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WHY VISIT GREECE
With a cultural and historical richness that is recognized universally, Greece is also renowned for its sunny side and the warm and festive attitude of its people.
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Athens, the capital, sets the standard in displaying treasures from the past: The Parthenon in Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the Agora, to mention some of the most important ones. Stroll down Plaka’s narrow streets, visit the National Archaeological Museum and the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art, and enjoy the atmosphere combining Eastern and Western cultures in this city. It may be polluted but it is also visually and culturally stunning.
In the Peloponnese peninsula, there are several places definitely worth discovering: Of particular interest are Epidaurus, Mycenae, Corinth and Olympia.
Do not miss the monasteries of Meteora which are perched on rocky peaks, these were once connected to the mainland by ladders, later a winch basket system was used to reach the top.
The Cycladic islands are themselves a popular destination for tourists: Golden beaches, gleaming white houses, deep blue sky and a turquoise sea. Although some of these see little tourism others can be crowded at times by both Greek and foreign visitors.
Rhodes, in the Dodecanese archipelago, is remarkable for its medieval city and its beautiful buildings on Knights Avenue: Of special interest are the Castle, palace and acropolis.
For beach lovers, you can choose between those of the Sporades archipelago, the Ionian Islands, and of course those in Crete.
WHAT TO SEE IN GREECE
Top destinations in Greece are:
WHEN TO GO TO GREECE
Weather in Greece
The best period to visit Greece is from May to October.
If anything is God-given to the Greeks, it is their climate. The best time to visit most of Greece is outside the mid-July to end of August peak season, when soaring temperatures, plus crowds of foreigners and locals alike, can be overpowering. You won’t miss out on warm weather if you come in June or September, excellent times almost everywhere but particularly on the islands. An exception to this, however, is the north mainland coast – notably the Halkidhikí peninsula – and the islands of Samothráki and Thássos, which only really bloom during July and August. In October you will almost certainly hit a stormy spell, especially in western Greece or in the mountains, but for most of that month the “little summer of Áyios Dhimítrios” (the Greek equivalent of Indian summer) prevails, and the southerly Dodecanese and Crete are extremely pleasant. Autumn, in general, is beautiful; the light is softer, the sea often balmier than the air and the colours subtler.
December to March are the coldest and least reliably sunny months, though even then there are many crystal-clear, fine days. The more northerly latitudes and high altitudes endure far colder and wetter conditions, with the mountains themselves under snow from November to May. The mildest winter climate is found on Rhodes, or in the southeastern parts of Crete. As spring slowly warms up, April is still uncertain, though superb for wildflowers, green landscapes and photography; by May the weather is more settled and predictable, and Crete, the Peloponnese, the Ionian islands and the Cyclades are perhaps at their best, even if the sea is still a little cool for swimming.
Other factors that affect timing for Greek travels have to do with the level of tourism and the amenities provided. Service standards occasionally slip under peak season pressure and room prices on the islands can rocket. If you can only visit during midsummer, it is wise to reserve a package well in advance, buy any ferry tickets beforehand or plan your itinerary off the beaten track. You might choose, for instance, to explore the less obvious parts of the Peloponnese and the northern mainland, or island-hop with an eye for the remoter places.
Out of season on the islands, you will have to contend with reduced ferry and plane services plus fairly skeletal facilities when you arrive. You will, however, find reasonable service on main routes and at least one hotel and taverna open in the port or main town of all but the tiniest isles. On the mainland, winter travel poses no special difficulties except, of course, in mountain villages either cut off by snow or (at weekends especially) monopolized by avid Greek skiers.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Greece
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH GREECE
Local transportation includes highly expensive inland flights, frequent buses, and ferries to travel to the islands. Once on an island, renting a scooter can be convenient. In the city, there are a lot of taxis which can be shared.
by plane, the main airports are:
- Crete – Heraklion
- Crete – Chania
- Zante – Zakynthos
GENERAL INFORMATION ON GREECE
health tips & vaccination: none
local currency: European euro
local time zone: GMT+2 (+3)
electricity: type C and type F (230 V – 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN GREECE
typical food in Greece
- Dolmades, stuffed vine leaves;
- Fasolatha, a hearty soup made of beans, crushed tomatoes, and vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery; often flavoured with thyme, parsley and bay leaves.
- Gemista, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes, stuffed with rice and oven-baked;
- Gigantes, big butter beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with olive oil;
- Moussaka, aubergine casserole with minced lamb, cinnamon, red wine and olive oil;
- Calamari, deep-fried rings of squid or octopus;
- Gyro, kebab-like dish made of pieces of meat (usually chicken, pork, lamb or beef) cooked on a rotisserie and wrapped in a flatbread or pita along with salad, onions and a variety of sauces;
- Koulouri, large soft bread rings covered with sesame seeds;
- Souvlaki, spit-roasted meat, generally pork or chicken; usually served with tzatziki (a sauce made from yoghurt, cucumber and mint), pita bread, salad or rice.
- Stifado, rich beef stew with caramelised onions, cinnamon and cloves;
- Loukoumades, small fried doughnut-like balls drenched in honey syrup and sprinkled with various toppings such as cinnamon or crushed walnuts.
- Galaktoboureko, custard slices, made with layers of flaky phyllo pastry and sprinkled with cinnamon;
- Baklava, small sweet pastries soaked in honey-like syrup and layered with crushed nuts such as walnuts or almonds;
- Kokkinisto, a rich stew of either beef, pork or chicken cooked with red wine and tomatoes;
- Horiatiki, salad of feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, black Kalamata olives and fresh olive oil;
- Spanakopita, phyllo pastry layered with feta cheese and spinach and flavoured with dill;
- Tyropita, crunchy phyllo pastry wrapped around a savoury cheese filling;
- Krasi, wine – lefko is white, kokkino is red;
- Retsina, wine made with pine-needle resin;
- Ouzo, an aniseed-based clear spirit to which water is added;
- Raki, a sharp and fiery spirit made from distilled grapes;
- Metaxa, a Greek spirit, similar to brandy;
- Greek coffee, thick and strong, and sugar according to taste;
- Frappe, frothy iced coffee made from Nescafe and drunk through a straw;
souvenir from Greece
- Woven bags;
- Hand-painted Byzantine Icons;
- Ceramics such as hand-made replicas of amphoras, wall-hangings, decorative plates and cups;
- Hand-made leather sandals;
- Bouzouki, the mandolin-like musical instrument
- Komboloi, the typical worry beads;
- Backgammon set;
- Gold and silver jewellery;
- Olive products: olive oil, olives, oil soap, oil shampoo and body lotions or olive wood items;
- Honey, cheese, fresh and dehydrated herbs, wines and Ouzo;
- Sweets such as Loukomi, Halva, Baklava or Kataifi
Hello: Χαίρετε (Chaírete)
Goodbye: Αντίο (Αντίο)
How are you?: Πώς είσαι; (Pós eísai?)
Thank you: Ευχαριστώ (Efcharistó)
What is your name?: Πως σε λένε? (Pos se léne?)
How much is it?: Πόσο κοστίζει? (Póso kostízei?)
Sorry: Συγνώμη (Sygnómi)
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