Vital Foreign Office advice for holidaymakers heading to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Canary Islands

The moon rises in the sky behind the 5th century B.C. Parthenon temple at the ancient Acropolis hill, in Athens, on Monday, July 31, 2023
There is lots that budding travellers should be aware of -Credit:(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The Foreign Office has issued updated travel advice for Brits planning to visit Spain, Greece, Turkey or the Canary Islands. With the UK's persistent wet weather, the urge to escape abroad for some sunshine is stronger than ever.

However, while there are plenty of fantastic destinations just a short flight away, extreme weather conditions are also impacting many popular holiday spots.

Countries that are often favoured by holidaymakers have their own issues. Recently, the Canary Islands witnessed protests where tens of thousands of campaigners marched through the streets of Tenerife, demanding a temporary cap on the number of tourists visiting the Spanish island.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides travel advice for UK citizens to all countries and offers crucial information for those travelling to Greece, Spain and Turkey to ensure their safety. We've compiled the information below.

It's important to remember that the vast majority of trips to these countries are trouble-free, but it's still worth familiarising yourself with the current advice, reports Wales Online.


Spain offers something for everyone. From beaches for sun-seekers, historical sites for culture enthusiasts, to some of the best cuisine for food lovers.

However, like any destination, there are things that all smart travellers should be aware of.

Terrorism in Spain

Terrorists are likely to attempt attacks in Spain. These attacks could be random, including in areas frequented by tourists.

Stay vigilant, keep abreast of local news and follow the advice of local authorities. In January 2023, a machete attack at churches in Cadiz resulted in one fatality and several injuries.

Political situation

Demonstrations, political gatherings or marches can occur unexpectedly, especially in urban areas. Follow the guidance of police and local authorities.

While most protests are peaceful, there is a potential for unrest or violence. If you find yourself near a demonstration, stay aware of your surroundings and leave if signs of disorder appear.

Protecting your belongings

Be mindful of the risk of street crime. Thieves often use distraction techniques and usually operate in groups.

Be careful with your passports, money and personal items, particularly when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire. Avoid carrying all your valuables in one place.

Keep a copy of your passport's photo page in a safe place. Ensure your accommodation has sufficient security.

Keep all doors and windows locked. If you have concerns about the security of your accommodation, speak to your travel operator or the property owner.

Vehicle crime

'Highway pirates' are known to target foreign-registered and hire cars, particularly those towing caravans. They may attempt to flag you down, alleging that there is an issue with your vehicle or that you have caused damage to theirs.

If you choose to stop to inspect a vehicle, ensure it's in a well-lit public area such as a service station. Be cautious of anyone offering assistance.

When on the road, be wary of individuals posing as plainclothes police in unmarked vehicles. In most traffic-related situations, police officers will be in uniform.

Unmarked police cars will have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window reading 'Policia' or 'Guardia Civil'. Authentic police will only request to see your vehicle documents they will not ask for your bag or wallet.

Attacks and sexual assault

While attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare, they can happen. In case of an emergency, dial 112.

It's advisable to stay with your group, never leave drinks unattended and avoid going off with strangers. Save the location of your accommodation on your maps app for easy reference.

See TravelAware 'Stick with your mates' for more tips and advice. Check out advice on getting help if you're a victim of crime abroad.

Drink spiking and alcohol

Be vigilant for the potential use of 'date rape' and other substances such as GHB and liquid ecstasy. Purchase your own beverages and keep them within sight to prevent them from being tampered with.

Alcohol and drugs can impair your alertness, leaving you less in control. If you choose to drink, be aware of your limits.

Be mindful that drinks served in Spanish bars are often stronger than those in the UK.


Beware of thieves masquerading as police officers who may request to inspect your wallet under the guise of identification. Authentic police officers will ask for ID but will not request wallets or purses.

All police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID.

Personal ID

If asked by a police officer, you are required to present photo ID. This applies to the Guardia Civil and national, regional and local police forces.

