Greece is a land of ancient myths, stunning natural beauty, and delicious cuisine. From the white-washed buildings of the Cycladic islands to the towering mountains of the mainland, Greece offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, beach holidays, or outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in this Mediterranean paradise. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the reasons why Greece should be on your travel bucket list, and offer some tips for making the most of your trip.

The basics

When to go

Greece has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. The peak tourist season runs from June to August, when temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F). The best time to visit is from April to June or from September to November, when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are thinner.

Getting around

Greece has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries. The metro system in Athens is efficient and affordable, and taxis are widely available. However, if you plan to explore the islands, you’ll need to take a ferry or a domestic flight.

Language

The official language of Greece is Greek, but many people speak English, especially in tourist areas. Learning a few basic phrases in Greek can help you get by and show respect for the local culture.

Currency

The currency in Greece is the euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially in small towns or on the islands.

Culture and customs

Greece has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors should show respect for local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, and be mindful of the country’s strict anti-smoking laws.

Food and drink

Greek cuisine is delicious and healthy, with plenty of fresh seafood, vegetables, and olive oil. Don’t miss out on trying traditional dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and spanakopita, and be sure to sample some of the country’s excellent wine and ouzo.

Must-see sights

Greece is home to some of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites and natural wonders. Don’t miss the Acropolis in Athens, the ancient city of Delphi, the monasteries of Meteora, and the stunning beaches of Santorini and Mykonos.

Safety and security

Greece is generally a safe country for tourists, but it’s always a good idea to take common sense precautions. Be wary of pickpockets, especially in crowded tourist areas, and avoid demonstrations or protests.

Etiquette

When dining out, it’s customary to round up the bill to the nearest euro or leave a small tip (around 10%). It’s also polite to greet people with a handshake or a kiss on both cheeks, especially in more formal settings.

History

The history of Greece is long and rich, dating back to ancient times. Here is a brief overview of the major periods in Greek history:

  1. Ancient Greece (c. 800 BC – 146 BC): This period saw the rise of the city-states, including Athens and Sparta. Greece became a major center of civilization, with advances in philosophy, art, and science.
  2. Hellenistic Greece (c. 323 BC – 31 BC): After the death of Alexander the Great, Greece came under the influence of the Hellenistic kingdoms. This period saw the spread of Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world.
  3. Byzantine Empire (c. 330 AD – 1453 AD): Following the division of the Roman Empire, Greece became part of the Byzantine Empire. This period saw the development of the Greek Orthodox Church and the creation of beautiful works of art and architecture.
  4. Ottoman Empire (c. 1453 AD – 1821 AD): Greece came under Ottoman rule, and the country experienced a period of decline. However, Greek culture and language continued to flourish, and the struggle for independence began.
  5. Modern Greece (1821 AD – present): After a long and bloody struggle, Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The country went through a period of political instability and economic hardship, but eventually emerged as a modern democracy and member of the European Union.

What to see

Parthenon, Athens, Greece
Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Here are some of the top attractions that travelers should consider visiting during their trip to Greece:

  1. Athens: The capital city of Greece is home to some of the most important ancient landmarks, including the Acropolis and the Parthenon, as well as world-class museums such as the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum.
  2. Santorini: This beautiful island in the Cyclades is famous for its stunning sunsets, picturesque villages, and dramatic volcanic landscape.
  3. Mykonos: Known as the party island, Mykonos is home to some of the best nightlife in Greece, as well as beautiful beaches and a charming old town.
  4. Crete: The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is home to beautiful beaches, charming towns, and fascinating archaeological sites such as the Palace of Knossos.
  5. Meteora: This UNESCO World Heritage site in central Greece is home to a series of spectacular rock formations that are home to some of the most important Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the world.
  6. Delphi: This ancient site in central Greece was once considered the center of the world, and was home to the famous oracle of Apollo.
  7. Peloponnese: This large peninsula in southern Greece is home to some of the country’s most important ancient sites, including the ancient city of Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

What to eat

Greek cuisine is a delicious and healthy mix of Mediterranean flavors and fresh ingredients. Here are some of the most popular dishes to try during your trip to Greece:

