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Greece at a glance

It’s a land steeped in ancient myths and legends and it still has the magic to make holiday dreams come true.

Greece is the perfect getaway for so many marvellous reasons and about 25 million tourists will enjoy its delights this year. Here’s why you should be one of them:

It’s a fantastic package…

Spectacular scenery, amazing beaches, wonderful weather, friendly people, great food, and mind-blowing history. So much that’s so good. And it’s thickly spread across mainland Greece and the islands that are scattered like brilliant gems across two clear blue seas.

In the beginning….

The storytellers say Greek Gods created the world.  Historians tell us it was the birthplace of democracy, maths, modern medicine, the Olympic Games and so much more. Buildings from thousands of years ago have been discovered. The most magnificent is the white marble Parthenon, a temple to the goddess Athena, built 2,500 years ago and still the glittering crown on the Acropolis of Athens.

But what about now?

Greece has become cosmopolitan and modern in every respect without ruining the traditional Mamma Mia! charm and legendary hospitality that so many people love. English is spoken almost everywhere, and the food just goes on getting better.

Tavernas and restaurants provide international cuisine alongside wonderful Greek dishes – and over the road locals will be enjoying their ouzo at a kafenion, picking up the children from school or going to church.

You can still get that lovely Shirley Valentine moment when you have a meal at a beach and the table is set in the gentle lapping of the sea. Fun and romance in the herb-scented air.

Those traditional, family-run studios that were once the main accommodation for holidaymakers are still there. Now Greece has private villas, stylish boutique hotels and superb all-inclusive hotels offering the highest levels of luxury.

There are places where the summer parties start early and go on through the night; resorts for families; places for people who want to sunbathe all day and places to play all day. There are spas and gyms, water sports and hiking, tennis and golf, cycling and climbing. They even play cricket in Corfu!

And if that isn’t enough you can hop off to another beach, another town, another island because everything in Greece is always satisfyingly the same – but always sensationally different.

Where to stay in Greece

Alonissos Port, Greece

Alonissos

Scattered with forests, orchards and meadows, with a coastline of many delightful coves.

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Andros

Set foot on an Island which boasts a wide variety of scenery and culinary delights. Surrounded by clear waters, with fantastic beaches and a green haze of Cycladic landscape.

Athens, Greece

Athens

Athens is the ultimate mix of ancient history and lively, cultural chic.

Lagonissi Athens Riviera Greece

Athens Riviera

Have you been torn between visiting the attractions of a major European city and relaxing on sun drenched beaches? You don’t need to be! The Athens Riviera combines the wonders of a vibrant city with an unbeatable history all just a bus ride from some of Greec…

Holidays To Crete (1)

Crete

Crete has the longest summers in Greece so let the sunshine warm your soul as the island reveals its exceptional beauty and diverse landscapes with dream-like villages on green hillsides. During your Crete family holiday, embrace distinctive traditions, meet…

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Corfu

Exquisite Corfu is said to have been blessed by Mother Nature herself. That’s not hard to believe once you experience the breath-taking beauty of its countryside and stunning beaches. Lush green mountains fringe wide expanses of lovely beaches, and wherever y…

Halki, Greece

Halki

Delightful Halki is ideal for beach lovers, boasting some of the cleanest beaches in the whole of Greece.

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Halkidiki

How can Halkidiki, a sensationally different part of mainland Greece, promise three amazing experiences in one holiday? Because it has a three-legged peninsula that juts into the Aegean Sea creating a wonderful 500-mile coastline and a trio of contrasting oppo…

Mylopotas Beach, Ios, Greece

Ios

Ios is an island for all ages, perfect for lazing on one of the many long, sandy beaches and for evenings as lively or relaxed as you wish.

Ithaca, Greece

Ithaca

Small yet dramatic, Ithaca packs a scenic punch. Legend says it was the home of King Odysseus, offering exciting archeological finds.

