Travel is exciting and adventurous and a guaranteed way to build lifetime memories.
It is also expensive, can be nerve-wracking to plan, is subject to many different variables going upside down and can leave you vulnerable when you should instead be having the time of your life.
When you’re planning your next Greek adventure, use this guide to understand your rights as a tourist, how travel insurance can help protect your vacation, and everything else you need to know to have peace of mind when you’re away from home.
Consumer and Traveler’s Rights in Greece
When you travel to Greece, your rights as a consumer and traveler are overseen by the Directorate-General for Consumer Protection.
This agency sets out what hotels, car rental companies, tour companies and other tourist-related organizations can and cannot do while working with consumers.
Tourism is very important to Greece and so the country has done everything it can to ensure that tourism companies act appropriately in all ways when welcoming travelers from other parts of the world.
Your Rights in a Greek Hotel
When you stay at a hotel in Greece, the hotel operator is obligated to treat you fairly and ethically. When a room is advertised at a certain price and containing specific amenities, that price must be honored and all of those amenities provided unless something happens that is beyond their control.
If a hotelier rents you a room and that room becomes unavailable, it is the responsibility of the hotel management to provide alternative lodgings that provide the same or very similar accommodations and amenities and at the same price as you have already agreed to pay.
As a traveler, Greece is also looking out for your best interest when it comes to reserving and placing a deposit on a hotel.
When you initially seek to reserve a room, the hotel must respond to you within three days to let you know whether that reservation is accepted and to relay to you the specific details of the booking, including total taxes and fees, deposit and offered amenities.
Hotels cannot require you to pay any more than 25 percent of your total costs for multi-night stays as a deposit, but do require a deposit equal to at least one night’s stay. And when your plans change, if you provide at least 21 days of notice, the hotel will refund your entire deposit.
If you aren’t able to provide that much notice, the hotel must still refund at least 50 percent of your deposit.
Your Rights within a Greek Tour Group
Tour groups are popular when visiting Greece as they can ensure you see all the best sights and gain special insights to historical attractions.
The Directorate-General for Consumer Protection also oversees these organized groups. When you travel within an organized travel group, your peace of mind is protected by the group’s obligation to share every detail of the trip with you upfront, including:
- The exact destinations the group will travel to
- How the group will travel and when
- Any accommodations provided by the tour group
- Which excursions and amenities are provided for the regular price of the tour
- Which additional excursions and amenities are available for an added cost
- When payments are due prior to the tour
- What insurance coverage the tour group carries to protect both the tour and you as a tourist
Setting up your tours and excursions before you arrive in Greece is your best bet to both protect your rights and visit every spot you wish to see.
Although you’ll still be able to sign up for tours once you’re already in Greece, you’ll have to keep a watchful eye to avoid partnering with an unofficial tour guide who is operating outside of the bounds of the protections mandated by the Directorate-General for Consumer Protection.
Working with Tour Guides in Greece
Tour guides who operate without a license from the Directorate-General for Consumer Protection can be jailed in Greece, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some enterprising individuals from attempting to make money off unsuspecting travelers.
Protect yourself from these unscrupulous operators by checking for the following before hiring a Greek tour guide:
- Ask for their license, which is issued by the Ministry of Tourism, to work as a tour guide
- Check their diploma from an approved school by the Tourism Education and Training Organization of the Ministry of Tourism
- Ask for specific written details of the tour they’re offering to you as a traveler
- Insist upon getting all pricing and logistical details in a formal written contract before paying any deposits
Legitimate tour guides will typically have brochures available, come recommended by local hotels and attractions, can be checked out ahead of time online for commendations and complaints and can have their license verified with the government.
While checking out the guides you wish to partner with will take a bit of work on your behalf, this due diligence will ensure your peace of mind once your travels are underway.
Disability Rights and Traveling Within Greece
An enormous amount of prospective travelers throughout the world need some sort of accessible accommodations during their travels due to a physical or mental disability.
One news agency estimates that 127.5 million travelers could need special accommodations.
In Greece, travelers with disabilities may face challenges. As an ancient country with buildings and venues that are hundreds of years old and which were designed in a far different time, retrofitting to provide accessibility for disabled consumers is a very slow-going proposition.
This doesn’t mean that Greece isn’t welcoming of travelers with disabilities but rather that the ability to provide adequate services remains limited at this time.
Where to Find Disability Accommodations in Greece
When Greece hosted the Olympics in 2004, many updates were made in the area of Athens and surrounding towns and cities to make it more open and accommodating to all travelers, including those with special needs.
Other areas within the country have been slower to make similar updates, mostly held back by the enormous costs of updates.
Before embarking on your Greek travel if you or someone in your traveling party has special needs, use this list of questions to determine whether a particular destination is appropriate to visit.
- Does the hotel have ground floor rooms available for travelers who cannot climb stairs, or is a working elevator available to reach higher floors? Can the elevator accommodate a wheelchair?
- Does the hotel room have a wide enough door to admit a wheelchair? Does the hotel’s bathroom have a wide enough door to admit a wheelchair? Are washroom accommodations available such as wheel-in showers or toilets with handrails secured to the wall?
