Crime & Scams in Greece: What You Need To Know

While Greece may have economic troubles and petty crime, it's still a destination high on the list of many travelers. Here's how to stay safe in Greece.

Shares

Photo © iStock/Vladimirs_Gorelovs

Is Greece Safe?

Overall, Greece is a very safe place to travel. Aside from pickpockets (especially during summer), there's not much you need to worry about.

Greeks will tell you it's not in their nature to stand by while someone is robbed or assaulted, and it's in their best interest to protect visitors; tourism was responsible for 25% of GDP in Greece in 2017, and one in five jobs are within the tourism industry.

That doesn't mean Greece is crime-free – pickpockets and petty thieves will always gather at places where visitors congregate. Here are a few important things you need to know about taxis, pickpockets and personal safety advice before you travel to Greece.

Taxi Scams in Greece

Greeks will be the first to tell you that the worst petty criminals are taxi drivers. This is more of an annoyance than a safety issue, but arguments between reluctant passengers and insistent drivers have been known to get ugly.

The authorities have belatedly recognized this problem, and have ordered a police crackdown on dodgy drivers.

If you think the taxi driver is trying to rip you off, get the police involved, or ask the hotel doorman to call them for you. The driver will usually beat a hasty retreat rather than waste his time sitting in a police cell.

Avoid the situation by making sure you agree on the fare before getting in the taxi, or insisting the driver uses the meter.

If you do pay too much for a taxi ride, remember it's only 10 or 20 Euro, don't let it ruin your holiday.

Pickpockets in Greece

With the financial crisis and influx of refugees into Greece, crime has risen but it's a case of being alert and aware of your surroundings; violent street crimes in Greece are rare.

In 2017, Greek police arrested 31 gang members who were targeting tourists in Athens and Piraeus with a sophisticated pickpocketing operation. They were stealing from at least 15 people a day to the tune of approximately US$4,000. Since the arrests, the number of reported thefts has decreased, however, it's an ongoing task for police.

Pickpockets operate on the metro, at markets, and in crowded areas and streets such as Omonia and Athinas in Athens. They also love riding the metro between Athens airport and the city because the security is minimal to non-existent. They will use all sorts of distraction techniques such as pretend health issues, falling down, distracting you with conversation and more.

Some Greeks blame "foreigners" for most of the pickpocketing and petty crime. It sounds a little like prejudice, but there's an element of truth to it with crime gangs from less wealthy regions of Europe attracted to the easy-pickings of tourist destinations.

If – that's a big IF – you're going to get robbed or mugged, it's most likely to happen after dark and in a secluded street of a rundown area. 

A few regular visitors have singled out the Athens districts of Monastiraki or Omonia (the red light district) and near the railway stations of Larissa and Peloponissos as potential areas for crime.

Outside of Athens and the other big cities you'd have to be particularly careless with your belongings to have them stolen.

Personal Safety Traveling Greece

You should always take reasonable care to protect your valuables. If you're in a busy market or a crowd, wear your bag at the front, with your arms through the loops and all the pockets closed.

Don't look like a visitor; leave the bling at home and dress casually. Walk confidently as if you are planning to go somewhere, and determine the route before you leave. 

Only take the money you will need for the day, and keep it out of sight. Consider using a decoy wallet so if it does get lifted, thieves won't get the money and cards you have hidden.

Don't leave your valuables on the table or in your bag over the back of the chair while dining.

Keep your camera in the bag until you want to take a photo.

Get a travel insurance quote for Greece

You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.

15 Comments

  • Steve Kim said

    If anyone wants to go to Greece, be aware of thieves in groups in subways and train station! Tourists are not safe in Greece! (I am American and working in China. I feel much safer in China than in Greece.) On the first day of my trip to Greece I lost everything by thieves at the Larissa train station in Athens. I asked the station staffers to call the police. They did not care. Someone outside the train station called police. Three cops on motor bike came and told me to go to a police station to report! So, I went to the police station to report. The police at the station told me that I have to go to the other police station to report. The police station in Athens looks like run-down house. There are a lot of police motor bikes on the street. I think they are just to show to the people. Police in Athens, Greece is a joke!

