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The new travel advice issued for anyone travelling to Turkey, Greece or Spain


For many, a week away to the Med in August is the culmination of a year of hard work and saving.

People from all over Wales will be jetting off resorts and city break around Southern Europe. It is a perfect destination for both culture vultures and sun worshippers.



However, man-made climate change continues to bite and extreme weather is affecting many of our holiday mainstays.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises UK citizens on travel to all countries and has plenty of important information to people travelling to Greece, Spain and Turkey to help them keep themselves and their families safe. We have put together the information below. It is important to bear in mind that the vast majority of trips to these countries are issue free but it is still worth familiarising yourself with current advice.

Greece

(Image: (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris))

Extreme temperatures are affecting many areas of Greece. There are active wildfires across Greece, including in populated areas on the mainland and a number of islands. The ‘state of emergency’ in Rhodes, declared by the Greek authorities on 26 July, has now been lifted.

Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. Follow “112 Greece” on Twitter for official updates.

If you are travelling to an area affected by wildfires

If you are due to travel to an area that might be affected by wildfires, contact your travel operator or accommodation provider before you travel to check that it is not currently impacted. Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

If you are in or near areas affected by wildfires

Be cautious if you are in or near an area affected by wildfires. You should:

  • follow the guidance of the emergency services

  • call the Greek Emergency Services on 112 if you are in immediate danger

  • contact your airline or travel operator who can assist you with return travel to the UK.

  • enable the “Emergency Alerts” option to receive the Greek government’s emergency alerts. For:

    • iPhones go to Settings Notification. Enable the “Emergency Alerts” option at the bottom.
    • Android 11 and higher go to Settings Notifications Advanced Settings Wireless Emergency Alerts
    • Samsung Devices go to Settings Apps Messages Notifications Emergency Notifications. Enable the “Emergency Alerts” option
  • read the Greek Government’s protection guidelines in the event of a forest fire.

  • register via the Greek government’s Emergency Communication Service (in Greek)

Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly.

You should:

  • take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas
  • make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished
  • not light barbecues

Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Greece even if unintentional. If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.

Terrorism in Greece

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Greece. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.

There have been several attacks involving explosives and automatic weapons against Greek institutions, shopping malls, banks, media offices, diplomatic premises and the police. British nationals aren’t normally considered a specific target, but attacks could happen in places visited by foreigners.

Strikes and demonstrations

There are regular strikes, sometimes called at short notice that can cause disruption to public transport (including air travel and ports), as well as road networks and borders. Political demonstrations can also occur frequently.

Avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities. Some demonstrations in the past have turned violent. If you do find yourself unexpectedly near a demonstration, move away to the last known safe place. Security forces often use tear gas to break up demonstrations, which can harm your breathing and vision.

Demonstrations take place regularly around major squares in central Athens, in particular Syntagma Square. Nationwide strikes and protests can occur at any time and may disrupt road, air, sea travel and cause delays or diversions at border crossings.

Theft

Theft of passports, wallets and handbags are common on the metro and in crowded tourist places, particularly in central Athens. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe. Maintain the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK.

When driving on holiday, keep your valuables out of sight and lock your vehicle at all times. Always park in a well-lit area or secure car park. Be alert to car crime.

Sexual assault

Sexual assaults and personal attacks may occur in Greece. This includes attacks on foreign visitors in tourist areas and cities.

We recommend that all travellers follow this advice:

  • save the location of your accommodation on your maps app, so it’s easier to find at the end of the night
  • set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with others in your group
  • keep an eye on each other’s drinks to make sure they don’t get spiked
  • don’t let a friend walk back to their hotel alone
  • don’t give a drunk person more alcohol

You should immediately report anything you see that doesn’t feel right to local authorities or hospitality management.

Personal ID

Carry a copy of your passport or other photographic ID which confirms British nationality at all times, this is a legal requirement.

Race

The majority of visitors experience no difficulties related to race, but there have been some racially motivated attacks, particularly in inner-city areas.

Public offences

The Greek police won’t accept behaviour they find rowdy or indecent, especially where excessive drinking is involved, this behaviour may be illegal. The police will make arrests and the courts are likely to give heavy fines or prison sentences if you behave indecently.

Some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and therefore against decency laws. Your travel insurance may not cover you after drinking.

Smoking

It’s illegal to smoke in all indoor public places. The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to 500 euros.

Drugs

Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to a long prison sentence. Alcohol, drugs and use of nitrous oxide can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. Nitrous oxide is illegal to buy or sell for recreational use in Greece. You can be arrested or fined if found in possession.

