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General Info about Athens, Greece

Visa Requirements
American, Canadian, Australian, Israeli, New Zealand and EU nationals can stay in Greece for a period of up to ninety days without a visa. All you will need is a valid passport. After this period, you should apply to the Aliens Bureau or the local police for an extension at least twenty days before your original stay expires.

Residents from all other countries should check with the Greek Embassy in their home country before travelling.

Currency
The currency used in Greece is the Euro (€) which is made up of 100 Cent (c). Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c.

Language
The official language is Modern Greek but English, French, German and Italian are widely spoken in the tourist areas.

Climate
Thanks to its geographic location, Athens is fortunate to experience a climate that promises mild winters and very warm summers. In July the average temperature is 81.5˚F although it never becomes unbearably hot thanks to the cool seasonal breezes. The weather usually stabilises in early summer and brings bright sunshine and very little rainfall.

Medical Care
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices.

For minor health problems visit the local chemist/pharmacy/drugstore and in case of an emergency you can find one of the hospitals at:

Athens Medical Center,
Address: 5-7 Distomou Street, Athens,
Greece, 15125

Time Zone
Athens is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Opening Hours
It is hard to pinpoint the exact opening hours of shops in Athens. They are generally between 9am-6pm, although this varies from shop to shop and sometimes daily also.

Office hours are from Monday to Friday between 8.00am and 3.00pm but you also need to check the particular office beforehand to confirm.

Banks are normally open between 8.00am and 2.00pm from Monday to Thursday and from 8.00am until 1.30pm on Fridays.

Tourist Offices
There are two organisations in Greece which oversee the tourism trade – the Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) and the tourist police. The GNTO (or EOT in Greek) supply general tourist information about the country and their main office in Athens is at No. 2, Amerikis Streeet. The tourist police deal with more specific issues such as bus timetables, lost passports and their phone number is 171 (only when in Athens).

Tax
Unless otherwise state, all accommodation prices include a service charge which usually amounts to about 12%. In most restaurants the service charge is 13%. Again this should be included in the price. Purchases include VAT of between 4% and 18%.

If you are a non EU national and purchase an item costing more than €100 (approximately) then you are entitled to most of the tax back if you export it within 90 days of purchase. In order to do this, you should shop in places that display the ‘Tax Free for Tourists’ sign or obtain a Tax-Free Check Form which you complete in the store.

Currency Exchange
Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at all banks and also in a number of tourist agencies and shops. Certain bank branches offer exchange facilities later in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. Commissions can vary considerably.

As well as traveller’s cheques, you can use your credit card or your ATM card to withdraw cash at cashpoints, once your card is compatible. This is usually stated clearly on the ATM and on the back of your card (look for a ‘Cirrus’ logo). Getting cash from the ATMs is usually the most convenient way to get money.

Electricity
220 volts AC/50Hz. In Greece round two or three-pin plugs are standard.

Telephones
The country code for Greece is +30 but if you are calling from abroad you need to dial the international access code, followed by 30, the local area code (dropping the 0) and the local number. When dialling abroad from within Greece it is the same process.
All public phones use phone cards which can be purchased at OTE telephone offices and kiosks. The phone system is modern and efficient and has a facility which explains all the instructions clearly in English. You can also make direct long distance and international calls from all public phones.

Post Office
Athens Central Post Office
Eolou 100
Omonia 10200

This is Athens’ central post office. You can get post sent here, or to your nearest post office, if you don’t want it sent to wherever you are staying.

Tipping
Although a service charge of between 10% and 15% is included on all restaurant bills, it is customary to leave a further 10% as a tip. Even if the bill is quite small you should leave change rounded off to the nearest euro. You should also tip taxi drivers about 10% or leave them any small change that you might be owed.

Public Holidays
In Greece they are New Years Day (January 1st), Epiphany (January 6th), Shrove Monday (the
first Monday during Lent), Independence Day (March 25th), Good Friday and Easter (March/April) Labour Day (May 1st), Day of the Holy Spirit (June 16th), Assumption (August 15th), Ochi Day (October 28th), Christmas (December 25th/26th).

It is worth noting what Greece’s public holidays are before travelling as the majority of businesses, banks and shops shut for the day.

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