Kalymnos, Greece

Kalymnos

Experience the true character of the Greek islands in Kalymnos, with life revolving mainly around the sea.

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Karpathos

Karpathos has a real Greek soul, where islanders proudly retain age-old customs on the second largest island of the Dodecanese. Step back in time to find village festivals and celebrations, where musicians play locally crafted lyre and lauto, and sing just as…

Main Kavala, Greece

Kavala

Kavala is the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and widely regarded as one of the most picturesque cities in Greece.

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Kefalonia

A wealth of hidden gems and lush trails await you. Experience the best of both worlds on a Kefalonia holiday, with sublime beaches, endless natural beauty, and opportunities for infinite adventures on land and sea. The enchanting, sun-kissed island of Kefalon…

Kos Town Kos, Greece

Kos

Kos has got it covered; the third largest island in the Dodecanese has a coastline that stretches over 290 kilometres. With stretches of glistening sea and gorgeous white sand, a Kos holiday is perfect for both couples and families. One of the most popular is…

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Lefkas

The beauty of Lefkas isn’t only the lovely beaches and breathtaking scenery - it’s the amazing mixture of attractions it has for visitors. For Lefkas is many different places wrapped up in one delightful island. It has tranquil villages set in lush green hill…

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Leros

Beautiful Leros is an island of 29 square miles, offering tranquillity, with an enjoyable buzz. Numerous charmingly hidden-away sandy coves are to be found along the coastline on holidays to Leros. Cafes and eateries are in abundance, and the stunning marina…

Main Lesvos, Greece

Lesvos

Lesvos is a jewel, often called the emerald isle because much of it is covered in lush forests and olive groves. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful islands in Greece, large enough to have an unbelievable wealth of attractions but traditional enough to…

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Mykonos

Mykonos is one of the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands; a favourite among sophisticated travellers and a stunning choice for your next holiday. Mykonos holidays provide some of the best beach days in the Aegean Sea: just one of its many claims to fame. …

Paradise Beach Naxos, Greece

Naxos

Beautiful Naxos is a sparkling star in the deep blue galaxy of Aegean Sea islands.  And the enchantment starts as your ferry glides into harbour. Spread before you are the gleaming white buildings of the old quarter of Naxos Town with a medieval Venetian cast…

Olympia

North Peloponnese

History, culture, beautiful landscapes and great beaches will all compete for your attention in the North Peloponnese.

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Parga

Parga is, without doubt, the loveliest resort on the mainland of Greece’s north-western Preveza region. It nestles in a small, sweeping bay between green olive groves and the sea and is a favourite among Greeks as a holiday destination too. Holidays in Parga…

Naoussa Town Paros, Greece

Paros

Paros is a delightful island with a truly superb coastline, filled with narrow, winding streets.

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Paxos

Just an hour by sea from Corfu is this amazing haven of peace and beauty, Paxos is a tiny island, approximately seven miles long by three miles wide, with over 30 white pebbly beaches and crystal clear blue sea. There are a series of enchanting coves along the…

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Poros

Poros is separated from the mainland by a 350m strait – so it is barely an island – therefore holidaymakers can enjoy relaxing sunshine days on Poros' beaches and tour the Peloponnese mainland whenever the mood takes them! Boats cross from Poros Town to Galata…

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Peloponnese

Peep into a kaleidoscope of Greek wonders. Want wonderful beaches, dramatic scenery and enchanting villages? Want to indulge in chic 21st century luxury or savour the addictive taste of traditional Greece? How about fantastic castles and haunting places from…

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Rhodes

Legend has it that Rhodes was blessed by the sun god Helios, which is why it enjoys 300 days of glorious sunshine a year! We love holidays to Rhodes and it’s no wonder that this is one of the most popular Greek islands. As well as sunshine, Rhodes is blessed…

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Santorini

Renowned for spectacular sunsets and volcanic beauty, incredible Santorini curves around a giant lagoon in the Cyclades Islands. Imagine relaxing on an island of idyllic whitewashed villages, blue-domed churches, perfect blue skies and the most incredible sun…

Samos Beach

Samos

There may be only one place in the world where tourists can walk through a tunnel that was cut in a mountain nearly 3,000 years ago. And that’s on the lovely lush green Greek island of Samos. An astonishing number of delights are packed into this peaceful East…

Sivota, Greece

Sivota

Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, unspoilt Sivota is clad in cool green forests of pine, cypress and olive trees, with majestic mountains, green valleys and fringed with serene sandy coves.

