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Greek Etiquette, Manners and Customs

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Simply copying foreign cultures can often lead to various misunderstandings. Indeed, we could say that Greek culture shows a few special customs and specific etiquette rules you should keep in mind. However, only a few examples are unique to the Greek culture, as manners in Greece are highly influenced by the most common European etiquette.

In this blog post, we’ll explore proper manners in a wide variety of situations in Greece. So, are you ready? Let’s begin!

Here are the most important Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to Greek etiquette, and other Greek etiquette tips!

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Table of Contents

  1. Greek Dining Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts While Dining
  2. Greek Etiquette for Tourists: Do’s and Don’ts While Sightseeing
  3. Greek Meeting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts When Greeting
  4. Do’s and Don’ts While Visiting a House
  5. Business Etiquette in Greece: Do’s and Don’ts in a Business Environment
  6. Greek Wedding Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Weddings
  7. Do’s and Don’ts for Gestures
  8. Do’s and Don’ts While Shopping
  9. Conclusion: How GreekPod101.com Can Help You Learn More Greek

1. Greek Dining Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts While Dining

A Couple Having a Romantic Dinner

In Greece, at almost every corner, you’ll find something delicious to eat. Whether you prefer fast food or local traditional food, you’ll be thrilled as Greece is a paradise for foodies. So, when it comes to dining, you’ll have a wide variety of choices, and some of them might be a bit more formal.

Wondering how you should act while dining in Greece?

Let’s take a look at the following rules and tips for Greek etiquette at restaurants.

✓ Do Tip the Waiters

Unlike many countries, in Greece, the tip isn’t included in the check. So, it’s considered normal Greek restaurant etiquette—but not mandatory—to tip the waiters by leaving approximately five to eight percent of the total price of the bill.
Here’s a useful phrase you can use when you want to tip the waiter:

Greek: Κρατήστε τα ρέστα.
Romanization: Kratíste ta résta.
Meaning: “Keep the change.”

✘ Don’t Choose Touristy Places

Restaurants and local tavernas can be found in almost every corner. Avoid restaurants located next to major attractions and search for places where the locals gather. Touristic places usually offer mainstream menu items, such as gyros on a plate, moussaka, or Greek salad, and tend to be quite pricey. Search for hidden gems and enjoy the Greek cuisine at its best. Don’t be afraid to ask for the locals’ insight and suggestions by using the following phrase:

Greek: Μπορείτε να μου προτείνετε κάποιο εστιατόριο ή ταβέρνα όπου θα τρώγατε εσείς;
Romanization: Boríte na mu protínete kápio estiatório i tavérna ópu tha trógate esís?
Meaning: “Could you recommend a restaurant or a taverna where you would eat?”

2. Greek Etiquette for Tourists: Do’s and Don’ts While Sightseeing

A Pretty Young Traveling Girl Taking a Picture

Greece is full of popular attractions and can offer truly wonderful experiences. Here are some tips you should keep in mind to live your vacations to the fullest and without any problems.

✓ Do Wear Casual Clothes

Some of the most popular attractions are Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries. Most of them can be visited, and they can be truly beautiful. Some of them are located in amazing forests, while others are constructed on extremely high mountain-like rocks, such as those in Meteora.

Wearing casual clothes is generally recommended while traveling. However, when it comes to visiting churches and monasteries, women should be extra careful about what they wear. Some isolated monasteries even require wearing a long skirt. Therefore, generally, when it comes to Greek social etiquette for these places, modest clothing is advised. In these cases, some monasteries offer a skirt, which can be worn above the trousers, like an apron. You can ask for one by using the following phrase:

Greek: Υπάρχει κάτι που θα μπορούσα να φορέσω πάνω από το παντελόνι;
Romanization: Ipárhi káti pu tha borúsa na foréso páno apó to pandelóni?
Meaning: “Is there anything (available) that I could wear over my trousers?”

3. Greek Meeting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts When Greeting

A Businesswoman Extending Her Hand to Trigger a Handshake

Greeting manners tend to differentiate from one country to another. Lucky for you, we’ve published a quite detailed Greeting Guide, as well as a dedicated article on How to Introduce Yourself, including all the info you can use in a wide variety of situations. Nevertheless, in this section, we’ll focus on the most common etiquette.

✓ Do Give a Handshake When Meeting Someone

Greeting through a handshake is a safe option in both formal and informal occasions. You can simply extend your hand and introduce yourself by stating your first name for informal situations, or your full name in a formal setting. Here’s an example phrase you can use when greeting people in Greece:

Informal
Greek: Γεια, είμαι ο Γιώργος.
Romanization: Ya, íme o Yórgos.
Meaning: “Hi, I am George.”

