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The Greeks are a very hospitable and laid-back people who want visitors to their beautiful country to enjoy themselves. To avoid giving offence, respect their customs and beliefs, which are long held and hard won.

Greece is famous for its pretty churches and beautifully decorated monasteries, many of which are open to visitors. Remember and respect the dress code: shoulders, elbows and knees (and tummies) should be covered - men should wear long trousers and women should wear a dress or skirt covering the knees, or trousers.

Anyone entering a holy place in shorts and vest is likely to be cursed for life!!

Topless is tolerated on the beaches and certain beaches are unofficially OK for going au naturelle - please don’t do either anywhere near a holy place, no matter how isolated it appears, as this offends the locals and arrests aren’t unknown.

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, Greeks take siesta between 14:00-17:00. As they tend to work very long hours during the summer they’ll be more hospitable if they aren’t disturbed during this time and, without a doubt, fellow guests won’t appreciate being disturbed late at night or in the early hours.

If you want two of anything, don’t do a ‘V for Victory’ sign as it’s an insult… even worse is a ‘hi-five’. Known as moundza, they date back to the days when citizens would daub the faces of criminals with mud (and other such things) as they were led through the streets.

Maybe that explains the Royal wave… well, the Queen is married to a Greek. Oh, and if you want a cup of coffee (or tea) without sugar, ask for it sketto, not skatah – that’s something associated with the tooaletta.

In the UK we might have been brought up to show our appreciation of a meal by not leaving any food on our plate. In Greece it’s normal to leave a little, it shows your host that their hospitality was sufficient and that you’re not still hungry. Similarly, don’t drain your glass unless you want no more to drink.


See also: Local Laws and Customs

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