"Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea."
- Nikos Kazantzakis
Glimpses of the sea glittering between gnarled old olive trees, a table groaning with the freshest produce on the shady terrace of a countryside taverna, whitewashed villages crowned with the blue dome of the local church… Greece is a popular daydream destination. Turn those daydreams into reality when you book a tailor-made trip to this endlessly varied country, a place that can tick the boxes for so many holiday wish lists. Sailors, hikers and water-sports enthusiasts are well catered for, whilst culture seekers and historians will be spoilt for choice. Foodies and hedonists have no shortage of options, and those in search of serene landscapes and picturesque beaches can stick a pin in the map. Holidays in Greece really do live up to the daydream.
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Best things to do in Greece
There are many wonderful experiences to be had in this Aegean gem. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local experts, but in the meantime here are our top things to do in Greece.
Take in iconic scenery in Santorini
To experience the Greece of picture postcards, look no further than a magical holiday in Santorini with its achingly pretty whitewashed villages and blue-domed churches tumbling towards the sparkling sea below. High season means the quaint streets will be buzzing with locals and visitors, but that doesn’t detract from the stunning views of the caldera, best viewed at sunset from the island’s dramatically sited capital.
Enjoy capital culture in Athens
If it’s sun and sand you are after, Athens may not be top of your list, but in the context of a cultural trip to Greece it is the unmissable highlight. Packed with historic monuments and a lively street scene, this is a metropolis which manages to straddle the millennia with ease. What the lively Greek capital lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up for with vibrant nightlife and fabulous museums.
Delight in buzzing Mykonos
Mykonos has a reputation as a fashionable haunt for Europe's glittering party seekers, and in high season it does not disappoint. If pretty, sugarcube towns abuzz with a happy international crowd ready for glamorous nights out are on your wishlist, a holiday in Mykonos will delight. But there is more to Mykonos than its famous nightlife. Stunning beaches and exclusive hotels are the norm, but you can find hidden coves and peaceful villages too.
Discover the secrets of Crete
Humanity has walked the landscapes of Crete for thousands of years. Its position at the southern extremity of the Greek islands and its sheer size mean it feels like a land apart, with a distinct culture, local cuisine, and dramatic peaks dominating the skyline. Crete is a mighty 240 kilometres long and packs a lot into its territory, from snow clad mountains and a profusion of wildflowers to unspoilt beaches and sleepy fishing villages.
Go island hopping
With a whopping 6,000 islands scattered across cobalt blue sea, Greece is a paradise for an island hopping holiday. The incredible ferry network ensures that you can easily skip between the inhabited islands at your leisure, discovering the many contrasts and stunning landscapes that make this such a bucket list adventure. Whether your ideal Greek island hopping itinerary is based on nature, history, cuisine or a mixture of activities, you are sure to find something that appeals.
Lesser-known things to do in Greece
While there are many well-known things to do in Greece, what about the lesser-known highlights? Our local experts have shared some of their top tips for where to go and what to do if you fancy getting off the well-beaten track.
Marvel at the Meteora
Known as the Columns of the Sky, the numerous pinnacles and cliffs of this central Greek region were first settled by monks around the 11th century, and by the 16th century 24 monasteries were constructed atop some of the most imposing fingers of rock. These dramatically sited and historic buildings offer a fascinating glimpse into the early Eastern Orthodox traditions, and the six inhabited monasteries can all be easily visited.
Discover the unsung islands
Many visitors land in Athens and head straight for the honeypots of Mykonos, Santorini or Crete, but there are myriad other islands to explore. From undeveloped Chios with its elaborately decorated village houses, to the beautiful harbour of Symi or the enchanting low key Leros there is a lesser-known Greek island to suit everyone.
Follow the classical trail
The list of ancient monuments and archaeological curiosities is immense, and for anyone with an interest in the classics, a tour of Greece’s historic sights really is a global highlight. World famous cultural treasures are scattered throughout the land, and as you hop from the Acropolis to Ancient Olympia or scenic Delphi, you can step back in time to the world of the Ancient Greeks.
Looking for something active?
Countless fabulous landscapes and shorelines are the ideal backdrop for an active holiday in Greece. Hikers will delight in the drama and beauty of Crete’s wild interior or the newly restored trails crossing ancient stone bridges on the Andros Route. Kefalonia, Crete and the mainland are known as birding hotspots, especially in the spring, and watersports fans can take their pick of hundreds of great destinations.
Visit the Peloponnese region
One of the most worthwhile regions of mainland Greece for visitors is the peninsula of the Peloponnese. It is the heartland of Ancient Greek civilisation and bears the imprint of several subsequent influences, from the Venetians to the Turks. It’s a captivating land peppered with fine castles and ancient relics all set amid perfect surroundings for a more off-the-beaten-track holiday in Greece.
Best time to go to Greece
The most popular areas of Greece are likely to be very busy during the peak summer season months of July and August, while some of the lesser known destinations may be at their festive best at this time and a bit too quiet and inaccessible outside the height of summer. Bear in mind that the high summer brings with it some scorching temperatures, and 40°C is not uncommon at the hottest part of the day.
If the heat and the crowds don’t appeal, aim instead for the shoulder seasons. April to June and September to October are great times to plan your bespoke holiday in Greece, and the southern islands in particular can offer plentiful blue skies and warm sun at both ends of this range.
Spring (April, May) is a beautiful season to explore with wildflowers in abundance, though the sea can be chilly. Warmer water temperatures await in autumn (September, October) and this is also a good time for local festivals.
Winter is a good time for sightseeing on the mainland providing you are not put off by showers, but with strong winds, closed facilities and skeleton services on ferries it can be a tricky time to visit all but the most populous Greek islands.
Interesting facts about Greece
Greece is an ancient and fascinating country. But did you know any of our top facts about it?
- There are nearly 15,000 kilometres of coastline in Greece, and the furthest you can travel from the sea in the whole country is 137 kilometres.
- Voting is compulsory by law in Greek elections.
- Greece has the world’s highest average consumption of feta cheese per capita, and you can wash this salty sheep’s cheese down with one of 370 different brands of ouzo, the ubiquitous aniseed liqueur served over ice.
- Around 40% of the population live in Athens, the Greek capital. A significant number of Athenians may spend the summer working in the tourist industry elsewhere, but they are still residents of Athens.
Insider tips from our local partner
Being local, our experts have an extensive knowledge of the secrets to experiencing the 'real' Greece. Here are a few of their top tips - ask them for other recommendations when you enquire to ensure you have the most in-depth experience whilst on holiday.
Try the wine... It's delicious
It’s always wine o’ clock somewhere in Greece! You might not have tried Greek wines before but don’t leave Greece without raising your glass (from a local variety) to “Yiamas”! Wine making goes back 6,500 years and Greeks appreciated it so much, that they even had a God of wine!
Don't limit yourself to the high season
Visit Greece off-season to experience a more authentic side of it. Nothing compares to a late November road-trip through mountainous Epirus or a long weekend in Nafplio in March.
When in Greece
Do as the locals do. Greeks eat later! Lunch is normally around 2pm and dinner at 9pm, and in between we tend to go for a beauty nap (siesta). This is highly recommended as you will need all your energy and good looks if you are planning to go out, as most bars and clubs open their doors after 10pm.
There are many different sides to Greece. We can help you ensure that you have the best experience, but here are a couple of tips just in case. If you are a “party animal” then Patmos island isn’t for you. On the same note avoid high speed ferries as they can get very rough if you are sensitive to nausea.
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