Greece is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Located right on the Mediterranean, Greece’s rich history is as alluring as its Spanakopita and sunlight-covered beaches. Why wouldn't you want to volunteer in Greece?
However, in the wake of Greece’s economic troubles, volunteer work is sorely needed. Animal shelters need help taking care of abandoned pets, sea turtle conservation enlists the help of volunteers, and young students would greatly benefit from English teachers. Volunteering in Greece combines means making a large impact on the community while enjoying a beautiful and natural landscape.
One of the most popular ways for foreigners to volunteer in Greece is by working in animal conservation. Specifically, volunteers are needed to help conserve Greece's sea turtle population.
If you want to volunteer in Greece with sea turtles, the best time of the year to plan a trip is May through September.
You can also find volunteer projects in Greece working at animal shelters, with dolphins, or other environmental conservation issues.
More than half of Greece’s youth is unemployed. The young and the old need assistance given that the government is helpless to provide it itself. Teaching English and basic syntax to elementary-level students is a great way to improve the community.
The Greek education system is weak and inadequate for those hoping to continue into higher education. While after-school private tutoring was popular before the collapse, such option is much less convenient for families who are already suffering to make ends meet.
Planning Your Trip
Best places to Volunteer: Athens, Thessaloniki, and Prespes
How to save money while volunteering: Take a bus or bike instead of renting a car; don’t waste bags of money at bars; find out which bank charges less for using your ATM.
Volunteer Support: You will probably find that volunteers in Greece are well received. The Greek government and Greek locals are very appreciative of anyone who is willing to come and help rebuild the Greek economy, no matter the area. If there is a problem, Greece is not a third-world country. You can easily go to a consulate or embassy for answers to any questions or help with any applications.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Greece
If you hold European Union citizenship, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides coverage for emergencies but not for emergencies that require the patient to fly back home.
You don’t have to be jabbed with drugs to travel to Greece. With that being said, it would behoove you to take the following vaccinations: tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B.
Bar scams and thefts are unfortunately on the rise in Greece, particularly Athens. Do not be fooled when a couple of beautiful local Greeks keep asking for drinks. You will be left with a massive bill. Similarly, make sure to lock up or hide your valuables whenever you leave a hostel, a home, a hotel, or one of the many flea markets.
The beautiful island of Zakynthos is the largest of the Ionian Islands just west of the Peloponnese. It is an island of contrast, with towering limestone cliffs, beautiful beaches, and a bustling party scene.
Zakynthos offers opportunities for sailing, spotting dolphins, and enjoying the crystal blue water. One of the most famous beaches globally, shipwreck bay, is visitable by a ferry and swim from the main town. Note that the classic viewpoint doesn’t have access to the beach but is reachable by an easy drive.
Samos is the seventh-largest island in Greece and only a strait away from Turkey. Volunteering in Samos means endless off-day options. From cute little towns along the north coast to a hidden waterfall, you can even take a day trip to Turkey!
It is also the birthplace of the famous mathematician Pythagoras, who has a town named after him: Pythagorean. You can even visit the cave he frequented as a meditation spot. Samos is also home to one of the biggest Temple of Hera, wife of Zeus and the goddess of marriage and family, nearby the village of Heraion.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens has been the capital of Greece for over three thousand years. There are endless historical monuments to see, so you can nip to the Acropolis for a sunset view or gaze up from the Parthenon towards the sun whenever you have a day off from your volunteer work.
If that’s too touristy for you, escape to the Psiri neighborhood to discover the quirky cafes and shops. There are also plenty of day trip options, such as a visit to the ancient prophecy city of Delphi or a beach day at Vouliagmeni. There are even wine tours in the Attica region nearby that you can join!
As the largest Greek island, Crete is more than just miles of pristine coastline. Instead of going to the beach, you can spend your days off visiting the ancient Minoan culture. They are a bronze age civilization from 2600-1100 BC (before the ancient Greek came about). The capital of Crete is also where the ancient Knossos is located and well worth a visit.
The island is 160 miles long and riddled with hidden caves and monasteries that you can visit. During the summer, you can hike the Samaria National Park, most famous for its gorge. For somewhere less challenging, there are the restored windmills of Lasithi Plateau that also offers a great ocean view.
The biggest of the Cyclades Islands, Naxos is mainly an agricultural island. Some of their specialties are cheese and a locally produced liquor called kitron, which is made of a fruit of the same name. Though their potatoes and olives are equally famous and you will be spoiled with fresh produce and food during your time there.
If you are a kite or windsurfing fan, then you are in luck in Naxos, where the winds are favorable for all kinds of wind and water sports. You can also stay on land and go on an adventure on horseback to see the hills and coastline. There are, of course, beautiful beaches to laze on during your free time, too. You can find various temples dedicated to Greek gods scattered across the island for a dose of culture. Most notable is the wine god Dionysus’ Temple, as mythology had it that he was born on the island.
Alonnisos is Sporades Islands’ best-kept secret. The small island doesn’t even have an airport and can only be reached by ferries from Athens or Skiathos. This is perhaps why the island is known to have some of the clearest water in the whole of Aegean.
Only 12 miles long at its largest point, there aren’t many cars or even any buses on the island. But you can easily rent a moped to tour the island, such as visiting the sea caves. Otherwise, a wander in the narrow streets of Old Village will bring you back in time.