Yes, you can drink tap water in Greece – it is not unsafe. But thanks to the differing encounters shared by travellers and expats in Greece, this topic has gone from a simple yes or no question to more of a – if left with the choice, do you really want to? Kind of a question scenario.
So what is the general situation around water in Greece? Is the tap water really safe, or is it contaminated? As a traveller, what are your immediate solutions? Let us look at all of that. It might save you a bucket of anxiety and help you be more aware of how to go about quenching your thirst no matter where you travel in Greece.
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Is Tap Water Safe To Drink?
Yes, it is safe (as discussed earlier). But here is the deal.
Places like Athens (Attiki) – the capital, and other major cities like Thessaloniki have large populations. Water for these major cities is supplied mainly from the man-made Lake Marathon (along with other lakes and chief reservoirs). According to many reports and evaluations conducted locally and internationally, the water quality from these sources has been confirmed to be good and suitable for drinking.
So if you are going to Athens or any of the major cities of Greece, keep in mind that drinking tap water would be very safe, and it definitely will not compromise on the taste either.
In most Greek islands and other mainland towns around the coast and inland, the quality and taste of tap water might not be on the same level as those supplied to the cities. The underlying reason behind it could mainly be that drinking water from these areas is mostly sourced from local drillings. Since these sources are ineffectively monitored the water quality will not be up to par, and in a more serious case, a health risk as the water can be contaminated.
However, this does not mean that tap water in islands and rural mainland areas is undrinkable. In most cases, it just means that water can be slightly (or very) brackish – especially on the islands. Of course, in some locales, heavy chlorination helps make the tap water safer to consume. But the taste can still leave an impression. (Not the good kind). So under situations such as these the tap water is better used for showering, washing, cooking etc. but not so much for drinking.
Water Supply in Greece
Greece is a well-known travel destination. So technically, the water supply should not be scarce. As a nation, it actually has one of the best per capita water supplies in the Mediterranean, and it’s generally divided into 14 water regions. But thanks to the drastically varying precipitation, some of the country gets more than enough water, while the rest gets less than necessary. Nearly 85% of freshwater supplies form as surface water, and the rest is groundwater – out of which approx. 42% is utilized.
Tap Water Issues in Greece
Apart from the brackishness experienced in tap water outside the major cities, there are some serious issues that can truly affect you beyond the flavour of the water. And as a traveller, you need to be aware of the realistic possibilities, in case you are confident that your stomach can take any type of tap water after all the travelling you have done.
Detecting high levels of Chlorine byproducts in the water, lead mixed with water – as a result of using older water pipelines. Bacteria infestation (rare yet happens) are some of the very possible tap water issues. These problematic tap water situations can go way beyond ruining your taste palates and even end up ruining your stay in Greece.
Depending on where you are headed in Greece – you can check with locals, research on the latest reviews of travellers, and get a fairly good idea about the water scenario of that region, so you can go about making the safest decisions on how to get your thirst quenched without having to face complications by depending on tap water alone.
How is the Tap Water in Greece preserved?
There’s obviously much to be said (and done) when it comes to the water infrastructure of Greece. Regulating the water resources fall under the responsibility of the Government of Greece.
Unlike locales we discussed earlier, whose tap water is sourced from underground water drilling, all most all water resources that supply tap/drinking water to Athens and other major cities are closely monitored – on a daily basis, so in case an irregularity in quality or even a slight spread of contaminants were detected, they could be treated as soon as possible to further ensure that all distribution networks are maintained properly.
So If Not Tap Water Then What?
Bottle water is another go-to option.
This is something even the locals have admitted to doing as well – especially if they are living in the islands or the lands beyond Athens and other busy metropolitan cities in Greece where tap water is not the best hydrating option available. It goes without saying, bottled water is a safer choice if you are totally unsure of the tap water situation in that region of Greece, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system.
Fortunately, bottled water is something that is readily available in most places in Greece. Whether you are in a hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar, food store, or supermarket, you can buy a water bottle for cheap. Depending on your length of stay you can purchase a pack and keep it. The great thing is there are plenty of places you can easily purchase water bottles from. And there are some fancy choices when it comes to bottled water too. You can go natural or carbonated, domestic or imported.
But… again, be cautious. Anonymous water labels can still end up being just as dodgy as tap water from distant regions in Greece. Records show that one out of ten water bottles sold can carry contaminated water containing microorganisms. And that is not exactly comforting- we get it.
So when you are purchasing your water – make sure to follow some cautionary steps such as:
- Checking the manufacturers’ trade names.
- Production batch.
- Best before the date/manufacture/expiry date.
- Conditions of storing and use of the product. (if available)
- Chemical treatments used on the water. (if the information is put on the bottle)
As fellow travellers, we can agree research usually ends up being super useful. Especially when venturing on holiday adventures to foreign destinations and purchasing essentials. So getting a little research done here can honestly take you a long way in making a safe decision. After all, the whole point is for you to keep yourself hydrated without risking your health and your holiday experience in Greece.
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