Discover the country’s many charms; breathtaking natural landscapes and islands dressed in blue and white promise to put you under their delightful spell.
During your holidays in Greece you will have the opportunity to discover various and enjoyable ways, for your free time. Traditional market areas but also famous fashion labels are offered for shopping, wellness and spa centers for luxury time, traditional restaurants “tavernas” or café by the sea or in the mountain, cinemas and theaters, are able to satisfy all trends and desires either you are in the city or in the island.
Greece is famous for its especially intense and multifaceted nightlife, which is not restricted to the weekends, in difference with the other European countries; the fun lasts until the early hours of the morning.
Greece has one of the longest coastlines in the world – almost 16.000km. The mainland and island areas end in a myriad variety of coastlines, with countless beautiful small beaches, charming bays and coves. Half of the aforementioned length includes the thousands of Greek islands scattered through the Greek seas, while the rest extends along the mainland.
The Greek shores are world-famous and exceedingly popular because they are known for their crystal clean and clear waters, as well as for their unique diversity. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy beaches stretching along over many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, golden stretches of sand with dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark sand typical of volcanic soil.
Every year hundreds of beaches and marinas in Greece are awarded with the Blue Flag. The Blue Flag award to a beach is an international institution that began in 1987. The criteria a beach must meet in order to receive a Blue Flag are very strict, both from an environmental viewpoint as well as from the aspect of services provided to bathers and safety. In Greece about 400 beaches and 9 marinas have been awarded the Blue Flag; this number rises each year, a true indication of the Greeks’ love and regard for the sea.
Many Greek beaches have become synonymous with luxury and a carefree life. Navagio (Shipwreck) on Zakynthos, Balos on Crete, Lindos on Rhodes, Manganari on Ios, Foinikounta on the Mani coast and numerous others are inundated each year by lovers of the Greek seas.
Elia on the island of Myconos is of course the most famous Greek beach. Popular Elia is just 8 kilometres from Chora Myconos and combines the wonderful Cycladic landscape, bright blue sea and superior infrastructure.
Kolympithres on Paros with its strange rock formations carved out by the sea, captivates travellers. The beach lies in north-west Paros, in the gulf of Naoussa. It is essentially not a single beach but many different ones: an incredible, natural work of art.
Red Beach on Santorini is undoubtedly the most famous on the island. A unique palette of colours dominated by vivid volcano red leads down to the crystal blue sea. Sea lovers flock down to this southernmost point of Santorini to enjoy nature’s wild beauty.
Alyki Beach on the island of Thassos is another ‘jewel’ of the sea. It is in actual fact twin beaches separated by a narrow strip of land. In the sea stand the famous Thrones, carved stone formations, the remnants of an ancient quarry, which though give the impression of being thrones for sea gods.
Elounta on Crete, Minoan Olous, is the island’s trademark. It lies on the south side, just 10 kilometres from Agios Nikolaos, a delightful complex of beaches adored by the global travel community.
Myrtos beach on the island of Kefalonia receives awards every year and features in travel guides the world over. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. Just 30 kilometres from Argostoli, the beauty of the landscape, pure white pebbles and heavenly waters are breath-taking.
Every Greek beach is engulfed in beauty. Some are lush-green with pines reflecting in the water, others were born of volcanoes mesmerizing with nature’s power, like Kipoi on Samothrace, with its jet-black pebbles. Yet again, others are hidden paradises, like Varelaioi in Evia, the ‘secret’ beaches of the Minor Cyclades, Voutoumi on the island of Antipaxos, Mylopotamos in Pelion; beaches in Greece are a true kaleidoscope, enthralling the senses with their colours and formations.
Traces of a centuries-old and important history is etched in every corner of Greek land: findings from the Prehistoric and Archaic Periods, unique works from Classical, Hellenistic, Medieval and Byzantine monuments, creations from folk art cultures, traces from the passing eons of other civilizations and different religions, that coexist with current creations, constructions and modern works of art.
