Crete is a generally healthy place – the main risks are likely to be sunburn, foot blisters, insect bites, minor stomach problems and hangovers.
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Before You Go
- Bring your medications in original, clearly labelled containers.
- Get a signed and dated letter from your doctor describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names. In Greece it is illegal to import codeine-based medication without a doctor’s certificate.
- No vaccinations are required for travel to Crete but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
If you’re an EU citizen, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC; formerly the E111) covers you for most medical care but not emergency repatriation home or non-emergencies. It is available from health centres, and post offices in the UK.
Citizens from other countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Greece. If you do need health insurance, make sure you get a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- If you need an ambulance call 166.
- For minor illnesses, pharmacies provide valuable advice, sell medication (often available only on prescription in the US and other European countries) and advise on whether to see a doctor.
- Medical training is of a high standard in Greece, but the health service is chronically underfunded. Public hospitals are often overcrowded, hygiene can be a problem and relatives are expected to provide food for the patient. That said, Iraklio, Hania and Rethymno have modern hospitals.
- Condoms are widely available (in kiosks, supermarkets and pharmacies) but emergency contraception may not be.
- Tap water is chlorinated and safe to drink in most of Crete.
- Bottled water is widely available.
- Dangerous snakes include the adder and the less common viper and coral snakes. To minimise the possibilities of being bitten, always wear boots, socks and long trousers when walking through undergrowth where snakes may be present.
- Mosquitoes can be an annoying problem, though there is no danger of contracting malaria. The electric mosquito-repellent devices are usually sufficient to keep the insects at bay at night. Choose accommodation that has fly screen on the windows wherever possible.
- The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) may be encountered in mountainous areas, can be a voracious daytime biter, and is known to carry several viruses, including Eastern equine encephalitis, which can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications and death. Use protective sprays or lotion if you suspect you are being bitten during the day.