With astounding archaeological sites, islands of extreme beauty, bucolic villages and some of the greatest food you’ll ever consume, Greece should be on every traveller's list. This gem of the Aegean will satisfy your thirst for knowledge, lust for adventure, desire for partying and craving for cuisine. Opa!
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Set sail across the Mediterranean exploring Greece's heaven-sent islands. The spoils of Santorini, Ios, Amorgos, Naxos...View trip details
Articles on Greece
Slow and steady in Greece
Posted on Wed, 24 Oct 2012 by Sue Elliot
"Sailing the Greek Islands is about more than just movement. The stopping is just as important..."Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Greece, you may find yourself travelling by:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Athens (population 750,000)
- 10.7 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT+02:00) Athens, Bucharest, Istanbul
- Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Greece
Greece generally has a mild, Mediterranean climate, with July and August being the busiest months for tourism. With warm weather and plentiful sunshine, this is a great time for visiting the islands, swimming in the sea and lazing on the beach. Summers are generally hot and dry, with daytime temperatures rising to 30°-38°C (85°-100°F). Days are usually cooled by prevailing north winds, especially on the islands.
By mid-September, temperatures begin to fall and crowds thin, but it can still be hot. The weather remains generally calm and balmy well into October. If you can't get to Greece in the spring, and beaches are not your primary goal, this is a fine time to visit. By late October, ferry service and flights are cutting back and most facilities on the islands begin to close for the winter. But the cooler atmosphere makes Athens and the mainland all the more pleasant.
Culture and customs
With more than 90% of the population being Greek Orthodox, religion plays an important part in everyday life. Religious festivals and ceremonies are commonplace, both in the mainland cities and small rural villages. Christmas and Easter are particularly important dates on the calendar, although religious celebrations are not limited to these times as there are daily, weekly and annual rites and rituals performed all throughout Greece’s mainland and islands.
Family plays a strong part in Greek life, with extended families tending to remain close and gathering together for meals and celebrations. Special foods are created at different times of the year, some of which date back to centuries ago. Weddings are typically large affairs and usually celebrated with much merriment and fanfare. To be Greek is to be proud of your country, your heritage and your traditions.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Visitors to Greece will be spoilt with the very best of fresh produce and ancient cooking traditions.
Things to try in Greece
1. Olives and Olive Oil
No trip to Greece is complete without savouring olives and their legendary oil. Greeks cook with copious amounts of olive oil and also serve it on the side with bread. Fresh green and black olives can be found everywhere – in markets, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, and in people’s homes.
2. Yaurti (Yoghurt)
Thick, smooth and rich, the yoghurt in Greece is unlike other yoghurts around the world. Grab a bowl of it smothered in honey and nuts for breakfast, lunch or a snack.
The national cheese of Greece should definitely be sampled in its native environment. You’ll find this salty treat in fresh salads, baked into pies, stuffed into fish and fried and served with bread.
This strong, distilled spirit has a distinct aniseed flavour and is perfect for cleansing the palette before meals. Sip on some while visiting an ouzeri for an authentic Greek experience.
Geography and environment
History and government
The early history of Greece is among the world’s most fascinating, and like the other ancient civilisations of Egypt and Rome, Greece has many monuments still standing after centuries. The Greeks have been both the conquerors and the conquered, withstood the Plague and other natural disasters, and birthed some of the greatest literature, scientific developments, mathematical formulas and thought movements.
In 1821, the Greeks fought against Ottoman rule during the Greek War of Independence, which resulted in Greece being recognised as an autonomous region in 1828. This was a time of great upheaval for the Greek people, with political assassinations, battles and plundering. After autonomy was granted, many years of change followed, with continued war and confrontation alongside intermittent periods of relative peace. The two World Wars had a profound effect on Greece, with many battles fought in Greece during the early 1940s (during the Axis occupation). Athens was liberated from this occupation in 1944 and the Greek government was restored. Greece joined the United Nations (as a founding member) in 1945 and NATO in 1952. During this time, many Greeks started moving to other parts of the world in a mass wave of widespread migration. The USA, Australia and Europe were popular destinations in this move, which saw hundreds of thousands of Greeks immigrate to other lands. In 2004, Athens successfully hosted the Summer Olympics once again. Yet more recently, Greece has come under the shadow of the European debt crisis which has crippled the economy. Despite this, the spirit of the Greek people endures as it has for eons.
