What to know before you go to


Travel Insurance
Many seasoned travelers are not aware that their health insurance may not cover them outside of the country.  If you need to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, most of your trip may be non-refundable if you are not insured.  In the event you become ill during your travels, finding and receiving medical care may be very frustrating without insurance.  Travel insurance also covers lost baggage and worldwide emergency assistance.  For a minimal amount of money, travel insurance is a must.

Visa Information
US citizens need a valid US passport for entry into Greece.  Make three copies of your passport.  Leave one copy at home with family and carry the other separately from your original.  Due to new airline regulations, a copy of your passport must also be sent to Pilgrim Tours.

Health Certificates
None required.  

Language Spoken

The currency in Greece is the EURO.  Check the travel section of your newspaper or the Internet for the most recent exchange rate.  If possible, exchange a little currency at a US bank before you leave.  ATM machines are available in the major cities throughout Greece.  However, in smaller towns, ATM cards, traveler's checks and credit cards may not be accepted.  Please be advised that the ATM machines dispense money in EURO ONLY - NOT US DOLLARS.

Using your ATM card overseas

"Your bank ATM card is a good way to get foreign currency at favorable exchange rate.

By using an ATM Card to obtain foreign currency you benefit from the wholesale rates available to banks.  These are better than the rates offered by change bureaus, hotels and businesses that will accept foreign money.

More and more ATM machines that accept U.S. cards are being installed around the world.  Before going overseas, you should check with your bank to make sure that foreign ATM machines will take your card.  Also, most ATMs outside the U.S. accept only four-digit numbers as PINs.  If your PIN uses letters or has more than four digits, you should change it.

Most ATMs outside the U.S. do not allow transactions with multiple accounts.  This means your transaction will be routed to your primary account."  from USA Today 

Electricity is 220 volts.  You will need to bring along the necessary converters to operate any 120-volt appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, etc. 

If you are required to take medications, you should notify the leader of your group in the event of an emergency.  Ask your doctor to write an extra prescription to take with you if your medication is lost.

Baggage Allowance
Due to the size of baggage compartments in touring coaches, each passenger is restricted to ONE suitcase and ONE carry-on bag (in addition to your purse, camera case or video camera).  Be sure your luggage is clearly marked (using the baggage tags provided).  It is wise to also insert an index card with your name, address and phone number inside of your luggage. 

Airlines limit carry-on luggage to ONE piece not to exceed a 45-inch dimension, as it must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. 

Time Zone
Seven hours ahead of EST and two hours ahead of GMT.



Athens          Average Temperature          Average Rainfall

Jan-Mar                45-56F                                      2"

Apr-Jun                 59-74F                                     .65"

Jul-Sep                 70-86F                                      .30"

Oct-Dec                53-65F                                      3"


Leave your travel information with a family member or friend, including a copy of your passport, your flight itinerary, travel itinerary, hotel names and phone numbers.  In the event of an emergency, family members may contact Pilgrim Tours at 800-322-0788. 

Dress comfortably for the flight, wearing clothes that allow freedom of movement and shoes that slip on and off easily. 

Never leave your luggage unattended for any length of time…no matter how short.  Do not accept packages from strangers to carry on to the plane for them. 

Check-in time for international flights is normally two hours prior to departure.  When checking in at the airport, a valid passport is needed as proof of identification for international travelers. 

Bring along a moisturizer, as the air in the plane cabin is extremely dry.  In order to avoid jet lag, limit caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.  Rather, opt for natural fruit juices and water. 

What to Pack
Comfortable, casual clothing that can be layered to match the weather is a good suggestion.  Planning your wardrobe around one or two colors is also helpful.  Dress throughout is casual.  You may choose to bring along one dressy outfit but it is not necessary.  Be sure to include comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight jacket for mornings and evenings. 

A raincoat and rain hat (or poncho) are easier to use when sightseeing than an umbrella. 

Be sure to pack important items such as documents, money, medications, keys, etc. on your person or in your carry-on luggage.  Never pack these items in your checked luggage. 

Do not make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry.  A good way to conceal your money and valuables is by purchasing an inexpensive, lightweight pouch that attaches around your waist and is worn under your clothes. 

Do not over-pack.  Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs. 

If you are traveling with a companion, consider cross-packing your clothing with them. Put half of your items in your companion's luggage and vice-versa.  This will ease the frustration of lost luggage. 

Take along a small backpack.  When you are touring, fill it with bottled water, tissues, notebook and pen.  It will also come in handy for carrying souvenirs. 

Don't forget these travel sized necessities:  sewing kit, first-aid kit, tissues, travel clock, toiletries, notebook and pen, pre-printed address labels (for sending postcards), plastic "zip-locking" bags (for storing open bottles and containers. 

Purchase your film and batteries in the US.  Remember to bring extra for your video camera.

A service charge is often added to the bill in hotels and restaurants.  However, if it is omitted, a tip of 10-15% is customary.  A usual tip for tour bus drivers is $2.00 per person, per day and a tour escort usually receives $3.00 per person, per day.  Hotel maids receive $1.00 per person, per day.  Tip taxi drivers at least 10-15% of the fare.  This is simply a general guideline.  Tips and gratuities are earned for services rendered in a courteous and professional manner.

For meals that are not included, check with your tour group leader or the front desk at the hotel for suggestions (be sure to mention the price range you are interested in). If you have never eaten Greek food before, you are in for a treat.  Lamb, olive oil and fish are the common ingredients in a Greek meal.  Specialties include melitzanosalta (eggplant salad), tsatsiki souvlakia (lamb kebabs marinated in garlic), chtapodi (octopus salad) and baklava (a pastry made from filo dough filled with honey and nuts) 

Check with your group leader or the front desk for the best shopping areas.  Specify that you are interested in purchasing items that are known for their local and cultural appeal.  For high-quality shopping, visit Syntagma and Kolonaki.  Piraeus is usually less expensive than Athens.  Shop for handicrafts, lace, embroidery, pottery and jewelry.  Don't be afraid to haggle over prices - it's expected. 

In Greece
By reading a little about the history and mythology of Greece before you travel, you'll be much more likely to appreciate the multitude of ruins found throughout the country. 

Just for fun, try to learn the Greek alphabet so you can read some of the signs.