There are so many things to know before traveling to Greece. It’s a country which has a vast and colorful history that transcends boundaries, literally and figuratively. Let’s take a look at what this country, which is among everyone else’s top dream destinations in the world, has to offer to its visitors.
Where is it Located?
The very first of the things to know before traveling to Greece is, of course, its location. This country on the southern tip of Balkan Peninsula is also right at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It’s also bordered by North Macedonia and Bulgaria on the north, Albania on the northwest, and Turkey on the northeast. Additionally, it’s bordered by Ionian Sea on the west, Aegean Sea on the east, and the Cretan Sea and Mediterranean Sea on the south.
A Teeny, Tiny Bit of History
Greece is one of those countries which certainly has a really colorful past. It’s because this country is deemed as the beginning of the Western civilization, philosophy, literature, historiography, drama, and indeed many more! Moreover, one of the things that it takes pride on is being the birthplace of the Olympic Games! Its history is certainly one of the things to know before traveling to Greece.
The early Greece can be traced back as far as eight century B.C. where Greeks lived within independent city-states. It indeed took time before its mainland was finally united. Moreover, time came when it became connected with Rome. Their culture and language crossed over which is another lengthy story of a colorful past between the two countries.
How’s the Climate There?
Whether if you’re going to tick another travel escapade or to have a good vacation, it’s just logical that the climate there should be one of the things to know before traveling to Greece. That way, you’ll know if the situation there will be applicable for the activities that you already planned ahead. If there’s something you can’t control during traveling, it’s the weather.
With that being said, Greece is categorized as having a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by mild, wet winters as well as hot, dry summers. Assuming that you are going to the country for a lot of sightseeing and other activities of exploration as well as adventure, you may want to try to visit during the summer. Just make sure that you have the right outfits, so you can be comfortable wherever your feet take you.
The People of Greece
Equally important as the other things to know before traveling to Greece is learning about its people. The country, given its colorful past of connections with countless nations, has certainly a really diverse race of inhabitants.
A lot of people from places such as the Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa, and Philippines came to the country. They add up to the Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Pomaks, Slavic Macedonians, Turks, Jews, Vlachs, Sarakatsanoi, and many other more who have always been part of Greece’s story.
Furthermore, Greek is the official language in the country. It’s also an Indo-European language. On the other hand, the minority languages spoken there are Arvanitika, Ladino, Turkish, Slavic Macedonian, Vlach, Romani, Bulgarian, and Pomak. Regardless of this, don’t worry because Greeks can speak the universal language, English, too.
Traveling Within Greece
Another one of the important things to know before traveling to Greece is the transportation system there. You’ll surely want to have a good and smooth trip, so you have to bear this one in your mind. At the same time, there are many different types of public transportation in the country, so you won’t really have a hard time there.
First, there are Greek ferries available. These are usually the main mode of transportation of people when going from the city of Athens to Greek’s islands such as Dodecanese and Eastern Aegean. Moreover, these modern ferries depart from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrion. Next, there are car rentals that you can opt for. Car rental agencies are everywhere in mainland Greece as well as the Greek islands.
Third, you can opt for trains. These are much cheaper than the fourth mode of transportation in the country which are the buses. Lastly, there are the taxis that are almost everywhere such as outside of airports, train stations, ports, and other crowded spots in the country.
Where to Stay in Greece?
Obviously, knowing about the best place to stay in is a top priority among the things to know before traveling to Greece. Luckily, there are many options in the country that you can choose from. Some of the best hotels and guesthouses out there are here on this list. So feel free to book a room depending on your budget and other preferences.
- Hotel Grotta
This hotel is located in Naxos Town. It has a rooftop terrace which allows you to have a great view of Greece together with other basic perks that visitors will really enjoy! At the same time, this is close to popular landmarks such as the Mitropolis On-Site Museum and Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Moreover, since it’s in Naxos Town, numerous restaurants are just within reach! Visitors who tried the service of this hotel also say that their stays were pleasant because the hotel is indeed immaculate.
- MET34 Athens
This is a modern and luxurious hotel. At the same time, it’s in the heart of Athens and for this reason, visitors say that it’s convenient for them to go anywhere fancy that they like.
- Blue Dolphins Apartment & Suites
This is located in the village of Firostefani. Besides offering quality service to their visitors, they also treat them to majestic views and sceneries around. Additionally, it’s near to Fira which is the capital of the famous Santorini. For this reason, you can easily and conveniently enjoy the activities offered in Fira, especially its crazy nightlife.
Visitors who have tried booking a room here also say that they got a majestic view of the sunrise as well as the sunset. They also commend its cave suite!
