Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Can I still travel to Greece during the current economic trouble?

Many tourists that were planning to travel to Greece in the Summer of 2015 is now unsure if they should cancel their plans or still proceed. The answer to this question will be different for different individuals.
Greece, public unrest. Photo: AFP

So let us review the current situation in Greece.

Before I dive into the below items - The most important item to make sure off before you leave home for any overseas trip, is the following  -
Ensure you take out Travel Insurance!

Money

  • All banks are closed until at least 15 July 2015.
  • Daily ATM withdrawals are capped for all Greek issued cards. The current cap is 60 EUR. This does not apply to foreign cards.
  • Card transactions in store are unrestricted, but not all business accept cards.

So firstly, if you are going to travel to Greece, take cash with you. This is the best advice, especially if you are an independent traveller. Package tourists should also take cash, but you will be able to get around with less cash as most of your trip should be covered in your package costs.

Personal Safety
The next important aspect is to ensure your personal safety. As the country is going through a political upheaval there are potential for demonstrations and street violence. This will be quite important if you are travelling in Athens. It is therefore important to avoid all areas where demonstrations are taking place. Areas to avoid when riots occur includes the following:

  • Syntagma Square
  • Monastiraki
  • Omonia 
  • Exarchia.


You need to use your own judgement on the matter obviously, as it might actually be interesting to see the population of the city acting out their emotions, which has been so hurt over the past couple of years. If you travel to the main holiday islands like Crete and Rhodes, you should be fine as these islands are very much focused on the tourist industry. Overall Greece is a European country with first world safety standards, so you should not be concerned for any other safety issue other than the current political/economic crisis.

Transport
This is also a very important aspect to consider when planning to travel to Greece. Currently all public transport and airports could be impacted as a result of possible strike action against any further austerity measures. So if you are a backpacker (or just an independent traveller) ensure you keep your schedule flexible to allow for delays. Plan to be Athens a couple of days prior to your departure flight - or book your flights into Italian airports and do for example the Ancona to Patras ferry route. Package tourists should hopefully be protected by the travel agency through which the tour got booked to ensure the necessary alternate arrangements are made.

These are the most important items related to the current uncertainties in Greece. You need to decide if these items are really that serious, to lead to a cancellation or delay of your trip to glorious Greece. I feel that these are no different than normal circumstances when travelling to a Third world country, so why cancel or delay!

Accommodation
If you are going to book a trip to Greece, the below hotels, hostels and resorts are some of the best in the country.

Andromeda Villas, Santorini -Awesome! 
Villa Popi, Santorini - Hostel

Herodion Hotel, Athens - Great specials at the moment.

Sunrise Beach Hotel, Agrari, Mykonos

In summary, Greece is still a great destination for holiday makers. You just need to be a bit more disciplined currently than in years gone bye. Be bold and go for it!