How to Drink Legally in Greece
There is no legal drinking age in Greece if you are drinking in private. However, if you want to purchase alcohol and drink in public, you must be 18 years of age. That’s the law, at least, although it isn’t always strictly enforced.
Are Drinking and Driving Illegal in Greece?
Drinking and driving are illegal in Greece, as it is everywhere. Winding, dark roads, unfamiliar cars, unexpected obstacles and narrow lanes all combine to provide Greece with the highest road fatality rate in the European Union, whether you’re drinking or not.
What’s the Legal Limit for Drinking and Driving in Greece?
The legal limit is lower in Greece than in the United States or the United Kingdom. Just 0.05 will classify you as legally drunk, compared to 0.08 in the United States and England. If you’re arrested for drunk driving in Greece, you need to pay the fine, which can be hundreds of Euros. Even if you believe you can drive perfectly well while intoxicated, the equally drunk guy in the other car may not be so talented.
Do Greeks Have a Higher Alcohol Tolerance?
Greeks can get as drunk as anyone, but the ones who seem to have a higher alcohol tolerance may be wise enough to keep eating snacks, or mezes, while they are drinking. This often works well enough with wine, beer, ouzo, and raki in relatively small quantities, but stronger liquors have the same effect as they do at home and eating will only go so far to protect you.
While it is a good practice in general, if you’re going overboard, don’t count on a few bites to keep you sober. Drink moderately.
Alcohol Is Cheap in Greece
A common sentiment among people traveling in Greece: “Wow! Liquor is so cheap in this string of beachside nightclubs catering to young people just like me!”
And it’s probably cheap quality, too. Sometimes, it may even be dangerously cut with pure industrial alcohols. If that drink deal is too good to believe, it is. And just because it gets poured from a top-brand bottle doesn’t mean it started out in one. For this reason, many partiers stick to bottled beers, which usually are what they claim to be and are harder to tamper with. (If you can watch the bartender open your bottle, even better.) Even experienced and wary Greeks can be caught by the bad liquor served in these kinds of places.
Still determined to drink a bit too much in Greece? Stake out a table at a taverna within walking or taxi distance of your hotel. Better yet, drink as the Greeks used to and some still do: as an accompaniment to an array of mezes, little snacks, which slow down the intoxication process and may give you the sense to say “no” to that last proffered bottle.