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Greece Travel Guide- Everything You Need to Know

Sunset Drinks Athens Greece

Greece is a beautiful country, with a rich history, stunning landscapes and spectacular islands. Greece offers a captivating journey for every traveler. From the iconic Acropolis in Athens to the breathtaking cliffside views of Santorini, there are unforgettable experiences for every type of traveler. Here is a Greece travel guide, filled with everything you need to know before your first trip to Greece.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you travel to Greece?

Traveling to Greece is an experience unlike any other, offering a myriad of reasons to entice wanderlust seekers. With its blend of ancient history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture, Greece promises an unforgettable adventure. From exploring iconic archaeological sites like the Acropolis and Delphi to lounging on world-renowned beaches in Santorini and Mykonos, there’s something to captivate every traveler. Indulge in mouthwatering Greek cuisine, immerse yourself in the warmth of local hospitality, and wander through charming villages steeped in tradition. Whether you’re drawn to the allure of ancient ruins, the allure of island hopping, or the sheer beauty of its coastline, Greece invites you to discover its timeless charm and create memories that will last a lifetime.

What is the easiest way to get to Greece?

The easiest way to get to Greece from the US is typically by flying. Many major airlines offer direct flights from major US cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to Athens International Airport. There are also direct flights to Athens from many major cities in Europe such as London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

In addition to flying, if you are going to Turkey you have the option to take the ferry to visit Greece. There are several ferry routes that connect Turkey to various Greek islands including Bodrum to Kos, and Cesme to Chios.

What US cities have direct flights to Athens?

There are many US cities that have direct flights to Athens International Airport. There is more availability during the summer months but in general you can expect direct flights to Athens from New York City (JFK), Newark, New Jersey (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Washington D.C. (IAD), Boston (BOS) and Los Angeles (LAX).

What European cities have direct flights to Athens?

There are many European cities that have direct flights to Athens (and also to Mykonos and Santorini). Some of the major European cities with direct flights to Athens include London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Madrid, Vienna, Zurich and Brussels. Since it is expensive to fly to/ from Athens from the US, flying through another European city one way will help you save money.

What do I need to know before going to Greece?

  • While it is easy to get a taxi at the Athens International Airport, you may be hit with a surprise taxi bill. If you want to be sure what you will pay for your taxi from the airport to the hotel, it is best to prearrange transport with your hotel, or book with Welcome Pickups.
  • It is easy to walk around Athens, especially Plaka but if you want to explore areas outside of Athens you will want to consider renting a car.
  • Many of the islands you will need to pre-arrange taxis with the hotel as there aren’t many taxis on all the islands or you’ll want to consider renting an ATV / buggy depending on the island.
  • AMEX is hardly accepted anywhere, so be sure to bring other credit cards (Visa / Mastercard).
  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date to ensure smooth travel
  • Europe is starting new visa requirements for US travelers, but this is now delayed until 2024 or 2025. When it starts, US travelers between 18-70 years old will need to fill out an ETIAS visa-waiver form prior to their trip, and pay a €7 entry fee, to travel to European countries within the Schengen Area. This will be valid for three years or until your passport expires. It’s expected to have a quick turnaround but it’s important to plan and submit ahead of your trip.
  • The official language is Greek, but English is spoken in many of the touristy areas. Many restaurants also have English menus.
  • Greece has a typical Mediterranean climate and the climate feels hotter than the temperature suggests. Once the sun goes down, it does feel chilly than the temperature suggests so be sure to bring a jacket, especially on the islands.
  • The currency is the Euro.
  • Tipping is appreciated, but not expected. Some restaurants add service charges look for “Υπηρεσία” on the bill. At restaurants, if there is no service charge it’s customary to round up, leave small change or add 5-10%.
  • It is very easy to hop to different islands. There is a great ferry network in Greece, especially in the summer when they have the most routes. You can book your ferries through Ferry Hopper.
  • Most people do Athens either at the beginning or end of their trip but not both.
  • Some people choose to fly into Athens and spend a few days. Others go straight from the Athens Airport to the islands. The Rafina port is the closest port to the airport.
  • The most popular islands to visit are Santorini and Mykonos. They will also be the most crowded and expensive, especially during peak season / summer.
  • Crete is another popular island to visit, but the island is so large that it is an entire vacation in itself.
  • Other popular, and less crowded / cheaper, islands include Paros, Naxos and Milos.
  • Greece has over 6,000 islands. Of these, about 200 are inhabited and about 80 are considered major islands.
  • The food in Greece is fresh and incredible. Most of it is also very reasonably priced, though the touristy spots can be more expensive.
  • Don’t miss out on trying local food specialties like feta wrapped in phyllo, tzatziki, Greek salad, gyros, souvlaki and honey pie.

