Preparing for your trip

Package: Best of Classical Greece

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed 12/06/2019. Please visit https://www.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=1465 for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date. ASAP
Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking. Within 24 hours of booking
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Obtain any necessary travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email by 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel

In addition, if you booked flights with your package:

Item Due
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket. 72 hours prior to travel
Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available). 24 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Greece

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least 90 days after your return date, though we strongly recommend at least six months. U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to enter Greece for stays up to 90 days. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • We provide visa & entry requirement information for the convenience of our travelers, and we try to keep it up-to-date. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to determine the passport and visa requirements that apply to you and to comply with them, including securing proper travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Requirements are subject to change, sometimes without notice, and we suggest you verify them with the relevant embassy or consulate, the U.S. State Dept (if you're a U.S. passport holder), and/or with an expedited visa service such as VisaHQ. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, your trip may be disrupted, and travel insurance may not cover your losses if your passport and visa are not in order.
  • To travel abroad, U.S. citizens must have a passport. In general, it should be valid for at least six months after your return date, and passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. We recommend that passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, you should obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Insurance Documents

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our protection plan, you can find a link to the full policy on our travel protection page. Carry this document with you when you travel, as it includes contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 2 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Land Only: If you purchased this package without flights, you are responsible for booking your own flights into Thessaloniki and out of Athens. After you book your flights, please send us a copy of your flight arrangements for our records. Friendly Planet will provide transfers to and from the airport if we receive your flight itinerary in advance.

For land-only travelers, the touring program will begin at the hotel in Thessaloniki on Day 2 of the listed itinerary end upon check-out from the hotel in Athens on Day 9. Generally, hotel check-in time is 3pm and check-out time is 11am.

Flights & tickets: If you selected flights with your package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets after we receive your final payment.

Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.

Lufthansa (LH) Toll Free Number is 800-645-3880

Swiss International Airlines (LX) Toll Free Number is 877-359-7947

United Airlines (UA) Toll Free Number is 800-864-8331

Aegean Airlines (A3) Toll Free Number is 833-732-8158

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Look for "More Flight Options" when you book online, or ask us about price and availability when you book by phone. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Flight Schedule

If you selected flights with your package, you will receive your your flight schedule and details by email once we issue your tickets.

Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.

Connecting Flights

If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization and to reduce the chances that your international flight times might change—since airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. Before purchasing connecting flights, always confirm the times for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Airport Transfers

If you purchased this package with flights, or independently booked the same international flights used for this package, scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage.

If you purchased this package without flights, transfers are generally not included. In most cases, private transfers are available for an additional fee; contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the touring program start and end points, usually the first and last hotels listed in the itinerary.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. If you are arriving on one of our group flights, or booked your own flights and supplied us with the details, our partners will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage and one carry-on piece. Your checked-in luggage should weigh no more than 44 pounds, and each piece may not exceed 62 inches as a sum of all three dimensions (length, height and width). Your carry-on luggage should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. Most airlines do not consider roll-aboards as hand luggage. Kindly ensure to pack you medications and other essentials in your carry-on luggage. We also recommend using security locks for your luggage throughout your journey.

While the airline may permit two checked-in bags per person, we strongly suggest to bring only one checked-in luggage with a maximum weight of 44 lbs. We recommend a lighter weight and smaller dimension for both the checked-in and carry-on luggage than what airlines typically allow in order to fit in the overhead compartments on the motor coaches used for transfers and touring. Kindly note that these limitations facilitate an easier, faster, and smoother approach towards the collection and transport of your luggage throughout the tour. In the interest of comfort and convenience for you and your fellow travelers, we recommend that you do not over-pack and to take a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind. We appreciate your understanding and your cooperation regarding these limitations.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags. It's so much easier and faster for you to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.

Luggage tags: We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This moderately paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking, sometimes on uneven terrain, and requires an average level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.

Please make it a point to be on time for activities. Also, please note that smoking is not permitted on our tour buses. Be sensitive to the local customs of the local people, as they may be different from ours. You will find a polite, gentle approach and a friendly, positive demeanor will help you achieve the best results as you travel in Greece.

In General: Please remember that you are visiting a country where rules and regulations are often different from our own. It is easy to get into trouble by not stopping to think before acting. Be careful, and check with your guide before you do anything that might create a problem or spoil your trip.

Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!

Please keep in mind that you'll be traveling with a group. Sharing your explorations with like-minded folks can often be a source of joy, and some of our travelers become lifelong friends. But traveling with strangers can also sometimes be challenging, especially in a foreign country. We ask that you be patient and respectful with your fellow travelers, including their needs and preferences. Also remember that you have responsibilities to the group—please be prompt for group activities so you don't keep everyone else waiting. Lastly, please defer to your tour leader, guide or manager. They are there for your safety and wellbeing, and to ensure the journey goes smoothly for everyone. If you have a problem with one of our tour guides or managers, please let us know, either while you're on tour or after you return, and we'll make sure your concerns are addressed.

