Greece Vacation, Tours, Travel Packages & Experiences
Greece is located in south-eastern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. It lies at the meeting point of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece is bordered by Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania to the northwest, and Turkey to the northeast.
The country consists of three main geographic regions. These are the peninsular mainland, the largest area, the Peloponnese peninsula that is separated from the mainland by the canal of the Corinth Isthmus and thirdly, the more than 2000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas of which approximately 170 are inhabited; some of the better-known islands on a Greece vacation are Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos and Corfu.
80% of the country consists of mountains or hills, making Greece one of the most mountainous countries in Europe.
Because of its geographical position, Greece was a crossroad of several civilizations that had left their traces everywhere. Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece. Considered the cradle of all Western civilization, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and the Olympic Games. This rich legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece. The modern Greek state, which comprises most of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The climate on trips to Greece is primarily Mediterranean, featuring mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. This climate occurs at all coastal locations, including Athens, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands and parts of the Central Continental Greece region.
An important percentage of Greece's national income comes from tourism. Greece is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, ranking in the world's top 20 countries. Visitors on Greek vacations are drawn to the country's beaches and reliable sunny summer weather, its nightlife, historical sites and natural beauty. The nation's terrain is just as varied as its architectural heritage: idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards in the south, and lush forests in the north. Greece's historical sights are just as varied; the country is littered with just as many medieval churches and castles as classical ruins and temples.
What are the top cities to visit in Greece?
Athens – The Ancient and Modern City
No one should miss Athens with its wealth of archaeological treasures, its neighbourhoods, its museums and art galleries, its restaurants and its port, Piraeus. The Acropolis is the most important ancient site in Athens and visible from almost anywhere in the city, an imposing hill in the centre of Athens. On the summit of the Acropolis is the Parthenon, an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess, Athena Parthenos. Below the Acropolis is the Ancient Agora which is a wide expanse of ancient Greek remains. The Panathenaic Stadium which was built in the 4th Century BC as a venue for athletic contests is oval-shaped and was a running track with stone seating all around it. The stadium was restored in 1895 in order to host the 1896 Olympics with seats for 70,000 spectators. The Plaka is a self-contained area and an old historical neighbourhood of Athens It is also the site of many open-air restaurants to enjoy on your Greece vacation. In the Plaka, you can experience street musicians, flower sellers and much more.
Along with the Acropolis Museum, an important one is the National Archaeological Museum which has one of the world’s best collections of Greek antiquities, dating from as far back as the Neolithic Age to the Classical periods. The artefacts include sculptures, pottery, frescoes, and jewellery.
Close to the city are two beach resorts, Glyfada and Vouliagmeni both easily accessible by local transportation. Just outside of Athens is Cape Sounion, the site of the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea. The site is also a popular place to watch the extraordinary sunset over the Aegean Sea on Greece vacations.
Thessaloniki - the Capital of Macedonia
This is the second-largest city in Greece and named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great. Thessaloniki has a long history and, after Constantinople, was the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire. It is no surprise that it is full of beautiful examples of Byzantine art and architecture. It is a lively modern city with wide avenues plus many parks and squares. The main square is Platia Aristotelous on the waterfront and is filled with cafes and restaurants, a great place to people-watch on travel to Greece. The old port area has been rejuvenated with more restaurants and a couple of art galleries. A special structure is the 15th Century White Tower, the symbol of the city and a museum of art and history. Some of the other historical buildings include the Palace of Galerius, built in the 3rd Century AD, the Roman Market and Theatre and the Roman Baths from the same era. Ancient Vergina is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece, located about 2 hours from Thessaloniki. It was the first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia and only discovered in the 19th Century. Another important archaeological site is Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
What are the top places and sites to see in Greece?
Of the islands, while on a Greece vacation, the best known are Corfu, a lush green island with excellent beaches, Crete, not only known for its beaches but also for its Roman and Turkish architecture and ancient Minoan ruins, Mykonos, a sophisticated vacation centre and Rhodes which offers beaches as well as mountain scenery and is the home of ancient site of the Colossus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
Delphi is famous as the ancient sanctuary, the site of the oracle that was consulted on important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. It is located in Central Greece on the south-west slope of Mount Parnassus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history and significance in ancient Greek times. On a Greece vacation, after the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site. It was considered in ancient times to be the centre of the known world. The Delphi Archaeological Museum contains a special collection of items associated with ancient Delphi. The permanent exhibition covers over 1,000 years from the Mycenaean era (1600 to 1100 BC) to Greco-Roman times.
This is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The ancient games were held every 4 years from the 8th Century BC to the 4th Century AD. Today, the Olympic flame is lit here before it travels around the world to its destination. Now, on Greek vacations, there are only ruins to look at, which include the Gymnasium from the 2nd Century BC, the workshop where the gold statue of Zeus was sculpted (it was one of the seven ancient wonders of the world), the immense Doric Temple of Zeus and the Stadium which was rectangular, unlike today's stadiums. It could seat at least 45,000 spectators.
A visit to Meteora, perched above the town of Kalambaka, is a unique and breathtaking experience on trips to Greece. Situated roughly between Athens and Thessaloniki, this is a series of rock formations with vertical cliffs on top of which are to be found a number of monasteries dating back mostly to the 14th Century. These monasteries were built by monks who were previously hermits living in caves. A visit to the monasteries, even if your interests are not religious, will give you a spiritual and magical feeling.
The Wonderful Greek Islands
A trip to Greece is not complete without visiting at least one of its many marvellous and delightful islands. Whether you take a Greek Island cruise or simply visit one or two and spend time there, you should not miss this experience. There are around 227 inhabited islands in Greece, some large, some small. Greece has been blessed with a collection of beautiful islands and there is no other country that has developed its islands to cater to visitors the way Greece has.
