Take Back the Tap! Drinking Water in Athens

Travel Tips — By Paige Moore on October 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

The “periptero” or kiosk in Athens is a dependable source for nearly everything when you’re on the go in Athens. On a hot day, you’re likely to see person after person taking a bottle of water from the cooler and chunking fifty cents toward the owner without even stopping to exchange words.

Courtesy of dusandz via flickr creative commons

Athens is a relatively dry city that can become hot in the middle of the day. It’s also the fourth most populous capital in the EU. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, the estimated population of Greece in 2009 was 11,282,751 people. Add to that nearly 412 million visitors from abroad. Then imagine that each of these people bought at least one bottle of water in one day from a periptero with an average cost of .50. That’s 15,402,751 empty plastic bottles to deal with at the end of the day and 7,701,375.50 euros spent!

But then what should I drink?

Athens tap water is not only safe, it tastes very good. It’s highly recommended to invest in a gorgeous reusable water bottle, fill it up in your hotel room and carry it around. All the cool kids are doing it.

See how the Ancient Athenians were eco-friendly at the Ancient Agora Museum.

Even outside of Athens, most of the mainland has safe, steady supplies of drinking water. The villages in the mountains, especially, are famous for their high quality of their water. The only place you might need to exercise caution is on the islands where it’s recommended to ask the locals if the tap water is safe to drink.

If you’re in a restaurant, many times the waiters plunk down a bottle of water first thing. Don’t assume this is because the water isn’t potable. In upscale restaurants (and bottom level tourist traps, for that matter) the beautifully packaged, glass bottle on the table might cost over three euros.

To ask for tap water in Greek, say: Mia kanata nero – which means “a carafe of water” implying tap, or “nero vree-sis, paraka-lo – which means “tap water, please.” the bold letters indicating where to accent the word.

But what if I can’t?

Let’s say that even if your intentions are good, you’re dry and thirsty in the streets of Athens and simply MUST buy bottled water.  In this case the least you can do is make use of the city’s recycling program. Blue bins, yellow bell-shaped containers, and sophisticated recycling points are set up in all areas of the city.

For all recyclables

For paper only.

Located throughout throughout square of the city center.

American activist, Annie Leonard, creator of “The Story of Stuff Project,”  produced a short film called “The Story of Bottled Water.” It’s just eight minutes long. Please give it your full attention and by the end of it, I think you’ll agree that making some effort to reduce the demand of bottled water is going to benefit the whole, wide world.


This blog was created in support of BLOG ACTION DAY with the hope of bringing awareness about our earth’s water issues. For more information go to blogactionday.change.org

Tags: Athens, drinking water safety, eco travel, Environment, Greece, Water

    1 Comment

  • Living La Vida Verde says:

    Completely agree! If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, you can buy a water filter for a lot less money than you’d spend on bottled water every day. My husband and I fill these glass bottles, http://www.livinglavidaverde.net, with filtered tap water and keep them in the fridge so they’re always ready to go! If you’re prepared, you’re much more likely to pass by the Dasani and Aquafina at the convenience store 🙂


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