Whether your first view of Greece is of the sparkling Mediterranean or the stubbornly steadfast Acropolis, you’ll realize you’re somewhere special. Sit down at any taverna by the sea for a feast of fried fish and baked feta, and get wrapped up in ouzo and the musical flow of the Greek language. For history and classics geeks, the mainland is your treasure trove. The Oracle at Delphi will provide you with answers, and the sheer size of the ruins at Olympia will give you new appreciation for the ancients. Hike through the rugged landscapes and coastlines of the many islands, including Santorini’s fractured caldera, and Crete’s Samaria Gorge. Take the edge off while partying in the whitewashed alleyways of Íos Town, or relax on a lesser-known island like Icaria.

C76JNA Greece, Cyclades Islands, Mykonos, Chora, Church of Panagia Paraportiani. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.



When’s the best time to go to Greece?

Although summer in the Mediterranean is never disappointing, late spring and early autumn are by far the best times to visit. Prices remain lower between March and May, and crowds have thinned. The same goes for the end of September to November. The fall season, though sometimes rainy, offers a sea that is still blissfully warm after a scorching summer.

How to get around Greece

Athens is the main travel hub. It’s possible to score fairly priced flights from Europe to some of the more popular islands—especially Santorini, Crete, or Mykonos—but it’s much easier to fly into Athens International Airport. From there, you can take a ferry from Piraeus Port to just about anywhere.

One of Greece’s many charms is that nobody is ever in a rush. This applies to transit as well. Airplanes and ferries are by far the most efficient modes of travel around the country, especially to the islands. On the other hand, the subway system in Athens is actually quite modern, having been built for the 2014 Olympics. It’s handicapped accessible, thanks to elevators in every station. Athens’ bus system is less reliable. On the islands, buses are the way to go, unless you opt for car rental. For all schedules, check out the Greek Travel Pages.

Food and drink to try in Greece

Food is at the heart of Greek living. Seek out the tavernas—you’ll find one in every town—serving steaming bowls of baked feta, fried eggplant, grilled fish, lamb chops, and fresh halva. The Greeks aren’t big drinkers; being inebriated in public is an embarrassment. But the local liquors should be tried: ouzo, raki, and tsipouro are the most common. Tsipouro tends to be underappreciated by travelers. Mix with ice and a small dose of water, and pair with mezedes—generous tapa dishes. If you love wine, head to Santorini. If you’re needing cool refreshment, opt for a frappé, the beloved iced coffee drink of Greek youth.

Culture in Greece

Despite being surrounded by culturally diverse countries like Turkey and Serbia, Greece has held steadfast to its roots. Athens is a bit of an exception, thanks to a large influx of Albanian and Turkish immigrants. For full immersion into Greek culture, head to the lesser-known islands that do not depend on tourism, like Lesbos or Hydra.

Holy Week in April is an exciting time to be in Greece and celebrate Orthodox Easter. Traditionally, celebrations include lamb roasts, fireworks, homemade wine, and dancing in costume. Santorini is one of the best places to celebrate; here people take elaborate care fixing up their property for the event. Carnival in March is a great time to take part in costume parades, drinking, and dancing. Go to Skyros to witness the “goat dance,” or anywhere in the Ionian islands for more Italian-style celebrations. The Athens Festival in June pays tribute to Greek culture and arts. You may be lucky enough to be in town during a feast of the saints, like the Feast of St. Nikolaos or the Feast of St. Demitrius.

Local travel tips for Greece

The locals know that autumn is the best time to visit Santorini. Ferry strikes and Greek protests can often cause delays in travel, but they are usually harmless. Check in advance. Study up on the language a bit before arriving, especially if visiting the quieter islands, where little English is spoken.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
Located in southwestern Greece, Messenia sits on the beautiful Ionian Sea, with a rich history stretching to the bronze age. Visit to experience a more authentic side of Greece, with impressive ruins, pristine beaches, and cultural activities like olive harvesting.
Board the ferry from Athens and you’ll be rewarded with whitewashed fishing villages, ancient olive groves, pebble and sandy beaches, and world-heritage archaeological sites—not to mention iconic Aegean Sea views. Whether you’re making a pit stop on your Greek island-hopping adventure or holing up for the duration of your stay, these postcard-worthy hotels and resorts make the most of their surroundings.
Located in southwestern Greece, Messenia sits on the beautiful Ionian Sea, with a rich history stretching to the bronze age. Visit to experience a more authentic side of Greece, with impressive ruins, pristine beaches, and cultural activities like olive harvesting.
From new restaurants to new arts institutions, head here to experience Athens’ remarkable revival.
If Rome is the eternal city, Athens may be immortal, with its impossibly ancient monuments and vibrant cultural scene. Visitors can choose to stay at one of the world’s most historic and luxurious hotels, fit for gods and goddesses. Neoclassical mansions have been restored with sophisticated modern decor and contemporary Greek cuisine. Choose from a hotel location on Syntagma Square or in the lanes of Plaka for maximum convenience, or venture a bit further west to enjoy bohemian nightlife in Psiri. Acropolis views are always worth the upgrade, especially from a rooftop pool on a balmy Athens summer day.
Athens has plenty of altitude to go along with its attitude—on-high vantage points include not only the Acropolis but also rooftop bars and luxurious hotel terraces. From many of these places, you’ll feel on top of the world.
Athens is infused with counterculture, ranging from the anarchic and graffitied to global-nomad hipster. Bohemia tends to concentrate in a few neighborhoods, notably Exarchia, Kerameikos, Metaxourgeio and the road leading toward Pireaus, but street art and edgy eateries can dot even posher neighborhoods. Of note are Athens’ many wonderful collective DIY art venues combining nightlife, music, art, performance and sometimes even daytime work.
Greeks, especially Athenians, are high-spirited partiers, and don’t stop till they get enough. For those seeking glamour it’s fun to sip cocktails on a rooftop bar, but it’s just as fun to dance in a grungy music venue. Wander near the Technopolis in Gazi or the clubs near the sea during summer, when the party simply spills out onto the streets. Start late, and pace yourself until sunrise, which is when most locals only begin to think about going home.
Adventure travel in Greece means an abundance of choices. Dive into the turquoise waters of Corfu. Kayak around the white rocks of Milos. Climb to the top of Mount Zeus, the highest peak in the Greek Cyclades, on Naxos island, and peek inside the god’s hidden cave. Travel to Santorini, and hike from Fira to Oia at sunset to see a dramatic view of the sun sinking behind the caldera. In Greece, adventure is a given.
The best of Santorini, Greece is wonderfully accessible. Thought to be home to the lost city of Atlantis, Santorini is stunningly romantic. Whether approaching the island by ferry or plane, you’ll see why people love it here. The dramatic shape of the caldera—like a perfect ring around the volcano that once wiped out the entire Minoan civilization—is one of the most surreal landscapes in Europe. The best of Santorini includes fresh Mediterranean food, delicious wines, and nighttime frolics.
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