Greece is a country where antiquities are everywhere: Athens, Delphi, Thebes and Meteora, rock monasteries and the holy Mount Athos. There are also great beaches, clean sea, picturesque islands and spa hotels. Rhodes, Halkidiki and Kos – all about Greece: weather, maps, visa and photos.
It is a crime to go to Greece just to go sightseeing at a frantic pace or, on the contrary, to lie lazily on the beach.
In this country, you have to enjoy: the food and wine, the sea and the midday heat, communicating with local people and nature, antiquities and silence, discos and fun. Everything at once – there is no other way.
Winter guests in Greece are waiting for a comfortable warm weather, lack of summer “overflow” of tourists, a huge number of attractions and well-developed tourist infrastructure.
Moreover, in winter there are no “fur coat tours”, beautiful nature and an opportunity to spend a wonderful holiday on one of the most beautiful islands in the country, Rhodes.
The prices of spa hotels, which are considerably reduced during the off-season, add to the picture, and in addition, it is winter when you can chew the granite of science, not being distracted by the treacherous glistening in the sunlight sea.
- 1 Regions and resorts in Greece
- 2 Climate
- 3 Tourist visa
- 4 Transport
- 5 Communications and Wi-Fi
- 6 Hotels in Greece
- 7 Local currency
- 8 Safety
- 9 Skiing
- 10 Pilgrimage
- 11 Diving in Greece
- 12 Cuisine and restaurants
- 13 Attractions and attractions
- 14 Holidays and events
Regions and resorts in Greece
It’s cliché and old, but true: Greece has it all! This amazing Mediterranean country seems to have absolutely all the amenities of the tourist world.
Dizzying peaks, which are home to first-class ski resorts like Vasilitsa or Kaymaktsalan, side by side with the beautiful beaches of Peloponnese and Halkidiki. Well, a relaxing holiday on the countless Greek islands, so popular among tourists, is easily supplemented by an impressive “sightseeing”.
And there are enough of the latter even in the most dusty corners of Greece – from Athens to some tiny piece of land, such as Patmos. In a few words to describe the main riches of the regions of the country is simply impossible, so on the page “Cities and resorts in Greece,” we briefly, but succinctly describe the main areas and interests of the blessed homeland of Odysseus.
The summer in Mediterranean Greece is hot and dry, and the number of sunny days per year exceeds 300. The hottest period lasts from mid-July to mid-August, so vacationers who like moderate temperatures are better to rest here in May, June, September and October – Crete and Rhodes.
The islands are always hotter than in Northern Greece. Athens has about the same average temperature as the islands, but the latter have a milder climate and the heat is easier to bear.
In early and late summer, the nights can be cooler because of the constant breeze. The resort season on the islands begins earlier and lasts from April to October.
In Northern Greece, the season lasts from May to September. The mildest and most comfortable periods for staying in the country are May-June and September-October.
Greek visa can be processed at the consular department of the Embassy of Greece, at the Greek Visa Center, at the General Consulates of Greece. Do not forget that you need to purchase a visa insurance policy for the entire duration of the trip in advance.
The import and export of foreign currency is not limited. When entering from non-EU countries amounts over 10 000 EUR are subject to mandatory declaration. To enter the country you must have currency at the rate of 50 EUR per person per day.
Cash can be checked at Greek customs. Duty free import of food and beverages up to 10 kg, up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, up to 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of wine, and gifts not exceeding 150 EUR is permitted.
On departure from Greece it is possible to get a tax refund (Tax free): the standard rate on the mainland is 21% of the purchase price, in the Aegean islands – 16%. The minimum purchase amount is 120 EUR. The standard procedure is to take a form, fill it in typed Latin letters, show the wrapped purchase, the receipt, your passport and stamped form at the customs desk at the airport. If there is enough time, you can receive the cash immediately at the tax refund counter with the “Global Blue” logo, or the refund will be transferred to the card.
When you buy furs in Greece, it is mandatory to take the receipt from the store and keep it to show it at customs.
The transport system in Greece includes all modes of transport, from ferries to the surface metro. It should be noted, however, that the infrastructure in the country is unevenly developed: some remote islands can only be reached by boat, and on the land itself it is possible to travel on a cute donkey.
The railroads of Greece – perhaps the weakest link in the transport infrastructure, but still travel on local rails is not without special charm. The main railway line connects Athens and Thessaloniki and runs along a very scenic route through mountain ranges and tunnels, passing magnificent valleys with views of the sea. It costs about 55 EUR.
