Welcome to Greece!
In Greece, you are standing at a crossroads of cultures, colours and civilisations, you feel the strength of history and the warmth of being in the southernmost part of Europe, you discover an evolutionary process of thought, influence and experience.
A country that despite being rich in history has a populaton that moves towards the future.
A country that although statistically small, is huge in its diversity.
A landscape that has given us thousands of postcard images but remains incredibly vibrant and impossible to capture.
Greece is a country of beautiful contradictions, a constant journey in time, from the present to the past and back again.
Walk through the olive groves, through ancient sites. Move to clusters of sparsely inhabited islands. Roam from the beaches to rocky mountains and explore breathtaking scenery.
In Greece the fusion of images becomes more than imagery and turns into reality.
Explore your senses in Greece.
Greece is situated in Southeastern Europe, with an area of 131,957 sq.km. and a population of 10,964,020.
Athens is the capital of Greece with a population of 3,192,606.
Local time is GMT +2 hours.
The Hellenic Republic is a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy.
President of the Hellenic Republic: Mr Karolos Papoulias.
Prime Minister: Mr Constantinos Karamanlis
Parliament: Three hundred elected members with elections held every four years
Greece is a member state of E.U. since 1981.
The currency is euro.
The Greek economy adopts the principles of free enterprise and is bound by the regulations of international organisations such as ECOFIN and WTO, of which it is a member.
Greece has an abundance of resources that tourists with ecological and cultural interests will find attractive. The wealth of cultural as well as ecological resources, both biotic and abiotic, constitute a special comparative advantage of the country for those interested in the conservation of cultural diversity, bio-diversity and eco-systems. These resources are marked by their wide variety, rareness and distinctiveness and are found in areas many of which have already been placed under special protection.
The Parthenon (Ancient Greek: Παρθενών, Modern Greek: Παρθενώνας ) is a temple of Athena, built in the 5th century BC on the acropolis of Athens. It is considered the most famous surviving building of ancient Greece, and has been praised as the finest achievement of Greek architecture. Its decorative sculptures are considered one of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy. It is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.
The name of the Parthenon likely derives from the monumental cult statue of Athena Parthenos housed in the eastern room of the building. This statue was sculpted in ivory and gold by Phidias. Athena's epithet parthenos refers to the goddess's unmarried and virginal status.
The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena that had been destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon was used as a treasury, and for a time served as the treasury of the Delian League, which later became the Athenian Empire.
In the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin. After the Turkish conquest, it was converted into a mosque. In 1687, a Turkish ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by a Venetian cannonball. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. In the 19th century AD, Lord Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures and took them to England. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or Parthenon Marbles, are on display in the British Museum. An ongoing dispute concerns whether the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece. The Parthenon, along with the other buildings on the Acropolis, is now one of the most visited archaeological sites in Greece. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of restoration and reconstruction.
The islands are Greece’s chief morphological trait and an integral part of the country’s civilisation and tradition. The Greek territory comprises 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, a truly unique phenomenon on the European continent; of these islands only 227 are inhabited.
The Greek Archipelago takes up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000-km coastline, offering a highly diversified landscape: beaches stretching along many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, golden stretches of sand with dunes, pebbly beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and black sand typical of volcanic soil, coastal wetlands… Many Greek beaches have been awarded the blue flag under the programme Blue Flags of Europe . Apart from swimming, they lend themselves to scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing. As they are the cradle of some of the most ancient and prosperous European civilisations (the Cycladic, Minoan civilisations, etc.), the islands boast unique archaeological sites, an outstanding architectural heritage and centuries-old, fascinating local traditions of a multifaceted cultural past. Moreover, 58.5% of the country’s lodging establishments and 62.6% of hotel beds are found on the islands (data for 2003). All the above, combined with the ideal climate, the safety of Greek waters and the short distances between ports and coasts, have rendered the Greek islands extremely popular among Greek and foreign visitors.
Most islands lie in the Aegean Sea and are divided in seven groups (from north to south):
- The Northeastern Aegean Islands: Agios Efstratios, Thasos, Ikaria, Lesvos, Limnos, Inousses, Samos, Samothrace, Chios, Psara.
- The Sporades: Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros
- The Argo-Saronic Islands: Angistri, Aegina, Poros, Salamina, Spetses, Hydra and the coastal area of Methana.
- The Cyclades: A group of 56 islands, its most important ones being Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros, Tinos, Folegandros, as well as the “Minor Cyclades” comprising Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schinoussa.
- The Dodecanese: Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastelorizo, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Halki.
- The Ionian Islands: Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Cephallonia, Lefkada, Paxi, Antipaxi, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Meganissi, Othoni, Strofades.
These islands, together with Kythira, which is however cut-off from the rest, opposite the southern Peloponnese (Lakonia), as well as neighbouring Antikythira, they constitute the Eptanissa.
