Greece

Greece is blessed with natural wonders, ancient sites and architectural marvels with 1,400 islands dotted throughout the blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The scenery varies from mighty gorges to towering mountains, from the arid and rocky Cycladic islands to the icy lakes and plummeting rivers of Northern Greece. The Greeks love to eat and drink so food and wine is plentiful and they have a great passion for fun and a unique zest for life, making Greece an unrivalled destination with an everlasting appeal.

When to Visit

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Greece; specifically May, June, September and October. Most of the country's tourist infrastructure goes into hibernation during winter, particularly on the islands (and in some places you'll be hard-pressed to find a hotel or restaurant open). Some of the smaller islands close completely as islanders head off to alternative homes on the mainland for a few months. Many hotels, seasonal cafes and restaurants close their doors from the end of October until mid-April; bus and ferry services are either drastically reduced or cancelled.

Highlights

THE ACROPOLIS The most iconic monument in Greece, the Acropolis stands boldly above the skyline of Athens. The greatest sanctuary in ancient Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena, sits grandly on a rocky crag.

SANTORINI Considered one of the most romantic and picturesque places in the world, anyone who has seen the photos of the island’s caldera beneath the famous sunset knows this is the ultimate romantic experience.

CRETE Crete is the largest island in Greece, with historical towns, impressive mountains, quaint villages and a superb 300 days of sunshine per year.

DELPHI In classical times, Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world. In Greek mythology, the site of Delphi was established by Zeus and today, the sanctuary, theatre and museum will have you spellbound.

METEORA The Byzantine monasteries sit atop huge 1,000 metre high natural sandstone rock pillars and are accessible by staircases cut into the rock. Of the six intact monasteries, two are still inhabited by nuns.

GREEK CUISINE Greek cuisine dates back thousands of years –the world’s first cookbook was written by a Greek in 330BC. In Greece, it’s not just about the amazing food; it’s also about gathering around the table.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Much social life takes place within a close circle of family and friends. Group activities revolve around eating, drinking, playing games, listening to music, dancing, and animated debate and conversation. These gatherings often aim at the achievement of kefi, a sense of high spirits and relaxation that arises when one is happily transported by the moment and the company. Drinking may contribute to the attainment of kefi, but becoming drunk is considered disgraceful. A major occasion on which people open their homes to a wide range of visitors is the day honoring the saint for whom a person is named. On those days, it is permissible to call on anyone bearing that saint's name. Guests generally bring sweets or liquor, Hospitality is seen as both a pleasure and a responsibility. Hosts are generous, and guests are expected to accept what is offered with only token protests. Hospitality is often extended to foreigners, but the deluge of travelers, ambivalence about the impact of tourism, and the improper or condescending behavior of some tourists complicate the situation.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information,  lease contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to the Greece. Vaccination against Hepatitis B should be considered by frequent travellers or those intending on a long stay, whilst vaccination against typhoid fever should be considered particularly if travelling to areas with poor sanitation and personal hygiene. Tick-borne encephalitis is present throughout many areas in Europe, predominately in forested regions. Regardless of destination, all travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations, including a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner for your specific risk to preventable diseases and appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to the Greece should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem Plug Type: American and Greek Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical/modem adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Greece: +30 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: All - 112 (English is usually available) Ambulance - 166 Fire - 199 Police - 100 These services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it is best to seek the assistance of a Greek speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

Opening Hours: Many shops are open 8am - 9pm, otherwise: Mon, Wed: 9am - 2.30pm, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9am - 1.30 and 5.30pm - 8.30pm, Sat: 9am - 3pm. Sunday: closed, except neighborhood corner stores and some kiosks, usually open till around 10pm. Hours are extended during Christmas, New Year's Eve and Easter all major Greek holidays as well as in summer.

Tipping

In Greece tipping ("Φιλοδώρημα", transl. filodórima, or the loanword "πουρμπουάρ" from French pourboire) is commonplace, but not mandatory. Usually an amount on top of the small change left after paying the bill is left on the table in restaurants or bars. There is no set formula as to the proper amount, but for a large bill the tip is usually larger as well. The setting is also a factor; for instance, dining at an upscale establishment would merit more consideration to the tip than simply having coffee at a café. Common tips for a fast-food delivery may be up to 1 or 2 euros, for a large restaurant order it may be up to 10 or 20 euros but usually not larger.

Getting around

The intercity bus system in Greece is very efficient and if you do your homework you can travel anywhere in the Greek mainland with the "KTEL" (intercity) green colored buses.Getting to the islands would require either a short flight from Athens or Thessaloniki, or a boat ride of varying length. Most flights from Athens are at most thirty minutes long.For islands close to mainland hopping on a ferry is your best option.In Athens the best way to get around is on foot and with the newly built Athens Metro. For destinations out of the Metro's reach getting in a Taxi would be the best option. To flag a Taxi, stand on the side of the road goes towards your destination. When you see a taxi approaching at a reasonable distance raise your arm and stare at the driver.

Language

Greek (official) spoken by 99% of people.

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