Greece is most known for its fascinating history. Ancient civilizations whose ruins still majestically stand are proof enough. The country is also famed for having over 6000 islands each with beautiful and unique sandy beaches, and a chill Mediterranean climate. For this reason, Greece is one of Europe’s prime tourist destinations. Besides its capital, Athens, there are other destinations to enjoy on both the mainland and also on other inhabited islands.
Here are some tips you should have before you plan your vacation:
Instead of using most advertised resort packages, look for local villas and hotels. Due to the economic crisis, the owners have lowered their prices, and you can even bargain depending on the season you tour the areas. The hotels are also close to taverns where you can experiment with food. However, you still need book spots in advance to get great deals. https://www.travelo.gr/ have got you covered with such matters.
Avoid peak season
July to the end of August is a period with extreme temperatures, and since schools are closed, and every family is taking a vacation, prices are usually inflated. Try visiting in May to June or September to October.
Feast like a local
Tourists end up noting that time is a different concept to the Greeks. During the day, you can rely on street food to keep you full. Their dinner is often late, well past 10 pm. If you can find a local willing to show you around, the better off you will be.
Keep your schedule Flexible
Punctuality is a foreign concept in Greece. So use it to your advantage especially during your departure. Take your time and try and enjoy the not so common paths.
Greeks, especially the older generations have an inherent conservatism. When you’re visiting around the locals, remember to stay decently dressed. Also at the beaches, stay clothed for the locals to remain hospitable. There are no public nude beaches in Greece.
Download offline google maps in advance so you can still use them even if you are not on wifi. Although there’s a certain appeal to getting lost in an ancient city, sometimes you might need help getting back.
Athens has its share of homeless people, and not all of them are harmless. So take care of your valuables especially in crowded places.
Greeks are usually accommodative and outspoken. Learning a little of their language, even a few words, will earn you a soft spot in their hearts. If you don’t know a single word in Greek, don’t worry, most of the locals can speak good English.
Try and get verified drivers although, given the easy-going attitude about the time of the Greeks, you need a backup mode of transportation. Another option would be renting a moped which is even cheaper than renting a car.
While in Athens…
When someone mentions Greece, the first associative name that comes to mind is Athens, so it’s only right it be the first place you should see while touring Greece. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, also known as the city of Gods, and rightfully so. The great town hosts sites that have been in existence since 3000 BC. There are numerous monuments on almost every street. What makes the places so hospitable is the seamless depiction of the blend of the ancient ruins and monuments. The new taverns, museums, galleries, and cafes are all that reminds you it’s the 21st century.
When you visit Greece, you will definitely want to enjoy the historic sites on top of the 350 by 150 meter broad mass of rock. This birthplace of democracy was constructed four centuries BC.
Each year, the Acropolis gets more than two million visitors. The first site on the Acropolis is the ruins of the temple of Athena Nike. Next is the porch of the seven maidens, standing tall at 7 ft. of glory. The originals are however in the Acropolis museum.
The Parthenon holds the highest point of the Acropolis and is one of the most beautiful ancient temples in the world. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, it was constructed with over 70,000 pieces of magnificent marble.
The Temple of Zeus
This site is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple, built in honor of Zeus is also known as Olympieion. The exquisite piece of history took over 700 years to complete. While most of the temple has been eroded by the sands of time, the statue of the god made of ivory and gold remains.
National Archeological Museum
At some point in your life, you have become acquainted with the ancient history of Greece. Well, the national archaeology museum holds over 11,000 pieces of artifacts carrying history from every period in known civilizations. These include the Poseidon sculpture, some Egyptian sarcophagi and amulets and also Roman statues and artifacts. Everything in the National Archaeological Museum is arranged in chronological order making your visit and history lessons that much easier.
Standing at 280 meters above sea level, Lycabettus hill is the highest point in Athens. The best time to visit the hill site is in the morning or late afternoon. This way you get to see all the major attractions at once, and if you do this at dawn or dusk, you capture the ethereal glow of the city bathed in golden sun rays. To get to the top, you have the option of climbing or riding a cable car.
The Panathenaic Stadium
The stadium is the oldest in the world and is still in use today. It was built around 335 b.c. and can house over 70,000 people. The Greeks had a thing for marble, and the construction of the Panathenaic stadium was not left behind. The stadium in its entirety is made of marble, making it an architectural global wonder.
Beaches In Greece
Greece has 6000 Islands, and around 227 are inhabited. Besides, the country boasts the eleventh longest coastline in the world. For this reason, you should not miss out on visiting one of the beautiful sandy beaches during the warm months. Here are the top 5 beaches you must not miss out on.
Lalaria Beach, Skiathos
Lalaria is one of those beaches where images often end up as wallpapers. The emerald waters are clear, and the bottom of the oceans are covered with shimmering white pebbles.
