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Never do these things in Greece!

greek flag agios symeon

Like every culture there are different things that a considered respectfull and disrepectful. For the most part Greece is the same as the majority, but there are some things that you shouldn’t do in Greece!

Don’t ignore people

If you are staying at an airbnb in a village always be sure to greet people on the street.  There will usually be old men in the square of the village or old ladies sitting outside their steps.  They tend to stare… a lot.  The natural thing to you may be just not to pay any attention to them, but this is considered very rude in Greece.

While you walk by just it is very appreciated just to say hello.  Hello in Greece is “???? ???!” Pronounced “Yaa sas”. This is the formal way to say it and will show respect.

It is a great way to show respect, to be friendly and it may spark up a conversation.  Who knows, you could learn something or even create a new friendship.

old men corfu


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

In Greece, the people are very friendly.  Everyone usually speaks a basic amount of English.  Asking questions is not frowned upon and it is a way to communicate with the locals.  Many Greeks like to talk and will enjoy speaking to someone from a different culture.  Very rarely will you receive a rude comment and if you do you know it is not you.

Quick tip:  They will like you even more if you say a couple of words in Greek.

  • Yaa Sas- Hello/Goodbye
  • Ti Kaneis- How are you?
  • Kala Esee- Good, you?
  • Efharisto- Thank you
  • Parakalo- You’re welcome
  • Kali Spera- Good evening
  • Kali mera-Good morning/Good Day

Don’t do the Moutza!

The moutza is a Greek way of insulting someone with your hand.  It is very simple, you just stick your arm up with your hand open and flexed.  It can be mistaken for when you are waving, but you don’t move your hand. Greeks will say the word NA! (Here you are) while doing it.  It is similar to the international hand gesture of giving the middle finger.

Friends will do it amongst themselves jokingly, but if a stranger does it, they might be offended and react.  It is most frequently used seriously while driving. So be AWARE!

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Don’t throw anything in the toilet

Don’t be surprised when you come to Greece and in every bathroom you have a sign saying don’t throw paper in the toilet.  I know it is common to be able to do this in many countries.  In Greece, though the plumbing isn’t as advanced yet.  The pipes in other countries are usually 4 inches(100mm) in diameter.  For some reason, in Greece, almost all the pipes are half that size so clogs much easier.

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Don’t Take Photos of Military Bases

Surprisingly, even now with the technology that is available today, for instance, google earth and smartphones.  It is still illegal to take photographs of military bases even from outside.  They have this law in place for security reasons.  Obviously, nowadays it is so easy to take a picture or find one on the internet.  But to not have any problems it is better not to take the risk.

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Don’t forget the Greek working hours!

If you live in many countries like England, Germany, USA and plenty more coming to Greece you might be a little surprised for many reasons.

One of those reasons is:

  • 14:30 – 17:30 Monday to Friday almost everything closes
  • Monday, Wednesday  the stores open from 09:00 – 14:30
  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday stores are open from 09:00-14:30  17:30 – 21:00
  • Banks 08:00 – 14:00
  • Saturday 09:00-15:00
  • Sunday everything closed,  even supermarkets and petrol stations
  • Petrol Stations 07:00 – 22:00 Monday – Saturday
  • Supermarkets 08:00 – 21:00 Monday – Saturday

There are always some exceptions, but this is the general rule.  You can check the store you are looking for on the internet, but if not consider these.

Don’t learn to drive in Greece

Greece is good for many things.  However, learning to drive is not one of them.  There is a list of reasons why driving is Greece, especially on islands isn’t preferable for new drivers.  The same goes for mopeds.  Mopeds are can be very dangerous on these roads even though sometimes you will see more mopeds on the roads than cars.

  • There are many potholes.
  • The roads are small.
  • The roads are very winding.
  • Greek drivers drive fast.
  • Tourists drive in the middle of the road.
  • Many street lights are broken.
  • Most rental cars are manual.
  • Automatics are a little more expensive.
  • Occasionally you will find goats/sheep on the road.

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If you do choose to rent a car being a new driver, I would absolutely recommend spending a few extra euros for full insurance.  If you choose to rent a moped make sure you wear your helmet!!

Don’t drink the tap water

On the islands be sure to buy bottled water.  The tap water has a lot of salt and is not usually good for drinking.  It is alright to cook, wash clothes and dishes, bathe with tap water but drinking is not recommended.

Don’t leave the AC on when you spend the whole day out

Leaving the room for the whole day and leaving the AC might be enjoyable to return to a fresh room.  However, it is a common courtesy to turn it off and save some energy for the owner, and also help the environment out a little.

A quick tip: Instead of leaving it on all day, with some AC’s it is possible to set a timer for it to turn on a certain time.  Depending on when you think you will return, set it for an hour before so it is a win-win.

Don’t go to a Greek friends home for dinner empty-handed

Like in many cultures, it is common etiquette when you are invited for dinner not to show up empty-handed.  In Greece, it is the same.  Greeks will not usually care if you so up without anything, but it will be very much appreciated if you do.  It could be anything from a bottle of wine, pastries, soft drink to some flowers. It may not go with the planned meal, but they will be able to use it another time.

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Don’t be too much on a budget while out for coffee or dinner with Greeks

Greeks like to enjoy life even without having lots of money. They will get another drink or dessert to pass the time. Also, when it comes to paying the bill Greeks like to fight over it.  They want to pay sometimes for the whole bill.  Greeks enjoy taking people out for a coffee and paying for their friends.  It’s a feeling of satisfaction.  Although they don’t expect anything in return, they do appreciate it if you do sometimes.

Don’t get too drunk and loud

Greeks enjoy going out for a drink at night and usually spending the whole night at the bar/club.  We rarely ever get drunk though.  When we see someone get drunk it is frowned upon and even more so when someone is so loud that they are causing a disturbance.  You will notice when you are out that everyone is usually just standing in the bar/club with a drink and/or cigarette in their hand talking calmly, dancing a little with their friends.  When someone causes a scene like anywhere, people are not pleased.


Don’t be in a hurry

Taking things slowly is a part of the culture in Greece so a good way to avoid stressing over Greeks moving like turtles is to assimilate while you are here.

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