What to wear in Greece as a traveller?

Greece was my first ever foreign destination as a traveller. Thinking of what can go wrong in the Mediterranean country, I packed clothes suitable for summer without jackets or 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 all about the mistakes we made, and you shouldn’t make when following dress codes in Greece.

Here is your complete guide to what to wear, what not to wear and How not to look like a tourist in Greece?

Index

How do Greeks dress up

Most locals prefer knee-length skirts, 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 were wearing 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 tanktops. That is where I realised – “I have brought the wrong pairs of clothes” 

The two wrongly dressed humans at 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, 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 like Santorini. So whoever came wore appropriate dress suitable for a holy city with natural wonders.

What to Pack for Spring in Greece

Indian woman traveller wearing slippers gazing at the hilltop monastery in Meteora

Flat Footwear –The beauty of Santorini is walking on narrow streets by the cliffside overlooking the endless Aegean sea. The heels may add glam to the pretty pictures, along with pain to your foot. Carry thick and soft sole flip-flops or slip-on.
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.

Indian woman traveller standing infront of a blue wicket gate and a pink bougenville plant

Walking through the archaeological ruins without sunscreen is a terrible idea. I use Ultra Aegis- 50 SPF with Atoderm moisturising cream.

I saw a few tourists walking with umbrellas at Santorini and Athens on a sunny afternoon. Yeah, it gives you 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 are wearing 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 is all we had in our bag that day. Keep your clothing lighter and layered so that it works for morning sunshine and evening cold breezes.

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 is what makes Meteora sunsets most stunning in the whole world, perhaps.

How should I dress in Greece?

Keep your clothing modest in all the towns. Carry 3/4th and knee-length pants more than the shorts.

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 went back 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 don’t wash after each use. The same cloth I wrapped was given to another girl immediately.

What do I need to pack for Santorini?

BEFORE AND AFTER SWIMMING

Bikinis and swimwear are common on the shoreside, but not inside the beach cafes! We saw no tourists sitting in their swimwear in beachside cafes. Staff were dressed in casuals, and the local residents by the cafe side were modestly dressed. So it would be inappropriate to come inside the restaurant in the swimwear.

Summary: Wear whatever you want while on the beach, but in Cafes near the beach, but put on a T-Shirt dress or any simple light non-sheer long tops on the 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 own ones, carry your towels. The sunshine is so bright even in the 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 were dressed sophisticated even 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 will 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 hotpot 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 as if you picked a dress out of Vogue Magazine. 

Greek artists wearing traditional Greek dresses on streets.

Theatre artists in Santorini in beautiful dresses.

If I hadn’t put on make 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.

You can actually survive without your daypacks most of the time. A money belt is good enough, along with your wallet in the front pocket. Avoid it.

Sunglasses, shoes with socks, a cap, day pack, camera on the neck, an iPhone with a selfie stick, Polo T-shirts, and casual shorts – A typical tourist man is sure going to 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 🙂

Indian woman traveller wearing Dark greenish blue Ilkal saree standing on grey steps of Santorini.

What are your thoughts on dressing simply to escape scammer? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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