Planning a trip to Greece

Have you been dreaming of a relaxed day by the beach?

Do you need a break from the routine in a fun destination?

Do you want to learn, explore, and experience new things?

Do you need to spend quality time with your friends or partner?

Do you want to see something different?

Well, I guess it is time to go to Greece. This place has everything you need for an unforgettable holiday.

And if you do not know much about the country and feel out of your comfort zone, I am here for you!

I have collected the most important information and tips to help you organize your holiday in Greece. Are you ready?

  • Basic information about Greece
  • Entry requirements to Greece: Passports and Visas.
  • Money in Greece
  • How to get to Greece
  • Getting Around in Greece
  • Main cities in Greece
  • Best places to visit in Greece
  • Best time to visit Greece
  • How many days do you need in Greece?
  • Tips on accommodation in Greece
  • Staying safe in Greece
  • Tips for Families in Greece
  • Tips for Solo Travelers in Greece

Basic information about Greece

Greece is a country on the southeast side of Europe. It is neighbouring Turkey to the east and Italy to the west.

To the north, it borders Albania, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

The population of the country is about 11 million people capital is Athens. Greece is a member of the European Union since 1981. The official religion of the country is Orthodox Christianity. 

The history of Greece starts many centuries back. The ancient Greek culture has influenced western civilization, and it is still praised for its importance for humanity. 

Greeks speak Greek, the oldest language in Europe.

English is the second most spoken language in Greece. Older people do not speak English very well, but young people are fluent and usually very happy to speak to you.

French and German are also spoken, by young people.

Greeks are very talkative, and they love to help, so even if they do not speak your language, they will try to talk to you, what else? Body language!

Entry requirements to Greece: Passports and Visas.

If you come from a Schengen visa-free zone, you can enter Greece with your valid passport or national ID. If you come from countries outside the Schengen zone check the entry requirements at the website of the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs before your trip.

Due to covid-19, there are some extra requirements for your entry into the country. Those requirements change according to the phase of the pandemic. Check all the details and hold the required documents upon entering Greece. More information about the latest covid-19 entry rules you can find here on our dedicated post and also on the government website.

Money in Greece

The currency in Greece is the euro (€). It is divided to 100 euro cents in coins and seven euro notes in the value of 5€, 10€, 20€, 50€, 100€, 200€, and 500€. However, I would not advise you to go around with 200 or 500€ notes because very few shops can accept it or give a change to that. 

Greece is not a particularly expensive country unless you want to experience its luxurious side. If you compare the prices of Scandinavia and Yew York, those of Greece seem lower. Moreover, if you are lucky, you might achieve good bargains for accommodation and services.

Cash is usually more appreciated than card payments, especially in some villages or remote areas. I would advise you to carry some cash when you travel to Greece.

Fast Facts about Greece

Business hours in the cities are between 9:00-5:00 from Monday to Friday. Banks, companies, and the public sector are open during these hours.

Stores open Monday and Wednesday from 9:00-18:00 and Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 to 20:00, Saturday to 16:00, and on Sundays are closed.

Local stores usually close for an hour or two for lunch.

Alcohol and Drugs: There is tolerance in the use of alcohol in Greece; you can get a nice drink at any bar if you are older than 18. You can also drink outside in parks and squares. However, the laws about drunk driving are strict, and I highly advise you not to try that. Also, Greece has strict policies about drug consumption, and the use of drugs is not tolerated. 

Emergencies: In case of an emergency, in need of an ambulance, police assistance, or the fire department, call 112.

Time: Greece in on Eastern European Time (EET) that is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Tipping: At all the hospitality services (hotels, restaurants, cafés, etc.), you are expected to tip the person who served you. The tip is usually 5-10% of the total price you pay. Of course, if you are pleased with the service, you can give them something more. 

How to get to Greece

The most convenient way to come to Greece is by airplane.

The biggest airport in Greece is the international airport of Athens.

Flights from around the world arrive at this airport every day. If you are on a road trip, you can enter Greece from the national road that connects Greece to its neighbouring countries.

Lastly, many cruise ships, private yachts, and regular ships arrive in Greece from other parts of the world.

Getting Around in Greece

Train: The railway system in Greece is not very developed, however, there is one line that connects south to northern Greece. There are no international train connections. 

The main railway routes in Greece are Athens-Thessaloniki, Athens-Patra (served by Proastiakos train till Kiato), Athens/Thessaloniki-Alexandroupoli (Dikaia), Athens/Thessaloniki-Florina, and Athens/Thessaloniki-Kalambaka (Meteora). 

Car: Almost every adult in Greece has a car or at least a driving license. You need a valid driving license from your country to drive any vehicle.

Having a car is crucial, especially if you plan to travel to parts of Greece that are do not have public transport, like remote villages on mountains or islands. You can find many car rental agencies online.

One thing you should know is that on the national roads there are tolls in which you pay to pass with your car. There are a lot of them, so it has to be calculated on your budget. 

Shuttle Buses (KTEL): Shuttle buses in Greece are called KTEL. You can go around Greece with KTEL.

They have specific itineraries every day, and they connect the big cities with towns and villages all over the country. 

