When you think about volunteering in Greece, you may soon be counting gyros as you fall asleep. And while it’s true that the rich cultural landscape across the Greek islands is alluring enough to attract you like a magnet, there are plenty of ways to give back to a nation that has offered the world so much. Between volunteering with vulnerable populations to helping protect the environment, volunteer programs in Greece are truly diverse. Here are some things to know about spending time in Greece and the volunteer projects that connect you with meaningful work.
Know Before You Go
Greece is a sun-soaked nation in Southeast Europe, comprised of thousands of islands. The exact number of islands in Greece is actually debated, with estimates ranging as high as 6,000. The capital of the country is Athens, a city that boasts more concentrated history than most places on earth. But Greece is known for more than the Acropolis and Parthenon of Athens — its famous black sand beaches and the lively atmosphere of Mykonos also draw in quite the crowds.
For a country as beautiful and tourist-heavy as Greece, you may be wondering why they would need international volunteers. The truth is that tourism has taken a toll on parts of Greece, especially coastal regions. Greece is considered a hotspot for biodiversity, and its animals are facing extinction as their natural habitats are threatened. Aside from tourism, industries like fishing and forestry are also affecting native species. This has created a demand for eco-volunteers in Greece: you can learn about the dynamic ecosystem while helping to preserve it. Greece also hosts many refugees, particularly from Syria and Afghanistan, who are awaiting placement in new home nations.
What else can you expect during your time in Greece? The country is quite rainy in the winter, though the temperatures remain mild with an average of 52 degrees. By August, the high temperature can reach about 92 degrees on average. The diet in Greece has a few staples: olives and olive oil, eggplant, lentils, yogurt, fish, and lamb.
Volunteer Programs in Greece
Global Vision International
Global Vision International, otherwise known simply as GVI, is committed to providing people of all ages with a meaningful volunteer experience. Their placement in Greece is near Giannitsochori, a seaside resort town that gives way to ancient ruins within just a few miles. No matter your age, your time with GVI asa volunteer in Greece will center on helping rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles.
Travelers under 18 have their own volunteer program in Greece with GVI, lasting for two weeks and teaching about marine conservation. GVI’s general volunteer program in Greecewill have you surveying and recording nesting activity, as well as working to preserve the natural habitat of these precious creatures. A longer internship is also available for six to 12 weeks; you’ll patrol the beach to look for new nests, educate the public about sea turtles, and you may even be involved with excavating and relocating sea turtle nests.
International Volunteer HQ
If you’re interested in working with young people while you volunteer in Greece, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) may be the right fit for you. This organization sends volunteers to Greece year-round, and all projects are based on the island of Chios. You can choose from four unique volunteer opportunities.
Sign up for the Food Outreach program, and you will help a social kitchen feed more than 700 people each day. In the Kindergarten volunteer program, you will be paired with a teacher and assist in the daily education and care of small children. IVHQ also has School Support and Special Needs Support programs, in which volunteers work closely with school staff to work with students in a variety of grades. If you want to work in the Special Needs Support program, you must have experience or school credits in this field.
Cross-Cultural Solutions offers a very specific volunteer opportunity in Greece. Volunteers will work in the Refugee Support Volunteer Program, the first program of its kind for CCS. Your entire volunteer experience will be dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to some of the 62,000 refugees who are currently in Greece while they await their permanent relocation. You will work alongside in-country staff to manage water and clothing distributions, offer emotional and educational support to residents, and work to maintain sustainable provisions of much-needed hygiene products and other essentials. Housing is shared in a town called Chalkida, just a 20-minute drive from the refugee settlement.
Frontier has a pair of outdoor-related volunteer opportunities in Greece, in addition to one adventure sport tour. If you want to make a positive impact while you’re soaking up the salty air of the Mediterranean, sign up for one of Frontier’s conservation volunteer initiatives. The first program is a turtle conservation effort, in which you will help protect turtle nests against everything from predators to tides. The other Frontier volunteer program in Greece presents the chance to protect local dolphin populations. You will be a part of a scientific team, dividing your time between taking surveys of wild dolphin populations out at sea and processing the data you collect back at the lab.
Ready to Travel?
Want to help the world and see the Mediterranean? Volunteering in Greece provides an incredible opportunity to help those in need in a beloved region while making memories to last a lifetime. Explore Greece, volunteer abroad, and make a real difference to the people and animals who call the Mediterranean their home. Sign up for an account on Volunteer Forever today to get started in your search for an amazing volunteer experience!
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.