Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Greece? Here you will find information on working in Greece, entry visas, Greece hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Greece
- Things to do in Greece
- Entry Visa Requirements for Greece
- Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Greece
- Greece Hostels & Budget Accommodation
Facts About Greece
This country has left a legacy on worldwide history that far belies its modern importance. From Greece sprang the fundamentals of modern philosophy, maths and science as well as significant contributions to art and engineering. The ancient Greeks are responsible for large chunks of what is now international culture such as the spread of democracy and western values.
This, of course, means that visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing ancient Greek ruins and artifacts however there is plenty more to do whilst in Greece. Most visitors these days are attracted by the gorgeous beaches, the Aegean Sea and all night parties.
With Greece becoming an increasingly popular destination you can expect the comfort and conveniences of modern Europe yet stood side by side with both relics of a glorious and ancient empire and the simple life of many Greek citizens.
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Time Zone: GMT + 2
- Language: Greek
- Telephone Services: Country code +30, International access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
Climate in Greece
When deciding the best time to visit Greece, weather plays an important role. Situated in the Mediterranean, Greece has the climate you would come to expect. Be prepared for dry hot days with the occasional cool breeze in summer. Athens is especially hot due to the smog during the summer.
Evenings can get quite cool in the summer so be prepared for this! In the winter the northern part of the country can be quite cold, the south, however, is much milder. Throughout Greece, the rainy season occurs between November and March when you can expect high levels of precipitation.
Things to do in Greece
The capital Athens was according to Greek mythology won by Athena (goddess of wisdom) from Poseidon. The story tells of how Athena’s victory was honoured by the construction of a temple on the Acropolis. The Acropolis is a large stony hill at the centre of Athens, it was the site of the original settlement and is now home to the Pantheon which is a temple depicting ancient Greece’s many gods and goddesses.
The traffic and smog can be quite bad in Athens but it is worth enduring for some of the most varied and bustling restaurants and nightlife in the country. The best thing to do in Athens is to spend a few days checking out the sights during the day and living it up at night, then head out for some fresher air in other parts of Greece.
Since Athens is one of the most visited cities in the world, it is wise to book tickets to popular attractions (landmarks, museums) ahead of time to avoid the lines. GetYourGuide sells entrance tickets at face value and you can avoid waiting in line. You might also see ‘Skip the Line‘ tickets on their site, which are separate entrance for a higher ticket price. It can be a worthwhile cost for mega attractions like the Acropolis, which can have up to 2 hour wait time for General Entrance during peak tourist season.
Elsewhere in Greece there are plenty of other attractions to see, one of the most popular is Delphi. This ancient city supposedly marked the centre of the Greek world and is located high on Mount Parnassos. Famously the site of the Oracle of Apollo the ruins are now a major tourist attraction and for just over 10 euros you can get entrance to the actual ruins themselves and the associated museum.
A short ferry hop from Athens can take you across to the Island of Crete. By far the most interesting place on this sunny little Island is the city of Knossos. This city was built by the ancient Minoans and was reputedly home to King Minos, the labyrinth and the mythical half-bull half-man known as the minotaur. Large parts of Knossos have been restored and there is visitor access to the Palace of Knossos, the royal villa, the house of frescoes and the Temple Tomb.
Finally, most travellers like to take in the birthplace of the Olympics, Olympia. This remarkable site is situated in the Peloponnesus Valley, about 200km west of Athens. There are numerous famous buildings to see here including the famed hippodrome and the magnificent temple of Zeus. While here why not try to make time to see some of the lesser known sites as well like the Palaestra (wrestling school) and the Heraeum.
Unique Activities in Greece
Another good way to get an idea of things to do in Greece is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major tourist attractinos in Greece like in Athens so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
How to Travel around Greece
If you’re flying to Greece or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Greece with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Greece to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Train travel in Greece
The Greek rail network is quite poor by European standards. You will find no service at all on the Greek Islands, a reasonable system on the Peloponnese peninsula. There are a few international rail connections from Greece but you will find a connection to Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey from Athens or Thessaloniki.
If you are travelling by rail always try to book your seat a few days in advance and ask for a free seat reservation. The trains can be quite busy and in the heat of a typical Greek summers day, you will definitely not want to be standing up for a couple of hours on a train. Whatever you do don’t purchase your ticket on the train as you will be charged 50% extra on the price served at stations.
Greece is also a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers both multi-country passes and One Country Passes. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.
Bus travel in Greece
Due to the somewhat lacking train service most travellers find bus a much more convenient way to get around in Greece. KTEL runs most domestic Greek routes while OSE serves international routes. Almost all cities of any size have a central bus depot with left-luggage facilities. Larger cities such as Athens may have more than one such station (Athens, in fact, has 3).
Prices are generally cheaper than taking the train and you won’t normally have to book in advance unless it is exceptionally busy. There have been a few cases of luggage theft from buses so take normal security precautions such as if you intend sleeping ensure your baggage is stowed securely in the luggage compartment or out of sight of potential thieves.
Driving in Greece
If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Backpacking Tours in Greece
Though part of the fun of backpacking Greece is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those backpacking Greece alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trip in Greece is their 10-day Island Hopping Sailing Trip covering Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, and more.
