Hours of Operation
Most business and retail stores are open weekdays 6 am–9 pm, Saturday 6 am–8 pm, and are closed on Sunday (some more traditional shop owners close for a few hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons). But each establishment is at the discretion of establishing its own particular timetable within those limits, and establishments in tourist resorts may remain open longer, even after midnight. In 2014, a controversial law was passed for retail businesses in certain areas of Greece, frequented by tourists, to remain open on Sunday. They include Athens, Rafina, Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki, and the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Syros, Mykonos, and Santorini.
For certain categories such as pharmacies, banks, and government offices, hours have always been standardized, but again there are some establishments in tourist resorts that follow extended hours.
Many small businesses and shops in main urban hubs close for at least a week around mid-August, and most tourist establishments, including hotels, shut down on the islands and northern Greece from November until mid-spring. Restaurants, especially tavernas, often stay open on holidays; some close in summer or move to cooler locations. Christmas, New Year's, Orthodox Easter, and August 15 are the days everything shuts down, although, for example, bars work full force on Christmas Eve, since it's a social occasion and not particularly family-oriented. Orthodox Easter changes dates every year, so check your calendar. On Orthodox Easter Week, most shops follow a different schedule while on Good Friday, shops open after church services, around 1 pm.
Banks are normally open Monday through Thursday 8–2:30, Friday 8–2, but a few branches of Alpha and Eurobank are open until 7 pm weekdays and on Saturday morning. Hotels also cash traveler's checks on weekends, and the banks at the Athens airport have longer hours.
Government offices are open weekdays from 8 to 2. For commercial offices, the hours depend on the business, although most private companies have by now adopted the 9–5 schedule.
All gas stations are open daily 6–9 (some close Sunday). These hours are extended during the high season (usually from May 1 to September 30) from 6 am to 10:30 pm and some stations pump all night in the major cities and along the National road and Attica highway. They do not close for lunch.
Pharmacies are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from about 8 to 2:30 and Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 to 2 and 5:30 until 8:30 at night. The pharmacy at Athens International Airport operates 24 hours. According to a rotation system, there is always at least one pharmacy open in any area .
If it's late in the evening and you need an aspirin, a soft drink, cigarettes, a newspaper, or a pen, look for the nearest open kiosk, called a periptero; these kiosks on street corners everywhere brim with all kinds of necessities. Owners stagger their hours, and many towns have at least one kiosk that stays open late, occasionally through the night. Neighborhood minimarkets also stay open late.
January 1 (New Year's Day); January 6 (Epiphany); Clean Monday (first day of Lent); March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation and Independence Day); Good Friday; Greek Easter Sunday; Greek Easter Monday; May 1 (Labor Day); Pentecost; August 15 (Assumption of the Holy Virgin); October 28 (Ochi Day); December 25–26 (Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
Only on Orthodox Easter and August 15 do you find that just about everything shuts down. It's harder getting a room at the last minute on these days (especially the latter), and traveling requires stamina if you want to survive on the ferries and the highways. On the other hand, the local rituals and rites associated with these two celebrations are interesting and occasionally moving (like the Epitaphios procession on Good Friday).