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Skiathos

Skiathos boasts more than 50 sun-kissed sandy beaches lapped by Caribbean-blue water which are among the best in Greece – and there’s a chic nightlife – so it's no wonder Olympic Holidays’ passengers return year after year. Together with the lovely old town o…

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Skopelos

This enchanting island with its picture postcard scenery is an artist's paradise. Being twice the size of its neighbour, Skiathos, but much more peaceful, Skopelos with its flower filled courtyards, pretty cobbled streets and hillsides blanketed by greenery. I…

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Spetses

Spetses played a leading role in the War of Independence and its leading figures became part of the Greek aristocracy. Arrive by boat as a holidaymaker and wake up feeling like one of the aristocracy surrounded by fine mansions, smart boutiques and upmarket re…

Syros, Greece

Syros

Set in the heart of the Cyclades, Syros is a quaint little island brimming with character.

Tilos, Greece

Tilos

It’s a tiny island, but Tilos has earned a big reputation for the good things in life. Like many other small Dodecanese Islands it promises a relaxing taste of traditional Greek life. But tranquil Tilos is also Greek’s greenest island – and the last place in E…

Mali Village Tinos, Greece

Tinos

Delight in the characterful villages, fabulous beaches, and the traditional dovecotes, like tiny fortresses, which are dotted everywhere.

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Thassos

The emerald-green island of Thassos offers fabulous pale sand beaches and lush scenery.

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Thessaloniki (Salonica)

Greece's second largest city is hip and affordable, small and safe.

Navagio Beach,, Zante, Greece

Zante

Golden sands, party-style nightlife, traditional charm, beautiful countryside and romantic seclusion – Zante is the full package for a captivating holiday with so much to see and do for couples, groups and families. Adventure-seekers will find beaches such as…

Best Time to Visit Greece

If you want to sunbathe, swim or take advantage of the vast range of water sports then the sunniest, hottest and driest months are July to September.

You can expect the temperature to be between 25 and 30 degrees Centigrade although temperatures can soar above 30 degrees inland and in big cities. The sea will be comfortably warm in the mid-20s. There is little rainfall in these months

If you want to explore the amazing countryside, visit the spectacular historic sites or use some of the many hundreds of miles of marked hiking or cycling routes then the “shoulder seasons” may be best. These are the spring and early summer months of April, May and June and the later summer months of September and October. Be warned, though. Not all the facilities will be up and running in April and May and some will be shutting at the end of the season in October.

Average temperatures will be in the low to mid 20s in April and October but mid to high 20s in May, June and September. The sea is generally warm enough for swimming throughout these “shoulder” periods, but it takes a while to warm up. It could be a chilly 16 degrees in early April but still 20 degrees or higher in October. 

More rain is to be expected in April and October, but the wettest months are from November to February. Snow falls, too, in the winter – and lots of it in some places

Easter, in March or April, is one of the biggest events on the Greek calendar. Holy Week, the week before Easter Sunday, sees candlelit processions and church services in almost every town and village. Many people go back to their family home for the festivities. A multitude of poppies, daisies, orchids, wild iris and other colourful spring flowers make Greece look like an Impressionist painting.

The Greek Orthodox Church says that practically every day of the year is a Saints Day and communities throughout Greece celebrate their special day with processions, services and parties which can make be a spectacle for tourists.

For example, Zante celebrates Saint Dionisios’ (Dennis) Day on August 24 with a three-day festival which includes fireworks, parties and a seafront procession in which the mummified body of the saint is displayed.

