Greece was the home of great ancient civilizations and is now the site of many of their ruins. The country is also home to picturesque islands, great food, and a pulsating nightlife, which will guarantee that you will be partying until the wee hours of the night. The country’s rich history has at times overshadowed its recent economic development. 30 years ago, Greece was an agrarian society famous for its beaches, islands, and olive oil. Now, Greece boasts more cell phones than landlines and many middle to high-end establishments have sprouted that cater to the burgeoning tourism sector and the country’s middle and upper-class inhabitants. Also, the influx of immigrants from Asia, Africa, and other European nations has resulted in a myriad of food options. What make Greece so unique are its history, culture, and undying hospitality towards foreign visitors, which in turn helps to grease the wheels of tourism and ensure a pleasant vacation for all.
Greece Medical Tourism Fame
Greece is a newcomer to the medical tourism market. However, Greek doctors practice with as much care and professionalism as other more well established destinations. Also, many physicians have been trained at schools located in the U.S. and United Kingdom, and combined with modern hospitals/clinics and state of the art equipment, Greece is a force to be reckoned with in the medical tourism scene.
Currently, the capital city of Athens is the epicenter of the medical tourism industry in Greece in which patients generally seek cosmetic surgery and dental procedures, however the government is trying to develop the island of Crete, and the mainland cities of Chalkidiki, Thessaloniki, and Achaia, which are already popular tourist destinations.
The official language of Greece is Greek, however English is understood in major cities/islands and tourist areas.
The weather in Greece is dependent on the location. The islands of the Cyclades and Crete have a Mediterranean climate; however the mountains of Crete do occasionally get snow. Northern Macedonia’s climate is likened to the Balkans with cold winters and very hot, humid summers. During the high season in July and August temperatures can reach more than 100oF (40oC). November to February are the wettest months and it can get surprisingly cold during this time. Thus, the spring and fall are the most climatically pleasant times to visit Greece.
Visa / Entrance Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days; however a valid passport is required.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
Greece has many airports, but the ones most pertinent to medical tourists are:
Athens-Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (also the closest airport to Achaia) (ATH)
Thessaloniki-Macedonia International Airport (also the closest airport to Chalkidiki) (SKG)
Crete-Nikos Kazantzakis Airport/Heraklion Airport (HER)
The following airlines have flights to Greece:
- Athens Airways
- Aegean Airlines
- Olympic Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
- Olympic Airlines
- Virgin Express
- LOT Polish Airlines
- US Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- American Airlines
A room in a budget hotel or hostel in Athens usually costs $20 to $40 USD per person per night, elsewhere the price is cheaper. A room in a 3 star hotel starts at $79 USD per night for a double occupancy room. If you prefer luxurious accommodations, Thessaloniki, Athens, and Crete have highly rated 5 star hotels that start at $240 USD per night. Many of these luxury dwellings not only offer individual rooms but villas as well.
The currency of Greece is the Euro (EUR).
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Greek euros is $1 USD to €0.70 EUR (exchange rate subject to change).
The international access code for Greece is 30.
Below are important area codes for Greece:
- Athens: 21
- Thessaloniki: 231
- Crete: 281/282
- Achaia: 2610
- Chalkidiki: 237/2399
In order to call Greece from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code), then 30 (country code for Greece), then the area code (two to four digits), and then the phone number.
To call a cell phone in Greece from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 + 30 + area code (three digits starting with the number 6) + phone number (seven digits).
In order to call the U.S. or Canada from Greece you must dial 001 + 1 + area code + phone number.
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Many hotels and private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in Athens: (21)0721-2951
As mentioned previously, Greece has a myriad of activities that will appeal to almost everyone. From the party islands of Ios and Mykonos to the ancient Minoan ruins and black sand beaches on the island of Santorini, and the Acropolis in Athens, you will not be disappointed with the beauty and historic splendor of Greece. The area close to the Acropolis is rife with nightlife and restaurants, but the most popular tourist sites (aside from the Acropolis) are the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Archaeological Park of the Ancient Agora, and the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex located 14 miles (24 km) southwest of Athens, which houses facilities for handball, beach volleyball, taekwondo, and volleyball. Also, a trip to Lykavittos Hill is a must for a stunning panoramic view of the city. Thessaloniki is home to Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments including ancient churches. On Crete, the capital of Heraklion is the urban center of the island, which offers touristy facilities and activities including an exciting nightlife as well as many archaeological sites and churches.
The Plaka area of Athens is the place to buy last minute souvenirs, however you can find popular tourist items throughout the country. These items include onyx, marble, leather wares, pottery, silver and gold jewelry, and traditional handicrafts. Another less common item that is worth purchasing is religious paintings that are copies of Byzantine Icons. They can be a bit pricey starting at $300 each, but the quality makes it a worthwhile buy.
Nightlife and the Arts
Nightlife in Athens is generally localized to Psiri, Plaka, and Thission, but the notorious places to party besides the capital are on the islands of Ios, Santorini, Paros, and Mykonos, which come alive during the summertime. Throughout the country, the party lasts until 6 or 7 in the morning in which you can dance the night away to traditional Greek music, techno, and western top 40 hits while you sip on the popular (and powerful) Greek drink: Ouzo.
Listing all of the archaeological museums in Greece would be epic, but the most popular ones are the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Heraklion Museum located on the island of Crete, and the Athens National Archaeological Museum. Other museums in Athens include the Jewish Museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the National Historical Museum of Greece, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Zoological Museum of the University of Athens. Crete doesn’t have nearly the amount museums as Athens but the amount is still significant. Crete museums include the Maritime Museum, the Historical Museum, and the Byzantine and Postbyzantine Museum.
For those of you who enjoy watching live performances as opposed to stationary objects will enjoy the Meli Theater in Athens, which has superb acoustics and state of the art digital equipment.
There are a few English language newspapers in Greece including Kathimerini and Khronicles.
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