For romantics and fans of tapping the wheels, we can also recommend the route Diakofto – Kalavrita and the road Volos – Ano Lehonia – Miles. Both routes go through picturesque mountainous areas. The prices on the page are for March 2019.
Speaking of the transport of Hellas, it is impossible not to mention the maritime traffic. Water transport is almost the most common way to travel in Greece. The capital and other major cities are connected by a dense network of ferries. Ferries and smaller ships sail to most of the larger islands several times a day. However, if the island is small, ships sail there only a few times a week. The cost of ferrying one person for short distances (up to one hour) is about 8-17 EUR, with a car – from 40 EUR.
Ferries are worth taking only in warm season, in wintertime cruises are often cancelled due to weather conditions.
Perhaps, the main competitor of water transport is by air. In no more than an hour you can reach any remote corner or a small island of the country. Flights are mostly operated by the national carriers Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines.
There are 11 international airports on the Greek islands, in addition to which there are 12 regional ones. But it is not without a spoon of tar – air transport is the most expensive way of traveling around the country. For example, the average cost of flight from the capital to an island and back is 180-200 EUR per person.
Intercity buses KTEL, reliable and cheap, go not only on mainland, but also carry passengers to the nearest islands: the cost of ferry is included in the ticket price – 5-6 EUR on average per 100 km.
The best public transport is developed in the capital, Athens. There are trolleybuses, streetcars (or rather, streetcars – a mixture of city streetcar and suburban electric train) and buses. There is even a subway, which runs not underground, but on its surface. The fare in Athens is 1.4 EUR and the price is valid for all types of public transport for 1.5 hours.
In the rest of the country the situation with transport is different. There is a well-developed network of buses on large popular islands, but it is difficult to use them in small areas: the schedule is made for the needs of local residents, rather than tourists, so they move infrequently and not at the most convenient time for travelers.
Cabs are extremely popular. However, you should always be careful and make sure the meter is on. Also because of the confusion of streets and vague numbering of houses, cab drivers often wander, and you still have to pay for it. Fares are low, with a double fare from midnight to 5:00. In Athens and mainland Greece, these fares are strictly enforced, but on the islands, it is better to negotiate the price in advance.
Communications and Wi-Fi
Recently, there are almost no problems with Wi-Fi in Greece: almost all cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping centers “give out” free internet. The only exception is quite wild corners of civilization somewhere on remote islands.
To save on communication, you can buy one of the SIM cards of local operators – Panafon, Cosmote, Vodofone and Wind. 2G they work at a level throughout the country, the cost varies greatly and depends on the tariff, it is better to specify locally. You can also make inexpensive calls around the country with the help of OTE phone booths.
It is enough to buy a card (telekarta) at one of the street kiosks or in a souvenir store. The cost is about EUR 0.25 for 3 minutes.
Hotels in Greece
It is known that Greek hotels are not given stars, but categories: deluxe (5 *), A (4 *), B (3 *) and C (2 *). For excursions are usually offered categories B and C – simple but clean and with everything you need in the rooms (air conditioning, TV, etc.).
Beach hotels of the country are not inferior in quality of service to their Mediterranean neighbors: there are luxurious five and good quality four. There are hotels focused on recreation with children.
If one hotel has a nice big restaurant with national cuisine, and the other, located next door, – a youth disco, the guests of both hotels can enjoy both.
The monetary unit of the country is the Euro (EUR). 1 Euro has 100 eurocents. Current exchange rate: 1 EUR = 88,65 RUB.
Banks are open from 8:30 to 14:00 on weekdays and close at 13:30 on Fridays. Some central banks are open on Saturdays as well, but only for currency exchange.
It’s best to bring euros or rubles in the country on cards, but banks will charge 3-5% commission for “cashing out” at an ATM.
It is not difficult to find an ATM in Greece. Hotels, large tourist centers and supermarkets accept credit cards of major international payment systems (often with 3-5 % commission). Small cafes or souvenir shops often take only cash and only euros. Accordingly, it is better to find out in advance where the nearest ATM (in English, ATM) or have plenty of cash in euros.
Traveler’s checks are exchanged at banks and representative offices of the respective companies, but the commission is quite high.
The crime rate in Greece is low, but reasonable precautions do not hurt. You should use hotel safes for storing valuables, and change money only in banks or exchange offices. In the noisy Greek markets the rule “closer to the body” applies for the wallet and personal belongings. Finally, it is always worth carrying a copy of your passport.
