Greece is a country in Southern Europe that is famed for its ancient ruins, stunning islands, incredible cuisine, and countless days of sunny weather throughout the year. So whether you’re planning a weekend getaway in the capital city of Athens or you’re looking to go island hopping across the beautiful country, here are some of the best Greece travel tips to know before your next trip!
- There are 150 inhabited Greek islands
- Greece is home to some amazing ruins
- The cheapest way to travel the Greek islands is via ferry
- Greece is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world
- Be sure to budget properly for your Greece trip
- Factor travel time into your schedule
- The best time to visit Greece
- If you’re visiting an island, then make your choice wisely
- Wear suitable footwear
- Don’t overlook the smaller/ off the beaten path Greek islands
- Make sure to see Athens
- Greece isn’t always as affordable as you think
- Don’t flush your toilet paper!
There are 150 inhabited Greek islands
Of course, there are some Greek islands which are much more famous than others. Santorini, Mykonos, Zakynthos, and Crete are some of the first islands which spring to mind, though it’s worth noting that there are so many more islands to visit and stay on than this. Indeed, it’s estimated that there are between 166 and 277 inhabited islands of Greece.
It’s also worth noting that the islands are spread across two seas; the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea. In turn, the inhabited Greek islands can be split into around eight groups, the most famous of which is the Cyclades (which includes Santorini and Mykonos).
Greece is home to some amazing ruins
Ancient Greece is often considered to be the cradle of arts such as mathematics and philosophy, and so it should come as no surprise that the country is home to countless amazing ruins which you can visit for yourself.
Some of the top ruins to visit in Greece include the Acropolis in Athens (the marble ruins have stood in situ for well over two millennia), Delphi (a former place of worship which was once dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of the sun), and the Palace of Knossos (the largest archaeological site on Crete Island and the one which is associated with the myth of the Minotaur).
The cheapest way to travel the Greek islands is via ferry
Though many of the larger islands have their own airports (some serve several international destinations, while others simply connect Greek islands to other Greek islands), the cheapest way to get between Greek islands is via ferry.
There is a wide array of ferry services, and of course, there are also cruises which island hop, if you’re in search for a one stop shop option. You should also remember that it’s much more expensive to travel between the islands during the off season (late autumn, winter, early spring) as there is much less of a demand to travel.
Greece is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world
Of course, when you think of wine in Europe, you’re probably thinking about the rolling hills of Tuscany in Italy or the medieval hilltop towns surrounding the city of Bordeaux in Southwest France. But what you might not know is that Greece is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world.
For as long as people have inhabited Greece, they’ve grown grapes in order to make wine. In fact, there’s evidence that people were growing grapes as long as 4500 BCE. Homer speaks of wine in both the Odyssey and the Iliad, while the earliest word attested in Ancient Greek is οἶνος (oinos) meaning ‘wine’. For more information, be sure to check out our wine guide to Santorini.
Be sure to budget properly for your Greece trip
As well as food, drink, and accommodation costs (as well as your flights to actually reach Greece from wherever else in the world that you’re travelling), you should be sure to create a proper budget prior to your visit.
Getting from one island to another can be pretty pricey, not to mention that not all islands are priced the same (and nor are places in mainland Greece). Some of the more expensive places to visit in Greece include the island of Santorini and Mykonos, and to be honest these should be avoided if you’re trying to visit the country on a budget.
Factor travel time into your schedule
One of the biggest Greece mistakes that visitors to the country make is not taking adequate travel timings into account. This is especially the case if you’re looking to visit several islands. After all, most of the inhabited islands are spread out across an area of two seas.
During my trip to Greece, I visited via a cruise and there were some islands that it took over half a day to get to (and so we travelled overnight through the waters). To visit some islands from the port of Piraeus in Athens, it can take hours and hours.
If in doubt, it’s better to plan to visit several islands or locations more thoroughly than constantly be rushing to see as much as possible. After all, slower travel will allow you to really take your time to get to know the place and explore all of the attractions that it has to offer.
The best time to visit Greece
The best time to visit Greece is not the summer and especially not in August when the temperature is at its highest (particularly in Athens) and the prices are also at its highest. Indeed, planning a visit to the country during high summer (i.e. peak season) would be your first Greek mistake.
Instead, the best time to visit Greece, both in terms of optimal weather, accommodation availability, lack of crowds, and pricing is during the European shoulder season. This means planning your trip during the late spring or early fall if possible.
If you’re visiting an island, then make your choice wisely
As previously mentioned, all of the Greek islands are priced different and so you should take this into consideration before planning your Greek trip. As well as this, visitors should note that each island has its own vibe and pace of life which can make or break your holiday, depending on what you’re looking for.
For example, the town of Ayia Napa on the island of Cyprus is known for its party scene and there are plenty of bars and clubs. Alternatively, the island of Santorini is known as a honeymoon destination and so you’ll find lots of romantic activities and couples visiting the island. Research the islands you’re planning to visit before your trip and decide whether each will provide the right atmosphere for your trip.
Wear suitable footwear
Just like many other destinations in Europe, one of the top Greece travel tips I can give you is to make sure that you pack ample and suitable footwear. Most greek cities, towns, and villages have plenty of cobbled lanes and so are not the best places to go in high heels! Similarly, if you want to go walking or hiking, you’ll want to wear comfortable trainers.
Don’t overlook the smaller/ off the beaten path Greek islands
And while we’re on the subject of selecting where to visit, be sure not to overlook some of the more off the beaten path island options. If there’s just one Greece travel tip that I could give you, it’s to delve a little deeper into what you can see or simply add one extra secret island onto your trip- I promise you that it’s worth it.
My personal favourite hidden gem of a Greek island is that of Milos, which is a stunning island in the Aegean that has plenty of charming fishing villages and is also where the Venus di Milo statue was (re)discovered in the latter half of the 19th-century. Other secret Greek islands you might want to consider adding to your Greece bucket list include Lefkas, Ithaca, and Kythira.
Make sure to see Athens
Whether you’re arriving or departing from Athens on your international flight, don’t make the Greece travel mistake of overlooking the Greek capital city. After all, you’ll want to set aside at least one or two days of your schedule to discovering the rich culture, history, and food scene on offer in one of the oldest cities in Europe.
Greece isn’t always as affordable as you think
Before planning your trip to Greece, be sure to check the prices of the destination that you’re heading to. While some destinations are more affordable, others can be as expensive to visit as Paris or London, particularly when it comes to food and drink in the most popular tourist locations. For example, cocktails in Santorini or Mykonos can be as high as €15 to €20 per drink!
Don’t flush your toilet paper!
One of the most important Greece travel tips you should know about is that you should not flush your toilet paper down the toilet when in many parts of Greece (especially on smaller islands). Pipes can get clogged and so you will often instead find a small waste basket (trash can) next to the toilet where you can dispose of used toilet paper.
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