Greece is ancient, rich in culture and one of the most loved tourist destinations in Europe. Whether it’s the music, cuisine or white-washed fishing villages, Greece keeps visitors coming back year after year despite the countries troubled economy.
Tourists flock to see The Ring where the first Olympics took place, the Acropolis, hike to the Meteora Monasteries and gorge themselves on traditional Greek delicacies. This southeastern European nation was once one of the greatest civilizations in the world and home to some of the most intellectually developed and philosophical minds. When the rest of Europe was immersed in a cultural darkness, the dramatists of Greece were busy creating timeless plays.
Greece Travel Info
Language: Greek is the official language of Greece, but most of the people working in the tourism industry and about 50 percent of the local population have excellent English language skills. You will have very few problems interacting with the local people.
Visa: Greece is a member of Schengen Agreement, which provides a free visa to travel to any EU country including the ones that are not a part of Schengen as well as those approved by Schengen like America, New Zealand, and Australia for a period of 90 days. Citizens of South Africa, Asia and Russia need to apply for a Schengen Visa before going to Greece. For this, you need a passport valid for at least three months from the date of departure.
Electricity: Greece operates on a 230V standard supply with a frequency of 50 Hz. Power socket types C and F are commonly used. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Greece Festivals & Celebrations
Easter: Easter is among the most important festivals in Greece and involves grand processions, spectacular decorations and brass bands. The Greek’s Easter celebrations involve lots of traditional music, hymns and bells echoing from the churches. Locals throw clay pots out of their windows on Easter Sunday followed by processions and marches taking place in the evening.
Athens Film Festival: This film festival was set up a few years ago, and during this time many of the iconic sites in Athens like art galleries, cafes, and city parks have been turned into cinemas (fortunately they left the Acropolis intact). A wide array of films are screened, and some films are even merged with live music to provide a once in a lifetime experience to the viewers.
Independence Day: Independence Day is a National Holiday in Greece and is celebrated on 25th March to commemorate the war of Independence that began in 1821. On this day schools hold a flag parade where school children wear traditional Greek costumes and march with the Flag. In Athens, the armed forces parade is a sight to behold.
Safety In Greece
Although Greece has had it’s fair share of civil unrest due to economic probelems over the last few years, disturbances due to demonstrations and strikes rarely impact travelers and tourists. Greece remains a safe place for overseas travelers. Like with all tourist destinations there’s occasional bag snatching and other petty crimes. Based on my own travel experiences in Europe I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Greece.
Top Things To Do In Greece
Visit The Acropolis
The skyline of Athens is dominated by the Acropolis which without fail is the highlight of any trip to Athens and one of the most famous sights in Greece. The complex is made of impressive marble and was the place where the statue of the Greek Goddess Athena was etched. If you have a knack for Ancient architecture, the magnificent temples and the Doric columns will interest you. You can also take a leisurely walk along the pathways of the Acropolis and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
Hike Mount Olympus
Counted among the most prominent mountains across the globe, Mount Olympus must be a part of your itinerary if you believe in Greek Mythology. This is the place where Zeus sat on the throne and where Hades became the ruler of the Underworld. When you climb the mountain, think of the legends associated with it. You will have to travel to Litochoro and from there you can trek up to whatever height your fitness level allows.
The Monasteries of Meteora
The Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece, which hosts one of the largest complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. Six Eastern Orthodox monasteries, some dating back to the 14th century, remain today, as do a few monks and nuns who still call the place home. Thousands of tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site every year.
Marvel at the Samaria Gorge
The Samaria Gorge is located on the beautiful island of Crete and every nature lover must visit this rugged yet breathtaking gorge. The Samaria Gorge spans about 16 kilometers, yet some parts are only 4 meters wide. You can trek here and if you want to walk the entire gorge, you will need to allow about 7 to 8 hours of your day to do this.
Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular attractions in Greece. It was a well-known pilgrimage spot in the past, and is located on the side of Mount Parnassus. A long time ago people came here to pay respect to the God of music, healing, prophecy and light, Apollo. Today there are temples, a theatre, a stadium and some ancient ruins to explore in Delphi.
Explore the Acropolis Museum
This is a modern attraction in Athens and was inaugurated in 2009. The building is one of a kind and is made of steel and glass and is among the artifacts. A statue of a man carrying a calf on his shoulders and the Parthenon marbles are just a few of the highlights at the Acropolis Museum. There is also a café that overlooks the Acropolis so you can sip a Greek coffee when you need to take a break from all of the culture and history.
