Below are a few hints that may help you when planning for your trip to Greece:
For South African passport holders, a visa is required to enter Greece. This visa must be obtained prior to departure from South Africa.
The climate is Mediterranean, pleasant and healthy due to its distinctive dryness. Very hot summers and cold winters. Rain falls mainly during the winter months. Summer months range from June to September and winter starts in December through to March.
Lightweight clothes in the summer, like shorts and t-shirts, and warmer clothes in winter. There are no fixed dress regulations in Greece. Greeks are casual with regard to dress during the day. They do, however, dress up in the evenings when going out to dinner or shows. Comfortable shoes are a must and sandals for the beach are required. Do bring your own beach towel and several swimming costumes, as these will be the most essential items on the islands.
The unit of currency is the Euro. The bills will come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The design of the bills is the same throughout the euro zone. Coins will be worth either one or two euros or in euro cents — 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 or 1. The coins will have a common face on one side. But on the other side, the symbol will differ from one country to another. Whatever the denomination, the same euro bills and coins can be used in all of the euro zone countries.
Exchange facilities are found at the airports, banks and hotels. Banks are open Monday to Thursday from 08.00 to 14.00 and on Friday from 08.00 to 13.30. They are closed on holidays and weekends.
Some passengers have reported difficulties using American Express and Diners Cards to pay for their meals etc. in their hotels. These credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercards.
Working hours in summer is usually from 09.00 to 13.00 and from 17.00 to 20.00, Monday to Saturday. Shopping in Greece is amazing when it comes to buying shoes, bags, clothes, furs and jewellery. The main shopping areas for tourists are situated in the centre of Athens namely, Syntagma, Kolonkai, Omonia, Monastiraki and Plaka. Sales occur twice a year, in August and February. The shops in the centre of Athens do not close for siesta and are therefore open from 08.00 to 20.30 hours.
FOOD AND DRINK
In Greece, particularly in Athens, there are plenty of luxury restaurants serving international and Greek cuisine, tavernas and barbecues. When in Greece one must definitely taste the traditional food. In a local taverna you will be offered various starters “mezze” followed by kebabs “souvlakia (yiro)” with pita bread and tzatziki (yoghurt/cucumber/garlic sauce). The spinach leaves stuffed with mince and rice “dolmades” are a must. Greek salads are made in true Greek style with fresh feta cheese and olives. They have many tempting sweets made with phyllo pastry, nuts and syrup called “baklava”.
In Athens you can choose from many theatres, opera houses, numerous winter as well as summer open-air cinemas. There is a wide choice of nightclubs, music halls, discos and tavernas with the popular “bouzouki” instrument players. Most of them are gathered in the centre of Athens in the Plaka district.
Passengers should restrict themselves to one suitcase each, in addition to hand luggage. Please pack necessary medication in your hand luggage, as well as a change of clothing in the event of any delays.
Taxis are numerous in all Greek cities and most of them speak English, therefore, the language barrier is not a problem. Do however be careful not to be “ripped off” with charges. Make sure all taxis run on the metre.
You will generally find that the Greeks are helpful therefore we urge one to conform to worldwide trends in this regard. Hotel porters should receive a small tip (approximately € 1), for carrying your luggage (unless travelling in a group in which case this may be included in the tour cost). Guides and drivers should also receive a gratuity and the customary 10 % is recommended for restaurant visits and room service.