Trip to Greece: which travel insurance should I take?

Written by: Axel Strauss 
DATE: 27/02/2024

The population of Greece as of 2024 is roughly 10.5 million people. But the country welcomes, on average, nearly triple that in international visitors each year. And it’s no wonder why. From the Acropolis of Athens to the Parthenon. From ancient archeology, culture, and architecture to breathtaking mountains, valleys, and beaches. From skiing, hiking, climbing, and sailing to island-hopping, wine-tasting, olive-munching, and all sorts of fun in the sun — the cradle of modern Western civilization has plenty to offer any type of traveler. And all of it never more than 137 km away from the sea, mind you! 

Do you plan to be one of the dozens of millions to visit this Mediterranean marvel of history and fun in the near future too? If so, then you might be thinking about how to choose the proper travel insurance. In which case, you’re in luck. Because not only does AXA have you covered with the best possible travel insurance for Greece — but we also have all you need to know about travel insurance for Greece in general below. 

Is travel insurance mandatory for Greece?

Yes and no. That is, whether travel insurance is mandatory or optional for you depends on whether you need a Schengen visa. And that’s because Greece is one of the 27 members of the Schengen Zone. This means that most of its millions upon millions of visitors require a Schengen visa to enter its borders for stays of up to 90 days. And to get a Schengen visa — it is indeed mandatory that you have the proper travel insurance (more on that below). 

Meanwhile, whether you need a Schengen visa or not depends on your particular situation, your nationality, and where exactly you’re coming from.

Who doesn’t need a Schengen visa to come to Greece (for stays of less than 90 days)?

For example, you don’t need a Schengen visa for Greece if you are: 

*NOTE: If you are a U.K BRP (i.e., biometric residence permit) and/or IRL (i.e., indefinite leave to remain) holder, then whether you need a Schengen visa or not depends on whether the country where you hold citizenship has signed a visa-free travel agreement with the Schengen Area. So consult the UK Government’s Official Website’s Travel to the EU/Schengen section, the Official Website of the EU, and that of your home country — to make sure you have all the latest info.

Who is required to apply for a Schengen visa for Greece?

Meanwhile, you will need a Schengen visa — and, therefore, travel insurance — to go to Greece if you’re a passport holder of China, India, Russia, all of Africa, most of the Middle East, and nearly a hundred other countries. In other words, if your home country has not signed a visa waiver agreement with the EU — you’ll need a visa. 

PRO-TIP: The European Commission provides full lists of both categories of the countries above
PRO-TIP 2: Meanwhile, AXA can help you figure out whether you need a Schengen visa or not in general too. PRO-TIP 3: And — if you do — which Schengen visa suits your needs best.

I don’t need a Schengen Visa. Do I still need travel insurance?

As far as legalities go, no — travel insurance is not mandatory if you don’t need a visa. However, when traveling abroad, being properly insured is never a bad call. Yes, Greece is generally very safe and tourist-friendly. However, it does have roughly 6,000 islands (only 200 of them inhabited though). Plus all that olive oil, pita, and wine. And ancient ruins and whatnot. 

Moreover, medical costs abroad can often be surprisingly high — especially when it comes to things like prescription drugs. And if you are pregnant and/or have a preexisting medical condition, your general risk factors are obviously higher. 

Not only that, but most official government websites — such as those of the U.K. and Ireland, for example — strongly recommend that you do indeed “get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains, and legal costs” when visiting Greece. 

And, finally — whether you’re going to just lie on an island beach and enjoy some Mediterranean sunshine for a week, or whether you’re hiking, skiing, climbing, scuba diving, and/or exploring the nooks and crannies where modern Western civilization (including travel insurance) began — life can be pretty unpredictable. And the health and safety of you and those around you should, therefore, always be your top priority. 

Having the proper travel insurance is the first (and often most crucial step) in ensuring that health and safety. Not only will it save you time, hassle, and (possibly quite a lot of) money. It will also give you that little bit of extra security and peace of mind while guaranteeing that you are well taken care of — 24/7, wherever in Greece you may be — if something does go wrong.

What does AXA Schengen travel insurance for Greece cover?

There are plenty of benefits to choosing an AXA travel insurance plan for your trip to Greece. Let’s start with the legalities, for example. If you need a Schengen visa for Greece, travel insurance is — again —mandatory. Fortunately, all our plans meet the requirements for being granted a Schengen visa
These requirements are that your plan

  • has a minimum coverage of €30,000 (in case of medical care, hospitalization, and/or medical repatriation);
  • is accepted by all 27 countries within the Schengen zone (not just Greece); 
  • is valid for the entire duration of your trip/stay. 

