Greece is the picturesque and magical land where knowledge came to life!
The birthplace of Democracy, the scientific method, Philosophy, and all things that are good in the world, this ancient land is also a haven for the traveler. The World owes a lot to ancient Greece while Modern Greece has a lot to offer to the world. It is sad that the current political situation tends to keep people away from this amazing land.
The beautiful ancient ruins, the sandy white beaches, the pretty little houses, the delicate yet gorgeous islands and the stunning green mountains; it doesn’t come as a surprise then that Greece has inspired the Western Civilization to come alive and flourish. The green and lush olive gardens, the verdant vineyards and the Mediterranean climate add to the heady mix that makes Greece an admirable touristic destination.
The location of Greece has also had a very interesting effect of the people. Greece has become an exotic mélange of its Asian, European, as well as African influences making it unique in every way possible.
If you seek culture, picture-perfect locales, a plethora of historic places, exotic food and a relaxed and calm atmosphere… Greece would be perfect for you!
When to visit?
The Greek climate while largely Mediterranean is a bit varied. Due to the many different landforms it is difficult to pin point one best time to visit Greece.
Best time: May and September are the best months, climate-wise. The Months in between June to August are a part of a busy tourist season so you will find it crowded. June will be very warm but the weather is never very bad. This whole period of spring- summer is definitely the best time to visit. Even autumn which is late September and early October is a decent time to visit.
Winters: The Winters are short but it can get pretty cold from November, try not to visit at this time. Most importantly the beaches will be too cold to swim in so unless you want to spend most of your times in museums avoid it. It might also rain.
How to reach and get around?
Reaching Greece should not be difficult by air. Athens has an active airport called Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. Not all major cities have international airports but buses taxis and trains (where available) will link them to the capital. The islands can be reached by ferries. These tend to be pretty over-crowded so try to book in advance and also don’t plan on doing any consecutive island trips as it will be hectic.
Getting around Greece is pretty easy too. The Buses form a very good Transport system. Trains are not available everywhere but wouldn’t pose a problem where there is a network. The only problematic mode of Transport is the ferries which should be avoided unless you are visiting one of the islands. They get especially crowded in the tourist season. You can also get around by flight. Transport within Greece is still developing so do keep that in mind while travelling to this country.
What to expect?
The country is facing debt and recession. Political turmoil is also on the scene. Be aware and be safe.
But the people of Greece have never changed. They are warm, kind hearted, welcoming and to put it frankly, loud. The loudness however makes them very endearing. Expect locals to ask a lot of questions about you. The Greek have been curious creatures since ancient times and that trend continues till date.
Prices of most things have increased so be careful about this. It is best to use cash and be extremely careful while storing it. Credit Cards and Traveler’s checks are fine too. Point to be noted is, Greece is a part of the Eurozone.
Tipping is not expected or mandatory
Where to go?
It is surprising how many things there are to do in Greece. Greece is an amazing amalgamation of culture, history, civilization and much more. Here are a few must see highlights of Greece.
Greek Beaches: With the amazing coastline which is the eleventh longest in the world, Greek Beaches are a wonderful treat for the traveler.
Vine routes and Olive routes: The grape and olive plantations in Greece are old and inextricably linked with the country. The place has always been home to a huge number of plantations. You can of course, explore these beautiful roots by car but hiring bikes in Greece for transport are also not a bad idea.
Archeological and Heritage sites: Well, it makes no sense to go to Greece and not see its tremendous historical heritage. Athens, Greece’s capital is home to the Acropolis, the symbol of the Golden era in the history of Greece and is home to the famous temple; Parthenon. The other sites of note are Delphi, which was known to be a powerful religious Centre in ancient Greece, Crete which has a number of archeological sites, Olympia, where the Olympic Games found their roots… the list goes on and on!
This is just the typical stuff to do though. The country has an amazing bounty of natural, historical as well as modern landmarks that are worth visiting. There is a lot to do even if you want to go off the beaten track so when in Greece keep your eyes, ears and mind open!
What to try out?
When in Greece, do not under any circumstance miss out on the amazing food. The recipes are always simple and elegant. They often include delicious garden-fresh herbs and olive oil and due to Greece’s sprawling coastline there is bound to be some amazing fresh sea-food. Do try out the octopus if you like to experiment.
One more culinary delight from Greece is their Ouzo. The star anise flavored liquor can be taken as a shot or sipped from an ice-filled glass at a leisurely pace. It is a great accompaniment to the awesome sea-food that they serve as appetizers. There is a wide variety of those so remember to keep your glass full.
It is worthwhile to watch a folk dance called zeimbekiko. This dance is performed by men and it imitates the style of a wild cat. There are several other much popular dances as well as folk songs that can be enjoyed so if you happen to love dance, make it a point to find a performance that incorporates Greek folk culture and attend it.