Greece Travel Guide

Greece Overview

Maybe it is the history that attracts visitors to Greece. Perhaps it is the fascinating collection of islands spread around the Ionian and Aegean seas up to the Baltic peninsula. Or even the exquisite cuisine that has been considered an art form since Homeric times. From the curiously familiar to the extraordinarily exotic, one thing is for sure - Greece offers months, even years of travelling opportunities. For this is a melting pot of Mediterranean charm, antiquated legends, rugged landscapes and chic nightlife venues, where basking in 300 days of sun goes hand in hand with discovering ancient ruins.

 

Greece is every bit the dream destination our imaginations allow us to believe and, despite recent economic troubles, remains one of Europe’s top ten most visited countries. Start your journey on the mainland by soaking up the atmosphere of Athens, home to the ancient world’s most significant landmarks and man’s oldest legends. Head north to Thessaloniki to admire Byzantine churches before sampling the mainland beaches of Halkidiki. En route, pause for adventure at Mount Olympus and contemplate the importance of Delphi.

 

Off shore, Greece lays claim to literally thousands of islands - estimates range from 1,200-6,000. Amongst this colossal amount are said to be 227 inhabited islands, which set the scene for the ultimate island-hopping experience. Dotted around the waters of the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas, and within touching distance of the Baltic peninsula and Asia Minor, there is something to suit everyone, from backpackers and adventure sports fans to honeymooners and families. Delve into the water sport action of Crete or experience Mediterranean allure on Kefalonia, party all night long on upmarket Mykonos or join the package tour masses on Rhodes and Corfu.

 

Making your life as a tourist that extra touch easier, the islands are connected by superb ferry and catamaran services, with many also receiving direct international flights from all over Europe. However, to get the most out of an island-hopping holiday, consider chartering a private sailing boat with private skipper or join a flotilla and try your hand at navigating the perfect turquoise water.

 

When the time comes to rest, Greek cuisine is on hand to satisfy even the most discerning of taste buds. Think Mediterranean fare of fresh salads with goat cheese, feta and olives, an array of aubergine influenced dishes, seafood direct from the sea and meaty kebabs and moussaka. Washed down with local wine and ouzo, the nation’s favourite tipples, and there can be no better way to enjoy clear blue days with the ocean lapping at your toes.

Things to do in Greece

Athens - The Acropolis, the Pantheon, Ancient Agora, and many more monuments of the ancient world make the Greek capital - named after the goddess Athena - a mystical destination and fine starting point in a fascinating country.

 

Mount Olympus - Rising to a height of 2917m, Greece’s tallest peak is home to the Gods of Greek mythology and the throne of Zeus. Climb the mountain, explore the ancient ruins and watch the August Olympus Festival plays held at the ancient theatre.

 

Delphi - Venture into Central Greece to uncover the epicentre of the ancient world. Gaze in awe at the poignant ruins and sweeping landscapes, and feel the presence of the oracle that altered the course of Greek history.

 

Meteora - Overlooking the Valley of Pinios, the hilltop monasteries of Meteora are one of Greece’s finest mainland sights. Transport yourself back to the 14th-century when monks found a safe haven from the bloody Byzantine Empire.

 

The Greek Islands in Brief

 

Cyclades - Elegantly set around the sacred Delos island, the Cyclades offer the most varied island-hopping experience, with each island showcasing its unique culture and cuisine whilst sharing classic old towns of sparkling whitewashed architecture. Visit Ios, the Cycladic capital, famed for its fusion of rugged landscapes and vibrant party-scene. Hop over to Mykonos for golden sands, swanky bars and luxury boutique hotels. Santorini is awash with natural wonders whilst Paros and Naxos welcome everyone from backpackers to families.

 

Dodecanese - Over 160 islands, of which 26 are inhabited, at the most eastern side of Greece and within a stone’s throw from Turkey. Well serviced by ferries and catamarans, the Dodecanese are easily traversed, offering Rhodes with its medieval and Byzantine roots and the mass tourism mecca of Kos. Spend a week or two enjoying tiny Halki, Tilos, Simi and Nissiros.

 

Ionian Islands - Explore the six fertile islands floating off the west coast of mainland Greece, which provide a striking contrast to the Aegean. Corfu and Zakynthos are family package-tour central and havens for youngsters in search of hedonism, respectively. With only three villages, Paxi is the island to escape the crowds. For the ultimate island-hop, jump between Ithaki, Kefalonia and Lefkadha.

 

Sporades and Ewia - Skiathos and its 60+ beaches, Skopelos with is quaint pebble bay, remote Alonissos boasting Greece’s first marine park and Skyros clinging to its island roots, are the only four inhabited Sporades but well worth the visit. Ewia is the second-largest Greek island and with its close proximity to Central Greece is a popular vacation island of locals.

 

Aegean - Almost touching the northwest coast of Turkey, the Aegean islands possess strong individual personas. Enjoy lesser-travelled and unspoilt Ikaria, be a culture vulture on Hios and explore the rural beach and village life on Limnos. Samos is the most commonly visited of the group - escape the crowds and discover beautiful landscapes.

Hotels in Greece

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