Greece is one of the most popular destination for tourism for decades and there are many reasons for this. Blessed by great climate, beautiful sea and idyllic islands scattered around Mediterranean it is a true tourist paradise. Its vast archaeological and historical heritage that spawned modern civilization is present in every corner through monuments, preserved ruins and numerous museums and it is worth visiting many times over as there is always something new to learn.
If your preference is night life and parties, Greece caters for that as well, with exciting clubs and beach parties throughout the summer. It is still very family friendly place as you can always find quiet sea resort to enjoy holidays with kids. And finally, delicious food and friendly locals and very affordable prices makes Greece easy choice for holidays for any type of tourist. Enjoy!
1. Quick facts
- Official name: The Hellenic Republic
- Capital: Athens
- Population: 11.4 million
- Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq miles)
- Major language: Greek
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 83 years (women)
- Currency: Euro
2. Where is it?
Greece is located in Southern Europe, surrounded by Mediterranean Sea and it shares its borders with four countries: North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey. It’s a medium sized country – based on its size, Greece is 95th country in the world and 15th in Europe.
3. Visa requirements
As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you complete visit to Greece, so please plan ahead. Greece is part of Schengen agreement and visa for any of the countries from the Schengen group is also valid for Greece.
4. Getting there
Getting to Greece is the best via Athens Airport (ATH) or other, smaller airports: Thessaloniki (SKG), Heraklion (HER) or Chania (CHQ). You can also arrive via boat or cruiser to one of the ports or drive from neighboring countries, such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia or Albania, if you are visiting the region.
Here are some flight offers to Greece from the US:
- New York — Athens from $212
- New York — Thessaloniki from $288
- Boston — Athens from $297
- Chicago — Athens from $298
- Washington — Athens from $377
- Los Angeles — Athens from $409
- Boston — Thessaloniki from $457
- Los Angeles — Thessaloniki from $524
- San Francisco — Athens from $623
- Charlotte — Athens from $631
More cheap flights and hotels in Greece:
5. Where to stay in Greece?
Depending on where you want to go in Greece, your options for accommodation vary from standard hotels or Airbnb accommodations, to boutique hotels and individual rooms, rented mostly on small islands.
It is up to you and your budget and personal preferences. For budget (and young) travelers, there are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from in Hostel World.
For latest offers on hotels from our providers use search form below:
6. Moving around
For moving between cities and especially between Athens and Thessaloniki, you can use train or a bus. Since Greece is not that large, you can also rent a car to move while on mainland.
To visit islands, there is a network of ferries that can take you to major islands and for the smaller islands you can go by boat service.
Moving around the cities can be done by metro, bus or taxi. Taxi is very affordable and sometimes it is cheaper to go by taxi if you are traveling as a family, than to go by bus.
Going back and forth from Athens airport and Athens is the best via taxi if you are in a group as it has fixed price (around $40). For individual travelers, or couples, it is better to take metro to reach downtown (return ticket is $20).
To move between cities you can also rent a car, which you can do online from our website or from many car rentals.
7. Food in Greece
Greek cuisine is world famous and Greek restaurants around the world are as popular and common as Italian or French. Greek dishes are mostly Mediterranean, but they have influence from various cultures, such as Balkans or from Ottoman Empire.
Souvlaki, meat on a skewer, sometimes mixed with vegetables in between meat cubes, is very popular Greek ‘fast food’. It is served with fries or baked potatoes and tzatziki sauce. All types of meat is used, chicken, pork, beef and even a lamb. Gyros is another meat based street food – pieces of meat are stuck on a pole that rotates slowly and being cooked and sliced down to be served in pitta bread with salad and French fries. Also comes with various meat types.
Moussaka is another meat dish, minced beef with tomatoes and aborigines, it resembles meat lasagna and it is equally filling and tasty. Dolmades is wine leaves stuffed with minced meat mixed with rice and vegetables. Greek salad, or Choriatiki, is a world know salad and it comes in many varieties, but core ingredients are tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, olives and feta cheese. It is usually condimented by salt, vinegar and olive oil.