Formal
Greek: Γεια σας, είμαι ο Γιώργος Παπαδόπουλος.
Romanization: Ya sas, íme o Yórgos Papadópulos.
Meaning: “Hello, I am George Papadopoulos.”

4. Do’s and Don’ts While Visiting a House

A Blonde Woman Offering a Present

✓ Do Bring a Present

When visiting a house in Greece, it’s not a good idea to show up empty-handed. In Greek culture, it’s appropriate that you bring a small present. This present can be a bottle of wine, or, most commonly, some sweets from a patisserie. You don’t have to overthink this though; keeping it simple is the safest choice, and it will be highly appreciated by the hosts. When offering the present, you can use the phrase below:

Greek: Αυτό είναι για εσάς/εσένα.
Romanization: Aftó íne ya esás/eséna.
Meaning: “Τhis is for you.” (formal/informal)

5. Business Etiquette in Greece: Do’s and Don’ts in a Business Environment

A Businessman Giving a Handshake During a Business Meeting

✓ Do Arrive on Time

This is one of the most important Greek business etiquette tips. While most Greeks tend to be ten or fifteen minutes late, being on time is becoming more and more appreciated. On the other hand, if you find yourself in an awkward situation where you’ll need to apologize for being late, you can always use the simple phrase presented below.

Greek: Συγγνώμη που άργησα.
Romanization: Signómi pu áryisa.
Meaning: “I am sorry for being late.”

Once you’ve arrived, perhaps some of the following business phrases will come in handy.
Business Phrases

6. Greek Wedding Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Weddings

A Happy Newly-Wed Couple at Their Wedding

Weddings in Greece are truly a big party. Here are some details you need to be aware of when attending a Greek wedding.

✓ Do Bring a Present

Bring a gift for the newlyweds. According to Greek wedding gift etiquette, many couples use a wedding gift list; they choose various items from a specific store, and you can choose any of those items. If you’re not into choosing your gift, you can alternatively offer an envelope with some money in it and a special card. An appropriate wish you can write in the accompanying card is demonstrated below.

Greek: Να ζήσετε! Βίον ανθόσπαρτον και καλούς απογόνους!
Romanization: Na zísete! Víon anthósparton ke kalús apogónus.
Meaning: “Live long! May your life be a road paved with roses and may you have good offspring!”

✘ Don’t Wear White

This is mostly for women. Wearing white at a wedding should be avoided, since the bride is usually wearing white. In some conservative Greek weddings, this could be perceived as an insult to the bride, and you’d better not risk it.

7. Do’s and Don’ts for Gestures

Much of etiquette in Greece, and the rest of the world, has to do with gestures and body language. Worrying about gestures and their meaning in Greek? You don’t need to worry anymore, as we’ve got you covered with our super-analytic Greek Gestures Guide. However, in this section, we’ll refer to the most important things to keep in mind.

✘ Don’t Nod to Indicate Yes or No

Nodding and shaking your head for “yes” or “no” is unlikely to be understood. Greeks use a slight forward inclination of the head for “yes,” and a more vigorous backward nod for “no.” Therefore, in case you need to accept or decline a proposal, you’d better say one of the following phrases, instead of nodding or shaking your head.

Greek: Ναι, ευχαριστώ.
Romanization: Ne, efharistó.
Meaning: “Yes, thank you.”

Greek: Όχι, ευχαριστώ.
Romanization: Óhi, efharistó.
Meaning: “No, thank you.”

Thanks

8. Do’s and Don’ts While Shopping

A Man and a Woman Shopping for Clothes

✘ Don’t Negotiate Prices in Shops

In all of the shops, prices are fixed, so there’s no room for negotiation. Sometimes, it’s even considered rude to negotiate the price of a product or a service. Chances are that even if you try to negotiate, the employee will kindly refuse and explain that the prices are fixed.

In some rare cases—for example, when booking a hotel room for a long period of time, or when buying many items in souvenir stores in touristy areas—there might be some room for negotiation. You can use the following phrase to ask if this is possible.

Greek: Θα μπορούσατε να κάνετε καλύτερη τιμή;
Romanization: Tha borúsate na kánete kalíteri timí?
Meaning: “Is it possible to reduce the price?” (Literally: “Is it possible for you to do a better price?” when translated.)

9. Conclusion: How GreekPod101.com Can Help You Learn More Greek

If you’ve reached the conclusion, then you probably have a global view when it comes to Greek etiquette, manners, and customs. Are there similar etiquette rules in your own country? Let us know!

Greeks are polite and easygoing at the same time. Chances are that whatever you do or say, no Greek will hold a grudge against you, so don’t worry too much. Try to follow these easy tips, just to be on the safe side.

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With enough hard work and practice, you’ll soon be a master of Greek etiquette!

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