Greece Drinking Age
A common question that young travelers ask before they travel to Greece for the first time: What is the legal drinking age in Greece?
In Greece, there is no legal age restriction for consuming alcohol. However, if one wishes to purchase alcohol in a public place such as a bar, the minimum age requirement is 18 years old. This is consistent with the minimum driving age in the country and is meant to discourage drinking and driving due to the challenging terrain and narrow roads which can cause dangerous accidents. While not strictly enforced, it is important for adults consuming alcohol in public areas to have an identification card proving their age.
Drink Driving – BAC Limits in Greece
In Greece, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drink driving is set at 0.5%, considerably more conservative than levels in the United Kingdom and the United States (0.2% for commercial or novice drivers).
If you are proven to have exceeded this limit, the fine you must pay will depend on your BAC level, with three possible categories of penalties and fines.
- For a BAC level of 0.5%-0.8%, a 200 Euro fine and 5 penalty points will be issued.
- If your BAC is between 0.8-1.1%, a 700 Euro fine and 9 penalty points will be given, along with the suspension of your license for three months.
- And if your BAC is over 1.1%, the penalties become significantly greater: a 1200 Euro fine, a six-month ban from driving, and potentially two months in prison.
Bear in mind, therefore, that drunk driving in Greece can result in some very serious repercussions; it’s simply not worth taking the risk.
Greece’s Drinking Culture
Greeks have long held alcohol in high regard, not only because they consume it on a regular basis with meals, but also because of its social importance. For Greeks, drinking moderately – such as wine, beer, and spirits – is done in a social setting to foster friendships and familial relationships, give them the chance to unwind from everyday life, and enjoy good times.
Nonetheless, getting drunk is unacceptable for Greeks, who take offense to tourists disregarding their customs when engaging in such activities. It’s important for foreigners visiting Greece to be mindful of these cultural attitudes towards alcohol, for not doing so can come across as disrespectful. In contrast, young generations are more aware of the drinking culture in Greece and use it as a way to break away from home and have fun with friends.
Types of Drinks Servced in Greece
Greece has drinks preferred by locals and can be tempting to tourists to try in a country that doesn’t easily accept public drunkness.
Tsipouro, also known as raki or tsikoudia, is a strong distilled spirit containing 45% alcohol which originated in the 14th century on Mount Athos. Its reach has since spread across Greece to Macedonia, Epiros, Thrace, Thessaly and Crete. Tsipouro can be enjoyed year-round, either as a refreshing cold beverage or a hot drink, making it an excellent substitute for coffee or wine no matter what time of day or year. When served in restaurants, it usually comes in shot glasses with ice and is accompanied by a variety of mezedes such as feta cheese, ham, olives, tomatoes, halva or other desserts. Tsipouro is a unique and flavorful spirit that connoisseurs around the world can savor.
Ouzo is a traditional Greek liqueur made from aniseed, fruity aromas, and herbs. It has become popular throughout Greece and Cyprus for its distinct flavor profile and cultural significance. Originating on the island of Lesbos, ouzo is traditionally mixed with water, served over ice in small glasses, or taken as a shot. As a traditional accompaniment, it comes with a selection of appetizers known as mezes, which usually consist of seafood, fried potatoes, olives, and feta cheese. Experienced drinkers will attest to the unique effects of ouzo; its sweetened taste brings a pleasant lightheadedness after only a few shots.
Ouzo Mojito “Ouzito” is a classic Greek cocktail that combines the aromatic flavors of mint, lemon and ouzo. It is frequently served after meals and may be customized to taste with an added splash of soda water for sweetness or even Coca-Cola for extra flavor. For those looking for extra indulgence, strawberries and licorice can add a unique zing. Before serving, a Slice of lemon or spearmint leaves makes for timeless presentations that offer visual appeal and flavor enhancement. Ouzo mojito is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, which will surely delight all who try it.
Retsina is a traditional Greek white-resinated wine that has existed since ancient times. Although it looks and even smells like an average white wine, the taste is unmistakably unique – a hint of resin giving this wine its name. It pairs especially well with seafood such as Greek lobster, fish, and other meze spreads, including feta cheese and olives. Not only does Retsina offer an intriguing flavor profile, but it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of winemaking in Greece. Enjoy a glass of this delicious and historically significant beverage for an unforgettable experience!
Responsible Drinking in Greece
If you plan on heading to Greece at any time and plan on having a drink or two, you must drink responsibly. If you don’t, not only are you damaging your own body but there’s a fair chance of you hurting those around you and their property while you are drunk.
Drinking and driving is risky to safety and comes with a potentially higher risk to fines. The legal limit on alcohol consumption in Greece is 0.05 — lower than the 0.08 in the United States or the United Kingdom — so when you’re caught with such a level of intoxication, you may be subject to a fine, which amounts to a few hundred Euros.
As a sign of respect, try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume, and rather than risking your safety and the safety of those around you, leave your rented car or quad bike at home and walk instead.
Although there is no drinking age in Greece and no purchase age is heavily enforced, the law does all they can to enforce its drinking while driving laws. The legal alcohol limit while driving in Greece is incredibly low compared to other countries and comes in at 0.05. I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t want to get arrested while on vacation, limit yourself and drink responsibly.
Getting Alcohol Poisoning While in Greece
If you want to get the full Greek experience while you’re there and try “ouzo”, an incredibly strong Greek alcohol drink, then be aware of the hangover you will undoubtedly suffer from the next morning.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to take things to another level and try something even more local than ouzo, many bars in Greece brew some of their own spirits. Although illegal to do so, the police in Greece don’t enforce this too much. However, while these spirits tend to be fantastic, they are incredibly high in alcohol, and for your own safety, you’ll only want to have one drink.
Many of the beachside bars you find in Greece are worth being wary of. Although their drinks can be very cheap, the chances are that you aren’t drinking what you’ve paid for.
These beachside bars are known notoriously for watering down their alcohol with ethanol rather than water. This is a cheap method for them to use and doesn’t make their drinks taste watery, although pure alcohol isn’t something that your body will accept lightly. Be aware of this while you are drinking in Greece as drinking one too many could result in alcohol poisoning.