  1. Moussaka: This iconic dish features layers of eggplant, ground meat, and potatoes, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and baked to perfection.
  2. Souvlaki: These skewered and grilled meat (usually pork, chicken or lamb) kebabs are a staple of Greek street food.
  3. Spanakopita: This savory pie is made with spinach and feta cheese, wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry.
  4. Tzatziki: This refreshing dip made with yogurt, cucumber, and garlic is a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and pita bread.
  5. Dolmades: These stuffed grape leaves are filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat, and served as a delicious appetizer.
  6. Fava: This simple yet delicious dish is made with yellow split peas, olive oil, and lemon, and served as a dip or a side dish.
  7. Greek Salad: This classic salad is made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, olives, and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.
  8. Baklava: This sweet pastry is made with layers of phyllo dough, chopped nuts, and honey syrup, and is a perfect way to end a meal.
Greek Salad

In addition to these dishes, Greece is also known for its fresh seafood, grilled meats, and local wines. Make sure to sample some of the regional specialties, such as Santorini’s white wine or Crete’s traditional cheese. With its emphasis on fresh ingredients and simple yet flavorful dishes, Greek cuisine is sure to please even the most discerning foodies.

Transportation in Greece

Transportation in Greece is generally efficient and reliable, with a variety of options available for travelers. Here are some of the most popular modes of transportation in Greece:

  1. Air Travel: Greece has several major airports, including Athens International Airport and Thessaloniki Airport, which offer domestic and international flights to and from major destinations around the world.
  2. Ferries: Ferries are a popular way to travel between the Greek islands and the mainland. There are several ferry companies that operate regular services, especially during the summer months.
  3. Buses: Buses are a convenient and affordable way to travel around Greece, with routes connecting major cities and towns as well as popular tourist destinations. KTEL is the main bus company in Greece, and tickets can be purchased at bus stations or online.
  4. Trains: Although the train network in Greece is not as extensive as in some other European countries, it is still a popular way to travel between major cities. The main train operator is TrainOSE, and tickets can be purchased at train stations or online.
  5. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Greece, and are a convenient way to travel within cities or between towns. Taxis can be hailed on the street or booked in advance.
  6. Car Rental: Renting a car is a popular way to explore Greece at your own pace. Many international car rental companies operate in Greece, and rental rates are generally reasonable.

Uber is not currently available in Greece. However, there are alternative ride-sharing apps and taxi services available such as Beat, Free Now, and Taxibeat. These services allow you to book and pay for rides using your smartphone, and are a convenient way to get around major cities in Greece.

Some helpful websites to find the right transportation include Visit Greece, Greeka, and Discover Greece. These websites offer detailed information on transportation options, including schedules, fares, and booking information for ferries, buses, trains, taxis, and car rentals in Greece.

What to avoid

While Greece is generally a safe and welcoming country for travelers, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some things to avoid in Greece:

  1. Pickpocketing and theft: As with any tourist destination, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe. Be wary of pickpockets in crowded areas, such as public transportation or popular tourist sites.
  2. Unlicensed taxis: Make sure to only take licensed taxis, which have a yellow license plate and a meter. Avoid taking taxis from unlicensed drivers, who may overcharge or take advantage of tourists.
  3. Scams and rip-offs: Be cautious of scams and rip-offs, such as fake tour guides or overpriced souvenirs. Always research and book tours and activities with reputable companies.
  4. Drinking tap water: While tap water is generally safe to drink in Greece, it’s still recommended to stick to bottled water to avoid any potential stomach problems.
  5. Overcrowded tourist destinations: Greece is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, such as Santorini and Mykonos. Be prepared for crowds, especially during the peak tourist season, and consider visiting less crowded destinations for a more authentic experience.

An itinerary for 10 days in Greece

Meteora

A 10-day itinerary for Greece could include a mix of historical sites, beach destinations, and cultural experiences. Here’s an example itinerary:

Day 1-2: Athens Explore the capital city of Athens, visiting historical sites such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Take a stroll through the Plaka neighborhood, try some traditional Greek food, and visit the National Archaeological Museum.

Day 3-4: Nafplio Travel to the picturesque town of Nafplio, located on the Peloponnese peninsula. Visit the Venetian fortress of Palamidi, explore the Old Town, and relax at one of the nearby beaches.

