This Greece packing list has it all. It is a complete breakdown of everything you should be packing for a trip to Greece, tailored specifically for the climate, culture, and activities you’ll find in Greece. I spent the last month traveling all over the country, hitting up idyllic Greek islands, Athens, and UNESCO world heritage sites on the mainland. I’ve refined this Greece packing list based on my experience on the road so you can pack as light as possible and still be completely prepared for this beautiful, sun-drenched country.
Most people travel to Greece between June and September, when everything is open on the islands. This Greece packing list assumes you’ll be going in that time-frame.
Backpack or rolling luggage?
Should you bring rolling luggage or a backpack for Greece? No question, bring a backpack. Simply put – cobblestones and steps. Lots of them. There wasn’t a single city, island, or town I traveled to that was rolling luggage-friendly.
I was SO glad I brought my hiking pack. I own and highly recommend this pack for women or this one for men (my husband has it). They are large enough for long backpacking trips, but can compress down to be very flat for shorter trips too. This helped distribute the weight throughout the entire height of the pack so my back and shoulders were never sore. I also love the back air channels that keep me from getting sweaty, a major plus in Greece where the sun is so intense.
However, I think my favorite feature of these two packs is the different ways to access stuff. There’s a top drawstring for top-loading, a large J-panel zipper opening in the front (I used this opening the most) and a separate bottom sleeping bag compartment. This basically makes the pack as easy to use as a regular suitcase, if not easier. I put my toiletries in the sleeping bag compartment for easy access, my clothes in the middle section, and miscellaneous stuff toward the top. I had a perfect system going and never had to unpack my stuff, I just pulled out what I needed. When you’re changing beds every 3 days, that’s a major time-saver.
For your carry-on bag, either bring a smaller backpack, messenger bag, or a tote bag. I prefer to use a small backpack when I’m bringing my larger backpack so I can wear the smaller one on my front. I use a backpack that I’ve had for over 12 years, but it looks like the design has hardly changed! Mine still looks new and doesn’t show any signs of wear, so I’d say it’s been a pretty solid purchase.
Whatever you bring, it should fit your valuables (laptop + camera gear for me) and anything you’ll need on your plane, bus, or ferry journeys. This could also double as your day bag for spending a day sightseeing or going to the beach.
If you want something lighter for your day bag, this folding tote bag gets good reviews, holds up to 50 lb, is washable, and folds into a tiny zippered pouch.
What to Wear in Greece
Packing clothes for Greece is fairly simple. For women, bring lots of sun dresses, shorts, skirts, tanks and bikinis. For guys, bring light-weight short-sleeve tees and button-downs, shorts, and swim trunks.
Light colors will keep you cooler than dark ones, especially on the Greek islands where all the white buildings and the water reflect the sunlight. I typically pack the same amount whether I’m traveling for a week or a month, and just plan on doing some laundry in between. Here are some examples for how much of each item to bring. (Guys, just replace the skirts and dresses with an extra couple pair of shorts and a few more button-downs).
- Dresses – 3 – Bring a few different lengths so you have options. Sun dresses that double as swim cover ups or that can be dressed up with some jewelry are perfect.
- Shorts – 2
- Skirts – 2 – A couple different lengths.
- Tanks – 4 – Choose tanks that mix and match with your skirts and shorts easily.
- Shirts – 2 – Ditto.
- Lightweight sweater or sweatshirt – 1 – Wear it on the plane.
- Pj/lounge tops – 2 – Greece-themed tanks, anyone?
- Pj/lounge shorts – 1
- Compression socks – To help reduce your risk of blood clots on those long plane journeys. After testing positive for Factor V Leiden, which is a mutation that increases my risk for getting a blood clot, I wear these every time I fly. You can even put them on once you’re on the plane if you’re wearing sandals and don’t want to look ridiculous at the airport.
- Undies – 7 – Since they’re small, I wouldn’t blame you for bringing even more. Laundry day can sneak up fast…
- Bras/bralettes – 3
- Bikinis/swim trunks– 2
Shoes and Accessories
Accessories are what will make your minimalist travel wardrobe really work for you. There is a lot of cute jewelry in Greece, but it can be kind of pricey depending on where you look. I brought a couple pairs of earrings from home that I knew would go well with all of my outfits and one long necklace for dressier nights.
