Summer is well and truly here, and many Brits are flocking abroad to soak up the sun. With its extensive coastline and vast array of stunning islands, Greece is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations—and Prisoners Abroad’s country in the spotlight for July. This guide will inform you about the local laws and customs to follow if you plan to travel to Greece this summer, so that you can stay safe and #TravelAware.
The ancient nation of Greece has many selling points. Apart from its Mediterranean beaches, the country is famous for its great historical empire, which has left its legacy in relics such as the Parthenon as well as in modern life and culture as we know it. Greek cuisine is famed for its health benefits as much as for its deliciousness, and the country’s inhabitants are known for their generosity and hospitality.
Every year, British citizens make around 2.7 million visits to Greece. Those making the trip rarely get into trouble, but it is important to bear in mind that the law in Greece is much stricter than the UK in places. Certain breaches can lead to severe punishments such as fines or imprisonment in harsh conditions, even for actions that you may not realise are against the law.
4 Greek laws you should know before you go:
- Purchasing pirate CDs and DVDs is illegal: If you are caught buying a rip-off CD or DVD, you could be facing a gobsmacking three months’ imprisonment.
- Smoking indoors is prohibited in all public places: just like in the UK. If you break this rule, you could be asked to pay a €500 fine.
- Indecent behaviour could lead to harsh sentences: This category could include mooning or offensive fancy dress costumes, and is punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment.
- Drug laws in Greece are the strictest in Europe: Even the possession of a small amount of marijuana is likely to lead to incarceration, with sentences for drug trafficking extending to life imprisonment.
The FCO has more travel guidelines and advice for your trip to Greece here.
Prison conditions in Greece can be punishing; many prisoners facing overcrowded cells and unhygienic sanitation facilities. For British nationals, this is made worse by the social isolation of not understanding the local language and being far away from family.
Prisoners Abroad currently support 10 British citizens incarcerated in Greece. We help them pay for vital medical care, create a lifeline to the outside world for them with the books and cards we send, and facilitate family visits which can make a world of difference.
“I would like to give appreciation for all your support … and especially for helping my family to visit. It was amazing to see them even if only for 20 minutes. In that time we could discuss your support and how it helped us to understand what we will be going through after my release. We believe that we couldn’t make it without your help and support. Thank you.” –A prisoner in Greece
If you get into trouble in Greece, read the FCO’s guide to the Greek legal and prison system.