greece

Holidays in Greece and the Greek islands

Greece is a holiday country of infinite variety, where the sun can be guaranteed to shine all summer and getting there from other European countries is not an expensive and tiring long haul. For the first group, taking a holiday in Greece can be a ‘culture fest’.

All over Greece, on the mainland and on the islands, there are many wonderful historical sites to see that any visitor would have to keep returning and returning to before they could see them all.

There are volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, mountains, gorges and caves, there are unique species of sea turtles like the Kareta Kareta and the monk seal monachus monachus, butterflies, cicadas, birds of prey, wild boar, wild cats, seals, dolphins.

For the botanist, there are cacti, bougainvillea, orchids, jacaranda, fig trees, eucalyptus ,olive trees ,oaks and more. The food and drink can be familiar if you prefer or strangely different like prickly pears, sea urchins, stuffed kalamari or stuffed courgette flowers all washed down with resinated wine or ouzo. And the language is certainly different to most other European languages. The alphabet is not the familiar Roman and the spoken language is certainly challenging for the learner.

Activities

Many visitors will also find all their needs met by spending their holidays in Greece. All of the activities identified above can be easily found all over the country plus many more. But, what’s this….skiing? Yes, Greece can also be an alternative winter holiday destination. The mountains in Epirus, Sterea Ellas or Macedonia and  northern Greece as well as the Peloponnese have ski centers with a variety of downhill and cross-country runs and mountain refuges. At the foot of the mountainous regions you will find fast flowing rivers with rapids where you can do white-water rafting. A brief search on the internet will provide the active holidaymaker with endless choices. Greece also offers excellent holiday facilities for people with physical or mental disabilities and, again, an internet search will provide many options.

Package holidays

Package holidays deals can be found in most travel agents for many of the larger islands and parts of the mainland. The beaches will be stunning, the weather glorious, the booze cheap and the nightlife lively. However, away from these areas is where the final type of holiday maker will find their Nirvana. All over Greece, whether on the mainland or on the islands there are places where the visitor can be away from other tourists.

The smaller islands often don’t have airports or, if they do, receive only one plane a day from Athens. Here you won’t find huge hotels and acres of beachside restaurants and bars.

Accommodation can easily be found in small family-run pensions or studios where the owner will show the hospitality that is so natural to the Greeks, looking after their guest as if they are a member of their own family.

Many Greek islands and smaller holiday resorts in mainland of Greece are the best places for family holidays. There you have the chance to get to know better the locals and let the children enjoy the sea.

The local people will enjoy the chance to practice their English – many have at least a smattering of this language, although for the older generation who are not employed in taverns or kafeneia this may not be the case. Nevertheless, you will be surprised how easy it is to understand the basics of a language that you don’t know, when the person you are conversing with is happy to spend time, elaborating on their meaning with hand movements and gestures, until you get it and, if you don’t, they and you will have enjoyed the trying! If you really want to get away from it all, Greece offers many spiritual retreat holidays either by private individuals or companies or in one of the hundreds of monasteries that can be found everywhere in Greece. If it isn’t a spiritual peace that you are looking for but just a desire for tranquillity and solitariness you can find it anywhere in Greece. In a holiday country with around 14,000 kilometres of coastline there is always a secluded beach close by. The countryside is beautiful wherever you look, and all your senses come alive as the smell of wild thyme and pine trees waft down from the hills, the air is filled by the tinkling of the bells that hang from the neck of the goats and sheep, the sea is never far away and the salty tang of it lingers on your tongue as you breathe and all around you is the silky caress of a warm breeze. Many Greek islands have become popular holiday destinations worldwide to mention a few Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Skiathos, Crete, Kos and Rhodes, that every summer millions of holiday makers are visiting to enjoy the sun and the wonderful beaches.

Why holidays in Greece

Holidays in Greece are a long-standing favourite thanks to gorgeous beaches, glistening sunshine, atmospheric resorts, attractive accommodation and low prices. Excellent budget holidays can be found on every Greek Island and throughout the Greek mainland.

Accommodation is as diverse as the islands themselves, offering everything from cheap studios and self-catering villas to luxury all-inclusive resort hotels. Greeck hotels enjoys a well-deserved reputation for high standards and low prices.

Greece excels when it comes to bright rooms with simple charm. A glance on islands like Kos and Zakynthos show just how cheap your trip to Greece can really be. The very cheapest hotel deals are found in early and late season and discount hotel offers are available throughout the year.
For the widest choice of budget staying, head for the richly varied islands of Corfu and Crete, Rhodes and Samos. Lively nightlife attract young holidaymakers to the lively resorts of Kos and Mykonos.