- Athletic sandals – Something like these (women) or these (men) would be nice because they don’t actually look like an athletic sandal. They still offer stability with an ankle strap and have a good sole that you can walk in for a long time over rocky or slippery terrain. If you’re uncomfortable swimming in rocky areas without something on your feet, then make sure to bring something waterproof. I didn’t worry about it and my bare feet were fine while swimming.
- Nice-looking walking around sandals – I just got this pair and LOVE them because they make my wide feet actually look attractive. I love these too, they are incredibly comfortable and super cute with the two-toned silver and white straps! They’d both be perfect for Greece.
- Earrings – 2 or 3 – make sure you have these things to keep them from falling out on windy days or in the water. I bought a bag of 100 and now all my earrings have these rubber backs so I won’t lose another earring ever again.
- Necklaces – 1 or 2 – To dress up an outfit for evening.
- Small purse or clutch – Should be packable.
- Day bag – If your carry-on bag is too bulky, bring a compressible tote or packable backpack for beach or day outings.
- Travel towel for beaches/swimming – Most beaches won’t have towels to rent. These towels absorb 8x their weight in water, can be wrung out to 90% dry, and finish air drying super fast. They take up almost no room at all in your pack. I just upgraded to this size after having the smaller one.
- Sunglasses – If you have polarized sunglasses, bring ’em! You’ll appreciate the reduced glare from all that sunlight reflected off the Aegean sea and whitewashed houses.
- Plastic bags – For separating shoes or dirty laundry from your clean clothes.
Money and Important Documents
These are the essentials that will enable you to get around and stay out of trouble if something goes wrong. These items are non-negotiable, must-haves when packing for Greece (or anywhere abroad, really).
- Wallet – My wallet doubles as a clutch, which is nice for extra versatility when traveling.
- Credit card – Visa or Mastercard, chip enabled, and make sure you call to set your pin number before you go.
- Debit card – Cash will be your main form of payment in Greece so don’t count on using your credit card, even for hotel payments. Your debit card is your key to getting the best exchange rate for foreign currency just about anywhere in the world. Don’t bother with banks, exchange counters, or travelers checks. Just bring your debit card (make sure you know your pin number), notify your bank that you are traveling, and withdraw cash from any of the ATMs in Greece. As a foreigner you won’t have any trouble with withdrawal limits (up to whatever your own bank has set) because the ATM withdrawal limits that were imposed a while back are only for people with Greek bank accounts. Most islands had plenty of ATMs with plenty of cash, as did Athens and other cities on mainland Greece. Stock up on cash if you’re going to a more remote or less touristy place in case ATMs are scarce.
- Drivers license
- Health insurance card – Even though your health insurance usually doesn’t work abroad (this is why you should get travel insurance, below) it’s smart to always have this on you whether your abroad or at home.
- Travel insurance – I never travel outside the country without travel insurance. The international health insurance alone is a reason to get it, but it also provides peace of mind knowing that I would be reimbursed in case of lost bags or other travel disasters. I always upgrade to the highest level plan so all of my gear is covered in case of theft. World Nomads make it super easy to get a plan, and their rates are affordable.
- Immunization yellow book – You won’t need any special immunizations for Greece beyond the usual for the US and Europe. I always travel with my immunization record in case I wind up in the hospital and someone asks.
- Car rental insurance – This isn’t something you pack, but it is worth mentioning. If you have a credit card that includes rental car collision and damage insurance, you should pay for your rental car using that credit card. I can refer you to a few of my favorite travel credit cards that include this feature, just shoot me an email.
- International driving permit (if you will be driving) – If you have a US drivers license, you will need a supplemental international driving permit in order to drive legally in Europe. It’s easy enough to get and only $20. Find locations and requirements to get your international driving permit here.
- Confirmations – These days most flight, hotel, and travel confirmations are stored in our phones. Make sure you can access them even if you don’t have internet access. Also, make sure to print your ferry confirmations for any purchased in advance. You’ll need them to get your actual tickets from the office.
Miscellaneous Items in my Backpack
These are the random essentials I brought with me on the plane in my carry-on backpack. What essentials do you bring for long plane journeys?
