How to handle money matters on the Greek islands

Greece is a popular destination for travelers who want to enjoy the sun, sea and culture of this ancient country. The Greek islands offer a variety of experiences, from relaxing on sandy beaches to exploring historic sites and villages. But before you pack your bags and hop on a ferry, you need to know how to handle money matters on the Greek islands, such as currency exchange, ATMs, credit cards and taxes. Here are some tips to help you plan your budget and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Currency in Greece

The official currency of Greece is the euro (EUR), which is also used by 18 other countries in the European Union. The euro comes in eight coin denominations: 1 and 2 euros, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents. There are also six different notes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100 and €200. You can check the current exchange rate of the euro against your home currency on websites like





Cash or card?

The answer is: both. Cash is still king in Greece, especially on the smaller and less touristy islands. Many hotels, restaurants, shops and services may not accept credit cards or charge extra fees for card payments. Therefore, it is advisable to always have some cash on hand when traveling to the Greek islands. You can use your cash to pay for things like public transportation, taxis, entrance fees, tips and small purchases.

However, credit cards are also useful to have for larger expenses and emergencies. Most larger businesses and tourist-oriented places will accept credit cards, such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Credit cards can also offer benefits like travel insurance, rewards or cashback. Just make sure to choose a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees or currency conversion fees when you use it abroad. Some examples of such cards are

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


Wise Multi-currency Card


Where to get cash?

The easiest and cheapest way to get cash in Greece is to use an ATM (also known as a cash machine or a bankomat). ATMs are widely available in cities and towns, as well as at airports, ports and train stations. You can use your debit card or credit card to withdraw euros from an ATM, but be aware of the fees involved. Your bank may charge you a withdrawal fee, a foreign transaction fee or a currency conversion fee. The ATM may also charge you a surcharge or offer you a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) option. To avoid these fees, you should decline DCC and choose to withdraw in euros instead of your home currency. You should also look for an ATM that belongs to your bank’s network or a partner bank’s network.

Another option to get cash in Greece is to exchange your home currency at a bank or a currency exchange office (also known as a bureau de change). However, this option is usually more expensive than using an ATM, as you will have to pay a commission fee and accept a less favorable exchange rate. Currency exchange offices are usually located near tourist attractions, airports and ports. Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.

How much cash to carry?

The amount of cash you need to carry depends on your travel style, itinerary and personal preference. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should aim to have enough cash to cover your daily expenses for at least two days. This way, you can avoid running out of cash in case of an emergency or if you cannot find an ATM nearby.

To give you an idea of how much cash you may need per day, here are some average costs of common items and services in Greece:

Item/Service Average Cost
Coffee €3
Bottled water €0.50
Souvlaki €3
Gyros €3
Salad €5
Pizza €8
Beer €4
Wine €5
Cocktail €8
Bus ticket €1.80
Taxi fare (per km) €0.74
Museum ticket €10
Hotel room (per night) €50-€150
Ferry ticket (per person) €20-€50

Note that these are approximate prices and may vary depending on the season, location and quality. You can also find cheaper or more expensive options depending on your preferences. For example, you can save money by staying in a hostel, eating street food or taking advantage of free attractions. You can also spend more money by staying in a luxury hotel, eating at fancy restaurants or taking private tours.

Taxes and tips

In Greece, most goods and services are subject to a value-added tax (VAT) of 24%, which is usually included in the price. However, some items may have a lower VAT rate of 13% or 6%, such as food, books or medicines. You can check the receipt to see if the VAT is included or not.

If you are a non-EU resident, you may be eligible for a VAT refund on purchases over €50 from participating shops. To claim your refund, you need to ask for a tax-free form from the shop, fill it out and present it along with your passport and receipt at the customs office before leaving Greece. You will then receive your refund in cash or by credit card.

Tipping is not mandatory in Greece, but it is customary to round up the bill or leave a small amount of change as a sign of appreciation. The amount of tip depends on the quality of service and your satisfaction, but here are some general guidelines:

  • In restaurants and cafes, you can tip 5% to 10% of the bill or round up to the nearest euro.
  • In bars and clubs, you can tip €1 to €2 per drink or round up to the nearest euro.
  • In taxis, you can tip 5% to 10% of the fare or round up to the nearest euro.
  • In hotels, you can tip €1 to €2 per night for housekeeping and €1 to €2 per bag for porters.
  • In tours, you can tip 10% to 15% of the price for guides and drivers.
  • In spas and salons, you can tip 10% to 15% of the price for therapists and stylists.


Greece is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. The Greek islands are especially attractive for travelers who want to experience the diversity and charm of this Mediterranean destination. However, to make the most of your trip, you need to plan ahead and know how to handle money matters on the Greek islands. By following these tips, you can avoid unnecessary fees, save money and enjoy your vacation without any worries.

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