Travel in Greece with a dog?

I recently adopted a Greek stray dog called Persa. Although she is quite big for the van we live in, she is a lovely travel companion who really enhances my time in Greece. Persa is a great hiker, a good cuddler, and loves driving the winding Greek roads. However, some things in Greece have become more difficult since I travel with my dog. Like visiting archeological sites, doing groceries, or even a long swim in the sea. Do you plan on visiting Greece and do you have doubts about whether or not to take your dog? Here is all you need to know to make your decision!

The Greeks and dogs

To make a decision about your dog, it is good to understand the relationships Greeks have with these species. For many Greeks, dogs are not the life companions we love them to be. Many people in the country hold more traditional views that associate dogs primarily with their utilitarian roles, such as guarding properties or herding livestock. In rural areas, dogs are still kept primarily for working purposes rather than as family pets.

Besides, the issue of stray dogs (which I will explain in the next chapter) negatively influenced the public opinion on dog ownership. Aggressive strays that make it into the Greek news scare people, while others believe that having communal semi-stray village (or neighborhood) dogs is the way for both humans and canines.

Fortunately, in bigger cities, dog ownership as we know it is gaining popularity with the increasing influence of Western culture and the rise of animal welfare movements. 

The Greek strays

Stray dogs in Greece have been a long-standing issue for several decades. Greece has a large population of stray dogs, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. They roam the streets, public parks, and even tourist areas. They form loose packs or live as solitary individuals, relying on scavenging or begging for food and seeking shelter wherever they can find it.

The stray dog population in Greece can be traced back to various factors, including a lack of effective spaying and neutering programs, abandonment by their owners, and the economic crisis that hit the country in recent years. Many people struggling with financial difficulties were unable to care for their pets and ended up abandoning them.

Although there are several organizations and animal welfare groups in Greece, dedicated to addressing the stray dog problem, I do not see the country becoming fully stray-free in the coming 30 years. 

In a way, the strays add to the experience of travel in Greece, especially when you see a well-fed dog, napping in front of a traditional tavern. It is a part of Greece, and many Greeks believe that the life these dogs have is better than that of a family dog. However, if you plan on traveling to Greece with your dog, these strays might become a nuisance.

How does your dog react to other dogs?

Persa, for example, barked the first month at every dog she saw, while we stayed at a beach with at least 20 strays. I couldn’t sleep, we couldn’t enjoy a long walk, and I believe we both got crazy within a week. Luckily she got better with strays over time, and today even plays with them. However, when you are on a short holiday, you do not want the same experience. Besides, you have to be careful about interactions with a stray dog, since they might have diseases you don’t want your dog to catch!

So before taking your dog to Greece, find out how big the stray population is at your destination. As a guideline, the North has many, the South has fewer, the islands even less, and in Athens and Kalamata, for example, I didn’t spot a single one. If your dog is completely fine with other dogs running around freely, you should be fine in Greece. However, if your dog is reactive to other dogs, a nice dog hotel in your own country might be a better option depending on your destination.

And then there are the cats…

Besides stray dogs, there is an even bigger population of stray cats in Greece. They hang around trash cans or fish taverns, or gang up in abandoned buildings. You will find a stray cat everywhere you go, so if your dog loves chasing cats as much as mine does, you might have a more relaxed holiday when you decide not to take your dog to Greece.

Are dogs allowed everywhere in Greece?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You can take your dog to most beaches, outside terraces, and even on ferries. However, taking a dog to an archeological site, a tavern, or even a beach bar you might run into trouble. 

Due to this reason, I would advise you to never travel alone when you take your dog to Greece. Although I am doing this now, whenever I want to eat something, do some groceries, or visit a castle, I am facing a challenge. Many locations in Greece do not provide a place for your dog to stay when you enter, and leaving your dog in the car with Greek temperatures is impossible. 

