Drinking in Greece: What's the Legal Age?

Social drinking is a part of Greek culture but take it easy and don't have ouzo oozing from your pores. Here's how to stay safe and enjoy the nightlife in Greece.

Shares

In Greece, there's no minimum age for consumption of alcohol, but you must be 16 or over to purchase it. No one asks for identification in bars, cafes or supermarkets where you can buy just about any type of alcohol.

Drinking Culture in Greece

Social drinking is a big part of Greek life. Traditionally, Greeks drink at every meal – even young children will be given a glass of watered-down wine. But drinking to excess is frowned on. You are expected to stay "nice".

Most Greeks do this by drinking moderately and eating mezze as they go.

These subtleties of the Greek drinking culture have been missed (or deliberately abused) by some visitors.

Some Greek islands have become party destinations for young people, even if they wouldn't legally be allowed to do so at home.

Drink Responsibly in Greece

Try to follow the traditional Greek way, and drink moderately. Pick a taverna close to where you're staying. Leave the quad bike at home.

While not keen to enforce the drinking age, Greek police are keen to enforce drink-driving laws. They regularly stop drivers and test their blood-alcohol content. Relative to other European countries the legal limit is quite low, blow .05 and you're over the limit.

When walking back to your accommodation, take care on the winding roads. Don't fall off the edge, and watch out for less responsible revelers (the ones on the quad bikes) coming around the bend in the dark.

Alcohol Poisoning in Greece

If you're tempted to "go Greek" and try the ouzo (best on the rocks with seafood), be ready for the hangover. It's a particularly strong liquor, with its own special way of reminding you about the night before.

Similarly, watch out for the village specialty. Homemade spirit is technically illegal in Greece, but locals spirits are made, and will blow your socks off, but exactly what's in it, and if it complies with health standards, is anyone's guess. Try to have just one to limit the damage.

If the bartender asks you what's your poison, he might not be joking. The beachside bars famous for serving bargain-priced drinks that might not be what's advertised on the label.

Some bars are notorious for watering-down drinks, but not with water, but pure alcohol. It's cheap for them and keeps the kick in the drink that has customers coming back for more. This practice makes it difficult to calculate exactly how much you've had to drink, and the pure alcohol may not be so pure to your system – it's extremely toxic.

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.

Related articles

2 Comments

  • Amy said

    This is incorrect the law is 18

  • david said

    they have actually unless they changed it again made it to 17

Add a Comment