Main Content

Greece

An Interdisciplinary Hub for Humanistic Pursuits
!
Moderate Risk
A small white and orange boat docked in a harbor in Greece with homes nestled into the hillside

Melinda Song '17, Greece

GSS Country Snapshot

A brief overview of Harvard activities, safety & security, health, cultural, and outbound immigration considerations

305

Registered Trips in 2023

1

In-Country Office

Greece is a popular destination for Harvard affiliates to pursue internships, fellowships, research, and study abroad programming. Greece is also home to Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece (CHS Greece). Since 2008, CHS Greece has linked the Harvard community to local academic institutions, authorities, and other organizations and communities, uniting the humanistic pursuits of its twin institution, CHS in Washington, DC (CHS US), with the homeland of Hellenism.

On campus at Harvard, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies promotes the interdisciplinary understanding of European history, politics, economy, and societies through study, research, training, and the exchange of ideas. Harvard Summer School also offers a study abroad program in Thessaloniki and Nafplio.

The information below is intended as a high-level summary and is not all encompassing. We encourage you to review the additional resources and utilize your Harvard network to learn more. You can also schedule a consultation with us if you’d like to discuss the safety and security or operational matters unique to you and your travel or project. We’ll work with you to minimize risks and help you make informed decisions about your travel and activities.

Safety & Security

The Harvard GSS risk rating for Greece is moderate risk. Some of the factors that influence this rating for Harvard affiliates include opportunistic crime and petty theft, especially around tourist sites. Demonstrations and strikes occur frequently, especially in urban centers, which lead to heavy transportation disruptions. Corruption is a concern and bribery is widespread (known colloquially as "fakelaki," meaning "little envelope"). As with any country, you need to research and consider all factors in the context of your identity, your activities in country, and your familiarity with the country and its culture. If a security incident occurs, contact International SOS through the Assistance App or by dialing +1-617-998-0000.

Weather and environmental-related incidents can create safety risks, disrupting travel and essential services. Greece sits in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes. Wildfires are common in the summer season and can impact major cities, including Athens. Make sure you’re informed, prepared, and have a plan in case a natural disaster occurs. Download the International SOS Assistance App to receive push alerts about incidents in your area.

Most major cities in Greece have airports, and there are flights from Athens to most Greek islands, making domestic travel via plane convenient, though sometimes expensive. Trains are a reliable means of transportation between Thessaloniki and Athens; however, air travel is the fastest and easiest way to travel domestically between major cities.

Roadways between major cities in mainland Greece are typically well-maintained, although high-profile safety incidents have occurred in recent years. Driving in rural areas can be difficult due to poor road conditions and a shortage of gas stations. Travelers are advised not to self-drive because conditions may vary from what you’re used to. Taxis (yellow colored with a sign on the roof) are widely available and are more reliable when booked at hotels. If you choose to use ride-share applications, available in major Greek cities, make sure to take precautions such as checking the license plate, and sharing your ride information with another contact. The bus system between cities is also efficient but may prove troubling for travelers who don’t speak Greek. Review the road safety report for Greece to learn more about public transit, walking, biking, and driving conditions.

Mobile and internet coverage networks are extensive in major cities in Greece but may be spotty in rural areas. Know how to keep your data safe abroad.

Health

Make sure you’re up-to-date on any required and recommended vaccines for Greece. Health risks such as Covid-19, Lyme disease, malaria, rabies, and West Nile virus may be present. If you're traveling with medication, check to see if your medications are legal and available in Greece. Many common US medications and supplements are illegal abroad or require special authorization. Visit your doctor or a travel clinic (such as Harvard University Health Services) at least a month before your departure to discuss all health risks and your individual health with a professional, to receive any vaccines or medications you’ll need, and to learn how to reduce your risk of infection or transmission.

Keep in mind that all travelers have a small risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea in any country. Learn how to make safe food and drink choices.

In general, Greece has a high standard of medical care. If you need any medical or mental health assistance while on a Harvard-related trip in Greece, contact International SOS through the Assistance App or by dialing +1-617-998-0000. International SOS can direct you to appropriate inpatient or outpatient or care and provide translation assistance. Emergency and trauma capabilities are available, and evacuations from more rural areas are possible.

Culture

Greece is a parliamentary republic and a member of the European Union. Its economy is heavily driven by tourism and shipping. The majority of people are Greek Orthodox, so when booking travel or scheduling meetings, be mindful of Greece’s holidays and festivals; businesses may be closed or have reduced hours, particularly in December and in the spring season.

Greek is the official language, and many street signs are only in the Greek alphabet. English is widely spoken in cities, but efforts to speak Greek are welcomed by locals.

Greece is still a cash-based economy. Larger hotels, restaurants, and shops accept credit cards, but most vendors prefer or only accept the euro. ATMs are widely available in major cities. Travelers are advised to use ATMs inside of banks and hotels to reduce their risk of being scammed and to only exchange currency at banks and exchange bureaus.

Know that photographing military installations is illegal.

Visas & Travel Documents

Greece belongs to the Schengen Area—a group of 26 EU and non-EU countries that share a common visa policy. Depending on your citizenship, reason for travel, and length of stay, you may need a visa. A Schengen visa allows visitors to travel within the territory of member countries without any entry/exit formalities for stays up to 90 days within a six-month period. As part of the Schengen visa application, you may need to submit fingerprints and show proof of health insurance coverage and medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. If you’re traveling on a Harvard-related trip, you can request a letter from GSS to demonstrate proof of medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.

Before traveling to Greece, make sure your passport is valid for at least three months beyond your duration of stay and that you have a blank page for an entry stamp. All travelers must have an onward or return ticket, or proof of funds.

Requirements are subject to change, so always check your visa and travel document requirements well in advance.

Quick Facts

  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Tipping: 10-15% (if not already included in service charge)
  • Voltage & plug type: 230 Volts; Types C and F
  • Telephone code: +30
  • Emergency numbers: 166 (ambulance), 199 (fire), 100 (police)
The GSS Country Snapshot for

Israel

Strengthening Relationships in the Middle East
Read More
A man walks a street in Israel

Jingxiu Jin '18