We owe a lot to Greece, arguably the birthplace of modern European civilisation, this fascinating country keeps on giving. Modern visitors have astounding historical sites to explore, but also pristine beaches, hundreds of magical islands, misty mountains clothed in olive groves, exciting cities like the capital Athens, and resorts both laid-back and lively.
Greece is a holiday destination that wants to treat its visitors well - Greek culture is big on hospitality. You’ll eat and drink like a god, especially if you opt for an all inclusive Greek holiday. Cheeses, grilled meat, and sea food are great favourites in Greece. Retsina, the pine-needle wine, has been around for 2,000 years, and raki, a clear aniseed spirit, will warm you up if the nights get a bit chilly.
Top hotels in Greece
Sonia Village Family Resort
Alexander The Great
Ammon Zeus Hotel
Kalithea (Halkidiki), Halkidiki
Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel
Nea Potidea, Halkidiki
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Average flight time: 3h 20m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
Athens is an exciting city with everything you’d expect in a modern capital. It’s also got some of the best, biggest and most beautiful ancient sites in the world, from the Parthenon to many temples, stadia, theatres and much more. Chuck a pebble from a beach anywhere on the coast and you’ll probably hit another beautiful stretch of white sand. Greece’s coastline is long and varied, encompassing rocky coves, pretty fishing villages and wild-eyed party resorts. The same is true of the islands, from the green “Emerald Isle”, Corfu to the spectacular volcanic crater of Santorini. Greece is above all a mountainous country with wonderful walking and beautiful flora, fauna and geology to discover.
Wine and Dine
Even the smallest, most isolated Greek fishing village will boast a taverna where the day starts with coffee and ends with grilled lamb in aromatic mountain herbs. The popular resorts will have even more choice, including lots of cuisines to suit both British and international tastes. Big cities like Athens, where you’ll find a good handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, will give you more sophisticated options and lots of familiar international favourites. Greek cuisine is very varied with lots of regional differences. Meze – a mix of appetisers – is a good way to sample the flavours on offer. Wherever you go look out for good quality cheese, olives, aubergine, courgettes, herbs, bread and yoghurt - the staple ingredients of Greek cooking.
Mediterranean cultures tend to be great with kids and well-behaved youngsters will be welcomed in most places, and may be made quite a fuss of. There’s lots to entertain, engage and even educate them in Greece too. Curious kids will love the museums and most of all the archaeological sites that’ll bring their history books to life. For a break from the books, water sports are generally safe, and warm waters are accessible for young kids. Resorts offer lots of entertainment, kids’ clubs and play areas. There are big theme parks too, and water parks are the gold standard in this climate; take a look at Aqualand in Corfu, and many hotels build a water park as their own central attraction with free entry for guests.
Action and Adventure
The water is the most obvious way to get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping in Greece. The islands alone have 20,000 km of coastline, so that’s a lot of room for kayaking schools. The generally calm, clean waters are wonderful for divers, who have lots to discover off-shore. Around the resorts you’ll find everything from Jet-skiing to riding along on giant inflatables. Elsewhere, your adventures can be more vertical in Greece’s outstanding mountains. Mountain sports like climbing, canyoning and rafting are getting more popular. And explorers can take to their mountain bikes, horseback or walking shoes to discover Greece’s mountains, including some on the bigger islands. Although most of us go to Greece to warm up a little, the high altitude of some of the mountains means you can even ski this far south at 18 snow resorts.
Turning away from the coasts is also rewarding in Greece, which actually has more mountains than it does islands. The Pindus range is the biggest, and like the other uplands has a distinctive character and cuisine, and is wonderful hiking or cycling territory. Greece’s highest mountain, Mount Olympus doesn’t just have its height going for it, it’s also the mythical home of the gods. Isolated mountain monasteries like the spectacular Metéora complex show that the spiritual side of these beautiful landscapes persisted well beyond the ancient times. Many of the mountain ranges are protected national parks and are home to some fascinating wildlife. Did you know you can see bears and wolves in Greece, particularly in the northern mountains? Little mountain villages make trekking and hiking great fun and there are plenty of facilities, guides and breaks on offer for walkers. Crete’s mountains are especially spectacular and are a crucial part of the island’s identity. Its gorges are some of the most spectacular anywhere on earth.