Day 5-6: Santorini Take a ferry to the stunning island of Santorini. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the caldera, visit the ancient city of Akrotiri, and relax on the black sand beaches.

Day 7-8: Mykonos Take another ferry to the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos. Explore the charming streets of Mykonos Town, relax on the beaches, and experience the nightlife.

Day 9: Delphi Visit the ancient site of Delphi, located in central Greece. Explore the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.

Day 10: Meteora Travel to the unique rock formations of Meteora, home to several monasteries perched atop the cliffs. Take a guided tour of the monasteries and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

An itinerary for 20 days in Greece

Santorini

A 20-day itinerary for Greece allows for a more in-depth exploration of the country, including more time on the islands and visits to lesser-known destinations. Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Day 1-3: Athens Explore the capital city of Athens, visiting historical sites such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Ancient Agora. Take a stroll through the Plaka neighborhood, try some traditional Greek food, and visit the National Archaeological Museum.

Day 4-5: Nafplio Travel to the picturesque town of Nafplio, located on the Peloponnese peninsula. Visit the Venetian fortress of Palamidi, explore the Old Town, and relax at one of the nearby beaches.

Day 6-7: Monemvasia Travel to the medieval fortress town of Monemvasia, located on a rocky island off the coast of the Peloponnese. Explore the narrow streets, visit the Byzantine churches, and enjoy the stunning sea views.

Day 8-10: Crete Take a ferry to the largest of the Greek islands, Crete. Visit the ancient city of Knossos, hike the Samaria Gorge, and relax on the beaches.

Day 11-12: Santorini Take a ferry to the stunning island of Santorini. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the caldera, visit the ancient city of Akrotiri, and relax on the black sand beaches.

Day 13-14: Naxos Travel to the island of Naxos, known for its beautiful beaches and traditional villages. Visit the Temple of Apollo, explore the Old Town, and sample local cuisine.

Day 15-16: Syros Take a ferry to the charming island of Syros, known for its neoclassical architecture and cultural events. Visit the Ermoupolis Town Hall, explore the Ano Syros neighborhood, and enjoy the nightlife.

Day 17-18: Mykonos Take another ferry to the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos. Explore the charming streets of Mykonos Town, relax on the beaches, and experience the nightlife.

Day 19-20: Zagori Travel to the Zagori region in northwestern Greece, known for its stunning natural beauty and traditional stone villages. Hike the Vikos Gorge, visit the village of Monodendri, and sample local cuisine.

What to pack

When packing for a trip to Greece, it’s important to consider the time of year and the activities you have planned. Here are some general packing tips:

Mediterranean climate
  1. Clothing: Greece has a Mediterranean climate, so lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended. Pack comfortable walking shoes, sandals, swimsuits, and light layers for cooler evenings or air-conditioned indoor spaces. For visits to religious sites, such as monasteries and churches, it’s recommended to wear modest clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.
  2. Sun protection: The sun can be intense in Greece, especially during the summer months. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  3. Travel essentials: Don’t forget to bring a travel adapter for your electronics, a camera to capture memories, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
  4. Toiletries: Greece has all the standard toiletries available, but if you have specific preferences, be sure to bring them with you. Mosquito repellent can also be useful, especially if you plan to spend time outdoors in the evenings.
  5. Documents: Bring a valid passport, travel insurance, and any necessary visas or travel documents.
  6. Money: Bring some cash and a credit/debit card for making purchases. It’s recommended to notify your bank and credit card company of your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage.

Daily budget

Your daily budget for traveling in Greece will depend on your travel style, accommodation preferences, and activities planned. Generally speaking, Greece can be an affordable destination for travelers, but costs can vary widely depending on the season and location. Here’s a breakdown of typical daily expenses:

  1. Accommodation: Budget hotels and hostels can be found for around €20-€50 per night, while mid-range hotels can range from €50-€100 per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost upwards of €200 per night.
  2. Food and Drink: A budget meal at a taverna or souvlaki stand can cost around €5-€10, while a mid-range restaurant meal can cost around €15-€25 per person. Local wine and beer are affordable, while imported drinks can be more expensive.
  3. Transportation: Local buses and ferries are generally inexpensive, with prices ranging from a few euros to €20 depending on the distance. Taxis can be more expensive, with rates varying depending on the city and time of day.
  4. Activities: Many historical sites and museums have affordable entry fees, ranging from €2-€15. Outdoor activities such as hiking and beach-going are usually free.

