Greece

Much of Greece is mountainous and rocky terrain, with the occasional plain. The Pindus Mountains start in northern Greece and stretch south to the Gulf of Patra. In the southern part of Greece are the Peloponnesus Mountains. About 20% of Greece is made up of thousands of islands in the Ionian Sea to the west, the Aegean Sea to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

Whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and numerous fish species are found within Greek waters. On land, small populations of bear wolf, wildcat, jackal and chamois are still found in sparsely populated areas.

Greece’s main environmental problems are industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in Athens; over half of all industry is located in the greater Athens area. Marine and freshwater pollution are a significant problem due to industrial pollutants and agricultural run-off such as fertilizers, pesticides and sewage. Overfishing and deforestation are other issues threatening Greece’s environment.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta); Laganas Bay, Zákinthos, Greece.
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Tap water in Athens and the major cities of Greece is drinkable.
  • Heat waves, forest fires and droughts are becoming more common in Greece, especially southern Greece. Check weather reports before travelling, especially in the summer months.
 
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Recycling
  • Greece lags behind many EU countries when it comes to recycling. There are, however, more and more recycling bins found on streets throughout the country to dispose of paper, plastic, aluminium and other packaging.
  • There are an estimated 2,000 blue recycling bins in Athens. Additionally, 300 three-way stainless steel recycling units have been placed on central city streets for the collection of plastic/glass, paper and aluminium.
  • Arrangements to deposit electrical items can be made with local municipalities.
  • Major supermarkets in Athens are promoting eco-friendly bags over plastic bags.
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Transport
  • OSE is Greece’s national railway system. Although the trains are relatively slow compared with other European countries, they are quiet reliable and a nice way to travel and enjoy the countryside.
  • The intercity bus system in Greece is efficient.

  • Island hopping by ferry is probably the best way to get around the country, especially in summer.
  • In Athens, the best way to get around the congested city is by foot or by Metro; it’s fast and provides easy access to historical sites and the port.
  • Biking around Athens is also a good way to get around traffic but bike lanes are rare and smog may be a health issue.
  • City buses and trolleys to many places in Athens and the suburbs are also an option.
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Food
  • Part of a healthy Mediterranean diet, typical ingredients in Greek cuisine include lamb, feta cheese, grape leaves, olives and of course, olive oil.
  • The main organic products of Greece are olive oil and olives and can be bought in most major supermarkets.
 
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Souvenirs
  • Popular souvenirs that tourists tend to purchase while on vacation in Greece include jewellery, lace, pottery, metal work, rugs and knitted garments.
  • Try to avoid souvenirs made from endangered species, including tortoise shell, ivory, coats made from spotted cat furs and other wildlife trinkets.
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Green Spots
  • Olympus National Park: Greece’s largest mountain, Mt Olympus (2917m), is located here. The park is also known for its walking trails and alpine vegetation. In Greek mythology, Mt Olympus is the home of the 12 Olympians, the principal gods in the Greek pantheon.
  • Dadia Forest Reserve: Located in northern Greece near the city of Alexandroupolis, this WWF-supported reserve helps protect viable populations of birds of prey, including the black vulture.
  • The National Gardens (Etnikos Kipos): is a green oasis situated in the heart of Athens. The gardens were designed by Queen Amalia in the 19th century. Strolling around the gardens one will discover unique trees and plants, duck ponds, a small zoo and a botanical museum.
  • Zakynthos National Marine Park: Encompassing Laganas Bay and the islets of Marathonissi and Pelouzo off the southern coast of Zakynthos, this is first marine park established in Greece with the aim to protect the critical nesting habitat of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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