The Ultimate Greece Travel Guide
Greece is perhaps my favorite country in Europe. It’s home to everything you could think of: Wonderful beaches, Ancient history and ruins, incredibly vibrant cities, delicious food, and dramatic landscapes. My first trip to Greece was to visit Crete, followed by another trip where I spent two months traveling through the Cyclades Islands.
While Mykonos and Santorini are the most popular islands, there are far more beautiful and less touristic places in the Cyclades like Amorgos, Sifnos, and Folegandros. The cities are also incredible: Athens is full of energy and is definitely a place I could live. Make sure to visit the world famous Acropolis and Parthenon when you are here!
- Cyclades Islands
- Ionian Islands
- Greek Travel Itineraries
Language: Greek is the official language. English is widely spoken especially in all the big tourism hot spots.
Currency: Greece uses the Euro. Up until 2001, they used the Greek Drachma
GDP Per Capita: ~$21,000
Largest Cities: Athens (The Capital), Thessaloniki, Patras
Power Plugs: European 220v two-prong
Credit Cards acceptance: Credit cards are widely accepted in Greece from the small Gyro street foods to the high end restaurants and bars. Cash is only really necessary when visiting certain tourist attractions like the Monasteries of Meteora.
Is Greece Safe? Yes Greece is very safe. While you may encounter the occasional pickpocketing in big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, there is very little violent crime to speak of. If you travel to one of the smaller islands, you are more likely to fall off a cliff trying to take Instagram photos than be the victim of a crime.
Visiting the Cyclades Islands
When you conjure up images of Greece in your mind, inevitably it moves to the Cyclades Islands. This is the place that dreams are made of.
An archipelago of dozens of islands in Greece’s South Aegean sea is home to the most quaint villages you can imagine. White washed houses, blue washed window frames, and granite stone streets are what you’ll see everywhere you go. Along with beautiful beaches, dramatic mountain scenery, and a scooter to boot, this is the must see part of Greece!
For starters, read this list I compiled for what I think are the best Cyclades islands in Greece. Then you can go into the details to plan your own trip!
Finally, if you are debating between the Ionian islands (the best beaches in Greece) or the Cyclades islands, make sure to read my Ionian vs Cyclades island post.
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Athens: The Capital City
Athens, Greece’s hectic capital is home to the timeless Acropolis and Pantheon. While it may not be love at first sight, Athens has an incredible energy that you must experience.
From delicious restaurants to world famous cocktail bars, Athens is the perfect place to play and enjoy the city life before a ferry ride to the nearby Cycladic islands. While most people choose to spend a day in Athens to check off the main sights, I could easily spend weeks here enjoying all that Greece has to offer.
The Ionian Islands
If you’re looking for the best beaches in Greece, look no further than the Ionian islands. The blue shades of the water surrounded by the rocky mountain landscape will take your breath away. I always thought you would find the best beaches in the Cyclades but I was surely mistaken.
From the world famous shipwreck beach in Zakynthos to the incredible beaches of Lefkada, there is something here for everyone.
- Zakynthos Travel Guide
- Kefalonia Travel Guide
- Lefkada Travel Guide
- Corfu Travel Guide
- Paxos Travel Guide
When Is The Best Time To Visit Greece?
In my opinion, the best time to travel to Greece is between April and May. The weather is perfect for outdoor adventures, and you’ll have the Greek Islands to yourself before the summer crowds arrive.
The one event you need to plan your trip around is the Easter weekend. It’s an incredibly busy time in the country and hotels are often booked up a few weeks in advance.
If you’re traveling Greece on a budget or you want to avoid the crowds, the winter months are the best time to visit. The top attractions are void of other tourists, and you won’t have a problem finding cheap flights and hotel deals.
While the vast majority of people choose to visit the various islands of Greece, do not sleep on the mainland. The north of Greece is home to incredible landscapes and sights. One of the most famous places is Meteora, home to the monasteries floating on top of mountains.
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city is considered the culinary capital of Greece. Halkidiki, one hour from Thessaloniki is home to incredible beaches that the locals can’t stop raving about.
Crete is the largest island in Greece. Located in the very south of the country, Crete is the only island in Greece that is completely self sustaining. This means that everything required to sustain life is manufactured and developed on the island without having to import from the mainland. Of course electronics, cars, and the like are probably imported, but the you’ll never catch any Cretans yearning for food from other parts of the country.
The food and culture on Crete is slightly different but divine in every way. I think some of the best food in the country is here and most Greeks will echo my sentiment. The island itself is littered with incredible beaches and mountain landscapes where you can spend a month seeing. The island is huge so you’ll likely have to divvy up your trip and choose an area to explore.