Spelunk the Melissani Cave
Melissani Cave is on the island of Kefalonia which is known for it’s rugged beauty. It is about 4 kilometers long and came into existence after the soft rocks were eroded with water for centuries. The cave also houses a lake called the Melissani Lake, discovered in 1951. The cave got its name from the Nymph Melissani to whom it was dedicated during the ancient era. There is a tunnel that leads visitors down the cave to the lake where you can enjoy a boat ride.
Visit the Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal is one of the most amazing examples of ancient Greek engineering. The Emperor of Rome, Nero began constructing it, and it was finally finished under the French rule in the 19th Century. A section of gigantic rocks was sliced to form the canal that is 6 kilometers long and up to 90 meters high. Another highlight of the canal is the Zulu Bungy Jumping which is for the brave only.
Be awed by the Epidaurus Theatre
The Epidaurus Theatre can be found in the Argolis region of Epidaurus. It’s a traditional space that is devoted to Asclepius, the Greek God of Medicine. Next to it you will find the Sanctuary of Asclepius and both the complexes can be visited at the same time. This ancient theatre dates back to the 4th century. Sit on the stone steps and imagine watching the ancient Greeks performing for you.
Visit Lake Plastira
This lake is unique to Greece as it has immense natural beauty and the fact that it is a man-made lake has no affect on it’s beauty and impressiveness. Chestnut and oak trees surround the lake on all sides. Activities like rafting and canoeing are available at the lake and you can also go hiking and horse riding around the lake on the trails. Visitors can come here to enjoy an afternoon full of adventure.
The legends and myths at Mycenae
Mycenae became popular when Homer talked about it at length in his Iliad and The Odyssey, and today it is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As per Homer, it was built by Perseus, the son of Zeus and is a part of the Royal Palace of Atreus. The actual story is unknown but it is sure that Mycenae originated in the 6th century BC and its main attractions are the royal cemetery and the Lion Gate.
Other than these top things to do in Greece, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Greece that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Greece
The culinary influence of Greece can be seen all across Europe and beyond. Some of the best food in the world come from Greece. Fresh fruits and vegetables and seafood dominate the menu however most meats (excluding lamb) are not as popular. Some of the traditional must-try Greek dishes are listed below.
Baklava: Baklava is not a dish but an experience. This includes butter, syrup, nuts, crushed pistachios and lots of sugar. Once baked, sweet syrup is poured over which slowly gets absorbed by the crisp phyllo layers. Baklava is by far the most popular Greek dessert and highly addictive.
Kolokythokeftedes or “Zucchini Balls”: This veggie starter is extremely popular and is available in all the restaurants in Greece. These tasty balls are crispy on the outside and have a creamy inner which is filled with zucchini, feta, ouzo, garlic, green onion, herbs, egg and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Gyros: Gyros are an incredibly tasty meat dish, quick to prepare and cheap to eat. Meat that is vertically roasted on a spit is called Gyros. Then these gyros slices, usually lamb, are put in pita and topped with sauces, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Gyros pita restaurants can be found all over the world, so that shows you how popular they are.
Moussaka: Moussaka is a legendary Greek culinary delight which is extremely popular with locals and tourists. Minced beef is cooked in tomato sauce, which is then layered with sugary eggplant and creamy béchamel sauce. This dish is so rich and filling that no side dish is needed with it.
Souvlaki: This is an extremely loved street food that is made of meat cooked slowly and flavored with tzatziki sauce. Souvlaki means “meat on a skewer.” One dish differs from the other only by the type of meat used; otherwise, any meat wrapped in pita is called Souvlaki in Greece.
Where To Stay In Greece
Greece can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Greece is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Greece hostels and dormitories make travel here more affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Greece is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Greece.
If you’re backpacking in Greece or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Greece Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Greece
The best time to visit Greece is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see Greece with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September.
Greece Travel Budget
Greece can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Greece really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Athens, Mykonos or Santorini then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €35 – €50
- Mid-range: €50 – €100
- Splurge: €150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
Greece Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Greece, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips in Autumn and Winter (and Spring too).
Be prepared for the weather to get quite cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat won’t go a miss either. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Greece. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Greece include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Greece check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.