The police have the authority to detain you at a police station until your identity is confirmed. Ignoring a direct request from a police officer can be deemed 'disobedience', which is a criminal offence.

Hotels, tourist accommodation and car rental companies are legally obliged to register the passport details of tourists who check in or collect a vehicle. When checking into your accommodation, ensure hotel staff have registered your passport details or taken a copy of your passport before leaving reception.

Do not leave your passport at reception to collect later. You may need to show ID when making purchases with credit or debit cards.

Some shops will accept your driving licence or a copy of your passport, but some may require your actual passport.

Alcohol laws and bans

In certain areas of Spain, it's illegal to consume alcohol in the street. On-the-spot fines can be issued.

There are strict regulations on drinking and sexual activity in public places, including beaches.

Alcohol laws in the Balearic Islands

Local laws restrict the sale and availability of alcohol in parts of some resorts on the Balearic Islands, including:.

This prohibits:

Hotels and other establishments will evict you if you engage in dangerous behaviour on balconies. You could also face a fine.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Even possessing a small amount of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. If found with large quantities, you're likely to face prosecution and a prison sentence.

Illegal commercial parties in villas and private homes

There have been several serious accidents involving individuals attending illegal commercially promoted parties in villas and private homes on the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca. Licensed clubs and bars are required to meet safety and security standards, including emergency exits and capacity limits, and employ trained, licensed security staff.

Illegal commercial parties may not adhere to these standards. Look after your belongings, ensure you know where emergency exits are and avoid unnecessary risks.

You could be fined for attending such illegal parties.

Dress code

In certain parts of Spain, it's against the law to be in the street wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts. Being shirtless is also prohibited in some areas.

If caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or nearby streets, you could face a fine. For security reasons, some public authorities in Spain do not permit the burka or niqab to be worn in their buildings.

If you visit town council buildings wearing a burka or niqab, you may be asked to remove it while inside.

Changing money

Always utilise official money exchange offices or banks as unofficial money changers may provide you with counterfeit money. In Spain, possession or use of counterfeit money is viewed as a serious crime and could result in prosecution.


Spain is generally seen as a tolerant and progressive destination for LGBT+ travellers. There are vibrant LGBT+ communities and social venues, especially in larger cities.

Same-sex marriage is legal. Transgender individuals can register under their preferred sex on public documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports without the need for prior gender reassignment surgery.

Falls from height

There have been several serious accidents, some fatal, involving British nationals falling from heights, including balconies. Avoid taking unnecessary risks around balconies or other high places, particularly if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If your room has a balcony, adhere to the safety advice provided by the hotel or apartment, and keep an eye on friends who may be at risk. In certain regions, you could face fines or eviction from your hotel if found behaving irresponsibly around balconies.

Your travel insurance may not cover incidents that occur on a balcony or if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred.

Festivals, concerts and processions

Spain is known for its large-scale events and public processions that take place throughout the year. Attendees are advised to heed the instructions of local authorities and law enforcement during these gatherings.

Swimming and beach safety

Every year, unfortunate incidents of drowning occur in both the sea and swimming pools across Spain. It's crucial to always supervise children, even if they're competent swimmers or a lifeguard is on duty.

Extra caution should be taken when swimming in the sea due to potential strong undercurrents, particularly around the Spanish islands. Hidden rocks or shallow waters can pose serious risks, leading to severe injuries or even fatalities.

Avoid diving into unfamiliar waters and refrain from swimming at beaches where rivers meet the sea.

Many Spanish beaches operate a flag system for swimmer safety. Ensure you understand what each flag signifies and adhere to any warnings (a red flag indicates that entering the water is prohibited).

If there are no lifeguards, flags, or signs present, exercise extra caution and seek local advice. When walking along unpatrolled beaches, be mindful that waves can reach further inland than anticipated and may have powerful undertows.

If jellyfish are reported in the area, follow local guidance.

Road travel

UK photocard driving licences are accepted in Spain. However, if you possess a paper driving licence, it may need to be updated to a photocard version.