Greece is a true paradise for cultural tourism, a large journey into history and art. Educational excursions, theatrical productions, festivals, pilgrimages, visits to archaeological sites, monuments and museums, excursions to study the natural environment, folk art and culture – these are just a few of the many things that Greece has to offer in the cultural tourism sector.
Whoever really wants to understand Greece, its history and its people, he will find an unrivalled cultural experience through traveling into the area and chronological period of Greek culture.
When visiting various regions in Greece, you have 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.
“The thing I like the most about Greece is the feeling you have that you are part of a big happy family. The sense of warmth and intimacy makes you forget all about having to go back where you came from”. These are the words most visitors use to describe their feelings while on vacation in Greece. Smiley faces and hospitality, family warmth and peace, security, untouched nature and magnificent food give a unique combination, making Greece number one family destination worldwide.
Each time of the year has different activities to offer, due to the variety of the greek geology. Life is dreamy during summer, when the sun shines and sea blue takes over. Families will have the chance to swim in clear, safe, turquoise water at one of the many blue flag beaches of the country. Picturesque tavernas offering dishes made with pure greek ingredients add to the delightedness of the visitor. The islands of the Aegean and Ionian sea, Crete, Halkidiki are just a minimum of the ideal family destinations. Along with the children, visit the sea museums and parks located on various islands of the country and enjoy adventurous water sports activities.
In the fall, the stunning colors of the landscape and the relatively warm weather call for touring. This period is ideal for trips down the history line, walking through the impressive stone palaces of the greek castle-cities spotted all around the country. The medieval atmosphere of Mystras and Monemvasia guarantee the uniqueness of the experience.
Athens of course is another choice one can make. Children and parents will enjoy themselves in a museum or a recreational park – the Acropolis museum, children’s museum in Plaka, or Attica Zoo Park, one of the biggest throughout the Balkans, can offer much pleasure and activities. On the mountain hills that surround Athens, like Parnitha, you can have a picnic or ride a bicycle, while Athens Riviera, with its beautiful beaches, luxurious shopping malls and famous restaurants give a whole different leisure plan.
In wintertime, one shouldn’t miss visiting famous winter resorts such as Pilio, Arachova and Kalavrita, where traditional cuisine, picturesque villages, the magnificent landscape,ski and snowboard activities guarantee to satisfy all your demands. If yet you desire to explore the main cities, then Thessaloniki and Patras among others would be the ideal choice for you. Greeks especially favor Christmas period and Carnival festivities’ period, that only hold special experiences for the whole family to discover.
Coming spring, when nature is reborn, expose yourself to its marvelous beauty by visiting lake of Kastoria or lake of Ioannina. Stroll by the lake’s bank, rent a water bicycle or a traditional wooden boat or go water skiing! There are also many forests along the country, like Strofilia in northwest Peloponnese or Dadia, covering the mountains of Evros, where you can only lose yourself in the endless green.
Greek cuisine, with its wide variety of high quality ingredients and its wisely considered and highly beneficial combinations which encapsulate the knowledge of centuries, enjoys a privileged position in the global culture of taste alternatives. Greece is characterized by its numerous islands and the rugged terrain of the mainland.
This morphological diversity creates "worlds within worlds". A trip to Greece means a fascinating exploration of tastes, flavours, unexpected combinations and endless variety. Common characteristics are the excellent raw ingredients and flavours specific to Greece: oregano, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, lemon, and, of course, olive oil.
Fine meat produced by small farmers, fresh fish and seafood, dairy products which are accredited worldwide, healthy fresh vegetables served with brilliant wine, and mouth-watering fruits all serving to create a kaleidoscope of tastes!
Energetic creative chefs from Greece have made a definite impression at international events, helping to spread a wider appreciation of Greek cuisine. Imaginative experiments with tried and tested recipes, unexpected combinations of exquisite ingredients, the use and renaissance of tradition - creative modern Greek cuisine is lively and provocative, establishing Greece as one of the shrines of the high culinary arts.