Spanakopita and Tiropita re respectively spinach and cheese pies, also very popular in Greece and can be found in every bakery.
The other half of Greek menu is reserved for wide variety of sweet treats: galaktoboureki – a sweet pie, similar to cheese and spinach one, but with sweet filling, baklava, layered sweet pastry with nuts and sugar syrup, amygdalota, almond cookies, kadaifi, unique sweet resembling noodles, wrapped around filling of nuts and loukoumades, fried dough balls covered in syrup.
The experience of Greek cuisine would not be complete without traditional Greek coffee, selection of Greek wines and local beers. Enjoy!
How safe is Greece for tourists and to move around? Greece is very safe, both inland and on islands. Tourist areas are generally safe, both for single tourists and groups or families, but extra caution for pickpocketers is advised. Recent economic problems have caused slight increase in petty crimes. More details about safety in Greece you can find here.
Greece is not that costly for tourists, and you can always find great deals on accommodation, meals and attraction tickets.
Prices throughout Greece are almost the same, with slight variation, but Athens and Thessaloniki are most expensive for general tourism.
Greece has warm Mediterranean climate in its central and south parts, while north can experience some cold winter periods. Temperatures in the summer can go up really high, about 40 C (104 F), but it is still pleasant if you are near the sea with a breeze.
11. Best time to visit Greece
Greece can be year around destination for any traveler as there is so much to see and do, but most popular times are April to mid-June or September-October, so as to avoid high season and still have great weather. If you are going for beach season, sailing or island hopping, then summer (June-September) is the best time to go. For visiting of archaeological and historical sites, any time is good, if you don’t mind rain from time to time in winter.
12. Money matters
Greece is part of the European Union and Euro zone and official currency is Euro. You should always pay attention when paying bills if you are coming from non-Euro countries and mind the exchange rate. (Xe.com). Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip. It is always good to have some cash on you, especially when leaving a tip in the restaurant or for taxi ride. There are ATMs and banks on every corner and cash withdrawals are in Euros with a fee. Major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners, but privately operated ATMs may sometimes charge high fees. However, machine should warn you about the charge so you have a choice to cancel the transaction before committing to it.
13. What to see in Greece?
Greece is a destination that is worth exploring over and again as there are so many places to see and things to do in this relatively small country. We are covering just a few most important attractions and landmarks.
Acropolis of Athens. Archeological ruins of famous 5th-century BC temple complex on Athens’ central hilltop.
Meteora. Located in central Greece, this UNESCO-listed complex of six Eastern Orthodox monasteries is second most important in Greece, after Mount Athos.
Parthenon. Iconic 5th BC Athenian temple ruins, the main landmark in Acropolis site. Symbol of Athens and Greece.
Acropolis Museum. Modern museum just downhill from Acropolis site, hosting ancient treasures and artefacts in well organized and presentable manner. A must when visiting Athens.
Syntagma Square. Central square in Athens, main meeting and transport point for entire city, popular tourist destination and exploration starting point.
Plaka. Colorful Athens neighborhood just next to Acropolis, lined with cobbled streets, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Very popular with tourists to walk around and enjoy relaxed atmosphere.
Mycenae. Ancient Greek city and temple ruins dating back to 7th century BC, located in Peloponnese, southwest from Athens.
Knossos. Palaces and archaeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age, located on the island of Crete.
Temple of Olympian Zeus. Remains of a temple completed during rule of Hadrian, dedicated to Zeus and located in Athens.
Delos. A small island next to Mikonos, with numerous archaeological sites and a museum. This island was mentioned prominently in Greek mythology.
Ionian Islands. Group of islands in Ionian Sea, off the west coast of Greece. Most famous is island of Corfu.
