greece

General information about Greece

At the point where three continents meet. Europe, Asia and Africa is Greece, rocking in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean. The area of ​​Greece is small, but its spiritual radiance is very large. Because from this corner of the world was born the highest civilization that ever existed. The institutions, the organization, the arts, the letters and the sciences as well as all the other elements, that now coexist with the Western civilization, have their roots in Ancient Greece.

This enchanting land, which encompasses thousands of islands across the Aegean and Ionian seas, is considered the cradle of Western civilization. Its influence on language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts endures to this day. Greece’s profound cultural heritage, combined with its natural beauty and modern vibrancy, makes it a captivating destination for travellers from around the globe.

The history of Greece is a tapestry of great complexity and significance. Ancient Greece, which flourished during the classical period, has had a lasting impact on the development of Western civilization. The city-states of Athens and Sparta, among others, were powerhouses of cultural and military achievement. Athens, the birthplace of democracy, was also a center for the arts, learning, and philosophy, home to Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. The archaeological sites that remain, such as the Acropolis in Athens, the Sanctuary of Delphi, and the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, offer a window into this influential era.

Greek culture is a vibrant fusion of the old and the new. Traditional music, dance, and cuisine are proudly preserved and celebrated in festivals and daily life. At the same time, contemporary Greek culture — from cinema and music to literature and art — thrives, showcasing the country’s ability to evolve while maintaining a deep connection to its past. Greek cuisine, characterized by its simplicity and the use of fresh, local ingredients like olive oil, fish, and vegetables, is celebrated worldwide for its health benefits and flavors.

Greece’s natural beauty is as diverse as its cultural heritage. From the idyllic beaches of the Cyclades to the rugged mountains of the north, the country offers a wide array of landscapes to explore. The islands, each with its own unique charm, attract visitors seeking sun, sea, and sand, while the mainland boasts ancient forests, rivers, and lakes, offering opportunities for hiking, rafting, and exploring. The country’s climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, makes it an attractive destination year-round.

Information about the Greek state

The Greek State is a parliamentary republic with a President as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. The country has been undergoing significant reforms in recent years, especially in terms of its public finances.

The Greek Constitution provides for three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The Legislative branch consists of a unicameral parliament called the Hellenic Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon. It has 300 members who are elected every four years through proportional representation.

The Executive branch comprises the Prime Minister as well as other Ministers appointed by him/her who manage specific departments such as finance, foreign affairs, defense etc. Under this system, political parties play an important role in shaping policy-making decisions.

The Judicial branch is responsible for interpreting laws and resolving legal disputes. It includes courts at different levels – from district to supreme court – organized hierarchically.

Greece’s parliamentary democracy system balances power between various branches allowing citizens’ voices to be heard while ensuring that no single entity can hold too much sway over governing policies and procedures.

Greek governement

The Greek government is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, with the President serving as the head of state and the Prime Minister leading the government. The current President is Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who assumed office in March 2020.

The Hellenic Parliament consists of 300 members elected for a four-year term through a system of proportional representation. Greece has a multi-party system, with New Democracy and SYRIZA being two major political parties that have been alternating power since 2015.

Despite having faced financial crises in recent years, the Greek government has implemented various economic reforms to improve its economy. The major sectors contributing to Greece’s GDP are tourism, shipping industry and agriculture.

The Greek government also plays an important role in promoting culture by investing in institutions like museums and archaeological sites. In addition to this, they provide support for festivals and events celebrating Greek traditions and customs.

Despite facing challenges such as high unemployment rates and debt burdens over recent years, the Greek government continues to strive towards improving their economy while preserving their rich cultural heritage.

Greek politics

Greek politics have been tumultuous in recent years, with several ups and downs. The country has a parliamentary representative democratic republic system of governance consisting of three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial.

The Greek Prime Minister (Konstantinos Mitsotsakis 2018-2022-23 ) is the head of government elected by Parliament’s majority vote for a maximum term of four years. Greek parliament comprises 300 members who are elected via nationwide general elections every four years.

However, Greece’s political scene remains fragmented as various political parties hold distinct views on issues like austerity and social welfare policies that affect the country’s economy.

The major political parties include  Nea Democratia (ND), the socialist party PASOK , Syriza and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

Greek citizens actively participate in politics as they widely exercise their right to vote during national elections. Nevertheless, since the onset of its economic crisis in 2008-09; unemployment rates increased leading to mass emigration leaving behind an aging population.

Greek economy facts

The Greek economy has been through a lot of turmoil in recent years. In 2008, the global financial crisis hit Greece hard and exposed its deep-rooted economic issues. Consequently, Greece had to receive multiple bailouts from the European Union to avoid bankruptcy.

One of the major challenges facing the Greek economy is high levels of public debt, which stands at over 180% of GDP. This means that Greece owes more money than it produces annually. Another issue is high unemployment rates, especially among young people.

To address these problems, several reforms have been implemented by successive governments in recent years. These include reducing government spending and increasing taxes to boost revenue.

However, despite these efforts, some argue that Greece’s economy remains fragile due to ongoing political instability and corruption concerns. Nevertheless, there are promising signs such as growth in key sectors like tourism and shipping.

