Say in a restaurant you want water will they bring you tap water or mineral? I know in Cyprus you cant drink tap water, is this the same in Athens?
Yes, you can drink it, although it does have a chlorinated taste, sometimes stronger than others.
In a restaurant you could be brought either unless you specify. If you specifically want tap water make it clear, you will often be brought a bottle because they can charge you for it!
The water everywhere in Greece is safe to drink, but bear in mind the mineral content is different from the tap water in UK & this is what tends to upset people, just as a Greek visiting elsewhere might not find local water totally OK for their stomach at first. I see you are from London, where I believe the water can be quite hard (as opposed to the edge of the Pennines where I live where it is very soft) so even you & I might react differently in Greece. I find the Greek water is hard - my travel kettle always furs up in a few days. The best way plan is to drink tap water in moderation, accompanying ouzo or coffee, but if you want to drink a lot because it is hot or you are active then best to stock up on bottles. It is very cheap from the supermarkets. No real necessity in Greece these days to brush teeth with bottled water.
If out in the coutryside do not drink water from streams, no matter how clear & sparkling it might look. Always look for a spring emerging from the ground & drink there if you are really thirsty. With a stream there might be a dead sheep or goat in the water course higher up the mountain!
It's always good to ask, because sometimes the water is not drinkable, but in Athens, and most of the mainland, the water is drinkable, although usually chlorinated.
On many of the islands this is not the case, so ask.
It's EXACTLY the same as in Cyprus. You can drink it and you can brush your teeth with it, and if you don't like the taste, bottled water is readily available.
In restaurants they will either bring you tap water in a jug or still bottled water - never fizzy. Some places will bring you (tap) water even if you don't ask for it. For example, in cafes waiters will bring you glasses of water with your coffee or cake, sometimes before you even place your order.Edited: 16 March 2011, 11:29
Tap water in Athens is generally safe and I don't think twice about drinking it at a restaurant, however plumbers have recommended not to drink it from the tap (pipes) of old buildings. Around the country is a different story - in the countryside I'd stick with bottled water as there have been contamination issues in places.
Or you can use a water filter as I do but that might not be practical if you have to take it in your luggage.
Hey zgreekgal:-) FWIW, bottled water in Greece is very economical..sold everywhere! I usually stock up with a couple of large bottles.. 6 pack..when basing somewhere and start out the day when heading out by filling up a smaller bottle I've had from the night before! Don't know about Cyprus, but in Greece, I've pretty much at least taken a sip or 2 from the water brought to your table at cafes, etc..it's the same water used to make their infamous frappes;-) Have fun..and EnjOY!
Zgreekgal presumably drinks London water. Trust me on this, she will be fine in Athens, does not need to use a water filter and will probably not even taste the chlorine.
BTW Zgreekgal, I've just reread your post and noticed you said in Cyprus you can't drink tap water (well, we did, so I guess it may depend on where in Cyprus you are?) but in Athens and in most of Greece you can definitely drink tap water. To me it tastes no different than the water in London. Less chrorinated, if anything.
As for drinking from the pipes of old buildings, in London much of our water mains network is Victorian, so no probs there either ;-)
I like the Athens tap water - I actually think it tastes good (maybe I'm weird??). I definitely would not think twice about drinking it. However, it is good to know that there ARE quite a few areas in Greece where the tap water is NOT okay to drink, even by locals. I live in one of those places - we drink only bottled water, which is available at a rate of about €2.20 for 12 liters. Places where you shouldn't drink the water include quite a few tourist destinations, like Corfu Town, many of the Cyclades islands, Nafplio (this surprises many people), and others. A rule that many people follow is never drink the water in a port town. Personally I don't follow this rule as I find it a bit oversimplified, but it is always a good idea to ask. Many times the locals take it for granted that everyone knows that you cannot drink the water and won't remember to point it out to you. Also keep in mind that the reason why water is not potable can vary. In Corfu Town, it has to do with the pipes. Here in Folegandros, it has to do with the reservoir system, the pipes, and even the water delivery ships that bring the water from Lavrio. Don't be afraid to ask!!