Safety for expats living in Greece should not be a dominating concern, as most foreign governments consider Greece to be largely peaceful and safe. However, strikes and petty crime are still potential problem areas. While the majority of expats will be safe most of the time, it is always better to be aware and prepared.
Strikes in Greece
In the past, strikes have been fairly frequent in Greece. The government's unpopular austerity measures during the last few years' economic crises resulted in large-scale protest action. Now that Greece is regaining economic stability, protests are generally less frequent. However, they do occur from time to time in response to political issues.
That said, the majority of protests in Greece are peaceful and are announced ahead of time. They are mostly in Athens or, to a lesser extent, other major cities such as Thessaloniki. In Athens, most demonstrations take place in Syntagma Square as well as around university campuses. In Thessaloniki, protests are most likely to occur around Aristotle University and at Aristotle Square.
In the majority of cases, protests are restricted to these areas, and locations associated with tourism remain unaffected. While there generally isn't any major cause for concern, there is always a risk of demonstrations turning violent, and foreign governments strongly advise their citizens to avoid them.
The most likely consequences of protests in Greece are the disruption of transport and work stoppages in the sectors involved in them. At times, certain sections of the city may be closed off to the public.
In the case of transport sector strikes, it may become more expensive and difficult to travel, since expats using public transport will have to use alternative transport such as taxis.
Crime in Greece
As with anywhere, if expats are alert and careful, they should be safe in Greece.
In Athens, crime is mostly restricted to petty theft such as purse snatching and pickpocketing, while violent crimes such as physical and sexual assault are generally rare. Most crime is likely to occur in areas popular with tourists, some shopping areas and on public transport – particularly the metro. The same largely holds true for other major cities.
Safety tips for expats in Greece
Expats should be particularly vigilant when walking through crowded areas or taking public transport. Criminals often work in groups and employ a variety of methods.
Thieves have also been known to take trains coming from the Athens airport to take advantage of tired travellers.
Given the large number of people travelling in Greece, it is possible that expats will be mistaken for tourists and criminals may attempt to take advantage of them.
Emergency numbers in Greece
As with other EU states, the emergency telephone number in Greece is 112. Below are other local numbers that can be used in case of emergencies:
Fire brigade: 199
Emergency medical service: 166
Coast guard: 108
Tourist police: 171
►Learn about the country's medical facilities in Healthcare in Greece
"There aren't any specific safety issues that expats must consider that are different from what you would watch out for in other cities. The basic rules apply." Read more about Eleni's experience in her expat interview.
"I feel very safe in the city. I mean, you do have to be careful just like anywhere and there have been occasional pickpocket episodes but other than that it is safe. The crime rate isn't very high here, and you can trust that if people around you see something bad happening they will help." Expat Bree shares her tips and experiences of life in Greece in her expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Greece?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Greece. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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