We all love a holiday in Greece and with one of the longest coastlines in Europe, it's obvious to see why.
The Mediterranean country is so multifaceted that it is difficult to decide exactly where to go for your holiday. From city breaks in Athens and Thessaloniki to adventurous getaways to one of the many beautiful islands, Greece certainly offers a lot of diversity.
We've put together the most important things about Greece for you in our guide. We'll help you with everything you need to know, from when and where to book your next holiday to the deals themselves!
Greece is an all year round destination, combining city breaks and family holidays. The ideal months are April to May and September to October.
Spring is especially spectacular in Greece, and the sea is already warm enough for a refreshing dip. Autumn, on the other hand, is ideal for anyone who loves swimming in warmer waters and enjoys cooler evenings. October half-term is a solid alternative, as there will be affordable deals on during this time, and it's still pleasantly warm in Greece.
For those keen on booking a family holiday to Greece, the summer school holidays coincide with Greece's peak tourist season (July-August), so accommodation often gets booked up well ahead of time. A good alternative at this time of the year is to escape to the mountains, for example Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods.
Winter in Greece is perhaps the best time to have an extended visit to Peloponnese villages in Arcadia or to Meteora in central Greece.
There are multiple UK airports offering routes to Greece and its islands. The general flight time from the UK to Athens is 3.5 hours, but add extra time to get to the islands. Some travellers also opt to fly into Greece's major hubs, like Athens, and then catch ferries to the islands of their choice.
Many of the most popular islands, such as Rhodes, Crete and Santorini, can be reached via direct flights during the peak summer months. Look for flights from easyJet or Ryanair for budget prices. Peak season and last-minute dates can easily be in the £100s, so we advise you book your flights as early as you can or look for a last-minute package deal that includes flights.
Greece has a well-developed and established bus network, even in more remote parts of the country. Cars, scooters and quads can also be rented at a daily rate from many holiday resorts and airports.
If you are visiting Greece for a short city trip, a car isn't necessary. However, if you're planning plenty of exploring in the countryside, then you should consider renting a car. Expect to pay around £50-60 per day on average for car rental.
Ferries play a big part in Greece's transport system, and many of the Aegean islands can be reached via a ferry from Athens' Piraeus port. The ferries running from the mainland to and between the islands are surprisingly affordable and depart frequently. We recommend booking your ferry through the local websites, but if you'd like an overview of all the ferries you're able to book, then we suggest checking here for your ferry needs.
Greek cuisine is world-renowned, but in order to enjoy authentic dishes, it's best to avoid the relevant tourist taverns that can cater to a hundred people or more. In the villages and in local taverns, you don't ask for the menu, but instead, ask what's available. In Greece, it's more common to fill the table with meze, which are small appetizers that everyone uses, than order an individual main course.
The Greeks attach great importance to regional products and simple dishes without many frills, which should still taste good. Therefore, they rely more on herbs and olive oil than on exotic spices. Of course, the good Greek wine and ouzo should not be missing with the meal! You can find out what other typical Greek dishes are here.
Pirate tip 🏴☠️: Vegetarian or vegan pirates that find themselves in Athens should head to Vegan Beat Athens, where you can grab yourself a vegan mushroom-based gyro that tastes very close to the original!
Chaniotiko Boureki, a gratin of potato slices with courgette, Myzithra cheese and mint, typical for Crete
Filo Pastry, the name indicates the filling, for example kotopita (chicken), spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese), chortopita (greens pie) and kolokythopita (courgette)
Galaktoboureko, custard tart with pastry layers and soaked with lemon honey
Below you'll find our short guides to some of Greece's most popular destinations; some thoughts on what makes each special to help you choose, and tips from trips we've taken in the past, to help you make the most of it when you get there.
Those searching for a classic Mediterranean holiday should take a closer look at the mainland! Here you will find cities steeped in history, such as the fascinating metropolises of Athens and Thessaloniki, peaceful fishing villages in the Halkidiki region, old fortresses in the Peloponnese region and adventurous and relaxing hiking trails in Epirus.
Athens is the oldest capital in Europe, and happens to be the main city and hub for a lot of international flights. The capital is steeped in Greek history. To fully immerse yourself in antiquity, we recommend visiting the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Museum of Acropolis.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and the centre of the northern province of Macedonia. Thessaloniki is a hub for day trips to archaeological sites and breathtaking landscapes, such as Vergina or Lake Kerkini. From Thessaloniki, you can also reach the islands of Limnos, Thasos and Samothraki by ferry. The city itself is worth a stay, mainly due to the excellent cuisine, as it's the only Greek city designated a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy.
Halkidiki, a peninsula with the three prominent headlands, is especially popular with the Greeks themselves. The long sandy beaches attract families, solo travellers, and party groups alike. Located on the westernmost peninsula, you'll find Kassandra, which is closest to the airport, and Sithonia, which offers modern resorts and nautical activities.
4. Peloponnese peninsula
The Peloponnese peninsula is located south of Athens and is rich in ancient sites and monuments, such as Olympia, the birthplace of Olympic Games. The city of Kalamata, which has direct flights from London, is located on the southern part of the peninsula and is famous for its sandy bays, meaty olives and extra virgin olive oil. While in Peloponnese, we recommend taking a day trip to Elafonisos’ island, which can be reached in 8 minutes by boat from Monemvasia.