Couples of all ages will enjoy romantic locations on beautiful islands like Kefalonia and Thassos. Mainland Greece offer restrained development and a rather more authentically Greek atmosphere than the most developed of the Greek Islands.
Places like Pelion and the Halkidiki peninsula are available all year round to enjoy a relaxing vacation

Greece attract a very wide range of age-groups and interests. Holiday accommodation makes for relaxing and economical family accommodation in the Mediterranean.

Beautifully clean family beaches offer idyllic conditions for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. There are terrific walking paths on the Greek mainland and amazing diving oportunities in the Greek Islands. The legendary island of Santorini offers some of the most memorable luxury holidays in Greece. Nor should we forget the astonishing ancient sites of the classic city break destination of Athens

Greece a romantic getaway

There are many reasons why Greece enchants everyone, couples on a romantic getaway, young people looking for unbridled fun, lovers of art and ancient history, people eager for rest and relaxation, families who want a stress-free holiday in a magnificent location.

Greece offers accommodation for all budgets. Hotels and apartments in Greece truly satisfy everyone’s needs, with facilities ranging from the most stringent low cost to the most unbridled luxury.

Depending on your budget and the type of holiday you want to do, you can choose whether to sleep in large resorts with swimming pools, private beach, garden and numerous other comforts and services or in studios and simple guesthouses.
The studios are typical of the islands, especially the Cyclades, and are the best compromise between price, comfort and charm.

For something special, treat yourself to a 4 or 5 star hotel with an infinity pool or, better still, a private pool. If you are traveling with your family and prefer a family friendly place you can choose the convenience of a holiday in smaller Greek islands and resorts of the Greek mainland.

Planning a holiday in Greece

When it comes to planning a holiday in Greece, your first major challenge will be deciding where to start. You could spend months travelling through this fascinating country and still feel you’ve only just scratched the surface of its treasure trove of natural and archaeological wonders. Cheap flights, affordable cruises round the Greek islands and package holiday deals have combined to give the masses access to a land of legends previously beyond their reach.

Until the 1960s only wealthy yachties, flower-power hippies and adventurous backpackers had the pleasure of exploring the countless delights of the Greek mainland and islands. These days more than 12 million foreign visitors pour into the country each year, aided by an ever-increasing number of tour operators, car hire firms and charter flight companies all falling over themselves in a bid to exploit the potential of one of the world’s most alluring holiday destinations.

Entertaining in Greece

The late-night Mediterranean style of living exists in Greece in full force. Restaurants don’t start filling up until 10 P.M. and dinner with friends is often followed by drinks until 2 or 3 in the morning. Even on Sunday nights you’ll find tavernas (small restaurants serving Greek food) packed until late. You can normally find restaurants serving food by 8 or 9 P.M., but it will be clear that you are not a local. Souvlaki stands and other small eateries usually serve food all day but before 8 P.M. you may be hard pressed to find a restaurant that is serving.

Expect to eat Greek food while in Greece. Lots of it. In the larger cities there are ethnic restaurants, but the vast majority of restaurants will serve only Greek food. In general Greeks dislike spicy food and rarely eat fast food. McDonald’s, Goody’s (the Greek version of McDonald’s), and a sandwich chain called Everest do good business, but there are still more people who eat at a traditional taverna than fast food. In tourist heavy locations you’ll be more likely to find a cafe serving crepes, an Italian restaurant, or even Chinese food.

Bars in Greece are generally open all day starting at mid-morning. They tend to serve coffee until the evenings but you can certainly get liquor at any time of the day if that’s what you’re looking for.

Clubs don’t start getting busy until around midnight and the more hard-core dance clubs begin around 2 A.M. and go until 9 or 10 in the morning. Be prepared for “face control” at clubs. This generally means you must be dressed well enough and that there must not be more men than women in your group.

Summertime is the highlight of Greek clubbing with many clubs in Athens moving to the islands or to the coast. In the winter they move back to Athens and go indoors. Greece has some of the strictest drug laws in Europe and they make no distinction between possession and pushing. Even so, you will find drugs available in most of the more popular dance clubs. If you decide to use, be aware that even the smallest amount of marijuana will land you in jail.

If clubbing is a bit too intense for your tastes, there are many outdoor theater performances in the summer. The two largest festivals are the Athens Festival and the Epidavros Festival. The Athens Festival is a series of ballet, opera, symphony, and theater performed at the Theater of Herodes Atticus at the base of the Acropolis. The Epidavros Festival is centered at the World Heritage Site and well preserved 3rd century Theater of Epidavros in the Peloponnese.

