is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Greece.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Greece country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Greece at Level 1,
indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Athens as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests.
crimes are non-violent, with street crimes (e.g. pickpocketing, purse
snatchings, mobile phone theft) being the most common. The majority of these
cases occur within the popular tourist areas and on the Metro system (rail and
bus). Many of the incidents involve multiple perpetrators using various methods
to distract their victims.
Be particularly careful on crowded streets and in other
high-density areas (e.g. entertainment districts, department stores,
restaurants, underground pedestrian street-crossings, and crowded public
transportation). One day each week, individual neighborhoods host a farmer’s
market called the “Laiki.” The market provides cover for criminal groups to
descend on different neighborhoods, with police noting an uptick in pickpocketing
and residential burglaries on these days. Report any suspicious behavior to the
police. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind.
burglaries and thefts of parked vehicles in 2019 showed a slight increase from
prior year reports. Reported crimes involving narcotics, weapons, and
explosives were stable compared to 2018.
assault crimes remain low relative to the size of the population; the number of
reported rapes in 2018 was 157, and in 2019 was 167. Sexual assaults of U.S. nationals,
while uncommon, do occur. In 2019, there were several cases of U.S. nationals
assaulted while at nightclubs or bars in the early morning hours.
alcohol in moderation and stay in control. Never leave your drink unattended in
a bar or club. Some bars and clubs serve counterfeit or homemade spirits of
unknown potency. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
of cybercrimes, though on the rise, remain infrequent. The police maintain a
dedicated cybercrime division
to investigate cyber-related incidents. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud,
Road Safety and Road Conditions
has one of the highest rates of per-capita traffic fatalities in the European Union
(EU); available data from 2019 suggests no change in comparison to years past.
The rate of serious vehicular accidents involving motorcycles and scooters is
substantially higher than elsewhere in Europe. Widespread failure to use safety
belts and motorcycle helmets exacerbates the severity of traffic-related
injuries. The majority of accidents occur between 1700-0700 hours, with
accidents peaking during the summer and the holiday season.
and around Athens and other larger cities, defensive driving is essential.
Daily hazards include excessive speed, distracted drivers, non-compliance with
right-of-way, general indifference to traffic laws, obscured traffic signs, and
heavy traffic. In addition, motorcycles and scooters routinely weave in and out
of traffic and drive between lanes. Review OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
of urban areas, narrow mountain roads and cold weather can contribute to
treacherous driving conditions and closures.
Public Transportation Conditions
there are some concerns with respect to the consistency of timetables and speed
of travel, the public transportation system provides several alternatives to
driving. The Athens Metro is among the more modern rail systems in the world. Bus
service serves Athens and the suburbs (along with 24-hour express shuttles
to/from the airport). An additional tram system runs from the center of the
city to the southern suburbs. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
in the transportation sector can affect traffic and public transportation, to
include taxis, ports, and airports. Most are of short duration, but travelers
should confirm flight arrangements before going to the airport.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Greek Civil
Aviation Authority as complying with International Civil Aviation Organization
safety. Transportation sector strikes interrupt traffic, public transportation,
taxis, seaports, and airports. Confirm domestic and international flights
before heading to the airport.
Other Travel Conditions
motorbike and ATV rental firms frequently do not insure their vehicles.
Customers are responsible for damages and should review their coverage before
renting. Rental firms should require proof of both a driver’s license and an
International Driver’s Permit (IDP) before renting any type of vehicle to a
holder of a foreign driver’s license. The Greek government imposes heavy fines
on visitors caught driving without an IDP (up to €1,000). Insurance companies
may not cover damages to renters without an IDP.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Athens as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. International and domestic terrorist groups
are an ongoing concern. Police continue to investigate and pursue members of
domestic terrorist groups, as well as assess the possibility of collaboration
between terrorists and elements of the criminal underworld. U.S. nationals are
not specific targets, but attacks could happen in places foreigners visit. In
2019, there were intermittent domestic incidents involving the use of
improvised explosives, incendiary devices, or small arms to attack political
party offices and foreign institutions. Recent
- December 27, 2018: An explosion occurred at 0710 in the
Kolonaki area of Athens. A church employee found the explosive device in a
metal box outside the church of Agios Dionysios on Skoufa Street, approximately
1.5 km west from the U.S. Embassy. No warning phone call preceded the
explosion. Α police officer and one civilian sustained minor injuries.