BONUS: If your Schengen visa for Greece is denied, by the way, AXA’s plans are refundable in most cases. We’ll only ask that you provide the appropriate documentation (i.e., an official explanation as to why your visa was refused) from the relevant embassy, consulate, or visa application center. 

Schengen visa or not, AXA offers three comprehensive plans to choose from — Low-Cost (starting at as little as €22/week), Europe Travel, and Multi-Trip. And along with meeting all the Schengen Visa requirements above, they also offer: 

  • Up to €100,000 coverage in medical expenses; 
  • Medical repatriation & transport; 
  • 24/7 medical assistance in English (or French) in case of urgency; 
  • Up to 180 days of coverage; 
  • Coverage in all Schengen and most European Union countries, including the U.K. (depending on the chosen plan, that is). 

Furthermore, there are also no age restrictions with AXA. 

Your plan goes into effect on the day of your purchase (so — unlike Greece’s over 100 historical sites — no wait times!). 

Our travel insurance certificate, meanwhile, is accepted by all Schengen consulates and embassies (including the Greek ones) around the world. And it can be instantly downloaded (and/or printed) online too. 

And, finally, if your Schengen visa for Greece is denied, AXA’s plans are refundable in most cases. We’ll only ask that you provide the appropriate documentation (i.e., an official explanation as to why your visa was refused) from the relevant embassy, consulate, or visa application center. 

So learn more about and compare our 3 comprehensive plans today. Because with AXA, you’re not only closer to getting a Schengen Visa if you happen to need one. You and your family are also closer to guaranteeing that your trip to where it all began is both as enjoyable and safe as possible. 

 Coverage durationMax.
Coverage
Countries CoveredAverage price 
Europe TravelUp to 180 days €100,000
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
 
33€ per week
(approx. US$ 35)
 
Multi Trip Illimited number of stays of 90 days max.
during 1 year 
€100,000328€ per year
approx. US$ 349)
Low CostUp to 180 days €30,000
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
 
22 € per week
(approx. US$ 23)

Do you cover emergency medical costs related to COVID-19?

Yes. That is, so long as you haven't traveled against World Health Organization advice, personal medical advice from your doctor, and/or the advice/regulations of any other government body in your home country (or those of Greece itself) —.AXA will cover medical costs related to COVID-19. Emergency and additional travel costs are also covered in this case. 

Moreover, all our electronic certificates (purchased on the AXA-Schengen website) include the following disclaimer: “Medical fees related to COVID-19 are covered in the terms, conditions & exclusions established in the insurance policy.” This, in turn, will satisfy any embassy rules that state you must get an insurance certificate with COVID protection.

What COVID-19 restrictions does Greece have, by the way?

COVID-19 restrictions in Greece (and the rest of the EU) remain lifted. In other words, there weren’t any as of early 2024. Still — since life can be pretty unpredictable, as recent years have shown — there is a chance that this too might change at any time. And that’s just one more sure reason to opt for one of our comprehensive plans. 

PRO-TIP 4: In any case, AXA recommends you stay up-to-date regarding COVID-19 in Greece via the World Health Organization, the official website of the EU, and Greece’s official Ministry of Migration and Asylum website.

What should I do if I am injured or ill while in Greece?

If something does go wrong while you’re enjoying Greece — AXA is here for you. In case of a medical emergency, you should contact one of our call centers — the number of which will be provided with your insurance policy. Via said number, medical assistance professionals will answer your questions and advise you — day and night, 24/7, wherever you are. They’ll also help you find a medical center best suited to your situation (and closest to you). 

IMPORTANT: When contacting the AXA 24/7 call center, you’ll be asked to provide the following: 

  • The number of your policy (which begins with “SCH”); 
  • The address and telephone number at which you can be reached (as well as the details of any people that can be contacted locally); 
  • Your dossier number (communicated at the time of the first call). 

PRO-TIP 5: Always keep all bills/invoices related to medical costs and enclose them with your file. Keep your phone charged too. And stay calm — we got your back!

List of Emergency Numbers in Greece

And here’s a list of emergency numbers to keep on hand when in Greece. 