Provisional licences are not recognised for driving in Spain. To drive a car or motorcycle over 125cc in Spain, you must be at least 18 years old, and a minimum of 16 years old to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc.

Always carry a valid driving licence and ID while driving.

Driving regulations

If you're planning a road trip in Spain, it's crucial to familiarise yourself with the local driving laws and regulations, as outlined in the RAC's Spain guide.

Spain enforces stringent drink-driving laws, with police frequently conducting roadside checks for alcohol and drugs. Violations can result in fines, licence suspension, and even imprisonment.

On-the-spot fines are issued by the police for various driving offences, including speeding. If the fine is accepted and paid within 20 days, it can be reduced by 50%.

Further information on payment methods can be found on the Spanish driving agency website.

Low emission zones

In certain inner-city areas of Spain, permanent low emission zones ('Zonas de bajas emisiones' ZBE) have been established. Here, Spanish vehicles must adhere to specific exhaust emission standards and display an air pollution sticker.

While these stickers are not issued to vehicles with foreign registration plates, some cities, such as Barcelona, require advance vehicle registration.


When it comes to taxis, only use officially registered or licensed services, or reputable transport companies that you recognise. Licensing regulations vary across Spain, and in some cities, pre-booking is mandatory.

Passengers found using unlicensed taxi services could face fines of up to 600 euros. Therefore, always ensure your taxi or airport transfer is booked through a licensed firm.

Extreme temperatures

The scorching summer months in Spain often come with extreme weather conditions. It's advisable to keep up-to-date with information from the Spanish Meteorological Office (AEMET) and European Meteorological Services, who provide severe weather warnings.


Wildfires are a common occurrence throughout Spain, including on the islands, particularly during the height of summer. When visiting or traversing through woodland areas, remain alert to your surroundings.

Information regarding wildfire risks can be found at the Spanish Meteorological Office (AEMET). Its important to note that causing a wildfire, even inadvertently, is a punishable offence in Spain.

Ensure cigarettes are thoroughly extinguished, refrain from starting barbecues, and don't leave litter behind. Non-adherence to outdoor barbecue rules in forest regions may result in substantial fines.


Flash floods can lead to significant disruption, potentially damaging properties and infrastructure alike. Prior to travelling, make sure to check for any weather warnings from AEMET and heed the advice of local authorities.

Canary Islands

In recent weeks, the Canary Islands have taken centre stage due to ongoing protests. The slogan CanariasTieneUneLimit - translated as 'the Canary Islands have a limit' - has been predominantly featured on demonstrators' placards and other forms of signage.

Footage of protestors in their multitudes chanting, "si vivimos del turismo por que no somos ricos? " (if we are living from tourism then why are we not rich? has been proliferating across social media.

Tenerife, one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations, attracted over 5.8 million international and domestic visitors in 2022. The Canary Islands as a whole, with a population of approximately 2.2 million, welcomed more than 12 million tourists the same year.

Research by Spanish financial services firm CaixaBank reveals that the Canary Islands' economy heavily relies on tourism. In 2023, foreign tourists spent upwards of £17.4 billion in the region, accounting for about 19% of their total expenditure across Spain and contributing roughly 25% to the Canary Islands' GDP.

As the islands are under Spanish jurisdiction, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has not issued specific advice for them. However, the general travel advice for Spain applies to these islands as well.


Greece, the cradle of democracy and home to some of Europe's most stunning islands, is a favourite destination among Welsh travellers. Here are some key points to note before your trip:.

Terrorism in Greece

There is a likelihood of terrorist attacks in Greece.

These attacks could be random and might occur in areas frequented by foreigners.

There have been several incidents involving explosives and automatic weapons targeting Greek institutions, shopping centres, banks, media offices, diplomatic premises, and the police.

While British nationals are not typically singled out, attacks could take place in locations visited by foreigners.

Political demonstrations

Greek authorities have ramped up security measures at key locations, including tourist hotspots, in response to the ongoing situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Visitors are advised to remain vigilant, steer clear of demonstrations and heed local authority advice.