- Notebook – I switched over to taking notes on my phone with Microsoft OneNote (omg I love it, it’s so organized, it syncs with all my devices, and my notebooks are accessible from anywhere) but sometimes that uses up way too much battery and I have to resort to the old fashioned paper and pen approach. I brought this fun travel-inspired pocket notebook for some nostalgic pen and paper time.
- Travel pillow – I love my Wrap-a-Nap! I can nap anywhere! Full disclosure, I know the guy who invented this. It’s the only travel pillow I’ve ever actually liked.
- Water bottle
- Change of clothes – Clean underwear and maybe a t shirt – just in case your luggage gets lost.
- Guidebooks – I love reading guidebooks on the plane! It gets me excited about the trip, and I like to highlight restaurants and activities that sound fun. I brought Rick Steves Greece and Lonely Planet Greece. I liked Rick Steves better for recommendations and helpful descriptions of places, but it doesn’t cover everywhere I went, so Lonely Planet picked up the slack. For some places like Folegandros, though, even Lonely planet only had a couple pages of generic info. Then again, I’m kind of biased against Lonely Planet. I find their descriptions all sound the same if you read the whole book.
Pro tip: don’t bring the whole guidebook, just rip out the chapters you need and staple the pages. Then you only need to carry around one chapter at a time in your purse and you won’t look so much like a tourist.
- Phrasebook – This is usually included in most guidebooks, so just rip this section out and carry it with you. Or, better yet, download an app on your phone.
I am also a photographer, and sell some of the photos from my travels. Some of this gear will most likely be overkill for you, but I wanted to include it in case there were other shutterbugs reading.
- Camera – I’ve found my photography soulmate, you guys. It’s my Sony a7 mirrorless, full frame, 24MP, super sexy camera. I love it, I love it, I love it! Maybe the photography purists will snub my modern mirrorless machine in favor of their big and bulky DSLR’s, but they can go ahead. I’ll just be over here traveling the world with my lightweight camera that pumps out equally good images, even in low light. Did I mention it has a weather-sealed body so I didn’t have to worry about sea spray or sand blown up by the wind while in Greece? Yeah.
- Lenses – I brought my 28-70mm F3.5 lens that came with the camera. Sometimes kit lenses suck but this one is actually pretty good. You’ll always get sharper images with a prime lens, but I like having a zoom for travel because it’s so much more versatile. I also brought my wide-angle 16-35mm F4 lens, which is basically the most beautiful and expensive piece of glass I’ve ever owned.
- Extra batteries and charger – I got these spare batteries on Amazon and they work great. I typically go through 1 battery/day with a lot of use. I always brought a fully charged spare with me in my purse or backpack (except that one time I forgot).
- Travel tripod – This great little travel tripod can be tossed in a backpack, set on a ledge, or wrapped around a tree branch. It’s a little too small to use with my wide-angle lens (it will tip over unless I prop the legs at an angle), but works great with the 28-70mm.
- Microfiber cloths – Lots of them! I had one in every bag and used them constantly, wiping sea spray and dust off the glass.
- Lens wipes – For when things get really dirty.
- Extra SD cards – I shot 80GB of photos in Greece so extra SD cards were a MUST so I didn’t have to go through and constantly delete things.
- Filters – I always keep a cheap UV filter on my lenses (mainly to protect the lens glass) but I also travel with ND filters. I use these for landscape shots if I want to capture movement of water or clouds. ND filters reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor, allowing the use of a longer exposure.
- Padded insert for camera and equipment – Rather than having one of those super obvious camera bags that advertise to the world “expensive camera equipment here!!!” I just use my regular backpack and slip one of these inserts inside to keep my equipment safe.
Electronics and Gear
I’ll be the first to admit, I carry a lot of electronics with me when I travel. With photography and blogging, I’m always toting some sort of device around with me, and usually 2 or 3. Since portability and performance are both super important to me when it comes to electronics, I’ve filtered through quite a few products before finding the happy combo I have now. Here’s what works for me:
- Phone – I have the iPhone 5s (I know, time for an upgrade already) but what can I say? It still works great, hasn’t cracked, and a charge still lasts a full day.
- Power bank – I have this one. It’s great for overnight plane journeys, long ferry rides, or those times when you forget to charge your phone. Holds enough juice to charge my phone 3 times.
