in2greece

Guide to Greece and the Greek islands

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 At the point where three continents meet. Europe, Asia and Africa is Greece, surrounded by 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. Geography significantly influenced the development of the country. The mountains have historically restricted internal communications, but the sea has opened wider horizons. A Greek myth says that when God distributed the soil on Earth with a sieve, he used the remaining stones to build Greece. The barren landscape of the country has historically caused people to migrate. Greeks have traditionally been a people of the Diaspora, and several million of them live in different parts of the world

GREECE TRAVEL GUIDE
About Greece
Location
History
Holidays in Greece
Greek islands
Climate
Cuisine
Eating out
The people
Culture
Beaches
When to go
Accommodation

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 of the 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 and finally the modern times since the Greek war of independence in 1821.

Modern Greece is a European country and member of the European Union. Greece is one of the most beloved holiday destination for many millions of tourists that travel to Greece 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. The aim of this site is to give general tourist and travel information for everyone that wants to visit Greece and know better the Greek antiquity , and  the life today in modern Greece.

The location of Greece is one of the most important in the world and it is the one that determined for the most part the historical and cultural course of the Greeks over the centuries. The proximity to the regions of the world where the first great civilizations of antiquity developed, enabled the Greeks to come into fruitful cultural contacts with them, since they first settled in Greece. This very position, however, forced them many times to fight for their independence and at the same time to play the role of the guardian of Europe, stopping the efforts of powerful nations of Asia to advance in Europe.

Geographical Location

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.

History

Greece has a very rich history and is one of the few countries whose history is known in every detail. She has lived since the Neolithic era and has fought many times to keep or gain her freedom. The name “Greece” is derived from the Latin “Graecia” given by the Romans after the hellenistic Era from a smaller Greek nation that inhabited western Greece, the Graecians . So Italian and Spanish are calling Hellas as Grecia, the English Greece, Germans Griechenland, while most of middle east countries are calling Greece as Yunanistan, that derives from the name of Ionia (from the Ancient Greek nation of the Ionians who first inhabited the modern Asia Minor.

Holidays in Greece

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. 

Greece excels when it comes to simple charm and friendly hospitality. Accommodation ranges from low-cost self-catering studios to luxury all-inclusive resorts. Beautifully clean beaches offer idyllic conditions for relaxed swimming and quiet sunbathing. Scenic mainland regions like Pelion and Halkidiki have superb beaches, gorgeous countryside, pretty villages and accommodation options with great charm and character. Greece offers excellent value for money and a truly memorable holiday experience.

Every year millions of people choose Greece as their holiday destination. Travellers who wish to spend some time in Greece and the Greek islands on a budget, there are always the cheap package holidays on some of the larger Greek islands.
However, for the independent traveller, there are many ways to save money during your summer holiday in Greece if you just follow some simple rules regarding transport, accommodation, eating, drinking and shopping.
Smaller islands and islands off the beaten track are usually cheaper than the more touristy islands where the bracelet tourism exists.

Travel is probably one of the major expenses on your holiday, especially air travel. Many Greek islands now have their own airports with some of the larger ones having several charter flights a day arriving from many parts of Europe. If your holiday island is a small one with a tiny airport offering only one or two flights a day, you will probably find it cheaper to fly to a neighbouring island that has a larger airport and then taking a boat to your holiday destination. Pre-book your flights as soon as details are available (usually around December) so that you can pick the best-price dates to travel. Waiting to book tickets until a few weeks before you intend to go is much more expensive and can sometimes be double or triple the price than pre-booking months ahead.

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. As for the Sporades, with their dense vegetation, they are quite different. They extend to the north and east of Euboea, as well as to the east of the Pelion peninsula. The inter-island connections and the possibility of staying with the locals will allow you to make a whole trip in the Sporades or the Cyclades.

The closest to the capital of Greece, Athens, are the jewels of the Saronic Gulf, like the elegant Hydra and Spetse 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 or Lesvos

Climate

The climate of Greece 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.