- December 17, 2018: At 0145 hours, an unknown individual
contacted SKAI TV and Radio offices to inform security that an IED would go off
in the building. The individual informed them that the device would explode in
45 minutes, and warned that it was not a hoax. The IED detonated at 0230 hours.
According to police reports, no injuries resulted from the blast. The explosion
damaged the office’s main and first floors.
- March 22, 2019: Two unidentified
perpetrators on a motorcycle threw a grenade that exploded in front of a police
guard booth outside the consular section of the Russian Embassy, resulting in
minor damage. A group called FAI/IRF Revenge Cell Mikhail Zhlobitski later
claimed responsibility for the attack on an anti-establishment website.
1, 2019: Approximately ten perpetrators broke into the offices of far-right
political party Golden Dawn and set off an IED that caused a fire and material
damages. No organization has claimed responsibility for this attack.
2019, Greece experienced small-scale disturbances conducted primarily by
domestic anarchists, often acting in solidarity with incarcerated terrorists.
Examples of these incidents included vandalizing government buildings, private
residences of Greek politicians, and foreign missions with paint and leaflets.
Domestic terrorist groups remain a concern.
For example, Revolutionary Struggle – a terrorist group that gained notoriety
in 2007 when it attacked the U.S. Embassy with a rocket propelled grenade –
advocates an anti-globalization and anarchist ideology. Its members are
responsible for bombing police stations and other symbols of national
authority. Police recaptured one of its key leaders, Nikolaos Maziotis, in 2014
and arrested three associates in 2015, charging them with membership in a
terrorist organization. Police arrested Maziotis’s wife, Pola Roupa, as an
associate in 2017. In February 2020, police arrested alleged accomplices of
Pola Roupa and charged them with weapons crimes and involvement with a
are several smaller groups of unknown operational capacity present in Greece,
including Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei and the Group of Popular Rebels.
anarchist groups also are active, using arson, gas canister attacks, and
Molotov cocktails to promote their anarchist/leftist ideologies. Incidents have
targeted journalists, politicians, and political party offices and appear to be
an effort to cause property, rather than bodily, damage. Often, these groups
make anonymous calls to the media and police or post messages on anarchist
websites giving advance warning of an attack.
terrorism continues to be a concern, including the Turkey-based Revolutionary
People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C). Police have conducted several high-profile
investigations resulting in the arrests of DHKP/C members.
have attacked U.S. multinational companies, resulting in significant property
damage. Anarchists have placed incendiary devices at ATMs belonging to Greek
and U.S. banks, destroying several. Anarchists usually conduct attacks against
U.S. business interests with the intent to cause damage, embarrassment, or
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Athens as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests.
take place in Athens and Thessaloniki on an almost daily basis. Organizers
include labor unions, political parties, leftist anti-authoritarian groups,
student groups, and other groups in the public and civilian sector. Demonstrations
generally target the political and economic policies of the government, and can
vary in size. Avoid all areas affected by the annual November 17
demonstrations, including the U.S. Embassy.
2019, there were nearly 1,150 protests in Attica prefecture (Athens, Piraeus,
suburbs, and townships), with a majority of the demonstrations attracting fewer
than 200 people. Demonstrations in Attica decreased approximately 10% from 2018,
continuing a downward trend.
In Thessaloniki, over 100 demonstrations passed or took place very
close to the U.S. Consulate, stable from 2018; 14 demonstrations of these targeted the U.S. or NATO. Participation numbers varied between 30 and 10,000. Thessaloniki prefecture
recorded just over 300 protests as a whole, a significant decrease from 2018, with
a majority attracting fewer than 200 people.
Approximately 1,650 demonstrations occurred elsewhere in Greece during
most demonstrations are peaceful, anarchist groups may infiltrate
demonstrations to create chaos. Violent anarchist groups often join public
demonstrations to clash with police and vandalize public and private property.
