Your vacation in Greece & the islands
The mainland of Greece and the Greek islands are globally known as one of the world’s top destinations, attracting millions of visitors from all around the world every year. With its countless islands, friendly people, vast culinary scene, rich history, picturesque destinations, natural beauty and impressive coastline, this small Mediterranean country has indeed so much to offer!
If you made it to this article it is probably because Greece has already earned its spot in your travel bucket list. Keep reading to get a first taste of Greece and find information that will help you plan your vacation.
How to plan your vacation in Greece?
The first thing to consider is what type of holidays you are interested in. Do you enjoy spending time on the beach or the mountains? Are you more of a nature lover or a city enthusiast? Would you like to immerse yourself in the local culture, visit off-the-beaten-track places or stick to the most significant landmarks in popular locations? You may also plan your vacation around your passions, be it watersports, hiking, climbing, gastronomy, history or art and more. For instance, those who are fond of sports, may choose a hot tourist destination in order to exploit the abundance of relevant facilities. Other less adventurous visitors may opt for a more relaxing kind of vacation where they can engage in less intense activities such as horse riding, biking and golf. On the other hand, some people’s primary interest may be to get to know a specific side of life in Greece. Special Greece holiday packages that are compatible with your own personal interests are available, including culture, history and food, that will give you an insight to particular aspects of the local culture and its roots. Make sure you take all these things into account in order to plan a kind of vacation that corresponds to all your preferences.
Once you make up your mind about what your dream holiday would consist of, it is a good idea to browse through the best destinations in Greece until you find one (or more) that clicks for you! There are numerous possible destinations that we will have a more detailed look at later on, including but not limited to islands, cities, rural villages, mountainous areas and coastal resorts. You can also combine them!
For some interesting facts about Greece, check out our about Greece page and our travel info section. On these pages, you will find some general information about Greece that may prove to be useful, as well as some tips and tricks that will help you avoid future inconveniences. It is highly recommended to do your research in advance and collect information about Greece that will help you plan your trip trouble-free and stress-free for the best possible experience.
Not sure what to do in Greece once you get there? Finding something that suits you is not as hard as it sounds although the options are limitless! In our list, we have included several kinds of different activities, categorized according to type.
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Being the meeting point between the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia, Greece is one of the most visited places in the Mediterranean area and the world. Despite its small size, it is considered one of the top holiday destinations in Europe, thanks to its diverse natural landscapes, its rich culture and the easy-going people. Both the mainland and the islands of Greece are touristically developed and full of facilities and no matter where you choose to spend your vacation you will be warmly welcomed.
Discover more about Greece
Vacation for all seasons
Known as one of the sunniest places in the world, Greece is truly delightful not only during the summer months but also at any other time of the year. When organizing your vacation, plan your trip according to your own schedule and free time, as Greece is considered a destination for all seasons! There are always plenty of places to see outside the high season of July and August. Learn more about the weather in Greece and figure out which is the best time to visit each destination.
Where to stay
Pick your accommodation wisely, since the place where you are going to stay can either make or break the experience! Luckily for you, the Greeks take hospitality very seriously and the country has built such a good reputation for a reason. In most places you will receive a heartwarming welcome and the hosts will make you feel like meeting family after a long time. Accommodation in Greece is not mere business; it is one more of the things that make this destination so special and one of the reasons you might be visiting again someday.
In order to help you find your home away from home in Greece, we provide a well-organized selection of the best hotels in Greece, where you will also find other accommodation types for all budgets, from luxurious villas, to guesthouses, camping and more! Pick a category and/or your destination of choice and explore the options!
The Greek Culture
Your vacation in Greece will be the perfect opportunity to experience the local life and get to know lots of interesting aspects of the Greek culture of both the past and the present.
For instance, the roots of the concept of hospitality date back to the distant past of ancient Greece and it continues to affect the contemporary rhythms of life, contributing to the local tourism development. Most Greek people are ready to welcome all visitors, willing to help you and always up for some chit-chatting. This friendliness has been embedded in the Greek attitude for hundreds, if not thousands of years. During your vacation, you will have many chances to get a better understanding of the rich history of Greece and how it contributed to shaping the current form of the country. Both on the mainland and on many Greek islands, there are numerous archeological sites that are seen as major tourist attractions: the Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Olympia, Delphi and Epidaurus house some of the most important monuments, while even the big cities of Greece have an “old town” part where you can still see the remnants of the past. The oldest archaeological miracles of Greece come from the Classical Era, the Bronze Age and even prehistory! The Byzantine era also left its mark, with countless churches and monasteries in every corner of the country. Several findings that originate from different time periods can be spotted in the archeological museums that are scattered all over Greece. You certainly have to dedicate some time of your vacation to sightseeing!