Beaches

In Greece you will find some of the most beautiful beaches not only in Europe but in the world. Τhe sea of ​​Greece is really one of the most beautiful in the world, very clear extraordinary colors, mostly blue or aquamarine and in some areas it is tinged with an incredible emerald green.

Greece has a huge coastline with thousands of beaches, which meet all tastes and needs, crystal clear organized blue flag beaches for families with children, for young and old, beaches for diving and spearfishing, with golden sand or rocky with pebbles. Isolated hidden jewels in small blue coves off the beaten path. The composition of the emerald color of the sea with the blue sky and the sun, are the main brand of the Greek beaches

Greek food and wine

There are plenty of theories on why the food of Greece tastes so good. Some say it’s not just the lack of pesticide use but also includes the mineral-rich soils and abundant sunshine. Greek cuisine is becoming a popular export with fans of healthy food from across Europe embracing delicious Mediterranean cooking. Recipe websites record many searches for traditional Greek delicacies, and restaurants outside of Greece will often offer Greek dishes on their menus.

Eating out in is just one of the memories that many bring back from a holiday in Greece. Grilled lamb “kleftiko” is one of the most popular traditional Greek dishes and you can find it almost every taverna as well as keftedes (meat balls), fresh fish and moussaka.
The wine of Greece has not enjoyed the best of reputations. That is fast changing as Greek wines enjoy  a renaissance, with winemakers introducing excellent types of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay,  Cabernet and the traditional Greek wines like Retsina, Mavrodaphne and Red wine.

Eating out


Eating out in Greece is a treat that you will want even if you are on a budget. Look for tavernas and cafes that are located in the back streets. These are generally cheaper than the seafront places although you will find good value here too if you look to see where the locals are eating and drinking. All tavernas offer a good selection of starters and salads as well as main dishes and a filling and cheap meal can be had by choosing a selection of starters and/or salads only. Fish can be quite expensive, especially first and second class fish. Try instead “marides” (whitebait), squid, sword fish or mackerel which are much cheaper and very filling. Alcohol generally is cheaper in Greece than most European countries. House wines, served in metal carafes are cheaper than bottles, with the exception of the Greek Retsina which is very good value, although an acquired taste. Spirits are a little more expensive but the measures are extremely generous and one ‘short’ could easily last you all evening.

Although you can find pizza everywhere in Greece as a takeaway option, a cheaper and much more authentic Greek fast food experience is souvlaki. Souvlaki bars can be seen everywhere and provide an extremely cheap and tasty meal when you feel you need to ‘pull your horns in a bit’. In the large mainland cities and bigger islands you will see fast-food chains such as ‘Goodies’ and ‘Everest’. Goodies is a very good fast-food chain offering authentic Greek dishes as well as hamburgers and cheeseburgers at great prices. Everest sells pies, pastries and cakes and is perfect for breakfast and snacks.

Try as much as possible to avoid tourist places and eat in authentic restaurants, small or trendy, but authentic. The Greeks, like many Mediterranean people, dine quite late, so don’t be surprised if you find the restaurant deserted at 7 p.m., that’s not a sign that it’s bad! Sometimes you just need to chat with locals, in a café or even with the staff of your hotel to find the best places to go to eat and have a drink.

The Greek people

In recent years, when 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. Historically, Greek populations also lived in Lower Italy and Sicily, which were the Greater Greece of antiquity, in Corsica and the opposite coast of present-day France, on the coasts and inland of Asia Minor, in the Levant, in Egypt, on the coasts of Black Sea and in today’s southern Albania and specifically in the region of Northern Epirus.

Strong Greek communities have been created by Greek immigrants in the USA, Australia, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, while smaller groups live in almost every country on the planet.
The vast majority of Greeks speak the Greek language and follow the Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. However, many Greeks of the Diaspora, especially children of immigrants or their descendants, have other mother languages such as English, German, French or other European ones.