  • Anita said

    Watch out for scamming hotels like Oia Mare Villas on Santorini...

    In October 2016 I booked four nights at Oia Mare Villas on Santorini. I paid in full €836, non refundable rate. It was taken off my visa credit card. For my whole five week trip I booked in advance and paid all accommodation so I didn't have to worry. In that 8 months I cancelled that card and left that bank and got new credit cards with my new bank. On arrival they said I had to pay again as I didn't have that card anymore. So 2 x €836! They insisted on taking new credit card details and taking payment again even though I have no way of getting the first €836 back. With nowhere else to go I had to pay twice! There's no way I will get the attempted refund as I don't have the card or bank account anymore. I'll be out of Greece before they realise it didn't work by which time they will have two x the room money. When I was presented the receipt from the second card being debited I was forced to sign it. I was also asked to fill in a form giving authority for the second card payment. I was forced to sign saying I received the refund. I wrote on it that as at 23/6 I had not received the refund yet. The receptionist at this point got really aggressive. She scribbled out 'not received as at 23/6'. I asked to take a photo of the receipt as they weren't giving me one and as I went to sit down to take a photo of the receipts (my hands were shaking so much as I was so upset) she came at me from around the desk and snatched them ripping them out of my hands and ripping the paper and scratching my arm! When I pointed out the security camera and that her Manager George might like to watch that, she started behaving and giving me advice of where to eat and what tour I should do! A seriously expensive hotel with the worst customer service ever! If I wasn't so tired and it wasn't so hot and they didn't have 2x€836 I would have stayed elsewhere and called the police. I can see $1300 AUD has already been taken off my new card! The Manager had said on the phone (he refused to meet me and still hasn't met me) they wouldn't take it until they knew if the first amount got refunded. That hasn't shown up of course as I don't have the bank account anymore!

    If I wasn't out $2600AUD for the small single room and yes it is incredibly small, I would have left.

    The actual hotel is poor too and not worth the money.

    On my last morning the Visa card company tried to resolve the issue by calling to speak with Manager George and I. The receptionist put them on hold with music playing for 30 minutes! While I stood there! George kept calling her at the desk and she kept putting them back on hold. They had 3 people trying to call all at once. She left them on hold on the phone so the issue could not be resolved!!! And she hung up on the others trying to get through! I was emailing with the bank as I stood there looking at the red lights where they were on hold! Oia Mare Villas also charged me €35 on my Amex credit card for my departure transfer even though I paid in cash!!!

  • HM said

    So sorry to read that............you can get an official complaint form from Greek National Tourist office or google where you can complain offically...........I assure this will get solved in your favour.............all Hotels must register with the HATTA and GNTO..........you can get their registration no aslo...............Anita what you are wrting is seriously fraudlent and must be reported through the Australian Embassy in Athens and you should also go the Greek Embassy in Australia and really kick up a fuss about this..............I was In Tourism In Mykonos and have assisted countless travelers from all over the world......... I have never read such behaviour in Greece........especially such high profile island.....why didn't you go to the Mayor's office or the Tourist Police............they are on every island and TOUGH on the hotels behaving disgustingly..........Let me know if you need any further help...........Hash

  • Mark Pinkus said

    On May the 9th, my wife and I were robbed on a bus travelling from Thira to Kamari in Santorini. The bus was packed and a gang of three men were pushing against us. When we arrived in Kamari we realized that our wallets were stolen. All the credit cards, over 900 Euros in cash, driver's license etc..were gone. Watch out for thieves in Santorini!!!

