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Greece

Greece and its 1400 islands have something for everyone.

Situated in south eastern Europe on the southernmost tip of the Balkan peninsula, with extensive coastlines and islands in the Mediterranean, Ionian and Aegean Seas. It shares borders in the north with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

Greece is one of the premier tourist destinations in the world as it is blessed with history, culture, art, literature, people and places that make it a top tourist destination. Surprisingly, Greece has a small population of only 11 million.

Should you be looking for a lively time, try party filled Mykonos or Rhodes.

Santorini volcanic island is known for its beautiful views, towns and sunsets.

Most of the tourist industry is concentrated on Crete, the Dodecanese, Cyclades, and Western Greek Islands, and to a lesser extent: the Peloponnese, and the Halkidiki peninsula in Macedonia.

There are still many destinations in the country free of large-scale tourism.  Many first-time travellers arrive in Greece with specific pre-conceived images in mind and are pleasantly surprised to discover a country with such regional and architectural diversity. Only a specific part of the country (the Cyclades Islands) has the famous whitewashed homes and charming blue-domed churches.

For those that might be interested, the film “Mama Mia” was shot on the islands of: Damouchari, Skopelos. Skiathos and Corfu.

Languages Spoken

Greek, English followed by French, Italian and German.

Basic knowledge of English can be expected from almost everyone in the tourism industry and public transport services, as well as most Greeks under the age of 40. However, learning a few Greek terms, such as “hello” (geiá sou) and “thank you” (ef̱charistó̱) will be warmly received.

Weather

Summers are usually hot and dry with a 7-month period of almost constant sunshine generally from April until November. The remainder of the year is normally characterised by a relatively cold, rainy period which as a rule starts sometime in November and lasts until late March or early April. The glorious weather occurs in May-June and September-October. The warmest time of the year starts in mid-July and generally lasts for a month, followed by the annual ‘meltémi’ winds from the north to cool the country. There are two other climatic systems that are present. One, found in the mountainous area is the cool Alpine climate of the country’s interior, including many high-altitude valleys. The second is the Continental climate found on the interiors of north-central and northeastern Greece, and provides those areas with very cold winters and warm, relatively humid summers.

When to go

April through to October.

Peak season is July and August.

Formalities

Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement and therefore has no formalities with countries of similar standing. However, be careful: Not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. Airports in Europe are divided into “Schengen” and “non-Schengen” sections, which effectively acts like “domestic” and “international” sections elsewhere. If you are arriving from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Customs and Immigration at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks.

Historical Places

Greece is a veritable treasure trove of historical sites and ancient relics, enough to satisfy even the most inquisitive historian. Countless books have been written on what Greece has to offer in the way of historical attractions.

  • Athens – the Parthenon
  • Delphi – the site of the famous oracle of Apollo, major archeological site
  • Ithaca – famous home of Odysseus
  • Olympia – a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, site of the ancient Olympics
  • Mount Olympus, the mythical palace of the 12 Gods of the Greek Mythology.
  • Heraklion – Crete’s largest city and main hub with the archaeological site of Knossos.

Bucket & Spade

Beaches abound all over most of the Greek islands. They have a total of 387 ‘blue flag’ beaches (indicating a high standard with facilities nearby. For further information on blue flag beaches and marinas: www.blueflag.org). Many of the beaches are wheelchair friendly. Greece also has 9 marinas with blue flag status.

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