Traveling to Greece

Are you dreaming of a beautiful holiday traveling to Greece? This comprehensive guide to Greece is just what you’ll need to get your vacation planning in motion. It will help you outline an itinerary, and show you the best things to see, do, and experience, both on the mainland and on the islands.

Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country has a diverse range of terrain and climate that offer a wide variety of interesting places to visit. It consists of a large mainland and many smaller islands. Athens is the capital and largest city, with a metropolitan population of 3 million inhabitants.

traveling to greece

With over two millennia of rich history, culture and traditions, Greece has been a popular tourist destination for many years. From its beautiful beaches to the countless ancient sites, there are plenty of things to see and do in this unique country, but where do you start?

The Best Time to Visit Greece

The mild Mediterranean climate of Greece makes it an ideal destination for sightseeing throughout the year. The country is blessed with one of the longest sunshine hours in Europe.

The mild Mediterranean climate of Greece makes it an ideal destination for sightseeing throughout the year. The country is blessed with one of the longest sunshine hours in Europe.

Generally, Greece experiences a mild, warm winter and a long hot summer. The winters are not cold but can get rainy due to northerly winds. The summers are hot and dry with the least rainfall from June to September

Traveling to Greece in the spring is the best season because it’s the perfect time to explore its gorgeous natural landscapes and ancient ruins. You’ll have fewer tourists around you, leaving you with a more authentic travel experience.

Plus, you won’t have to deal with the scorching heat of the summer or the cold temperatures of winter. And don’t forget about all those festivals that take place in spring. It’s a great time to visit Greece and be part of the fun.

Where to Go and What to See in Greece?

There are many beautiful places to visitn while traveling to Greece that are not included in the guidebooks. The secret  is to go off the beaten path and see the real Greece.

But first, there are certainly some “must sees,” including the treasures of Ancient Greece in Athens. 

Keep in mind that, depending on the season, many points of interest close at around 3:00PM, so double check the schedule ahead of time. 

Sights to See in Athens

The beautiful monuments of Athens date back to ancient times and alternate with the modernity of the buildings of its trendy neighborhoods: Athens does not resemble any other city in Greece. It’s the perfect combination of the atmosphere of a big city and a small village.

Start with a visit to the Acropolis, the National Archeological Museum and the nearby neoclassical neighborhood of Thisio, full of cafes, traditional taverns, and trendy clubs, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Parthenon, especially at sunset.

In the afternoon, to have some fun, don’t miss a trip to the Monastiraki flea market. After a day spent between culture and shopping, there is nothing better than resting in one of the many cafes or restaurants in Plaka, where you can stay late and savor authentic Greece.

On the second day you could go to Syntagma square to observe the changing of the guard ceremony. From there, go to the temple of Zeus, and continue towards the Panathenaic stadium, an imposing horseshoe-shaped monument built entirely of white marble. In the evening you can relax at the table by going to dinner in the Psiri district, or opt for the most fashionable and trendy district of Athens, Gazi.

greek guards changing in athens

The next day, continue to immerse yourself in ancient Greek history by visiting the Cycladic art museum, housed in a villa in the heart of Athens near Kolonaki square. Then continue to the Byzantine and Christian museum, one of the most important internationally on the art and culture of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine age with a collection of more than 25,000 objects.

From there you can go to the National Gallery which houses more than 20,000 art objects including paintings, sculptures, engravings, covering a period ranging from the post-Byzantine period to the present day. It also has a large collection of Western European paintings.

Those who do not wish to do a full immersion in museums can stroll the elegant shopping area of ​​Kolonaki, much loved for shopping by Athenians. To reach this museum and shopping triangle you can take metro line 3 and get off at Annunciation or Syntagma station or take line 2 and get off at Costituzione.

For yet another spectacular sunset, you can admire Athens and the Acropolis from the Lycabettus hill, a green lung in the heart of the city that can be reached via the funicular, only 3 minutes away, but also by car or on foot, in this case a 35-minute walk awaits you. On top of the hill, the highest in Athens, there is a modern 3,000-seat amphitheater where concerts, cultural events and plays are staged throughout the year.

Sightseeing Just Outside of Athens

On your fourth day, you can venture out of Athens and go to Cape Sounion, on the extreme tip of the Attica peninsula, where the Doric Temple of Poseidon is located. Just an hour’s drive from the cosmopolitan heart of Greece, you can find this magical and peaceful place capable of offering one of the most beautiful Hellenic sunsets.

