Plan Your Trip to Greece

Greece is one of the top tourism destinations on the planet—and rightly so! From city breaks to rustic countryside getaways, from sunbathing to skiing, and from archaeological treasures to modern art, Greece has it all. It’s not just one of the best places to visit—in the world!—it’s a place to keep coming back to.

Read on for some tips and suggestions on planning your trip to Greece. Explore your options, prepare it all, and get ready to fall in love!

First Things First: Regions and Seasons

Don’t be fooled by the sun-and-sand image of Greece that’s promoted by most package tour operators. Sure, we have some of the best beaches in the world (in face you’ll find them all along the 13,676 km of coastline!), but the country’s interior is just as magnificent.

In addition to some impressive white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, the Peloponnese boasts a mountainous interior that offers visitors plenty of options for outdoors activities, from gentle hiking to rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and paragliding. The Greek mainland offers all these as well, as well as a number of excellent snowsport resorts, including Kaimaktsalan, Vasilitsa, and Pelion. In fact, there are approximately 24 working ski resorts of varying sizes in Greece (including two in the Peloponnese), with a total of 197.1 km of slopes. The most cosmopolitan of these is on Mount Parnassus, just under three hours from Athens and a stone’s throw from the world-class archaeological site of Delphi and the winter resort town of Arachova.

Further north, Mount Olympus is a four-season favorite, offering skiing and alpinism at its peaks and luxury beachfront resorts at its foot, with Litochoro being a popular destination with visitors from all over the world looking for a taste of ancient Greek myths and adventure. Even more adventurous types, will enjoy the wilderness of the Rhodope Mountains in Greece’s northernmost corner on the border with Bulgaria.

Not quite the outdoorsy type? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach and pamper yourself on the magical Santorini or the popular Chalkidiki Peninsula or you want to take a walk in an enchanting mountain landscape without straying too far from the comforts of city life, there are plenty of destinations to choose from. In the north, cities like Serres, Kastoria and Ioannina combine rich culture with exquisite nature and are ideal winter getaways, while cities like Nafplio in the Peloponnese or Agios Nikolaos in Crete make for perfect romantic retreats all year round.

Of course, wherever you go in Greece, you can expect plenty of opportunities to discover the country’s rich cultural heritage through world-class archaeological sites, monument and museums—and of course, the folklore, arts, and excellent Mediterranean cuisine.

Invest some time to researching Greece’s top destinations and determine the region and season that’s right for you. Actually, make that a list. Once you’ve had a taste of Greece, you’re guaranteed to come back for more.

Practical Info: Get the Basics Right

When you know when and where you want to go in Greece, it’s time to start preparing. Your dream itinerary might already be on your mind, but don’t forget the essentials. Here’s some practical info to get you started.

  • Visas: Greece is party to the Schengen Agreement, and visas are generally not required for stays of up to 90 days. Those with passports from non-Schengen countries may require a visa, so make sure to check well ahead of time as some embassies and consulates have lengthy procedures.
  • Weather: The overall climate is temperate Mediterranean, but the country’s unique geography means there’s a remarkable range of microclimates. In other words, temperature and weather phenomena really vary in different areas of the country, depending on altitude and proximity to the sea. To be sure, check the weather forecasts for your specific destinations.
  • Low and High Seasons: Low season is generally November to March, and this is a good time to get cheaper flights and ferries and good deals on accommodation. However keep in mind, that December to February is the busy season for winter and ski resorts, so book your accommodation (and lift passes!) well in advance to avoid disappointment. For the rest of the country, high season is Easter and then May to August, so expect most flights, ferries, accommodation and tours to be fully booked. To avoid disappointment (and sky-high prices) book in advance.
  • Money and costs: Greece uses the Euro, and prices can be very competitive compared to other European destinations. On the tighter end of the budget, you can stay at a hostel for under €20 and enjoy a couple of souvlakia on the go for €5. At the mid-range, hotel accommodation will set you back anywhere between €60- €150 a night and you can expect to have a hearty meal at a local taverna for €20- €25. At the top end, expect to pay upwards of €160 a night for accommodation and €60 for dining. Activities and tours can vary greatly in price, but beware of deals that sound too good to be true: The extra cost of booking a tour with licensed guides and well-developed itineraries is definitely worth it.
  • Getting Around: Athens has a well-developed public transport network with buses, trolleys, trains, metro and tram routes that will get you to pretty much anywhere you need to go in the city. Major cities across Greece also have good public transport links, primarily buses and trolleys. Taxis are relatively affordable in Greece, and, in the countryside, can also be hired for longer trips and even sightseeing! Car and moped rentals are also reasonably priced, and you can find rental offices throughout the country, including most islands. For longer distances, options include flying (with local airports throughout the islands), an extensive rail network, and ferries, particularly during the summer months.

