Planning a Trip to Greece – Everything You Should Know
Are you planning a vacation to Greece and looking for all the information you’ll need to make your life easier? Well, you are in the correct place! You are about to read the ultimate Greece Travel Guide, aiming to highlight the greatest things & activities that this lovely country has to offer.
A journey to Greece does not have to be a difficult task. Not even for people visiting for the first time. Read on for all of the important Greece travel ideas, the top activities to do in Greece, the most famous places to visit in Greece, and much more to help you plan your trip to Greece down to the very last detail!
Andros island view
What Does Greece Stand For?
So, why should you visit Greece for holidays in the first place? Greece is well-known as the cradle of Western Civilisation, the birthplace of philosophy & democracy, the first Olympic Games, the blessed country with hundreds of islands, 18 UNESCO sites and one of the world’s top-class cuisines. Greece is also famous for its rich history, culture, natural beauty, and a wide range of cultural traditions.
Travellers visiting Greece have the rare chance to become familiar with all of the aspects that are essential to the country’s identity without putting in too much effort. Almost everywhere in Greece, there are archaeological sites, stunning landscapes, friendly people and of course numerous places to eat wonderful food.
Location of Greece
Greece is located in the Southeast European region and also on the southernmost point of the Balkan Peninsula. Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey are all neighbouring countries and share land boundaries with Greece. On the west side, there is the Ionian Sea which actually divides it from Italy, while the Libyan Sea on the south side separates it from North African nations. This is why Greece, which is the Mediterranean country with the longest coastline, is regarded as being at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Greece?
In general, the weather in Greece is moderate. However, there are several regional variants. Summers in Central Greece and the Aegean Islands may be very hot reaching 40 degrees, while winters in Northern Greece’s mountainous parts can be brutal, with regular snowfall and temperatures far below freezing.
That goes to point out that the ideal time to visit Greece in terms of weather is determined by the area you would like to visit. Moreover, when planning a vacation to Greece, there are a few things to keep in mind. High and peak seasons, as well as festivals or festivities, are all crucial facts to consider while planning a trip to Greece.
As a rule of thumb and having all the above characteristics in mind, we could say that the ideal months to visit Greece are April to June and September to early November.
The coldest months in Greece are December, January and February. Furthermore, as Greece is definitely a summer-oriented country, the Christmas season in Greece is not such a special occasion to experience.
Planning a trip to Greece during winter, you should better visit the big cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Trikala, and Ioannina, which are all located on the country’s mainland. During that period, there are still numerous things to do there, such as mixing up with the locals to get the authentic vibes, visiting sights which are not so crowded or going straight to the scenic greek mountains for outdoor activities like hiking or skiing.
Hiking in mountains
July and August, on the other hand, are the warmest months in Greece. During these two months, the islands are windy and overcrowded as it’s the main holiday period for the locals as well. At the same time, the mainland towns may be rather silent and incomparably hot. In July and August, maybe the greatest areas to visit in Greece are the mountains and countryside of Central and Northern Greece, as well as the Peloponnese. Islands are always an amazing destination in Greece, if you don’t mind the busy & noisy situation and the crowds everywhere. There is always the option to experience a more private vacation style by staying in luxury villas in Peloponnese.
Villa Polyxeni in Mykonos
The months of June and September are ideal for visiting the Greek Islands due to weather conditions, pricing level and visitors volume, while October and November are best for exploring the mainland on a road trip.
In terms of activities and festivals, Easter is one of the greatest seasons to visit Greece because of the superb local traditions that you can experience everywhere. In Greece, Easter and Holy Week fall in either April or May and so, before organizing a vacation to Greece, double-check your calendars. Last but not least, it’s worth watching a show or two at the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, which is held from June to October each year.
How Many Days to Spend in Greece?
The most difficult challenge when planning a trip to Greece is deciding how many days to spend as there are countless places to choose from. Unless you’re a full-time traveller, it takes some work and study of the country’s attractions, personal limitations, budget and desired style of vacation so as to make the most out of your trip.
If you are visiting Greece from a European country, which means shorter distances and cheaper flights, there’s no need to fit in all of Greece’s distinctive sites on the same trip. You may always return for more adventures. Based on the above mentioned, your possibilities range from a long weekend in Athens or Thessaloniki to a week on 1-2 of the popular islands to ten days on a road trip through an entire area, such as the Peloponnese or Epirus.
Travelling to Greece from other continents, on the other hand, is not as simple. As the flights to Greece will be more expensive, it makes sense to spend as much time as possible in the country and to fit as many sites and places to visit in Greece into your schedule as possible.
So, for those of you planning a vacation to Greece from outside of Europe, we feel that two weeks is the absolute least period, but three weeks is much better based on your likely large list of things to do in Greece. That way, you’ll have adequate time to see all Greece has to offer: the islands, the countryside on the mainland and the city center attractions.
How to Travel to Greece
By Plane or Ferry
Apart from Athens International Airport, Greece has around 15 more international airports spread across the country, both on the mainland and on the islands. So, there are many options for you to choose from, especially during the peak season when the flights are much more so as to satisfy demand.
Ferries from Italy to Greece depart from Venice, Ancona, Bari & Brindisi and reach the Greek ports of Patras, Igoumenitsa, and Corfu, depending on the point of departure and the season.
Getting Around Greece
Athens Public Transportation and Taxis
Although public transportation may not be the greatest way to get around in the rest of Greece, it is unquestionably the best way to get around in Athens. Traffic jams in Athens can be horrible, making driving around the capital extremely stressful.