The Ionian Sea is home to one sole island group:
The islands of Gavdos (situated south of Crete), Elafonissos (in the Gulf of Laconia) and Trizonis (in the Gulf of Corinth), although not forming part of any group, are of unparalleled natural beauty.
Downloads – Road Maps
|Northern Greece (zip: 4,72MB)|
|Southern Greece (zip: 3,14MB)|
|Attica (zip: 888ΚB)|
|Athens wider area (zip: 1,28MB)|
|Athens (zip: 2,64MB)|
|Perfecture of Thessaloniki (zip: 2,29MB)|
|Town of Thessaloniki (zip: 3,61MB)|
|Thessaly (zip: 3,18MB)|
|Volos (zip: 2,13MB)|
|Peloponnese (zip: 2,78MB)|
|Patra (zip: 3,10MB)|
|Crete (zip: 2,60MB)|
|Heraklion – Crete (zip: 2,11MB)|
|Downloads – Brochures|
|Right click in the file you want to open and choose "save target as.." to save it on your disk.|
|Crete – 12 MB|
|Cyclades – 16 MB|
|Dodecanese – 9 MB|
Safety and Security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Groups opposed to the Greek Government have firebombed government and commercial buildings in Greece. Small bombs have exploded near government buildings.
You should avoid demonstrations, which frequently occur, as they may become violent.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag snatching, has increased in tourist areas and on public transport.
Tourists have been sexually assaulted in Greece, including in Athens, and on the Greek Islands.
In recent years a number of people have been killed as a result of accidents and poor safety standards on regional buses and ferries. Use of reputable bus and ferry operators may reduce associated risks.
Driving in Greece can be hazardous due to aggressive driving practices and poorly maintained roads and vehicles. A valid Australian driver's license and an International driver's license are both required to legally operate a vehicle in Greece.
When travelling by motorcycle or motor scooter, it is a legal requirement that both the operator and any passengers wear a helmet.
You are legally required to carry identification documents with you at all times. Your passport will meet this requirement.
If you have concerns about the safety standards of a particular airline or aircraft, we recommend you research the airline or aircraft through organisations such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The Department of Transport and Regional Services has published fact sheets on security for air travellers. When staff at Australia's overseas missions are provided advice not to use particular airlines due to safety concerns this will be included in travel advice.
The European Union has published a list of airlines that are subject to operating bans or restrictions within the Union. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through its foreign assessment program focuses on a country's ability, not the individual airline, to adhere to international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance established by ICAO.
Greece is in an active seismic zone. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic activity, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
Serious bush and forest fires have recently occurred on the Chalkidiki Peninsula prompting the evacuation of tourists from the area. Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months in Greece (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested regions. In the event of fire, updates in English are available from local authorities by calling +30 210 324 8098.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice and obey instructions of local authorities.
Australians are strongly advised to maintain safe and legal approach distance when observing wildlife. You should use only reputable and professional operations and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
Before you go, organise a variety of ways of accessing your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques and Euros. Check with your bank whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Since 1 July 2005, Australians have been required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.
When you are in Greece, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
It is illegal to photograph military installations and military personnel.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 17 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in sexual activity with children under 16 while outside of Australia.
Australian /Greek dual nationals should be aware the Greek Government has introduced a series of new passports and old style Greek passports will cease to be valid from midnight on 31 December 2006. The Greek Government has further advised that machine readable Greek passports issued from 1 January 2006 to August 2006 with passport numbers commencing with the letters AA and microchip Greek passports issued from August 2006 with passport numbers commencing with the letters AB will not be affected by this decision. Greek/Australian dual nationals should ensure that they travel on the new series of Greek Passports and/or an Australian Passport. Holders of old-style Greek passports should contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate Greek Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible to obtain a new passport before the expiry date.
Australian/Greek dual national males, or those of Greek descent born outside of Greece, could be subject to compulsory military service and other obligations. Under the Greek Military Penal Code, there are penalties for non-compliance. Adult male travellers who hold, or may be eligible for Greek citizenship, are strongly advised to seek further information and advice from the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate, well in advance of travel.
Our brochure on Travel Information for Dual Nationals provides further information for dual nationals.
Visa conditions change regularly. Contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate for the most up to date information.
Greece is party to the Schengen Agreement, along with 14 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Greece without a visa in some circumstances. For further information read our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention. Australians may, for a fee, apply to extend their stay at a local Kentro Allodapon (Aliens Centre).
Medical treatment in Greece is expensive and medical emergencies on the Greek Islands may require evacuation to the mainland or to another country.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for staying healthy while travelling overseas.
We strongly recommend that you take our comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.
In Greece, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be obtained from:
Australian Honorary Consul
28 Archeologikou Mouseiou Street
Thessaloniki 546 41 GREECE
Telephone +30 2310 827 494
Facsimile +30 2310 827 494
If you are travelling to Greece, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.