Planning on visiting the ancient yet modern country of Greece? Then look no further than this comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about being one of the 16 million tourists that visit Greece each year!
The birthplace of everything from Western drama to the Olympic Games, Greece is synonymous with all things culture and history. Its crystalline blue waters, sunny shores, incredible architecture and delicious food are bar none.
Let’s start by highlighting what you need to know before setting foot in Greece.
If you’re visiting Greece in summer, expect it to be busy. Booking your accommodation and plane tickets far in advance allows you to get a better price, and ensures you don’t miss out (places get booked out fast!).
Be sun wary
Greece is sunny no matter the season, making it all too easy to get sunburned – or come down with heat stroke, if you aren’t careful. It’s important to be prepared for the intense UV rays by packing plenty of sunscreen, wearing covered clothing and a hat, and staying out of the sun where possible.
While tipping is expected many European countries, this is not true for Greece. You are welcome to leave a tip if you had particularly good service or food, but it’s only optional. You can leave as small or large a tip as you like.
While most stores will take credit cards, they prefer if you pay with cash. Some smaller stores and taverns won’t accept card.
Consider renting a car
Car rentals are handy in Greece as they allow you to travel and explore as widely as you like. You will need a valid international drivers licence and be over the age of 21 or 23 depending on the region you’re visiting. Alternatively, use public transport or a ferry boat!
Try the local cuisine
Greece is famous for its world-class Mediterranean food, and each city and town will have its own recipes and specialties. This is your opportunity to sample as many local dishes as you can, so make the most of it! If you’re not sure what to try, just ask your waiter for a recommendation. Food tours are also a handy option.
Things to do and see
Now that we’ve got the basic rules covered, let’s move onto the pressing issue of what you should spend your time and money on in Greece no matter the season.
No trip to Greece is complete without visiting the mythical City of the Gods. Located in Macedonia, Olympus is home to an abundance of plant and animal life (keep an eye out for wolves and deer!). If you enjoy hiking, climbing Mt Olympus is also an option. The hiking routes offer 15 refuges along the way in case you want a rest.
Palace of Knossos
The most popular historical attraction in Crete, the Palace of Knossos’ impressive ruins feature a palace, baths, courtyards and more. The site was excavated from 1878-1930 and part of it was reconstructed. There is a lot to see here, so make sure you map out your trip of the area in advance.
One of the most iconic monuments in Greece, the Parthenon sits atop the Acropolis, expressing the city’s glory, power and prestige. It translates into ‘virgin’s apartment’, and was made on behalf of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare. It took 15 years to complete, but was well worth the wait.
Mystras is a beautiful set of ruins located on a lush mountainside ripe with orange trees. It was the capital of Byzantine around the 1200s-late 1400s, yet its cobblestones, churches and palaces remain. Mystras is truly an impressive place to visit.
And of course, you can’t forego Ancient Olympia. One of Greece’s most exciting ancient sites, the Olympic Games were held here for more than 1000 years. While most of the athletic facilities have crumbled into ruins as a result of earthquakes and war, enough remains to be admired. The Olympic flame continues to be lit in honour of the modern Games.