What are some of the customs and etiquette that you should know when visiting Greece?

Greece is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. It is also a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy its stunning landscapes, ancient monuments, delicious cuisine, and friendly people. But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, it is important to learn some of the customs and etiquette that you should know when visiting Greece. This will help you avoid any awkward or embarrassing situations, show respect to the locals, and make the most of your trip.

Here are some of the dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind when traveling to Greece:


Greetings are an important part of any culture, and in Greece, a few specific customs are expected of you when you meet someone. According to

SG Travelers

, these include:

  • When meeting someone for the first time, a handshake is the most common form of greeting. However, if you are introduced by a mutual friend or acquaintance, a kiss on each cheek is also acceptable.
  • When greeting someone you know well, such as a friend or a relative, a hug and a kiss on each cheek are customary.
  • When addressing someone, use their first name or their title and surname if they are older or more formal. For example, Mr. Papadopoulos or Mrs. Georgiou.
  • When saying goodbye, it is polite to say “Yia sas” (goodbye) or “Yia hara” (be well).


Communication in Greece is mainly based on direct, frank talk, and communication can be quite assertive. Greeks are not afraid to express their opinions, emotions, and preferences, even if they differ from yours. They also tend to use gestures and facial expressions to emphasize their points. This may seem rude or aggressive to some cultures, but it is not meant to be offensive or personal. It is just a way of showing passion and honesty.

Some tips for communicating effectively with Greeks are:

  • Don’t be offended by personal questions, such as about your family, your job, your income, or your marital status. Greeks are curious and friendly by nature, and they want to get to know you better.
  • Don’t be shy to ask questions yourself, as this shows interest and respect.
  • Don’t take criticism personally, as Greeks are not afraid to point out mistakes or flaws. They are also open to feedback and suggestions.
  • Don’t be surprised by physical contact, such as touching your arm or shoulder, or standing close to you. Greeks are warm and affectionate people who like to show their feelings.
  • Don’t be alarmed by loud voices or arguments. Greeks are expressive and passionate people who like to debate and discuss various topics. They may raise their voices or interrupt each other, but this does not mean they are angry or hostile.


Greece has a wide variety of local cuisines and dining customs, depending on the region. However, some general rules apply when eating out or at someone’s home. These include:

  • When invited to dine at a Greek home, bringing a small gift such as pastries, chocolates, or flowers is polite. It is also customary to wait until everyone has been served before eating. Small talk is an integral part of the dining experience.
  • When eating out at a restaurant or a taverna, it is common to share dishes with your companions. You can order several appetizers (mezedes) and main courses (kiria piata) and place them in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy.
  • When paying the bill at a restaurant or a taverna, it is usual to split it equally among the diners. However, if someone insists on paying for everyone, do not argue too much as this may be seen as rude.
  • When tipping at a restaurant or a taverna, it is customary to leave 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service. You can also round up the bill to the nearest euro or leave some change on the table.

Gift giving

Gift giving is an important part of Greek culture. It shows appreciation, gratitude, friendship, and hospitality. According to

Life Beyond Borders

, some etiquette tips for gift giving in Greece are:

  • When giving flowers, avoid white lilies as they are associated with funerals. Also, avoid even numbers of flowers as they are considered unlucky. Odd numbers of flowers are preferred, especially 3, 5, or 7.
  • When giving food or drinks, avoid coffee as it is considered too common. Instead, opt for wine, ouzo, or other spirits. You can also give sweets, chocolates, cakes, or pastries.
  • When giving souvenirs, avoid anything that depicts the evil eye, such as jewelry, magnets, or keychains. The evil eye is a symbol of bad luck and misfortune in Greece.
  • When receiving a gift, open it in front of the giver and express your appreciation. If the gift is food or drink, offer to share it with the giver or others present.

Other customs and etiquette

There are some other customs and etiquette that you should know when visiting Greece. These include:

  • People may keep less personal space when queuing, talking, or walking. This is not a sign of disrespect or invasion of privacy, but rather a sign of closeness and familiarity.
  • Do not cross your legs in front of those who have a higher status to you or in a formal situation. This is considered rude and disrespectful.
  • There is a cultural expectation in Greece that one accepts the generous offers of others. For example, if someone offers you a drink, a snack, or a ride, it is polite to accept it. Refusing something offered can be interpreted as an insult.
  • Be careful when commenting on a Greek’s possessions, such as their car, their house, or their clothes. This may be seen as envy or jealousy, which can attract the evil eye. Instead of complimenting them directly, you can say “Na ta harisei” (may God bless them) or “Kala na ta pernas” (may you enjoy them).
  • Be aware of some hand gestures that can cause unintentional offence. For example, do not hold your hand up with your palm out and fingers extended to someone, as this is equivalent to giving them the middle finger. Also, do not make an OK sign by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger, as this is considered vulgar and obscene.

Greece is a wonderful country to visit and explore. By following these customs and etiquette tips, you will be able to show respect to the locals, avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts, and have a more enjoyable and memorable experience.