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Much is known about Greece’s current economic crisis and how it has affected everything there, including tourism. This crisis is unlikely to improve quickly, but should it keep us from visiting Greece in the near future or the next couple of years?

I’m no economist, so I won’t dwell on that. I’ll just speak from my own experience planning a trip to Greece as a first-timer, being there (back in May 2012), and how the economic crisis was reflected in my travel plans – both positively and negatively.

Before deciding to go to Greece, I recommend keeping an eye on current news to know what’s happening there.

Travel to Greece

Sporadically, we see on TV the riots that tend to dominate the news reports. Yes, they do happen, but they are the exception to certain special events (like elections) and not the norm.

And, they are concentrated in Athens, leaving the rest of Greece and the islands unharmed.

I was in Athens during the May 6th elections. I was warned about the possibility of riots, but nothing happened. The city was a bit crazy (as usual), but it kept its cool under the event. No riots.

Also, strikes and service cuts have plagued the country, making most train and ferry service timetables outdated. This is both good and bad, depending on how you want to see it.

Personally, I saw it as a bad thing in the beginning because Greece was the starting point of my Eurail trip through all of Europe, and I wasn’t sure if the infrastructure would allow me to use the pass (for the existing train routes, I could).

In addition, I wanted to jump from Ephesus, Turkey to Samos, Greece; and from there to Santorini – a ferry route that once existed. Not anymore. Now, to get to Santorini, from Samos, you have to stop in Paros (overnight) and leave on the next day’s ferry to Santorini.

On a positive note, most tourists don’t do this route, they instead take the ferry from Athens to Santorini, which is much more common (and what I did on the way back).

Travel to Greece

While the aforementioned problems can cause travel in Greece to be slower and logistically a bit more complex, in my opinion, that’s the only negative effect they have in any visitor’s experience. Now with the positive.

Greece is a place where I can say that a cut of resources is not necessarily the worst thing for tourism.

In my case, the fact that ferry lines cut certain routes between the islands forced me to hop a few more islands I had no intention of visiting, but that in the end provided me with beautiful and unforgettable experiences.

I got to see more of what the regular Greek island lifestyle looks like and it made me see more of Greece, and not necessarily the popular Greece.

That overnight in Paros gave me an experience sleeping on the sidewalk (which is totally safe there), where I met two great travelers that today I can call my friends. Oh, and let’s not forget we saw the sunrise!

This is a time symbiotic relationships between travelers and business owners. Travelers want to reduce their spending, while business owners want (and need) to generate an income.

At the moment, Greece is providing a good environment where both parties can pull enough to their side until a middle ground is reached.

Church in Greece

Bartering is much easier and even expected. If a business is not in the position of lowering their price, they will mostly offer more services for the same price.

In Santorini, I got this great apartment deal in the center of Thira for 20 euros a night. That was really cheap. I also got to stay in one of the best hostels in Athens for a fraction of the price.

Apart from economic benefits, there is also the experience. Truth is, many businesses are quite empty since tourism has slowed down in recent months (hello, I was at the Parthenon on a Saturday and it was almost empty!).

Many business owners have more time to dedicate to you, to make sure you have a great experience and hopefully return.

This happened to me a few times, but the most memorable was in Samos. I had an almost rare experience where the restaurant owner sat with me to chat and offered me wine and a selection of things to complement my 4 Euro meal, all free of charge because he was happy I was there at his restaurant.

I was amazed by it and offered to pay accordingly, but he was more pleased with the fact that I was there as a customer and that I was enjoying his food. I became a returning customer.

Events like these are the ones that can make a place even more memorable than a simple dining experience. It was an interaction with a local that would have not happened any other way.

Travel to Greece

Other key features that make Greece a destination to visit at any time is the continuing existence of authentic traditions and the wealth of cultural and historical sites.

In addition to that, Greece has a spectacular natural beauty that ranges from snow-capped mountains to sunny island beaches. All this beauty can be experienced regardless of the economic status of the country.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Euro is at an all-time low and that the current situation presents menu advantages for travelers like deals and cheaper options, so in general, a trip to Greece (and many other parts of Europe) might be cheaper now than what it was six months ago.

Is it a good idea to visit Greece now? That is up for you to decide, but from my experience, I would go back in a heartbeat!

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22 Comments

  1. A friend of mine is there with her family and their kids right now (in Crete) and she hasn’t had any problems that I know of. I think one thing to be prepared for is the possibility that the Euro could collapse at any moment, though I am no expert and have no idea whether that would be a sudden disappearance of the currency or a gradual transition (being Europe, I’m guessing the latter). I would just take extra precautions by carrying extra reserves of another currency and always have an exit strategy in case of extreme rioting. I think it would be an interesting place to travel right now to speak to the Greek people and see how the average person feels about the relationship between Greece and Europe.