Strikes and protests

Frequent strikes, often announced with little warning, can disrupt public transport services, including flights and ports, as well as road networks and borders. Political protests are also a common occurrence.

It's advisable to avoid demonstrations where possible and follow the guidance of local authorities. Some past protests have escalated into violence.

If you unexpectedly find yourself near a protest, move away to a previously safe location. Security forces have been known to use tear gas to disperse crowds, which can affect breathing and vision.

Demonstrations regularly occur around major squares in central Athens, particularly Syntagma Square. There is currently an increased risk of protests, especially in central Athens, due to events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Nationwide strikes and protests can happen without warning and may disrupt road, air and sea travel, as well as cause delays or diversions at border crossings.

Protests can spring up without much notice, and traditionally occur on May 1, November 17 and December 6.


The Foreign Office has issued a warning to tourists travelling to Greece, advising them to be cautious of thefts, particularly in central Athens. Passports, wallets and handbags are commonly stolen on the metro and in crowded tourist spots.

It's advised not to carry all valuables in one place and to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport in a safe place. The same level of personal security awareness as in the UK should be maintained.

For those planning to drive during their holiday, it's recommended to keep valuables out of sight, lock vehicles at all times and always park in well-lit areas or secure car parks. Tourists should be alert to car crime.

Sexual assaults

Sexual assaults and personal attacks can occur in Greece, including attacks on foreign visitors in tourist areas and cities.

The Foreign Office recommends that all travellers follow this advice:.

  • save the location of your accommodation on your maps app, so it’s easier to find at the end of the night

  • set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with others in your group

  • keep an eye on each other’s drinks to make sure they don’t get spiked

  • don’t let a friend walk back to their hotel alone

  • don’t give a drunk person more alcohol

  • You should immediately report anything you see that doesn’t feel right to local authorities or hospitality management.

Personal ID

It is a legal requirement to carry a copy of your passport or other photographic ID which confirms British nationality at all times.


While the majority of visitors experience no difficulties related to race, there have been some racially motivated attacks, particularly in inner-city areas.

Public offences

The Greek police will not tolerate behaviour they find rowdy or indecent, especially where excessive drinking is involved. Such behaviour may be illegal.

Arrests will be made and courts are likely to impose heavy fines or prison sentences for indecent behaviour.

Some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and therefore against decency laws. Travel insurance may not cover you after drinking.


Smoking in all indoor public spaces is prohibited by law, with a fine of up to 500 euros for those who violate this rule.


Even possession of small amounts of illegal drugs can result in lengthy prison sentences.

Alcohol, drugs and the use of nitrous oxide can impair your alertness, control and awareness of your surroundings.

In Greece, it's illegal to buy or sell nitrous oxide for recreational purposes. Possession could lead to arrest or fines.

Public transport

On public transport, you may need to validate or time-stamp your ticket for it to be valid. It's best to check with local providers.

Purchasing goods or services

Always ensure you receive a receipt when purchasing any goods or services.

Items such as pepper spray, knuckledusters or knives with a blade length of 10cm or more are classified as weapons in Greece and are subject to the current weapon possession law. To carry any weapon, you must have a special licence from the local police authority, otherwise, you could face arrest and legal charges.

A special licence is also required to carry any knife not intended for domestic, professional, artistic or hunting use.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relationships are legal in Greece, with civil unions between same-sex couples being recognised since 2015 and same-sex marriage becoming legal in February 2024. The age of consent is 15, applicable to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

Transgender individuals have the right to legally change their gender. Laws against discrimination and hate speech extend to cover gender identity.

However, public attitudes towards same-sex relationships can vary across the country. Public displays of affection by same-sex couples may not be well-received, particularly in rural areas.

In contrast, places like Athens and several Greek islands, including Lesvos, Mykonos and Skiathos, are generally more accepting. We recommend checking our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before travelling.

Using cameras or approaching sensitive locations

Regarding photography, it's illegal to approach or capture images or videos of military installations, vehicles or buildings at any time. The Greek authorities will arrest and possibly prosecute anyone found doing so.

