Greece is one of the global west’s oldest civilizations. The rich history, temperate weather, and beautiful architecture of the country make it one of the most desirable travel destinations in the world.
About 30 million people visit Greece annually, which to put into perspective, is about as many people that permanently live in the country of Spain.
Many of the dangers and inconveniences of international travel can be avoided when traveling to Greece because the country has tourism-centric economics and infrastructure. Still, there are some travel safety tips to consider before planning your Mediterranean escape.
Is Greece Safe to Visit in 2023?
Greece is safe to visit, even for solo female travelers. Although crime in Greece has trended upwards in recent years, overall crime rates remain low compared to other countries. Crimes that directly target foreign nationals are even less likely to occur.
For comparison, the major travel destinations in Greece, such as Athens and Rhodes, are about as safe to visit as Dublin, Ireland, or London, UK. That is not to say that Greece is completely crime-free because Greece does have its fair share of crime.
Extortion, illicit trades, and trafficking are some of the top criminal activities in Greece. The good news is that most of the crime in Greece is directed at locals, not tourists.
The majority of crimes perpetrated against tourists are petty and easily avoided with proper precautions. Pickpocketing and mugging pose a mild risk to tourists visiting Greece, with the nature of these crimes being monetarily motivated.
Scams and fraud activities are somewhat prevalent in Greece and are generally geared toward tourists but overall do not pose undue risk to tourists.
Non-Violent Crime in Greece
Most crimes in Greece are non-violent thefts. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and mugging are among the categories of thefts tourists may experience while visiting Greece.
Theft is common in high-traffic areas like public transportation or historical landmarks. Given that Greece is rife with historical significance, there are many densely populated public spaces in the country.
Exercise extra caution when entering highly trafficked areas; be wary of your proximity to other people and the location of your belongings. As a tip, try to limit the amount of energy you put into avoiding crime.
It may seem counterintuitive, but walking the streets in a state of paranoia will detract from your trip and likely cause you to exhibit outward signs of distress that potential criminals will recognize and exploit.
A good approach to avoiding petty theft in Greece is to plan the itinerary of your day before you leave your hotel. Refrain from carrying all of your essential personal effects on your person.
Disperse indispensable items, such as your phone and hotel key, across your person to make theft of your personal belongings more difficult.
In the unlikely event you are the victim of petty theft, having your belongings spread across your person limits the impact of the hypothetical theft. Another way to dissuade potential criminals is to travel in groups.
A strong group dynamic where at least one individual keeps a vigilant eye on the surrounding environment is likely to deter opportunistic criminals.
Tourists traveling to rural destinations like one of Greece’s Aegean islands are less likely to experience petty theft than tourists traveling to populous cities like Athens.When planning precautionary measures for your Grecian getaway, consider the nature of the area you are visiting.
Additional Tips to Protect Yourself
- Make color copies of all your essential documents such as licenses, passports, and visas.
- Learn a few words, such as “hello,” “thank you,” and “help,” in Greek for the locals.
- Travel with a paper map of the area you are visiting. Familiarize yourself with the map before venturing out.
- Speak to the local staff at your vacation rental or hotel. Doing so will establish a friendly rapport with the locals, which will serve you well in an emergency.
Violent Crime and Sexual Assault in Greece
Violent crime in Greece typically occurs between organized crime rings and their rivals. While violent crime is not an immediate concern for tourists visiting Greece, caution should be exercised in notoriously dangerous areas such as Syntagma and Glyfada.
Sexual assault crimes are relatively low in Greece compared to other countries. The most recent data reports 167 rapes in 2019, up from 157 in 2018. Still, sexual assault remains uncommon relative to population size.
Tourists can limit their exposure to instances where sexual assault may occur by staying in groups, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding nightlife, especially in Athens.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Since Greece is a relatively low-risk country to visit, you can easily avoid bad neighborhoods by assessing the appearance of the area.
As a general rule of thumb, areas with shuttered businesses, large unsheltered populations, or prevalent vandalism should be avoided. When possible, organize transportation within Greece ahead of time, as the use of public transportation increases your exposure to potential thieves.
However, you must be aware that appearances can be deceiving, so read on to learn about unsuspecting crime hot spots in Athens.
Squares to Avoid
Crime geared towards tourists in Greece is predominantly concentrated in a few areas. Most of the plazas and public lounging areas in the larger cities of Greece like Athens are safe, so long as you remain aware of your surroundings, but there are a few squares that should be avoided, particularly in Athens.
Omonia, Exarcheia, Vathi, and Kolokotroni are squares known as pickpocket hangouts. These squares pepper the city of Athens and are difficult to avoid when meandering through the city.
As a general rule, survey your surroundings for suspicious activities or characters when you approach a public park or plaza. During the day, you can avoid most conflicts in these plazas by remaining vigilant.
These squares often serve as rallying points for local protests against Grecian politics. Syntagma square tends to be the preferred demonstration area, but protests are known to take place across the city of Athens.
The universities in Athens are also popular gathering places for civil protests. During periods of civil unrest, conflicts between the public and the police are neither exceedingly common nor violent.
But they do present an increased probability of violent conflict that tourists are better off observing from afar or avoiding altogether. Refrain from visiting any square, especially Omonia, Exacheria, Vathi, or Kolokotroni square at night.
