What’s the legal drinking age in Greece for tourists? Do you need to show ID? What’s the legal limit for drinking and driving in Greece? Don’t worry – we’ve got the answers to these questions and to the other ones you have about ID checks, clubbing age, and what to drink in Greece.
So read on because we’ve got all of the frequently asked questions about the drinking age in Greece in 2023 covered!
Table of Contents
- Do Greeks drink a lot? Traditional Greek Drinking Culture
- Ouzo in Greece
- Is Greece strict on the drinking age?
- At what age can I legally purchase alcohol in Greece?
- Can I walk around with alcohol?
- What is the Legal Limit for Drinking and Driving in Greece
- Greek nightlife: Clubbing and IDs
- Frequently asked questions
- Final Thoughts
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Do Greeks drink a lot? Traditional Greek Drinking Culture
Social drinking is the norm in Greece and drinking alcohol, including strong liquor, is part of traditional Greek life.
If you visit an archaeological site in Greece, like Akrotiri on Santorini, you’ll see wine storage containers (urns and amphorae) from 3,500 years ago.
By the Hellenic Age, a part of Greek identity that they believed distinguished themselves from other less ‘civilized peoples’, was their consumption of wine.
Even young children may be given very watered-down wine to drink at family gatherings and alcohol is generally consumed by adults at all meals (not so much breakfast anymore!)
Despite the fact that they seemingly put away alcohol nonstop, in Greece social drinking is all about being able to demonstrate that you can drink responsibly, which is to say, to drink moderately.
Public displays of drunkenness in Greece, as in many other European countries (Continental Europe), is rare and it is not considered appropriate to be obviously very inebriated.
There are always areas of big cities and some beach resorts where you can find exceptions (especially among tourists).
Ouzo in Greece
The smell and taste of anise will always evoke the magical Greek islands after you’ve been introduced to the Greek’s favorite spirit, Ouzo.
It’s hard to imagine that the monks of Mount Athos in the 14th century could have foreseen just how popular their new strong liquor would be.
Traditionally Ouzo is served chilled, with water and ice, in a small glass, and while eating mezze.
And while it may seem like Greeks consume incredible amounts of the stuff every day, for people who don’t drink spirits every day, you can find yourself becoming legally drunk very quickly!
And the point about Greeks drinking in moderation is really important – they’re not trying to drink half a bottle as quickly as possible.
In fact, a WHO study has found that Greeks drink on average quite a bit less than other Europeans. They are also drinking less Ouzo, and more wine and beer.
Beer is a safer alcohol to stick to, especially if you are trying to stay under the legal driving limit by drinking moderately over a long evening.
Is Greece strict on the drinking age?
The official legal drinking age in Greece is 18 in public and you also have to be 18 to buy alcohol. In reality, these laws are not strictly enforced and in many tourist zones, they’re not enforced at all.
At what age can I legally purchase alcohol in Greece?
Under Greek law, you can purchase alcohol at 18 but the reality is that you’ll be sold alcohol of just about any type in a supermarket without being asked for ID.
Can I walk around with alcohol?
Yes and No. No in Athens. In Athens, there is an ‘open container ordinance’ so you can’t even stand a meter or two away from a bar with alcohol in your hand.
In Athens, the Greek police do enforce the law of no alcohol consumption in public spaces.
Otherwise, you can walk around with alcohol in your hand, but you can’t walk around drunk! But again, the chances of this law being enforced is low.
What is the Legal Limit for Drinking and Driving in Greece
Like many European countries, a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent is the maximum allowable to drive in Greece. This is lower than England, Northern Ireland, and the U.S. where it is 0.08 percent.
If you are a novice driver, that drops to 0.02 percent.
In other words, you can have two standard drinks and drive if you have a regular license, and no alcohol if you don’t yet have your full license.
If you live in the U.S. and the U.K., you might be more used to the limit of three standard drinks or 0.08 percent, so you need to take care with Greece’s lower limit, even if you believe you can drive perfectly well on at 0.05 blood alcohol content.
It’s also the case that in many parts of Greece, you’ll find yourself driving at night on dirt and winding roads, often without street lighting, and the police do enforce drink driving laws.
The fine for being caught over the limit is €1,200 and, depending on the severity of the charge, a prison term can be involved.
It’s mad to be drunk driving in Greece, most especially if you’ve rented a quad bike. ATVs (Quad bikes) are less stable than cars because of their high center of gravity.
They’re also harder to see at night, and so you have more chance of being hit by an equally drunk guy in another car!
There are so many pubs and clubs and Greece – choose one you can walk to, get an Uber, or stay at an all-inclusive resort!
Greek nightlife: Clubbing and IDs
Young people in Greece begin to filter into late-night bars and clubs around midnight. The bars close in the early morning hours but in party areas, the clubs stay open until about 7 am.
Legally you can be denied entry if your ID was checked and you were under 18 years of age. In practice, this doesn’t happen.
Frequently asked questions
Is There a Drinking Age Limit in Greece?
There’s no maximum drinking age limit in Greece, but there is a minimum age. You cannot be served alcohol in Greece if you are under 18 years of age.
Do Greek clubs check ID?
Can I go clubbing in Greece at 17? How old do you have to be to go clubbing in Greece?
Legally no, however, the chances of anyone ever checking your ID – well- it would be a very rare occasion, especially on party islands like Zakynthos and Mykonos.
The legal age to go into clubs that sell alcohol (and that would be all of them!) is 18.
Is 16 legal in Greece?
It is not legal to drink or consume alcohol in Greece in public at 16 years of age but the is no legal minimum age for drinking alcohol in private. The legal drinking age in Greece is 18 for drinking in public and for purchasing alcohol.
What country lets you drink at 13? What country has the lowest drinking age?
According to the World Population Review, 2023, there is no minimum age to legally drink alcohol in 111 countries. There is usually, however, a minimum legal age to purchase alcohol, with the average age being 18.
In what countries can 16-year-olds drink?
There are around 20 countries in which 16-year-olds can legally consume alcohol. They include:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
What is Ouzo?
Ouzo is a distilled spirit that is flavored with anise. It is a traditional aperitif in Greece and has been recognized by the European Union with a Protection Label of Origin which means it can only be produced in Greece and Cyprus.
The main Ouzo distilleries in Greece are on the island of Lesbos, and there is also a Museum of Orzo on the island.
Keep planning your trip to Greece with more Greek Planning Tips and destinations to get inspired about!