  • Charlee brown said

    Taxi from Athens airport to the city and vice versa is a flatrate of 38 euro - this includes all luggage and tolls etc. (As of may 2018). This is the dayime rate which i believe is 5am to midnight.
    We caught a taxi from the official taxi rank outside the airport and the driver turned on his meter, took the long route to our apartment near the acropolis and tried to charge us 69euro.
    We knew it was 38euro as we had used taxis earlier in the week going to/frombthe airport and had two honest taxi drivers who both confirmed he flat rate. We refused to pay 69euro and said we knew the flat rate was 38, i pointed this out on the fare card on his dashboard and he got verbally aggressive and tried to argue that we were not in the city centre and that it was a long drive.
    We insisted and in the end only paid 38euro.

  • Jack L said

    We visited Santorini in April and rented a car for two days from Santosun in Perissa. We paid in cash, left some credit card info just in case, and headed across street with their agents to check the car. We all noted minor damage and scratches in the front and back of the car, made sure it was on their documents. Finally, we agreed that all we needed to do with the car was leave it at the airport when we were leaving. Everything was fine, we had a nice drive, and we returned to London and got rid of our copy of the receipt after several weeks.

    BIG MISTAKE.

    Santosun charged us €208 on my friend's card, and when we finally tracked down their phone number the staff gave us the run around. Despite leaving them our email address, they would not send us a copy of the receipt or send us photos of supposed damage we did to the car. We sent them the photos of the car and scratches that we had taken prior to driving off the lot, and this was their response:

    "Those pictures are taken at the airport area before you picked it off to us. The car didn’t have those damages before you took it from our office and this is the reason you took the pictures there and not in the central road in front of the office. Why you didn’t come to take your guarantee card from the office and show us the damages, but you left the car in the middle of the road and escaped?

    My boss is smarter than you because he does this work since 1982. This is what my boss told me to send you. I repeat that those photos are taken from you at the airport before you left our car because we know very well that area."

    Left me shaking and seeing red. We sent them a more detailed explanation, including screenshots of the metadata of the photos showing time and date that the photos were taken, and now they've gone dark on us. The office won't respond to our questions anymore, the number they gave me to reach their boss goes to a FAX MACHINE, and no one is responding emails.

    Worst of all, HSBC wouldnt dispute the issue because we don't have records of our cash transaction with this company, which makes no sense because doesn't it show even more fraud if a random company can charge €208. We are going to try again with HSBC after this email exchange, but this experience has left such a bitter note to our vacation. This is the by far the worst customer service experience we've had in Europe. I cannot believe a company can be so fraudulent and flagrant about it - to add insult to injury, they don't even have a google or tripadvisor profile to warn others!

  • KUSHAL said

    I just landed in Athens, checked into Hotel Neos Olympos following this, I was standing outside the Hotel checking local dining options on my phone when a guy on a cycle snatches my phone and disappears into an alleyway. I run after him but he was too fast and I had to give up... I go back into the hotel and ask Savvas(guy at reception) to call the police, to this simple request he looses his temper and mutters something in Greek, and rudely tells me to go to the police station which is a couple of mins down the road. I also request him if I could call my service provider and block my phone, I am prepared to pay for the call. To this, I again get a rude no. I went to this police station and they tell me they are traffic police(surely savvas should have known this), I had to go to Ommonia police station who told me I had to go to a tourist police. I went to a tourist police and reported the incident. The police were least interested, they did not want to know the description of the criminal, just what was stolen. There were lot of other people there whose passports have been stolen or phones have been stolen. There was a couple(on their honeymoon) who were mugged at knifepoint on Philopappos hill, they lost around 1000 dollars, jewellery, cellphone(s) everything gone, and police just wanted to know what was stolen. They were literally in tears. The police in Greece are a joke. If you want your holiday ruined, run after thieves, potentially stabbed or visit multiple police stations then please visit Greece.

  • Anonymous said

    Last week I visited Santorini along with my family. we booked a private taxi. but at the airport, there was a lady with shared taxi service. She asked us to wait for another passengers. During the wait, an another taxi driver asked me something and we got distracted. When we turned back, our one of the 4 suitcases was missing. Surprisingly there is no police station at the airport. You have to call on certain numbers.
    Anyway, we didn't lodge the complaint. I know it is not good but I was not having any energy to do so.