Industry

Greek industry makes up 9% of GDP, contributes 87% of the value of goods exports and 42% of total exports (including tourism, shipping and transport). At the same time, it contributes 40% of the total income tax of legal entities and 13% of the wages of employees in Greece, while it pays its employees 37% better than the average. Finally, it contributes 37% to the Research and Development (R&D) expenditures carried out in our country and invests 5 times more than any other sector of our economy.

The importance of the Greek industry for the domestic economy is self-evident and is a continuation of the international example, in which the most economically developed countries in the world are also the most industrially developed.

Greek industry is dominated by companies that possess the critical size to further develop internationally and by others that possess qualitative differentiation characteristics. Both are necessary for its growth. Not having significant access to raw materials, important geographical advantages that make the supply chain easier compared to the markets of central and northern Europe and without a significant size of the domestic market, the Greek industry is obliged from the outset to be extroverted and diversified in terms of the products produced her. But above all it must develop by having national champions who can influence an ecosystem of industries and businesses at local, regional and national level.

 

Population of Greece

The population of Greece is estimated to be around 10.7 million people, with the majority of the population residing in urban areas like Athens and Thessaloniki. The country has a diverse cultural background, with influences from ancient Greek civilization as well as Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman cultures.

Greece’s political system and economy have undergone significant changes over the years. While the country still faces challenges such as high unemployment rates and national debt levels, it continues to be an important player in regional politics and has a rich history that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Land and resources

Greece is a mountainous country, with flat land restricted to many small coastal plains. These mountains, part of the Alpine range, predominantly run from northwest to southeast. The tallest and roughest peaks are situated in the northwest region, with Mount Grammos towering at 2,519 m (8,265 ft) and Pindus reaching over 2,285 m (7,500 ft).

 

However, it is worth noting that the highest mountain in Greece (Mount Olympus; 2,919 m/9,576 ft) is located in east central Greece. The continuous stretch of mountains is briefly disrupted by the lengthy Gulf of Corinth which almost entirely divides southern Greece – also known as the Peloponnese – from the rest of the peninsula. Yet this mountain range does carry on past the gulf and eventually terminates in three distinctive headlands found in southern Greece.

The mountain ranges, extending in the same direction, continue offshore where their highest portions form chains and groups of islands dotting the Aegean. The eastern ranges are represented by the Cyclades, while the more westerly ranges extend through Crete and Rhodes.

Both these mountains and islands are primarily composed of limestone and sandstone sedimentary rocks that were deposited during the Mesozoic Era (230 to 65 million years ago). Only near the northern boundary of Greece do igneous rocks play a significant role in the landscape. The largest plains along the Aegean Sea are found in Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace.

Plato noted more than 2,000 years ago that Greece’s soils are thin and poor, and much of the country consists of bare rock. Only the coastal lowlands have good soils. Because of the long summer drought, these soils are primarily alluvial, but their productivity is greatly reduced.

Drainage

Few rivers exist in peninsular Greece, all are small, and most dry up in the summer. Only those rivers which rise farther north in the Balkan Peninsula and flow through northern Greece to the seaÑthe Vardar and Struma, for exampleÑhave any significant summer discharge. The small size and seasonal character of most rivers is the primary reason for the limited use of irrigation. Of the several lakes within the mountainsÑmany of them in northern GreeceÑmost occupy basins that were formed by the dissolution of limestone.

 

Vegetation

Naturally occurring vegetation is adapted to the climate and consists largely of xerophytes, which are plants that are able to withstand the summer drought by the storage of water. Spring is the primary growing season, and flowering plants make a brilliant show during this time, before withering under the summer heat. The mountains are mostly clothed with a relatively dense scrub brush (called maquis). Evergreen forests may once have covered much of the land but have been largely destroyed in southern Greece. Extensive forest is found only in the mountains of northwestern Greece, where large stands of fir occur. About 19% of the total area is forested.

 

Resources

Greece is poorly endowed with minerals and fuel. Although some lignite (a soft coal) is produced, no economically significant coal deposits exist. Oil has been found in northwestern Greece and on the floor of the Aegean Sea. The Pinos oil field, off the island of Thαsos, has been producing petroleum since 1981. Reserves of hydroelectric power are slight because of the small size and seasonal flow of most rivers. Iron ore and bauxite are the most important mineral resources; bauxite is quarried to the north of the Gulf of Corinth, and most of it is exported. Small amounts of pyrites (used in making sulfuric acid), lead, zinc, magnesite, manganese, chrome, and silver are also mined. In most cases the ore is exported for smelting elsewhere.

Places to visit in Greece


Museums

  1. Archaeological Museum of Athens
  2. Acropolis Museum
  3. Museum of Heraklion
  4. Museum of Delphi
  5. Cycladic Art Museum in Athens
  6. Vergina the Royal Tombs museum

A few words about Greece

History of Greece

Greece was inhabited from the prehistoric times. Its history is more than 3,000 years old, beginning with the Bronze Age and the development in this period.

Minoan , Mycenaean and Cycladic civilisation, followed by the Classic Era of Greece, the Hellenistic period, the Roman period, the Byzantine era, the Middle Ages and the occupation by the Crusades, the Venetians and the Turks.

