Greece

Greece

Things to do - general

While its economic reputation has taken a battering, Greece remains a premier-league travel destination. Its incredible historic sites span four millennia, encompassing both the legendary and the obscure. Its convoluted coastline is punctuated by superb beaches, while its mountainous interior urges you to dust off your hiking boots and explore. Yet perhaps its greatest riches are the islands, ranging from backwaters where the boat calls twice a week to resorts as cosmopolitan as any in the Mediterranean.

For anyone with a cultural bone in their body Greece cannot fail to inspire. Minoans, Romans, Arabs, Latin Crusaders, Venetians, Slavs, Albanians and Turks have all left their mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past, whether it’s a delicately crumbling temple to Aphrodite, a forbidding Venetian fort or a dusty Byzantine monastery decorated with exquisite frescoes. And let’s not forget the museums stuffed to bursting with Classical sculpture and archeological treasures.

But the call to cultural duty will never be too overwhelming on a Greek holiday. The hedonistic pleasures of languor and warmth – swimming in balmy seas at dusk, talking and drinking under the stars – are just as appealing. Bar a few upmarket and “boutique” exceptions you may struggle to find five-star comfort – orthopaedic mattresses, faultless plumbing and cordon bleu cuisine are not the country’s strongpoint – but this isn’t really what the Greek experience is about. Greek food, for example, is at its best fresh, abundant and uncomplicated, while the genuine welcome you receive at the simplest taverna is often enough to get you booking next year’s break as soon as you have returned home.

Whatever you come here for, it’s clear that Greece needs its tourists like never before. For the last few years it’s been synonymous with financial calamity with a titanic debt crisis seemingly ready to engulf Europe. However, this seems to have put off few people (visits to the islands were up 30 percent in 2011). Perhaps they know what we’ve known since the first edition of this guide was published thirty years ago – Greece can offer surprises and a true sense of discovery to even the most demanding traveller.

Country Greece
Visa requirementsSchengen Area.
Languages spokenGreek
Currency usedEuro
Area (km2)131,957 km2

Sports & nature

Despite its small surface area, Greece is endowed with a particularly rich and diversified natural environment, with singular geomorphology, intense contrasts and many regions with great economical value. The country’s abundant natural “gifts” -thousands of lace-like (indented) coasts, imposing mountains, caves and gorges, lakes, rivers, biotopes of rare beauty and unique ecosystems, coupled with the mild climate- rank it among the ideal destinations for ecotourism and alternative forms of tourism.

When visiting various regions in Greece, the tourist has the opportunity- to wander around aesthetic forests or explore national parks that are not only in the mountainous hinterlands of the mainland, but also on certain islands or near rivers and lakes,

to enjoy the wonderful monuments of nature, such as gorges, caves and waterfalls,

to observe and admire rare bird species that are nesting or seeking refuge in coastal ecosystems and wetlands (rocky coasts, sandy beaches, sand dunes, river deltas, lakes, marshes, coastal plains, etc),

to study the highly diverse floral life of the Greek countryside

to visit the unique sea parks which provide shelter to two protected species, the Mediterranean Monk seal (Monachus monachus) and the sea turtle (Caretta caretta),

to participate in extreme sports (canoe-kayak, rafting, monoraft, hydrospeed,

to find accommodation in standard agrotourist units in various regions of the country that afford visitors the opportunity to become familiar with local architecture, cultural and gastronomic tradition, as well as products, farming activities and the daily life of the local inhabitants.

Visitors of ecologically sensitive areas must observe all rules and regulations for the protection of the environment against pollution, the non-disturbance of natural habitats and the preservation of the equilibrium of the various ecosystems.

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Nightlife info

World widely known for its unique and multidimensional nightlife, Greece is an ideal destination for those who want to have fun, leaving stress and problems behind. Greek nights last longer and enthusiasm is undiminished, offering unforgettable moments. As expected, the three largest cities of Greece, Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, hold the reigns of this superb nightlife. If you would like to go out, on the following options, you'll find the place to raise your spirits.

Thessaloníki

Thessaloníki is synonymous with endless entertainment and fun!

Wander around the city’s central streets- totally infused with a cosmopolitan flair; dance the night away in one of the city’s elegant bars and clubs; take in the pure magic atmosphere of a city completely steeped in history; mingle with the locals in traditional folk music halls; participate in student parties; adopt the city’s lifestyle and the word “entertainment” will acquire a totally different meaning!

• Aristotélous square

Explore the city’s buzzing nightlife starting from the city’s landmark, Aristotélous square, one of the biggest and most impressive squares in Greece boasting monumental edifices as well as a great variety of cafes and bars where people of all ages are meeting and mixing!

• Nýkis Avenue (waterfront)

It’s actually where Aristotélous square ends that Nýkis Avenue begins!

Maybe the most famous hot spot of Thessaloníki nightlife, Nýkis Avenue boasts elegant bars spilling out onto the waterfront offering a unique view to Thermaikós Gulf!

• City’s center

All around the city center (Tsimiskí, Mitropóleos, Pávlou Melá, Proksénou Koromilá, Egnatía, Svólou or Ayías Sofías Streets) you will find hive cafes and bars offering a more relaxed or festive atmosphere charged with excitement according to the time of the day… or night!

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Culture and history info

Greece is a country of great interests and diverse cultures, influenced by its location, at the junction between the East and the West and by the many occupations of the Greek people throughout history. In general, the Greeks are particularly proud of their culture and speak of their country with an intense passion, feeling that the culture in Greece is a definition of their national and ethnic belonging. Traditions, religion, music, language, food and wines are the major composites of the culture in Greece and constitute the base for those who wish to visit and understand today's country.

Excavations show that the first settlement in Ancient Greece dates from the Palaeolithic era (11,000-3,000 BC). During the second millennium BC, Greece gave birth to the great stone and bronze civilization: the Minoans (2600-1500 BC), the Mycenaeans (1500-1150 BC) and the Cycladic civilization. These were the first important civilizations in the Greek history.

The Classical Period (6th-4th century BC) is very famous worldwide. The peak of the classical period is the 5th century BC, when the foundations of the western civilization were created in Athens. This city-state became the greatest naval power of ancient Greece that time and developed all domains of culture, including philosophy, music, drama, rhetoric and even a new regime called democracy. It is not exaggerating to say that this period changed the history of the world. Athens and Sparta were the most powerful city-states in ancient Greece and the other city-states were actually allied to one or the other of these two towns. In the 5th century, the allied Greek city-states managed to repel the invasion of the Persians. However, the Peloponnesian War that followed, between Athens and Sparta, led to the decline of the glorious classical era. That was when the kingdom of Macedon, a tribe residing in northern Greece, came to power defeating and conquering the other Greek city-states. After the death of king Phillip II, his son Alexander started a large expedition in Asia. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire and his army conquered all the way till India. However, in 323 BC, he dies in Babylon at the age of 33 and his Macedonian empire is torn apart and governed by his heirs.

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