We talk to first-time travelers in Greece every day. They come from different countries. They come for different reasons. But they all are united in the opportunities they miss while traveling through our amazing country. Here are the five most common mistakes we see travelers making:
1: Get Stuck in the Sand – OK, we all know that Greek beaches are among the world’s most beautiful. And clean. And romantic. Yep, they’re pretty phenomenal, and no trip to Greece would be complete without dipping a toe into the sparkling blues of the Hellenic Mediterranean. But let’s be honest, a lot of places have nice beaches—none, however, can complement those beaches with such an incredible mix of culture, history and culinary magic. A week of sun, sea and sand in Greece can be memorable. Adding to that even a half-day exploration of the country’s cultural treasures can make that week unforgettable.
2: Obsess Over the Ancient – Many visitors to Athens act as if the Greeks created the Acropolis and then took a break for the next two-and-a-half millennia. What they miss out on is a city overflowing with cultural gems that tell the stories of Greece’s multilayered and frequently tubulent journey to the present. There are the Byzantine ruins, for example, that showcase the empire’s grandiosity and splendor, and the stately mansions that portray the elegance of Greece’s oft-overlooked Neoclassical history. And don’t forget the modern: Greece’s internationally renowned artists, architects, authors, directors and performers continue to the push the limits of their craft, and keep the country at the forefront of the cultural cosmos. You can get a good view of Athens from the Parthenon, but you have to venture deeper into the cultural centers to feel the city’s pulse.
3: Eat like an Outsider – All Greek food is not created equal. That’s the sad reality awaiting many a first-time traveler in Greece. The items on a tourist-trap menu may sound the part, but your taste buds will know better. Remember: Greek cuisine is not a menu, it’s a process. It is a method of cooking that begins with fresh, local ingredients, and is carried out in accordance with time-honored traditions. (Even souvlaki—the ubiquitous Greek fast food—has its roots in centuries-old firepit grilling traditions.) Touristy restaurants have been known to take shortcuts when it comes to quality and preparation. That’s a pity. Few countries can match Greece when it comes to the kitchen and eating well should be the first priority on every traveler’s list. But follow this simple rule to get them most out of your meals: go where the Greeks go… which brings us to #4…
4: Talk to Yourself – There is more to see and do in Athens to last several lifetimes—and that’s just one city. The amount of opportunities and possibilities can be overwhelming. So don’t try to go it alone. Talk to the locals. Find out what they like to do, where they eat and where they drink. Ask them about where they come from and what they love about their country. Let them share with you the Greece they know and you’ll walk away from that experience with more information and inspiration than any guidebook could provide. And who knows, you might even make a friend!
5: Don’t Drink Enough – This is less a plea for travelers to increase the quantity of alcohol consumption and more a call for them to expand their horizons and sample the incredible variety of spirituous beverages that Greece has to offer. Enjoy the huge range of Greece’s award winning wines, sip on ouzo with a summertime meal or indulge in some warm rakomelo (raki mixed with honey) to fight the winter’s cold. Or explore the growing number of world-class microbrews that are popping up in cities and villages around the country. Whatever your pleasure, odds are there’s a drink in Greece that can satisfy your thirst, and about a billion places to go out and have a good time.