I didn’t think much about what to wear in Greece because I felt nothing could go wrong in the Mediterranean; I packed clothes suitable for summer without jackets & warmer clothes. Unfortunately, that is where we were wrong. The late evenings in Santorini were as cold as 15*C, and Meteora monasteries followed a strict dress code. This post is about our mistakes and what you shouldn’t make when following dress codes in Greece.
Here is your complete guide to what to/what not to wear and How not to look like a tourist in Greece?
- How do Greeks dress up
- What to pack For Spring in Greece
- As per the places you visit
- Blending in with locals to avoid getting scammed
How do Greeks dress up?
Most locals prefer knee-length skirts and long pants. Fortunately, we had company from the other tourists wearing shorts.
Greece is one of the conservative European countries regarding what they wear. While going to our BnB by public bus in Athens, I saw no locals in shorts or short skirts on the bus! Most women wore capris covering 3/4th of their legs and short sleeve tops. Most men were wearing either casual shirts or collared T-Shirts.
Then I started to observe the Athens streets from the windows while sitting on the bus. The bus went through roads where tourists don’t go, and the scenario on the bus and on the street was the same in Greeks dressing modestly. Without much makeup, all were well-groomed. It was a sunny summer afternoon. Still, it was hard to spot locals wearing shorts and tank tops. That is when I realised – “I have brought the wrong pairs of clothes.“
The two wrongly dressed humans at a Religious place.
The two insensitive tourists with shorts and the clever ones wearing full pants at Meteora – We learnt our lessons here.
In Meteora, Greeks dress up even more conservatively! It is the centre of the Eastern Orthodox church. The BnB host, the bus manager who took us to sunset point, and the bike rental shop owners were religious and mentioned their Baptism stories while talking. It was an embarrassment for us to be wearing shorts when the whole town was in pants and long skirts. Meteora doesn’t receive as many tourists as Santorini. So whoever came wore appropriate dress suitable for the hole city.
What to Pack for Spring in Greece?
Flat Footwear –The beauty of Greece is walking on narrow streets by the cliffside overlooking the endless Aegean sea or the mountains. The heels may add glam to the pretty pictures and pain to your foot.
Meteora monasteries require a lot of climbing, but your trekking boots are too much for that. Slip-on walking shoes work perfectly for Santorini, Meteora and the hills of Acropolis.
Walking through the archaeological ruins without sunscreen is a terrible idea. I use Acne UV Gel 50 SPF with Atoderm moisturising cream.
On a sunny afternoon, I saw a few tourists walking with umbrellas at Santorini and Athens. Yeah, it gives you a sunshade, but it isn’t very pleasant when you carry it in the crowded streets of Oia. Sunglasses, hats and scarves are better than umbrellas that keep pricking your fellow pedestrians.
Irrespective of the place, carry a thin jacket if you wear sleeveless shirts or dresses in Spring. Days are warmer and evenings are chill. I ended up putting on a towel on my shoulders at Fira because that was all we had in our daypack that day. Keep your clothing lighter and layered to work for morning sunshine and cold breezes in the evening.
Left side photo – sailing in the afternoon. Rightside – Chilling evenings at Fira. The only thing in my daypack was this towel to save me from shivering.
Carry a raincoat while going to Meteora. Especially when you rent bikes to drive by yourself over the curves, the rains there may trouble you. But sunset after rain makes Meteora sunsets the most stunning in the world. So you will pray for rain and if you are unprepared, enjoy the sunset wet!
How should I dress in Greece?
Keep your clothing modest in all the towns. Carry 3/4th and knee-length pants more than shorts. Any knee-length dresses with/without sleeves are all fine. Men must avoid wearing tank T-shirts in the towns.
Restrict bathing suits to the beaches only, and wear a Sarong while coming back to the cafe in Santorini.
As per the places you visit
Meteora Dress Code
Outside monastery and Inside Monastery
Just because it is a western European country (and Greece was my first foreign destination in my life), I had packed more shorts, skirts and above-knee-length dresses. I had carried long pants and full-sleeve shirts exclusively for Turkey, which remained in a separate trolley that we kept in Athens Railway station’s safety locker while coming to Meteora. So we were left with two pairs of shorts and two pairs of t-shirts in a backpack for Meteora. Jim, the sunset tour organiser who took us to a Byzantine church, made a sarcastic comment that my shorts were too short!
The caretaker at that church handed over running fabric, looking daggers at me. After the first day’s visit to Stephan’s monastery, we returned to Kalambaka market to buy full-length pants. The prices were over the roof. After deciding to face the rejection the next day, we came back from the market empty-handed. The next day, I apologised for being disrespectful at every monastery while collecting the wraparounds to cover my knees at the monastery entrance. I tried to explain my story wherever possible, but it was pointless!