- Costa Marina Villas
This is a guesthouse which is just some meters away from Fira. Moreover, this is known for its traditional island architecture and furnishing together with its modern facilities. Furthermore, visitors can’t emphasize how much convenience staying in Costa Marina Villas was for them.
- Avil Lounge Apartments
This boutique hotel is located in the old town of Rethymno. Moreover, it’s actually a 15th century Venetian mansion that was renovated back in 2006. So if you are the kind of traveler who wants to immerse deep into a foreign land where you find yourself in, then staying in historical places like this one may be a fancy option for you.
- Archontiko Metsovou Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel is in Metsovo. Its design has stone, wood, and traditional colors which reflects the traditions in the locality. At the same time, these are fused with high-end technology which makes the boutique hotel a certainly perfect place to stay in Greece! Moreover, visitors like that this place offers incredible views of the mountains outside!
- Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas
This is located in the village of Aristi which is across the Towers of Astraka as well as above the Voidomati River and Vikos George. Moreover, it’s a complex of stone buildings that offer its visitors the basic services of a stay-in accommodation with other unique perks. At the same time, it has a wonderful view of the mountains outside! Additionally, visitors just like the fact that it’s an old hiking lodge which transformed into a really great resort.
- Bellagio Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel is in the downtown of Rethymnon in Crete Island. Additionally, it’s a prestigious landmark in the said island. This prestigious reputation stems from its romantic elegance and quality services. People who have visited here also say that this boutique hotel is indeed a real gem. They also like that the important sights in the city are just nearby, so they don’t need to worry much and can have fun outside as much as they want.
- Hotel Mistral
This is a stone mansion hotel that is located exactly three minutes away from Hydra’s port. For this reason, you can easily tuck yourself in if you are coming to Greece from this port. On the other hand, visitors say how this little B&B is nice and charming with its beautiful garden, antique-decorated lobby, marble stairs, and many more amiable facilities!
- Hotel Rastoni
This small hotel is at a walking distance from the harbor of Aegina. You will certainly be a given a treat with the spectacular view of the ancient hill of Kolona that is so much more tranquil-inducing during sunrises or sunsets. Furthermore, visitors say that the hotel being in the center of the Aegina town is a great convenience since they can go to a lot of places nearby such as the archeological site of the Apollo Temple. They also say that this hotel is another one of Greece’s gem!
What are the Must-Try Foods in Greece?
Now, traveling won’t be fun if you don’t get to taste the famous local foods in Greece! Certainly, knowing what dishes to pick to have the best food trip experience is one of the things to know before traveling to Greece.
This dish is either eggplant or potato-based with ground meat. Its most famous version was introduced to the world with the publishing of Nikolaos Tselementes’ culinary book. At the same time, there are many local as well as regional versions of this popular comfort food.
This is a brined curd white cheese from a sheep’s milk or from a mixture of a sheep and a goat’s milk. People love this because it’s much lower in calories and fat compared to the other cheeses. Moreover, it’s rich in Vitamin B, phosphorus, and calcium. It also has beneficial bacteria and fatty acids. Overall, this is a must-try if you ever found yourself in Greece.
This is a dish that is made by cooking lamb meat on a vertical rotisserie. On the other hand, other kinds of meat can be used too. Moreover, this dish is usually served wrapped in a flatbread such as pita, together with tomato, onion, and sauce.
This is one of the best classic dips in Greece. It’s a creamy blend of pink or white fish roe with either a potato or bread base. At the same time, it tastes best with a bit of virgin oil or a squeeze of lemon.
- Courgette Balls
These are usually made from grated courgette that is blended with dill, mint, or any other spice combinations.
- Honey & Baklava
This is a treat that is very much loved in Greece. It has honey, filo, and ground nuts which all add up to the really delicious taste of this one.
- Grilled Meat
Grilled meats in Greece are amazing, mainly because charcoal-grilled as well as spit-roasted meats are one of the country’s specialties. Different kinds of meats are used, but the kid goat is the most favorite of all. Moreover, these meats are served with chopped tomatoes and onions in pitta bread.
Sights and Landmarks in Greece
Visiting the historical sites as well as the other major attractions in the country is one of the top activities that you can do there. Thus, it’s just reasonable to know beforehand the places you want to go since there are too many sites and attractions to choose from. Indeed, this is one of the things to know before traveling to Greece.
