Things to know before visiting Greece
Greece is a place where you can find everything packed together: from ancient ruins to beautiful islands where to spend your holiday. I advise you to visit Greece because is a unique place with lots of history behind! No matter if you choose to go in the capital or on a remote island, for sure there will be many things to see and experience!
Where is Greece located?
Also known as the Hellenic Republic, the country is located in the south part of Europe, bordering with Macedonia, Albania, Turkey, and Bulgaria.
Greece is the 97th largest nation in the world and one of the most important ancient sites.
How big is Greece
Greece is not a very big country. It has about 51.000 square miles divided between mainland and islands. When you visit Greece you have plenty of islands to choose from. More exactly, there are more than 1.000 islands in the Ionian and the Aegean Sea belonging to this nation.
From Athens, which is Greece capital, you can reach most of the main islands in about an hour with an airplane. If you choose to travel by ferry then it might take you much longer, somewhere between 3 to 10 hours, depending on the distance.
Do I need a visa?
EU citizens and most of the Americas travelers don’t need a visa to enter in the Hellenic Republic for up to 90 days. US and Canada citizens need a visa and a passport valid for at least 3 months beyond the trip date.
If you plan to visit Greece take the euro with you. The euro is the national currency. Some restaurants and shops accept US dollars but the conversion rate is not great at all. I don’t think is so complicated to have some euros with you. It is the safest and most indicated way of taking money to spend during your holiday.
How do I get to Greece?
The easiest way to travel to Greece is by airplane. The main airport is Athens International Airport. If you travel from the US or from other European countries, most probably you will land on Athens Airport. If you plan to visit an island, then from Athens Airport you can take a domestic flight to your final destination.
Main islands airports offer direct flights during the high season from main European countries to the island’s main towns.
If you have time and energy, when you visit Greece you can take the ferry from Athens to some beautiful islands. Drink ouzo and get a sunbath while the ferry takes you to your holiday destination.
How do I get around in Greece?
The most comfortable but not necessary the cheapest way to move around Greece is the car. It is highly indicated when you move inside the mainland and on the islands. A major disadvantage is when you travel from the mainland to the islands. Not all ferries transport cars and the ones which do have pretty high prices. It might be more convenient to rent a car on the mainland, return it when you take the ferry and rent another one when you reach the island.
A very common and easy way of traveling on the mainland when you visit Greece is by bus. Theoretically, buses have a fixed schedule and leave from certain places. But prepare yourself for delays. You’re in Greece and punctuality is not their straight. As a joke, I can say that bus timetable is something indicative, they don’t have a fixed schedule.
With trains is even worse. Delays are recorded very often and the quality of the train wagon is very low. This public transport might be cheaper, but it is completely unreliable and uncomfortable.
I talked a lot about ferry rides but I did not mention which is the main port of Athens. It is called Piraeus and is just a few kilometers away from the airport. From Piraeus you can take ferries to Crete and the islands from the Aegean Sea; and here I am talking about Dodecanese, Northern Aegean, and Cyclades islands. All of these islands are very beautiful and sunny.
From Piraeus port, you can also take cruises which take you to some of the most beautiful and picturesque islands of Greece. It is very relaxing and a nice way to visit Greece!
How is Greece weather?
This beautiful country has a Mediterranean climate with four seasons. Summer lasts from June to August, but the hottest month is by far August. Generally, summers are hot, dry and on most parts of Greece, there is no rain during these hot months.
Winter instead is colder, with a lot of rain but almost zero snow.
Only on high attitudes there might be snowing. You can try some winter sports but I must say it is not a very famous destination for such activities. In winter, the wind is also very active and increase the cold feeling but this country has a mild winter compared with most European countries.
On the other hand, spring and autumn have many beautiful days with lots of suns and almost no wind. In my opinion, these 2 seasons are the perfect periods to go to Greece.
When is the best time to visit Greece?
I visited Greece many times and I have always chosen spring or autumn to go.
I visited Athens in September and I usually go to the islands in late May or June. The days are perfect for the beach! Not too hot, not too windy! And the prices… yeah! The prices are lower than in summer and good deals for accommodation and airplanes could be found pretty easily.
In August it is extremely hot. Temperatures might rise to 40 degrees Celsius and on the mainland, especially in the areas, nearby Athens fires might appear. So, I would advise you to avoid Greece in August because of the heat and the increased number of tourists.
During winter most of the hotels are closed and there are not many things to do around the country. More than that, there is a cold and annoying wind, especially on the islands. And the landscape is pretty desolated: no tourists, no shops or restaurants open! I don’t like that!
How many days should I spend in Greece?
When visit Greece you need at least one week! There are many things to do and see around! And because there are so many islands, it is a pity to leave Greece without visiting at least one island!
An ideal holiday would have somewhere between 5 to 15 days. In five days you can visit Athens and the most important ancient sites from Greece. In a longer trip, of about 10-15 days, you have enough time to visit the most important ancient sites and to spend some days on an island.
For island hoping you also need about 2 weeks.
Going from one island to another with ferry might be time-consuming and tiring, depends on the islands chosen.
A good idea is to visit Athens and then to take a cruise to some of Greece’s islands from the Aegean Sea.
It is a very comfortable and easy way to see more places on one holiday. In about 10 days or maybe less, depending on the cruise chosen, you can visit more than 5 places. Very convenient!
Is Greece a good destination for kids?
You read a lot and see many photos of this country but you are not sure if it is a good idea to visit Greece when you have kids. You might think that it might be boring, or tiring for your kids to go! Well, it is not that bad at all! There are a lot of child-friendly resorts around the country! Water parks, beaches and entertainment centers especially for your kid could be found all around! There are many activities to be done!
More than that, there are many things to be seen and learned by your kids during your trip here! Greek mythology is very popular and many of you read to your children books about it. Going there, your kids have the opportunity to see with their own eyes that the mythical places really exist. They will gain a better understanding of human history, about mythology and gods! A very important step in children development!
There are also many museums and historic sites and besides that, the locals are warm and friendly, so it would not be very stressing for your kids to spend their holiday there! Be careful! They might enjoy the vacation that much that they don’t want to leave this beautiful and sunny country!
Is Greece safe to travel?
A common concern when you visit a foreign country is related to safety. Before you visit Greece you want to know how safe it is.
Well, Greece is indeed a safe country.
Most of the countries classify it as a Level 1 safe country, which means that you are safe going there.
Pickpockets or taxi scams might happen but nothing more than that. Still, I would advise you to respect a set of minimal rules about safety, a set which is related to common sense.
If you act decent and avoid vied people nothing wrong would happen.
Be careful when you go to ATMs. Look around before operating your card and if something looks fishy don’t put your card in ATM. Don’t let anyone “help” you at ATM. You know! Better safe than sorry!
Another advice I want to give you when visit Greece is about taxi drivers. Some of them would try to scam you. My advice is to use mobile apps or to order a taxi via phone application in order to be sure. Taxis found on the street might ask you more money than one ordered from a taxi app.
Greece is an ideal destination for everybody! No matter if you are young or old, there would be places to see and things to do around the country for all of us! From quiet and adults-only resorts to child-friendly hotels and street parties for the young generation, you would be surprised how many opportunities Greece has to offer.
What are you waiting for?! Book your flight and visit Greece! Pack your summer clothes, your hat, and sunglasses and be ready for a beautiful holiday!