Athens, violent anarchists often gather in the Athens University or Polytechnic
University areas or at Exarchia or Omonia Squares. From there, they usually march
toward the city center, particularly to Syntagma Square. In Thessaloniki, the
most prominent anarchist gathering areas are the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) and the
campus of Aristotle University.
2019, anarchist groups conducted several attacks on Greek government facilities
and foreign embassies, attempting to embarrass the Greek authorities. These
attacks seek to cause property damage including:
- May 15, 2019: Anarchists threw
cans of beer filled with paint at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador.
- May 25, 2019: A group of individuals
came out of the Aristotle University and used Molotov cocktails to attack an
anti-riot police squad stationed outside the Turkish Consulate.
- June 25, 2019: Individuals used Molotov
cocktails to attack the offices of “KINAL” political party located at Charilaou
- September 15, 2019: Perpetrators
attacked the New Democracy political party’s local offices in Glyfada and
caused material damages.
24, 2019: Vandals attacked Penteli town hall, splashing paint onto the
building’s facade and scattering flyers expressing support for migrants and
refugees being relocated to the mainland, in a bid to decongest camps on the
control methods include the use of tear gas/water cannon. Dtay informed about
demonstrations from local news sources and hotel security. Find information
regarding demonstrations on OSAC’s Greece-specific page, the
U.S. Embassy website, and on the Embassy Consular Section Facebook
is in a seismically active region and is at risk for earthquakes. The most
intense recent earthquake hit the Athens area in July 2019, measuring 5.3 on
the Richter Scale. Other sizeable earthquakes occurred in November 2019 on
Antikithira island (6.1) and in July 2019 on Zakinthos island (3.8).
fires are a continuing concern during the summer season. Fireshave increased substantially
in size and scope over the last several years. The increase is due to not only
extreme weather conditions and lack of rainfall, but also arson and negligence.
July 2018, a series of wildfires began in the coastal areas of Athens. By
the end of the year, 100 people died and another 72 were injured. Authorities
evacuated or rescued more than 700 residents, mainly from seaside settlements
located north of the port town of Rafina (e.g. Kokkino Limanaki and Mati). Wildfires
affected more than 4,000 residents.
preparedness information and
specific suggestions to help mitigate the impact of wildfires and earthquakes
is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In any
natural disaster, follow the instructions of local authorities. Reach the General Secretariat for Civil
Protection, which responds to emergencies, at +30-210-335-9932/33.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
main intellectual property issues are copyright infringement and the sale of
counterfeit trademarked merchandise. However, according to industry sources, counterfeit
sales continue to decline due to the codification and legal authority for
police to confiscate counterfeit merchandise. In February 2020, police raided
three warehouses in the Exarcheia neighborhood housing counterfeit merchandise.
Personal Identity Concerns
nationals of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent have reported
being subject to harassment. While such incidences are infrequent, exercise
caution, especially at night near Omonia and Exarchia Squares in Athens, where
police frequently conduct sweeps for illegal immigrants. The Hellenic National
Police operate dedicated units to combat racial violence; contact them at
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of
LGBTI+ events in Greece. Anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTI+ individuals in
Greece, and laws against hate speech cover gender identity. However, NGOs
report that social discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity is widespread in Greece, and violence against LGBTI+ individuals
remains a problem. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
Greek law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or
intellectual disabilities and local law requires access to buildings,
sidewalks, and public transportation, application and enforcement of these laws
is lacking. Parked vehicles often occupy or block handicapped parking spaces
and sidewalk ramps. Sidewalks often are narrow with broken paving stones, large
holes, trees, and street signs. Buildings with ramps might lack accessible
elevators or bathrooms. A small percentage of public buildings (primarily in
Athens) have full accessibility. Some buildings and intersections include
accommodations for visually-impaired travelers. The Athens metro and Athens
International Airport are fully accessible with ramps and elevators. The Greek Deputy Ombudsman for Social
Welfare handles complaints related to persons with disabilities, especially
those related to employment, social security, and transportation. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
continues to be a transit point for drug trafficking between drug-producing
countries in the east and drug-consuming countries in the west. Drug
trafficking remains a significant issue in Greece’s battle against organized
crime. Available data through December 2019 reflects a slight increase in the
number of narcotics-related cases for that year.
