With many iconic images of whitewashed houses with blue shutters, sunshine and Mediterranean waters, it’s not hard to see why many people want to visit Greece. However, while most people tend to use Athens as their base for Greek island hopping, the rest of the country remains largely overlooked. This means that there are plenty of places to explore and many reasons to start planning a trip to Greece right now!
Let’s be honest. This is not going to be a hard sell. Even if you haven’t been to Greece yet, you have probably thought about it already. After all, Greece’s images are everywhere, from movies and books to Instagram feeds, tempting you to explore this fascinating county. This is the place for your next adventure.
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Start planning a trip to Greece
As one of the gems in the Mediterranean, Greece has a lot to offer visitors looking for a perfect holiday destination. Whether you’re into relaxing on the beach, mountain hiking, exploring ancient cities or indulging in culinary fantasies, you will find it here. Need more than that? Here are all the awesome reasons you should start planning a trip to Greece.
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Uncover Greek history and culture
Greek civilization is one of the oldest and most influential civilizations that still exists today. As the birthplace of democracy, the Olympic Games and legendary myths, Greece has influenced the world for millennia. Greek inventions and discoveries have revolutionized the fields of mathematics, geography and medicine. It’s no wonder we still talk about their accomplishments and influences today.
However, you don’t have to be a history enthusiast to start planning your trip to Greece based on these facts alone. You can explore many ancient and modern sites when you visit Greece and have a great time while doing so. Make that history come alive.
Explore the myths and legends by visiting Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. With stunning views from its peaks, it’s no wonder the Greeks thought it was home to their deities, the legendary Olympians. Olympia was also where the Pan-Hellenic Games were held every four years.
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You can walk in the footsteps of Greek philosophers as you wander the streets of Athens and explore the Parthenon, a temple that’s inspired architecture all over the world. Step back in time to the writer Homer’s world by exploring Ithaca, the home of the legendary Odysseus. Travel to Delphi to see the place many travelled to in ancient times to seek guidance from Delphi’s famed oracle. Visit the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun worshipped by ancient Greeks.
Embrace your inner foodie
You don’t have to be a foodie to start planning a trip to Greece. Once you get here, you’ll discover flavours that will make you addicted to Greek food for life. Plump olives, olive oils, lemon and oregano flavours paired with fish and meat dishes will make your mouth water. Add the salty flavours of Feta cheese, garlicky goodness of Tzatziki, baked beans, and lemon potatoes will fill a void in your life you didn’t know existed. If dessert is your thing, almond cookies and honeyed sweets like kataifi, loukoumades, and baklava will satisfy your sweet tooth.
My love for Greek food started in my teenage years. Growing up with Greek friends exposed me to Greece’s authentic flavours that gave me a preview of what was to come once I got there. We used to frequent Toronto’s Greek neighbourhood, where restaurants are aplenty, and the flavours are authentic.
I discovered that drinking frappes (an iced drink made of instant coffee and water) was more of a pastime than just a drink. You can make a frappe last for hours, although it’s not my favourite way to drink coffee. Greece has a great selection of wines and beers, including specialty liquors like ouzo, tsipouro and tsikoudia (also known as raki). They pack quite a punch if you’re not ready.
My favorite Greek dishes include grilled calamari, Greek salad with salty Feta, spanikopita (Greek spinach pie) and tiropita (Greek cheese pie). I am also a huge fan of Gigantes plaki (butter beans in tomato sauce), fasolatha (classic white bean soup) and saganaki cheese. If you like meat, you should try the gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, pastitsio or the dolmadakia.
Make friends with the friendly locals
I may be partial, but I think that the Greeks are some of the nicest and most welcoming people around. Helping you with directions, providing recommendations and sharing their culture is like a badge of honour.
It’s an unspoken principle that dates back to antiquity, knowns as philoxenia (hospitality). It’s a concept of welcoming strangers and visitors and treating them like family. As Homer put it in the Odyssey, “The gods visit us disguised as strangers.” After all, it was better not to get on the wrong side of a vengeful god.
