You are probably here because you are traveling to Greece and you are not sure what to pack for the trip. I assume that you have read the "Before you go" page and you have taken care of all the things on the checklist there.
Now it's time for the fun to begin: packing the suitcases!
As you go through the things you consider essential for your well being, also think about how much space they take in our luggage, and how much weight they add to your load (you will have to carry these luggage at some point).
Also consider that many items are readily available in Greece. Is it really worth carrying around five large bottles of sunscreen all the way from home, or is it worth spending a little extra money to buy them after your arrival? You are the best judge of such matters.
You can find all the modern amenities once you are in Greece. The "Supermarkets" are filled with goods imported from Europe and the United States, so you don't have to pack a year's worth of toothpaste or contact lens cleaners!
Here is a list that I have put together and is essential for my own preparation for the trip:
If you live in a country with 110V electricity, your electric accessories would not work in Greece where 220V (50Hz) electrical outlets are standard. You need to purchase an electrical adapter to make sure all your equipment can be plugged into the Greek electrical outlets. An adapter (like the one pictured one the left) allows your plug to physically fit into the Greek power outlets.
Keep in mind that you will need more than one adapter, unless you want to charge your equipment one at a time. An adapter like this simply allows your plugs to fit into the Greek electrical outlets, it does not ensure that your appliance would work in the 220V current of the wall outlets in Greece.
Many electrical appliances have a transformer that allows them to adjust to different voltage, and some must be switched manually from 120V to 220V electricity. Check your manual to see how your appliance can handle different voltage. Even if your appliance does not have the ability to adjust to different voltage, you can use your own transformer.
A transformer is a device that reduces electrical voltage. If you do not use a transformer, you will damage your appliance if it is not designed to receive 220 volts.
To summarize, if your equipment can receive 220V (check your manual), buy a simple adapter. If your equipment is rated only for 110V (or anything below 220V), you need to purchase a transformer. If the transformer is not designed to be used in Greece, you need both a transformer (to reduce voltage), and an adapter to physically fit it into a Greek wall outlet.
If you take a computer along and you plan to connect to the Internet, you might need a Modular Telephone Adaptor for Greece since many older Greek telephone plugs are almost certainly different than the ones you use in your country. These older outlets are a rearity today (2010), but you should double-check, especially if you are staying in an older hotel/room.
The new standard telephone jacks (RJ11) are installed for all new telephone connections, but many older homes and hotels still utilize the old jacks. You can buy an inexpensive adapter to connect your RJ11 telephone cable to the wall outlet. If your hotel has the newer outlets and offers the ability to dial out directly from your room, all you need to do is to unplug the telephone from the wall and to plug in your computer.
SinceI originally wrote this page Greek hotels have adapted to the demand for wifi and I have found that most of the hotels (even obscure ones) have wifi available for guests. Some are free, some would charge, but they all vary in their strength of signal. In addition, you can find plenty of cafeterias with Internet connection in almost every city in Greece, so you can always check your e-mail, or send messages to your friends for a small fee.
If you take your computer to Greece, make sure that your computer can handle 220V of electricity before you plug it in a Greek outlet, or you might do a great deal of damage to your system. Check with your computer manual to see if you need to manually switch to 220V.
You can connect to the internet with a pre-paid internet card.
If you don't have a camera, now is a good time to buy one. You will regret returning from your trip with no memorable photos from your experience.
If you have a digital camera you can find all the accessories you need in Greece, including batteries, storage cards, or cables but they might be more expensive. In most Greek cities you can take your card to one of the old 'One-Hour Photo' shops to have your photos printed on paper, and to burn them on a CD or a flash drive within a few hours. Of course, we could also use an internet caffe to upload all your camera photos to your "cloud" (such as facebook, Flikr, Picasa, and all that) while enjoying a drink.
Also see: Photographing in Greece
I always find myself away from home or the hotel for hours on end and even for the whole day when I am in Greece. Visits to museums, to archaeological sites, or the beach can occupy the better part of a day, so I always cary a Back Pack with all the essential items I anticipate needing for the day. In it I always pack my cameras, lots of extra film, a raincoat (which I use for padding at the bottom), a bottle of water, and all the other small items I usually need (pens, lens cleaners, a notepad, extra batteries). It pays dividends to invest in a quality backpack since you will be using it constantly.
Once in Greece during the summer chances are good that you will find yourself in a small boat for a period of time. This is a great experience, except when the waves splash over the speeding boat and land on our expensive photo equipment. It has happened to me and many others as I know, and now I always pack a handful of large Ziploc bags for such cases. Last summer I was riding my mountain bike and a freak rainstorm dropped a ton of water on top of me while I was miles from any shelter. The storm lasted only twenty minutes but dropped enough water to destroy my camera which was likely sheltered in my waterproof waist pouch. A Ziploc bag should be sufficient for such situations and they might be hard to find in a Greek SuperMarket, so pack some before you go.