- The Acropolis
This is an ancient site that is visible throughout the entire city of Athens. It has monuments and sanctuaries of white Pentelic marble that changes in hue as it reflects the sun at different parts of the day. By midday, it gleams. Around twilight, it takes on a honey color. On the other hand, at night, it’s brightly illuminated and casting light into the entire city. Moreover, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
- Acropolis Museum
This museum is at the foot of The Acropolis’ southern slope. The original sculptures as well as friezes from The Acropolis have been moved here and been replaced with casts too. Other treasures being stored here are collections from the Archaic to the Roman period. Also, it brings importance to relics from the 5th century BC which is Greece’s time of artistic achievement. Moreover, its crowning glory is its Parthenon Gallery which is a glass atrium housing the temple’s 160m-long frieze.
- Panathenaic Stadium
This ancient-turned-modern stadium which is just right next to the Ardettos Hill has rows of white Pentelic marble seats. This is indeed a treat for those who love sports and architecture too. In addition to these, you can go for a jog in this stadium from 7:30 o-clock to 9 o’clock in the morning.
- Mount Lycabettus
This mountain is another pride of the city of Athens. Its part in the Greek mythology tells the story of how the Goddess Athena has accidentally created this limestone mountain. Today, this mountain offers a breathtaking view of the city of Athens as well as gives musical performances and other events through its amphitheater at the top. Furthermore, walking tours are available to explore this gem.
- Ermou Street
This street is the place for you to go if you love shopping! This commercial avenue is right at the bottom of the Syntagma Square. Besides being a main clothing shopping street, this also has a lot more department stores from which you can indulge from. For this reason, expect to be with a huge crowd if you decide to go down here. Besides from customers, there are also street musicians, mimes, clowns, and street merchants hanging around.
- Vouraikos Canyon
This canyon, which is another one of Greece’s treasure, can be explored by a Cog Railway ride between Kalavrita and Diakopto. The said journey takes about one hour.
- Elafonisos Island
This island isn’t that full of people, so you may want to try visiting here if you want a little bit of solitude. This has turquoise seas as well as the longest beaches in Greece! Take note that the sea has an alluring color because its sandy isthmus is only a few feet underwater!
- Nemea Wine Road
The wine vineyards in Nemea are booming because of its sub-arid and sub-humid climate brought by its surrounding mountains and with average annual precipitation of 700-800 mm and average temperature that ranges from 16-18 degree Celsius. Besides the weather conditions ranging from mild, cold winters to warm, dry summer, the clay soil there containing organic and inorganic components is really ideal for the production of wines.
This old city is named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s also known as the home of Agamemnon, the legendary hero of the Trojan War as well as one of the most powerful kings of Ancient Greece.
If you are fan of the tales of the Trojan War, check out this place that will surely give you the feels! Moreover, you will be in for a treat with its heavy stone walls, royal palace, as well as the tombstones where gold artefacts and funerary furniture were once discovered. Furthermore, if you want to see more ancient artifacts, go to the Mycenae Archaeological Museum.
This is known as the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games. These games, on the other hand, were conducted every four years from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D. Nowadays, the Modern Olympic Games starts by the Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic flame that takes place here.
- White Tower
This 34m-high tower was a prison and place of execution back in ancient Greece. One of the versions of stories about this tower says that a prisoner painted this white in exchange for his freedom, thus eliminating the Tower of Blood image of this place.
- Arch of Galerius and Rotunda
These two are neighboring monuments from the 4th century-AD. First, the Arch of Galerius is situated right on the intersection of Egnatia and Dimitriou Gounari streets. Also, it was dedicated to commemorate the Galerius’ victory over the Sassanid Persians during the Battle of Satala. Moreover, this is an eight-pillared gateway forming a triple arch that is made of brick and then with marble panels with sculptural relief.
On the other hand, the Arch of Rotunda or The Rotunda of Galerius is a cylindrical structure that was built on the orders of Galerius who intended it to be his mausoleum. It is situated at 125m northeast of the Arch of Galerius. On the other hand, this wasn’t able to fulfill its main purpose which is to be Galerius’ mausoleum since he was buried near Zajecar in Serbia. For this reason, it was then converted into a Christian church after many decades later.
- Thessaloniki Citadel
The Thessaloniki Citadel and its walls are located in old town Ano Poli or the Upper City. This is a neighborhood with winding streets, Ottoman houses, cozy taverns, and traditional houses. Also, many people come here for a certainly breathtaking view of the sunset.
- Via Egnatia
This is a road that was constructed by the Romans back in 2nd century BC. It’s about six meters wide and at the same time paved with large polygonal stone slabs or a hard layer of sand. Moreover, its course runs from Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace as well as through territories that are now part of modern Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey.
You may just try a bit of roaming around here to feel the nostalgia coming from the road’s wondrous history.
This is a relaxing island of little beaches. Also, there are so many colorful boats around which are indeed an eye-candy for both tourists and locals. At the same time, there are Italianate mansions surrounding its harbour.