Back in Athens, spend the evening listening to rebetika music, a melodic style born from the fusion of Greek and Turkish music, in a club in Psiri.

The next morning, visit the monasteries of Meteora. Depending on the season and the day of the week, you can enter one or the other. From there, head to Lamia, passing through Trikala and Karditsa.

Not far from Lamia is Thermopylae, the place where Leonidas fought against thousands of Persians with an army of only 300 men. Thermopylae is well-marked by road signs and in the site of the battle there is the statue of Leonidas.

OK, now you’re ready to head to the islands, where the beaches are great and the sea is always warm.

oia santorini greek islands

Where to Go in the Greek Islands

To begin this journey, it’s best to take a plane to reach the first island, from Athens to Mykonos or Santorini, and then move from island to island on the ferries.

Here is one possible itinerary option:

2 nights in Santorini for sunsets from Oia and the caldera (or Mykonos, if you’d prefer)
3 nights in Ios, authentic and gorgeous; also Palaiokastro, the remains of a Byzantine fortress
3 nights in Naxos for Temple of Apollo and an excursion to Koufonissi
3 nights in Paros to visit Naoussa and a day trip to Antiparos
3 nights in Milos, a Greek island that is very authentic and not (yet) very touristy
1 more night in Santorini, to avoid the same day ferry and plane back to Athens

This itinerary was arranged for many reasons, but even with 15 days at your disposal, you might want to give up on an island, perhaps in Paros or Naxos, and dedicate a few more days to Milos or Ios to enjoy them to the fullest. and with a little more calm.

What to Eat in Greece?

Greece is one of the best countries in the world for food, but it’s a country whose cuisine is sometimes misunderstood. In Greece, you can find just about every type of food imaginable that falls under the category of the Mediterranean Diet

Traditional Greek cuisine uses the products of an ancient  land, kissed by the sun and bathed by the Mediterranean sea, which gives precious gifts. Among the most famous are seafood specialties, tomatoes, olives, oil, cheese, and lamb. 

greek mediterranean diet

Some typical dishes of Greece are known to most because they are also easily found in other countries…but the original versions, of course, are unmatched! 

Among some characteristic specialities are: 

  • Tzatziki sauce, a true symbol of Greek cuisine based on cucumbers, yogurt and garlic. 
  • Also try the Saganaki, a small portion of fried feta cheese served with pepper and lemon. 
  • Stuffed peppers, Yemista, have a unique flavor with the mint-based dressing. 
  • Imam, a tasty eggplant and vegetable dish, is a popular vegetarian alternative. 
  • Moussaka is very famous, as well as the meat skewers called Souvlaki. 
  • For dessert, try the Loukoumades; small round pancakes topped with honey and cinnamon. 

These are some of the many delicacies that you can find in Greece: there are many more! 

However, there are also some foods that you simply can’t go wrong with. A lot of people don’t know this, but the best time to go to Greece is during the summer, when all those fresh veggies and fruits hit the markets. You have lots of options to try some really delicious traditional Greek foods during your visit.

The Greek diet has been intertwined with the culture and lifestyle of Greece for thousands of years. It’s extremely important to Greeks today, who try to grow and consume as many of their own products as possible.

The flavors of Greek cuisine are so diverse, from the Mediterranean spices to the doughy and flaky pastries, there is something for everyone.

Greek food is often considered comfort food. The ingredients used in Greek cooking are so simple but so delicious. Lemon, garlic, olive oil, and oregano are just some of the most typical.

And have you ever wondered why Greeks break their dinner plates? You’ll have to visit for yourself to find out!

Best Way to Travel Around Greece

Maybe you’re wondering whether you should rent a car and drive around, or choose something else. Why not take the bus? Is it better than renting a car? What are the pros and cons of each option while traveling to Greece?

Well, that depends if you’re talking about traveling around the Greek mainland or the Greek islands.

Traveling in Greece by Land

As we’ll see in the next section, it’s easy to spend weeks wandering around the picturesque islands, but don’t neglect mainland Greece!  Yes, Athens is “the cradle of Western civilization,” but the rest of the mainland offers plenty of history as well.

The public transport network consists of buses and trains that can help you get from one place to another. While all public transport is relatively affordable, there are a few cost-effective methods that are by far the most popular among travelers.