Pack lots of sun block lotion since it can be a major expense for anyone spending some time at the beach. Sunscreen in Greece during the summer is in high demand, and the prices reflect that. It cost you more than 15 Euro for a small bottle of 30 proof sunscreen, and you can go through it in two or three days if you stay at the beach for a long time.
I always make good use of the airplane time by reading Travel Guides and books about my destinations. It is a great way to kill some time during the trip there, and to be prepared upon arrival.
Maps are indispensable for navigating around Greece. I found that all
travel guides have small maps that are adequate for initial trip planning,
on location they fail to provide enough detail. A large map is best.
A map with
1:70.000 scale is best for specific locations (like single islands),
or a map with 1:250.000 scale for a province, would provide excellent
navigation. If you are planning to drive around Greece, don't even think
of relying on map cutouts from books and guides, unless you prefer to
around mountain roads lost for hours on end. For Greece, the "Road Edition" maps
are the best by far.
I have found that Amazon.com has the good selection of Greece travel maps, and I usually order online to plan my trip. Once in Greece, I head for the nearest bookstore or kiosk and look for maps. Several times however, I found out that it's more difficult to find good maps once on location. In Rhodes for instance, I spend many hours looking for a good map of the island (published either Road editions, or Emvelia), and in the end I had to settle for a horrible map that everyone seemed to sell for seven euro, and had so little detail I ended up not even using it.
In the last few of years I have taken along to Greece my trusty car GPS (a Nuvi 270). I bought the updated map of southern Europe in 2013 and it was very useful. The GPS did have some problems accurately pinpointing our location in smaller cities (probably due to the proximity and multitude of small streets, like in Chania), and there were some erronious directions reported inside largers cities and Athens (mainly asking us to turn into a one-way street), but overall I have been very happy and I would not travel to Greece without a GPS any more, especially when driving. For fun, we even used the Garmin on a ferry and it did a good job pinpointing the ferry's location in the ocean and even showing the nearby island names!
Greece is a hot place in the summer, so light clothing is in order. The temperature sometimes reaches 45° C for stretches of four to seven days. This occurs usually mid-July until mid-August. For most of the time during this period though, the thermometer hovers between 34° and 40° Celsius. Shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits are a must, as is a variety of head gear and sunglasses. It would be almost impossible to stay outdoors for any length of time without any hat, and it might be hard to negotiate harsh terrain in archaeological sites without athletic shoes.
You might also want to pack a sweatshirt or a long sleeve shirt. It comes in handy when I stay in an air conditioned environment for a long time (like in ferry boats), and in the evenings on the Greek islands where the temperature dips a bit bellow comfort levels when the "meltemia" winds blow over the Aegean sea.
Also keep in mind that although it rarely rains in Greece in the summer, you should be mildly prepared for the odd major rain storm that might strike at any time. Usually such rain storms lust one or two days, but on rare occasions can last longer.
Many religious centers and monasteries do not allow men with shorts and women with trousers, mini skirts, or shorts, (or anything that reveals too much skin) to enter. A shawl can be helpful to cary around since it can be deployed to cover the shoulders or to be tied around the waist over shorts.
Greek weather is mildly cool and a sweater is a necessity, especially at night. It is possible to swim until the first half of October in most places in Greece. The sea is warmer further south towards Crete and comfortable to swim even in October. During the Fall it rains more often, though not every day, and most days might be still warm. I would pack long trousers, a couple of sweaters or sweatshirts, an umbrella and a raincoat, but I would also bring along a bathing suit just in case.
From my experience, you can expect cool weather, heavy winds, and frequent rain after mid-September.
It does get very cold in the winter which lasts from late November until early February. During this period in rains often and the wind is bone-chilling. Further north, and especially in the mountainous regions of Epirus and Macedonia snow is a usual occurrence. Heavy clothing is advised during this period. I would pack a heavy coat, long trousers, heavy socks, boots, an umbrella, and I would not pack a bathing suit.
Since the Greek winter is considered "short" and "mild", most people fail to realize that Greek dwelings (hotels, rooms, homes, etc.) are not prepared for heavy winter cold. The heat and insulation is usually inadequate for the frequent dip in temperature - especially during the night hours. You don't have to pack blankets, but having warm sleepwear is advised.
The period between February and May is unpredictable, with most days being very warm. Rainstorms are not unusual, but most days are dry and very pleasant. Light clothing is in advise, with a raincoat thrown in just in case. The sea is a bit too chilly for swimming during these months.