Health and Safety in Greece
The Greek National Health system provides medical service to Greek NI contributors and operates a reciprocal agreement with the British NHS. This means with an EH 111 form you should receive medical attention should you need it. Be aware that many services which would be done on the NHS in the UK may require a private doctor in Greece so it is wise to have comprehensive travel insurance.
The standard of healthcare whilst generally good does lag behind western Europe in some ways. In particular, the ambulance service is stretched and is very basic so if you really need urgent attention and can move freely a taxi to the nearest hospital might be quicker than waiting for an ambulance (if there is any danger that movement might make the patient worse then always wait for an ambulance).
Entry visa requirements for Greece
Greece, being part of the EU means that EU nationals or USA nationals will need only their passport or national ID card. No visa is required for a stay of up to 3 months. If you intend to stay longer or intend to work in Greece you should contact the Greek embassy.
Work permits and backpacker jobs in Greece
EU nationals wishing to stay in Greece for longer than three months must apply for a residence permit within their three months of arrival. This can be obtained from a local police station, and you will need to show your passport and proof of having found employment. You must also register with the National Health Insurance Scheme (IKA). Greece has a great tourist industry, not only on the mainland but on its islands too. Greeks usually work a 5 day, 40 hour week.
Seasonal Work in Greece
Casual work in bars, clubs, and restaurants are best found by enquiring in person and most vacancies are likely in the busier tourist areas. Wages will depend on where you can find work, and what type of work it is, but remember that a lot of casual work in tourist areas can be busy and demanding. As unfair as it seems, women are generally more likely to find work in clubs and bars for the customers they attract.
Mark Warner is a recruitment organisation with links to resorts in Greece. Each year applicants are sent to various resorts in both summer and winter as sports coaches, pool attendants, aerobics instructors etc. See below for website details, where you can see jobs available and make an application.
Touting in Greece
As well as providing work in their kitchens, bars, and as cleaners, many Greek hostels and hotels employ people to publicise their establishment to passing tourists. Touting is a general term for handing out leaflets, putting up posters, and talking to passers-by. Given its high tourist occupation, Athens is a good starting place for this type of work. Working hours will usually be late since most jobs will be found at night entertainment spots, and wages will vary but do not expect pay to be flourishing.
Agricultural and Farm Work in Greece
Harvests throughout the year yield oranges, bananas, potatoes, olives, and grapes, in a number of places including Tol, Argos, and Crete. Therefore, work like fruit picking jobs in Greece are fairly easy to find. Most agricultural work can be found by enquiring in person to various farmers.
The majority of jobs on farms will not pay particularly well and can be hard-work requiring long hours to earn anything decent. If you are predominantly interested in the type of work available on farms and have at least two years’ experience in the industry, the Young Farmer’s Clubs runs international schemes, including in Greece, that last between three and twelve months. Work is paid and although you are expected to pay your fares, the amount you earn will usually compensate for this.
Au Pair Programs in Greece
Athens is one of the surest places to find vacancies for au pair work in Greece. Agencies such as the Lady and Overseas Jobs Express and the Athenian Nanny Agency can arrange placements for 12 to 18-month placements with a Greek family.
As an au pair you will be expected to look after the children and perform general domestic duties such as cleaning. In some cases, the family may pay your health insurance but it is important to check this and if they do not, arrange your own. Payment for Greek au pairs very much depends on how much responsibility you are given and on the family that you are placed with. Au pair jobs are also best found by word of mouth and in the Athens News newspaper.
Volunteering in Greece
EIL is an organisation that places volunteers in projects, including environmental management and conservation, and working with people with disabilities. They offer a range of opportunities for volunteer work in other countries, including Greece.
Projects usually last for six or twelve months and volunteers are provided with pocket money, language training, accommodation, food, flights, and insurance.
Greece Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Hotels in Greece range from the luxurious and high class common on the larger Greek Islands and the southern mainland to small seasonal chalets available almost everywhere. In the summer tourist season, you will definitely have to book in advance or prepare to be disappointed. Self-catering chalets and houses are a common form of accommodation on the Greek Islands and can usually be booked on the spot.
Paradosiakoi oikismoi or traditional settlements can be found throughout the country. These are traditional Greek hostels and most offer single, double or triple rooms or a four bedroom house depending on numbers. These are a little more expensive than youth hostels but the quality is generally quite a bit higher and you won’t find any dorms in these type of lodgings.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Greece on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Greece is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
You can also try the Greek Youth Hostel Association. They maintain their own list of hostels, some of which you can’t find on HostelWorld.
Useful Links for Backpacking in Greece
- The Greek National Tourism Organisation offers travel advice and tips in Greek, English or Spanish.
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
- Auto Europe – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
- Kiwi, Skyscanner, and Opodo – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Greece and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of things to do in Greece. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions in Greece
- G Adventures – guided group backpacking tours in Greece, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip to Greece which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation in Greece. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used accommodation booking site in Greece. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for backpacking Greece
There you have it, the ultimate Greece backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Greece.
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