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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Greece

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Greece Holidays

Greece is one of the world's most loved holiday destinations. Known for its incredible olive harvests, slow pace of life, passionate people and rich history and culture, the country's 227 inhabited islands are all ripe for exploration.

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The island mentality

Greece is blessed with 2,000 registered islands, of which more than 200 are inhabited. The truly fascinating thing about these islands is each and every one of them has their own unique culture, which is a result of their importance to the various Greek empires in classical eras.

The island of Corfu, for example, is heavily influenced by nearby Italy due to its past Venetian occupation and humid climate. Whereas Crete, which is far west of the mainland, is very much its own culture, with different social etiquette and community values to many of the other islands.

The differences extend to little islands like Lesvos too, whose proximity to the Middle East makes it a much more cosmopolitan area, with particularly strong influence drawn from Turkey. Visiting Greece always brings new things – wherever you go, the culture, climate and people are different.

One thing all the islands share is a laid-back attitude. A Greek does things at his or her own pace, and by and large will not rush, panic or compromise if they do not judge it necessary. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get into the flow of things on the islands you'll wonder how you ever lived any other way. Plus, it makes them some of the most friendly people you will ever meet.

Where to stay in Greece

Corfu
CorfuView on Map

The best known of Greece's Ionian Islands, Corfu is a beautifully natural holiday destination. Known as the Emerald Isle due to the lush green terrain, there are also 57 beaches lining the coastline.

There are examples of ancient Greek structures still standing around the island. The capital features two large fortresses lying off the coast as well as many other notable structures.

Kavos is the party central of this island but the majority of other resorts host romantic evenings spent underneath a warm summer climate.

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Crete
CreteView on Map

The largest Greek Island packs in a lot of features, attractions and historic sights. This is a great destination for families as well as young tourists who want to stay up late and party.

Malia provides the wildest nights in all of Greece with a long strip of bars and clubs, the lively resort also features an array of beaches to choose from. There are also waterparks, hiking trails and ancient ruins to explore.

Crete is also home to some major cities where there is a fantastic collection of shops and restaurants.

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Kos
KosView on Map

Although Kos is a small island, it manages to cram in a range of resorts that are filled with beautiful beaches, fascinating history and miles of dense forests.

Many of the resorts provide beaches that are so spacious you can easily find your own private patch on the sand. Along the coastline and between the beaches there is also a popular natural hot spring.

There is plenty of fun to be had here with the Aquatica Water Park, many boat trips and beach activities too. The capital is a great place to shop and dine within Eleftherias Square.

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Rhodes
RhodesView on Map

Rhodes is a cultural phenomenon and has played a major part in the history of Greece. There are so many fascinating structures from ancient times as well as a modern nightlife in some of the resorts.

European Blue Flags fly above many of Rhodes' beaches and there are plenty of water sports and scuba diving opportunities. From the north facing beaches you can see mainland Turkey clearly in the distance.

The capital of Rhodes is teeming with historical landmarks and structures which are a real treat to tour. There are a great number of shops and restaurants in the capital too.

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Santorini
SantoriniView on Map

This beautiful crescent island was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Santorini has a unique landscape with the menacing caldera cliffs on the west side and beaches with black volcanic sands in the east.

Most of the tourist resorts are in the east while scenic towns built along the cliff edge are found on the west coast. It is easy to travel between the two regions to enjoy the best of both worlds.

There are fun activities for families to enjoy and an array of water sports by the beaches. The Megalochori resort is famous for its wine production and you can enjoy a tour and a taste if you spend time in the town.

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Zante
ZanteView on Map

This sunny island features some terrific beaches and beautiful inland terrain. It is one of the best destinations to take it slow and enjoy the Mediterranean climate.

On the south coast Kalami and Lagana's beaches are famous for being habituated by loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs here. The beaches along the north coast are better known for their great offering of water sports and activities.

Many of the resorts feature great family attractions like go-karting, bowling and mini-golf while Laganas is a famous party resort. Zante is a small but versatile island that welcomes all tourists.

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Quick Tips

  • Greek Orthodox
  • Euro
  • Greek
  • Approx 10.5 million
  • GMT +2

Easy access

Greece's sprawling landscape is incredibly diverse, with snowy mountains, sun-kissed beaches, secluded islands and bustling cities, all within easy reach of each other. Transport between these locations is generally very cheap, with coaches running regularly for tourists and locals alike, and ferry connections between islands.

Incredible local cuisine

The climate in Greece yields ingredients that are juicier, richer and larger than almost anywhere else in Europe. The menus reflect this, with a culinary tradition that is based on simple ingredients of meats, fish, cheeses, vegetables and herbs, all of which are found in British food but taste nothing like anything you've ever eaten back home.

Traditional Greek restaurants are known as tavernas, and these specialise in all the classics - Moussaka, Stifado, Kalamari and Souvlaki are top of the list to try. For breakfast, try a spinach or feta pastry and iced coffee. Lunch is a cheap lamb wrap from a street vendor, and for dinner, a hearty meat and tomato stew or an entire swordfish, washed down with ouzo or retsina, and baclava for dessert.

A beach lifestyle

The sheer amount of islands in Greece is outdone only by the amount of beaches. On every island you will find the popular resorts with loungers and parasols galore. However, just down the road you'll stumble across your very own strip of paradise, in the form of a secluded cove for you and your travelling companions to relax on, away from anybody else.

It is the variety on the coasts of Greece that brings people to the country again and again. From beach parties to scuba-diving hotspots, energising sunrises to sleepy sunsets, you'll find there's a beach out there with your name written in its sand. Plus, with great tourist coach services on most islands, you'll find it easy to dart between them at your leisure.

It's all ancient history

Of course, Greece is most famous for its classical heritage, its rich and fascinating ancient history. It is said Greeks were the inventors of theatre, democracy, court systems, philosophy, the Olympics – and even screws. As such, our contemporary society is literally built on things that Greece thought up, and the proof is in the pudding once you get there.

Marvel for hours in the marble towers, forts, temples that have been crumbled over time and through wars waged throughout Greece's history. Every island has its unique story to tell, and history lovers will be itching to visit each and every one to see just how it fits into the astonishing story of Ancient Greece – a story you could become a part of by visiting today.