You can get stung, bitten, burnt, squished, smashed, and all but asphyxiated in Greece, by mosquitoes, scorpions, the sun, scooters, the sea and Athens' often terrible pollution.
Here's what to look out for on your trip to Greece.
There are no required vaccinations for travel to Greece but as with most destinations, make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date.
As with most countries, the standard of medical facilities can vary depending on where you are traveling. In Greece, public hospitals are underfunded, putting a strain on nursing services and resources, which means they can be crowded and sometimes there is a poor standard of hygiene. However, in the major cities care tends to be of a high standard and you are likely to encounter English-speaking staff.
Private medical facilities are available but are expensive and payment is usually required up front. The emergency number in Greece is 112, and operators will speak English, Greek, and French. If you need an ambulance, it's best to use private medical facilities or take a taxi as response times for the public ambulance service have been reported to be lengthy and unreliable.
Pharmacies tend to be good quality in terms of service, information
Serious mosquito-borne illness is rare in Greece, but take some insect repellant for your comfort.
There are scorpions throughout Greece, including Athens. The greatest danger is from accidentally turning over a rock and stepping on one, but they also come inside buildings. Always check your shoes and clothing before wearing, shake out bags, and keep them
Generally, scorpion stings are only life-threatening for those who are highly allergic.
If you are stung by a scorpion:
Greece gets hot in summer. Athens holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded in Europe – a stifling 118 F (48 C). If you're from somewhere with a little less sunshine, you could get sunburnt very easily.
Put on sunscreen 15 minutes before venturing outside, and re-apply every couple of hours (more often if you're swimming). Wear a hat, and drink plenty of water (sorry, ouzo doesn't count) to prevent dehydration. If possible, try to avoid activities during the hottest part of the day between
The hot temperatures and lack of rain make Greece susceptible to wildfires which can move quickly. If one breaks out in your area get some information on what danger it may pose – ask the locals or drop into the police station.
A couple of handy tips to know about fire behavior:
If you fear the fire could come your way, leave as early as possible.
Hiring a motor scooter is a great way to get around on the islands. But dusty, narrow, winding, poorly-lit roads are not the place to learn to ride.
Inexperienced riders are often involved in
Quad bikes are particularly dangerous. Their center of gravity is different from a two-wheeled bike, and can easily throw the rider off at a sharp turn. It's quite common for the quad bike to then run over the rider, or tip over and trap the rider underneath.
Take care when swimming. Don't get too close to the rocky outcrops and cliff faces, as waves can smash you against the rocks, and the barnacles and oysters attached to them are razor sharp.
Greeks haven't caught the litigation bug like many others, and
Occasionally a swarm of jellyfish will drift into the water off popular beaches. There were several instances of mass jellyfish stingings in Europe last year. Again only the extremely allergic will find this life-threatening.
Watch out for small craft and motorboats near to shore. Not all, but some, skippers seem to believe it's the responsibility of the swimmer to get out of the way of their boat. Don't argue the point – a spinning propeller will win every time.
In addition to being hot in summer, Athens is notorious for its air pollution. The World Health Organisation has also identified Koropi, Ioannina, Koropi, Lykovrisi
Heavy traffic, low-grade fuels, and poor environmental planning contribute to bringing the smog to lethal levels. One in 12 deaths in Greece is associated with air pollution. Around 7,200 people died in 2015 from health issues related to air pollution. Authorities in Athens have pledged to ban the use of diesel vehicles in the capital area by 2025.
Asthmatics, or those with respiratory illnesses, should avoid Athens in July and August, the worst months for pollution. If you find yourself in Athens on any heavily polluted day, stay indoors as much as possible. Make sure you pack the medications
Had an encounter with something nasty and bitey in Greece? We'd love to hear about it, leave your comment below.
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