For more inspiration on top places to visit and top things to do in Greece, check out our list of top Greek destinations or explore our selection of some of the best tours in Athens and other popular destinations like Delphi, Santorini, and the Peloponnese. If you’re looking to plan something truly unique and memorable, have a look at our Bespoke Experiences and get in touch with us to arrange an exclusive, tailor-made tour just for you.

Greece is magnificent. Get ready to fall in love with it.

Christmas in Athens: Top Things to See and Do

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! As days get ever shorter and the temperatures dip, Athens is gearing up for the holiday season. Christmas decorations and lights adorn city streets and squares, and seasonal attractions and events are opening their doors to the public.

December is a great time to visit Athens, as the usual summer crowds are gone, and Christmas holiday magic is in the air, transforming the city and promising a fantastic holiday experience.

Read on for some ideas on top things to see and do in Athens this Christmas!

Explore the City

Winters in Athens are mild, with the average temperature during December through February hovering around 10°C. The sun continues to shine and, with the exception of those rare stormy days, the skies are bright and blue. Put simply: ideal conditions to explore the city!

Why not walk up Lycabettus Hill—a much better experience in the crisp winter air than under the scorching summer sun—or wander through the picture-perfect alleyways of Anafiotika on the slopes of the Acropolis? This is also a great time of year to visit the city’s green areas like Filopappou Hill and the National Garden or to just go on a bit of an urban adventure to explore the side streets and neighborhoods of the bustling city center.

Our half-day Neoclassical Athens and full-day Getting to Know the City of Athens walking tours combine guided tours of the National Garden with visits to some of the city center’s top modern history attractions, introducing you the fascinating world of 19th and early-20th century Athens.

Give the Kids a Taste of Christmas Magic

Kids will love to visit the Christmas Factory and to discover Ancient Greece

The holiday season brings out the child in us all, and it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together making wonderful memories for the whole family. Children—of all ages!—will love a visit to The Christmas Factory at Technopolis in Gazi. Open 10:00-22:00 from December 1 to January 7, the Christmas Factory sparkles with lights and decorations and features various craft and activity workshops, face painting, a fun park, a school of magic, and a Christmas market—and younger kids can meet Santa too!

For a break from elves and reindeer, you can take advantage of the holiday season to enjoy a fantastic day out discovering Greek culture with one of our fantastic family-friendly tours. Our Young Explorer Tours are designed with younger guests in mind and use fun games, activities and expert storytelling to create fun and engaging experiences for the whole family!

Discover Greek Culture and Heritage

Now that the summer crowds are gone, it’s a perfect time to visit those world-class attractions, iconic monuments and top museums without the queues and hassle of the peak summer season. Experience the Acropolis and the Parthenon and make sure to visit the renowned Acropolis Museum.

To make the most of your time—and to complement the experience with best anecdotes and insider scoop about these magnificent monuments—book our top-selling Classical Athens, Classically Greek or Greek Essentials itineraries, which include private guided tours of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum. And why not get away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours, with a day trip to Cape Sounio and the Aegean coast to discover the ancient grand temples and breathtaking nature beyond the Greek capital?