Since the Greek war of independence in 1821. Modern Greece is a European country and member of the European Union.

Why holidays in Greece

Because Greece is one of the most beloved holiday destination for many millions of tourists that travel to the Greek islands and the mainland every year. The mountains , the islands and the cities of Greece have everything to offer to the visitor, history ,mythology , interesting places and sights to visit , wild nature, rivers and lakes with unique habitats.
Intense glistening light, traditional white houses and the deepest of blue seas gives Greece a unique beauty. The islands offer an incredibly diverse choice of resorts appealing to all ages and every holiday style. You will find wonderfully romantic holiday locations on the smaller islands

The Greek islands

The proximity, the warm welcome, the riches of the past, the charm of island life constitute for many the ground for a first experience. The most difficult thing though is to choose which island. Sparkling white villages, clinging to the sides of rocky spurs where the blue domes of churches and crimson bougainvillea stand out, arid mountains bathed in dazzling light and bordered by golden sandy beaches.

The Cyclades constitute the archetype of the Greek islands.  Among the world famous Santorini and Mykonos, but as well the islands of Syros, Paros, Naxos, Ios and Tinos, Amorgos, Antiparos, Milos, Serifos Sikinos and Sifnos.  The small Cyclades are another tourist destination for those who prefer quieter holidays, among them the islands of Koufonisia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, Anafi and Kea, a small Cycladic island very close to Athens

The Dodecanese Islands located in the southeastern Aegean Sea, Greece. Comprising a total of 12 major islands and numerous smaller islets, this picturesque region boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes, and a unique blend of Greek and Mediterranean cultures. Each island within the Dodecanese has its own distinct character, offering visitors a diverse range of experiences. The three largest ones are Rhodes Kos and Karpathos. Among the touristy ones are as well the islands of Leros, Symi, Patmos, Lipsi and Kalymnos while the quite ones are Nisyros, Kasos, Tilos, Halki and Kastellorizo

The Sporades Islands, extend to the north and east of Evia, as well as to the east of the Pelion peninsula. The Sporades form a captivating archipelago that beckons travelers with their natural beauty, serene beaches, and rich history. Each island within the Sporades has its own unique charm and character, making it a popular destination for both relaxation and exploration. From the lively atmosphere of Skiathos to the tranquil seclusion of Alonnisos, Skopelos and Skyros, the Sporades Islands offer a diverse range of experiences for those seeking a taste of Greek island paradise.

The Ionian Islands ituated on the western coast of Greece. This group of islands consists of seven islands, each possessing its own unique charm and character. Beyond the stunning scenery, these islands boast a rich cultural heritage, with influences from Venetian, French, and British occupations evident in their architecture, cuisine, and way of life. Among them are the touristy one like Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Zakynthos and the quiet ones like Ithaca, Meganisi and Paxi.

The closest to the capital of Greece, Athens, are the jewels of the Saronic Gulf, like the elegant Hydra and Spetses or the peaceful Aegina and Poros. There are more islands to discover, the green Ionian islands, cross the Aegean to reach the very diverse islands of the Dodecanese and the less known, in the northeast of the Aegean Sea like Limnos, Samos, Chios , Andros and of cource the largest island of Greece Crete.

Historical landmarks and archaeological sites

acropolis greeceGreece’s historical landmarks and archaeological sites are invaluable treasures of humanity, offering lessons that resonate far beyond their physical boundaries. They stand as testaments to human ingenuity, creativity, and the enduring quest for knowledge and beauty. As such, they are not only destinations for tourists and scholars but also sources of inspiration for people around the world, reminding us of our shared heritage and the timeless values that continue to shape our collective identity.

Central to Greece’s historical landscape is the Acropolis of Athens, a symbol of the power and culture of ancient Athens. Perched atop a rocky outcrop above the city, the Acropolis is home to several iconic structures, including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. These monuments represent the zenith of classical Greek art and architecture and have been pivotal in shaping Western aesthetic standards.

delphiAnother landmark of unparalleled significance is Delphi, once considered the center of the world in ancient Greek religion. Home to the oracle of Apollo, Delphi attracted pilgrims from across the Greek world seeking divine guidance. The site comprises the Temple of Apollo, the ancient theater, and the Delphi Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts spanning thousands of years.

The ancient city of Knossos on Crete offers insights into the Minoan civilization, one of Europe’s earliest advanced societies. The sprawling palace complex is renowned for its sophisticated architecture, vibrant frescoes, and the legend of the Minotaur, showcasing the blend of historical fact and myth that characterizes much of Greece’s ancient history.

Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, is another site of great historical and cultural importance. The ancient sanctuary hosted athletes from across the Greek world who competed in honor of Zeus. Today, the ruins of the gymnasium, stadium, and temples provide a glimpse into the origins of this global sporting tradition.

epidaurusBeyond these iconic sites, Greece is dotted with numerous other archaeological treasures, from the theatres of Epidaurus and Dion, the sanctuaries of Dodona and Eleusis, to the medieval ruins of Mystras and the monasteries of Meteora. Each site offers a unique perspective on the various civilizations that have inhabited this land, contributing to the rich mosaic of Greek history.

