Greece is a dreamy summer holiday destination, all turquoise waters, sunshine and beautiful beaches, but if you are coeliac worries about gluten free Greece can dominate your holiday planning.
I’ve been to Greece a few times as a coeliac and am here to reassure you, you do NOT need to worry. You can eat well there. After a recent flurry of emails from worried gluten free travellers, I thought I would write a quick gluten free Greece country guide. I hope this will help to put your minds at rest.
This is a country overview guide, with general tips on eating safely in Greece and broad advice that you can apply to all Greek destinations.
I have also included a little list of the fully gluten free spots I have discovered across Greece, most of which are on the mainland. Then, at the end I’ve linked to a couple of more specific Greek destination guides I found online from other coeliac and gluten free bloggers.
Top Tips for Staying Safely Gluten Free in Greece
1) Take a Greek Language Coeliac Restaurant Card
You can find it here. These are a lifesaver when you are dining out in a county where you don’t speak the language. This card explains in Greek which foods we coeliac cannot eat and also cover cross contamination measures. It’s quite seriously worded and in my experience always gets the right message across.
I tend to print a few paper copies (to save having to give my phone to the restaurant staff), then they can take the copy to the chef for reference.
2) Don’t Asssume “GF” Means Coeliac Safe
This really applies to every country, but I want to stress this again. If a menu is marked up with”GF” to show the gluten free options, you still need to give them your restaurant card. Then staff know to take the cross contamination precautions to help ensure your meal is coeliac safe.
If English is spoken, or if you speak Greek, you can ask whether the fryer is only used for gluten free food (if you were ordering chips, for example), and other relevant questions just as you would at home.
It might seem embarrassing or make you feel awkward at first, but it gets easier with experience and it’s better than having your holiday ruined by being glutened.
Also, don’t assume a dish is gluten free just because you can’t see an obvious source of gluten. Moussaka in Greece nearly always has bechamel sauce thickened with wheat flour, so it’s off limits for coeliacs. However, I was often able to enjoy other specialties such as lamb kleftico.
Try to focus on the delicious things you can eat. Rather than getting in a grump because you can’t have a particular dish (we’ve all been there!).
3) Naturally Gluten Free Foods Are Generally a Safe Bet
I find in Greece that I end up eating a lot of fish/meat, potatoes/chips and salad type meals. Lots of Greek dishes are naturally gluten free. Usually there are no sneaky marinades containing gluten to contend with, but again I always give them my card to play it safe.
In most of the restaurants we visited, I found the chips were cooked in a dedicated fryer, so I ate a lottttt of them over the course of the holiday! Of course there’s always lovely fresh Greek salad, garlicky green beans, grilled meat and fish to enjoy too.
I wasn’t offered gluten free bread anywhere, so if you really need gf bread with your meal best take some with you. But the amount of potatoes and chips on offer always kept me happily full.
We would often enjoy a selection of Greek mezedes (the Greek version of tapas), as lots of the dishes were naturally gluten free. Then I’d have baked potato slices or chips as my carb with them, while my friends had normal bread. I could then get a plateful to enjoy safely, before they got stuck in with the gluten dipping!
4) Consider Self Catering and Take Some Supplies from Home
It helps to be prepared when you are coeliac, just in case. Having self catering accommodation means you can have easy breakfast at home. Or make yourself a safe lunchtime picnic too if you fancy spending all day on the beach. Then you can dine out as and when you want. Rather than constantly stressing about finding the next safe gluten free spot.
When I travelled to Greece last, I was able to find some supplies in the supermarket. However, I took some gf breakfast items, bread and snack bars in my suitcase with me. To give myself a head start and as emergency back ups.
5) Greece is Subject to EU Allergen Laws
So you can rest assured that in supermarkets that allergens will be marked on packaging.
6) Do Your Own Research
I am a gluten free travel research fiend. So, always thoroughly trawl the internet and social media for tips and recommendations before I visit a new destination. I recommend you do the same if you’ve not found a pre-written guide for your destination. It really means you can relax while you are away.
Start with Googling “gluten free [your destination]”, then TripAdvisor and finally social media. These are all great sources of information for initial ideas as to where you might be able to get gluten free food.
For social media more specifically:
- Instagram: I will browse the specific hashtags for that country, e.g. #glutenfreevancouver, and see if any good recommendations pop up. Remember that not all gluten free tips are aimed at coeliacs. They might be posted by less sensitive travellers, so I tend to use these as a guide only.
- Facebook: there are lots of travel groups you can join (The Gluten Free Travel Guide is one I started). Once in those groups have a search for your key terms, e.g. “Spain” or ”Barcelona” to see what has already been written by group members. If nothing comes up ask the group a question, as someone might be able to help you out with their existing knowledge.
7) Enjoy the Fully Gluten Free Eateries
Athens has a few places with fully gluten free menus, so if you are visiting or passing through the capital you should definitely make the most of them. Outside of Athens, there are only a couple of dedicated gluten free spots, but here are the ones I have discovered:
- Yi – Athens – perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, or even an afternoon cake stop. Yi is fully gluten free, as well as plant based, and has a nice varied menu.
- Nudie Foodie – Athens – a fully gluten free and vegetarian eatery, which Rachel from the Sight Seeing Coeliac recommends in her full Athens guide (see link below). She said the waffles and french toast were wonderful!
- Thanopoulos Café – Athens – a supermarket cafe that is fully gluten free, not where you’d necessarily expect to look for a safe meal! A good spot for a quick breakfast, lunch or snack.
- Anthema – Volos – a small vegan cafe that also has a fully gluten free menu.
- Gatadis Fresh – various – NOT fully gluten free, but this bakery chain has a certified gluten free range and has a few locations across mainland Greece. Worth keeping an eye out for. Their gluten free range is made in a dedicated facility, and transported and stored separately from their non-gluten free goods.
Gluten Free Greece Destination Guides
For all inclusive hotel recommendations in Greece, check out my:
Here are some links to specific destination guides, written by other coeliac travellers I know personally:
- Athens – the Sight Seeing Coeliac (you can trust this guide, I know Rachel and she is a very thorough and a cautious coeliac like me)
And I will add any other recent guides from bloggers I don’t know below (so cannot comment on whether they are coeliac or not/what level of caution they exercise). I would always advise that you double check recommendations in these guides, in they aren’t considering coeliac friendly processes or in case menus have changed:
I hope this guide helps to kickstart your gluten free Greece adventure! If you want more holiday inspiration, check out some of my more detailed destination guides. These contain lots of restaurant recommendations and other tips:
Happy Travels! Laura xxx