Sneak in Some Christmas Shopping

Certainly not as famous as London or Paris, Athens is nonetheless a great shopping destination that offers everything from top luxury brands to local craftsmen and artisans. The best Christmas shopping is to be had in the city center, with the area between Ermou Street and Kolonaki brimming with retailers, international and local. Other key shopping areas are Glyfada and Kifissia, and there are also a handful or large shopping centers and malls on Kifissias Avenue.

Looking for a truly special present? Our Bespoke Tour Experiences offer exclusive access to artifacts, private locations and unique collections, allowing behind the scenes access at some of the country’s foremost museums. These exclusive cultural experiences are the perfect gift for a special occasion.

Visit Megaron

One of the city’s foremost cultural venues, Megaron, the Athens Concert Hall, is a hub of art and creativity and a great place to catch performances and exhibitions.

Ilias Karellas creates and performs Karagiozis shadow plays, bringing this traditional art form to life for modern audiences.

Karagiozis shadow puppet and creator Ilias Karellas and the Grigorovich Ballet Theatre of Russia

Our top pick: See Karagiozis’ Christmas at the Moon by Ilias Karellas Theatre Company to witness the wonderful art of shadow theater and meet Karagiozis, its most famous character. The play is a modern twist on the traditional stories. “The Grand Vizier wishes to spend Christmas at the moon along with his daughter and the entire palace. While making preparations for the Vizier’s moon stay, a group of astronauts led by Karagiozis face a group of uncanny, alien creatures…” [Dec 16-30]

Other exciting performances during the holiday season include:

  • The Athens State Orchestra: A Different Nutcracker I – Dec 16, 17
  • The Nutcracker by Yuri Grigorovich, a dazzling show by Bolshoi legend Yuri Grigorovich featuring the Grigorovich Ballet Theatre of Russia and Bolshoi principal dancers that promises to be the most spectacular performance of Christmas Athens – 20-30 Dec
  • Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, performed by Les Musiciens du Louvre on period instruments – Dec 20
  • Yiannis Markopoulos: The Greek Christmas Carols – Dec 21, 22

Chase the Snow

Greece might be famous for its fabulous beaches and seaside resorts, but with 24 ski centers of varying sizes and a total of 197 km of slopes, it’s also an undiscovered gem for snowsport lovers. Weather permitting, you can enjoy one of the two options near Athens: Parnassos Ski Center on Mount Parnassus and Kalavrita Ski Center in the Peloponnese. Both are just under a three hour drive from the capital, and Athenians often make a day of it, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening after a day on the slopes. Don’t want to drive the distance? No problem! A number of Athens-based providers operate special “snow shuttle” services that depart the city in the early morning and bring you back in the evening. You can generally arrange gear rental through them too.

Parnassos and Kalavrita are also great for short getaways and sightseeing. Parnassos is a stone’s throw from the world-class archaeological site of Delphi and the picturesque winter resort town of Arachova, while Kalavrita is ideally combined with a couple of days exploring the Peloponnese. Still, if you’re not quite up for an adventure to the Greek countryside, Mount Parnitha in the north of Athens, can make for a fantastic day out with the family and often gets a sprinkling of snow during the colder months.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Greece is known for its unique sort of Mediterranean cuisine, and holiday dishes just up the ante. From turkey and stuffing to traditional pork roasts or creative fusion dishes to please the most adventurous of palates, festive menus in restaurants across the capital promise a feast of culinary delights. Even the humble Christmas cookies—the beloved kourambiedes (butter cookies coated in fine powdered sugar) and melomakarona (olive oil cookies flavored with a honey and cinnamon syrup and sprinkled with chopped walnuts)­—are so good that Greeks up and down the country look forward to December when these make their appearance in the shops.

But there’s more to the season than the Christmas feast! Foodies can enjoy a number of gastro-tours of the city or even take a day trip to discover wine and history in the Peloponnese, complete with glorious ancient monuments and a winery tour. For a unique culinary experience of Athens, why not try dining like Athenian aristocracy with a period-themed private dinner at the Museum of the City of Athens or treat yourself to a private Christmas feast in a unique Athenian setting?