Greece/Turkey Food Issues

We will be traveling in Greece and Turkey in late September and early October and I was wondering are there any issues with food and water that we need to be aware of. I am assuming that we should not drink the tap water but I'm not sure how safe fresh fruits and vegetables are.

Posted by Lee
1967 posts

There are no issues with tap water aside from taste, if at all. When in doubt drink bottled water. It's cheap and easily found. I can't begin to estimate how much uncooked fresh fruit and veggies I've eaten in Greece since 1985 and have never once experienced any ill effects. Use common sense. Wash the fruits and veggies. You'll be fine.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
22132 posts

John, I don't have any information on Turkey, but a few comments on Greece..... The tap water is fine in some locations but whether it's "safe" to drink will vary depending on where you're travelling. For example, on Naxos I was strongly advised by the hotel staff NOT to drink the tap water due to high lead concentrations. At Monemvasia and on the islands of Hydra and Santorini, the water may be safe but it tasted horrible! I'd suggest keeping bottled water with you during the trip (it's easy to find and relatively cheap). Check with your hotel staff in each location. I've had no problems with the food in Greece (but of course that's just based on my experiences there). You may already be aware of this but the "bathroom practices" with respect to bath tissue are a bit different in Greece (and I believe also in Turkey). I believe there's information in the Guidebook on that. Happy travels!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5572 posts

I'm planning a visit to Turkey and have been reading the RS book, written by a couple of locals. They say stick with bottled water - even for brushing your teeth. And I quote: At better restaurants, produce is washed with safe, filtered water. At cheaper restaurants, choose cooked food instead of raw."

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
933 posts

As a general rule, I tend to determine what the locals drink and if I see it's bottled water, do the same. In Turkey, we drank bottled water (cheap, easily available), were careful about fresh fruits and vegetables and suffered no "issues." Probiotics seem of value for me and I take them daily especially when at greater risk. No problems with the food in Greece.

Posted by David
Bellevue, WA, USA
758 posts

i'd stay with bottled water just to be safe, but brush teeth with tap water is just fine. I have used tap water washing veggies and fruits I bought from local farmers and eat fresh with no problem, so I suspect for the most part tap water is ok.

Posted by Mary
Reno, NV, USA
314 posts

In Greece we had no problems with any food or water. In Turkey, you need to be more careful. We used bottled water even for brushing our teeth. If you are apt to forget, then put a piece of toilet paper over the bathroom tap to remind yourself. We were even careful in the shower not to get the water in our mouths. We did not have any problems eating the food in Turkey but some people did get turista in our group but I don't know what they ate or drank to cause it.

Posted by Mary
Reno, NV, USA
314 posts

Seriously, do not - repeat do not - get the Turkish tap water in your mouth. Period. Even the hotels have non-potable water signs on the bathroom taps. Greece is fine. No issues for us.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
960 posts

I was in Turkey for over a month and brushed my teeth with regular tap water. Still lived to tell about it. Didn't have tap water at restaurants though because too many better choices - raki, pomegranite juice, beer, etc.

Posted by Rob
Dunwoody, Georgia
320 posts

I've been to Turkey many times and consumed tap water without any problems. I've also been fine with the food in almost every restaurant, especially those that serve tourists. That being said I did have an issue with a resturant in Adana many years ago most likely as a result of improper food handling, but possibly because I inadvertently ate Cig Kofte (raw lamb meatballs that had been ordered for the table). If you're concerned, by all means take precautions. Your best bet is to pay attention to the overall cleanliness of any resturant you're considering. As noted in an earlier comment, bottled water is cheap and readily available. A tougher precaution will be to avoid raw produce. Mezzes and garnishes frequently have raw onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce or other vegetables. If improper handling of produce is a concern, stick to pides (think Turkish pizza), kebabs and other grilled meats without raw sides, and any of the crockery/baked dishes. Pretty much all of the dairy you encounter will be pasturized, don't worry about cheeses and yogurt. Good luck!

Posted by Rosalyn
1524 posts

I think people vary quite a bit in their susceptibility to food and water borne germs. Some are rarely affected. My husband is one of those. I'm the other kind. We took a tour of Turkey in 2010. Despite drinking only bottled water, 9 of the 12 of us got sick. Same symptoms, but different times in the 18 days, so not from the same source. It was rather severe; a day or 2 of being flat out bedridden, followed by as much as a week of less intense, but still uncomfortable stomach upset. If I were to go again, I would operate as I've done in Mexico. No tap water for toothbrushing. No unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables. When we got to Greece, I was fine.

Posted by mimi
Vancouver, BC, Canada
175 posts

Over half the folks on our tour got 'something' after eating at our hotel in Konya. I had a large pack of Imodium in my luggage and ended up handing the out like
candy. Fortunately, the upset although violent was short-lived. Nasty.

Posted by John
Lake Worth, Florida, USA
101 posts

So it seems that water and food in Greece are really not an issue but the same is not true for Turkey. We plan to be in Istanbul for 3 days and Kusadasi/Ephessus for 2 days and than fly home. Hopefully with proper precautions we will be fine.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

"As a general rule, I tend to determine what the locals drink"
by this logic, tap water in much of western europe isn't safe to drink, because the locals don't drink it. bottled water is just what people in europe do, it's not a sign of safety. to the OP, I'd consult a guidebook, they tend to give better advice than anecdotal evidence. many people get sick while traveling due to being exposed to different bugs they have no immunity to (unlike the bugs we're exposed to all the time at home that we do have a built up immunity to) and often chalk it up to unclean food/water, particularly if they perceive the country to be "developing" or whatever. that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions, but rather that a guidebook written by experts will probably offer the most reliable advice for your situation.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
933 posts

@ Sarah, it can be but not necessarily is a safety issue as you point out. If most/all of the locals are drinking bottled water, I am too.

Posted by wayner
stevens point, wi, usa
286 posts

Hello from a cool Wisconsin, Athens: The hotel where we stayed had the best tasting water in a hotel I have ever had the pleasure to drink. We found the water perfectly safe. On our only island stay, Sifnos, the water was safe. Istanbul: The locals drink bottled water. Yes they do. Ask them why and they say, "taste". We had no ill affects from drinking the water. Istanbul is a pretty modern city. We drank it for 14 days and nights. wayne iNWI