What are the top destinations in Greece?

The top destinations in Greece include Athens and Meteora on the mainland, and the islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete.

Athens is the capital of Greece and also has the easiest international airport to fly into. It’s home to iconic landmarks such as the Acropolis, Parthenon and the original Olympic Stadium. Meteora has breathtaking monasteries perched atop towering rock formations and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Crete is the largest island in Greece and has a diverse landscape from rugged mountains to pristine beaches. Santorini is one of the most famous islands, known for it’s stunning sunsets, white-washed buildings, and blue domed churches atop the cliffside village of Oia. Mykonos is known for it’s lively nightlife, beautiful beaches and charming Mykonos Town.

What are the best islands to visit in Greece?

Greece has approx. 80 islands that are considered major islands, each with its own unique charm and attractions. With so many to choose from, it is hard to narrow down exactly what islands to visit in Greece, especially for your first trip. The best islands to visit in Greece will depend on personal preference and what activities you want to do during your vacation. Here are some of the best islands to visit in Greece, that are also the most popular islands to visit in Greece. There are plenty more islands that may be the perfect destination for your trip to Greece.

  • Santorini is one of the most famous and expensive islands to visit. It is famous for its romantic sunsets, white-washed buildings, blue-domed churches and caldera views. Santorini is a top destination for honeymooners and couples, though plenty of families vacation there as well.
  • Mykonos is best known for it’s vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches. The crowds overall tend to be a bit younger in Mykonos. But, if partying isn’t your thing Mykonos can still be a great island destination. The food, while more expensive here, is incredible and had the best food of any of the islands we went to. You can enjoy a luxury relaxing beach experience before the parties really start around 5pm.
  • Crete is Greece’s largest island and offers a diverse range of experiences. You can explore ancient ruins and charming villages to hiking to relaxing on pristine beaches. Many people say Crete is so large it can be an entire vacation itself.
  • Paros is a smaller island that is frequently added to itineraries now because it is less crowded and cheaper than places like Mykonos but still has charming villages, beautiful beaches and water sports.
  • Naxos is also talked about often – many decide either Naxos or Paros. Naxos only has one main village, but has great beaches and offers a more laid-back and authentic Greek island experience. It is also only a 45 min ferry ride away from Paros.
  • Milos is another island often added to island hopping itineraries with Santorini. It’s known for its unique rock formations and picturesque fishing villages.

What are the best things to do in Greece?

The best things to do in Greece include spending a few days to explore Athens and visiting sites such as the Acropolis, Olympic stadium and exploring Plaka. When going to Greece, it’s best to plan to visit a few islands, though how many will depend on how long you’re staying. In general, it’s best to stay a minimum of 2 nights at every location though a minimum of 3 nights is normally better as travel time will cut into your time in each location. Many of the islands offer sunset catamarans, with the most popular catamaran being the sunset catamaran in Santorini. There are also other water sports, gorgeous beaches, hiking, charming villages and incredible food on the islands. Here are the best things to do in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and Paros.

How many days should I spend in Greece?

The ideal number of days to spend in Greece depends on various factors, including your interests, budget, and the destinations you plan to visit. However, here are some general recommendations.

In Athens, plan to spend at least 2-3 days. This will give you enough time to explore iconic landmarks, shop and enjoy the great food in Athens. If you want to do day trips to surrounding areas you likely will want to add a few days. Adding places such as Delphi, Meteora and the Peloponnese region could add another 3-5 days to your itinerary.