The preservation and study of these landmarks are of paramount importance, not only for understanding Greece’s past but also for the insights they provide into human civilization. Archaeological excavations continue to reveal new findings, shedding light on ancient societies’ social, political, and cultural dynamics.

Culture and tradition

The culture and tradition of Greece are among the richest and most influential in the world, deeply rooted in history, art, and philosophy. This enduring legacy has shaped Western civilization and continues to captivate people with its profound depth and diversity. Greek culture is a splendid tapestry woven from the threads of ancient mythology, Byzantine influences, and modern-day practices, creating a unique cultural identity that is both timeless and dynamic.

Greek culture has its foundations in the ancient civilizations that flourished in the region. The classical period of ancient Greece, particularly Athens, was a golden age of intellectual and artistic achievement. The era gave birth to democracy, philosophy, and the Olympic Games, which remain cornerstones of Greek culture. The myths and legends of gods and heroes, such as Zeus, Athena, and Hercules, have permeated Greek art, literature, and daily life, offering moral lessons and explaining natural phenomena.

The Greek Orthodox Church plays a significant role in Greek culture, influencing many aspects of daily life and tradition. Major religious festivals, such as Easter, are celebrated with great fervor and involve customs like the midnight Mass and the traditional lamb roast. Name days, celebrations dedicated to the saints after whom people are named, are often considered more important than birthdays in Greek tradition.

Music and dances in Greece

Greek music and Greek dances hold a special place in Greek culture, deeply rooted in the country’s history and traditions while also embracing contemporary influences. These forms of expression are not only entertainment but also a way to celebrate, communicate, and preserve the rich heritage of Greece.

Greek music spans a wide range of styles, from the deeply emotional and improvisational Rebetiko, often considered the Greek blues, to the lively and diverse regional folk music that varies significantly across different areas of the country. Traditional instruments, such as the bouzouki, lyra, and laouto, play a central role in Greek music, creating distinctive sounds that have influenced various musical genres. Modern Greek music includes pop, rock, and electronic, with Greek artists often blending traditional elements with contemporary sounds to create unique and innovative music.

Dance is equally significant in Greek culture, with traditional dances being an essential part of celebrations, religious festivals, and family gatherings. Each region of Greece has its own traditional dances, which can vary greatly in style, rhythm, and costume. Popular Greek dances include the Sirtaki, a dance made famous by the movie “Zorba the Greek,” the slow and expressive Zeibekiko, and the lively Kalamatianos. These dances are not just performed for tourists; they are a living part of Greek culture, often taught from generation to generation and performed at important community events.

In addition to traditional music and dance, Greece has a vibrant contemporary entertainment scene, with numerous music festivals, concerts, and dance performances held throughout the year. These events showcase both national and international artists, reflecting the global influences on Greek music and dance while also celebrating its unique cultural heritage.

Greek music and dance, therefore, serve as a bridge between the past and present, enabling Greeks to connect with their history and identity while also engaging with the wider world. Whether through the emotional depth of a Rebetiko song, the communal joy of a traditional village dance, or the energetic beat of a contemporary concert, music and dance continue to play a vital role in the cultural life of Greece.

The Greek people

In recent years, Greek society has become urbanised, Greeks have changed their way of life. The majority of the Greek population tends to look like the middle class of the industrialised countries. But the Mediterranean temperament and national heritage are deterrents to the formation of the “industrial” Greek. Morals and customs and religious beliefs make Greeks stand out from the rest of Europe. Here they meet the old with the new, the marriage of the modern way of life with the traditional Greek thought.

The Greeks are a nation that lives mainly in southeastern Europe and have inhabited extensively the area of Greece since the end of the 3rd millennium BC,
The Greeks generally established colonies around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, while after the campaign of Alexander the Great their cities and colonies reached as far as Central Asia and as far as present-day India, spreading to a great extent the Greek culture and Hellenism in most of the then known world.

Today the Greek nation is still scattered throughout the world, however, as is logical, the majority remains within the boundaries of the current Greek state and the island of Cyprus.

The Greek family

The family and social structure in Greece is deeply rooted in traditions that emphasize strong familial bonds, a high regard for communal values, and a social fabric that is both tightly knit and welcoming. These elements are central to understanding Greek society and how individuals interact within it, reflecting a balance between ancient customs and modern realities.

At the core of Greek society lies the family, which is characterized by close relationships and a profound sense of loyalty and duty among its members. The Greek family is traditionally extended, often encompassing multiple generations living under one roof or in close proximity. This structure supports a communal lifestyle, where childcare, daily chores, and financial responsibilities are shared, fostering a strong support system.

Parental roles are traditionally defined, with both mothers and fathers playing significant but distinct roles in family life. However, modern societal changes have seen these roles evolve, with increased emphasis on gender equality and shared responsibilities in parenting and household duties.

Community and Social Support

The concept of “koinotita” or community plays a vital role in Greek life. Locals often form strong bonds with their neighbors and community members, creating a network of support that extends beyond the immediate family. This sense of community is especially evident in smaller towns and villages, where everyone knows each other, and social interactions are an integral part of daily life.

