The Concise Guide to Travel to Greece

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Greece is one of the sunniest places in the world. The Greek Isles are home to over 6000 beautiful islands. Greece is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 80% of Greece is made up of mountains and it has about 16,000 kilometers of an impressive coastline.

Greece is known for being the cradle of Western Civilization, the birthplace of democracy, the Olympic Games, and its ancient history and magnificent temples. Ancient temples in Greece include the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion.

Greece boasts a great variety of food and drink, with a vast array of Greek wines, local liquors and world-known dishes. Discover food specialties of the islands or the hearty dishes on the mountain villages. Visiting Greece is a feast for the senses. We recommend that you spend at least seven days in Greece to be able to comfortably explore Athens and one or two Greek islands. The Greek Islands are loaded with wonderful beaches (too many to count). With more days to spend, you can obviously explore more destinations and less-visited islands.

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning approximately 3,400 years. It is a hilly city with many cobblestoned areas. However, unlike other old cities, Athens has a very good and accessible metro system.

Best Time to visit Greece

Summer in any Mediterranean city can be stiflingly hot, and Athens is most enjoyable when the weather has cooled and the tourists have thinned out. The best time to visit Greece is during spring (April to early-June) and autumn (September – October). You can enjoy mild weather and fewer crowds during these shoulder season periods.

Due to the hot weather, it is acceptable to wear shorts, whether you are a woman or a man. Shorts are acceptable on the beach or when going from the beach to the shops near-by. If you plan to take a ferry between the islands, shorts are a good option if you travel by day (opt for a pair of long pants though if you travel by night).

January is the coldest month, with an average high-temperature of 12.1°C (53.8°F) and an average low-temperature of 7.3°C (45.1°F). The upper part of Greece can be very cold during the winter and snow is not uncommon. However, for the south of Greece and the islands, the winters will be milder. During the winter, much of Greece may have snow, and much snowfall can be expected in the higher mountains of Greece.

Beaches in Athens

Although Athens is mostly famous for its sightseeing and not for the beaches, there are though many beautiful beaches in Athens Greece. Athens beaches are spread all along the southern and northeastern side of the Attica peninsula. The beaches in Athens feature crystal clear waters and sand-fringed shorelines that are easily accessible to the public from the city center. The majority of beaches are free to enter, but will usually charge a fee for the use of sun-beds and beach umbrellas.

VISA

If you’re thinking of taking a Mediterranean excursion to Greece, you most likely do not need a travel visa. Citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Australia, Japan, and a host of other countries are permitted to enter Greece without a visa for up to 90 days within a six-month period. You must make sure that you need a visa or not before an appropriate period.

Currency

The local currency, which is Euros. Some shops such as jewelers will take dollars but you will get a very poor exchange rate. Euros and only euros, also credit cards are now mandatorily accepted everywhere (by law).

All cards currently accepted, such as MasterCard and Visa. Previous experience suggests that smaller shops and restaurants may be reluctant to accept credit and debit cards, preferring customers to pay in cash instead.

Language

Athens – A very international city and huge tourist spot, so English very widely spoken. Metro signs also in English. No problems reported at all by any tourists, and some people even report being able to live there long term without knowing Greek. Having a few Greek words always helps with the locals though.

Some of the stunning islands of Greece like Crete, Rhodes, Santorini and Zakynthos  all speak very good English.

The Cost

The cheapest months to book a flight to Greece: September and October, followed by November. Booking a flight in September can see as much as 13% savings compared to the average yearly flight price. The most expensive months to book a flight to Greece: May and June

You should plan to spend around €110 ($130) per day on your vacation in Greece, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, €28 ($33) on meals for one day and €22 ($27) on local transportation.

Athens is certainly not cheap, but it is not very expensive either. In comparison to other European capitals, we would say that Athens is somewhere in the middle. For example Athens is a bit more affordable than Rome, and entertainment is also a bit cheaper in Greece. The cost of living in Italy is slightly higher than in Greece, and the of food and activities reflects this.

Getting around Greece is generally affordable. You won’t need any money for transport when walking around the city center. When it comes to long-distance travel, from city to city, you can expect a pretty low cost as well.

