Greece is a fascinating country where myth, legend and history collide, and has captured the imagination of travellers for at least the last 5000 years. With a heritage that has been influenced by cultures as diverse as the Minoans, the ancient Egyptians, Arabs, Romans and many more besides, leaving a rich tapestry of myth and legend that will not fail to impress even the most jaded cultural philistine.

But far beyond that, Greece offers a whole smorgasbord of sensual and cultural delights that elevate it as a destination far beyond the hedonistic pursuits of a minority of package tourists that head straight to the party islands or one of the many all inclusive resorts.

Languishing on a balmy beach at sunset, exploring ancient ruins and picturesque villages – just like when you are enjoying the fresh, delicious, healthy Greek cuisine – Greece is at its best when it is kept simple and uncomplicated.

On the whole Greece is a very Westernised, European country that is very in tune with European customs and traditions, and few travellers will have trouble fitting into the culture here. The further away you get from the tourist hotspots however the more you will find very traditional roots still hold firm.

Culture and Etiquette.

Greeks are often extremely friendly, and don’t have the same personal boundaries that many other countries do, you are as likely to receive a warm hug, a ton of personal questions and an invite to a family meal on the first meeting as you are a warm handshake.

Greeks are also extremely laid back, and this extends to their timekeeping too. Greek time is a very real thing, and a strong emphasis is always placed on the life part of the work/life balance. Any timetable is only ever a rough guess and work is secondary to spending quality time with friends and family, as it should be! But as a traveller is Greece this will most likely be experienced through the famous Greek coffee culture, where sitting back and enjoying a coffee with friends, or simply taking the time to relax and people watch if you are alone, truly is a national pastime.

Away from the touristy areas and party islands, a little more conservatism with your dress and behaviour is expected. Greece is far from a conservative country by any means, but making a little effort when you go out is the norm and wearing trousers instead of shorts will be expected if you visit any religious sites. A little decorum is expected if you visit a family beach too.

What You Need To Know.


Citizens of the EU require no visa to enter Greece. Citizens of the UK, US Australia , New Zealand, Canada and most others can travel to countries in the Schengen Area (including including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) for up to 90 days in any 180 day period without a visa. If you want to travel for longer or stay to work you can apply for a visa from the embassy which is relatively straightforward if you meet the criteria.

Since January 2021 UK citizens travelling to Europe will need to make sure that their passport is less than 10 years old and valid for 3 months for after the date you leave the country.


There are no recommended vaccinations for visiting Greece, but it is still strongly recommended that all travellers are up to date with their routine vaccinations including tetanus and polio.

All EU and UK citizens are entitled to free healthcare in Greece thanks to reciprocal arrangements, but will still need travel insurance. Everyone else from every other country should ensure that they have adequate insurance as any medical treatment outside immediate emergency trauma care will come at a very high cost.

Many large towns and resorts will have English speaking medical professionals, and pharmacies with well trained staff are widely available for common complaints such as sun exposure, diarrhoea and insect bites.

Crime and Safety.

Greece on the whole is as safe as any European country. Crime does exist but reasonable common sense precautions will reduce the risk of most travellers becoming a victim of any crime or mishap.

Many problems tourists and travellers encounter in Greece involve drink and other substances on the often notorious party islands such as Kavos, Faliraki and others. These places are often heaving with drunken tourists on a boozed up budget package holiday, so you should expect the behaviour and troubles that often come with that if you visit there and prepare yourself appropriately.

The common bar scam is particularly rife in the bars of Athens and some of the islands. Male travellers are particularly at risk of being led to a bar by friendly locals, conned into buying a good looking woman a drink, then presented with the vastly overpriced bill for those drinks. Threats and violence are not unknown if you do not pay up, so ask for prices beforehand and keep your wits about you.

Costs and money.

The primary unit of Greece is the Euro, and despite the recent economic meltdown Greece is very cheap compared to most other neighbouring European countries, but it can still be a very expensive destination depending on where you stay, how much island hopping you do, how many sites you see and how much you drink.

Accommodation can set you back at least £15 – £20 GBP absolute minimum for a basic dorm and £30 upwards for a private hostel room. A good B&B or basic hotel/guesthouse will set you back between £60 – £100 and costs will rise from there depending on how much luxury you want. These costs can easily double at the touristy places and on the more expensive islands and you can expect prices to rise in the peak summer season.

Transportation will be your next major expense, especially if you plan to visit a lot of islands. Island hopping will involve a lot of ferries and boats, which can on average set you back between £10 -£30 GBP or more. The slower overnight ferries are cheaper which can also save you a night’s accommodation costs.