invitations by strangers on the street to come into local bars, especially in
the Monastiraki, Syntagma, or Glyfada. This is a ploy to extort large amounts
of cash for supposedly purchased drinks, with the threat of physical harm if you
refuse to pay. The scam normally involves young women and men who speak
during Easter should exercise caution when attending celebrations that occur at
midnight on Holy Saturday. Festivities have typically involved the large-scale
use of fireworks, some of which are homemade and illegal. There have been
incidents in which spectators have suffered severe, sometimes fatal, injuries.
OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
authorities strictly regulate the export of Greek antiquities, including rocks
from archaeology sites. Do not remove anything, no matter how small, from
archaeological or historical sites. Do not purchase protected antiquities and
carry receipts for any purchases that may appear to be antiquities. Read the
State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
emergency line in Greece is 112. Service
in English, French, and German is available. If you are a victim of a crime,
the central police phone number is 100. Reach
the Athens tourism police by dialing 1571.
For racially motivated incidents, please contact 11414.
For local first responders, please refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Greece has a large national police department, severe budget constraints and
antipathy toward the police have limited their efficacy in deterring crime.
Police skills, tactical skills, and emergency response capabilities are
adequate, although access to resources fall short of U.S. law enforcement
standards in many respects. Significant traffic congestion often hampers police
emergency response and emergency medical services.
may detain you for questioning if you do are not carrying your passport.
Tourism Police: The specially trained Athens tourism police offer tourists
information and help. All Athens tourism police officers speak foreign
languages and wear a shoulder patch noting “Tourism Police” on their uniforms.
This is a unit of motorcycle police responsible for police patrols and
emergency response in Athens, Piraeus, and their suburbs. Each DIAS unit
consists of two uniformed police officers on a motorcycle.
Ordnance Disposal (EOD): The mission of the EOD is to identify, collect, and
render safe IEDs and improvised incendiary devices. It assists in crime scene
investigations in relation to explosive devices.
Investigations Police Directorate (Forensics Lab): This Directorate is Athens-based
with a subdivision in Thessaloniki and a nationwide responsibility. The
Directorate consists of the Department of Fingerprints, Department of Science
Laboratories, Department of Chemical Laboratories, Department of Scientific
Investigations, Department of Modus Operandi, Department of Statistical Data,
Department of Archives, and Department of Internal Operations.
Directorate for Countering Special Violent Crimes (Counter-Terrorism Unit):
This unit is responsible for the investigations of terrorist-related incidents.
The unit reports directly to the Chief of the Hellenic Police. There are two
divisions: one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki.
- Special Suppressive Counter-Terrorism Unit (SWAT): This unit responds to
serious, exceptionally dangerous situations, along with incidents contaminated
by chemical/biological agents, or radiological/nuclear substances. EKAM
supports and participates in search and rescue operations, and coordinates
evacuations during major disasters or accidents.
medical emergencies. The emergency operator will receive the call, assess the
nature of the emergency, and direct the ambulance to pick up and transport the
patient to the assigned on-call public hospital. This service will not transport
patients to private hospitals.
public medical facilities in Greece offer adequate care, although service
quality and hospital appearance may differ from the United States. Some private
hospitals have affiliations with U.S. facilities and provide high-quality care.
Many doctors trained in the United States or elsewhere in Europe. Public
hospitals often employ minimal nursing staff overnight and on weekends in
non-emergency wards. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the
night with the patient, especially a minor child. Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy
hospitals usually require proof of adequate insurance or cash before admitting
a patient. Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals. The
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Greece.
OSAC Country Council
Country Council in Athens is active. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Vasilisis Sophias Avenue, 10160 Athens
hours: 0830 – 1700, Monday – Friday (Greek and American holidays excluded)
+30-210-721-2951. Emergency: (24/7): +30-210-720-2490/2491
Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts In Greece
Thessaloniki, 43 Tsimiski, 7th Floor, 54623 Thessaloniki. +30
2310 242 905, +30 2310 376 300. Email: email@example.com.
you travel, consider the following resources: