Greece is currently in the midst of a financial crisis, the country having huge debts and the possibility of having to leave the Eurozone hanging over them. This is causing financial difficulties and unrest throughout the country.
So is it a good idea to visit Greece or the Greek Islands right now, and how might these problems affect tourists?
Should I Go?
There is no official advice NOT to visit Greece, so if you've already booked then your travel insurance most likely won't cover you if you cancel.
Tour operators are largely reporting that it's ‘business as usual', so there's no reason to stay away – just take a few extra precautions.
If you haven't booked yet, make sure you choose a reputable travel agency which is backed by industry guarantees if something should go wrong (always a good idea anyway).
What About Money?
The situation is liable to change daily, but banks have been shut at times and limits placed on locals regarding how much cash they can access from their accounts.
Foreign credit and debit cards will still work as usual, and you can also – in theory – use them to withdraw cash from ATMs. However there have been long queues for cash machines and some have run out of money, with Greeks keen to get hold of as much cash as they can, when they can.
Some smaller restaurants and shops may also insist on cash payments, as the owners need the currency.
Tourists are therefore advised to take a range of payment methods with them – cash, debit and credit cards – and take enough cash to cover all your likely expenses and any emergencies, so factor in meals, drinks, trips out, transport etc. Also make sure it is in Euros as you may not be able to exchange other currencies, and smaller denominations will be best so retailers won't need to give you much change.
When carrying so much money, be extra vigilant regarding security and use any hotel safes provided. You may also want to wear a discreet money belt, and don't wave large wads of notes around in public. Pickpockets will be aware that tourists are taking extra cash, so don't make yourself an easy target.
If Greece is forced to leave the Eurozone it will have to adopt a new currency – however even if this happens, it won't be overnight and Euros will still be accepted for some time to come.
Anything Else I Should Be Aware Of?
The locals are understandably uneasy about the situation, so political unrest and demonstrations are possible, particularly in bigger cities. Try to avoid such gatherings if you can.
There are also reports of supplies – including medicines, food and fuel – running low. Other reports state that everything is fine and running as normal, but it's best to be cautious; take some basic first aid supplies, and if you hire a car ensure you always have enough fuel to get back to the airport.