Activities will also set you back a fair bit, with tickets to ancient sites costing between £5 – £15 GBP and tourist activities on the party islands costing much more.

Food and drink however can be quite cheap away from the resorts, but very expensive in them (or at any restaurant near a touristy site). Eat at smaller cafes and local tavernas and you can get great local meals for a few pounds. A good coffee or a basic but awesome Gyro will set you back a couple of euros.

When to go.

Weather wise you can visit Greece at any time of the year, head South for warmer weather in the winter and North for cooler weather in the Summer as a very general rule. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit Greece as you will avoid the crazy heat and tourist crush of peak season in July and August and the practical shutdown of many tourist services in the winter.

Be aware of the Meltemi winds if you are visiting in the summer months. Sometimes referred to as the Etesan wind, the Meltemi wind is a strong annual weather pattern unique to the Aegean sea that affects both Greece and Turkey from June right through to September or October. They will affect the beaches on the Cyclades and the Dodecanese isands, and cause strong trade winds and stronger currents.

That means if you are visiting Greece in the summer, as most people tend to do, then it is important you keep this in mind as it can make swimming more dangerous and some activities such as watersports or sailing may be affected, especially on the more northern beaches. It shouldn’t stop you from visiting, but just be aware of it, plan accordingly and keep yourself safe.

Places To See.


Away from the popular and crowded Greek islands, Elafinisos is a small but beautifully underrated island on the southern tip of the Peloponnese. Often – quite rightly – called the jewel of the region thanks to its crystal clear turquoise waters, it boasts that it has the only Caribbean style stretch of beach in Greece, and frankly it is hard to argue with that!


A stark, almost barren island in the Cyclades, Serifos has not really been touched by mass tourism in the way many islands have and seems deserted as you approach it on the ferry. Small, laid back accommodation and seafood restaurants are the order of the day here, with a ton of postcard perfect beaches and great hiking opportunities to some isolated villages and hidden coves for the more active traveller. The real draw of this island however is the legend that surrounds it. This is the island where Perseus returned with Medusa’s head in time to save his mother, Danaë and turn the evil King Polydectes and his court into stone.


Kythnos is another underrated gem in the Cyclades, and is one of the quieter and least touristy islands in the whole chain, meaning that travellers who want to step back in time and away from the crowds will find a perfect escape here. Sunbed and tourist free beaches, laid back island life, hard to reach hot springs, what isn’t there to love?


Colossus of Rhodes Greece

Rhodes is the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands and is famous for its nightlife on Faliraki, where endless Brits and Europeans head for a boozy package holiday. Whilst that side of the island is certainly very visible, the real reason to visit this vastly underrated island is the historical significance. It’s old town has ruins dating back to the Crusades and the Palace of the Grandmasters is an iconic historical attraction, but what people don’t know is that a small nondescript harbour is very likely the location of the lost ancient wonder, the Colossus of Rhodes. You can’t see it now of course but it is a great way to spend the day exploring the modern landscape and imagining what would have been.


Monemvasia is an impressive island fortress with an entire city state inside it, standing on an impregnable rock jutting out from the sea, the winding labyrinth of medieval, cobbled streets and Byzantine fortifications are a unique and spectacular attraction in the Peloponnese.


The topography of this volcanic landscape is absolutely stunning, and according to some theories the location of the mythical Atlantis. Either way, visiting this island is an absolute must for anyone travelling through Greece.


Although it is the major travel hub in Greece and most travellers will pass through at some point, Athens can be a hard city to love at first sight, its run down urban sprawl doesn’t leave a good first impression but hides a truly special city that has fascinating neighbourhoods to explore, a vibrant nightlife and a genuine claim to be the birthplace of modern western civilisation as the home of democracy, arts, science and philosophy. Athens has a recorded history spanning almost 3,500 years, and has earned the right to demand a little bit of time to those that visit to look past its exterior and see the history and culture that has developed here.


No visit to Greece is complete without coming to Crete. Technically still counted as an island, albeit a very large one, Crete feels more like part of the mainland and a capital city in its own right. With a surprisingly cosmopolitan nightlife and foodie scene, a smorgasbord of historical and archaeological sites and countless museums and other cultural attractions, you can spend months on Crete and still only scratch the surface!

Agios Nikolaos Geopark.

The petrified palm forest of Agios Nikolaos may be a relatively hidden and little visited stretch of coastline in the Peloponnese, but it is perhaps one of the single most significant sites of archaeological, geological and paleontological sites of scientific importance in the whole of Greece, not to mention a prime example of sustainable tourism making the most of the natural environment whilst helping to protect it. As part of the European Geoparks Network it is also included in the atlas of the geological monuments of the Aegean sea.