Exercise Caution in the Monastiraki Neighborhood
Monastiraki is a central neighborhood in Athens near many premier tourist destinations like the Acropolis. Tourists can visit Monastiraki with confidence but should exercise additional caution in the area since it is known for petty theft.
Monastiraki is also a shopping district, so watch out for scams and upcharges when dealing with street vendors or small local businesses.
As a beautiful country with near-perfect weather and crystal clear oceans, it makes sense that the country of Greece has a party culture. Partying in Greece is relatively safe so long as you travel with a local.
If you decide to take the party into your hands, we recommend avoiding the bars and clubs of south-western Athens, particularly those in Glyfada square, as these clubs have known ties to organized crime syndicates and pose an undue threat to tourist safety.
No matter where you go out, drink in moderation to remain in control of your mental and physical faculties. Tourists should never leave their drinks, whether at a bar, restaurant, or park, unattended.
Cybercrime is uncommon in Greece. Tourists are unlikely to experience cybercrime when visiting Greece unless their personal identification information is stolen.
In the event of a license or passport theft, contact the embassy of your country immediately; they will help you file a police report and order replacement documents.
Tourists are unlikely to experience natural disasters while visiting Greece, but there are a few environmental conditions to be aware of.
Greece does experience intermittent seismic activity. You should familiarize yourself with the proper safety procedures to follow during a seismic event.
Tips for staying safe during a seismic event include moving away from the coastline and proceeding to an open area away from large buildings and other fall hazards.
The summers in Greece are hot and dry, which contributes to the occurrence and vigor of forest fires. Extra caution should be exercised when traveling through the forests of Greece during the summer months.
Do your part to limit the occurrence of forest fires by properly extinguishing lit cigarettes and barbeque fires.
Forest fires can cause road closures and affect travel through Greece. Tourists can stay up-to-date on the latest forest fire information in Greece by visiting the Greek Meteorological Service website.
Acts of terrorism are not common in Greece, but the US Department of State does mention that attacks are more likely in areas that nationals tend to visit during vacation.
In general, public transportation is safe in Greece, especially in Athens. Athens is home to one of the world’s most modern metro systems, and the city offers tourists a variety of bus and tram services to navigate the city.
Still, tourists should be aware that taxi scams are common at Athens International Airport. Travel to and from Greece’s main airport should be arranged before departure to avoid scams.
Things to Consider
Even if you are a seasoned traveler with many countries under your belt, there are a few travel considerations particular to Greece that tourists should note.
- Book travel to and from Athens International Airport in advance to avoid scams
- Exercise caution when visiting heavily trafficked historical sites
- Travel in a group when possible
- Respect the culture and customs of Greece
- Leave your valuable possessions in a safe place at your temporary residence
- Avoid spending excessive time in the farmer’s markets
- Involve yourself with political demonstrations
- Travel through Athens alone at night
- Party at Glyfada Square
- Touch or deface historic artifacts or works of art
- Photograph military outposts, buildings, or installations
- Greece is an EU country and uses the Euro
- Special visas are not required for stays less than 90 days
- Do not take anything from historical sites
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions and their answers about traveling to Greece and tourist safety.
What should I avoid in Greece?
You should avoid traveling alone through the many public plazas of Athens at night. You should also avoid the nightlife in Glyfada square because it is connected to Greece’s organized crime syndicates.
What are the dangers of Greece?
The dangers tourists face in Greece include petty theft, mugging, and scams. Although Greece is a beautiful, historical country, it has its fair share of economic problems, and tourists are prime targets for opportunistic criminals struggling under Greece’s ailing economy.
Tourists can easily avoid common dangers in Greece by planning their trip with a travel agency or local guide and refraining from traveling with their most valuable possessions.
Is Greece American-friendly?
Yes, Greece is friendly to Americans. There is no reason to worry about offending the Greeks. Greeks are logical people that are proud of their culture.
Make sure to do your part to treat Greece with respect, and the locals will do the same to you. Whatever you do, do not litter in the Athenian metro, as the public transportation service is a point of Grecian pride.
What is considered rude in Greece?
Western visitors can rest assured that anything offensive in their own country is also offensive in Greece. Eastern visitors may experience a more significant cultural disconnect but will be fine if they exercise their manners.
Is Greece a violent country?
Greece is not a violent country. Greece is one of the safest places to travel to because it is a member of the EU. Still, tourists should avoid conflicts such as political demonstrations and crime hotspots like Glyfada square if they want to be safe.
What is the safest place in Greece?
The safest tourist destination in Greece is Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is a larger city with over 100,000 inhabitants, great food, architecture, museums, and an impressively low crime rate.
What is the nicest place to visit in Greece?
The islands of Santorini and Mykonos are some of the most pleasant places to visit in Greece. The islands in the Aegean Sea offer tourists beautiful beach landscapes, crystal clear oceans, and stunning architecture.
So, Is Greece Safe in 2023?
Yes, Greece is safe to visit. According to crowd-sourced data and official statistics, Athens, one of the main tourist draws in Greece, is one of the safest cities in the world.
Overall, Greece is low risk to visit so long as tourists remain vigilant of their surroundings, travel in groups when possible, and limit their nighttime travel.