The work of hotels, restaurants, souvenir stores and any tourist infrastructure is supervised by the tourist police, and it is them who you should turn to in any case, even if an expensive camera was stolen. As a rule every tourist police station has one or two English speaking policemen and they will decide where to go next – to the police or to the beach to sunbathe and relax in case of a hopeless case.
To visit churches and monasteries requires modest clothing with shoulders closed: ladies in shorts, mini-skirts or pants are certainly not allowed into the temple. And it is not obligatory to cover the head of women. Archaeological excavations are better to visit in the morning: the day there will be too crowded and hot – an impression can be blurred.
Finally, the tap water in most of the country is potable, except for some wilderness areas and villages. In any case, it would be worthwhile to check with the locals if it is allowed to drink this water.
Smoking in public places is not allowed since July 1, 2009, but the Greeks are not particularly ceremonious with this rule, puffing at your pleasure – it’s one of the most smoking nations in Europe. Tourists should know that the fine for smoking in a wrong place is from 50 to 200 EUR.
Of course, the thesis that in Greece there is everything, already pretty beaten and bored, but this does not cancel its veracity.
Indeed, apart from the well-known beaches of ancient Greece has a great ski resort. Excellent infrastructure, slopes for beginners and advanced skiers, spectacular scenery, plenty of sun and snow, clean air – all this can be found in the Greek ski areas.
One of the most popular is Vasilitsa, located in the northern part of the country, near Grevena. The most modern is Pigadia, which is about 100 km from Thessaloniki.
The main advantage of Pigadia is the availability of snow cannons that provide excellent coverage in all weathers.
In addition, there are three ski areas on Parnassus. The second largest slope is located in Kalavarita, near Athens.
On Mount Voras is another famous resort – Kaimaktsalan. He has a – a special “chip”: from a height of 2500 meters can clearly see the top of Olympus, Lake of Vegoritida and the Thermal Gulf.
Skiing season in Greece traditionally lasts from November to April.
Greece has always been not only the keeper of ancient culture but also a bastion of Orthodoxy. About 98% of the population is Orthodox Christians. No wonder that in Greece there are many places sacred to pilgrims from our country. Beginning from the capital of Greece, Athens, where there is the famous Areopagus Hill (where the Apostle Paul delivered his first sermon), and ending with the legendary Holy Mount Athos.
This is the only Orthodox monastic republic in the world with a thousand years of history and with exclusively male population is available, alas, also only for men: women are forbidden to visit the territory of the peninsula. Today there are 20 monasteries, including one Russian, one Bulgarian and one Serbian.
Ladies on Mount Athos can be seen from the comfortable ferry – this is one of the most popular excursions for pilgrims.
Each tiny island and town in Greece can boast its own church or chapel, which is sure to have left its mark on the history of Orthodoxy.
But the most important complexes remain the monasteries of Meteora, the Monastery of the Blessed Potapias near Loutraki, Mega Spileon – one of the oldest monasteries of the country, the Cave of the Apocalypse on Patmos.
Which monasteries of Crete are worth visiting
Diving in Greece
The underwater world of Greece will please divers: no corals here, as in the Red Sea or on the Great Barrier Reef, but an abundance of its peculiarities and delights. For example, unusual marine life, amazing underwater caves and even ancient finds occur. If you want to get a certificate, you can apply to one of the international schools of diving – there are plenty of them on Crete and Corfu.
By the way, these same two islands are considered the most popular dive spots. In general, the best place for diving can be called the Aegean Sea: west of Crete, the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Thassos. There are rocky reefs, frozen lava reliefs of underwater volcanoes, canyons and even shipwrecks.
Cuisine and restaurants
Greek cuisine is an abundance of vegetables and greens, dairy products (especially soft cheeses), olives and olive oil, bread and wine. From the “heavy” most often lamb and poultry are cooked, beef and pork are not spared.
We recommend tasting the authentic Greek salad (as they say, taste the difference), grilled octopus, moussaka – casserole made of eggplant, minced meat and tomatoes, pastizio, a kind of lasagne, stifado – stew with onions in wine and bark gravy, spetsofai – spicy sausages with fresh tomatoes, paidakia – grilled lamb chops.
Greeks are very proud of their cheese, no other country in the world consumes this product in such quantities. Each region has its own variety for which it is famous.
For a sweet treat, you can have “all-Balkan” baklava or “galaktobourekos”. – This is a puff pastry with a cream filling. The delicious Greek wines, the aniseed vodka ouzo (to your liking) and of course the rakija are a must.
Everywhere in the Greek city there is a snackbar, kebab shop, patisserie, coffee house, bar, tavern, tavern, tavernette or pub. Restaurants with international and Greek cuisine are also everywhere, and the portions do not offend even the hungriest travelers.