- Laptop – Ever since my Asus laptop broke in two pieces and I was forced to buy a new one, I’ve been falling in love with my new Lenovo Yoga 900. I’ll do a review once I’ve given it a fair test run.
- Dry bag – Dry bags are perfect for keeping your stuff safe and dry when you’re on boats, canoeing and kayaking, or hiking through wet conditions. I normally use this for canoe trips in the Boundary Waters, but I brought it to Greece and was so glad I had it. For beach days or days out on the water, I carried my camera in my dry bag, and it gave me peace of mind knowing it wouldn’t be accidentally soaked.
- Pacsafe travel safe – This is the best invention for travelers carrying around expensive electronics or anything valuable. It is a flexible, portable safe that you can secure to a fixed object in your hotel room like the bed or a pipe. Only 1 out of the 11 places I stayed at actually provided a safe in the room so I was glad I brought it. Plus you can never really trust those hotel safes anyways. Sure, if a real thief really wanted to take your stuff, they could bring the proper tools and cut the Pacsafe cable, but typically hotel thefts are crimes of convenience. I’ve traveled with it several times now, and I absolutely swear by it.
- Headphones – Preferably noise canceling, for flights and loud ferries. I can’t recommend a particular pair since I’m too cheap to buy good ones, and I can’t find a cheap pair I like. Anyone have suggestions for someone with small ears?
- Hard drive – I travel with my camera and laptop in my smaller backpack that I always keep with me. I never store it under a bus or in the trunk of a taxi, so there’s little risk of losing my valuables. But, if something were to happen, I would be heartbroken to lose my photos. For that reason, I always travel with this portable external hard drive, and I back up ALL of my photos the night before a travel day. The hard drive goes in my other pack, so if the worst happens and I lose my valuables, I’ll still have the backup.
- International outlet adaptor – I keep it simple and just pack this universal adaptor that works for almost every country on the planet. I don’t bother with voltage converters because most electronics chargers these days accept 100-240V.
The basics, plus a few very necessary items to combat the sun and sea! Guys, you probably don’t need to bring the last 2 items. 😉
- Sunscreen – Bring lots of sunscreen! Seriously, at least one 3 oz tube of SPF 30 or higher per person per week of travel. Apply liberally and often unless you want to look like a lobster on day 2. I saw so many terrible burns. Also, don’t plan on replenishing while in Greece. On some islands, the sale of sunscreen is restricted to just one store and just 200ml (6.8 oz) of sunscreen will set you back over 18 euro (about $20).
- Shampoo – I’ve gone on about how much I love Lush’s solid shampoo bars for travel. Well, I still love ’em. No more messy liquids for me! Jumping Juniper is my favorite.
- Conditioner – Generally not provided in hotels in Greece.
- Soap – This is the only thing you can count on being provided for many hotels. Some will also provide shampoo but don’t assume they will. I stayed in some Airbnb’s, which often don’t provide this, so I just brought my own. (Click to get a $30 travel credit toward your first stay with Airbnb).
- Lotion – Something with aloe vera to soothe your skin after the sun would be ideal. I went through my travel-sized bottle in no time and had to buy more.
- Face moisturizer – Sun, salt, and wind will dry out your skin pretty fast.
- Laundry detergent – Travel size is fine for trips around 2 weeks. I hand-washed my clothes several times over the month that I was in Greece. Doing your own laundry is easy there because everything dries so fast out in the sun.
- Razor and shaving cream
- Nail clipper
- Hair binders, if you have long hair
- Contacts, case, solution, and extra contacts – If you wear them.
- Glasses – If you wear them.
- Ear plugs – If you’re a light sleeper.
- Hair brush
- Moleskin – This stuff works miracles on blisters.
- Q tips
- Plastic bags – To contain liquids in case they leak.
- Sea sickness meds – If you’ll be taking ferries, grab some over-the-counter sea-sickness meds or sea-bands just in case. These work great for fighting sea-sickness and nausea – more important than you’d think on some ferries.
- Face wipes/face wash
- Tampons – Or whatever you use. I still don’t understand the diva cup craze.
That’s it! I hope this Greece packing list has been fun and helpful! Maybe you’re getting ready to pack for your trip or maybe you’re just starting to consider Greece as a travel destination. Either way, I’m here to help, so ask your questions in the comments!
What would your Greece packing list look like?