that followed. Primarily, these attacks have involved the use of explosive devices against Greek institutions and commercial interests. Latterly, some attacks have included the use of automatic weapons against police personnel and their facilities. Commercial and media establishments have also been targeted, and up-market shopping areas are seen by the anarchists as legitimate targets. The most recent incidents involved an explosion on 2 September outside the Athens stock exchange which is reported to have caused one slight injury, and another at a Government building in Thessaloniki with no casualties.
Greece Country Profile
Greece is a stable democracy, however public protests are a standard feature of Greek political life. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent. And are often quelled with tear gas.
Generally there are no local travel restrictions, but you should be aware that certain areas near the Greek borders are militarily sensitive. Although these areas can be visited without any problems, do not take photographs or make notes near military or official installations. In addition, travellers should seek permission before photographing individuals.
In 2007 there were 1,580 road deaths in Greece (source: DfT). This equates to 14.4 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 5.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2007
You are advised not to hire motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or quad bikes, as accidents involving these forms of transport are common and can often result in very serious or even fatal injury. You should check that your travel insurance covers you for the relevant activity (for more advice see travel insurance) and you should note that failure to wear a crash helmet might invalidate your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in Greece.
Local laws and customs
Greek people are renowned for their hospitality. The Greek police are used to dealing with large numbers of foreign tourists, especially on the islands and do so in a low-key way.
Indecent behaviour, including mooning, is not tolerated. The police have made it clear that they will not hesitate to arrest those who do it. You should be aware that the courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently. You should bear in mind that some fancy dress costumes may offend the local Greek authorities and be considered as contravening decency laws.
You should not become involved with drugs of any kind, nor bring drugs – including “class C” drugs – from the UK. Possession of even small quantities can lead to long terms of imprisonment. You should also know your alcohol limits as your travel insurance may in some cases not cover you after excessive drinking.
The plant Khat is an illegal narcotic in Greece. You will be arrested and detained with the possibility of a prison sentence if you are caught trying to take Khat into Greece.
Driving any vehicle whilst over the legal drinking limit is heavily penalised and can result in a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
If you are seeking employment in bars or night clubs in Greece, you are required to have a health certificate/licence issue by the local authorities. Failure to have such a certificate is punishable by a fine and or imprisonment.
In common with many countries there is a requirement in Greece to be able to identify yourself. A passport or document with a photograph on it should be carried at all times.
In order to comply with Greek law, you should ensure that you obtain a receipt for goods purchased. If you purchase pirate CDs or DVDs in Greece you could be imprisoned.
You should not purchase any offensive weapons whilst on holiday. This includes items such as knuckledusters or knives with a blade length of 10cm or above.
From 1 July 2009, it is illegal to smoke in hospitals, schools, vehicles and all public places. The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to €500.
Visas are not required to enter Greece. As a British passport holder you may stay as a visitor for three months. For longer stays, you will need to apply to the appropriate office for a residence permit.
Non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals travelling to Greece must have a passport valid for at least 3 months after the period of their intended stay or expiry date of their visa.
Nationals of the EEA are exempt from the above regulation but must have a passport valid for the period of their intended stay.
Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
You are reminded that the currency of Greece is the Euro.
Sine 15 July 2007 new legislation on the controls of cash entering or leaving the EU apply in all Member States. Any person entering or leaving the EU will have to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 euros or more; this includes cheques, travellers' cheques, money orders, etc. This will not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country, as long as the original journey started outside of the EU nor to those travelling within the EU.