Greece is a popular tourist destination, and a lot of people come here every day. When travelling, one really wants to stay safe and not get sick here. Water is usually the leading cause of sickness while travelling.
Can you drink tap water in Greece? The answer would depend on you. Most people say that if you can drink filtered and purified water from somewhere else, you should go for that. It’s not exactly safe to have it throughout Greece. Places like Athens and Thessaloniki have clean tap water, but that’s not the case elsewhere. Due to drought, many islands rely on groundwater supplies, especially in the summer. The taste and smell put you off, so you shouldn’t risk it.
In this guide, we will guide you about where the water comes from, the reasons for its quality, and tips for knowing what to do for clean drinking water.
Where Does Tap Water In Greece Come From?
Rainfall is very varied throughout the country, even though Greece has one of the region’s best per capita water supply. The western side is relatively more prone to precipitation and gets over 2000 mm at times, while other regions barely see any rain. This does not fulfil the demand for water supply.
Athens, Thessaloniki and nearby islands experience long-term water shortages. But the demand is even more significant in the southern region around Crete, a popular tourist destination.
80 – 85% of the freshwater resources are in the form of surface water, and the rest is groundwater. Most of the water supply is consumed by agriculture (87%), followed by tap water and industry.
The main issues with the groundwater supply are nitrate pollution from agriculture and seawater going into coastal aquifers.
Athens has more than a third of the Greek population, and it gets water from five different water sources, including Lake Marathon and Lake Yliki. There is also the Mornos reservoir which is 192 km from Athens, and the Evinos reservoir. There are 105 boreholes in three wellfields which are used during emergencies.
The water company of Greece is the second largest consumer of electricity in Greece as it has to pump water over long distances and to the mountains.
Quality Of Tap Water In Greece
Drinking tap water is safe, as discussed before but only in certain areas. The supply comes from man-made lakes and is filtered and purified. Many evaluations have been conducted on this, and the reports say it is suitable for drinking. You won’t compromise on taste or smell when travelling to one of the major cities/ islands here.
In other islands, you might find the taste a bit weird because the drinking water is sourced through drilling. There is not much monitoring happening here, so the quality won’t be up to par and could lead to serious health risks if it is contaminated.
This does not mean that it is undrinkable. It’s just that the water can be slightly saltier. Heavy chlorination can be used to make it safe to drink. But you will taste that too. In such cases, you can use tap water for washing, cooking etc. but not for drinking. If you are residing in a mountainous area, then mountain springs will have refreshing and crisp water that is entirely safe to consume. You can take your bottles with you and fill these up for use as the locals do.
18% of the country has been declared to be polluted by nitrogen. Other places, especially the rivers, are in poor condition.
The water infrastructure is also very outdated and in bad shape. Some sources say that around 60% of water is wasted because of leakage issues. In Athens, 50% of water pipes are made out of asbestos which is banned because it is said to spread cancer. The government denies any claims that the material has done any health damage to the population. There are thousands of kilometres of pipes which need to be replaced.
Besides high levels of chlorine in the water, there are also traces of lead because of the pipes and bacteria infestation, which will affect you badly.
If not tap water, then what? Bottle water is the best option you have. Even the locals admit to using it for their day-to-day needs. Especially if you are living in an area other than Athens, tap water is not the best hydrating option for you. It goes without saying that if you have a weak digestive system which is prone to getting caught in something with bad water, then bottled water is your go-to option.
Fortunately for you, it is available in most places throughout Greece. Hotels, shops, cafes, bars, supermarkets, you name it. You can get your hands on it easily. There are different brands for that as well. You can get fancy carbonated or imported water or the natural one; up to you.
Clean drinking water is a privilege, and when you do not have access to it, you realize what a blessing it is. If you stay in areas around Athens and Thessaloniki, you are fine to drink tap water, but in other places, you will need to be more careful of what you consume.
In other regions, they use tap water for other activities but buy bottled water to avoid catching something from the tap water.
The best you can do is to be careful and keep an eye out.