Modern Greece however, is a whole different story…
The Greeks have lots of distinctive cultural traits in common with other Mediterranean peoples: in addition to their innate open-heartedness and extroversion, they are all about having fun and living life to the fullest! Athens, for instance, the capital city of Greece is often described as the city that never sleeps, since it remains lively all night long, similarly to the other big cities of Greece and of course, the islands. With hundreds of clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and taverns, Greece boasts a vivid nightlife that lasts until early morning hours. Theaters and music halls for all tastes remain open both on weekends and the weekdays, adding hints of music and vividness to the Greek urban landscape.
The countryside of Greece is equally lively, with numerous festivals and cultural events known as panigiria that take place annually, in every place of the country, including the small villages. Most of them are related to the Orthodox calendar, since a large part of the Greek population is religious and many different aspects of life or culture have been influenced by religion. By participating in one of these celebrations, you will have the opportunity to get to know the locals better, taste the traditional cuisine and have fun the Greek way. This kind of events take place on the islands as well, even though many of them are more popular for their modern club and beach bar parties. For example, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu and Ios represent more or less the same kind of entertainment. No matter where you’re planning to spend your vacation, the only thing guaranteed is that you will not get bored!
Another major aspect of Greek culture is gastronomy. Every time you have lunch or dinner during your vacation in Greece, you will have a chance to experience a culinary adventure and try a Greek take on one of the world’s tastiest and healthiest cuisines, the Mediterranean one.
The gastronomical scene in Greece is vast enough to find something you like no matter what your preferences are. In addition to the traditional taverns, great restaurants that may either be budget-friendly or gourmet are available. The cosmopolitan cities, as well as many islands in Greece provide a variety of options to choose from, including not only the Greek cuisine but also the international one. Keep in mind that a large part of rural life in the countryside of Greece depends on farming and agriculture and the relatively small-scale production means that it is not difficult to get your hands on high quality traditional products. As you will find out during your vacation, each area has a unique kind of local products and it may have gotten famous thanks to them. Feel free to try out anything you like and you can also buy something to take a piece of Greece back home with you as soon as your vacation is over.
Choosing your destination
Whether you are visiting Greece for your summer or winter vacation, a large variety of options is available and in some cases, it might even be possible to see more than one places in just one trip to Greece, depending on how many days you are planning to stick around. The warm Mediterranean weather with its relatively mild winters makes vacation in Greece perfect at any time of the year. Most visitors consider Greece a summer destination and although the summer sunshine is certainly something else, Greece has much more to offer than its high season islands. Keep in mind however, that some locations may be at their best during a particular time of the year and choose your destination accordingly.
What are some of the best destinations for vacation in Greece?
• The islands
Counting more than 100 inhabited islands and a few more hundreds of deserted islets, Greece offers countless opportunities to spend your vacation close to the sea. The warm, safe and crystal clear waters of Greece, along with numerous sandy or pebbled beaches have made the country famous on a global level. Most travellers decide to visit these destinations during July and August, which is why many Greek islands are often overcrowded during the high season. Nonetheless, the warm weather makes it possible to visit them during the late spring or early autumn as well. A decent amount of islands, usually the larger ones remain lively all year round, even during the winter, while the smaller islands or the ones that are mostly depended on tourism are practically empty during the off-season months.
During your vacation, it is possible to visit more than one islands, as well as parts of the mainland, thanks to the regular ferry and plane connections that create the ideal circumstances for fascinating island hopping opportunities. Below, you will find the most popular islands of the country that you may want to include in your trip:
The Cycladic islands
The most visited place in the Aegean Sea and in the entire country of Greece in general is the Cycladic island group, which is a part of the Aegean Sea islands. Photographs from islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Milos and Naxos are taking over the web and these places are attracting an increasing number of visitors from all around the world thanks to their picturesque landscapes and romantic sunsets. At the same time, the Small Cyclades subcomplex, also known as the Lesser Cyclades, has been gaining popularity for its alternative destinations, such as Schinoussa.