Top 10 Must-Eat Dishes of Greece
1. Dolmades with Yoghurt
Probably one of Greece’s most famous culinary triumphs these vine leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts and herbs are usually served with fresh, tangy yoghurt and due to their supreme ‘eatability’ don’t last long.
2. Grilled Octopus
The Greek Islands are arguably the best place in the world to savour char grilled octopus. Nothing beats freshly caught seafood, teemed with a cool beer and a golden sunset.
3. Horiatiki Salata
Known as Greek Salad in the English-speaking world, the combination of olives, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, feta, olive oil and oregano shows that the simple flavours are often the best.
These small plates of vegetables, cheese, olives, dips and peppers are typically served before meals and are a perfect, light starter to a meal.
5. Fried Calamari
Known as Kalamarakia Tiganita to Greeks, this quick and simple deep fried delicacy is best served simple – with a slice of lemon and an amazing view!
This slow-baked lamb dish features the mouth-watering flavours of garlic and lemon. The cooking method ensures that the meat falls off the bone to create a tender masterpiece.
This classic Greek dish of layered eggplant, spiced meat and creamy sauce is delicious, decadent and delectable.
Sweet tooths shouldn’t miss these deep fried doughy treats! Soaked in a sugary syrup or honey and cinnamon, they are small but simply sensational.
A favourite with vegetarians, this dish of layered filo pastry, feta cheese and spinach is filling and flavoursome.
For a cheap and tasty meal, head to a yiros cart to choose from tender, grilled beef, chicken, lamb or pork yiros. This popular hangover cure consists of oily meat, wrapped in bread with salad and tzadziki and could possibly be one of the best examples of fast food in the world.
From public markets and designer boutiques to European chain stores, Greece has every aspect of retail cornered.
It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Greece
1. Komboloi (Worry Beads)
These stress-relieving resin beads are meant to be turned through your fingers as you muse over life. With roots deep in ancient Greek cultural tradition, they make a great souvenir for friends wanting a slice of authentic Greece.
2. Botanical Skincare
Greece is home to many brands of premium, organic skincare. Stock up on luxurious olive oil soap or enriching yoghurt-based moisturisers before you head home.
Travel safely and ward off evil by attaching a Mati (an ‘Evil Eye’) to your backpack. They’re cheap, available almost everywhere in Greece and are a great reminder of your travels in the Aegean.
Whether you prefer gold, silver, amber resin or colourful beads, Greece has a huge variety of jewellery on offer. Prices are typically lower than in many other parts of the world, so it’s likely you’ll be able to snap up a few bargains.
Festivals and Events in Greece
If you find yourself in Greece during this time, you’ll feel ‘blessed’. Each year, Athens’ ancient port of Piraeus sees this religious day celebrated in an extraordinary way. A local priest flings a crucifix into the sea and young men dive into the cold water to retrieve it. This ritual is echoed throughout Greece in small villages and on islands. This special ceremony is performed for locals, by locals, but tourists are welcome to watch and learn.
This annual feast of Aegean culture features visuals arts, music, dance and theatre performances take place in both the ancient and modern performance venues of Athens. Don’t miss getting along to one of the performances if you’re travelling in Greece during this time.
This festival offers the chance to experience the classics of Greek drama being performed in their original setting - an ancient theatre. With performances being held every Friday and Saturday night during the festival, there are plenty of opportunities to see Greek tragedies as originally intended.
FAQs on Greece
Takeaway souvlaki = 2-3 Euro
Greek coffee in a cafe = 4 Euro
Beer in a bar or cafeteria = 4-6 Euro
Simple meal at a restaurant = 12 Euro
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 6 Epiphany
Mar 25 Independence Day
May 1 Labour Day
May 3 Orthodox Good Friday
May 6 Orthodox Easter Monday
Jun 24 Orthodox Whit Monday
Aug 15 Assumption
Oct 28 Ochi Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Greece/public-holidays
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
UK: Not required
USA: Not required Intrepid requires you to provide a clear scanned copy of the front page of your passport (photo page) for relevant port Authority registration in the Ionian sea region. Intrepid must receive the passport copy at least 30 days prior to travel. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport please bring your old passport with you as well.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Greece Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Greece
1. Be considerate of Greece’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
8. Refrain from touching or interfering with ancient monuments, relics or historic sites.
|Captain Corelli's Mandolin||Louis de Bernieres|
|The Corfu Trilogy||Gerald Durrell|
|The Colossus of Maroussi||Henry Miller|
|Zorba the Greek||Nikos Kazantzakis|
|The Greeks||H.D.F. Kitto|