Mount Olympus. Legendary mountain peak, standing at 2,918 meters, famous from Greek mythology as home of numerous gods.
Elafonisi. Tiny island next to the southwestern corner of the island of Crete. Depending on a weather, it is possible to walk to the island through shallow waters.
Sounion. Ancient Poseidon temple and columns by the sea, located at the very south of Attic peninsula, south of Athens. Beautiful views, especially during sunset.
Samariá Gorge. National park on the island of Crete. It is a biosphere reserve and popular for hiking and scenic views.
Monastiraki. Popular neighborhood in Athens, next to Plaka and Acropolis. Several iconic landmarks, such as ruins of Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora and the rebuilt Stoa of Attalos with the museum. Many traditional taverns and shops in the area as well.
Akrotiri. Ruins of a prehistoric village from the Bronze Age. Located in the island of Santorini.
Imerovigli. A village on the island of Santorini, famous worldwide for photos of white houses, church with blue dome and with blue sea as a backdrop.
Balos Beach. Pristine blue and turquoise lagoon in remote, northwest part of Crete Island. Accessible by boat or hiking trail.
National Archaeological Museum. Ancient Greek art and archaeology museum in Athens, exhibiting sculptures, metalwork, vases and jewelry. Considered one of the most important museums in the world of this type.
Palaiokastritsa. A village in northwestern Corfu. According to the legend, it is the place where Odysseus disembarked and met Nausicaä. Area is also popular with hiking and water sports.
Erechtheion. Iconic temple of ancient Greece located in the north side of Acropolis and dedicated to Athena and Poseidon.
Mount Lycabettus. Landmark hill in Athens, featuring amphitheater, restaurant and panoramic view from the top. Reachable also by cable car.
Spinalonga. Tiny islet of the coast of northeast Crete, featuring a Venetian fort and the ruins of a former leper colony.
Corinth Canal. A canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.
Santorini caldera. Volcanic crater submerged in the sea in a scenic setting. Offering hillside lodging, boat tours and panoramic views.
Achilleion. A 19th century palace built on the island of Corfu, for Empress of Austria, Sisi. Open for guided tours with museum and gardens.
Melissani Cave. Scenic subterranean lake with boat tours, located in the island of Kefalonia.
Myrtos Beach. Scenic white sand beach between two mountains Located in northwest of Kefalonia island.
Colossus of Rhodes. Presumably, this ancient word wonder was located in the island of Rhodes.
Temple of Hephaestus. Ancient, hilltop temple, very well preserved. Built in Doric style and located in ancient Agora of Athens.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Ancient stone theater on the side of Acropolis hill. Offering live performances.
Mount Parnassus. One of highest mountains in Greece. Featuring a national park and a popular ski resort.
Sidari. A small settlement in the northern part of the island of Corfu. Popular with tourist as a resort area.
Antipaxos. Beautiful island with cliffs, caves and scenic views. Located south of Paxos, which is south of Corfu.
Theatre of Dionysus. Ancient theatre performance space which could seat around 15,000 people. Built in 6th century BC and located under Acropolis in Athens.
Port of Piraeus. A bust harbor with a seaport with ferries, yachts and ships, southwest from Athens.
National Garden. Large historic park with native and exotic plants, archeological remains and a children’s library, located in Athens.
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. The palace, known as Kastello, dating back from 14th century and renovated in 1940. Located on the island of Rhodes.
Porto Katsiki. Scenic, blue water beach under steep cliffs in the island of Lefkada in Ionian Sea.
Kerameikos. Ancient cemetery ruins and a museum, located in Athens.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Museum of Cretan prehistory and history, one of the best museums in Greece and top museum for Minoan art in the world.
Kolonaki. Neighborhood in Athens with high end shopping and dining. Featuring concept stores and galleries.
White Tower of Thessaloniki. Landmark fortress and former prison exhibiting interactive artifacts from the city’s history. Dating back from Ottoman times in 15th century.