The Dodecanese islands
The Dodecanese islands are also quite famous, with the most popular ones being Rhodes, Kos and Patmos. Rhodes is the largest one and the capital of the island group, with a population of more than 115.000 and a big capital city. All the Dodecanese Islands are mostly visited during the summer for their stunning beaches and their southern location ensures that the sea waters are warm enough in the early autumn and late spring as well. The medieval architecture of the Dodecanese islands is really impressive.
The Ionian islands
The Ionian Islands can be found at the western side of Greece and are not located far from the Greek mainland. The most popular of them are Corfu, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Kefalonia and they attract all kinds of visitors, from families and regular tourists to campers. Upon visiting these islands, you will realize that they offer one-of-a-kind sceneries you won’t come across in any other place in Greece. This is a result of a combination of long sandy beaches with turquoise waters, dense forests and villages or towns with Venetian architecture influences.
The largest island of Greece is Crete, located in the southern Aegean Sea. It attracts numerous visitors at any time of the year and has a population of more than 600k. The landscape of Crete is very diverse, from big cities to small rural villages and tall mountains to seafront resorts. Crete also has a special gastronomic scene and produces lots of traditional goods.
Evia is the second biggest island in Greece after Crete. It is located very close to the region of Attica and Athens and it is connected to the Greek mainland by bridge. At the same time, it can also be approached by ferry. Its close proximity to the city makes it a great option for day trips from the Greek capital.
Other island groups
Among the rest of the Greek islands, you will find the charming Sporades and the picturesque islands of the Saronic Gulf. These small island groups are located close to Athens and many people use them as weekend getaways. It is highly recommended to plan a short trip there during your vacation in Athens or the Cyclades. Northern Aegean islands are also worth taking a look at. For instance, Samos and Chios combine a magnificent natural setting with picturesque villages and a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
• The mainland
Despite its relatively small size as a country, the mainland of Greece offers a wide diversity of interesting places to explore, from popular locations and big urban centers, to winter resorts and other small gems hidden in the Greek countryside. Spending your vacation travelling around the mainland of Greece is one possibility, while you may also combine it with a trip to the islands. Of course, if you find yourself particularly attracted to one specific location, you can spend all your days in Greece getting to know this place better. Below, you will find some of the vacation options on the mainland:
The big cities of Greece, such as Athens, the capital, and Thessaloniki, the second largest city, attract thousands of visitors every year. Spending at least a few days in one of the cities is a great opportunity to experience the authentic urban life and explore the city’s rich cultural background. The cities of Greece are full of cafes, bars and clubs, have a diverse gastronomical scene, at least a few commercial streets with a cosmopolitan aura, several significant historic landmarks and different types of museums or galleries. The entertainment options are limitless and the Greek urban landscape has a unique charm!
Greece is surrounded by the sea, which means that its coastline is quite long and full of amazing seafront areas. The Athens Riviera is an excellent option if you’re staying in the city, while Halkidiki is located very close to Thessaloniki. Other popular coastal destinations on the mainland of Greece are the lovely town of Parga, which faces the Ionian islands and the picturesque Nafplio or the beachfront villages around Corinth Gulf that make a great day trip from Athens. Peloponnese is also full of stunning seaside places to explore, such as Monemvasia and Gythio.
Although Greece is mostly famous for its beaches, it does not lack impressive mountainous destinations that are full of dense forests, hiking trails, streams and waterfalls. Most of them can be found in central or northern Greece and are more popular to visit during the winter, when it gets snowy and Christmassy. Ski centers may also operate in some of them. The most popular destinations for vacation on the mountains of Greece include Arachova, Pelion, Zagorochoria, Meteora and Kalavryta.
Archeological sites and other places of interest that date back to the distant past are scattered all around the mainland of Greece. If you are a history enthusiast, you may want to include at least a few of the following destinations in your trip: Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, Cape Sounio, Knossos (in Crete), Delos (in Mykonos) and more.
You will find all the relevant information about major mainland destinations in Greece here.
It is a well known fact that Greece offers countless possibilities that will fascinate every kind of traveller, no matter what they may be looking for. Think about what your dream vacation would consist of and Greece will certainly live up to your expectations! Have a look at the vacation packages proposed in our travel guide and find the ones that are most appropriate for your needs. Make sure to check out our travel services to plan a wonderful trip with your family, partner, friends or on your own!
Vacation by locations:
Popular vacation destinations
Information about a vacation in some of the most popular holiday destinations of Greece: