Athens is the capital of Greece with a population of almost 3,500,000.
The standard in Greece is 230V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a transformer and British ones an adaptor.
Local time is GMT +2 hours.
The easiest way to get to Athens is to fly. If you are coming from the USA there are non-stop flights from New York by Delta Airlines and Olympic and then a dozen other airlines that you have to connect somewhere in Europe. Starting in the summer of 2007 Continental will fly non-stop from Newark and US-Air nonstop from Philadelphia to Athens.
The main volume of European tourists traveling to Greece by car use modern ferries, recently built, doing routes between Greek ports and those of neighbouring Italy. Once in Athens, there is a multiple of choices available to you to discover the city. The new Athens Sightseeing public bus, Line 400, takes visitors to the highlights of the City of Athens.
If you choose to use public transportation to get around, keep in mind that there are integrated tickets allowing for multiple use of more than one type of transportation within prescribed time limits. Accordingly, there are 90-minute tickets, day and weekly passes good for city buses, trolleys, the tram and the metro (excluding travel to and from the airport). Don’t forget to validate your tickets upon boarding. Fare control is regular and fines for violators are steep nearing 60 times the value of the ticket.
All taxis are yellow and equipped with a metre displaying the fare. The driver is obliged to activate the meter upon hire. From 05:00-24:00hrs Tariff 1 applies, while from 24:00-05: 00 hrs Tariff 2 comes into effect. Greek taxis are very cheap by European standards. All licensed taxis are equipped with metres (the fare is charged per km) and display a card detailing the latest valid tariffs and surcharges. In certain tourist areas, you may be asked to pay a predetermined (standard) amount for a ride to a specific destination; thus, before boarding a taxi make sure to seek information from another source on the exact fare for the journey.
Greece is the ideal destination to shop for a wide variety of products, catering to everybody’s tastes and wishes. Prices are very reasonable in relation to product quality and visitors will be able to find something for every budget.
Visitors from outside the EU are entitled to a VAT refund on goods they have bought during their stay in the EU if the goods are shown to customs on departure within three months of their purchase together with the VAT refund documents. These are normally repared by the seller although, as the scheme is voluntary, not all merchants participate. Some countries set a minimum value of purchases to qualify for a refund.
Shops are open Monday through Friday from 09.00 till 14.30 and on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday also from 17.30 through 20.30. On Saturday shops open from 09.00 till 15.00, while they are closed on Sunday. Supermarkets and kiosks may stay open till 22.00.
More specifically, in the centre of the capital, tourist shops and kiosks are open from early in the morning till late at night, seven days a week. Nevertheless, both the private and the public sectors are closed during public and national holidays.
Public Holidays 2007
1 January : New Year's Day
6 January : Epiphany
19 February : Ash Monday
25 March : National Holiday
8 and 9 April : Easter
1 May : May Day
28 May : Whit Monday ( Holiday only for public sector)
15 August : Dormition (Assumption) of The Virgin
28 October : National Holiday
25 and 26 December : Christmas
Finally, in order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency. In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union wishing to visit Greece must consult their social security agency for information before traveling.
Citizens of most countries require a visa to enter Greece. The following do not require a visa to enter Greece: Citizens of the Schengen Area member states. Greece follows the Schengen Agreement and provisions for short-term visits. The Agreement abolished controls at the common internal land, air and sea borders and allows for movement by nationals of its member states without a visa for short-term stays of up to three (3) months. Airlines or other carriers, however, require a valid passport and or official national I.D. card or piece of identification issued by a public authority.
The Schengen Area member states are:
- The Netherlands
- Sweden, plus associated countries: Iceland and Norway
Citizens of the following EU and other European non-Schengen countries do not need a visa to enter Greece but they do need to provide a valid passport and/or official national I.D. card at the border and to airline or other carriers:
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
No visa is required for holders of regular valid passports of the following non-EU countries who wish to visit Greece and stay up to 3 months (90 days) within a six (6) month period:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- New Zealand
- The Holy See (Vatican)
- San Marino
- South Korea
NOTE: When travelling to Greece on a tourist visa, visitors are required to have travel insurance that covers cases of medical or other emergencies for the duration of their stay.