Songs play an important role in Greek culture. Rebetika music is a type of music that is distinctly Greek yet no one knows quite where it came from. You can find Greek music at restaurants called Rebetiko where you can listen to live music and feast on Greek food. They are very popular places with Greeks on every night of the week and are especially crowded on weekends.

Greeks enjoy seeing films, but don’t expect any new releases. In fact, if you are coming from North America or England, you will likely find films in the theaters that you have already seen at home. If you do catch a movie, be forewarned that they come with an intermission – 10 to 15 minutes when you can get up, stretch, and get more popcorn.

Whether you prefer the excitement of bars and nightclubs or the refinement of an elegant dinner and theater, there is plenty in Greece to serve your desires.

When to go to Greece

The busiest month to have your holidays in Greece is in August, when almost every Greek and what seems like half of Europe is taking their own vacation in the Greek islands. That being said, the large cities are usually empty which can be quite a relief. But August is also the hottest month in all of Greece.

The high season is officially June through August, which means traveling from Easter to June and in September are great alternatives. Prices are a bit cheaper, room rates are more negotiable, airfare is cheaper, ferries are less crowded, and the weather is warm but not hot.

If you’re looking for winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, the season depends on the snowfall, but the best time to go is generally January to April.

From November until Easter it is very hard to find accommodation and services on the Greek islands. During this low season most hotels, shops, restaurants, and museums close their doors and rest.

What to bring

When traveling to Greece, you must have your passport. In addition, it is recommended to bring photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, and travelers checks) in a place separate from the originals.

If you are traveling to the islands, it is likely that you’ll be paying frequent visits to the beach. In this case, bring along a bag or backpack to carry your towel, sunscreen, and any other necessary beach items. If you plan on doing any hiking its convenient to have a small day pack, if for nothing else than to carry water. Keep in mind that in the hot summer months, a pack that rests on your back is less comfortable than one that only rests on your arms or hips. If you plan on doing extensive hiking, boots, a compass, and a whistle in case you get lost are recommended.

When traveling to the mountains, even in the summer, the evenings can get cool. At the highest elevations it is common to have snow until April or May. It is necessary to be prepared for the cooler temperature at the higher elevations if you plan on staying for very long.

Outside of the summer months it is always advisable to be prepared for rain, especially in western Greece. This means packing an umbrella, waterproof jacket, and even waterproofs shoes.

Things to do

Beaches
 
The beaches in Greece are well regarded as some of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the world. Whether you visit the mainland or the islands you will find some fantastic beaches in Greece. Myrtos beach in Kefalonia is known as one of the best beaches in Greece but you are spoilt for choice with the beaches in Corfu, Crete and Lefkada to name a few.
 
Attractions
 
Greece is home to many sightseeing attractions and the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens are a must see. No matter where you go in Greece there are historical attractions to view and excursions to take. The chance to step back in time by visiting traditional Greek villages and towns should not be missed whenever you are in Greece.
 
Cruises
 
One of the best ways to see the Greek coastline is from the deck of a yacht or cruise boat. Romantic moonlight cruises are available from most resorts with dinner and dancing included. The world famous booze cruises are always fun with the chance to stop off at secluded beaches for barbecues.
 
Diving
Scuba diving in Greece is a very popular pastime. There are fantastic dive sites all over the islands including underwater ruins and wrecks. The crystal clear Aegean is perfect for diving during the day or at night. There are many diving schools with courses and excursions at very reasonable rates.
 
Nightlife
You can always find something to suit your taste with regards to the nightlife in Greece. If you want low key, you can find traditional taverns in the quiet villages, but you will find international restaurants in the bustling towns such as Corfu, Parga or Thessaloniki. You can find nightclubs open till dawn in resorts such as Kos and Mykonos or go for the lively traditional music venues found in Halkidiki. There is always something to suit every taste on a holiday in Greece.

Discover the Greek antiquities

Remember that Greece as well as having wonderful beaches is rich in archaeological sites and museums of international importance.

Choose the location that best suits your needs and fully experience your trip to Greece which will be, we are sure, unforgettable.

Whether you are in the capital, on an island or in a little-known town in the hinterland, the myth is a stone’s throw from you in the form of a perfectly preserved millenary temple, the evocative ruins of an ancient city, a prestigious museum that preserves the first great artistic masterpieces of humanity.