Based on these average costs, a budget traveler in Greece can expect to spend around €40-€60 per day, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around €80-€120 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of €200 per day. However, keep in mind that costs can vary widely depending on your specific itinerary and travel style, so it’s always a good idea to do some research and budget accordingly.

What to buy

Greece is known for its unique arts, crafts, and local products. Here are some popular souvenirs and items to buy during your trip to Greece:

  1. Olive oil: Greece is famous for its high-quality olive oil, which is used in many traditional Greek dishes. Look for extra-virgin olive oil produced locally.
  2. Greek honey: Greece is home to a variety of honey-producing bees, with different types of honey available depending on the region. Look for locally-produced honey to take home.
  3. Traditional crafts: Greece is known for its traditional crafts, such as pottery, textiles, and jewelry. Look for handmade pieces that reflect the local culture and style.
  4. Spices and herbs: Greece is known for its flavorful cuisine, with many herbs and spices used to enhance the taste of dishes. Look for locally-sourced herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
  5. Greek wine: Greece has a long tradition of wine-making, with many unique varietals available. Look for local wines to take home as a souvenir.
  6. Greek sweets: Greece is famous for its desserts and pastries, such as baklava, loukoumades, and koulourakia. Look for traditional sweets to take home as a treat.
  7. Souvenirs and gifts: Look for traditional Greek souvenirs, such as worry beads, leather sandals, and handmade pottery.
Shopping for souvenirs in Greece

When shopping for souvenirs in Greece, it’s important to look for locally-made and authentic products to support the local economy and culture. Shopping at local markets and small businesses is a great way to find unique and authentic items.

Places to stay

Here are some recommended accommodation in Greece, along with links to their websites:

  1. Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens: This luxury hotel is located in the heart of Athens, offering stunning views of the city and the Acropolis. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites, a rooftop bar, a spa, and a fitness center. Website: https://www.grandebretagne.gr/
  2. Canaves Oia Epitome, Santorini: This luxurious hotel is located in the charming village of Oia in Santorini, offering breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. The hotel features elegant suites with private plunge pools, a spa, a fitness center, and an infinity pool. Website: https://www.canaves.com/canaves-oia-epitome
  3. Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort, Mykonos: This five-star hotel is located on a secluded beach on the island of Mykonos, offering stunning views of the sea. The hotel features luxurious rooms and suites, a spa, a fitness center, and a pool. Website: https://www.mykonosgrand.gr/
  4. Creta Maris Beach Resort, Crete: This all-inclusive resort is located on a private beach in Hersonissos, Crete, offering a wide range of amenities and activities for all ages. The resort features spacious rooms and suites, 7 swimming pools, a spa, and a variety of restaurants and bars. Website: https://www.cretamaris.gr/
  5. The Met Hotel, Thessaloniki: This contemporary hotel is located in the heart of Thessaloniki, offering stylish rooms and suites, a rooftop bar, a spa, and a fitness center. The hotel also features a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine. Website: https://www.themethotel.gr/

How to be woke in Greece

To be “woke” in Greece, it’s important to be respectful of the local culture and customs, and to support local businesses and communities. Here are some tips:

  1. Learn about the history and culture of Greece: Educate yourself about the history, culture, and traditions of Greece. This will help you better understand and appreciate the local way of life.
  2. Be respectful of cultural norms: Dress appropriately, especially when visiting religious sites. Avoid loud and disrespectful behavior, and be mindful of local customs and etiquette.
  3. Support local businesses: Eat at local restaurants, shop at local markets and stores, and stay in locally-owned accommodations. This helps to support the local economy and promote sustainable tourism.
  4. Reduce your environmental impact: Greece is home to many beautiful natural sites, so it’s important to be mindful of your environmental impact. Reduce your plastic usage, avoid littering, and support eco-friendly tourism initiatives.
  5. Engage in meaningful travel: Take the time to connect with local communities and learn about their daily lives. Consider volunteering or participating in cultural activities and events.

By being respectful, mindful, and engaged, you can have a meaningful and responsible travel experience in Greece.

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