Certain border areas are also considered militarily sensitive. While you can visit these areas, avoid taking photos or video footage.

Road travel

If you're planning to drive in Greece, refer to our information on driving abroad and consult the RAC guide.

Before you set off on your Greek getaway, ensure any vehicle you hire is in tip-top shape and that you're fully insured. When it comes to renting mopeds or quad bikes, be aware that the insurance provided by rental firms typically only covers third-party damage meaning you could be liable for any harm to the vehicle itself.

If you don't pay up for damages, you might even find yourself facing arrest if the rental company decides to take legal action.

Navigating the bustling, speedy, and often chaotic traffic of Greece's larger cities requires extra vigilance. Always use designated crossings when on foot, but proceed with caution: drivers may not always stop as they should, and at times, the green signal for pedestrians coincides with a right turn allowance for vehicles.


In light of recent adverse weather conditions, several regions are grappling with flooding. The situation is fluid and can deteriorate rapidly.

Stay updated by following "112 Greece" on X (formerly known as Twitter) for the latest official information.

Forest fires

There are active wildfires across Greece, including in populated areas on the mainland and a number of islands.

Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. Follow “112 Greece” on X (formerly known as Twitter) for official updates.

You should:

  • take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas

  • make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished

  • not light barbecues

Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Greece even if unintentional. If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.


Greece can experience earthquakes and earth tremors. You should:

  • familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake

  • follow advice given by the local authorities

  • call the Greek Emergency Services on 112 if you are in immediate danger


As for Turkey, travelers should stay informed about the local conditions and safety guidelines.

Turkey, a favourite among history enthusiasts and sun-seekers alike, has a few key points travellers should be aware of before setting off:.

Terrorism in Turkey

The likelihood of terrorists attempting to execute attacks in Turkey is high.

Most terrorist activities have been reported in southeast Turkey, Ankara, and Istanbul. It's crucial to stay alert, keep abreast with local news reports and heed the advice of local authorities.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners, such as:

  • public buildings

  • places of worship

  • airports

  • large public gatherings (including major events, public holidays, religious occasions)

There have been a number of recent significant attacks in Istanbul:

  • In February 2024, one person was killed in an armed attack on the Çağlayan courthouse by the terrorist group DHKP/C

  • In January 2024, one person was killed by two gunmen in the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Sariyer, in an attack claimed by Daesh

  • In 2022, six people were killed in an explosion in central Istanbul.

Extremist groups operating out of Syria, including Daesh and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, are capable of launching attacks in neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Daesh has previously targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border.

Political situation

Sporadic demonstrations can erupt in cities and may escalate into violence. Police have resorted to tear gas and water cannons to disperse protestors.

Events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have stoked tensions in the region, leading to ongoing protests across Turkey. Large-scale demonstrations have been reported outside diplomatic missions linked to the conflict in major cities, particularly Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul.

Steer clear of all demonstrations and vacate the area if one arises. Local transport routes may be disrupted.

Street theft and pickpocketing

Street theft and pickpocketing are rife in the major tourist hotspots of Istanbul. Keep a close eye on your personal items and ensure they're secure at all times.

Spiked food and drinks

Purchase your own beverages and never lose sight of them. Be cautious around strangers:

  • approaching you to change money

  • taking you to a restaurant or nightclub

  • offering you food and drink these could be spiked

Fake alcohol

In a handful of instances, counterfeit branded bottles of spirits have resulted in the deaths of tourists. If you're unsure, seek advice from your tour operator or the Turkish authorities.

Sexual assault

In 2023, British consular staff in Turkey were alerted to 42 cases of sexual assault, including rape. The majority of these incidents occurred during summer holidays in coastal tourist regions.

The crimes were typically committed at night by individuals the victim had met earlier in the day, including hotel employees. There have also been reports of sexual attacks on minors using toilet facilities unaccompanied.

Exercise extra caution in these situations.

Vehicle safety

Accepting rides from strangers can pose a risk. Opt for a registered taxi and make a note of the registration number before getting in.

