Greece: Ancient and modern, with equal measures of grunge and grace, bustling Athens is a heady mix of history and edginess. Iconic monuments mingle with first-rate museums, lively cafes and al fresco dining – and its downright fun. The historic centre is an open-air museum, yet the city’s cultural and social life takes place amid these ancient landmarks, merging past and present.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Greece consulate website: www.vfsglobal.com/Greece/uae/. Greece is part of the 26 Schengen State Countries.
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things do & see:
Athens- is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.
Santorini- is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
Mykonos- is an island in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. It's popularly known for its summer party atmosphere. Beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise have bars that blare thumping music. Massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs and typically stay open well past dawn. Iconic landmarks include a row of 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above Mykonos town.
Thessaloniki- is a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. Evidence of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history remains, especially around Ano Poli, the upper town. The ruins of Roman Emperor Galerius’ 4th-century palace include the Rotunda that has been both a church and a mosque. Much of the city center was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1917. The rebuilt 20th-century city has a modern European layout.
Patras- is Greece's third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese, 215 km west of Athens. The city is built at the foot of Mount Panachaikon, overlooking the Gulf of Patras.
Heraklion, also known as Iraklio- is a port city and the capital of the Greek island of Crete. It’s known for the Palace of Knossos, just outside the city. The huge archaeological site dates back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization, and includes frescoes and baths. Guarding the city’s Venetian port is the 16th-century Koules fortress. Heraklion Archaeological Museum has a large collection of Minoan art.
Chania- is a city on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. It’s known for its 14th-century Venetian harbor, narrow streets and waterfront restaurants. At the harbor entrance is a 16th-century lighthouse with Venetian, Egyptian and Ottoman influences. Opposite, the Nautical Museum has model ships, naval objects and photographs. The former monastery of St. Francis houses the Archaeological Museum of Chania.
Corinth- is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, which is located in south-central Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it has been part of the municipality of Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is the capital of Corinthia.
Nafplio- is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf.
Mycenae- is an archaeological site near Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about 120 kilometres south-west of Athens; 11 kilometres north of Argos; and 48 kilometres south of Corinth.
Olympia- is an ancient site on Greece's Peloponnese peninsula that hosted the original Olympic Games, founded in the 8th century B.C. Its extensive ruins include athletic training areas, a stadium and temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia exhibits finds from the site, including a statue of Hermes attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles.
Thebes- is a city in Boeotia, central Greece. It played an important role in Greek myths, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus, Heracles and others.
Rhodes- is the principal city and a former municipality on the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Rhodes, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It has a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants.
Ioannina, often called Yannena within Greece- is the capital and largest city of the Ioannina regional unit and of Epirus, an administrative region in north-western Greece. According to the 2011 census, the city population was 65,574, while the municipality had 112,486 inhabitants.
Corfu Town- is the capital of the Greek island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea. It’s known for its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored Venetian architecture. To the west, the Venetian-built New Fortress has a network of tunnels underneath and views over the harbor. The 15th-century Old Fortress overlooks the town from the east and features a small chapel and mosaics. The Esplanade is a landscaped park near the water.
Kalamata- is the second most populous city of the Peloponnese peninsula, after Patras, in southern Greece and the largest city of the homonymous administrative region. As the capital and chief port of the Messenia regional unit, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf.
Oia- is a coastal town on the northwestern tip of Santorini, a Greek Aegean island. The town has whitewashed houses carved into the rugged clifftops, and overlooks a vast caldera filled with water. In a 19th-century mansion, the Naval Maritime Museum has exhibits on local seafaring history, including old figureheads, sailors’ chests and models of old ships. Nearby is the ruined Oia Castle, known for its sunset views.
Kavala- is a city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala regional unit. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos and on the Egnatia motorway, a one-and-a-half-hour drive to Thessaloniki and a forty-minute drive to Drama and Xanthi.
Volos- is a coastal port city in Thessaly situated midway on the Greek mainland, about 330 kilometres north of Athens and 220 kilometres south of Thessaloniki. It is the sixth most populous city of Greece. It is the capital of the Magnesia regional unit of Thessaly Region.
Chalcis or Chalkida- is the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, situated on the Euripus Strait at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός, though there is no trace of any mines in the area.
Mytilene- is the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos, and its port. It is also the capital and administrative center of the North Aegean Region, and hosts the headquarters of the University of the Aegean. It was founded in the 11th century BC. Mytilene is one of the 13 municipalities on the island of Lesbos.