Summary: Ladies, carry full-length pants and full-sleeve tops while visiting Meteora monasteries. Men – Avoid shorts and a sleeveless shirt. The wraparounds were clean, but they didn’t wash after each use. The same cloth I wrapped was given to another girl immediately.
What do I need to pack for Santorini?
What do people wear to Santorini – Beach wear and dresses/shorts
Bikinis and swimwear are common on the shoreside but not in beach cafes! We saw no tourists sitting in their swimwear in beachside cafes. Staff were dressed in casuals, and the residents by the cafe were modestly dressed. So it would be inappropriate to come inside the restaurant in swimwear.
Summary: Wear whatever you want while on the beach, but in Cafes near the beach, put on a T-Shirt dress or any simple light, non-sheer long top on swimwear. Men – don’t enter any local bakeries or cafes in Santorini bear-chest! Put on a shirt.
What to wear in Greece while going on a sailing
All sailing boats will have washrooms. So changing is not a problem. But it is better to wear your swimwear underneath your loose gowns to avoid using those congested changing rooms. The net deck of the boats are one of the best places to sunbathe after swimming in the cold Mediterranean waters. So nobody puts on their clothes back after a swim while sailing unless it is lunchtime. Most boats keep towels for the guests. If you are particular about using your ones, carry your towels. The sunshine is so bright in spring that 30 minutes after sunbathing on the net deck dries off your body. There is no need for an extra pair of clothes to wear while leaving the boat after sailing.
What to wear at a Luxury Resort in Greece?
Left side and Right side photos – Nope! Don’t wear this kind of clothes outside your rooms in Luxury hotels like Dana Villas
We try to add a pinch of luxury to our budget travels usually. Dana Villas in Firosetfani was that pinch added to the budget Greece trip. Though there was no dress code stated by this luxury hotel, most guests dressed sophisticatedly in the breakfast area by the pool. They changed to decent casual wear right after they came out of the pool. That carelessness of who would change after swimming made us wear those informal dresses on my swimwear. Trust me; I was “an odd woman out” at that particular time of the day. Keep it smart-casual whenever you stay in luxury resorts in any part of the world.
How not to look like a tourist in Greece to avoid getting noticed and scammed
Athens is a hotspot of scams like any other touristy city in the world. The city is so full of tourists that the local scammers make a living out of cheating on the tourists. Being a foreign tourist, it is hard to stay unnoticed or not stand out in the crowd. Our language, colour, physical appearance, and never-ending photo sessions make it obvious that you are a tourist. Thus you became an official scapegoat for scammers.
This outfit was ideal for Athens. No scammer, no beggar ever approached us
To avoid beggars, scammers and pickpocketers, especially in Athens and Santorini, follow these things-
Keep your outfits subtle, simple and modest. I am not asking you to wear something rag or uncleaned. Please don’t make it too obvious that you are a foreign tourist by wearing lots of jewels. You know it is not gold, but the bling and shine of the artificial jewellery attract the “fake gold ring sellers” in Athens.
Dress up neat, but don’t try to look like you picked a dress out of Vogue Magazine.
Theatre artists in Santorini in beautiful dresses.
If I hadn’t put on makeup in Iran, I would have been in” an odd woman out.” situation. It is the opposite of Greece. Greek women don’t wear a lot of makeup. They keep it simple, So you do the same to merge into the crowd. Trust us; this is one of the best tricks to avoid scammers. We observed the scammers at Acropolis. They approach the ones who look posh and rich. Dress up well and fashionably. But not to the Vogue magazine level if you want to remain unnoticed by scammers.
Do you really need a day pack?
You can survive without your daypacks most of the time if you don’t carry a DSLR Camera. A money belt is good enough, along with your wallet in the front pocket. Avoid it.
Sunglasses, shoes with socks, a cap, a day pack, a camera on the neck, an iPhone with a selfie stick, Polo T-shirts, and casual shorts – A typical tourist man will surely be approached by beggars and scammers of all sorts. Avoid this as much as possible and dress simple without carrying too many things in your hands.
Wearing Indian Traditional clothing in Greece
If you are wondering about the first picture of why we were in our Indian attire on a Mediterranean island, here is the answer – I love Sarees, and he loves wearing dhoti. Since it was our first foreign trip together, we wanted to make it even more memorable by clicking a photo wearing our traditional outfit in an exotic location like Santorini. So I carried a dark turquoise green saree with a Persian blue border that matches with Santorini sea and domes colour. The white dhoti and his light blue shirt represent whitewashed houses and the sky 🙂
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