The Athens public transportation system includes the Athens Metro, which currently operates 3 lines, as well as the suburban train, buses, trolleybuses and trams. With a single 1.40€ ticket, you may move around in the city for 90 minutes. If you just have a short amount of time in Athens, you may get on the red double-decker sightseeing bus and visit Athens, Piraeus and the Beach Riviera with a single ticket.
Metro in Athens
You may take the metro or a bus from the airport to the city center. If you’re travelling with your family or a group of people, you could also arrange a private shuttle from the airport to the city center.
Taxis in Athens are yellow and although there are certain specified spots for taxis to queue up, it is usual practice to hail a cab from any place. To prevent fraud, you should better use a cab app instead.
With hundreds of islands, it’s no surprise that Greece has a vast network of ferries that can easily make your Greek island hopping fantasies a reality. It is better to book your tickets in advance as itineraries during summer can be sold out any day.
Driving in the Mainland
Planning a road trip in Greece is by far the best way to uncover Greece’s best-kept secrets. However, before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to remember a few basics regarding driving in Greece.
Greece is a country with right-hand traffic and the main road conditions are really good. Moreover, tolls are required in Greece when driving on highways and you should keep that in mind when making your budget.
Parking in Athens and other big cities, especially during the day, may be a nightmare. To avoid any fee, keep an eye out for paid parking places in city centers.
Where to Stay
The sky is the limit when it comes to accommodation in Greece. From low-cost residence options in the countryside to premium luxury hotels in Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, it all has to do with taste, travel style and budget.
When considering where to stay in Athens, there are more aspects to consider. Because Athens is such a huge city, not all of its neighbourhoods are suitable for visitors as some regions are purely residential and are located far away from any points of interest.
Plaka, Koukaki, Kolonaki, Syntagma, and Psirri are the most famous neighbourhoods to stay in Athens. All of these neighbourhoods are easily accessible, close to some of the greatest historical sites, and combined with restaurants, bars, cafés, and shopping.
When arranging a vacation to Greece, keep in mind that certain types of accommodations might make your trip even more memorable. Staying in luxury villas in Paros, in a neoclassical building in Athens or a stone tower in Mani for example, are all one-of-a-kind experiences that are well worth the additional money.
Essentials to Pack for Greece
It’s not unusual for the weather to be good enough to go swimming over the winter months. It is also possible to rain heavily in Greece during July. As a result, 3 items should always be packed for Greece: a swimsuit, sunglasses and a waterproof jacket.
As you’ll be walking a lot in Greece – most likely in hot weather – you should add one more item to your list of Greece travel essentials: a thermal bottle that keeps water cool for up to 24 hours.
Pack warm clothes and waterproof shoes while travelling to Greece in the winter. Remember that layering is the best way to go to Greece in the winter because temperatures might change during the day. On the other hand, pack cotton or linen clothing, high-protection sunscreen, and a light jacket or sweater in the summer.
3 Top Destinations
It’s no secret that Athens is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and no journey to Greece is complete without a visit to this unique European metropolis.
There are numerous reasons to travel to Athens. From marvelling at the Acropolis and other sun-kissed relics to spending endless hours at the capital’s fantastic museums, from catching breathtaking views from Filopappou Hill to enjoy the night away at the city’s countless bars and clubs, Athens is an extraordinary city that never fails to amaze its visitors.
Acropolis in Athens
2. Greek Islands
Experiencing the astonishing beauty and vibes of the Greek Islands is undoubtedly the top reason why people travel to Greece from all over the world. Greece has hundreds of islands organized into six major groupings, five of which are in the Aegean Sea. All of them are exceptional and the majority of them are among the most popular Greece tourist spots.
The Saronic Islands, located near Athens, are made up of Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, Poros, Salamina, and Spetses. A full-day sail from Athens to some of the most beautiful Saronic Islands is the perfect way to be refreshed & get away from the stressful atmosphere of the capital city.
The Cyclades are surely Greece’s most popular islands. Apart from the well-known islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Paros and Naxos, the Cyclades also include some hidden treasures such as Amorgos, Milos, Sifnos, Anafi, Serifos, Kimolos, Antiparos, Tinos and Andros.
Whatever Cyclades Islands you choose to include in your Greece itinerary, be prepared for the most stunning scenery and breathtaking beaches you’ve ever desired.
The North Aegean Islands and the Dodecanese are located in the Aegean Sea’s easternmost region. These two island groupings are worth seeing because of their diverse landscapes, culture, and traditions. They offer something for everyone, from world-renowned islands like Rhodes to off-the-beaten-path jewels like Lemnos, Astypalaia, and Karpathos.
The Sporades are four amazing islands with lush and blue waters: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos, and Skyros.
Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Ithaca, and a few more islands compose the Ionian Islands or Eptanisa in the Ionian Sea, a cluster of magnificent islands with stunning landscape and unique architecture, music and culture largely inspired by neighbouring Italy.
Few destinations in Greece can compete with the Peloponnese’s variety, striking landscape, and century-old traditions. This southern Greek peninsula is inextricably linked to Greek history in more ways than we can list. The Peloponnese is so big with many top attractions and so it is best explored on a road trip.
The Peloponnese has got you covered for everything, from historic cities like Nafplio and Monemvasia to magnificent beaches, unique accommodation & facilities and picturesque mountain villages.