15 Dec 2017

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.

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