Plane: Greece has 15 international airports that have both international and domestic flights. Some of them, especially the island ones, are busier during summer.

The biggest airport in Greece is Eleftherios Venizelos, the international airport of Athens. You can take domestic flights from the mainland to islands or different parts of the country.

Public transport: The bigger cities and towns have organized public transport like buses, metro, tram, and train. You can access all of them with the same ticket. You can also buy a combo ticket that is valid for more days and in this way, you can save money and have unlimited access to public transport. 

Main cities in Greece

Greece has modern cities vibrating with life and energy, which are centers of culture and business.

The biggest one is Athens, with a population of about 4 million people. It is a chaotic city in which you can find, apart from the archaeological treasures, events, great nightlife, and many cultural happenings.

secretgreece_best things to do in athens

The second biggest city is Thessaloniki, the jewel of the north, which combines the glory of the Byzantine monuments with the popping environment of modern times.

Other big cities in Greece are Heraklion, Ioannina, and Larisa. They all have their character, and they are nice in their way. 

Best places to visit in Greece

Greece has been nominated many times as the top touristic destination. What I find fascinating about Greece is that it combines very different landscapes: imposing mountains, islands with turquoise waters, rivers, lakes, gorges.

Some places have attracted more appreciation, and they are a must-visit.

You can plan a romantic getaway in Santorini or a crazy party trip in Mykonos.

Mykonos island old harbour

You can be adventurous in Crete, discover your spirituality at the cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos, swim in the crystal-clear waters of Milos.

Mpalos beach Crete

If you are on the mainland, you should visit the monasteries of Kalabaka, built on the egg-shaped rocks, or go camping in the Chalkidiki peninsula.

Kavourotrypes Sithonia Halkidiki

You can go hiking on the mountain of the Gods, Olympus, or swim in the natural pools of Papigko. If you have a car a road trip around Peloponesse will not leave you disappointed. 

I cannot even say how many fascinating things you can discover in Greece. All you need is a bit of time and an open mind.

Best time to visit Greece

The touristic season in Greece is from mid-April to mid-October and reaches the peak between July and August.

People from around the world choose Greece as their holiday destination.

However, visiting Greece in the winter is a good option. You can find cheaper hotels, flights, restaurants, and tours, and the places of interest are less crowded. 

The climate in Greece is the Mediterranean which means that winters are usually mild, and summers are hot. There is, usually, not much rain or snow in winter, but in summer, you might experience some days of extreme heat. For this reason, many visitors prefer to travel to Greece in autumn or spring. 

Here you can find our special post about the best time to visit Greece!

How many days do you need in Greece?

It is hard to answer. If it is your first time in the country, I would advise you to come in 7-10 days.

You can spend 2-3 days in Athens or another city and then do island hopping or a road trip around the country. If you want to stay only in one place, 3-4 days might be enough.

For sure, by the end of your trip, you will feel that you have not seen enough. Greece has so many beautiful places that visitors always come back. 

Tips on accommodation in Greece

Greece has all kinds of accommodation, from luxurious hotels to camping places, and most of them have websites.

There are fun alternatives to conventional hotels, like traditional guesthouses and even the luxurious version of camping called glamping. There are family-owned hotels, where you will feel at home, and international hotel brands.

I personally used for my hotels’ bookings as it has many options and you can cancel it quite easily most of the time if anything changes.

You can also live on farms, exchanging work with free accommodation, as part of the ecotourism.

Finally, there are all-inclusive hotels, in which you get all you might want. The pitfall of these hotels is that people spend the whole time at the premises and never explore the place they have visited. 

Staying safe in Greece

Greece is considerably safe; however, you need to be aware of pickpockets in the main cities. Public transport, stores, and busy streets are places where you need to be more attentive.

The rest of Greece is not as bad, in this respect, as Athens, Thessaloniki, and the other main cities.

As a tourist, you most probably will not deal with discrimination. Greeks are very hospitable people and like to make a good impression on visitors. However, there are always those few exceptions that might make you feel uncomfortable.  

Tips for Families in Greece

Keeping your kids amused will not be a problem in Greece! First, kids love playing by the sea. A day at the beach can be all kids’ dream. Apart from that, some beaches have water parks, where the whole family can have fun. 

Many museums have special programs and activities for children, during which they learn and create. 

The islands and villages around Greece are safe places for the kids to play on the streets will less supervision. 

If you have a baby, arrange ahead of time for such necessities as a crib and car seat (small children are not allowed to ride in the front seat).

Tips for Solo Travelers in Greece

Greece is a safe place for solo travellers. However, there are some tips that you need to follow if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises. 

Never find yourself alone in a place you do not know during the night. Prefer streets will a lot of people, and do not go outside the touristic areas, late at night.

Do not do hikes completely alone. Greece saw some tragedies when solo hikers got lost in the mountains. There are many hiking teams everywhere in Greece, so it is better to contact them.

Make sure you have a map or enough battery on your phone to avoid getting lost in the city. 

Find groups on social media where solo travellers meet and arrange events. It is a lot of fun, and you will meet interesting people from around the world.