Piraeus- is a port city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens urban area, 8 kilometres southwest from its city centre, and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf.
Kastoria- is a city in northern Greece in the region of Western Macedonia. It is the capital of Kastoria regional unit. It is situated on a promontory on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains.
Larissa- is the capital and largest city of the Thessaly region in Greece. It is the fifth-most populous city in Greece with a population of 144,651 according to the 2011 census. It is also capital of the Larissa regional unit.
Nafpaktos- known as Lepanto during part of its history, is a town and a former municipality in Aetolia Akarnania, West Greece, Greece, situated on a bay on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, 3 km west of the mouth of the river Mornos.
Agios Nikolaos, Hagios Nikolaos or Aghios Nikolaos- is a coastal town on the Greek island of Crete, lying east of the island's capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia.
Lamia- is a city in central Greece. The city dates back to antiquity, and is today the capital of the regional unit of Phthiotis and of the Central Greece region.
Agrinio- is the largest city of the Aetolia-Acarnania regional unit of Greece and its largest municipality, with 106,053 inhabitants. It is the economical center of Aetolia-Acarnania, although its capital is the town of Mesolonghi. The settlement dates back to ancient times.
Komotini- is a city in the region of East Macedonia and Thrace, northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Rhodope regional unit. It was the administrative centre of the Rhodope-Evros super-prefecture until its abolition in 2010, by the Kallikratis Plan.
Alexandroupoli or Alexandroupolis- is a city in Greece and the capital of the Evros regional unit in East Macedonia and Thrace. It has 57,812 inhabitants and is the largest city in Thrace and the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. It is an important port and commercial center of northeastern Greece.
Missolonghi or Messolonghi- is a municipality of 34,416 people in western Greece. The town is the capital of Aetolia-Acarnania regional unit, and the seat of the municipality of Iera Polis Messolongiou.
Tripoli- is a city in the central part of the Peloponnese, in Greece. It is the capital of the Peloponnese region as well as of the regional unit of Arcadia. The homonym municipality has around 47,000 inhabitants.
Aigio, also written as Aeghion, Aegion, Aegio, Egio- is a town and a former municipality in Achaea, West Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it is part of the municipality Aigialeia, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. Aigio is the second largest city in Achaea after Patras.
Argos is a city in Argolis, the Peloponnese, Greece and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the largest city in Argolis and a major center for the area. Since the 2011 local government reform it has been part of the municipality of Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit.
Ermoupoli- also known by the formal older name Ermoupolis or Hermoupolis, is a town and former municipality on the island of Syros, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it is part of the municipality Syros-Ermoupoli, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit.
Veria- officially transliterated Veroia, historically also spelled Berea or Berœa, is a city in Central Macedonia, in the geographic region of Macedonia, northern Greece, capital of the regional unit of Imathia.
Edessa- until 1923 Vodena, is a city in northern Greece and the capital of the Pella regional unit, in the Central Macedonia region of Greece. It was also the capital of the defunct province of the same name.
Sérres- is a city in Macedonia, Greece, capital of the Serres regional unit and second largest city in the region of Central Macedonia, after Thessaloniki. Serres is one of the administrative and economic centers of Northern Greece.
Pylos- historically also known as Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it has been part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former Pylia Province.
Katerini- is a city and municipality in northern Greece, the capital city of Pieria regional unit in Central Macedonia, Greece. It lies on the Pierian plain, between Mt. Olympus and the Thermaikos Gulf, at an altitude of 14 m.
Megara- is a historic town and a municipality in West Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens.
Eleusis- is a town and municipality in West Attica Regional unit in Greece. It is situated about 18 kilometres northwest from the centre of Athens and is part of its metropolitan area. It is located in the Thriasian Plain, at the northernmost end of the Saronic Gulf.
Kalabaka- is a town and seat of the Municipality of Meteora in the Trikala regional unit, part of Thessaly in Greece. The population was 21,991 at the 2011 census, of which 8,330 in the town proper. The Metéora monasteries are located near the town.
Preveza- is a city in the region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, located on the northern peninsula at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. It is the capital of the regional unit of Preveza, which is part of the region of Epirus.
Florina- is a town and municipality in the mountainous northwestern Macedonia, Greece. Its motto is, 'Where Greece begins'. The town of Florina is the capital of the Florina regional unit and also the seat of the eponymous municipality. It belongs to the administrative region of West Macedonia.
