Getting off the beaten path in a popular country such as Greece is easier than you imagined. Even if you plan to visit only very popular locations, there are still options to get away from the tourist trail:
- While Athens and Thessaloniki are tourist hot-spots, plan your visit in early spring (March) and you’ll have the cities for yourself. No lines at sights, no hot weather and excellent prices.
- But summer has a different appeal in Greece as the islands are teaming with life. You can avoid the crowds by visiting “secret” places such a Evia, Kalymnos, Kea or Spetses.
- The weekends in Athens should start with a walk among the stalls in the Flea Market. Pick up anything from fridge magnets to jewelry and clothes.
- If you visit Crete, spend some time exploring the ruins of the Minoan town of Gournia. Malia Palace, also on Crete, is a Minoan palace which is generally overlooked by travelers.
- Put on your walking shoes. Many islands offer excellent hiking trails , ranging from easy 20 min walks to harder several days treks.
Why you should add Greece to your RTW travel list
Of course visiting Greece wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the sights the country is famous for. Here are some ideas on what to do if you’ve never been there or plan on staying for a while.
- Learn history and visit the Archeological Park of Athens which includes the Acropolis, the Roman Agora and the Greek Agora, among other sites.
- Watch a sunrise or sunset in Santorini.
- Spend a day doing nothing on a beach.
- Visit the Palace of Knossos in Crete.
- Visit the Old Town of Rhodes with its amazing Medieval castle.
- Visit the Old Town of Corfu.
- Be amazed by the “suspended monasteries” in Meteora.
- Take photos in Little Venice on Mykonos.
- Dance the night way in a club or on a beach in Mykonos.
- Take the ferry between the Greek islands.
- Try the amazing Greek food: tzatziki, dolmades, Greek salad, sea-food.
Why you should not add Greece to your RTW travel list
- Visiting Greece in the summer is expensive if you plan to stick to the very popular destinations. Add Santorini, Mykonos and Crete to your itinerary and you will spend a lot of money. The alternative is to try during spring or autumn. Better yet, plan to visit one or two very popular places and also choose off-the-beaten-path locations to add to your trip.
- Temperatures are high during summer, especially on the mainland. That’s why Athens and Thessaloniki almost look deserted in July and August. Everyone heads to the islands.
The birthplace of Western Civilization, Greece is a fusion of both the Old World and New World. Although known for hosting the first Olympics, Greece has been popular for years on the traveler’s circuit, known for not only its white-washed party islands, but also its hundreds of famous sites like the Acropolis, Crete, Santorini, Delphi, and many ancient medieval cities. If you take the time to explore Greece, and get away from the travelers circuit, you are bound to find her heart and beauty.
For many, the heart and beauty are centered around the water. Greece’s waterscapes are among the most pleasant in the world. With house-stream cliffs that jut straight into the sea, even the smallest and most obscure Greek town can be a sight to behold. Many choose to get a glimpse from the water itself as they travel from one island to another, each with a unique personality and flavor.
What to do
Athens is sprawling and hectic, but it’s a must-see for any visitor. The Acropolis and the National Archeological Museum can be seen nicely in two days, with plenty of time to wander the shopping streets and soak in the pleasant vibe, but then get out and head to…
The Greek Islands are known as much for their summer party atmosphere as they are for their archeology and history. It’s easy to get a mix of both on even a short stay. Reaching them is easy as the main Athens harbor of Piraeus is only 30 minutes out of the city on the subway line. From there ferries leave to all the islands daily, but only in season.
From abroad you’ll want to fly into Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (code: ATH), which is a major hub for the entire region and often has low fares. From within Europe you can also fly directly into Heraklion International Airport (code: HER) on Crete. Greece is also reachable on trains so it’s a good stop for Eurail Pass holders.