Greece, or the Hellenic Republic, is a state located in Europe, to the south of the Balkans, and on numerous islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The capital is Athens.
The country lies in a subtropical Mediterranean climate zone, but some areas feature an Alpine and a temperate climate. Spring is the best season for sightseeing, and May and June are optimal for beach vacations.
The official language is Greek. Orthodoxy is professed by most population of the Republic.
Beach recreation and tours of ancient monuments are the main tourist destinations that attract travelers to Greek vacations.
The most popular beaches are those of the east coast and islands, and particularly the Sporades, Saronic Gulf Islands and other archipelagoes. Alexandroupoli, Alonnisos, Anavyssos, Anafi, Angistri, Antiparos and Asprovalta are reputed to be important centers of beach tourism. The beaches of Igoumenitsa, Ikaria, Ios, Iraklia, Cephalonia, Kimolos island, Koufonissi and Lemnos match in beauty and quality of service as well. Water sport lovers should pay attention to the beach resorts of Lefkada, Loutraki, Mykonos, Milos, Naxos Paralia Katerinis as well as Parga and Paros. Snorkelers will enjoy the beaches of Poros, Syvota, Sikinos, Symi, Syros, Sifnos, Skiathos, Skyros, Skopelos, Thasos as well as Tinos, Folegandros, Halki and Halkidiki.
In a travel to Greece, ski resorts can be the goal: Vasilitsa, Kaimaktsalan Ski Center – Voras, Pigadia Ski Center and Seli ski resort on Vermio mount.
Diving is well-developed on Amorgos, Karpathos, Kastellorizo, Kea, Paxos and Serifos. Those visitors who prefer climbing make their way to the island of Kalymnos.
Athens and Thessaloniki are the country’s major international airports. Aside from these, during tourism season several charter and low-budget flights arrive daily to many of Greek islands and smaller cities from many European cities and CIS countries.
Greece can be reached by bus or by from any of its land neighbors. In addition, Greece’s railway hub is Thessaloniki. Trains connect Thessaloniki to Sofia, Bucharest, Budapest, Istanbul and other international cities.
From Italy, several ferries depart for Greece daily. There are also ferries connecting Greece to Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus and Israel.
Greek cuisine is popular among food tourists because of its distinctive and remarkable culinary traditions. Meat, fish, vegetables and fruits are commonly used. Almost every dish contains olives or olive oil.
Vacationers should definitely try Moussaka (casserole made of lamb, aubergine and tomato), Apaki (smoked pork), Giouvetsi (lamb or beef, specifically roasted) and Gyros (a dish similar to doner kebab but made mostly with pork and French fries).
Poultry meat is used for cooking Pastitsatha (braised chicken with tomato sauce), yoghurt-marinated baked chicken and chicken meat with potatoes, roasted or baked.
Greek soup menu is represented by Avgolemono (chicken or rice soup with eggs and lemon), Fasolada (bean soup with vegetables) and Kakavia (soup made of small sea fish).
During your holidays in Greece you shouldn’t ignore local specialties made of fish and seafood: Astakomacaronada (baked lobster with spaghetti), Atherina (fried smelts), Barbounia (red mullets), Bourdeto (fish stewed in tomato sauce), Chtapodi sti schara (grilled octopus) and calamari, prawns and mussels in different variations.
In Greece, many salads are cooked, the most popular of which is the famous Greek salad that Greeks themselves call “country salad” or “summer salad”. Between vegetable dishes we recommend to tourists Kaparosalata (salad with caper), Melitzanes (stuffed eggplants) and Fava (split-pea puree).
During your tour of the Republic you shouldn’t miss Greek desserts: Galaktoboureko (custard pie), Rizogalo (a sweet rice pudding) and Melomakarona cookies.
Fruit juices or mineral water Loutraki, Epsa and Sariza are usually served for meals. Coffee is very popular in the Republic, and Greeks even have their own coffee tradition: frappe coffee, a famous drink, is of Greek origin.
Greek wines are as good as Spanish and French ones. Vacationers and their travel companions should taste such wines as Retsina, Assyrtiko, Moshofilero and Agiorgitiko; Greek brandy Ouzo and Metaxa.
Details of interest
Places of interest in Greece
Greece is home to 17 sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Among them, the most interesting landmarks are:
- Ruins of Delphi, the spiritual center of the Greek world;
- Acropolis of Athens;
- Mount Athos, an Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054;
- Meteora monasteries near the town of Kalabaka, one of the largest complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece;
- Temple of Hera on the island of Samos;
- Archaeological Museum of Ancient Mycenae and Tiryns;
- Historic center of Patmos (Chora Patmos) with its Monastery of Saint John and Cave of Apocalypse;
- Old town of Corfu.
There are also 8 tentative sites in Greece considered for nomination for the World Heritage list, among which the following are of special interest:
- Palace of Knossos which is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and considered Europe’s oldest city;
- Mount Olympus, the home of the Twelve Olympian gods in Greek mythology;
- Samaria Gorge National Park, a major tourist attraction of the island of Crete.
During the tour of Greece, you will see other remarkable landmarks that don’t appear on the UNESCO lists:
- Stone bridges near Grevena;
- Bizantine monuments of Drama and Zakynthos;
- Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai in Imathia;
- Arches in Kavala;
- Temple of Asklepion on the island of Kos;
- Archaeological site at Pella;
- Temple of Poseidon Sounion.
We also recommend that you visit major centers of excursion tourism in Greece: Andros, Astipalaia, Ithaca, Kastoria, Kilkis, Kythira, Xanthi, Larisa, Leros. Travelers will bring away pleasant impressions of Lesbos, Marathon, Nisiros, Mount Parnassus, Peloponnese, Piraeus, Preveza, Rhodope Region, Samothraki and Santorini. The visitors will keep memories of excursions to Serres, Tilos, Thessaly, Florina, Chios, Euboea Region, Evrytania, Aegina, Eleusis, Epirus, Aetolia-Acarnania Region and Ioannina.
People visiting Greece can take back home a variety of souvenirs from this country:
- Olives and olive oil products;
- Wine and Ouzo;
- Greek honey;
- Jewelry with Greek patterns;
- Fur and leather goods.