Greece holidays offer great beaches and millennia-old sights as well as some of the Mediterranean’s best nightlife.
Attracting more than 13 million tourists per year, Greece represents one of the most popular holiday spots in the world. And it is easy to understand why. Sparkling sands, centuries and centuries of history, and traditional-style sugar-cube towns are only the beginning of what the country offers.
The largest of the Greek islands is Crete, which boasts more than 1000 kilometers (650 miles) of coastline and some truly impressive historical sights. The Emerald Isle – AKA Corfu – is known for its verdant green interior. Meanwhile, Rhodes takes the prize for the most sunshine in these parts. As for Zante and Kos, they offer great beaches and have impressive life after-dark.
Mykonos, Santorini and Skiathos all turn on the classic Greek combination of sun, sand and sea and add a distinct cosmopolitan flavor. Skopelos and Kefalonia offer beautiful beaches and towns with a laid-back vibe for Greece holidays. Samos and Thassos shy away from the spotlight – you will barely find a footprint on the beaches here and the only high-rises you will find are cypress trees.
If you choose to stay on the mainland, consider Kalamata, Halkidiki or Parga – they are great springboards to explore the rest of the country from.
Greece’s climate is mainly Mediterranean. However, because of the country’s unique geography, Greece also has a broad range of local variations and micro-climates, something you will discover on holidays to Greece. West of the Pindus mountain range the climate tends to be wetter generally and has some maritime features. To the east of the Pindus mountain range it is generally windier and drier in summer.
Mount Olympus is the highest peak at 2918 meters (9,573 feet). The northern areas of Greece have a transitional climate between the Mediterranean and continental climate. There are some mountainous areas that possess an alpine climate.
Holidays in Greece invoke images of blissful islands, sun-bleached ruins, long sandy beaches and turquoise-colored sea. However, with miles and miles of mainland coastline and more than 1000 islands (no one seems to know how many – the numbers vary), of which some 227 are inhabited, how is it possible to find the perfect holiday destination?
Firstly, let’s start with the islands for holidays to Greece. The Argo-Saronic archipelago which includes most people’s favorite, the tiny Hydra, with its classy boutique hotels set in restored neo-classic mansions, and Aegina, featuring its pistachio orchards, both lie the closest to Athens. The Cyclades islands, of which the most popular are Mykonos and Santorini, and rocky and parched, and are best known for iconic whitewashed and cubic houses and buildings. This pair make up Greece’s most commercial and expensive islands, and are also home to the highest concentration of five-star hotels, attracting international visitors looking for a little glitz and luxury, while the smaller islands such as Koufonissi and Antiparos are a little more and restful.
On the furthest side of the Aegean, near Turkey, the Dodecanese islands are spread around the famed Rhodes, with its stunning medieval old town, and the diminutive Patmos, with its age-old monasteries, while the more low-key and pine-fragranced Sporades include the island of Skiathos.
The less-visited Northeast Aegean islands center on Mytilini (also known as Lesbos), where the famous anise-flavored ouzo hails from, and on Chios, with its mastic trees and medieval villages. The largest Greek island, Crete, stands alone in the Libyan Sea facing towards Northern Africa. Its entries are Chania and Heraklion. The only islands inaccessible by boat from Piraeus are the beautiful green Ionian Islands, with most people choosing Corfu as their favorite. The Ionians are popular with British holiday makers and cover a wide range from budget to luxury markets. They are also home to some outstanding beaches.
Back on the mainland, the Peloponnese is all rugged mountains, green valleys and outstanding archaeological sites, such as Ancient Olympia, Ancient Corinth and Epidaurus – the last is close to Nafplion, which many Greeks consider to be the country’s most romantic and beautiful city.
South of the Peloponnese is Kalamata (where olives originate), and it lies close to Mani, a rocky peninsula with villages of historic stone cottages.
Northern Greece is centered on Thessaloniki which is popular with visitors from Serbia and Bulgaria, who stay at seaside resorts on Halkidiki, near the monasteries of Mount Athos.
There is all that and more to enjoy on Greece vacations.
There are large numbers of visitor beds in Greece, meaning almost any time of year you can simply turn up and find something on Greece holidays. However, at Easter and July through August you can have problems unless you have booked well in advance. Greece’s economic crisis and resulting loss of domestic tourism has led to lower prices, and what you pay can depend on how much you’re willing to bargain.
In the cities and towns of the mainland you will probably be staying in hotels, but at the resorts and on the islands the bigger hotels and the self-catering complexes are often pre-booked by package-holiday companies for the entire season. While there can be vacancies if you just show up, non-package tourists are more likely to stay in smaller, simpler places usually described as “rooms”, or at studios or apartments. The standard here varies from basic (but always clean) to luxury, however the majority are purpose-built where every room is an en-suite and with minimum furnishings.
You are pretty much guaranteed great weather on holidays to Greece during summer. Temperatures are usually in the 30s degrees Celsius range (90s Fahrenheit) and you can expect about 12 hours’ sunshine per day. When it comes to rain, hardly any falls in July and August.
However, if you prefer things to be a little cooler, autumn and spring get plenty of sun, but temperatures are more comfortable for Greece vacations, in the mid-20s degrees Celsius (70s Fahrenheit). These shoulder months are the perfect time to visit if you are into sightseeing or walking, as it is not too hot, even in the middle of the day. You may experience some showers of rain occasionally as well.
The most convenient way of getting to Greece is to fly and direct flights to a range of Greek destinations are available from all major UK airports. Whatever your starting point for holidays in Greece, the most cost-effective way to get there may be via London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or any other Northern European and take an onward flight.
Airfares tend to be at their highest in July and August and during Easter week celebrations. However May, June and September are popular also, and due to the fact fewer flights operate through winter, bargains are hard to find at any time.
Travelling overland from the UK or Northern Europe involves at least three nonstop days of travel. If you are happy to take your time, driving or a train trip can be enjoyable but is more expensive than flying.
When buying flights for Greece holidays it pays to shop around. Be aware a package deal, with accommodation included, can sometimes be as cheap as or even cheaper than a flight: no one says you need to use your accommodation every night, or even at all.
The larger cities like Athens, Patra, Thessaloniki, and Heraklion, have a relentless pace of life that can be hard to get used to at first. Therefore it is best to plan a trip with some respite from city life by escaping to the country side, or to one of the islands.
While you hear of Greece and its negotiations with its lenders often in the news, once you are there you would be hard pushed to know there is an economic "crisis" in the country. And this means better deals for visitors for cheap Greece holidays.
The reality is the Greek people are undergoing hardship in the form of high taxes and lost benefits, so it is not unusual to expect a few protests and union strikes. Long-time visitors to the country know these events are commonplace in Greece even during good times and have little impact on cheap holidays to Greece.
Greece, despite its rich history is a modern European country with great deal amount of diversity in both landscape and culture.
At Booked.net there’s a Grecian gem on Greece holidays just waiting for you. With its mix of ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, traditional tavernas and lively resorts, you can be sure there is an island with the character and atmosphere that is just perfect for you – and it, of course, comes a welcome that is as warm as the climate.Peruse our range of accommodation for holidays in Greece.