Very close to Athens, Agistri is a very affordable option for an island holiday. A serene paradise where nature reigns, it’s perfect for those who are looking for a quick escape on a budget. Covered with pine forests, Agistri has turquoise waters, pebbly beaches and several excellent places to eat.

Santorini about twice as expensive as Athens, with hotel prices in the summer climbing to $250, on average, per night. The average cost of food in Santorini is €33 per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Santorini should cost around €13 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner.

Food and Drink

The Greeks had three to four meals a day. A classic breakfast choice, yogurt is such an important part of the Greek diet. Typically it can be consumed with a bit of starch in the morning such as a piece of bread or a rusk. Or you can add a touch of yogurt, walnuts and some seasonal fruit. This is a filling breakfast and offers a good amount of protein as well.

What To Eat in Greece Horiatiki

Avoid fried things such as meatballs, small fish, fries-not because they are fried but because many of these restaurants pre-fry these foods and then just warm them up, as a result you will be eating mushy and not crispy food. Also do not order moussaka.

Unlike other European countries, there is no official legal drinking age in Greece if you are drinking in private (like a house). However, if you want to purchase alcohol and drink in public, you must be at least 18 years of age. Drinking and driving is illegal in Greece, as it is in the rest of the world.

Ouzo (Greek: ούζο, IPA: [ˈuzo]) is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. It is made from rectified spirits that have undergone a process of distillation and flavoring.

Tipping in Greece is customary, but is by no means obligatory, you can leave a little extra for great service.

The public drinking water in Greece is safe to drink, although it can be slightly brackish in some locales near the sea. For that reason, many people prefer the bottled water available at restaurants, hotels, cafes, food stores, and kiosks.

Driving in Greece

Driving in Athens can be challenging at first but once you get out of the city, you should be fine as long as you PAY ATTENTION. If you love to drive, you will love driving in Greece. The roads are very good that makes driving not boring.

To rent a car in Greece, you must be at least 21 years old (age may vary by car category) and you must have held your license for at least 1 year. Drivers renting a car under the age of 25 may incur a young driver surcharge. An international drivers license is required. Some suppliers have a maximum rental age of 70.

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Things You Should Never Say in Greece

  • Don’t make a snarky comment on the fact Greeks tend to eat from the same plate.
  • Don’t complain about the amount of oil in the food.
  • Don’t ask if they put feta cheese in everything.
  • Don’t ask for ketchup in a taverna.
  • Don’t ask if Greeks still worship ancient gods.
  • Don’t ask the name of a newborn baby.
  • Don’t wave with your hand. When you wave with your palm toward people, they may interpret it as “come here” instead of “good-bye”; and Greeks often wave good-bye with the palm facing them, which looks like “come here” to English speakers.
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Best Things to do in Athens

Greek’s Islands

Beautiful as they are, Mykonos and Santorini are the most expensive spots on the Greek island map. You’ll find cheaper places to stay elsewhere in the Cyclades, on isles such as Naxos, Paros and Amorgos.

The Athens to Santorini ferry time is usually 4 to 10 hours. The ferry ride from Mykonos to Santorini can last from 2 hours to 3 hours depending on the type of vessel and its scheduled itinerary. Usually, there are up to 4 ferry crossings by 4 ferry companies from Mykonos to Santorini. This seasonal ferry connection is served mainly by high-speed ferries and the companies that operate on the route are usually Minoan Lines, Seajets, Golden Star Ferries, and Blue Star Ferries.

1- Crete

things to do in crete greece

Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest of the islands forming part of modern Greece.  It Situated in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, Crete comes first among the best Greek islands for ancient sites. This was the birthplace of the Minoan civilization, one of the most important civilizations in the ancient world. Remnants of this great culture are found all over the island.

The best time to visit Crete is from mid-May to June or from September to October. May brings with it warmer waters and beautiful wildflowers that can be spotted throughout the island’s natural attractions.

Iraklion (Heraklion or Herakleion) is the largest urban centre in Crete, the capital of the region and the economic center of the island.

