A flavourful melting pot of sparkling nightspots, fresh seafood, sizzling Mediterranean passion and mythical legend, Greece is a fascinating and enchanting destination.
The country has long held appeal for travellers, who decamp to its shores to lounge on beaches, explore ancient relics and take advantage of the legendary Grecian hospitality.
Yet despite its popularity, there is still an undiscovered feel to parts of Greece with Mount Olympus, the Peloponnese coast and some of the more remote islands slipping, for now at least, under the radar of mass tourism.
The first port of call for most visitors is Athens, the country’s stunning capital, which combines a modern centre with the stark ancient beauty of the Parthenon and a position overlooking a cerulean stretch of the Saronic Gulf.
Like the rest of the country, Athens was built on a classical civilisation that produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers, philosophers and poets. The ancient Greeks also brought the world democracy, which locals cheerfully remind visitors about, and a pantheon of deities, who are celebrated through statues and local folklore.
Everywhere has its own legend; from the tiny island of Ithaca, home to the wanderer Odysseus, to the rugged stretch of the Peloponnese, the onetime playground of divine beings.
While modern Greeks might not be hitting the intellectual heights of Pericles, the country remains one of Europe’s leading holiday destinations, thanks largely to its gorgeous collection of islands, which are scattered like confetti across the Mediterranean Sea.
Greece boasts 1,400 islands in all, amongst them Rhodes, which was home to the ancient Minoan culture and, legend has it, the terrifying Minotaur. Today it is better known for its stunning beaches, charming seaside towns and lively nightlife.
The islands of Corfu, Crete and Santorini are also established hangouts for sun-seekers and merrymakers, while Kos has begun to attract deities of a very modern kind – the world’s rich and famous. Ultimately, though, in democratic Greece, everyone is welcome.
When to Go
The best months to enjoy an active trip are from April to October. The Mediterranean type climate has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
The mountainous areas have a more Alpine climate. The Pindus Mountains have more rain on the western side than the eastern side, due to the rain-bearing south-westerly winds. There is some snowfall on the highest peaks in winter.
– Most beach walkers wear sandals to avoid the stinging sea anemones around the rocky shores.
– Always carry drinking water with you particularly if you are walking or hiking.
– Always wear a sunhat and sunscreen as the sun can be quite fierce, even when it’s cloudy.
– Carry a Spotter’s Guide to identify the many animals and birds you will see.
– Never hike, climb or trek by yourself. There are countless dangers and you may need help.
– Wear loose cotton clothing and cover your arms and legs to avoid insect bites if you are hiking.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are 17 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List: 15 cultural and 2 mixed;
– Acropolis of Athens
– Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
– Archaeological Site of Delphi
– Medieval City of Rhodes
– Mount Athos
– Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika
– Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus
– Archaeological Site of Mystras
– Archaeological Site of Olympia
– Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
– Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
– Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos
– Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)
– Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos
– Old Town of Corfu