Visit the Acropolis – Located in Athens, this magnificent temple is a great place to learn about Athen’s history while you get a expansive view of the city and the nearby ruins. During the summer, the place is swarming with tourists and sadly, the Parthenon is always under construction, but the views are incredible!
Explore the past – Greece is where western civilization began and everywhere you turn, you will find ruins that are thousands of years old. Start in Athens with the museums, the Acropolis and surrounding ruins (the Agora is wonderful), and then set off to explore the ruins of Delphi, Sparta, and Crete. If you love history, you’ll love Greece.
Remember the Spartans – Sparta was the ancient rival of Athens and known for her fierce warriors. The city has a long history and ruins to explore. There is no shortage of things to do, excursions to take, and places to eat when you visit the city. It’s an often overlooked city, but you can get all the history of Greece without the tourists of Athens if you visit. I wouldn’t suggest skipping Sparta!
Explore the beaches – From Crete to Santorini to Corfu, the Greek islands are some of the best in the world. Soak in the sun, admire the white sand and blue-roofed houses and just relax. Santorini is famous for couples, while Ios is great for parties and meeting other young travelers. Some off the beaten path islands include Rhodes, Kos, or the ones in the far east.
Attend the Hellenic Festival – Every summer, the Hellenic Festival in Athens has concerts and performance theater, including reenactments of Greek tragedy. It’s one of the country’s top cultural events and if it coincides with your visit, you’ll see just how proud the Greeks are of their past.
Go to Meteora – Located mid-way through Greece, Meteora is famous for its monasteries that sit atop sheer rock mountains. They are a stunning sight to see and worth the steep trek up to the top. Although more than twenty monasteries used to perch on the steep rocks, only six remain today. They were a highlight of my visit to Greece.
Take in the sun in Corfu – The Greek Islands may get all the press but sunny Corfu on Greece’s west coast is also a good place to enjoy the beach too. It’s a popular destination for young backpackers, but once you get out of the main town, you avoid them and their partying ways and get the island to yourself!
Visit historic Crete – The island of Crete in Greece has a long, long history. It was once home to the ancient Minoan civilization (which predates Greek civilization). The capital of Knossos has some impressive ruins. Crete has beautiful beaches, hiking, quaint towns, delicious food and wine, and friendly, welcoming locals. I love the island!
Explore the Delphi Ruins – Delphi has always been a place of historic and spiritual significance. This is where the omniscient Oracle would contact Apollo and give advice to those seeking good fortune. Although the eternal flame no longer burns inside, a visit to the Temple of Apollo is obligatory.
Go into Melissani Cave – A boat tour will take you into these caves, where you can admire the magical quality of ultramarine water and monumental walls that surround you.
Walk up Mount Olympus – Mount Olympus is the home of ancient gods. From here the gods would control the lives of mortal men. Any climb to Mount Olympus starts from the town of Litochoro. A walk up this mountain will be strenuous and mystical and you’ll see why Greeks thought it was this mountain from which the gods ruled.
Hike the Samaria Gorge – For the outdoor enthusiasts out there, this is considered one of the best hiking experiences in Greece. While it isn’t the shortest or easiest trek, the Samaria Gorge does promise beautiful landscapes, fantastic photo opportunities, and a great workout.
Experience the Patra Carnival – Every year in mid-January, the city of Patra is host to what is basically a month-and-a-half-long party. There’s a slew of events, both major and minor; increasingly crazy weekends; and various costume parades, which even feature floats.
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion – The number one attraction on Crete, this museum also happens to be Greece’s second largest archaeological museum next to the museum in Athens. There is a stunning collection here, which highlights the Cretan civilization (dating back from Neolithic times, through to the Roman empire).
Go to Santorini – Although it but one of the numerous Greek islands, many consider it to be the most spectacular. Aside from the beautiful landscape and volcanic presence, it is an amazing place for beachside camping, winery tours, scuba diving, and more. The ruins on the southern part of the island were some of the best I saw.
Island of Ios – Ios has the wildest nightlife out of all the Greek islands. It is the summer party island where days are spent hungover on the beach while nights are spent eating cheap food and drinking. If you don’t want to do that but still want to see Ios, it’s best to go to the eastern part of the island where it’s quieter.
Temple of Olympian Zeus – While you are walking about Athens, this is a incredible archaeological site to stop at. This temple is massive and took over 700 years to construct (dating back to the sixth century). There are a number of Corinthian columns still standing, though many have fallen. It’s quite an impressive sight.