Drinking ouzo, smashing plates, swimming in a warm sea at midnight, eating a late supper on a vine-drenched terrace, relaxing under olive trees, visiting the Minoan palaces or the ruins of the Acropolis, or even visiting the gods on Mount Olympus are all possible ways to spend your time in Greece.
Arguably the birthplace of the civilised world, Greek history spans four millennia. Greece gave the world literature, drama and philosophy, not to mention the Olympic Games. As well as the Ancient Greeks, the country contains the history of many other great powers, including the Romans, Arabs and the Byzantine Empire.
But the country is not just a museum of great civilisations. Travellers book flights to mainland Greece to visit some often overlooked wonders of spectacular natural beauty alongside historical sites. Lakes, mountains and volcanoes can all be explored.
More than 100 of the famed Greek islands are inhabited and hopping from one to another is the perfect beach holiday. Partying, quiet contemplation and everything in between is catered for somewhere on one of the islands. Most Greece flights arrive via Athens, but many of the islands have their own airports and plenty of ferries operate between them.
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Greece’s Mediterranean climate allows for long, warm summers with 11 hours of sunshine per day. The hottest days are made more bearable by seasonal winds called meltemi. Winters are mild in the low areas, but the mountains are cooler and snowy. Athens averages a temperature of 10 degrees in January and February.
Mid-June to the end of August is high season for most of Greece, when the temperatures are hottest. Easter time to mid-June is also very popular as the weather is still very warm, though not unbearably hot. You may be able to pick up some cheaper deals at this time of year though. Late August to mid-October is Greece’s shoulder season. The temperatures are still high (substantially higher than the UK and Ireland) and most resorts and attractions still open, but prices are much lower than early or high summer so cheap flights and accommodation are easier to find.
October to April is off season. Though you will find the cheapest deals at this time, much of the tourist parts of Greece close down around this time. Unless you’re in Athens you may find that there is little to do and hardly any hotels or restaurants that are open.
Trains run on the mainland only and have daily services to most destinations but the routes are limited. They are run by Hellenic Railways Organisation.
Buses are the best method of public transport – even the smallest towns are connected to the bus network. KTEL is the intercity coach service.
Cars and scooters are readily available for hire.
Greece has an excellent network of connection by sea travel with ferries, hydrofoils and passenger boats. All of the islands and mainland are all well-connected and it is very easy to get a boat.
Flights are easy to catch between islands or from Athens to the islands. Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines both have domestic Greek flights.
(prices quotes are from London)