Going on a Greece vacation can be a fun and exciting experience. But tourists should be expecting something different in terms of stepping into a foreign country. In terms of culture, customs and other aspects, Greece has an entirely unique experience to offer. Here are some of the important things that tourists should know about and expect when traveling to Greece.
Greece is a country located in Southern Europe and shares its borders with Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Its coastlines and islands stretch from the Aegean, Ionian and the Mediterranean Seas. Greece has been part of the European Union since 1992. The country runs under a parliamentary system of government. Greece is considered as a popular tourist destination in Europe. It welcomes over 15 million tourists each year.
Because Greece is a member of the European Union, citizens of other EU member countries may freely enter with their national ID card in tow. For those tourists who belong to non-EU countries, a visa and passport is required. But there are selected countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States that are provided by a 90-day visa-free stay in the country.
Greece is also a signatory to the Schengen agreement along with Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Traveling between Schengen countries by a non-Schengen citizen may be able to do so by getting only a single visa from any of the member countries. This may be used for multiple entries on other Schengen member countries.
Greek is the country’s official language and mother tongue. It is being spoken by the vast majority of the population. But English is also a widely spoken language in many parts of the country. And since tourism has become an important industry in Greece many of its destinations already have an increasing number of personnel that can speak and understand English well. Communication with most Greeks does not usually pose a problem for many tourists who visit the country.
The official currency in Greece is the Euro, having replaced the local drachma since January of 2002. Foreign exchanges are also now common in most major cities and other dense tourist areas in Greece. Most banks in the country also offer currency exchanges for tourists. When exchanging currency, it is important to note of getting only notes below 50 Euros. Most Greek businesses are usually reluctant to receive notes larger than 50 Euros, mainly because of a scarcity of change as well as the risk of larger notes being fakes.
Greek cuisine is an interesting blend of traditional as well as foreign influences. A major part of Greek cuisine is influenced by neighboring Turkey. It is common for both countries to have shared dishes. The traditional Greek diet is predominantly Mediterranean which makes heavy use of vegetables, herbs and grains native to the area. And because Greece is largely a maritime country, seafood is an important part of the country’s cuisine.
Other important Greek dishes also make use of pork, lamb, beef and chicken as primary ingredients. Olive oil is also a major staple in Greek cuisine and largely used for many of its most popular dishes. Other common ingredients also include the use of lemon and tomato paste. Bread as well as wine is also a common fixture on every Greek dining table.