Accommodations

Our hotels are all Western-style, and your room will, of course, have a private bathroom. The water in the hotel tap system is probably potable, but it is always prudent to drink bottled water to avoid any problems. Hotels will normally provide bottled water, which has been boiled. However, any water that you consume from the hotel mini-bar will be charged to your room, and you will be responsible for payment. Electrical current is 220v with 50 cycles. Wall sockets will vary. Take a travel converter/adapter kit with you, as these are not readily available.

Tourist Taxes: As of 2018, the Greek Ministry of Tourism has implemented a tourist tax on hotels/lodgings. The amount of tax depends on the official rating of the hotel and the type of accommodations booked. Friendly Planet is unable to collect this tax. Instead, visitors of Greece are required to pay the tax in Euro directly to the hotel upon check-in. Based on the hotels used and the category of rooms confirmed for our tour, the tourist tax to be collected are as follows:  

  • 4 Euro per room per night in Thessaloniki and Athens 
  • 3 Euro per room per night in Kalambaka and Delphi

These taxes are payable directly to the hotel upon check-in. USD amount is listed as an approximation of the total cost per room: 26 Euro or $30 USD. Tax is paid in Euro.

You may obtain cash in Euro at the ATMs located at the airport in Thessaloniki. Alternatively, you may also exchange your US dollars to Euro at the foreign exchange bureau throughout Greece. We appreciate your kind attention. Let us know if you have any questions or need additional information.

Eating & Drinking

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary.

Non-Included Meals: Your hotels while on tour will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants. Average cost for dinner (not including drinks) in the coffee shops will be about $20 - $40 per person, per meal. Your hotels accept credit card payments for not-included meals.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Tipping

Transfers, optional tours are conducted by guides and drivers who are professional and very committed to making your tour the dream vacation you are counting on. These people feel great pride in being given a chance to show foreign visitors their country. If your guide, driver and others with whom you are traveling are doing a good job, please take our suggestions for tipping seriously. Naturally, tipping is personal and completely voluntary, and if you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact. (You should also let us know without delay.) But just as you would never think of having dinner at a restaurant without leaving an appropriate tip, you should apply the same thinking to tipping as you travel.

Independent Activities

You can leave the group and explore on your own at any time; however, there is NO refund for unused group arrangements or tours. We recommend that you ask the front desk for a business card of the hotel with the address and local phone number in both the local language and English. Or take the name of the hotel and phone number - written in the local language and in English - with you so that you can communicate with taxi drivers. Your hotel staff will gladly assist you with these translations.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about Greece

Overview

Capital: Athens
Population: 10.75 million
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Languages: Greek
Drives on the: Right
Time zone: EET (UTC +2)

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

There are no health requirements for entering Greece. However, you might want to consider getting a hepatitis vaccination. Ask your physician when planning a trip to Greece.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

Greece enjoys relatively mild winters and lovely, temperate autumn and spring. Average temperatures between January and March tend to range between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with rain most likely during January. Rain is less likely during February and March. Average temperature in April thru August is about 80 to 90 degrees. In September through November temperatures can range from the mid 60’s to 80’s.

What to wear

Since the weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we suggest that you carry a small folding umbrella and take with you a lightweight jacket or sweater. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, by all means, take both pairs. Packing to dress in layers is another way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that comfort and convenience should dictate your wardrobe for the tour, and casual clothes are in order for most every occasion as you travel.

Please Note: Please dress modestly when visiting religious sites. Arms and legs should be covered. Shorts and sleeveless tops are not permitted. Covered shoulders and skirts below the knee for women, shorts below the knee for men are highly suggested.

Tipping

A small gratuity to your guides and drivers will be greatly appreciated by them. The recommended amount is 7-10 Euros per person per day for the local guide and 2 Euro per person per day for the driver on optional day tours. It is also customary to tip the hotel staff. Our recommended amount is 1EUR per person per day for housekeeping. The same amount is recommended for restaurant staff. In general, tipping is, of course, a personal matter and an expression of your satisfaction with services provided to you.

Money & Credit Cards

The official currency in Greece is the Euro.  Major cities have ATMs. The hotels and some stores will be able to accept major credit cards. However, for street shopping, you will need local currency. You will be able to exchange US dollars to Euros at the airport, bank, or foreign exchange bureau. Although ATMs are available in major cities, we strongly suggest you bring enough cash. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted in Greece. If you intend to use traveler’s checks during your trip, please verify they are still accepted in the places visited on this tour.

Note for those on the Greek Isles Cruises: Upon boarding the ship, passengers are required to provide a credit card number that will be pre-approved for a minimum amount.  At the end of the cruise, you will only be charged for what you actually spent.  The ship’s reception can exchange a limited amount of USD for Euros.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

You will certainly have time for shopping, and Greece offers a great variety of goods to satisfy different tastes and price ranges. It is always a good idea to comparison-shop, and exercise the “buyer-beware” rule, just as you do at home. Be sure to inspect the merchandise before you leave the store. Most stores will not allow you to return or exchange purchased items.

Electricity & Power Adapters

The electrical current at the hotels in Greece is 230 volts with 50 cycles. On the cruise ships, the electrical current is 220 volts with 50 cycles. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Photography

Cameras and video recorders are allowed almost everywhere in Greece, and in fact, you will want to take plenty of pictures of the magnificent panoramas you’ll encounter as you travel. Photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will also be readily available, especially in major cities.

Fine Print

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.