Greece: a country filled with good food (gyros, anyone?), ancient culture, sandy beaches and picturesque islands. This summer, my best friend and I were super excited to explore this little slice of paradise on Topdeck’s 7 Day Greece Lighting adventure – but like most people travelling to an unknown country, we were a little nervous! So I’ve put together a short list of handy travel tips when visiting Greece to help put your mind at ease and enjoy everything this beautiful country has to offer. 

#1 Learn to love public transport

Buses on the islands are cheap, usually a little under €2 per trip. They are safe, clean and an easy alternative to taxiing everywhere. You can find most local bus routes on Google Maps or by asking the staff at your hostel or hotel reception – after all, they’re the experts. Not only is it easy on your wallet, taking the bus is a great way to soak up the scenery, immerse yourself in day-to-day island life and discover new areas. Look at you exploring like a local!

#2 If you use a taxi, ask them to turn on the meter

Debbie downer alert! Unfortunately, some taxi drivers in Greece (particularly on the islands) tend to take advantage of unsavvy tourists. If you’re planning on taking a taxi from the airport or after a night out with the crew, ensure you ask the driver to turn on the meter so that the cost of your ride is clearly displayed. This will hopefully prevent any awkward disputes over the fare once you reach your final destination, and you’ll know exactly how much the ride cost.

#3 Avoid renting quads or motorbikes

Driving around the Greek Islands is very different from driving in other parts of the world – the roads are very narrow, drivers often exceed the speed limit and road rules may vary compared to back home. It’s really no surprise that accidents involving tourists are a common occurrence, especially when they’re not accustomed to the Greek driving style. Even though the idea of renting a quad or motorbike to venture around the island may sound appealing, in reality it could land you in a local hospital bed – and ain’t nobody got time for that! Be safe and take public transport instead. 

#4 Island time is real, don’t be in a rush

Ahhh, island life: lazing on sun-soaked beaches, strolling the streets of white-washed towns and tucking into your fourth gelato of the day (no judgement). Life on the Greek Islands is pretty relaxed, for tourists and locals alike – which means public transportation probably won’t come in time, food may take a while to come to your table and you may have to wait at the bar for your cocktail just that little while longer. In times like these, it’s essential that you take a deep breath and remember you are in Greek paradise and everything will get there – it just may not be when you expected. 

#5 Be prepared to buy water

Just FYI, the tap water on Greece’s islands is not safe to drink. Fresh bottled water is €1 in most convenience stores, so expect to be buying a lot of plastic water bottles while on your island-hopping adventure. After a full day of exploring with the intense Mediterean heat beating down on you, it’s important to stay hydrated – so buying one to two large water bottles per person, per day is standard. And don’t forget the turtles: make sure to recycle your unused plastic bottles correctly!

#6 Many places are cash only

Money, money, money… Most restaurants and bars on the Greek Islands only accept cash (it’s part of the local charm, right?). Convenience stores and larger shops will usually accept credit cards but it’s better to have cash with you at all times. Many stores don’t have a lot of change, so try to stick to using smaller Euro notes for all your purchases. Plus, having cash makes splitting the bill at dinner time sooo much easier. Cheque please!

These tips got you inspired for your own Greece island hopping adventure? Never fear – Greece Lightning is here! 2020 departures are available to book now. 

Isabel Cleary
Isabel is a student from the United States, studying broadcast journalism and international relations. She spent the summer working and traveling Europe and is excited to start planning future trips.