The most picturesque places to see in Crete are: Balos Lagoon, Samaria Gorge, view of the Island of Spinalonga, view of Voulisma, Agios Nikolaos and Thalassa Villa, St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas.

2- Mykonos

Mykonos

Mykonos is a Greek island in the southern part of the Aegean Sea and belongs in the Cyclades complex. It is in close proximity to the islands of Tinos, Paros, Syros, Naxos.

Mykonos has the best party scene in the Greek islands with countless bars and clubs, known for their trendy decoration and the great music. Most night bars and clubs are concentrated in Chora and stay open till early in the morning.

You can travel to Mykonos by ferry from many different islands of the Aegean sea. To begin with, there is a regular ferry connection between Mykonos and Athens ports. Ferries depart from both Rafina and Piraeus ports.  The ferry crossing duration from Athens to Mykonos Port ranges from 2 hr 30 min to 5 hr 15 min, depending on whether you’re traveling with a high-speed or standard ferry.

3- Santorini

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Santorini is a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands. It is located between Ios and Anafi islands. It is famous for dramatic views, stunning sunsets from Oia town, the strange white aubergine (eggplant), the town of Thira and naturally its very own active volcano.

The best time to visit Santorini is from September to October and April to May when the weather is warm and the crowds are scarce.

The best way to get around Santorini is on foot or by bus. You’ll see that it’s easy to walk around the tiny seaside towns, but the bus is best to get from one town to another. There are KTEL bus routes from Fira (the capital city) to many different destinations around the main island.

A regular and cheap bus service runs island-wide – although you might have to change at Fira for some journeys. At around €2 per trip, it’s a really cost-effective way of seeing more than one part of Santorini during your stay. Taxis are also reasonably priced and plentiful.

To go Santorini, you can travel either by plane (Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”) or by ferryboat (Piraeus Port). There are also links between Santorini and other Greek islands. The flight is the quickest, easiest and most direct way as it lasts more or less 40 minutes and you can book your tickets in advance.

The distance between the port of Mykonos and the port of Athinios in Santorini is 64 nautical miles (around 118 km). While, you can get from Crete to Santorini by ferry all year round. During the summer, there are about 3 ferries per day from the port of Heraklion to Santorini. During the winter, there is usually 1 weekly ferry from Crete to Santorini.

All-Inclusive Resorts

In Greece, there are host of elegant and excellent-value hotels with all-inclusive packages. Our experts round up the best all-inclusive hotels in Greece, from adults-only properties perfect for honeymooners, to family-friendly resorts, in locations including Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and Kos.

1- Aeolos Beach Hotel

While the resort is large it’s far more charming than the average all-inclusive, mimicking a traditional Corfiot village. Splash around the two pools, kick back in the spa and sauna (each guest is entitled to a free 15-minute taster massage), or enjoy a choice of tennis, beach volleyball, water polo and aqua aerobics. Nightly entertainment for adults and children features great quality music and local dance. Beyond the buffets are seven-course private dining, La Spiaggia Italian restaurant, and à la carte Paralia restaurant, serving well-presented pan-European fare.

2- Mayor La Grotta Verde Grand Resort

This adults-only beach resort, cradled by limestone cliffs above Agios Gordios village, enjoys some of the bluest views on Corfu’s west coast. As well as the sea-facing outdoor pool, there is a heated indoor pool and posh modern spa, including sauna and hot tub. The entertainment programme offers a weekly traditional dance night, beginner’s Greek lessons, and musical events, plus there’s pool and table tennis. As in many large resorts, there’s a shopping centre and hair salon. Five restaurants keep things interesting.

3- Ikos Dassia

For an all-inclusive resort, this is a class act: the comfort of knowing you will have nothing else to pay for combined with five-star facilities and service. The resort consists of two buildings, Sea and Sky, each with a reception, lobby, shop, bars, restaurants and spa. Stretching between them is the long sandy beach and a beautifully designed array of pools. Included in a stay is a sunset cruise, dinners at a selection of restaurants around the island, an access pass for a choice of three of the island’s museums and the use of a Mini for the day. For such a large operation, the standard of food is high, if not exceptional. There are seven restaurants serving à la carte Greek, Italian, Thai and Mediterranean dishes.