Picture Perfect Holiday That No One Else Can Match But Greece
A country that has given us awe-inspiring postcards images and yet remains like an extremely spirited vision that is impossible to capture. The sun warms you from early in the morning to the glorious sunset. It’s a place to enjoy freshly caught fish and local wine by the water’s edge, as the local Orthodox priest chats with villagers while cats rub against your legs looking for a tasty morsel of food.
The Greek Experience
Greece is one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. Situated in South-eastern Europe, positioned on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece has a particularly long and eventful history with a diverse cultural heritage that both shaped and has been shaped by cultures throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. It is heir to the heritages of ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empire, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule.
Greece is considered as the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophical thought, the Olympic Games, Western literature, political science, major scientific and mathematic principles, and Western theatrical drama including both tragedy and comedy. It is a country of beautiful contradictions, a constant journey in time, from the present to the past and back again. Walk through the olive groves, through ancient sites. Move to clusters of sparsely inhabited islands. Roam from the beaches to rocky mountainous terrains and explore breath-taking scenery. It is a destination in which, each visitor can find his own special place in which to leave the body and mind to marvel. In Greece the mixture of images becomes more than just imagination and turns into reality.
Athens, the Capital
Through this vastness of historical and natural peculiarities rises a significant symbol in which the country’s identity gets captured, the Acropolis of Athens. The greatest and finest sanctuary of both modern and ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena, dominates the city’s centre. The Acropolis’s significance is captured through its position as a democratic emblem. The Acropolis is the one historical site you can’t miss.
While at the Acropolis you are left to admire the beautiful city of Athens in all of its glory, your mind can wonder back in time and you can imagine yourself as living as the ancient Athenians did. Being a part of something so important, even if for a brief afternoon, is definitely worth pursuing. Greece should be considered as a travel destination for everyone. You can learn from traveling to Greece, to this Mediterranean country. The history the people, the ideas and everything Greek culture stands for, will definitely change your perspective on life.
The Ancient Cape Sounion
Famous for the ruins of ancient Greek Poseidon temple, the sacred God of the sea, Cape Sounion is standing firm at the southern-most tip Attica peninsula. You can easily find the remains of the temple perched on its headland surrounded by sea on all three sides.
Delphi, the center of the Universe
The next big beautiful city after Acropolis, Delphi is famous as a renowned archaeological site. Dedicated only to God, this place is located around the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Parnassus. According to mythology, it is here that the two eagles sent out by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a most spectacular landscape, was for many centuries the cultural and religious centre and symbol of unity for the Hellenic world.
Every group of island has its own unique history, traditions, culture and idiosyncratic geography. If you are still not sure of how to start your trip planning and what islands to include in your itinerary, here is a brief description about the top 4 most popular island groups that you must not miss –
Crete’s rich ancient culture
Crete houses the magnificently decorated palaces of the oldest civilization of Europe that makes it an ideal destination for family vacations with its rich ancient culture. The capital of Minoan, Knossos offers numerous opportunities for you to discover the findings of early reconstruction of this place. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion displays the perfect picture of fantastic snake goddess of this island.
Personalized Cyclades tour
Cubic white washed houses, potted geraniums and blue-domed churches are some of the most captivating images that the rocky islands of Cyclades offer. Comprising 56 islands, the Cyclades provides a challenging yet visually alluring sailing experience for the travellers. While you visit it, you can stop by Akrotiri and enjoy an experience of time travel into Minoan lifestyle. Because of an ancient volcano eruption, the place faced its doom in 1627 B.C freezing some very important and meaningful historical fossils. You can visit the archeological museum of Thera and shop in some of the boutique shops for some authentic Greece experience. There are many attractions to tickle with your taste-buds as well. A bar and some of the Greek local Tavernas, which specialize in serving authentic grilled seafood and white wine made with Greek Assyrtiko grapes.
If you plan a couple of weeks tour to the Cyclades, you should definitely pay a visit to the following islands –
• Naxos – Largest island of the Cyclades, is not a “wild party island” but has a wide variety of night life establishments available. Eating is really good and reasonably priced, with Greek sized portions, which are rather generous. From seaside fishing settlements to mountainous traditional and agricultural villages, Naxos is a photographer’s paradise.