This long craggy island, which is one of Greece’s least commercialized islands, is popular for its wild mountains and blue coves. Moreover, its cloud-wrapped villages are also a beautiful place to be if you want to enjoy Greece.
This island known for its gold mountains full of wildflowers is the perfect island for you to go to if you love hiking through meadows, mountains, as well as valleys. You certainly have to pass those before you are able to reach the amazing beaches which, in turn, have azure waters that is home to a variety of monk seals as well as sea turtles! Moreover, birds and other forms of wildlife flock to this island too, so you are definitely in for a treat if you fancy animals.
Besides its beautiful beaches, mighty crags, and lush alleys, this island draws in tourists and locals alike with its millennia-old Corinthian columns standing around a sea of wildflowers!
This is a small island in the Aegean Sea. It’s also a very significant place since it’s in one of its caves where St. John received visions that formed the contents of the Book of revelation in the New Testament of the Bible. For this reason, pilgrims and just people in general, from all around the world, do come visit often . At the same time, this hourglass-shaped island has beautiful villages which are certainly sanctuaries for those who want to have a serene experience or stay in Greece.
This arid and barren rocky islet situated in the natural port of Elounda in Crete has been an important part of Greece’s history. Around 1579, this served as a fortress against Ottomans. Moreover, back in 1957, this was where lepers were kept. So it’s indeed a place that has heard countless of cries as well as felt the burden of people’s pain and longing.
- Dikteon Cave
This cave in Lasithi Plateau, according to legends, was the cave where Rhea hid herself from Cronos in order to give birth to the mighty Zeus. The Dikteon Cave has staircase corkscrews that lead to damp as well as dark overhanging stalactites and then into a lake. Furthermore, there is the “Mantle of Zeus” which is the most popular stalactite formation there. At the same time, relics such as daggers, arrowheads, figures, and double axes were found there, indicating that it was once a place of cult worship back in the old days.
Santorini has been one of the top dream destinations around the world as its popularity continue to increase as time pass by. Its innate radiance and beauty captivate the hearts of both tourists and locals. Moreover, this place offers a lot of activities for anyone to enjoy!
First, you can try the hike from Fira to Oia which will allow you to have incredible views around. Second, there are also Jet Ski tours to the volcano that end up in hot springs where you can certainly relax and take out all your stresses. Third, if you are wine connoisseur, Santorini offers winery tours too, especially in its countryside. In addition to these, there is an open air cinema in Kamari, so you can enjoy a film or two under the stars. At the same time, another one of the popular activities in Santorini is the exploration of the paths, alleys, and stairwells in Fira, Oia, Firostefani, and Imerovigli.
Additionally, there is a lighthouse in Akrotiri which also draws in spectators for the great view it offers. Also, you can splurge in Santorini’s famous beaches and swimming spots such as the Perissa, Perivolos, Red, Kamari, Ammoudi Bay, and many more!
Additional Things to Know Before Traveling to Greece
Here are some other things to know before traveling to Greece that may come in handy for you:
- For your outfits, choose light fabrics, so you can be comfortable while roaming around.
- Bring your own sunscreen because it costs a lot in Greece!
- It’s certainly fine to drink tap water in Athens.
- Be ready for car sickness or traveling sickness within Greece! Yes, it’s really a thing because the country is characterized by its rough terrain. To counter this, take breaks if possible, especially if your travel is way too long. With regards to this, you can also do sightseeing while on those breaks.
- If you don’t know the Greek language, at least know some basics in order to be able to communicate to the locals. If possible, bring a Greek language book with you or download and install an app in your phone that teaches you about the language.
- Beach nudity is normal in Greece, so don’t be too surprised. There is certainly no dress code in the country, except for churches and monasteries.
- Greeks love smoking, so if you have a problem with that, be ready. Bear in mind that it’s normal for them, so if you are uncomfortable, find ways to avoid the smokers and continue having fun in Greece.
- More about the Greeks, they are known for their hospitability as well as their laid-back attitude.
So there you go! That’s all things to know before traveling to Greece.
From the country’s location, colorful and long history, climate, racial diverse people, modes of transportation, countless boutique/ hotel/ guesthouse accommodations, sights, landmarks, and many other historical sites, you realize that going to a certain place does require you to plan great. Planning great will make you make the best out of your travel escapade and at the same time save you from troubles of any kind.
If you already went to Greece, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. If, on the other hand, you were yet to go there but this blog post just made up your mind to do so, then congratulations! You are definitely in for one of the best moments of your life! Take note of everything that is mentioned in this All Things to Know Before Traveling to Greece blog post, plan your trip, and don’t forget everything you learned. Go to all the attractions as much as possible and by the time you come back, feel free to share your story too.