Greece gets almost 30 million annual visitors to enjoy their beaches, islands and ancient history. People from around the world flock to the Southern European destination at all times of the year to live out their dream vacation. Some book up one of the luxury greek island vacations while others spend their time soaking up the history. But despite travelling to Greece being relatively easy and stress-free, you still need to be aware of a few things before taking your trip. If this is your first time, keep reading and discover the essentials about how to have a fantastic holiday of a lifetime.
Before you book a holiday to Greece, there are some important considerations. First, consider if you need to apply for a visa or not. Greece is part of Europe and within the Schengen Zone. Several nationalities will get a 90-day visa on arrival. But not everyone. You should double check before even daydreaming about a trip! If you’re eligible for this 90-day visa, the next question is how long do you want to stay in Greece? You can spend a week in Athens or Santorini exploring the ruins and sights. Perhaps you want longer and visit more of their 6000 or so islands. Get a rough answer to this question before booking any flights.
The Best Time to Visit Greece
The best time to visit depends on your interests and needs. The country gets 300 hours of sunshine with hot and dry summers and mild winters. And when they get so many tourists, you can expect some levels of crowds during all months of the year. If you spend a lot of time outdoors walking around, you might want to try and avoid the middle of summer (July and August). Temperatures can get hot and oppressive with the mercury hovering in the mid-30s. Peak season usually starts in early spring which sees scores of European holidaymakers flocking to get some sunshine. The number of visitors drops slightly towards the end of autumn. Winter receives fewer tourists, and some of the resorts and shops have more restrictive hours.
The Best Places to Visit in Greece
No trip to Greece would be complete without spending a few days in the capital city of Athens. The city dates back more than 2000 years and once housed the ancient Greek philosophers and academics. Highlights include strolling around the Agora, visiting the many ancient ruins around almost every corner and going up the Acropolis. Away from the history, dozens of restaurants and cafés line the tiny lands cooking up mouth-watering food. Head a little further from the city, and you can get to the beaches, visit the historic town of Marathon and explore more ruins.
Many tourists try to combine a trip to Athens with visiting the beautiful volcanic island of Santorini. The small island features white-washed buildings on terraces against the hills, deep blue waters along the coast and ancient relics from the Byzantine Era. Most tourists spend three days on the island. The best things to do include photographing the architecture, heading up the cliffs for views of the island and taking a boat trip. If you’re staying in Athens, regular flights pass between the capital and Santorini on a daily basis. First-time visitors to Greece might want to plan their time to combine both of these spectacular Greek destinations.
If you want to get a little further afield, you can find thousands of islands in both the Ionian and the Aegean Seas. Some have a handful of permanent residents giving a rustic charm while others attract thousands for party weekends and stag parties. Search online, and you’ll come up with dozens of options to suit any type of experience or interest. And if you’re a fan of history, it’s easy to explore famous sites on Crete, Corfu and visit the original Olympic Stadium. Other spots can be seen by simply renting a car and driving off to some of the towns and villages to catch a glimpse of the rural Greek way of life.
Essential Things All First-Time Visitors Should Know
While Greece offers the ultimate location for a trip, it does come with a few pitfalls. First, you need to anticipate high admission fees for all the attractions. And it can be easy to spend hundreds of Euros on a single trip to get into all the sights. Some of this money does go towards preserving the ancient monuments, but it can burn a hole in your pocket. Instead, it might be better to plan which ruins you want to visit rather than trying to see everything. There are free things to do in Greece, and it might be worth dividing your time.
Learning a little about Greece’s history should be a priority for all tourists. Knowing the background can give an otherwise dull looking monument so much meaning. You don’t have to study for weeks on end, but do take the time to read up to appreciate what you’re looking at and experiencing. It might be a good idea to buy a guidebook to read on the plane over. Or get a pocket-sized book on local history. Doing so will make your trip so much more enriching.
Having a Fantastic Trip
The key to having an unforgettable trip is planning and preparation. Double check if you need a visa to come to Greece, have an idea on how long you want to spend and read up which destinations you want to visit. Just remember to anticipate high admission fees and learn more about their ancient past to appreciate the sights.