Climate of Greece

The Greek climate presents all the characteristics of the Mediterranean climate. It has a limited rainy season, a lot of summer drought, a lot of sunshine and a mild winter. From a climatic point of view, time can be divided into two main periods: the cold, which lasts from October to March, and the warm, which lasts from April to September.

In Greece, one can distinguish four climatic regions: 1) the mountainous, 2 ) northern Greece, 3) the Ionian and 4) the Aegean. Characteristic features of the climate of the mountainous region are the low temperatures, the long period of snowfall, the great cloud cover and the strong winds

The winter in the mountainous country is severe and the summer is cool. Characteristic features of northern Greece are the limited summer drought and the uniform distribution in the rainy season. The winter here is harsh and the summer rainy.

The characteristics of the Ionian are the mild winter, the abundant rains, the small cloud cover and the great sunshine. It is the sunniest region in the country with a temperate pleasant climate. In the area of ​​Agaios, the characteristics of the climate are the high intensity and frequency of the winds, the great sunshine and the humidity.

Where is Greece located

Greece located at the SE end of Europe, where three continents meet: Europe, Asia and Africa. Its area is small, but its spiritual radiation is very large. This is where the ancient culture of antiquity developed. Geographically, it belongs to the family of 33 European countries, in which it ranks 13th in area. Globally, its area corresponds to less than 1/1000 of the total land area. The state of the country is a Presidential Republic. Athens is the capital. The Greek space has undergone many changes in the course of history. Its natural map has also undergone alterations and its physiognomy has changed in many places.  The location and geography of Greece particularly favored the development of maritime trade and exchanges in the eastern Mediterranean, which was the most important region of the world until the 16th century and which is still of great importance.
Today, this remarkable geographical position of Greece gives it another opportunity to play an important role in trade and political relations with the developing countries of the Near East and Africa and opens new prospects for economic activity in relation to its huge merchant fleet.
Due to its geographical location, Greece plays the role of a link, from the world of Asia and Africa, to the world of Europe and vice versa.

Shopping in Greece

Shopping is better value away from the main tourist areas. Although mini markets and the periptera (kiosks) are great for when you run out of essentials at inconvenient times, the larger supermarkets have the best prices. Vegetables and fruit are cheaper in markets or shops that specialise in these products than they are at supermarkets. Be aware that many items are sold by weight – even a slice of cheese can be more than you realise. State your price first.

Local wine from the barrel is cheaper than buying bottles if you can find it. Average prices for wine from the barrel is about 1.50 euros for 0,75 litres or a bottle of dry red Apelia or Kampas (1,5 L for 3,60 – 3,90 euro) . Buy freshly ground coffees by the spoonful and small packs of individual teabags. Toiletries can be quite expensive in Greece, this includes things like suntan cream and insect repellent. It is worth always looking for bargains in your home country and bringing these with you in your luggage.

Entertainment in Greece

The most luxurious clubs in Athens, often with live music, have restaurant service, host big names in Greek song and a visit is highly recommended. The predominant genre today is commercial pop which is wrong in having erased the faintest trace of the rich, particular and very ancient Greek musical tradition. A genus that still survives is the “rempetiko”, which developed around 1850 in the Greek community of Asia Minor at the time of the Ottoman Empire and transplanted to Greece in 1922. There are many rooms dedicated to it in Athens near Alexandras Avenue and in the neighborhood of Psiri.

The “bouzoukia”, a popular-style club that takes its name from an instrument (Bouzouki) similar to the mandolin has also almost disappeared, supplanted by European and American style discos and clubs..

The traditional Greek dances they survive in an amateur form, only to the delight of tourists. Among the most popular with foreign visitors are the sirtaki, actually an artificial dance created by Mikis Theodorakis for the needs of the soundtrack of the film “Zorba the Greek” (1964) and the “tsifteteli”, an Anatolian dance whose name in Turkish means double rope. Other traditional Greek dances are “Kalamatianòs”, “Tsamikos” or Kleftiko and “Hasapiko”.

Where to stay in Greece

Greece offers a huge range of holiday accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, as you’d expect of a country that attracts more than 12 million foreign tourists each year.

There are lap of luxury hotels for those that can afford them, cheap and cheerful dorm-style rooms for budget backpackers, numerous well-equipped camp sites and plenty of package holiday hotels in all the most popular resort areas.

Visitors to Greece fall into three main categories, the independent island-hoppers, the package holidaymakers and the cruise ship clientele. If you’re intending to embark on an island-hopping tour without making hotel reservations in advance be aware that you may end up in some less than satisfactory accommodation in the high season months of July and August, especially on the most popular islands.

Owners of budget accommodation on many of the busier islands usually gather in a noisy gaggle at the quayside to meet visitors arriving by ferry. They brandish “domatia” or rooms to let signs and will often try to grab both you and your suitcase and bundle you into a waiting minibus.

Even if you’ve pitched up without booking a room for the night don’t commit yourself until you’ve inspected the accommodation, because often the location and facilities are a far cry from the owner’s description.

There are about 350 camp sites around Greece, many of them in wonderful settings. If you have more of a taste for adventure than for five-star self-indulgence you might want to try one of the mountain refuges that you’ll find in various stunning locations around the mainland and on the islands of Crete and Evia.

If you’re a keen hiker you can bed down for the night at the home of the gods in one of the mountain huts on Mt Olympus which boasts the highest peak in Greece. And in some areas you can sample a taste of the monastic life and sleep in a cell of one of the countless monasteries that pepper the mountains of the mainland and islands.

Self-catering complexes of bungalows and apartments have sprung up in all the main resort areas in recent years and are a popular choice for families. Many provide accommodation for four or more people and offer more freedom for youngsters than the confines of a hotel room. The better ones are well equipped with supermarkets, swimming pools and other sports and leisure facilities.

Getting to Greece from abroad

Travelling with kids

In general, Greece is a nice place to travel with children. That being said, there are some things to be prepared for.

Most restaurants outside of high-end resorts will not have high chairs or booster seats. Yet is it not uncommon to see children in tavernas and in the summer children running around squares and plateia while their parents dine at the outdoor tavernas.

In fact, in the summer months you’ll find a surprising number of children who stay up until well past midnight as their parents enjoy a leisurely dinner. Adding to the positive dining experience is the speed at which most taverna food is delivered – restless children will have only a short time to wait.

If you are at all worried about your children being exposed to cigarette smoke, be aware that Greece has the highest smoking rate in Europe and therefore any eating establishment will be filled with smokers indoors and outdoors.

It is best to leave the stroller or any wheeled device at home – Greece roads, paths, sidewalks, and the infrastructure in general are not geared towards ramps, smoothly paved paths, or any wheeled devices. Backpacks and front packs are better options.

It is easy to find fresh milk at all grocery stores except for the tiniest of islands where it may become slightly more difficult though not impossible. Formula and canned milk are generally available everywhere.

Your pocketbook will enjoy the discounts offered to children. Most ferries, buses, trains, museums, and archaeological sites are free for children under the age of four. From four to ten years there is normally a discount. Anyone older than ten generally pays full price.

Moving around in Greece

When it comes to moving around in Greece, there are plenty of options to choose from. The country has an extensive public transportation network that makes it easy to travel between cities and towns. Buses are a popular choice for those on a budget, as they offer affordable fares and frequent departures.

If you’re looking for something more comfortable and convenient, taxis are readily available in most urban areas. While they can be pricier than other modes of transport, they’re ideal if you need to get somewhere quickly or have a lot of luggage.

For those who want the freedom to explore at their own pace, renting a car is the way to go. This option allows you to see all the sights that Greece has to offer without being tied down by schedules or routes.

Another great way of getting around Greece is by ferry. With its numerous islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea, taking a ferry ride offers not just convenience but also some stunning views along the way.

Buses are supported by land transport, with a network that reaches the smallest villages. Trains are a good option available. For most tourists, however, traveling in Greece means island-hopping on the many ferries that criss-cross the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. If you are in a hurry, Greece also has an extensive domestic air network.

Another option is renting a car or motorbike, which gives you more flexibility in terms of exploring different destinations at your own pace. However, keep in mind that driving can be challenging in some areas due to narrow roads and steep hills.

For those who want a more authentic experience, cycling is also an excellent choice. Many places offer bike rentals where you can ride alongside scenic routes while enjoying breathtaking views.

Travel to Greece by air

A number of islands have airports like the touristy ones, RhodesSamosKosSantorini and Mykonos, among others. From 16 international airports in Greece only Athens and Thessaloniki receive regular flights from abroad. There is not much in the way of island to island flights.
During the summer, there are usually several flights a day from Athens to each of the larger islands. These flights are generally made in an hour or less. The Greek carrier Olympic Airways and its subsidiaries offer most flights within Greece. Two or three other companies have been added in recent years, offering more flights around Greece.

If you want to find cheap flights to Greece, follow those steps:
1 Book early, 60-90 days in advance.
2 Have nerves of steel? Book late, for last minute deals.
3 Concentrate on getting a good price to London, Paris, Rome or Munich, then find a flight to Greece on a smaller European airline.
4 Be willing to travel one day a week. If your schedule allows, check one or two days before your optimal arrival and departure date.
5 Check who is flying to Athens International Airport near your departure date, you may notice a “new” airline that will offer attractive prices. You can also find a European regional airline that you never thought of taking before.
6 Consider flying directly to Corfu, Thessaloniki, Rhodes,Mykonos, Santorini or through Chania or Heraklion on the island of Crete. Airlines flying out of the UK and Germany have many direct flights to these locations

Getting to Greece by car

If you are coming to Greece by car, it is best to drive to Italy and get the ferry from the ports mentioned above to Greece. You can also get to Greece through the Balkans, but the the journey becomes very long.

Local transport in Greece by car can be a very satisfying experience, so you can explore the incredibly beautiful and varied terrain of the country’s coasts, interiors, and islands, when it suits you.

Greece, on the other hand, has a relatively high number of fatalities in traffic, among the highest in the EU. Many Greek drivers often drive violently, and the country’s topographical reality poses challenges by forcing many narrow roads in mountainous regions to take several turns.

On the plus side, road mortality has steadily declined as a result of government campaigns, tougher policing, and legislation.
The roads are usually well marked and well maintained, and billions of euros, occur pour expand the nation’s network of multi-lane highways. Due to the rapid growth and development of the country’s road network, it is advisable to have the most up-to-date road maps possible. Many of the newer highways are toll roads, and tolls can be expensive.

Renting a car in Greece is easy and cheap. You can pay anywhere from $ 150- $ 200 per week for an “economy” car that would give you the freedom to travel wherever you want. “Mini” cars can be rented for as little as $ 100- $ 150 per week.
Make sure the price you are quoted includes all taxes, insurance and fees (eg airport fee). Drivers who do not hold an EU driver’s license must obtain an international driving license obtained in their home country. This may not happen when you rent a car, but will certainly be needed if involved in an accident or stopped by police for a traffic quote. Insurance can be invalid if the driver is a non-EU driver without an international license.

Ferries in Greece

The most comfortable way to go, about getting around is part of the fun of your trip. Taking a ferry can also be the only way to get to some islands. In addition, expeditionary force is the way in which the Greeks tend to approach even a short hop a fine introduction to local traditions. There are extensive connections from Athens and in-between islands for “island hopping”.

Ferries are about one thing in Greece as time off so be quick. In August, ferries fill up due to the national holiday (Aug 15) so plan ahead. New “high-speed ferries” cut distances twice a year, but the prices are slightly more expensive. The simple solution to questions about ferries is: do not worry about it. Show off at each port and you will be able to find out everything you need to know in about 10 minutes.

It is something of a myth that the Greek ferries are unpredictable. But remember that this is at sea. Do not plan a tight schedule around boats. Nothing less than a force 9 storm stops large car ferries, but ferries can arrive late to a final destination even when the weather is good. The farther they are from their starting point, and the more stops along the way, the later they become. Treat timetables as useful guidelines. The most credible information is what you get on the day of departure.

Getting around Greece by bus

Buses are a very popular option for domestic travel. KTEL is the national state-subsidized network of independent companies that work together to form a dense line system serving almost the entire country. The system is efficient, reliable and relatively inexpensive.
It serves both long and short distances, including roads from major cities to islands near the mainland, such as Corfu and Kefalonia (in such cases, the ferry is included in the price of the bus ticket). The frequency of buses, as with ferries, varies with the season. Some services, such as special stretches out to the beaches, will naturally be canceled in low season.

Travel to Greece by train

Getting to Greece from the European continent, the easiest way is to get a train from any main European city to the Italian ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi or Venice, all those ports have daily ferry connections with Greece (Corfu, Patras or Igoumenitsa). There is also a daily train service connecting Sofia (Bulgaria) and Istanbul (Turkey) with Thessaloniki.

Trains are cheap, ways to get around, but the national railway system is extremely limited. This is due to ignoring the arrival of large-scale car use and air travel, and also due to previous technical difficulties in overcoming the country’s difficult terrain.
The importance of train travel has now been rediscovered, and the national railway network is currently undergoing major renovations. The completion of the project is still a long way off, but tourists can already benefit from the first sections of the modernized railway system that have been inaugurated.
A brand new suburban / regional train, the Proastiakos, was opened in 2004 for Attica and neighboring regions and is under continued expansion. There has also been extensive modernization of the Athens-Thessaloniki corridor, with travel times fragmented.

Currency

The Euro came into force as official Greek currency on January 1, 2002, and completely replaced the drachma on March 1 of that year. Currently one Euro is worth around US$1.20 and £0.69. For up to the minute exchange rates visit www.xe.com/ucc.

Important telephone numbers

The national number to call for the police is 100, and for the tourist police is 171. (Tourist police are much more likely to speak English).

Number to call in case of fire: 199

For medical emergencies/ambulance assistance: 166

In case of automobile emergencies: 104/174

The international dialling code for Greece is +30. The British Embassy in Greece can be found at 1 Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens (ph: (30) 210 727 2600. British consulates are located in Thessaloniki and Corfu.

Postal services in Greece

The Greek postal service, also known as ELTA, has a rich history that dates back to 1828. It began as a small operation but quickly grew to become an essential part of communication within Greece. Today, the post system offers a wide range of services including the delivery of letters and packages both domestically and internationally.

One unique aspect of ELTA is its use of traditional mailboxes located on street corners throughout Greece. These iconic blue boxes are still in use today and offer a convenient way for individuals to send off their mail without having to visit a post office.

In addition to regular mail services, ELTA also offers banking services through its subsidiary bank “TT Hellenic Postbank.” This allows customers to access basic financial transactions such as savings accounts and loans at select post offices across the country.

To keep up with modern technology, ELTA has also introduced digital options for its customers such as online tracking for packages and email notifications for important deliveries. The Greek postal service plays an integral role in connecting communities across Greece while adapting to new technologies over time..

Internet in Greece

In Greece, internet services are widely available and accessible. The country has a relatively developed internet infrastructure, and several providers offer a range of services to both residential and business customers. Here are some key aspects of internet services in Greece:

  1. Broadband Types: The most common types of broadband connections in Greece are DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and cable internet. DSL connections use existing telephone lines, while cable connections utilize the cable TV infrastructure. Fiber optic internet is also becoming more prevalent, offering higher speeds and reliability.