Everyone we met in Greece made our experience that much more enjoyable. From the cab driver that sped through the streets of Athens, Fast and Furious style, to get us to the ferry terminal, the pharmacist that helped ease my sinus infection to everyone in between. Our adventure in Greece was a fun one.
Partake in the vibrant nightlife
Life in Greece is pretty laidback, but when the night falls, the energy goes up. You can’t visit Greece without experiencing its nightlife. While Mykonos is probably the best-known spot to party, it’s not the only one. Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, has an eclectic music scene with nightclubs, casinos, and bars. You can enjoy everything from modern tunes to the sounds of the Bouzouki, a traditional Greek instrument resembling a guitar.
From small towns to large cities and everything in between, you will find vibrant nightlife. I was amazed at all the people in bars, on patios and in clubs. The streets seem to buzz as people come out to socialize. The partying starts late and often goes well into the early morning hours. Why not party like the locals, especially if you don’t need to get up in the morning? While the nightlife might not be the sole reason for planning a trip to Greece, it will definitely be a great addition to your adventure.
Go Greek Islands hopping
There is a reason why the Greek islands are such a popular tourist destination. There are about 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas. About 227 of them are inhabited today and offer various options for travellers. From crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches and stunning views to charming villages and pumping nightlife. There is a Greek island with your name on it.
The Greek islands are grouped into seven separate clusters. They include the Ionian Islands, the Argo-Sardonic Islands, the Sporades and Evvoia, the Northeastern Aegean Islands, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and Crete. Each island has its own charm and offers visitors an unforgettable experience.
Whether you decide to party in Mykonos, get lost in the beauty of sunsets on Santorini, work on your tan in Corfu or explore the mysterious Minoan civilization on Rhodes, you will have plenty of options to choose from and many reasons to start planning a trip to Greece.
Discover the incredible landscapes
When you think of Greece, it’s easy to picture the blue Mediterranean waters and sunny beaches. While Greece has the longest coastline in Europe, it has a rugged interior made up of mountains, lakes and forests.
It’s a perfect destination for outdoor lovers and those looking to discover a different part of this fascinating country. Adventure lovers can explore caves and canyons formed by limestone and volcanos over the millennia. Here you can discover the spectacular fauna and flora that will make you feel like you’re in a different place.
Explore your spirituality
While the ancient Greeks worshipped their gods, the modern Greeks swapped the Olympians for the Greek Orthodox Church. While you can explore the ancient temples dedicated to pagan deities, you can also visit Greece to explore the many monasteries across the country.
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Many of the monasteries are perched on steep hillsides and seemingly inaccessible landscapes. They provided solitude and escape for the monks who built them, often shielding them from invasions and persecution. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the effort it took to build them, often using ladders and hanging baskets to transport the materials and monks themselves.
Before you visit Greece
Here are some basics before you start planning a trip to Greece. Its location in the heart of the Mediterranean makes Greece very accessible from most countries. The tourist season coincides with the hot temperatures, from late June to early September. This is also the most expensive time to visit Greece. If you want to enjoy less crowded attractions with pleasant weather, then spring is your best time to visit.
Greece has an extensive network of buses and ferries that make travel within the mainland and the islands easy to navigate. Services will be reduced during the off-season, so it’s essential to plan if you’re travelling at that time. While the country has a train network, it’s not as robust as it is in other European countries. To explore the county at your own pace, you’re better off renting a car.
We noticed that everyone was always dressed up in nice clothes in Greece, no matter their age. While there is no standard dress code, places of worship require more modest attire for men and women. If you plan to visit monasteries, make sure you’re dressed accordingly. You are also not permitted to take pictures inside places or worship without permission.
Greece uses the Euro, which can be good or bad for you depending on your home currency. Expect to pay more on the islands than you would on the mainland, especially during high season. This includes lodgings, food and shopping. We noticed a sharp contrast in prices between affordable Athens and places like Santorini.
Ready to start planning a trip to Greece?
From incredible shopping to archeological sites and sunny beaches, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Be that a Greek island adventure or a hike in the mountains. After all, adventure awaits. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start planning a trip to Greece.