- Does the tourist attraction have ramps available for wheelchairs to roll on?
- Are visual signs and guides available for the hearing impaired?
- Are signs and guides available in Braille for the sight impaired?
- Are buses or taxis available in the city where you’re traveling that can help a disabled person board and then accommodate a folded wheelchair?
Required Provisions for Disabled Travelers in Greece
The U.S. Embassy in Greece researched and compiled a list of specific amenities available to disabled travelers embarking on a Greek adventure.
Many of those accommodations are specific to Athens, because of the enormous work in updating and retrofitting completed prior to the Olympics, but some reach other areas as well. The services you have access to include:
- Hellenic Railways – specifically, the Athens terminal is disability friendly
- Ferry companies – many ships can accommodate wheelchair and other disability needs
- Buses in Athens and Thessaloniki – can accommodate wheelchairs and provide free transport to disabled patrons
- Museums in Athens – some provide audio guides, many are wheelchair accessible
The Embassy guides to plan your travel well ahead of time, ask pertinent questions throughout the planning process, and ensure you receive confirmation of accessibility availability before making a deposit.
Understanding Travel Insurance and Your Greek Trip
Travel insurance helps to provide the security you need when your travel plans change outside of your control.
Travel insurance covers components including air travel, ground travel, hotel accommodations and tour groups.
Not only will travel insurance help to ensure you aren’t forced to spend hundreds or thousands out of pocket when plans inadvertently change, it can help to cover you physically should you become ill or injured.
In addition, you can customize your travel insurance to cover other components of your trip, typically at a very affordable cost.
Accessing Travel Insurance
When you first begin to plan your travels to Greece and beyond, check with your travel agency or with the specific companies handling your air and ground travel and accommodations.
They sometimes have specific travel insurance partners to recommend who can then cover your whole trip. This is especially true if you contract with a tour group that is handling all of the arrangements of your trip from start to finish.
If you are planning all of your own travel for a customized trip, however, you can still access travel insurance on your own.
Approach the process of obtaining travel insurance similarly to how you insure your car or home – investigate carriers carefully, seek out multiple quotes and then make the best coverage and financial decision.
What Travel Insurance Covers
Always book Travel Insurance (follow this link). At a minimum, look for travel insurance that will cover the following:
- Trip cancellation – ability to access a 100% refund of costs you’ve already paid
- Trip interruption, due to circumstances outside of your control – at least 100% of your costs paid, but consider upgrading to 150% of costs to cover change fees
- Medical evacuation, due to natural disaster, state of emergency or personal medical crisis – at least $100,000 in coverage, but could insure up to $1 million
- Medical expenses while in the country – up to $50,000 in fees and costs
- Lost baggage, due to carrier loss that is irretrievable – $2,500 for personal effects or up to $10,000 for valuable goods for which you can provide receipts
Good additional coverages to seek include:
- Air travel accidental coverage
- Accidental death
When you’re considering different insurance plans, consider how easy it will be for you to reach a particular carrier while you’re on your trip, what process they require to file a claim, and how quickly they can provide financial assistance if an emergency occurs and you need immediate coverage.
If you or a family member is injured during travel, in addition to understanding your travel insurance policy, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to advise you of any legal options and help you with the claims process.
In addition, check with your travel insurance carrier, or your tour group operator, for coverage and assistance options when you experience canceled or delayed flights or ground or sea transportation.
Traveling with Pets in Greece
For many travelers, bringing along pets is either an extreme desire or an actual need in the case of service animals.
Pets can provide some challenges during travel, particularly in ensuring their comfort during air and ground transport and finding accommodations that accept pets.
Things to know when traveling with Pets in Greece
You’ll find it challenging to travel with pets who aren’t service animals in Greece, but fear not – it’s not impossible.
You’ll just have to prepare adequately ahead of time. To bring an animal into Greece from another country, your cat, dog or ferret must be:
- Vaccinated against Rabies
- Have a Certificate of Health from your veterinarian, within 10 days of travel
- Sign a Declaration of Non-Commercial Transport
If you are traveling from an EU country, an EU pet passport can make travel simpler and is available through any veterinarian in the EU.
Hotels in Greece are not required to provide accommodations for non-service animals. Hotels that do accept animals must provide a designated area for pets and you must arrange with the hotel directly for your pet’s stay there.
The hotel can charge an additional fee for pet accommodations and can limit how many pets you’re allowed to bring.
Air, ground and water transportation companies all set their own policies for non-service animals.
In general, small animals are allowed in cabin areas as long as they are on a leash or properly contained. Larger animals may need to travel in the cargo hold.
Traveling with Service Dogs in Greece
Greece makes special provisions for disables individuals who require service animals as a part of their travel. Service dogs are allowed in all public facilities and areas and on public transportation throughout all of Greece.
Likewise, private facilities like hotels that market their services to the public are also required to accommodate service animals. While traveling, ensure you have proper documentation with you at all times for your service animal.
Now that you understand your rights as a traveler to Greece, how you can protect yourself while embarking on tours, what coverage you can obtain to insure your trip and even how to bring along your beloved pets or service animals, you’re ready to dive into the excitement of picking your Greek destinations and packing for your trip!