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Heading to Greece?

At this writing, it isn’t clear whether Greece will default or not. Either way, however, traveling there poses some unusual problems:

  • Unless the crisis is averted, or maybe even if it’s just kicked down the road a few weeks, banks are shutting down some ATMs and limiting the daily withdrawal for locals. For now, banks apparently allow visitors with foreign credit and debit cards to withdraw the usual limits, but some banks are running out of paper currency.
  • Apparently merchants are not accepting credit cards, fearing that bank problems will prevent them from clearing charges.
  • Until the dust settles, take enough cash to get by if the ATMs don’t work or banks close. My guess is that euro, pound, Swiss franc, yen, and dollar currency will all be welcome. But if Greece drops the euro, its replacement currency will likely be unstable, so be sure to keep up with current rates.

Related: Greece’s Unspoiled Escape: The Peloponnese

If the crisis persists, and especially if Greece pulls out of the euro, dollar-equivalent hotel and restaurant prices may fall: Greece could be a very good deal if you’re willing to gamble a bit. But don’t rule out the possibility of widespread civil disturbances, especially in Athens. During prior financial problems, however, the islands remained relatively calm.

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