One Day, Three Island Cruise from Athens
If you are strictly limited for time, which is a shame on a Greek vacation, then you can consider a one day cruise from Athens to three interesting islands, Hydra, Poros and Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. You will have time ashore on each island to possibly have a quick swim, shop or simply explore. The port of Hydra has narrow stone-paved streets and painted 18th Century houses and a backdrop of hills. The next port of call is Poros, a beautiful green island with its groves of pine and lemon trees. The waterfront is lively with its shops, cafes and restaurants. The island of Aegina, the largest of the three, has numerous charming fishing villages and quiet beaches. The Temple of Aphaea Athena is the most important monument on Aegina and is designed along the lines of similar temples such as the Parthenon in Athens.
Santorini is what you might imagine an archetypal Greek Island to be like with its white-washed houses and churches and blue sky. This very beautiful island was formed from a huge volcanic eruption which created a large lagoon in the middle of the island. It is consequently surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. It still has an active volcano, the only one in the world whose crater is in the sea. Santorini has a reputation as being a romantic island with its crystal-clear waters. You can add to this the island’s amazing sunsets. Akrotiri is an ancient city dating back to the Minoan civilization (2700–1420 BC) which was rediscovered only 50 years ago when it was found under the volcanic ash from an earthquake in the 1600’s BC.
Crete, the largest Greek island, has ancient archaeological sites, great beaches and superb scenery ranging from mountains to green valleys and steep gorges. The capital, Heraklion, is located between two mountain ranges. There is a Venetian fortress on the harbour walls, built in the early 1500s, Venetian mansions and a number of Byzantine churches to view on a Greece vacation. The Palace of Knossos, just outside of the city, is a Minoan archaeological site, once the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. Another city is Chania, which hasn’t changed much from the time of the Venetian rule of Crete (13th to 17th Centuries). Remnants of Venetian and Turkish architecture are to be found with some of the old townhouses now restored. The old town is a maze of alleyways which contain the aforementioned Venetian mansions and churches.
Rhodes is one of the best-preserved medieval towns anywhere, with buildings that date back to Crusader times. The ancient city of Rhodes was first constructed in 407 BC. In 1309, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem conquered Rhodes and built strong fortifications to protect the island turning it into a thriving multinational medieval city. During the Ottoman occupation, new buildings were erected within the Old Town, mainly mosques and baths. In 1912, Rhodes was conquered by the Italians who added magnificent buildings, wide roads and squares. The Palace of the Grand Master was rebuilt and the Street of the Knights was reconstructed. At the end of the Street stands the Hospital of the Knights which houses the Archaeological Museum. The Old Town of Rhodes is a mosaic of different cultures and civilizations, a wonderful stop on trips to Greece.
Mykonos belongs to the Cyclades group of islands. Although it has acquired a reputation as a fun place in which to spend time on travel to Greece, there is much more to Mykonos than its nightlife and excellent beaches. The main town of Mykonos, also known as Chora, is very picturesque with its maze of narrow streets and harbour. The streets are full of shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, bars and restaurants. The island has quite a few beaches offering all the expected facilities. At one end of Mykonos town is Little Venice known for its picturesque medieval houses which literally hang over the edge of the sea. The sunset here is renowned. There are several good museums in Mykonos which include the Archaeological Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Aegean Maritime Museum and the Agricultural Museum.
Corfu is one of the Ionian Islands. The north of the island is more mountainous and the beaches are pebbly. The south of the island tends to have sandier beaches. The old town of Corfu has a number of historical sites. Strolling through the maze of narrow cobbled streets, with stairways and passages, gives you the feeling of being in Genoa or Naples. The Paleo Frourio (Old Fortress) was built by the Venetians in the 16th Century. From its ramparts, you can enjoy wonderful views of the town and even as far as the mountains in Albania. Outside of the town, you can visit Corfu’s oldest village, Perithia situated beneath a mountain. It is now a preserved village and a perfect example of Venetian architecture. Benitses is a very old, picturesque fishing village. It is also a resort with narrow paved streets and many taverns, cafes and bars.
When is the Best Time to Visit Greece?
The best times to be in Greece are spring (mid-April to mid-June) and the fall (September to mid-October). Not only are temperatures not too hot but you avoid the high season in the summer when prices are higher and many Europeans invade Greece. In spring, you will see more wildflowers and in the fall, you can still swim in the sea. Winters can be mild or cold depending on where you are. However, the air is fresh and clear. Many hotels, sights and restaurants shut down, especially on the islands. The rainy times are between November and February.
What Else Should I Know about a Greece Vacation?
Learn about the history and culture of Greece, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Greece's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you are properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip.
"Globetrotting with Goway" blog articles
For some additional reading, the following articles are from our blog “Globetrotting with Goway”….. a great source of information for those people who are, or who want to be, world travellers!
Extend your Stay
Consider an additional stopover to your Greece vacation at one of Goway's other European destinations. You can choose from a Paris vacation, a London vacation or an Amsterdam vacation. This can be done stopping over en route to or from Greece.
Best of Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini
Take in Greece’s highlights as you explore the country’s ancient past and vibrant present. Tour the world-famous Acropolis in Athens, Greece’s ancient capital, before sampling the iconic nightlife of Mykonos and the rugged volcanic landscape of Santorini in the Cyclades.More Details
- 4 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 945
- Trip Type:
- Stopovers/City Breaks, Tailor-made Travel Ideas
- 5 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 3,957
- Trip Type:
- Romance & Honeymoon, Stays of Distinction, Stopovers/City Breaks