Public transport

It’s sometimes necessary to time stamp or validate your ticket on public transport for it to be valid. Check with local providers.

Buying goods or services

Make sure you get a receipt for any goods or services you buy.

Offensive items like pepper spray, knuckledusters or knives with a blade length of 10cm or above are listed as weapons in Greece and fall under the current weapon possession law. You need to have a special licence from the local police authority to carry any weapon otherwise you might face arrest and legal charges. You need to have a special licence to carry any knife that is not made for domestic, professional, artistic or hunting use.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual relations are legal in Greece and civil unions between same-sex couples have been legal since 2015. The age of consent in Greece is 15, this applies to partners of both the same sex and opposite sex. Transgender people are able to change their legal gender. Anti-discrimination and hate speech laws apply to gender identity.

Public attitudes towards same-sex sexual activity vary throughout the country; showing affection in public by same-sex couples may be frowned upon, especially in rural areas.

Attitudes are generally much more welcoming in Athens and on many Greek islands, particularly on Lesvos, Mykonos and Skiathos.

Military service

Men, aged 19 and above, born to a Greek national parent may have military service obligations, regardless of any other nationality they hold. Authorities can prevent you leaving Greece until you complete military service obligations.

Using cameras or approaching sensitive locations

It is illegal to approach or take photos or videos of military installations, vehicles or buildings at any time. The Greek authorities will arrest and possibly prosecute anyone doing so. Certain border areas are also militarily sensitive. Although you can visit these areas, you should avoid taking photos or video footage.

Water sports and swimming safety

If you are considering taking part in water sports activities, do so through a licensed water sports centre and make sure paperwork is completed before starting the activity. However inviting the blue waters may be, make sure you follow any warning signs, adhere to instructions from lifeguards and observe the flag indicators on beaches. Follow local advice if jellyfish or urchins are present.

Quad biking and mopeds

Quad biking is considered an extreme sport and carries the risk of serious injury or death. Specific travel insurance to cover quad bike rental is essential. Always take care to read the details of your insurance cover before you travel on holiday, paying particular attention to the small print and exclusions on your insurance policy.

If you do rent a quad bike, choose a category in accordance with your driving licence and age. Drivers and passengers must wear helmets. Failure to do so may invalidate your insurance and if stopped you will be fined and your licence taken from you. If you intend to hire a moped you will need a valid driving licence with at least category A1 – ‘light motorcycle’. Category P, which is valid in the UK for driving mopeds up to 50cc, is not valid in Greece.

Road travel

Make sure any vehicle you hire is in good condition and check that you’re insured. When renting mopeds or quad bikes, insurance sold by the hire company usually only provides third party insurance, which only covers the cost of damage to another vehicle. Any damage sustained to the rental vehicle in many cases may need to be paid for by you, or you may face arrest if you do not pay and the hire company decide to press charges.

Traffic can be busy, fast and chaotic, especially in the larger cities. Take care when crossing roads. Pedestrians should cross roads using a crossing. Drivers don’t always stop, even though they are required to. The green pedestrian crossing signal sometimes also allows cars to turn right onto the crossing, so cross with caution.

Driving any vehicle while over the legal drinking limit can result in a heavy fine or imprisonment.

Earthquakes

Greece can experience earthquakes and earth tremors. You should:

  • familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake
  • follow advice given by the local authorities

Spain

(Image: Getty Images)

Extreme temperatures are currently affecting many areas of Spain. For severe weather warnings and updates, visit the Spanish Meteorological Office (AEMET) and European Meteorological Services website.

For information on how to take care in the heat visit the NHS website or the website of the Spanish Ministry of Health (only available in Spanish).

You should check with your travel provider before traveling and follow the advice of local authorities at all times.

Forest fires

Forest fires occur frequently in Spain (including in the Spanish islands) during the summer months, when temperatures regularly reach over 40ºC. Be aware of your environment when visiting or driving through woodland areas.

Causing a forest fire is a criminal offence in Spain, even if unintentional. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, do not light barbecues and do not leave empty bottles behind. You can be heavily fined for not following the rules against lighting outdoor barbecues in forest areas. Make sure you know the rules if considering a barbeque.

Additional documents required by tourists

If you enter the Schengen area as a tourist, you may need to provide additional documents at the border. As well as a valid return or onward ticket, when travelling to Spain you could be asked to show:

  • you have enough money for your stay
  • proof of accommodation for your stay, for example:
    • a hotel booking confirmation
    • proof of address if visiting your own property (such as second home)
    • an invitation or proof of address if staying with a third party, friends or family. A carta de invitation completed by your hosts is one of the options available.