Kalamata is the capital city of the Messinia region in Greece. Often overlooked or rushed through by many travellers, this charming seaside city is a surprising cultural powerhouse with so many things to see and do, including a long pebble and sand beach, decent bars, some amazing seafood restaurants and some excellent museums.

Archaeological sit of Ancient Olympia.

The birthplace of the Olympic games is a great place to visit and soak in some history, any fan of the games themselves will appreciate the significance of the site.

Things To Do.

Trekking to the top of Mount Olympus.

A visit to the home of the Gods is almost obligatory on any visit to Greece, but to get to hike up there surrounded by breathtaking views is the icing on the cake. You can easily imagine how the Greek Pantheon could call this their home!

Visit the Acropolis.

This is perhaps one of the most famous historical monuments in the world, up there on any list alongside the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Egypt or the Incan ruins of Peru, the Acropolis is hailed as the birthplace of modern civilisation and this perpetually restored ruin is an absolute must see in Greece.

Swim under a waterfall.

The Polilimnio Waterfalls are a stunning area of outstanding natural beauty located in the southwestern part of Greece, near the city of Pylos in the Peloponnese. Several crystal clear lagoons are hidden in the lush green forest, fed by a series of cascading waterfalls and perfect for a cooling dip after a hike.

Discover Knossos.

The archaeological site of Knossos, the largest and most important of the Minoan palaces, is a spectacular must see historical site just outside of Iráklion. The mythological home of King Minos and the Minotaur, it dates back to the Neolithic period until it was abandoned at the end of the Bronze Age. Anyone with an interest in myth and history has to visit here.

Explore the site of a missing ancient world wonder.

Inside the archaeological site of ancient Olympia is the ruined temple of Zeus, where the Statue of Zeus, one of the lost wonders of the ancient world, used to stand before it was destroyed and lost, and just like standing at the Pyramids of Giza or the sites of the lost Lighthouse of Alexandria or Colossus of Rhodes, it is a genuine, awe inspiring thrill and privilege to even stand in the same spot and wander what it once would have been like. Today only the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and a few ruined columns are visible, having been uncovered by archaeologists in the 19th Century.

Visit a museum, or three.

Greece has some of the finest historical museums in the world, from the National Archaeological Museum or the Acropolis Museum in Athens to the historical museum of Crete, thousands of years of myth, legend and history can be explored in nice, easy day trips, and it should be an actual crime not to visit a few during your time here.

Explore a wreck at Shipwreck Bay.

Zakynthos is one of the larger jewels in the Ionian sea, but Navagio, otherwise known as Shipwreck Bay has become an iconic site in Greece, with a spectacular cliff drop, gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise waters and of course its eponymous shipwreck.

Explore the Ruins Of Delphi.

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, the famous ruins of Delphi have been the source of pilgrimages for thousands of years. Delphi was considered the centre of the Earth, sacred to Gaia herself, but was guarded by the evil serpent, Python, who was killed by Apollo who later came to visit the Cretans in the form of a dolphin – hence the name Delphi. You may not get your future told by the mythical oracle, but you will be rewarded by some stunning ruins and a history so tangible and rich you can almost feel it.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the coffee culture.

Coffee in Greece is a huge part of the Greek culture, but unlike other destinations that focus on the drink itself, Grecian coffee culture is much more of a pretext for spending time with friends and family and doing that very Greek thing to do, slowing down and appreciating life.

Hike the Samaria Gorge.

Descending into the gorge isn’t difficult for anyone with a basic level of fitness, and the amazing views, surrounded by towering mountains is more than worth the effort!

Enjoy the nightlife.

You don’t have to go to the infamous club islands to enjoy some nightlife in Greece! Most towns, cities and islands have a wonderfully laid back nightlife where you can eat and drink until the early hours. The evening meals usually don’t start until late and it is not unusual to see families with children out until close to midnight, and away from the clubland stretches there is no culture of binge drinking or partying in most places, so the vibe is very chilled, laid back and safe.

Indulge in a feast!

Greece is famous for simple, fresh but delicious Mediterranean food, and feasting on a traditional mezedhes platter followed by cheeses and fruit is absolute heaven, and you can even wash it down with locally sourced wine or even a glass of ouzo!

Related Articles.

A Colossus Odyssey.

Dos And Dont’s For Travelling In Greece: Customs And Etiquette For First Time Travellers.

Getting Lost In The Footsteps Of The Knights Of Rhodes.

Hiking The Mythical Polilimnio Waterfalls In Greece.

Is Kalamata In Greece Worth Visiting?

The Cats Of Greece: The Purrfect Travel Companions.

Visiting Ancient Olympia In Greece: The Birthplace Of The Olympic Games.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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