  • General Emergency: 112 
  • Ambulance: 166 
  • Fire Department: 199 
  • Police: 100 
  • Anti-drug Police: 109 
  • Coast Guard: 108 
  • Tourist Police: 171 
  • Pharmacies: 107
  • Hospitals: 106 
  • Forest Fire Authority: 191 
  • Traffic Police: 10400 
  • Weather service: 148 
  • International Phone Assistance: 139 
  • General Telephone Information: 11888

What else should I know when preparing for my Greece trip?

And here’s some more basic helpful info to ensure your trip to the Hellenic Republic is both safe and enjoyable. 

Security 
Generally speaking, Greece is a safe country. However, petty crime is not uncommon. Pickpockets and thieves often target crowded and/or popular tourist areas — with central Athens being a particularly hot spot. Violent crime is rare, but it does occur in more desolate and/or isolated areas. 

It’s no secret that Greece is also a common destination for young adults to let loose. Some holiday resorts and other destinations frequented by young partygoers, therefore, can see their fair share of illegal behavior too (more often than not due to excessive drinking). So stay alert, and call the police if something feels off. And speaking of drinking — be aware that drinks served in bars in island resorts can be stronger than you expect. 

In other words — no matter the nature of your trip — be diligent, stay cautious, and use common sense. And maybe carry a photocopy of your passport (just in case), leave valuables in a safe place (such as the safe at your hotel or Airbnb), and always have your phone (and charger) with you — along with the emergency numbers above — at all times. 

Public transport 
Major Greek cities — including on the islands — are connected by an intricate bus network known as KTEL. These are generally reliable and relatively easy to navigate. 

The Hellenic Train system is also a wonderful way to explore Greece. The Athens-Thessaloniki line, for example, is a particularly scenic 4.5-hr high-speed train ride that covers most of the country’s east coast. 

Meanwhile, to get from Athens to the islands — the ferry is your best bet (with three major companies mainly running the show). 

Driving license 
If you plan to drive, most countries’ licenses are valid in Greece. However, if your home state does not fall under the Vienna Convention, you'll need to apply for/hold a valid international driving permit (i.e., IDP) to drive here legally. And your IDP must be accompanied by your current national driving license. 

Opening hours 
Stores and shops are usually open from around 9.00 am — but many tend to close around 1.30 or 2.00 pm. Most are also closed on Sundays and holidays, especially in the more remote parts. 

And the same often goes for restaurants. However, because the Greeks tend to eat late, restaurants often stay open until around midnight. Traditionally, dinner is served at around 8-9 pm (i.e., the busiest time for restaurants). 

And — as with all major tourist destinations — the closer to the epicenter you are (i.e., central Athens, for example), the more options you have. And that includes opening hours. 

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Is Greece part of the EU?

Yes, Greece is both one of 27 members of the Schengen Zone and one of 27 members of the European Union. 
PRO-TIP 6: It’s also a member of the Eurozone — which means its currency is the Euro.

Are the Schengen Zone and the European Union the same thing?

No. While both the EU and the Schengen Zone have 27 countries each (located mostly within Europe), these are not all the same countries — and these two entities are not the same thing. AXA can explain (if you’re curious and as confused as we once were, that is).

How much does a Schengen visa for Greece cost*?

The cost of a Schengen visa is universal. A Schengen visa for Greece, therefore, traditionally costs 80€ for adults, 40€ for children between the ages of 6 and 12, and is free for children under 6yo. 

*PRO-TIP 7 (and heads-up): However, the European Commission was considering upping these prices by about 5-10€ in 2024 — so stay tuned to the official channels.

Can I apply for a Schengen Visa online?

Not yet. Although the European Union does plan to fully digitize the process soon. And AXA can tell you all about that too.

Can I travel to other European countries with a Greek visa?

Yes. With your Greek Schengen visa, you should be able to visit other European countries — in most cases — as long as they are part of the Schengen area.

Can my Greek visa be extended?

Yes, but only in exceptional cases. AXA can also tell you more about extending your visa if you like.

Can I work or study in Greece with a tourist visa?

No. The tourist (or TypeC) allows visitors to enter Greece for a short business trip, a holiday, or to visit family members. However, it cannot be converted into a work or study permit (AXA can tell you more about that as well).

Do I need / EES/ ETIAS for Greece in 2024?

Not yet. The European Union’s new travel authorization systems — EES and ETIAS — are only set to go into effect in late 2024 and mid-2025, respectively (and in theory).