Greece Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: € Euro
🕙Time Zone: GMT +2
📞Phone Code: +30
✈️Best time to visit: Year round.
🍴Eat: Fried Haloumi Cheese and Calamari
🍷Drink: Greek Coffee
🗺️Don't miss: Acropolis in Athens.
🗺 Menu of Contents:
Greece is a magical and capturrating country where one can feel going back centuries in time with its ancient culture and fantastical myths. Visions of vengeful gods and goddesses, massive armies led by generals riding in chariots, and great philosophers. World-famous sites like the Parthenon in Athens, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the churches of Thessaloniki, and the Oracle of Delphi are just some of the highlights of this spectacular country with so much to offer, in both culture and beach, paradise fun!
Its warm weather gives it the ideal climate for beach holidays. Islands like Santorini, Crete, Mykonos and Corfu are popular cruise destinations in the Mediterranean, where beach lovers can expect roughly 200 days of sunshine every year, during which they can enjoy pebbled coastlines, seaside tavernas and a vibrant nightlife.
The country also is well known for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly and outgoing people and tasty gastronomy.
Whatever time of year you come to visit, you are sure to enjoy your holiday here!
Travelling to Greece from Europe is very easy thanks to a large number of low cost and national airlines offering frequent flights to Athens, the capital and its other major cities like Rhodes, Crete or Thessaloniki. You will find an increase of flights specially during the busy Summer season with many more airlines offering flights from second base and regional airports to the Islands in Greece, where beach holidays are the most popular getaways.
The national airline in Greece, is now Aegean Airlines, (before Olympic) which offers a good range of short and medium haul destinations from its hub in Athens to most European Capitals and a few middle east and African destinations. If coming from overseas, it's a good idea to travel with Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners which offer the best connections into Greece, specially if you are travelling from Asia or the US.
Additionally arriving to Greece is commonly made by cruise ship. From Spring to Autumn, and less in the Winter, there are many cruise companies that offer from small island tours to all European cruises which travel to Greece and back.
Although ferry transport between islands remains the prominent method of transport between the nation's islands, improvements to the road infrastructure, rail, urban transport, and airports have all led to a vast improvement in transportation. Rail is not as convenient and fast as other EU countries, but it is cheap and can provide a good alternative to see the countryside if you have more time at hand. For more info on Greek train services visit Trainose.gr
Big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, provide metro systems and an integrated bus network. The rest is relied upon bus connections to the smaller cities, specially within the Islands.
Greece's Mediterranean climate gives it long, hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Summer temperatures are tempered by breezes called 'Meltemia', and the Etesian wind which blows north across the Aegean Sea. Rainfall is generally low in most of the country and heaviest in the mountainous regions, where snow is likely and temperatures can get severe.
Summer (between June and August) is Greece's peak holiday season and draws millions of beach lovers to its gorgeous coastline. Temperatures can soar easily to 35°C around the islands but reach the 40°C in Athens where dryness is more noticable.
Autumn is pleasant for travellers who prefer smaller crowds and milder conditions, while winter (December to February) sees the coldest, most variable weather and is the least popular time to visit but with temperatures still pleasant around 12-18°C. Travellers looking to explore Greece's cultural and historical attractions should definitely come in the Winter to make the best of the less crowds and it's quite likely you get some blue sky days also!
For more detailed weather information in each region/city, please visit the city guides below!
Traditional tavernas in Greece serve anything from side dishes, Greek liquors, seafood dishes to traditional Greek favourites in generous portions.
Greek food tends to use local seasonal produce. Cheeses, beans and 'ladera' (vegetables cooked in olive oil, garlic and tomatoes), grilled pelagic fish and fish soup are common in Athens and on the Greek islands.
In the mountainous regions rich meat and tasty (savoury) pies dominate the menu. Those with a sweet tooth should head for a cake shop, known as "azaharoplasteio", where a vast array of syrup-drenched Turkish-inspired goodies such as baklava and slices of chocolate-coated cakes like Black Forest gateaux are displayed behind glass counters.
You can choose pieces individually and then have them put in a box to take away. Meals hours are generally late, lunch is served from 1300-1500 and 2000-2400 for dinner. Opening hours vary according to the region and local laws - many establishments in popular holiday destinations stay open all day throughout summer. Waiter service is usual.
Specialities in Greece include: Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves). Gemista (tomatoes, peppers and courgettes, stuffed with rice and oven-baked). Gigantes (big butter beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with olive oil). Moussaka (aubergine casserole with minced lamb, cinnamon, red wine and olive oil). Calamari (deep-fried rings of squid) or htapodia (octopus). Souvlaki (spit-roasted meat, generally pork or chicken). Stifado (a rich beef stew with caramelised onions, cinnamon and cloves). Kokkinisto (a rich stew of either beef, pork or chicken cooked with red wine and tomatoes). Horiatiki (Greek salad: feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, black Kalamata olives and fresh olive oil).
As for drinks:Krasi (wine - lefko is white, kokkino is red). Retsina (wine made with pine-needle resin). Ouzo (an aniseed-based clear spirit to which water is added).
Raki (a sharp and fiery spirit made from distilled grapes). Metaxa (a Greek spirit, similar to brandy). Greek coffee (thick and strong and sugared according to taste).
Frappe (frothy iced coffee made from Nescafe and drunk through a straw).
When visiting Greece, there are multiple faces of the country to see and consider. My choice were cities for tourism and culture, both Thessaloniki and Athens offer a lot of varied places of interest to learn about the mythology, ancient history and observe many ruins and remains of those great civilizations long gone. It takes some time to get used to the way of life here, with Greece, not being renowned on the details but the overall picture. You will find many streets and neighbourhoods in need of repair and overall there is much renovation needed. However, there is also that true feeling that it's a pure country with rich culture and now a days, with multiple cultures and ethics living in Greece. (specially in the bigger cities, where safety should be the biggest point when looking for accomodation).
The good thing in Athens, is that most cultural sights are well within walking distance and you can combine several visits in one day and buying multiple entry tickets.
Also, for Athens make sure you don't come in the Summer, to avoid the intense heat! The ruins in Athens are all dotted around the city, however not all are preserved, and it can be a shame seeing some of them exposed to the elements and falling away stone by stone as the years pass. If you like walking and hiking, don't miss some of the great walks with views to observe the city for free!
As for Thessaloniki, there are many good tour options from the city as well as water activities and of course beaches! It's a more relaxed city, but still don't miss some archeological sites in the city centre and many examples of churches from the different times.
There is much more waiting to be explored in Greece, and the highlight must be the beautiful islands which are the front cover of many magazines and photography backgrounds! I'll look forward for the opportunity in doing so, to discover more what Greece has to offer!