Yes, you should still travel to Greece

Acropolis of Athens, Greece

With negotiations between the Greek government and its European creditors apparently breaking down the prospects for a financial collapse within Greece rose significantly yesterday. Stories of long lines and empty cash machines filled the news, suggesting that a full-scale run on Greek banks may already be underway. It’s uncertain at this point whether leaders can step back from this brink even if they want to.

With so much confusion and negative press it’s completely normal for naturally skittish travelers to shy away from such situations. Before leaving on our month long trip to the country in May several people expressed various levels of non-specific concern. People told us they were afraid to go to Greece but, when pressed, didn’t know exactly why. With the country’s financial crises potentially accelerating and news-streams filling up with even more bad headlines such generalized fears are likely to grow. But should that keep you away?

It’s certainly true that the country’s financial uncertainty poses some potential challenges to tourists. In the coming weeks and maybe even months travelers may find ATM machines and credit card networks unreliable. Financial stress could also lead to strikes or other demonstrations that disrupt certain services. All of which could lead to potential inconveniences for travelers. Most of which, though, are easily avoided and none of which would prevent us from returning to this beautiful and welcoming country.

Mountaintop Strongholds

In fact, now may be one of the best times to visit Greece. It’s certainly one of the least expensive moments to do so within the last decade.

The combination of a strong dollar and weak local economy has turned Greece into a surprising budget destination for U.S. travelers. In our case, we spent about a quarter less per day in Greece than we did in Spain or France and about half as much as we spent traveling in the U.K. And we did that while dining out far more often and staying in much nicer accommodations in Greece than elsewhere in Europe.

Even compared with legendary budget destinations Greece remains competitive. Surprisingly we only spent about 20% more per day in Greece than we did in South East Asia. And again, we traveled much more comfortably while in Greece, even renting a car for two of our four weeks in the country.

Mountain Road, Naxos, Greece

Besides, bad headlines that keep other travelers away work to the advantage of the intrepid. While tourism to Greece has shown resiliency thus far that could change with this weekend’s developments. Travelers may soon find popular attractions a bit less crowded than they once were.

So no, the latest headlines wouldn’t keep us away. We would, however, take a few sensible precautions.

Given the uncertainty around Greece’s banking system and the now likely imposition of capital controls we’d plan on bringing enough Euros into the country to last us for our entire stay. Even if Greece exits the Euro, the currency will continue to be universally accepted and even preferred for the foreseeable future. Credit and ATM cards, meanwhile, may prove less reliable.

As we’re not overly concerned about petty crime in general (it’s really not that common), we wouldn’t have any qualms about traveling with large amounts of cash. Again, sensible precautions like spitting money among various locations, keeping it locked in bags or hotel safes and utilizing discreet money belts are generally sufficient safeguards.

Our room with a view ($44 per night)

Our room with a view ($44 per night)

We’d also want to stay abreast of developments as they occur. We’ve found Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree discussion forum to be a good resource for getting up to date information from people who are actually on the ground. It’s far better to get news from travelers who are actually in the country rather than relying on the often sensational hyperventilations of the mainstream press. 

And this being Greece we’d also want to keep an eye on the Strikes and Protests website. Traditionally strikes in Greece are announced in advance and are therefore possible to plan around. Whether that remains true going forward is, of course, not guaranteed.

With those couple of steps, a bit of adaptability, and an adventurous mindset, we wouldn’t have second thoughts about heading back to Greece even in light of the latest developments. It’s a great country and one that relies heavily on tourism. Greece gets about a fifth of its national income from travelers. So now more than ever it needs visitors to keep coming. Those who do will almost certainly be glad they did.

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18 Comments on “Yes, you should still travel to Greece”

  1. lovetotrav June 28, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    Thank you. A very useful and informative post. I particularly appreciate the link to the strikes and protests which might be the most disruptive part of travelling there… although no money is never good when you travel either!

    Like

  2. Wilbur's Travels June 28, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    The Greeks certainly deserve all of our support, they are innocent victims in all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mytimetotravelm June 28, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    If I already had a trip planned to Greece I wouldn’t cancel, although i would have a Plan B in place – likely Turkey from the islands or Macedonia from the mainland. But, since I don’t like traveling with wads of cash, I doubt I would plan one right now – there are so many other places to visit. But the place on my “want to visit” list I am definitely avoiding right now is Tunisia, alas.

    Like

    • Brian June 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      It’s true there are many places to visit and plenty of those are hassle free. But if I wanted to go to Greece, I wouldn’t let the cash thing deter me. Just like I won’t avoid visiting Cuba simply because my U.S. cards won’t work there.

      Like

  4. digger666 June 28, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.

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  5. Hilde H June 28, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    where is the hotel you found for $44.00 per night.

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    • Brian June 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      It’s on the island of Naxos, about which we’ll have more to say soon.

      Like

  6. Christina June 28, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Good to hear you aren’t encountering many issues in Greece. I was there a few years ago and a had a couple strikes changes my plans, but still it had a minor impact on my trip. Greece is gorgeous! Since it is also a great deal for travelers, I’ve been wondering if now is the time to go back. Thanks for confirming this!

    Like

  7. silbershark110 June 28, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

    Like

  8. Senatssekretär FREISTAAT DANZIG June 28, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    Reblogged this on Aussiedlerbetreuung und Behinderten – Fragen and commented:

    Glück, Auf, meine Heimat!

    Like

  9. Deb June 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    When we were in Greece 20 years ago it was strike after strike. I guess what you are saying is that actually not much has changed for visiting the country. It has always been this way.

    Like

    • Brian June 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      Can’t speak of what Greece was like twenty years ago, but I know that we didn’t experience any disruptions during the 29 days we were in the country this May. Don’t know if that means things have gotten better or we just got lucky.

      Like

  10. Wondering Celt June 29, 2015 at 2:34 am #

    True! We’re off to Corfu in 30 days and not a bit concerned! The beach will still be there and lots of agricultural produce. We won’t starve! They need our Euros, we need a holiday and given the appalling cons the Greek people have had perpetrated on them by the EU I want to go and spend my hard earned wonga there. Admittedly we are holidaying not travelling as such so strikes not likely to effect is but the Greek people need us n our money to help them out right now!

    Like

  11. annamalaig10 June 29, 2015 at 5:01 am #

    Reblogged this on acebook001.

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  12. sreedhhar June 30, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    Paradise in a paradox

    Like

  13. brownbombshelltravels June 30, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    I appreciate this. Have a ticket to head to Zante soon and was debating canceling. Thanks for the insight!

    Like

  14. hermitsdoor July 8, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    We’ll just call you “Contrarian Travelers”. Enjoy the history making. I’m sure the locals are trilled to have your cahs-flow coming their way. Greece is on our long-list some years down the road… probably a crisis or two away. We are setting our sights on Peru in a few years. The Smithonian’s Museum of the American Indian just hosted a festival of Peruvian culture, and has an exhibit on the Inca Road. More research…
    Oscar

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