There is another three-day festival in June for the Holiday of the Holy Spirit. It’s the second biggest religious event in summer after Easter to recognise Pentecost and involves church services, processions and feasts.  

August 15 is another major bank holiday to celebrate the Day of the Panaghia, the Virgin Mary, when Christ’s mother ascended to heaven. Some Greeks fast for a fortnight before flocking to their home towns for church services, parades and big family parties.

Ochi Day is on October 28, the day in 1940 when the Prime Minister said “ochi” or “no” to Benito Mussolini, an ally of Adolf Hitler, and brought Greece into World War 2. The “no” was the rejection of Mussolini ’s request for Italy to occupy Greece and triggered conflict between Greece and Italy. Now, almost 80 years later, the Greeks still celebrate the day with parades, church services and parties. Most businesses close for the day.  

Greece Travel Advice

Car hire

This is a popular way to explore Greece and the islands and resort areas usually have a wide choice of car hire centres. Roads have improved over the years and motorways and long dual-carriageways link many cities. There are still plenty of narrow roads too.  Roads in villages and small towns were designed before there were cars to use them. Be extra cautious when using a roundabout. Traffic on a roundabout should give way to traffic joining the roundabout. Drive on the right. 

Buses

The green buses of the national KTEL service are the most popular form of public transport on the mainland and many of the islands. Busy tourist areas have comprehensive services and the vehicles are likely to be modern and air-conditioned. They may also be busy.  More rural areas and some of the smaller islands will have more reduced services. Fares, cheaper than in the UK, are set nationally. KTEL has a website with English translation.

Ferries

Giant super-ferries are an iconic Greek sight and visitors marvel at how the huge vessels squeeze into such tiny harbours. But they do, and they do it regularly and reliably and are used by Greeks, tourists and island-hoppers.

Olympic Holidays use ferries to transport clients to islands that don’t have international-quality airports. Most islands, as well as numerous mainland ports, are serviced by ferries. Their arrival, announced by blasts on the ship’s hooters, is a local attraction with people gathering to watch the ferries unload. There are high-speed catamaran ferries as well as the large vessels that carry vehicles, people and, occasionally, goats. Lots of islands are also linked by numerous smaller ferries. 

Taxis

A popular form of transport and widely available. Most drivers will speak enough English for you to discuss the fare before the journey. The fares should be cheaper than in the UK. Tourists are expected to tip.  Lots of resorts have water taxis as well as the conventional road ones.

Two wheels

Mountain bikes, city bikes, e-cycles and e-scooters (the ones with electric motors) can all be hired.  So can mopeds and scooters and an A1 “light motorcycle licence” is required for them.  

Others

Athens has a metro, trolley buses and trams as well as buses, trains and taxis. Quad bikes over 150cc can be hired almost everywhere but you will need a full driving licence or motorcycle licence.

Make the most of your trip Things to see & do

Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions about Greece

How many islands does Greece have?

No one seems to know for sure, but one source says there are as many as 6,000 islands and islets. More than 200 are inhabited, 10 have international airports and many more have domestic flight-only airports.

Is the Peloponnese an island?

No, it isn’t considered to be an island even though it is separated from the mainland by water.  A bridge across the Corinth Canal provides a permanent link between the peninsula and mainland. However, Lefkas and Evia are called islands although they are also linked by bridges to the mainland. The difference seems to be that a man-made canal separates the Peloponnese whereas it’s the sea that separates both Lefkas and Evia.

Why do Greek churches have blue domes?

Stunning white churches with blue domes have become one of the country’s iconic picture postcard images. Sky blue and brilliant white, the colours of the Greek flag, are widely used across Greece and her islands, but not exclusively. Many churches and buildings are decorated in other colours too, although white is often used to help deflect the power of the sun. Use of the patriotic colours was twice banned by tyrannical rulers, but the ban made the defiant Greek people more determined to use them.

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