You can visit the Spanish Ministry of Interior website for more information (only available in Spanish).

Taking food and drink into Spain

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Terrorism in Spain

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors. Be aware of your surroundings and follow the instructions of the local authorities.

In January 2023, there was a terrorist-related incident where a man carrying a machete attacked 2 churches in the southern Spanish city of Algeciras, in Cadiz, resulting in injuries and the loss of one life.

In 2017, there were 2 terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and in Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).

Protecting your belongings

Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but be alert to street crime. Thieves use distraction techniques, and often work in teams. Take care of your passports, money and personal belongings, particularly when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.

Do not carry all your valuables in one place. Keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe. Make sure your accommodation has adequate security. Lock all doors and windows at night, or when out. If concerned about the security of your accommodation, speak to your travel operator or the property owner.

Vehicle crime

‘Highway pirates’ target foreign-registered and hire cars, especially those towing caravans. They may (forcefully) try to make you stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs. If you decide to stop to check the condition of a vehicle, stop in a public area with lights, such as a service station. Be wary of anyone offering help.

When driving, be wary of approaches by people posing as police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars. In all traffic-related matters, police officers will usually be in uniform. All police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID. Unmarked police vehicles have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Police (‘Policía’) or Civil Guard (‘Guardia Civil’), and may use blue flashing lights. Genuine police officers will only ask you to show them your documents and will not ask for your bag or wallet.

Attacks and sexual assault

Attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but do occur. Many are carried out by other British nationals. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and do not go off with people you do not know. See TravelAware ‘Stick with your mates’ for tips and advice. In an emergency call 112.

Drink and food spiking

Be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including GHB and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and always keep them in sight to avoid them being spiked. Alcohol and drugs can reduce your vigilance, making you less in control. If you drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars in Spain are often stronger than those in the UK.

Scams

Thieves posing as police officers may ask to see your wallet, claiming they need to see it for identification. Genuine police officers will ask to see ID, but will not ask for wallets or purses.

Timeshare and holiday clubs

Timeshare ownership is well established in Spain. There are respected companies, agents and resorts who operate legally and fairly. However, there are also unscrupulous companies who falsly claim to provide incentives.

Personal ID

You must provide photo ID if requested by a police officer. This includes the Guardia Civil and national, regional and local police forces. The police have the right to hold you at a police station until they have confirmed your identity. Ignoring direct requests of a police officer can be considered as ‘disobedience’, which is a criminal offence.

Hotels, tourist accommodation and car rental companies have a legal duty to register passport details of tourists when they check-in or collect a vehicle.

When checking-in to your accommodation, wait until hotel staff have registered your passport details, or taken a photocopy of your passport. Do not leave your passport at reception to collect later. You may need to show ID when buying goods with credit or debit cards. Your driving licence or a photocopy of your passport may be accepted, but they may need you to show your original passport.

Alcohol laws and bans

You cannot drink alcohol in the street in some areas of Spain. You can be given an on-the-spot fine. There are strict controls on drinking and sexual activity in public places, including on beaches.

Alcohol laws in the Balearic Islands

Local laws limit the sale and availability of alcohol in areas of some resorts on the islands of:

This prohibits:

  • happy hours

  • open bars (such as all you can drink in 1-hour offers)
  • the sale of alcohol from vending machines
  • self-service alcohol dispensers
  • the organising of pub-crawls and party boat trips
  • ‘off-licence’ sales between 9:30pm and 8am

Hotels and other establishments are obliged to evict customers who behave dangerously on balconies. Both the customer and the establishment can be fined for such behaviour.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession of even a small quantity of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. Possession of large quantities will usually result in prosecution and a prison sentence.

Illegal commercial parties in villas and private homes

There have been a number of serious accidents involving people attending illegal commercially promoted parties in villas and private homes on the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca.

Licensed clubs and bars are required to meet safety and security standards, including emergency exits and capacity limits, and to have trained, licensed security staff. Illegal commercial parties may not meet these standards. Take care of your belongings, make sure you know where emergency exits are and do not take unnecessary risks.

You may receive a fine for attending illegal commercially promoted parties.

Dress

In some parts of Spain it’s against the law to be in the street wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts. Being bare-chested is also illegal in some areas in Spain. You may be fined if you’re caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or adjacent streets.

For security reasons, some public authorities in Spain do not allow the burka or niqab to be worn in their buildings. If you visit town council buildings wearing a burka or niqab, you may be asked to remove it while inside.

Changing money

When changing money, always use official money exchange offices or banks because unofficial money changers may give you counterfeit money. Possession or use of counterfeit money is considered a serious crime in Spain and may…



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