  2. Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Major ISPs in Greece include OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization), which operates under the brand name “Cosmote,” and Vodafone. These providers offer a variety of internet plans for different needs and budgets. Additionally, there are smaller regional and local ISPs that cater to specific areas.

  3. Speed and Coverage: Internet speeds in Greece vary depending on the location and the type of connection. In urban areas and larger cities, the internet infrastructure is generally more advanced, offering higher speeds. Rural areas may have slower connections due to limited infrastructure development. Overall, Greece has been investing in improving internet coverage and speeds throughout the country.

  4. Mobile Internet: Greece has a well-established mobile network, and most mobile operators offer mobile internet plans. These plans provide internet access through 4G and 5G networks, enabling users to connect to the internet using their smartphones, tablets, or mobile hotspots.

  5. Wi-Fi Hotspots: Wi-Fi hotspots are widely available in Greece, particularly in urban areas, including cafes, restaurants, hotels, and public spaces. Many ISPs also provide their customers with Wi-Fi routers for home use.

  6. Pricing: The cost of internet services in Greece varies depending on the provider, the type of connection, and the selected plan. Generally, DSL and cable internet plans are more affordable compared to fiber optic connections, which offer higher speeds but may come at a higher cost.

Telephone services in Greece

Telephone services in Greece are well-established and widely available. The country has a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure that supports both landline and mobile phone services. Here are some key aspects of telephone services in Greece:

  1. Landline Services: Traditional landline services in Greece are provided by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), which is the largest telecommunications company in the country. OTE offers various landline plans that include voice calling, internet access, and bundled services. Other smaller providers also offer landline services in specific regions.

  2. Mobile Services: Mobile phone usage is widespread in Greece, and multiple mobile network operators provide services throughout the country. The major mobile operators in Greece include Cosmote, which is owned by OTE, Vodafone, and Wind Hellas. These operators offer a range of mobile plans with voice, text, and data services. Greece has a well-developed 4G network, and 5G networks are being gradually rolled out in major cities.

  3. Prepaid and Postpaid Plans: Both prepaid and postpaid plans are available in Greece. Prepaid plans allow users to pay in advance for specific services, such as voice minutes, text messages, and data. Postpaid plans involve monthly subscriptions, where users receive a bill at the end of the billing cycle based on their usage. Postpaid plans often include additional features like unlimited calls or higher data allowances.

  4. International Calling: Greece has good connectivity for international calling. Most telephone service providers in Greece offer international calling options as part of their plans, but it’s important to check the rates and any applicable fees for international calls, as they can vary depending on the provider.

  5. Numbering System: Greece uses a numbering system with a country code (+30) followed by a 10-digit number for both landline and mobile phones. Mobile numbers usually start with the prefix 6, 69, or 69X, while landline numbers commonly start with the prefix 2.

  6. Emergency Services: In Greece, the national emergency number is 112, which can be dialed for police, ambulance, or fire services. Additionally, there are specific numbers for police (100), ambulance (166), and fire (199) that can also be used in emergencies.

Visas

Visitors to Greece who carry EU passports require no visa to enter the country. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and the USA require no visa for holidays of up to three months in length.

Important:
Greece will refuse entry to anyone whose passport indicates that they have visited Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus since November 1983.

Business hours

Office hours vary considerably throughout Greece, depending on the form of business, its location and the demand it may have. Governmental offices are open from Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm. As a rule of thumb if you need to get something done in an office you should go on a weekday morning to be guaranteed that they are open and ready for business.

Greek banks are open from Monday to Thursday 8am to 2pm, and on Fridays until 1:30pm. Some banks providing foreign exchange may be open longer hours, but all are closed on Greek public holidays.

Almost all shops are closed on Sundays unless you are in a particularly tourist oriented area – their services and stores may well be open for extended hours. In a lot of areas an afternoon siesta is kept and shops may be closed between 3pm and 5pm.

Useful resources

To explore more about Greece, including its government structure, role within the European Union, and other relevant information, here are several useful resources and URLs:

Greek Government Official Website: This site provides comprehensive information about the Greek government’s structure, policies, and services. It’s an essential resource for understanding the administrative aspects of Greece.

 https://www.gov.gr/en

Hellenic Republic – Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Offers detailed information on Greece’s foreign policies, diplomatic relations, and international presence. It’s also a valuable resource for learning about Greece’s role in global affairs.

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National Statistical Service of Greece: For data and statistics on Greece’s economy, population, social affairs, and more, this website is a go-to resource for researchers and anyone interested in the quantitative aspects of Greece.

 https://www.statistics.gr/en/home/

Bank of Greece: Provides insights into Greece’s financial system, monetary policy, and economic research. It’s particularly useful for understanding Greece’s economy and its relationship with the Eurozone.

URL: https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en

European Union – Greece: This page on the official European Union website offers an overview of Greece’s membership in the EU, including key facts, figures, and the country’s EU policy agenda.

URL: https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries/member-countries/greece_en

Hellenic Parliament: For those interested in the legislative aspect of Greece, the official website of the Hellenic Parliament provides information on the parliamentary processes, members, and legislative work.

URL: https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/

These resources cover a broad range of topics related to Greece and provide valuable insights for anyone looking to learn more about the country’s government, economy, role in the EU, and cultural heritage.

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