Personal identification

It's against the law not to carry some form of photo ID in Turkey. Always have your passport or residence permit with you.

In some bustling areas, particularly Istanbul, authorities may conduct random ID checks. Police checkpoints are also common on main roads throughout Turkey.

Comply with officials carrying out these checks.

Dress code for visiting mosques

If you're planning to visit a mosque or a religious shrine, it's advised to dress modestly to avoid causing offence.

Personal injury claims

There have been instances of tourists being urged to file a claim for personal injury if they've suffered from gastric illness while in Turkey. If you've experienced a personal injury, you can find guidance on the Citizens Advice website.

However, ensure that your claim is genuine. False or fraudulent claims could lead to legal action in either the UK or Turkey.

Smoking bans

In Turkey, smoking is prohibited on public transport, as well as in all indoor workplaces and public places. There are also restrictions on smoking in certain outdoor areas where cultural, artistic, sports or entertainment activities take place.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences.

Turkey enforces strict laws against the use, possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. Violation of these laws could result in a fine or a prison sentence ranging from 4 to 24 years.

Stray dogs

Stray dogs are common in most towns and cities. They often gather in parks and wastelands and can be aggressive.

It's advised to avoid approaching stray dogs. If bitten, seek medical advice immediately as rabies and other animal borne diseases are prevalent in Turkey.

Sale of antiquities

The purchase or export of antiquities is illegal in Turkey. Offenders could face a fine and a prison sentence between 5 to 12 years.

Some historical items found at local markets and antique shops can be sold within Turkey but are illegal to export. Always confirm the status of antique items before purchasing them.

Photography enthusiasts should be aware that taking snaps near military or official installations is prohibited. Always seek permission before photographing individuals.

LGBT+ travellers

For LGBT+ travellers, it's important to note that while same-sex sexual activity is legal in Turkey, the country is largely socially conservative. Public displays of affection could attract unwanted attention.

Comments about the nation and flag

Respect for the nation and its symbols is paramount. It's illegal to insult the Turkish nation, state, national flag, or deface Turkish currency.

This law extends to online comments or images, regardless of where they were uploaded. Violations can result in a prison sentence ranging from 6 months to 3 years.

Extreme sports

Adrenaline junkies partaking in extreme sports should ensure adequate safety measures are in place. There have been instances of British nationals being injured or killed during such activities.

Only use reputable operators and ensure you receive full instructions and training before your activity. Check that your travel insurance covers all planned activities.

Water sports

Water sports enthusiasts should book their activities at licensed centres. Heed any warning signs and flags on beaches, follow lifeguard instructions and local advice regarding jellyfish or urchins:

  • make sure the paperwork is completed

  • ask for a safety demonstration

  • make sure you know how to call for help

Road travel

If you plan to drive in Turkey, familiarise yourself with information on driving abroad. Remember, carrying a green card in Turkey is mandatory.

Travellers are advised to exercise caution when driving, especially at night. Approach checkpoints slowly and adhere to the instructions of security personnel.

While roads between major cities are generally in good condition, those in remote, rural areas can be poor. Accidents are common, largely due to reckless or poor driving.

Motorcycle and moped riders are reminded that it is illegal not to wear a helmet. Non-compliance could result in a hefty fine.

Drunk driving is strictly prohibited. Offenders face police fines and potential licence confiscation for six months.


Wildfires are a common occurrence in Turkey during the summer.


Severe rainstorms can lead to flooding and landslides across the country, damaging roads and bridges. Some routes may become impassable, disrupting travel and essential services.

If you’re in an affected area:

  • monitor local media

  • follow instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders


Turkey frequently experiences earthquakes and tremors, some of which can be high magnitude, causing damage to infrastructure and posing a risk to life.

In February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Gaziantep and neighbouring provinces in south-east Turkey. The region remains heavily damaged and may continue to experience strong earthquakes.

The FCDO advises against all travel within 10km of the border with Syria.

Only essential travel is advised to Sirnak (city) and Hakkari province.