When you go island hopping, plan to spend at least 2-3 nights on each location to get a feel for its unique character and attractions. If you only spend 1 night, you will have little time to explore due to the ferry schedules and amount of time traveling to your hotel from the port and getting settled.

Ultimately, a week to two weeks is a common duration for a trip to Greece. This allows you to stay at a few locations and get a small sample of what each of those locations is like.

Best time of year to visit Greece

The best time to visit Greece is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) This is when the weather is warm, but mild and there are fewer crowds. Hotels are also less expensive. The most popular time to visit is during the summer in July and August, which is peak tourist season. July and August have the hottest temperatures and it is most crowded. Winter, from November to March, can be chilly, there are fewer ferries in service and some of the island activities and hotels do close in the off season.

What is Greece famous for?

Greece is famous for its rich history, stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. It is renowned as the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western civilization, boasting iconic archaeological sites such as the Acropolis in Athens and the ancient ruins of Delphi and Olympia. The country’s picturesque islands, including Santorini and Mykonos, are celebrated for their whitewashed buildings, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets. Greece is also known for its warm hospitality, lively festivals, and traditional music and dance. Additionally, Greek cuisine, with its flavorful dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and baklava, is beloved worldwide for its use of fresh ingredients and Mediterranean flavors. Overall, Greece’s combination of history, natural beauty, and cultural richness makes it a beloved destination for travelers from around the globe.

What is the weather like in Greece?

Greece has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, relatively wet winters. When we went in June, we saw it would be in the 70°F; however, it felt much hotter. During the summer months from June to August, temperatures often soar, with daytime highs averaging between 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F) or even higher. In the summer, the months are typically dry, with clear skies and little rainfall. Winters, from December to February, are milder, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). Rainfall is more frequent during this time, especially in January and February, though it’s unlikely you’ll see any snow. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), making them ideal times to visit for comfortable weather and fewer crowds.

Is Greece Safe?

Overall, Greece is considered a safe destination for travelers. The country has a low crime rate, and violent crime against tourists is rare. However, as with any travel destination, it’s essential to remain vigilant and take common-sense precautions to ensure your safety. Be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas, and avoid displaying large amounts of cash or valuable items. Additionally, exercise caution when using public transportation and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. While Greece is generally safe, it’s always a good idea to stay informed about any local issues or safety concerns and to follow the advice of local authorities. With proper precautions, travelers can enjoy a memorable and worry-free experience exploring the beauty and culture of Greece.

What is driving like in Greece?

Driving in Athens, Greece, can be challenging due to congested traffic, narrow streets, and aggressive driving habits. While they drive on the right side of the road like the United States and many countries in Europe, the roads can be confusing for first-time visitors. There are many one-way streets and complex intersections. Parking is also limited and expensive. For first time visitors, especially those that are staying in the city, it is best to use taxis or public transportation. Visitors may even want to consider staying in an area like Plaka, where you can walk to many attractions and restaurants.

If you want to venture outside of the city, you’ll need a car but the driving will be less chaotic. The highways leading out of Athens are generally well-maintained and offer smooth driving conditions, though depending on where you are going the drive can be lengthy. The drive may be surrounded by charming towns and villages, rolling hillsides and olive groves.

The driving on the islands really depends on the islands. In Mykonos and Paros the roads were narrow, but also slow so many tourists elect to rent an ATV or buggy to get around. The towns of Oia, Fira and Imerovigli in Santorini are perched atop of cliffs and while you can rent a car or ATV, we personally felt more comfortable in taxis.

How to save money traveling in Greece?

Traveling in Greece on a budget is entirely feasible with a few savvy strategies. Firstly, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall when prices for accommodation and flights are lower, and crowds are thinner. Opt for budget-friendly accommodations such as hostels, guesthouses, or rental apartments instead of luxury hotels. Take advantage of public transportation, like buses or ferries, to explore the country affordably. When dining out, seek out local tavernas and street food vendors for delicious and affordable meals. Save money on attractions by purchasing combination tickets or seeking out free activities, such as hiking or visiting public beaches. Lastly, consider purchasing a Greece tourist pass for discounts on transportation and attractions. With careful planning and a bit of flexibility, you can enjoy all that Greece has to offer without breaking the bank.

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