If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor about your travel plans before your departure. If you have special concerns, before heading abroad you might check out the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (tel. 800/232-4636; www.cdc.gov/travel).
Greeks have national medical insurance. Citizens of other E.U. nations should inquire before leaving, but your policies will probably cover treatment in Greece. Non-E.U. travelers should check your health plan to see if it provides appropriate coverage; you may want to buy travel medical insurance instead. (Visit www.frommers.com/planning.) Bring your insurance ID card with you when you travel. Although you will receive emergency care with no questions asked, make sure you have coverage at home.
Drugstores/Chemists: These are called pharmikon in Greek; aside from the obvious indications in windows and interiors, they are identified by a green cross. For minor medical problems, go first to the nearest pharmacy. Pharmacists usually speak English, and many medications can be dispensed without prescription. In the larger cities, if it is closed, there should be a sign in the window directing you to the nearest open one. Newspapers also list the pharmacies that are open late or all night.
Common Ailments: Diarrhea is no more of a problem in Greece than it might be anytime you change diet and water supplies, but occasionally visitors do experience it. Common over-the-counter preventatives and cures are available in Greek pharmacies, but if you are concerned, bring your own.
If you expect to be taking sea trips and are inclined to get seasick, bring a preventative.
Allergy sufferers should carry antihistamines, especially in the spring.
Sun Exposure: Between mid-June and September, too much exposure to the sun during midday could well lead to sunstroke or heatstroke. High-SPF sunscreen and a hat are strongly advised.
In Greece, modern hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies are found everywhere, and personnel, equipment, and supplies ensure excellent treatment. Dental care is also widely available. Most doctors in Greece can speak English (many having trained in North America or the U.K.).
You can also try the emergency room at a local hospital. In addition, many hospitals have walk-in clinics for emergency cases that are not life threatening; you may not get immediate attention, but you won't pay the high price of an emergency room visit. In an emergency, call a first-aid center (tel. 166), the nearest hospital (tel. 106), or the tourist police (tel. 171).
Emergency treatment is usually given free in state hospitals, but be warned that only basic needs are met. The care in outpatient clinics, which are usually open mornings (8am-noon), is often somewhat better; you can find them next to most major hospitals, on some islands, and occasionally in rural areas, usually indicated by prominent signs.
Crime directed at tourists was traditionally unheard of in Greece, but in more recent years there are occasional reports of cars broken into, pickpockets, purse snatchers, and the like. Normal precautions are called for. For instance, if you have hand luggage containing expensive items, whether jewelry or cameras, never give it to an individual unless you are absolutely sure it will be safe with him or her. Lock the car and don't leave cameras or other such gear visible. Don't leave your luggage unattended when entering or leaving hotels. Also, it is probably safer not to leave valuables unattended at beaches. And young women should observe the obvious precautions in dealing with men in isolated locales.
One other thing that might be of concern to some: Greece is undeniably exposed to earthquakes, but there are almost no known instances in recent decades of tourists being injured or killed in one of these. Of far more potential danger are automobile accidents: Greece has one of the worst vehicle accident rates in Europe. You should exercise great caution when driving over unfamiliar, often winding, and often poorly maintained roads. This holds true especially when you're driving at night. As for those who insist on renting motorbikes or similar vehicles, at the very least wear a helmet.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.