Is Greece safe to visit?
The question many travellers have right now: is Greece safe to visit? With the severe economic crisis in Greece, many travellers have been canceling their summer vacations, or re-thinking their visit to the popular tourist destination.
If you’re planning a holiday to Greece this summer, here is what you can expect:
A quick internet search will bring up discussions and news articles about the turmoil in the country (we were due to arrive just one week before the June elections), and that made us a little apprehensive about traveling there. But after spending the last four months visiting some of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, we were curious to see how tourism in Greece has been affected by the recession.
Less crowds, less stress
After visiting cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, and Venice – where I always felt suffocated being surrounded by other travelers and tour groups, I was expecting the same in Athens. But we were amazed at how quiet the city was – even in the most popular places.
We were able to get tourist-free photos almost everywhere we went, and despite the perfect weather, most beaches were deserted. It made our trip much more enjoyable, and I knew we would never have to fight the crowds to get the experience we were looking for.
With the decline in tourism, you can be sure to find great deals on everything from accommodation, travel packages, resorts, and restaurants.
I spoke with a representative from HostelBookers.com who told me that, compared to last year, the average cost of accommodation for their website is now 15% cheaper in Greece, and 18% cheaper in Athens. That’s a significant savings!
Our stay at the Achillion Hotel in Athens was just €20 per person each night, and on the island of Paros, we found beds in hostel dorm rooms as cheap as €5 per person, but we eventually splurged on a private beachfront room at Hotel Paros. There, rooms which were normally €40 per person, were being discounted by 50 per cent off to €20.
I was told that there were delays in transportation schedules for the past couple of years, and we expected it during our trip. According to the Athens guide books that we read, city buses were supposed to run every hour to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio – about two hours away from Athens. However, when we got to the bus stop, we were told that they were now running roughly every two hours instead.
If you’re concerned, consider calling ahead for the most current train, ferry, bus, and tour schedules.
It’s also a good idea to stay flexible. Most restaurants we went into were empty, and as a result, some have stopped offering their full menu. Instead, they prepare a fixed menu each day for their customers. So before you sit down in a restaurant, make sure that they are serving their full menu, or that you want what is served on their fixed menu.
I was not allowed to rent a scooter at a shop on the island in Paros because they feared I would crash and cause damages. Even though I told them I owned and rode a scooter without incident for over for years in Vancouver, they didn’t care. “We are in an economic crisis,” the shopkeeper explained to me. “There are no doctors if you get hurt, and we cannot risk it.”
It was disappointing for sure, but we had just as much fun touring Paros on a four-wheeler together.
I know there are those travellers who are concerned about “taking advantage” of Greece’s situation right now, but please take this into consideration: tourism accounts for 1 out of every 5 jobs in Greece right not. Not visiting or postponing your trip for another time is hurting them more than taking advantage of the bargains available to tourists right now. SO if Greece has always been on your travel bucket list, this summer might be the best, and cheapest time to go.
Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.