Sarakiniko Beach, Milos
The beach looks like Poseidon caved out the landscape himself. It is enveloped my milky white volcanic rocks that have been exquisitely sculpted by the wind and waves. It is a deep gulf with green water that as you get further from the shore, says goodbye in every shade of blue.
Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia
This fantastic beach has been referenced in several famous songs for its breathtaking beauty. Located between Assos and Argostoli, it is definitely the most famous on the island.
Canal D’ Amour Beach, Corfu
The narrow canal stands out most in the blue-green water on this beach. It is believed that whoever swims through the small opening finds the love of their life on the other side.
Balos Beach, Crete
If you’re tired of the usual golden sands, on this beach, you will discover the Balos Beach in shades white and pink. It creates a beautiful backdrop to the turquoise water. Spending an early morning of late sunset on the beach will have you feeling like you are living in a fairy tale.
Mount Olympus is the tallest and most majestic landmark in central Greece. It is also friendly to all types of tourists, even those who don’t like climbing. At its heart, Olympus has the most important national park with a plethora of ravines and ridges, gorges and plateaus, deep caves and daunting rocks. This mountain is home to more than 1,500 types of exotic plants and rare birds and also some animals.
What to do in Olympus
Adventure in the Enipeas Gorge.
The Gorge is a four-hour scenic walk with the climax opening up to the six centuries-old monasteries of Agios Dionysios.
Climb to the Stefani peak.
Mythology implies that it was at this peak where Zeus sat in his Throne. The scenic belief is witnessed at dusk where the summit forms a shadowy male profile with a wreath.
The Mt Olympus Marathon.
The marathons start at the archaeological site of Dion, 5 meters above sea level, up to a height of 2,780 meters, just below the Throne of Zeus.
The Meteora Monasteries.
Proof of man’s desire to be one with the divine, the Meteora phenomenon stands in mystical regal. The scenery depicts more than a tourist visit. The experience is a pilgrimage that will demand your spiritual awakening.
Only six of the 2000-year-old monasteries are open to the public.
- The Megalou Meteorou was established in 1340 by Aghios Athanassios. It still retains the old appliances and kitchen implements.
- The Agios Stefanos is smaller and was built in 1350. It is decorated with fretworks, and its Holy Altar has been turned into a modern museum.
- Varlaam Dedicated to Agios Pantes. The monastery was built in 1542. It is decorated with murals by Fragko.
- The Agia Triada was built in 1361 on an imposing and steep rock of Meteora.
- Roussanou was built in 1529 on the ruins of older constructions.
- Aghios Nikolaos Panausas is located near Kastraki Village, among the ruined monasteries of Prodromou, Aghias Monis and Pantokratoros.
How much Will It Cost You on a Trip In Greece?
All prices are approximate and in USD.
Accommodation is cheapest in Athens and Thessaloniki. You can rent dorm rooms for about $13 per night. Another option is villas and hotels such as the ones we mentioned at the beginning of this article at an average of $16 a night.
For a mid-range budget, a comfortable guest house or self-contained studio, costs between $30 and $80 per night.
If a budget is not an issue for you, Mykonos and Santorini, the most expensive islands, will have villas with stunning views $95-$230 per night.
You can afford street food for as low as $2. You can choose from lamb or chicken gyros; it is a sort of taco. And pastries in the bakeries are also cheap. Tavern meals at local areas away from large tourist destinations cost from $6.
In fine dining restaurants where the most exquisite seafood is served, a meal will cost you about $20.
Local beers and wines are inexpensive at around $1 to $3. Anything imported will cost you double the price, so if you are looking to save on money, ask for locally brewed and barreled drinks. Cocktails by the beach are about $10 each.
There are public means of transportation including buses and trains. However, there are also local flights and ferries available. Everything has to be booked online and the earlier you book your trips, the cheaper it will be. For example, a flight from Athens to Corfu in June is around $57, and a journey on the mainland costs about $40.
The level of experience you want to cash in on depends entirely on you. However, if you concentrate on the beaches most of them are free, so you’ll not need to dish out extra cash. The entrance fee to the Acropolis is $25, and there’s another VIP ticket at $35 for more historical exploration. Hiring a four-wheeled motorcycle will cost you about $25 including the fuel and a scooter for $15 to $20.
Finally, it is pretty clear that while in Greece you can never run out of places to visit and sites to explore. The Greeks are party people, so if it helps, you can visit while there are festivals and the extroverted, happy locals shall welcome you. Such festivals include Athens and Epidaurus Festivals which takes place during the summer and celebrates music, art, theatre, and culture in the theatre of “Odeon of Herodes” Atticus. The Athens International Film Festival which is in September to October and the Athens Carnival which is a three-week long celebration in January to February. Don’t forget to respect the culture and religion of the Greeks; it is a big part of their history, and you will have a much better time when you don’t offend your hosts.