    Just thought the share the experience so that others will be careful.

  • [email protected] said

    We got robbed yesterday by three men on train from airport to Athens. Stay away from them and catch a taxi

  • Helmut said

    Professional robbers on the metro and zero security
    Review of Syntagma Station
    Pending review
    Please take exceptional precautions when using the metro, particularly coming from the airport. I fell victim to a robbery that happened pretty much as described in earlier reviews here, that I unfortunately read only just now. These professional robbers worked in a group of three. I had to get off at Monastiraki and they created a diversion by somehow managing the doors to jam and whilst I tried desperately to get off the train, they took my wallet. Shame on the people operating the trains and the Athens city council that there is virtually no security including no apparent cameras on board.

    Date of experience: May 2019
    1 Thank amadeusm

  • Kevin Hoggett said

    I had exactly the same experience as Helmut last monday. At Syntagma we wanted to get off the train, a man was holding the doors open: they appeared defective, my wife went through, but just before me, he appeared to loose his grip of the doors and they shut. While I was distracted, trying to get out, they took my wallet. If you see someone messing with the doors, use another exit. We were sent to the tourist police, who made a declaration. They had a whole page of crimes against tourist s listed just on that day. Three days later, someone tried to distract my wife while another tried to steal her bag. Luckily, this time I was too quick for him and he ran off empty handed. Thieving in Athens is worse than anywhere else I have been (and that includes Bogota!)

  • glentzes said

    thanks for the information and posts :)

  • Meanmachine said

    Wow, these guys make Bucharest outlaws look like amateurs. Nevertheless, i will still visit Athens every now and then because i love it to no end. And i just can't wait to "experience" those metro door blockers this august (2019) so i will get back to you with updates. I honestly hope they have some sort of medical insurance.

  • Gloria said

    On July 2nd, 2019 our 2 families chartered a yachting trip with Santorini Caldera Yachting company with 1590 Euro for a advertised new Lagoon 42, however it turned out we actually took a rundown Lagoon 421. Only by sorting the pictures 2 weeks later did we found out the fact.

    Clearly we were considered as stupid tourists to deceive. And it’s arranged like a joke!

  • Brigitte Barletta said

    I have traveled Many countries ,this is the first country where I had nightmare with my family, I had booked my apartment in very nice touristic area Kolokotroni very close to Monasteraki , on the first day of arrival to the location on the corner of the side walk next to the road very close to the restaurants and the tourist walking around we where distracted by 2 men asking the direction of the hotel and the 3rd person from same group who was wondering on the road waiting for us to turn around took 2 back packs from the side walk floor where our luggage was and run away ,the bag contain all valuable items my profesional Camara with 3 lens, bose headphones, macbook my 2 hard drives with all my backup and other stuffs.