Life's a Beach
Islands are a part of most Greek holidays. There are so many - and definitions vary - that it’s hard to put a number on them, but it’s probably around 200 (some reckonings go as high as 6,000!). Backpacking on cheap ferries from beautiful island to beautiful island has long been a young traveller’s rite of passage. Luxury yachts also ply the sea lanes, mooring up at the likes of exclusive Mykonos. The islands are wonderfully varied. Corfu has a strong British influence, a stylish capital with city-break potential and lots of greenery. Fashionable Santorini’s blue-and-white colour palette almost looks too good to be true. Crete is the largest of the lot, with amazing Minoan ruins, crusader castles and rugged mountain scenery. Zakynthos is top of the tree for beaches, but wherever you are the beaches won’t disappoint.
Greece is known as one of the most popular European destinations when it comes to nightlife and nowhere is that more true than the Greek islands. Clubs are second nature to many of the islands and they have a wealth of experience behind them to ensure you have the best nights when visiting. Most are open from around midnight and stay open till 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning, so make sure to work on your stamina and remember to pack your dancing shoes.
Many Greek islands clubs, particularly on Myconos island, Paros island, Ios island, Crete island, Rhodes island, Kos island and other popular destinations, have famous DJs from all over the world are invited to play their music to the masses of crowds that congregate inside. The alcohol is abundant in clubs and the thirst for fun is on a par with the many cocktails on offer.
The islands mentioned above are all amazing places to check out for vibrant nightlife and if you want to experience the quintessential party resorts among them then Zante on Rhodes Island and the beach parties on Ios start from midday and burn bright long into the morning.
Nightlife in mainland Greece is also a huge draw for many people and the capital of Athens is a stellar destination for international music, fine-dining and atmospheric cafes, but it of course still provides bars and clubs aplenty.
Greece is a perfect place for a holiday with your loved one. White sands and deep-blue Aegean waters come together to form a perfect whole. Nature’s done her bit, and man has added all the extras a visitor might need. If you want to party after a relaxing day together topping up your tan, try Faliraki in Rhodes. If a waterfront taverna under the pines is all you need to complete the perfect romantic holiday, somewhere like Voutoumi on the little island of Antipaxos is the place for you.
The country’s ancient history is never far from the surface and is full of magical, romantic spots. The Acropolis in Athens is the grandest and most famous of more than 100 major archaeological sites, including the ancient city of Philippoi, and the temple of the oracle of Delphi in its truly magical mountain setting.
You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy Greece, the coast is a natural and timeless wonder. Turn around in Greece, and there’s a temple! That’s not quite true, but the country is often described as one vast archaeological theme park and make for some memorable days out for you and your partner. Of the islands, Crete’s Minoan palaces at Knossos, probably the oldest city in the world, are not to be missed.
Writing about culture in Greece could warrant a whole website. Commonly known as one of the biggest influences on modern culture as we know it, Greece still shows all of the hallmarks of a culturally diverse and immensely entertaining country.
As the first group of people known to develop a cohesive and comprehensible language system there are still many remnants of this incredible language around Greece. Witness the starting of this language and other incredible ancient relics in the world-famous Acropolis Museum in Athens. Inside this amazing building there is a comprehensive history of Ancient Greece up until to the place we see now, the materials span from the Mycenaean times up to the Roman and Early Christian Athens. Inside you can also witness the amazing remnants of the Parthenon.
Traditions in Greece are part of the cultural identity and there are many throughout the year. They range from internationally recognised festivals like Easter, or more specific ones like the Greek carnival of Apokries, which is most famously celebrated in Patra. For a real traditional celebration of Greece then time your trip to coincide with either Greek Independence Day or the Ohi day for a real crash course in just how important customs and history are to our Greek cousins.
We haven’t even mentioned the amazing music history in Greece, begun in Byzantine Greece, or philosophical history (Plato, Homer and Socrates), which is just the tip of the iceberg when talking about how much rich culture this country has to offer.