Apart from Ancient, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments and archaeological sites, other poles of attraction for the visitors are the diverse buildings of various usages and forms, which in previous eras used to meet the practical, functional and social needs of the inhabitants: bridges, windmills, watermills, water fountains, war monuments and statues, historical and public buildings, even old industrial buildings that today are being used for other purposes; all attract the interest and admiration of the visitor.
Greek culture is one of the most emblematic in the world. The habitation of Greece from deep prehistory, the miracle of classical Greek culture, the glory of Byzantium, and the country’s modern history excite the imagination.
Greece is truly a vast exhibition area in which centuries, influences and everyday life are intermingled. Whoever has the chance to visit a small Greek island will surely observe the continuation of culture as even daily utensils are identical to those found in museum show-cases.
Archaeological research and collective practice never cease in Greece. Treasures from another era are continually coming to light and we gain a wider understanding of the historical evolvement of the Greek world with every new discovery. The wealth, depth and significance of this lasting Greek culture are on display in countless museums scattered across the country. Museums are arks of memory and memory in Greece reaches far back in time.
Archaeological museums: admiring human origins
Greece has more than 100 archaeological museums. This number is an indication of the country’s archaeological wealth. Apart from the large national museums, such as the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, the visitor has the opportunity to enjoy ancient Greek treasures in almost every corner of the country. Archaeological museums are located very near excavation sites and they keep the relationship of locality between the findings and the archaeological sites.
Wandering through Palaiopolis in Samothraki one can feel the power of the place and learn about the magnificent civilization of the Kabeiroi, marvelling at the show-cases in the archaeological museum where unique treasures are housed. Correspondingly in Santorini, the Archaeological and the Prehistoric Museums complete the experience of exploring the Theran civilization that seems to be frozen in time. In Delos, Delphi, Elefsis, Olympia, as well as in the island of Aigina, the Cyclades, Crete, everywhere in Greece, these treasures from ancient Greek culture actively bear witness to a past that graced humanity.
Byzantine Museums: purple and silk
The Byzantine Empire was one of the greatest states in the world. Its extent both in place and in time is impressive. It linked continents, cultures, societies and people, it knew periods of ineffable glory and bestowed on the world great cultural achievements. The 25 Byzantine and post-Byzantine museums and collections in Greece allow the visitor to get to know one of the most mystical civilizations. The relationship between Byzantium and eastern Orthodox Christian tradition goes so deep that religion cannot be imagined without Byzantium or Byzantium without religion. This bond created greatly spiritual works of art steeped in the godliness of the faith and the glory of the mighty empire. Byzantine churches and monuments can be more easily understood when one sees the wealth of the museums. Mobile icons in the timeless transcendental Orthodox style, liturgical vessels centuries old, mosaics of unequalled skill, coins and ceramic elements; all the exhibits in Byzantine museums captivate the mind of the visitor. An entire era is vividly displayed as one enters the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, the Crypt of Agios Dimitrios in Thessaloniki, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection in Chania, Crete.
Historical and folk art museums: endless culture
Greece has over 50 historical and folk art museums which preserve the memory and values of Modern Greek culture. Apart from these large exhibitions, many villages and towns are home to small collections, created by the inhabitants’ love for their homeland. The Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace, the Museum of Greek Folk Art in Athens, the ‘Kostas Frontzos’ Folk Art Museum of Epirus, the Historical Museum of Crete and all the other large and small museums and collections keep alive the memories of heroic national struggles and portray the daily life of an era gone by but not forgotten.
Theme museums: temples to dedication
Theme museums are usually created out of the passion of one person or a small group of people for a particular activity; in this way museums of visual art are born centred around a private collection, or museums of theatrical art, out of the love and devotion of a certain collector.
Greece has 18 downtown museums of visual art that cover a wide range of topics from painting to philately as a visual art. It also has 3 splendid museums of theatrical art, the Museum and Research Centre on Greek Theatre, housing valuable collections, the Marika Kotopouli Museum and the Spathario Shadow Theatre Museum. Thessaloniki is home to the Museum of Greek Cinema and throughout the country wonderful museums house collections on music, photography, natural history, science and technology and of course, on the art and history of seamanship.