    After realising our lose at 1 am I along with my wife walked towards the direction to local police station which was almost a 2 km from the location that was the only one opened at that time and we had to walk through some what dangerous areas to get there becauae that was the only one open 24 hours ,when we reached the station was in Horrible conditions, smell very bad , and 2 officers where on duty but they could not do anything they recommend us to go Tourism police which opens at 8 am, next morning my wife and I started looking for the Tourism police station on every street the coffee shops, and other commerce gave different directions ,finaly we found a great helping person who called police to reach his coffee shop the police arrived within 15 minutes and they gave the right direction , when we arrived the Tourism police station already there where many tourists with similar situation and only cop to attend to all those cases and he didn't even speak properly english language , he gave one form to fill to describe only the lose items there was no such space to right exactly how did happen , I filled the form he signed and gave me the original of the copy and I ask what will be the next procedure, he said try to get video footage from the neighborhood that will be a great help because the Govt camaras are damage and some places are not working ,after having the video footage go to main police station with your proof , I ask him are u sure the neighborhood will cooperate to give video footage, he said there will be no problem go with the police document with this they will help you, I reached the location on each and every street went to ask for help to coffeeshop and other shops the local people did not want to help and they said its waste of time because police will not take any action they are making you feel better and they themself are tired every day with robbery to poor tourist , finaly one of the shop from that area help me to provide video footage which was clear shows clear there where been 3 persons involved in robbery, as per instruction given by the Tourism police I took that video footage to main police station which I previously visited one day before while reaching I saw three different foreign families with similar situation one family had a baby of 3months , we where waiting someone to come and attend us because there where only 2 cops to attend the cases after 5 min one cop comes and listen the situation he takes us inside the office and make us wait because they where busy with other tourist after 15 min I explained the whole story and show the filed case in tourism police station and video food stage , after showing all this material he says its waste of time you will not get your things back because they are already been sold and the video quality is not good to track them , I told them that there are many camaras in neighborhood and I Think that's your duty to go and ask the video footage to the neighborhood they did not like my comment and they in rude tone told me the video footage of this type are ilegal and from where did you got from , I did not give them much detail because now the story was different, then they had a different story telling me that I should extend my stay so they have time to rebuild or expose the criminal faces to recognize , I told them I am very sorry I cannot do that because I have confirmed flight tickets to go back, I ask is there any way or they have technology to track my lost Mac through IP address and track faces with video footage , they said we don't have those resources , it really surprise me that been a European Country they did not have this type of resources or technology , I could understand with bad condition if the police station it was worst the Slum almost to vomit.

    Next morning I went again to Tourism police station and explained them that I wasted my time going to the main police station with all the proof provided and instructed by you , but they didnt accept the footage because as per law it is ilegal , after hearing what the main police station cop said , the tourism police say that's its totally legal and they have to accept the video footage ( As tourist I felt helpless because 2 police station and 2 different procedures) I told them that the neighborhood has good camaras but they hesitate to cooperate is there any possible way to reach them with legal written document , they said come later we will make you a written document and with this you can proceed to get us more proof with clear faces ,

    I went 8.30 pm to tourism police station almost closing Time there were lot of tourist with similar situations lost their belongings including jewelry and passports and more tourist keep on arriving that police station and only one cop was on duty to attend a bunch of tourist , I explained the whole story and ask the letter they promise me , the coop said sorry its closing time I have to attend this people and come tomorrow , finaly he gives an advice that he don't mind preparing a letter but it is waste of time because they have all the video footages of public cafeterias, trains, metros, supermarket but they cannot do anything because all those thief's are refugees from Armenia ,romani(Gypsee) and they know who are those thiefs their gang leaders but their hand are tied because the authorities protect them more then the locals and the tourist , all this gang members have support from lawyers and Human rights they arrest them with proof next morning they are out ,in small words they make fun of Greek Law.

    The local greek people are wonderful people , many of the restaurants after hearing what happened with us felt sorry many of them offered us free food for complete stay and this type of situation they live through and see everyday how the tourist are victims getting their belongings stolen and sometimes they see with their own eyes the victim and their but they cannot do any thing because they feel fear from the gangs and also the law protect them for being refugees , they are really worried that in the future they might lose tourist coming to Greece because every day it's getting worst and critical and the Govt is not helping to control the crime

    After what happen we cannot judge on local greek people but yes we can blame greek Govt for not cobtribuiting on fixing the issue and the police is gets better wages than lot of greek people and they receive bribe yet they refuse to help , with my story it's clear and shows the attitude of the police giving me advice to forget what happen and your things are already been sold, this should not happen to any tourist visiting to greece to face this nightmare , we did live the worst nightmare of my complete trip having visiting other countries

    My dream is to visit many places in Greece but until this country is not safe for tourist I don't feel comfortable to come, very sorry for Greek citizens who might loose more Tourism , because at present the country is in complete bankcorrupt and the only small source which is helping them is tourism, if the Govt and police is not supporting them I think the locals should take the law on their own hand to punish those thief's and gang members in many countries this practise is common because local people get fed up with this situation and get unite to take law by their own hand ,the gang members and thiefs will think twice to get in touristic areas to steal from them

Add a Comment