However, the best way to see Greece is from the road.The Greek transportation network is extensive and relatively well organized, especially in the urban areas of Athens and Thessaloniki There are three major highways that cover most of mainland Greece: E95 runs north-south, E65 runs east-west, and E8 runs from north to south through Athens.

So our advice is to use the public transportation system in Athens (metro and buses), but then rent a car to explore the rest of the mainland.

Ferries Between the Greek islands

Ferries to move between the islands of Greece are also quite cheap. Prices vary according to the period, the type of boat (there are fast boats and slow boats), the length of the trip and the type of accommodation chosen on the ship.

The ferries that shuttle between the islands of Greece are comfortable boats, but among the waves of the Aegean Sea the smaller boats (not the big hydrofoils) “dance” a lot especially in the days of meltemi, a wind that you will learn about if you visit Greece in July or August.

greek island ferry

They are never too punctual, indeed, in my travels in August (perhaps thanks to the overcrowding) the ferries I used all left more or less 15-30 minutes late. The “nice thing” is that with your ticket you can go to boarding a few minutes before departure: you don’t need to be there well in advance.

It should also be pointed out that in every port of every Greek island you will easily find a ticket office and an office of the company for information, help and also to buy tickets on the spot. But in the high season it is recommend that you do it earlier and from home.

How to move on the various islands

We come to moving around ON the islands. The best way to get around an island in Greece is with a scooter. Except in a few large islands such as Crete where a car is recommended. Scooters and motorcycles are the best, cheapest and most practical solution.

In the middle of August, the cost for a 50-engined scooter varies between 25 and 40 Euros per day depending on the island. By renting the scooter on site, ask for the rate from at least a couple of renters. You may get a discount on rentals of 3 or more days, but that is at the charterer’s discretion.

Small quads (ATVs) can cost twice as much as scooters because more tourists feel safe on four wheels and therefore, given the high demand, costs soar. Here too, unfortunately, it depends on the island and the period.

For cars, a separate discussion: the problem is always the high season, where finding parking can be difficult. A scooter can be parked anywhere and always near the destination.

With cars, at peak times, you will find a queue at the entrance to the main urban centers or, near the beaches, it is difficult to park. In sum, cars are great for getting between cities on the mainland, but have limited use on the islands.

And by the way, have you ever considered hiking in Greece while on vacation? It’s very popular!

Things You Have to Know about Traveling to Greece!

Greece is a land rich in history, art, and culture. This culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, starting with the Minoan and Doric civilizations, which have left important evidence of their influence throughout the Greek territory.

The temples and theaters are among the most notable surviving buildings. Greece is the place where tragedy and comedy originated, which were represented in majestic theaters, the result of skilful structural calculations that allowed the best staging and the greatest emotional involvement of the public.

These are the places where the “polis” (the population or people) met to celebrate the ancient stories of the myths written by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides for the tragedy, Cratinus and Aristophanes for the comedy, just to name a few.

Of course, there are also the ancient Greek philosophical thinkers, of which the main figures were Socrates, Democritus, Plato and Aristotle.

The museums in Greece are as many and of great importance as the archeological sites, among which the most important are the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, the Agora of Athens, the National Archeological Museum of Athens, the Oracle of Delphi and the Archeological Museum of Delphi.

The Palace of the Grand Masters in the city of Rhodes, which spans over 4,000 years of history, witnessed the greatness first of Mycenaean Greece, then the classical period, through the dominion of the Roman Empire and later of the Byzantine empire.

Other sites not to be missed, also Unesco heritage sites, are the Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete, the Byzantine monument of Nea Moni of Chios, the Wall of Polycrates and the Eupalinos Tunnel in Samos and the perched monasteries of Meteora in Kalambaka.

In short, Greece has plenty to see. This is both the joy and the pain for curious travelers, because alas, there’s just too much, even in an entire lifetime.

Hotels to Consider When Traveling to Greece

  • Hotel Esperides Skiathos
  • Ecoxenia Hotel Santorini
  • Esperides Hotel Skiathos
  • Latania Apartments
  • Esperides Beach Hotel Skiathos
  • Marini Luxury Suites
  • Latania Apartments Stalis
  • Plaza Hotel Skiathos
  • Zante Vista Villas
  • Sarti Plaza
  • Iakovakis Hotel
  • Latania Apartments Crete
  • Latania Crete
  • Hotel Lilalo
  • Sartivista Hotel Sarti
  • Alexandra Beach Hotel Kos
  • Olympus Thea Boutique Hotel