Planning a trip to Greece can be exciting yet overwhelming knowing where to begin with so many stunning destinations on offer. Each region of Greece has a unique culture that is awaiting to be explored. Therefore there is lot to consider before booking those tickets and setting off on the trip of a life time.
I can say that I’ve experienced my fair share of Greece after exploring everything from the historic capital city of Athens, getting married in the Cyclades capital of Santorini, the Grand palace of Knossos in Crete and scaling the grand castle in Rhodes Town. It’s left a burning desire to go back to explore more and more of this amazing country.
Why you should visit Greece
Located in the south east of Europe the country of Greece is composed of a mainland and 227 islands that are surrounded by the pristine Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, the destination is an idyllic choice for warm weather getaways between April and October.
Flaunting a collection of islands, complex ancient civilisations and breathtaking natural beauty that ranges from lush mountain range to pristine beaches, the country is jam packed full of ancient history and tradition that awaits to be explored.
Where to visit in Greece
The mainland and each individual island offers their own unique natural beauty and character which can make it difficult to choose where to go. The question is, what are you looking for? If you’re not even sure of that yet then not to worry, here’s a rough breakdown of Greece to help you find your dream Greek destination.
Mainland Greece: Mainland Greece itself is composed of multiple regions, all of them offer something different weather wise and culturally. The most popular destination on the mainland however is the capital, Athens. This is the cultural heart of the country offering the ever so famous UNESCO listed Parthenon and acropolis sites that are in the centre of the old city. It also offers a plethora of ancient temples, stadiums and markets as well as museums and also the unforgettable preserved neighbourhood of ‘Plaka’. The mainland is served by numerous international airports, most notably Athens however why not also look at the historic city of Thessaloniki or Sparta?
Cyclades Islands: The Cyclades region is made up of 24 islands that vastly range in size and development. They are also the most popular tourist islands in the country; which is why you may have already heard of Santorini, Mykonos, Milos and Naxos. Boasting white wash buildings, unique cyclades vineyards, white stone land scapes, dramatic cliff faces whilst also offering amazing greek seafood cuisine, upscale resorts and beach clubs as well as a bustling nightlife.
Aegean islands: East of the Cyclades lies the Aegean region that includes Rhodes, Symi and Samos islands. This region of the country in my personal favourite because in my opinion they feel far more authentically Greek than the Cyclades and most areas on these islands don’t have a strong touristy vibe, which I absolutely love! This is all without compromise of the beauty of the surroundings. These islands are truly the idyllic spot to turn social media off, hire a scooter and spend lazy days exploring sleepy villages and pristine beaches whilst sipping on an ice cold frappe in a local taverna.
Ionian islands: Located between western mainland Greece and Italy are the lush green Ionian islands such as Zakynthos, Corfu and Kefalonia which boast some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches in the whole of Greece. These islands have a much more heavy Italian influence as you will see in the architecture and the food. As they are further north than other islands, also expect some rainier periods up until full summer season hits. However do not let this deter you from exploring the stunning hinterland of Corfu where the kumquats are a plenty or the aqua shallows of the turtle breeding shorelines of Zakynthos.
Crete: Crete is the largest and most southerly island of Greece. It has played a major part in trade and is even thought to be one of the first permanent settlements in all of Europe, making it an absolute must for any history lover such as myself. The area is perhaps the most removed from what you may think of as greek culture due to the population swap with Turkey in the twentieth century. For this reason, Crete has a unique cuisine and mixed orthodox and islamic culture making the hinterland a true adventurers playground. You can arrive by two airports, either Chania in the west where you will find sleepier traditional villages and stunning untouched beaches or the capital Heraklion where you can dive deep into the ancient history of the palace of Knossos and Venetian harbour.
Greek culture is rich and has been built up through thousands of years of tempestuous history and warring empires. Undisputed contributions to mathematics, philosophy, literature, astronomy religion and sport, the country has advanced western society in all aspects. Rather ironically however, modern day greek culture takes a far more relaxed view on life and it only takes five minutes of watching locals to see how happy they are living a slower pace whilst entertaining westerners such as myself with their ‘laissez-faire’ cum keystone cop attitude to daily living.
Passports and visas
Greece is a member of the European Union and also the Schengen agreement which means all EU citizens as well as those of the U.K, Singapore, USA and Australia, among other counties do not require a visa to visit. There are some countries that do require a visa however, so it’s always important to check prior to planning your trip.
When to visit Greece
The best time to visit Greece is in the warmer months. The tourist season peak is between May to August, which often brings large crowds of people and raises prices within the country. If you’re wanting to escape the crowds and save money, opt for the months of April, September and October, which brings a beautiful slightly milder climate and a more authentic experience. Although you can still visit during the winter months, a lot of tourist attractions, accomodation and modes of transport are limited or not running at all. `
Transport in Greece
Transport around the country varies depending where you are. Buses and trains are not as modern as some other European countries and can often be less frequent, however, they are an affordable means of travel.
You can also hire a taxi or private drivers however, like anywhere in the world, this can be hit or miss on price and service. I have came across some lovely people who have been able to recommend legitimate places and have kept in touch for further visits in Greece. Equally, I have had drivers who have taken advantage of me being a foreigner and have charged me an unnecessary pretty penny. For private transfers, I recommend CATTaxi as they have been the most consistently reliable company for me personally.
If you’re looking to do some island hopping, then you have two options, plane or ferry. You can book a ferry on Ferryhopper which is a great mode of transport if you have a hire car, on a budget or simply in no rush. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more convenient and quicker paced travel than you can opt to fly by plane. Keep in mind however this is more expensive.
The people of Greece speak yep you guessed it, Greek. There are multiple dialects that the Greeks speak to communicate with tourists, however, this greatly differs throughout the country. Like in any country, it is always good to learn a few words and phrases in greek to be polite and ingratiate yourself with the local taverna owners.
What money to use in Greece
The official currency is the euro. Although many places do accept card payments, the Greeks prefer cash. This is especially apparent in more regional ares and in traditional markets. It’s always a good idea to have some handy, just in case.
Where to stay in Greece
Greece is one of my favourite destinations to stay. Not only is the country a dream to visit, but they offer some incredible and unique accomodation options to suit all kinds of budgets. From luxury hotels boasting lofty cliff views of the sunset and private spas, to beach villas, there is something for everyone to enjoy. There are a plethora of options of booking.com and airbnb as well as endless package options.
On the rare occasion when someone asks you to pay money directly to their account, do not do it as it is most likely a scam. Going through a known and monitored platform as mentioned above is always recommended. Always make sure to look for the ABTA logo on their website.
What to pack for Greece
Greece is relaxed and casual when it comes to attire. It also offers beautiful clothing and accessories in markets along with authentic sandals and weaved bags. If you’re planning to collect some greek clothing, make sure you leave room in your bag or alternatively bring some vacuum pack bags.
The mandatory items when travelling to Greece are summer clothing, thongs (or flip flops if you’re not a fellow Aussie), swimwear, sunscreen and lots of it, insect repellent, towel, sunglasses and a beach bag.
I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!
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