Dreaming of setting sail into candy floss sunsets and getting lost between the ruins of ancient Athens? Just like the best love affairs, your holidays in Greece promise memories that will never, ever end. Yep, same as that unlimited supply of Greek feta…
So, whether you’re travelling to this amazing country soon, or you’re getting some research in for a future holiday, here it is – everything you need to know about your holidays in Greece.
1. Let’s start with the basics
Population: 11.1 million
Number of islands: 6,000 – but only 227 islands are inhabited
Gyros consumed: On average, you’ll devour at least 2.5 every day (yes, really!)
Windswept selfies: The limit does not exist
2. Which Greek islands should I visit?
The Classics: Wanna take on the big names of the Greek islands? These are the three for you:
Vine-covered houses, whitewashed windmills, stunning beaches and all-night dance clubs. Yes please.
You can try to take a bad sunset photo here, but it ain’t gonna happen. Especially when the bougainvillea is in bloom.
While it’s known as a party island, there’s more to see and do here if you’d rather take it easy. Ios is home to the beautiful village of Chora and stunning sea views. And that’s just for starters.
The Hidden Gems: Want something a little off the beaten track? Take a look at these:
Before the Venus de Milo statue lived in the Louvre Museum, the lil’ lady came from here. Known as the ‘Island of Colours’, Milos is now famous for ancient theatres, catacombs and windmills.
Also on our hit list is Naxos island. Its Great Door is a standout must-see: a giant marble doorway facing towards the birthplace of Apollo on Delos.
The Aegean sea has so much to offer. Not to mention the romantic island of Syros that attracts only the most intrepid travellers. That’s you 😉
Go off the beaten track and check out these islands (and more) on Topdeck’s new Greek Treasures sailing trip!
3. What should be on my Greek bucket list?
Visit ancient ruins
The locals take their ruins seriously. As in, it’s totes illegal to wear high heels at many historic sites. Noted.
Don’t miss the Parthenon if you’re travelling to Athens. The 2,500-year-old temple dedicated to the goddess Athena sits pretty atop the Acropolis (a hill rising up 150 metres in the heart of Athens).
The Insta wonderland you’ve never heard of. Let us set the scene: we’re talking 14th century Eastern Orthodox monasteries sitting at the top of mystical karst mountains. You’ll feel like an extra on the set of Game of Thrones as you climb steps to the holy sites.
Meteora is one of Greece’s hidden treasures for sure.
Check out modern Athens
New-world Athens centres on Syntagma Square, home of the Greek parliament. Don’t miss the changing of the guard on the hour. Fun fact: the guards wear pleated skirts with 400 folds, one for every year of Ottoman occupation.
You can also get your shopping fix at the market stalls in Monastiraki and then have rooftop drinks at the Plaka district to watch the city light up at night.
4. What can I eat in Greece?
If you can tear yourself away from the gyros, head to a local taverna for more souvlaki options than you can poke a cube of feta at. Mouth-watering spiced meat served on skewers? Comin’ right up!
Just one bite of this heavenly spinach and feta pastry and you’ll struggle to stop. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 😉
Greece is famous for its starters, known as meze. Stock your table with taramasalata (fish roe dip) and tzatziki (cucumber-lemony strained yogurt) to serve up with pitta bread, fresh olives, hummus and more. One you simply cannot miss on your holidays in Greece.
Moussaka is sort of like the Greek answer to lasagne. It’s packed with potatoes, eggplant, ground meat and topped with a creamy sauce. Sign us up!
Having a coffee is a social event in Greece. So, get yourself a cappuccino freddo (ice cold frappe) to wash down your syrupy baklava. Mmm, sweet honey goodness.
5. What’s the lingo low-down?
So now you’ve sorted where you wanna visit and have got some foodie faves on your list, it’s time to learn some basic local lingo.
‘Good morning’: Kalimera
‘Thank you’: Efharisto
For all of the above: Opa (use this word when celebrating life!)
6. Let’s bust some Greek myths (or not!)
Plate smashing happens all the time
Yes and no. It’s still a thing at weddings, sure. But nowadays, plastic or paper plates are way more common. Essentially, the idea is to make enough noise at the party to ward off bad spirits! One, two, three, opa!
Ever feel like you’re being watched?
You’ll see blue Mati eyes everywhere when you’re in Greece. Appaz they have been around since the 6th century BC and are used as a protective amulet against harm and misfortune.
Nudist beaches are a thing
They sure are. In Mykonos, you can watch a romantic sunset proposal followed by a Greek grandad who strolls past seconds later…
There is a gyros stand on every corner
Yep, you CAN buy happiness (for less than three euros). Gyros (yir-os) is the superstar cousin of the humble pitta. Think grilled meat with tomatoes, raw onion, tzatziki and french fries, all served on pitta bread. One word: YUM.
7. What should I pack for Greece?
Other than the obvious, take a little look at these extras you’re gonna wanna pack for your holidays in Greece (and check out our guide of what not to pack too while you’re at it):
Swimwear and towel
Prices on the islands are hiked up over the summer season, so make sure you don’t leave home without the essentials.
Waterproof phone case
For swimming in the crystal clear water and discovering the next ancient ruin.
Ain’t nobody got time for sunburn.
If you’re hoping to visit holy sites such as cathedrals, you’ll need clothes that cover your knees, chest and shoulders.
Even if your friends have banned you from playing the Mamma Mia soundtrack 😉
Leave room for souvenirs: you’ll need it. Trust us.
Ready to take on Greece like a pro? Check out Topdeck’s holidays in Greece.
Want some more Greece travel inspo? Take a look at our Greece photo blog.