• Mykonos – A flamboyant honeymoon destination – Popular for its luring nightlife, Mykonos is one of the much-favoured tourist attractions for a romantic holiday. Spend your evening at the glitzy beaches of this island watching the sunset and then head on to some leading restaurant in the town to enjoy a delightful dinner with your partner. Moreover, at the end of the day, do not forget to include in the tasting variety of wines.
• The luxurious Santorini – Home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Greece, Santorini is undoubtedly a dramatic island that highlights its two major cliff-top villages namely Oia and Fira. They overlook the giant volcanic crater filled with sea. Although, it is an arid island but its fertile soil is capable of producing some finest quality of white wines, flavoured tomatoes , fava beans and white aubergines. The Oia village is surely a magical location to watch the beautiful sunset.
• Milos – Enjoy fun-filled hiking experience around Milos, a volcanic island. Its magnificent sea caves and rock formations together form the major attraction for most of the visitors.
• Sifnos – Being a rugged island, its criss-cross pathways spreading around 60 miles leads you to the golden sandy beaches.
• Kythnos -This one of the most less-travelled islands amongst tourists retains its picturesque beauty. You should definitely explore its historic churches and wild countryside.
The Ionian bare-boat sailing
This location is the best choice if you are looking for some sailing action. Each island provides a majestic eye-catching view of rocky mountain peaks, bays, and glittering sand beaches. These islands welcome you to stop by in evening and enjoy some of the Greece’s best island parties. If you are a history lover Greece is the place for you. In the north of the Ionian Islands lies Corfu, it is the perfect point to begin your morning every day. The sun-drenched coastal view is definitely a sight you won’t get every day. Moreover, Corfu is a perfect blend of beautifully sheltered coastal spots and adventurous blue water stretches. These features are not available anywhere else except Corfu making it an ideal destination for sailors of all abilities. While you are on a trip of sailing Greek islands, you must not forget to include the following major islands of this group –
The Sporades sailing – a luxurious experience
Surrounded with the dense olive groves, pinewoods, fruit orchards as well as emerald waters, the lush green ambience of Sporades provides complete escape to you from your daily life tensions. Some of the most serene islands in this group may include –
What to Do During Your Greece Vacation
There are a lot of things to do when you decide to go on a Greek vacation. To give you an idea, here are a few things you should not miss.
If you happen to be in the country during the months of June to September, check out the Hellenic Festival. Visitors and locals alike will be able to enjoy the live performances held at the second century AD Odeion of Herodes in Athens or at the fourth century BC amphitheatre in Epidaurus.
When you need to relax and unwind, there are a number of white sanded beaches to visit. These include the Lalaria on Skiathos. Plaka, Agios Georgios and Mikri Vigla on Naxos, Vassiliki on Lefkada, Kefalos on Kos, Kokkari on Samos, Ialisos on Rhodes and Chrisi Akti (Golden Beach) on Paros.
From there, you can rent a boat and go island hopping by going with a tour group or hiring an independent company. Other water activities you can do include canoeing, kayaking, rafting and windsurfing. If you don’t know how, you can always ask someone there to teach you.
If you want to go underwater, you can rent some dive gear on the Attica coast, Corfu, Kalamata, Kalymnos, Mykonos, Paros, Preveza, Rhodes, Skiathos and Zakynthos.
One place you should not miss is Mount Olympus which many believed was once the home of the Gods. If you want to do some walking, try the Samaria Gorge on Crete, or the Vikos Gorge in Epirus.
But before you go there, visit something closer like the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Although these are nothing but a bunch of ruins, centuries ago the Parthenon was believed to be the home of the Greek god Athena while the Acropolis is simply a hill overlooking the city.
If you are into spelunking, Greece has over 6,000 caves and a majority of these are found in the island of Crete. While here, you can visit one of two show caves and see these places that are filled with stalagmites and stalactites.
See archaeological remains and crystalline formation in the legendary Kastria Cave of the Lakes, THE MYTHICAL ‘CAVE OF THE LAKES’ has something exclusively unique that does not exist in other well-known caves. A rare creation of nature with mysterious galleries and strange stalactite formations.