    1. Andrea, I totally agree with your comment. It is nice to be there right now, and interesting since you can see how Greece is interacting with the rest of Europe in such a hard situation, but at the same time it is good to have an “escape plan” and to be prepared in case things turn worse than they are. Still, Greece’s beauty is a great incentive to visit the countryโ€ฆ and now at a cheaper price!

  2. I think it’d be a good time to visit Greece right now because the country could use some tourism money. While I wouldn’t visit places just so that I can spend money to help out their economy, Greece could certainly use it. Especially because I’d be spending my German money in a country that Germany doesn’t want to give any money to. It’d just be my way of “sticking it to the man”!

    1. haha! That’s a good way to “stick it to the man”. I’ve been learning a bit on how this crisis has been developing and it’s clear that Germany is on the “winning” side while Greece (and a lot other countries) are not he “losing” side. For sure something in this relationship will change in the near future.

  3. I have read an opinion that it’s financially worth travelling to countries under unrest, like Greece, just because tourism prices become very low. However, if I went to see the Acropolis and it was closed for strike, I’d be hugely disappointed and would never come back or recommend a friend to. After my trip to Romania, I must say that it’s worth visiting countries with their own currency as it’s cheaper.

    1. Oh, like you, I would be mad also if I miss such an important site because of a strike. It is true that visiting countries with their own currency can be cheaper for us (of course, if the currency is devalued), and that’s what Greece has learned the hard way, since they don’t control the Euro. Who knows, maybe they’ll get out of the Euro, go back to their own currency, and bring back their economy with lower prices.

  4. Great post and think everything you mentioned is right on. I lived in Athens for a month and am glad I did. It was interesting to see the turmoil and just how horrible things had turned for one of the most amazing cities in the world. I still can’t believe at all the things I would see on the streets, but I guess that is what comes with poverty. I wanted to visit more of Greece while I was there, but it was winter so I didn’t want a repeat of visiting an island and it not be great like what happened to me in Ibiza. The islands are still on my list so one day I’ll be back to Greece.

    1. Jaime, I definitely encourage you to visit the islands! From my point of view, even though they have been affected by the current economy, they don’t show it as strongly as Athens or the mainland. Somehow, they operate quasi-independent on their tourism and micro-local economy.

  5. Hi, we go to Greece every summer, it is great to walk the beaches and streets are calm, just this year it’s different… Much less tourists and prices in the street shops are triple… Eating in a “taverna” is also about double compared to no more than three years ago, so I would recommend taking more cash and cards with you.

    1. Hi Kalin – Hmmm, interesting. Well, you’ve had the experience of visiting Greece at a better time with lower prices. While I do agree that many places showed high prices, I also found many places that had really cheap prices (when you consider that is on the euro). Maybe a few years ago they were even cheaper?! I would have loved to see those! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I’m glad you had such a great experience there! And I love the greater opportunity to connect with locals and to get off the beaten path. I always associated Greece with beaches. Many Israelis go there to stay in a great hotel and enjoy the islands. I live close to a beach, so it never occurred to me to take a beach vacation, yet Greece is really close and there are some great deals (I recently saw a deal of $250 that includes flights to and from Israel – plus a hotel – not a hostel – for five days! It might even include breakfasts, not sure). I can only imagine the possibility of greater deals in winter, especially if I sleep in hostels, so say…. do you know where I can find snow there? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Ayelet! Sorry for taking such a long time to respond. Oh wow, that is really cheap!!! I would jump on it! Regarding snow, you can find it on the northern part of the country, north of Thessaloniki. There are mountain ranges up there where you can enjoy the snow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I am intrigued to visit Greece someday. From what you have shared it sounds like a really cool place to be on tour. They could use some tourism money especially with the poor economic condition they are in right now.

    1. That’s right, Cheryl! Greece is in a situation where they would appreciate every tourism dollar that comes in and they are more than willing to do more for it. This is a good time to appreciate such a beautiful country and help them in a way, while still saving a couple bucks.

  8. Interesting perspective on Greece Norbert. While Greece is still struggling, it seems it has made people more welcoming, accommodating, and personable. Not exactly a consequence I would have imagined. Glad the spirit of the people is still strong.

    1. You’re right, Jeremy. It has made them more accommodating to make people feel more welcomed and to encourage them to spend/travel more within the country. Personally, my experience in Greece was really good, and I have to say that part of it was because of how the entire place operated to overcome the “sadness” of the economic condition.

  9. Though the recession and the economic crisis in Greece, tourism there flourishes and a trip or holiday there is truly memorable experience. That place simply enchants people with history and nature.

    1. Yes, Greece still enchants people with its history and nature. I belief tourism has been a great help against their economic crisis.

  10. Greece is a wonderful place to visit, despite the economic crisis. We went there during the peak of the debate whether Greece would bail out and talks about possibilities of them exiting EU. It was scary, but when we were actually in Greece, it’s like… where’s the crisis? The Greeks were very welcoming and our trip was lovely. But yep, that being said, travelers going to Greece need to continue monitoring the news just in case if things go bad.