Greek culture

The culture of Greece, refers to all the cultural practices and traditions that make up the Hellenic society and the inhabitants of Greece. Its cultural heritage is the fruit of different historical heritages, Greek Antiquity, Byzantine period, Ottoman Greece and contemporary period, which today shape the Greek culture. Given its particular geographical situation, at the same time European, southern, Balkan and Levantine, the Greek culture is particularly rich and varied.

The Greek culture was the culture of ancient Greece. Its distribution areas were both the Greek peninsula and the islands of the Aegean Sea as well as the west coast of Asia Minor and southern Italy as well as in later, Hellenistic times the Greek areas of influence as a result of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic Egypt with its capital Alexandria, which replaced Athens as a cultural centre, Seleucid Syria with its capital Antioch, up to the Greek byzantine Empire.

When to go in Greece ?

Unless you really have to, we really recommend that you visit Greece at a time other than the high season (July and August). Do not panic, you will not be cold if you go there in May, June, September or even October and you will see, your trip will be much more pleasant in these conditions than if you are permanently in the middle of hundreds of other tourists. 

Accommodation in Greece

There are accommodations in Greece to suit all tastes and budgets. The prices are subject to strict control by the tourist police. The law requires that a sign must be displayed in each room, indicating its category and price according to the season. The price of accommodation in Greece varies greatly from place to place and from season to season. Don’t expect to pay the same price for a double room in a mountain village or in a butique hotel in Santorini.

 

Getting to Greece

By air

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.

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.

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.

Shopping in Greece

shopping-in-greeceShopping 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.

Island hopping and sea transports

sea-travelSea transport is another area where the fares can vary considerably. The slower ferry boats, as a rule, are cheaper than the faster forms of sea travel, such as hydrofoils. Ferry boats offer many levels of tickets, first class, second class and economy (or deck) class, a number of what is known as ‘aircraft seats’ and finally many levels of cabin. The economy /deck class is the cheapest ticket price and each deck provides plenty of seating, cafes and, one some ferries, even swimming pools.

If your intention is to travel around the islands during the peak season, i.e. mid-August, it is strongly recommended that you pre-book your ferry tickets before you arrive as tickets sell out very quickly during this period. Be aware however that ferries are weather-sensitive. If winds are too high they cannot leave. However, you will always be able to take the next available ferry or have a full refund if you decide to follow alternative plans.

Taxis and car rentals

greek-transportsTaxis are generally very cheap throughout Greece. Many islands have fixed fares to popular destinations and their tariffs are displayed at the taxi stations. All taxis have meters and you should know that there is always an extra small charge to and from airports, as well as a small charge for carrying luggage. Also, the rate increases on public holidays.
To ensure you stay within your budget, it is a good idea to ask the driver how much the fare will be to your destination before you commence your journey. However, the standard prices throughout Greece, with the exception of Athens and other big cities. Many islands have a good public bus service and the cost of this is very cheap,

Renting cars or motor scooters is another good way to get around. There are always bargains to be found here, especially out of peak season it is always a good idea to bargain around the initial price because prices can often be negotiated, especially if you intend to have the vehicle for a week or more. Smaller cars are cheaper than jeeps, four wheel drives or bigger saloon cars. The same applies to bikes.

The average cost of petrol (unleaded 95) is 1.764 euros per litre and be aware that the wearing of crash helmets is mandatory throughout Greece, although you will see many Greeks ignoring this rule. However, for your own safety and to avoid having to pay on-the-spot fines if you are stopped by the police, every bike hire shop will also rent you a crash helmet for a minimal cost. Many places also hire out push bikes and in the flatter islands this is another good way to see some of the less accessible places.

Hiking in Greece

Much of the mainland and many of the islands have walking maps and clearly marked trails to help you get around. The European walking route of E4 paths is identified by yellow and black striped poles and paint daubs on rocks. Where these are sparse look out for rock cairns left by other hikers. A map is essential for less-used routes. Make sure you have good footwear, a hat and some water. The spring or autumn are the ideal times to do this – when the weather is not at its full summer heat and the flowers or fruit are in abundance.