Surprising it may be but, Greece has its share of ski resorts. The season for skiing starts in December and ends in April. There are 14 ski areas and you can find these at the Parnassos Ski Centre on Mount Parnassos, Helmos on the Peleponnese, or Vermion in Macedonia.
Greece has eleven wetland areas that are of international importance. Aside from this, there are also 190 important areas for birds. Several top places for birdwatch are the Nestos Deltas and Prespa Lakes. Some of the birds that can be encountered are eagles, storks, pelicans and herons. There are turtle doves, peregrine falcons, magpies, red-rumped swallows that can also be seen.
After a long day of hiking and engaging in water activities, you can relax and enjoy one of the many springs. You can also unwind in the various spas and hydrotherapy centres that will surely satisfy your desires.
To end the evening, have a sip of wine from one of the vineyards. If you like it, you can buy a bottle and bring it home. You just have to make a reservation one day in advance.
When you think that you have already got your fill of the fantastic and beautiful sights in Greece, there are a lot of things that you can do. Throughout the country, there are various sites to visit, beaches to swim, shops and museum to go to.
There are some historic sites to visit in Athens. Athens have some of the most famous sights in Greece like Acropolis, National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum. You can also visit the Kallimarmaron stadium where the ancient Panathenaic Games were held.
Aside from swimming and soaking during summer, there is also the Hellenic Festival which is among the most popular and most significant events in Greece. It celebrates the performance arts, theatre, musical and dance. Here, you get to experience the recreation of Greek tragedy in the heart of Athens.
Greek wine is steadily gaining popularity. On the island of Santorini, the volcanic-rich soil makes some of the unique tasting wines. On Crete, wine production can be traced back in history to the Minoans. There are tours conducted in wineries, these tours enable you to experience the mountains and beaches of Crete.
Aside from wine tours, Greek cuisine is something that tourists should not miss. There are restaurants and tavernas located in magnificent places. They offer traditional Greek food and the famous ouzo.
Greece food offers something for everyone. It is also a healthy cuisine, mostly because of the liberal amounts of olive oil in it. Grecians, who eat a traditional Greek diet , have been known to live on average quite a bit longer than inhabitants of other countries. Greek food is tasty and good for your health and you won’t find a better combination than that.
There are many options for tours in Greece. There are outdoor tours that can be arranged. Greece is a country with dramatic landscapes featuring soaring mountains and gorges. There can be bike tours on the island of Crete, rock climbing in Meteora or jeep tour in some of the unknown but magnificent gorges.
If you are not of the outdoorsy type, there is another tour that can be taken advantage of when you are in Greece. Taking a helicopter tour in Athens will take you to a breath-taking view of the different landscapes.
Things You Should Know For Your Greece Vacation
Millions of people visit Greece every year. If you are planning a Greece vacation, here is some information that will help.
Greece has 15 international airports. If you have made reservations to stay in one of the Greek islands, you will have transfer from the international airport to the local airport. The only way to do that is to land in Athens.
You should know that Greece is part of the European Union so their currency is now the Euro not the Drachmas. You better convert your dollars once you get there because there are some places that do not have ATM machines or banks.
There is a possibility that you could get robbed while on vacation so instead of carrying cash, bring along some traveler’s cheques because it is useless should someone get it. If you need to change this to cash, go to a ticket agency.
Greece is a big place and the different sights are scattered all over the 2000 islands. This means that you won’t be able to see all of them by riding a bus or driving a car. There are times that you will have to travel by boat which shouldn’t be a problem since you can join a group or charter a shipping company.
There are different types of lodging arrangements in Greece. You can stay in a luxury hotel, in a villa, in a campsite, caravan or in a room near the village or port. You can also try staying in a boat because there are charter companies that will allow you to rent a yacht for several days.
Most of the local speak English so you won’t have a hard time communicating with them. If you want to speak in their dialect, do some research online so you know some basic words like “How much for it?” ” Thank You”.
The local transport system in Greece is excellent. You can rent a car the minute you land from the airport, travel around the island by taxi or go with the group in a bus. If you want to explore things on your own, you can even rent a bike.
Greece is a great place to visit any time of the year. You can come in during the lean or the peak months so it depends on your schedule. You can come here alone or with your family and friends. With the different attractions both on land and at sea, no one will ever get bored.
All you have to do is decide to travel and let us plan the rest.