Attractions and attractions
Greece – the absolute “mast-visit” for all fans of ancient Greek culture, the Byzantine heritage, for connoisseurs of the sensitive world of flora and fauna, and even for the lazy to know fifth-graders – no one canceled the school program myths of ancient Greece and “The Odyssey” by Homer. In a word, the expression about “there is everything in Greece” is 100% applicable to the sights, which is worn out but has not lost its relevance.
During one (and even five) trips one should not try to embrace the immensity and swing at the main cultural monuments of the country – it is simply impossible, they are scattered from Crete to Macedonia, and each of them deserves a personal presence. The advice is simple: relax and explore the beauty that is around.
The heart of the country is Athens, with the legendary Acropolis, the virtually untouched Plaka neighborhood and a museum collection so intact that the rest of the world exhales enviously. In relative proximity is the beautiful Argolis, with its impressive engineering construction of the Corinth Canal, the enormous antique theater in Epidaurus, the majestic Mycenae with the tombs of the kings.
Moving north of the capital, the tourists wait for Delphi, where there is the temple of Apollo, where the famous Oracle was seated. Here, in the north, you can wash in the Castalia springs, visit the ancient Thebes, or go deep into the monasteries of Meteora. These massive rock “sculptures” of bizarre shapes, created by nature, have long been one of the main shrines of Orthodox Greece.
Next to this area is the famous Greek Macedonia – the birthplace of the great conqueror Alexander of Macedon. There are also the sacred peninsula of Mount Athos and a host of attractions that are prefixed with the word “must-see”: for example the White Tower in Thessaloniki (the capital of the region) and the cave of Petralona, as well as the monasteries of Mount Athos.
The heart of the country is Athens, with its legendary Acropolis, the virtually untouched Plaka neighborhood and such a museum collection that the rest of the world is jealously exhaling.
Returning to the fertile Greek south, you can not ignore the Peloponnese, spread out in a bizarre blot on the sea.
There are ancient Sparta and Olympia, and a lot of monasteries, and the mystical ghost town Mystras. There are wonderful Greek islands scattered around, each with its own flavor. For example, the island of Fowles and his famous “Magician” Spetses, or Patmos with its cave of the Apocalypse, as well as Mykonos with magical landscapes in the spirit of Don Quixote – with azure skies and windmills. Of course, Crete – and its palace of Knossos with the labyrinth of the Minotaur, or Rhodes – home of the Colossus of Rhodes and the fantastic palace of the Grand Masters. And this is just a small part of the riches of wonderful charming Greece.
On Sundays, from November 1 to March 31, admission to all museums in Greece is free. Archaeologists, architects, artists and university professors are free to visit museums and ancient monuments on any day, and students get a 50% discount.
Holidays and events
Greeks are a fun-loving people who know how to relax. So when planning a trip to Hellas it is worth getting acquainted with the calendar of the most colorful holidays and festivals of the country: Balkan temperament and amazing traditions guarantee an unforgettable experience.
The year begins on January 1, and on the same dates very colorful festival St. Basil is held. On January 6, the Greeks celebrate Epiphany and Epiphany. Here, as in Russia, there is a tradition of dipping into the “Jordan” on this day, except that the water temperature is higher.
Perhaps the most colorful local festival is the Apocrypha, a kind of analog of Maslenitsa, which is celebrated three weeks before the beginning of Lent. The celebration is a combination of masquerade processions and dance and theater performances.
On Clean Monday it is customary to fly kites. And on March 25 the main national holiday of Greece, Independence Day, is celebrated with military parades, music, and theatrical performances. On this day in 1821 the uprising against the Turks began.
Undoubtedly, the most important and revered holiday in Greece is Easter. On these dates hotels are overcrowded, and the number of all kinds of festivals is just off the scale. It is because of the old tradition of going on pilgrimage to the holy places of its region.
May 20 and 21 organize festivities in honor of Saints Constantine and Helena. On the same dates in the south of the country colorful Pyrovassia is held. In general, the most famous festivals are held from June to August. Among them are the July festivals of Ayia Paraskevi, the Athens Music Festival, the wine festival in Rethymnon, the Olympia Festival on the island of Kos.
In August, it is worth mentioning the interesting festival of pretense in the village of Mochos and John the Baptist Day in Vouroukounda, on Karpathos island, where colorful processions are staged on the occasion. Summer ends with the Day of the Exaltation of the Cross (mid September).
The calendar year ends with the celebration of Christmas.