Athens Business Tips
(Athens, Attica, Greece)
Athens, Greece has now been converted to the common European currency, the Euro, and this replaces the previous local currency, the Greek drachma. There are good banking facilities here, including plenty of ATM cashpoints, and Athens has long been a major city in Greece for commerce.
When meeting over lunch or dinner, the food is particularly important to local Greeks, and so be prepared for a lengthy meal - Greeks do not like to be rushed at mealtimes.
Locals in Athens, like any other city, expect common courtesy and respect, so try to speak a few words of Greek if possible as this will be much appreciated, even if only some basic phrases are used. Formal dress is rarely needed and modest clothing, such as trousers for men and skirts for women, should always be worn when visiting religious places. Sunbathing topless is generally acceptable, although nude bathing is restricted to specifically designated beaches in Athens. Always take your passport with you when cashing travellers' cheques and check both exchange rates and commission charges beforehand, as they can vary greatly.
In general, hours of business in Athens are between 08:00 to 14:00 on Monday to Thursday and from 08:00 to 13:30 on Friday, although business hours do vary greatly from one industry to another. There is usually one or more banking branches that are open for a few hours in the evening and on Saturday mornings during the summer. All banks and most businesses are closed on public holidays and may also be closed on festival days in Athens.
There are many opportunities to exchange currency in Athens and the places to obtain the best rates are banks. There are also foreign exchange outlets at the Eleftherios Venizelo Airport, as well as at post offices, train and bus stations, tourist centres and even in hotels and restaurants, although the exchange rates are usually not as favourable. While hotels and travel agencies may offer bureau de change services, using an ATM in Athens to obtain cash provides one of the best rates of exchange.
Public access to the Internet is easy to find, with terminals appearing in cyber cafés, shopping centres, hotels and hostels throughout Athens city centre.
Pharmacies in Athens are usually highly qualified and can offer advice on ailments and also dispense some medication over the country. The drugstores are easily identified by a red or green cross sign, on a white background. Greek chemists are open from 08:30 to 14:00 and are generally closed in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. In Athens, there is a rota system whereby a service is maintained from 07:30 to 14:00 and from 17:30 to 22:00. If the drugstore is closed, details of other chemists will be posted on the door or windows, in both Greek and English.
In general, Greeks dress quite formally when dining out and visitors to Athens should wear whatever is comfortable. Shorts and skimpy tops should be avoided and sportswear is best worn only near the beach, although most establishments are unlikely to turn away trade. The more expensive restaurants in Athens often request formal dress and in summer, when dining outside in the evening it is advisable to wear a jacket or sweater. Most Greeks dress in fairly dark colours and Greek women rarely wear white, although you will not be expected to follow this dress code as a tourist.