Located on the northwestern mainland between the Pindos mountain range and the Ionian Sea, Epirus is a great destination for those seeking a bit of adventure. Its mountains and rivers are great for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more. The region is also home to its fair share of archaeological sites, castles, monasteries, churches and traditional villages. The seaside town of Parga, arguably the region's most well-known, is especially great for holidaymakers looking for a beach holiday with a touch of nature.
There are a multitude of Greek islands (6,000, to be exact, though only 227 are inhabited). Finding the right island for your holiday can end up being complicated. Lucky for you, we've summarised the essentials for the top islands.
The largest of the Greek islands is quite diverse and scenic. Crete's biggest cities—Heraklion, Rethymnon, and Chania—are all on the north coast. The north coast is the main tourist centre of Crete due to the long sandy beaches.
The south coast, which boasts the fishing town of Paleochora, is less densely populated and has smaller hotels and fewer tourists. However, the waters of the south coast are rougher and wilder than the north.
Pirate tip 🏴☠️: The well-marked European long-distance hiking trail E4 stretches across Crete. It is possible to do the complete trail, but it can also be broken into stages. A day hike in the Samaria Gorge or in the Lefka Ori mountains will lend spectacular views.
Santorini is famous for its whitewashed houses and its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. It has been voted the world's best island for travel and receives around 2million visitors a year.
Life is best taken slowly on the island, so stay here for a taste of luxury and to kick back by the pool or sea followed by watching the sunset, which makes for an unforgettably romantic occasion.
There are plenty of things to do though, like a boat trip around the Cyclades, visiting an active volcano or casually exploring the many cute villages. If you're really active, take the hike between Fira and Oiai, which goes through a few of those lovely villages or visit the Ancient Thera, an antique city on the ridge of the Mesasavouno mountain.
Corfu is the largest and most important of the Ionian Islands and is located in the extreme north of the archipelago. Corfu is considered a green island because of its lush vegetation, absent on other Mediterranean isles. Along the western coast, there are numerous hotels, while the east is more sparsely populated. The largest sandy beaches can be found in the north of the island. The ensemble of the fortifications are part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pirate tip 🏴☠️: Cricket fans can catch a game of cricket – or join in on the fun themselves and play – while on holiday. Find out more here.
The four inhabited Sporades Islands include: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. Skiathos is best known for its beaches and nightlife and has direct flights from London. Even better, there is a large availability of high quality hotels at competitive prices. Other well-known islands in the Sporades include Skopelos, which you might recognise from Mamma Mia, and Alonissos, which features the largest National Marine Park in Europe that is also home to the protected monk seal, Monachus monachus.
Pirate Tip 🏴☠️: Many of Skiathos beaches are only accessible by boat, such as Lalaria Beach which can be reached via boat from Skiathos port from €10 per person.
Whitewashed houses, windmills, and azure seas: the Cyclades are a group of 220 islands. Mykonos, Santorini and Paros are the most well-known islands for luxury, yet, there are many more, including the foodies islands of Naxos and Tinos, as well as Andros, Kythnos and Amorgos, known for their great hiking trials.
The other Ionian islands such as Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zakynthos may rest in Corfu's shadow, but are no less beautiful. Kefalonia especially has some beautiful beaches, with one being particularly famous. Myrtos Beach was featured in the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin and is as stunning in real life as on screen.
Pirate tip 🏴☠️: Relatively unknown, but undeniably enchanting, is the small island of Paxos, located south of Corfu. There are hardly any larger hotels, but there are family boutique hotels and authentic taverns.
Have you had enough of Corfu, Kos, and the like? Maybe you'd rather skip the tourist crowds and search for true relaxation. Then just visit one of the less touristy islands in Greece—after all, there are so many Greek islands, you've probably not even heard of half of them before.
Here are our top picks for more low-key island destinations:
It's difficult to understand why Karpathos isn't more popular, given its natural beauty and status as the second-largest island of the Dodecanese. Try to get here quick, because the island is already starting to earn the nickname of “the secret Santorini” and it's only a matter of time before tourists catch on.
Once you visit Hydra, you're sure to fall in love. The charming island feels as if it's stuck in time, but that's what makes it so special. There are no cars to get around—prepare to be ferried about by donkeys and boats. You will also find excellent food and fascinating art. There's no better place to relax.
You should also hasten to visit Patmos, as the first tourist influences are already starting to creep in. But not to fret, mass tourism is still a long ways off. In addition to beautiful beaches and small towns you can explore a famous UNESCO World Heritage site: the cave in which St. John allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation.
Alonissos is a beautiful Greek island that is particularly well suited to individual travellers. You won't find huge hotel complexes here, but we think that's one of the best things about this little isle. Between pine forests, lush greenery, and wild sandy or pebble beaches you have plenty of places to relax, walk, and hike here. This island is also great for water sports enthusiasts and divers.
In the Aegean you will find the picturesque island of Amorgos, which houses almost 2,000 inhabitants. Visitors are delighted by its natural beauty, traditional architecture, and dreamy, pristine beaches. Apart from that, there is also the Panagia Hozoviotissa monastery, which is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Greece.