An overview of the basic rules:
  1. Public Places.
    Dogs are typically allowed in public places such as parks, beaches, and outdoor areas. However, it is important to keep your dog on a leash and under control at all times. Some parks and beaches may have designated dog-friendly areas, so it’s always a good idea to check for any specific regulations in each location.
  2. Restaurants and Cafés.
    Many restaurants and cafés in Greece have outdoor seating areas where dogs are permitted. However, it’s always polite to ask for permission before bringing your dog inside any establishment. Some places may have restrictions or specific rules regarding dogs.
  3. Public Transportation.
    Dogs are generally allowed to travel with public transportation, such as buses and trains. Small dogs are often allowed in carriers or bags, while larger dogs may need to be muzzled and on a leash. It is advisable to check with the specific transportation provider for their pet policies.
  4. Museums and Historical Sites.
    Dogs are generally not allowed inside museums and historical sites in Greece. These places often have rules and regulations to preserve artifacts and maintain a peaceful environment for visitors. However, there are usually outdoor areas or gardens where you can walk your dog while visiting such attractions.
  5. Accommodation.
    Pet-friendly accommodations are available in Greece, including hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals. However, it’s important to confirm in advance if pets are allowed and if there are any additional fees or restrictions.

So… Can you travel with a dog in Greece?

The answer is definitely a yes. Even with my newly adopted and poor-mannered Persa, I enjoy traveling around Greece. However, I have plenty of time to teach her how to become a good traveler. When you come to the country for a holiday, you probably don’t want to spend your time on dog training. So here is a list of questions that can help you with your decision:

Do the quiz!
  1. Is your dog ok with being in new environments?
    If your dog gets stressed when he, or she, has to leave his (or her) domain it might not be worth it.
  2. Can your dog easily adjust to high temperatures?
    Greek summers are warm, so if you have a very old dog or a race with a high risk for heat strokes, travel off-season or leave your dog at home.
  3. Can your dog handle strays?
    You need to be able to relax on your holiday, so when your dog is reactive to other dogs and/or cats, a trip to certain areas in Greece is not a good idea.
  4. Do you travel with a friend, partner, or family member?
    Dogs are not allowed everywhere in Greece. When there is no one to keep your dog when you want groceries or a bathroom brake, your holiday will turn into a challenge. 
  5. Can your dog adjust to what you like to do on your holiday?
    If you are a beach person, can your dog relax next to you? When you love hiking in the mountains, can your dog join without getting tired? Be realistic about what your dog needs and what you want.
  6. Are you willing to dedicate the necessary time and effort?
    A dog needs a daily routine of exercise, food, and bathroom breaks. Taking your dog means you have to stick to a kind of schedule.
  7. Can you provide the appropriate travel accessories?
    You will not travel light when you travel with your canine companion!
  8. Does your dog have special health or medical needs, and can you access veterinary care if necessary?
    Vets all over Greece speak enough English to help you and your dog. However, if your dog has known health issues, check before leaving if they can provide what your dog needs.
Decide what is best for the both of you.

If you instantly answered all the questions above with a big yes, you’re ready to take your dog to Greece and enjoy your travels together. However, if there was a no amongst them, take your time to think about your decision. What’s best for you? What’s best for your dog? 

What to think about when you travel with your dog to Greece

  1. Pet Identification.
    Your dog should have a microchip for identification purposes. It is recommended to have your dog microchipped before traveling to Greece.
  2. Vaccinations.
    Your dog must be up to date on vaccinations, including rabies. Greece requires that dogs are vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before their arrival.
  3. Pet Passport.
    It is advisable to obtain a pet passport or an official veterinary certificate that includes details of your dog’s vaccinations and health status. This document will be helpful during your travels.
  4. Health Certificate.
    Some airlines or transportation companies may require a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within a specified timeframe before your departure. It is essential to check the requirements of your chosen mode of transportation.
  5. EU Pet Travel Scheme.
    If you are traveling from another European Union (EU) country, your dog should comply with the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which includes the requirements mentioned above.
  6. Airline Regulations.
    If you are traveling by air, each airline may have specific regulations and policies regarding pet travel. It is crucial to contact the airline in advance to understand their requirements, restrictions, and any associated fees.
  7. Accommodation and Public Places.
    When traveling with your dog in Greece, ensure that you make accommodation arrangements that are pet-friendly. Some hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals allow pets, but it’s essential to confirm in advance. Additionally, while visiting public places, dogs are generally required to be on a leash and under control.

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