Dos and Don'ts

Time Difference. Don’t fret if someone shows up late for a date. “To enjoy Athens, you must follow the pace of life. Stay up late. Forget lunch at noon and dinner at 6 p.m.—you’ll miss all the action.”—Diane Shugart, author, Athens by Neighborhood.

Address Code. Greeks use the formal plural pronoun (sas) when addressing older people or strangers.

Talk to the Hand. Avoid raising an outstretched palm to a person; this is an offensive gesture known as the moutza.

Eating Etiquette. Greeks are not sticklers for table manners. At home and especially at tavernas, everyone at the table shares foods, with diners dipping bread into dishes to soak up olive oil or sauce.

Siesta Time. Many Greeks still take a midday siesta, so don’t phone friends or play loud music between 2-5 p.m.

Personal Space. Greeks are very tactile. Greeks greet people they know with a kiss on both cheeks and frequently make physical contact.

Smoke Signals. A nonsmoker’s nightmare. Despite smoking bans in stores, restaurants, public buildings, and banks, smokers puff away at will and bristle if asked to stop.

Phrase Book

Γεια σου Yia sou!: Hello/goodbye. The formal or plural version is Γειά σας Yia sas. Pronounced yee-a-SOO.

Παρακαλώ Parakaló: Please/You’re welcome. Pronounced pa-rah-ka-LO.

Ευχαριστώ Efharistó: Thank you. Pronounced ef-harry-STOW.

Ναι Néh: Yes. Pronounced Neh.

Όχι Óxi: No. Pronounced O-hee.

Πάμε Páme: Let’s go! Pronounced PA-meh.

Έλα Éla: Come here, come on. Pronounced Eh-la.

Συγνώμη Sygnómi: Sorry/excuse me. Pronounced see-GNO-mee.

Πόσο κάνει αυτό Póso kánei aftó?: How much is this? Pronounced PO-sa KA-nee af-TOW?

Τι κάνεις Ti káneis?: How are you? Pronounced TEE KA-knees. Plural, TEE KA-nete?

Πολύ καλά Poli kalá: Very well. Pronounced po-LEE ka-LA.

Εντάξει Entáxi: OK. Pronounced En-TAX-ee.

Δεν μιλάω ελληνικά Den miláo elliniká: I don’t speak Greek. Pronounced DHEN mee-LA-ow ell-ee-ni-KA.


About Athens and Greece

  • <p>Photo: The Poseidon Temple</p>


    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Athens.

  • <p>Photo: Oia village, Santorini</p>


    Explore Greece through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

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