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Greece Travel Guide Travel Information

 

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Overview of Greece

Greece Travel Guide

Primarily famous for its warm Mediterranean islands, ancient Greek heritage and monasteries.

This is the European Union’s southeastern most country. It has many mountain ranges, sea cliff, over 6.000 islands and islets, a large number of ancient archaeological sites and museums.

We all know that Greece is the place where western civilization was born.

 

  

Greece Travel Factsheet

State, geography 

Official name:

Ellīnikī Dīmokratía (Hellenic Republic)

Government type:

Parliamentary republic

Location:

Eastern Mediterranean, in the southern Balkans.

Area/surface:

131.990 km² or 50,944 sq mi

Geography overview:

Greece's territory stretches deep into the Mediterranean Sea. From the Balkan Peninsula a number of smaller peninsulas it extends into the Mediterranean Sea, insuring Greece wide territorial water areas with thousands of islands.
Greece is a mountainous, semi-arid country with few and less dense forests.

Demographics, population

Official language(s):

Greek

Locally used languages:

-

Other widely spoken languages:

-

Nationalities, ethnic groups, races:

93,76 % Greek; 4,32 % Albanians; approx. 2 % others (mainly immigrants from Pakistan, Africa etc.)

Population:

11,26 million

Population density:

85,3/km² or 221/sq mi

Capital city & population:

Athina/Athens (central area: 745.000, urban area: 3.130.000, metropolitan area: 3.686.000)

Largest city & population:

Athina/Athens (central area: 745.000, urban area: 3.130.000, metropolitan area: 3.686.000)

Other large cities & population:

Thessaloniki/Saloniki/Salonica (urban area: 763.000)

Piraeus/Pireas (central area: 175.700; urban area: 466.000)

Larissa (central area: 126.000, urban area: 250.000)

Heraklion (central area: 137.000)

Religion(s):

95 % Eastern Orthodox; 5 % other (Muslim, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, other religions and atheist)

Economy

Currency:

1 Euro (EUR) = 100 Euro Cents

Symbol/sign: €

Foreign currencies widely used:

-

GDP (nominal):

357.548 billion USD

GDP per capita (nominal):

32.105 USD

Other data

Time zone:

Eastern European Time (EET): UTC/GMT +2 h

Country telephone calling code:

+30

Internet TLD(s):

.gr

Electric power system:

Voltage & frequency: 220-240V/50Hz

..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Plugs/sockets/outlets: C, D, E, F

Driving system:

Right-hand drive

 

Greece Interactive Map

 


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Places to Visit & Things to Do in Greece

Athens

A boasting agglomerated city with over 4 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area and a good hub for tourism.

There are few beaches close to the city, so it is not a good place for swimming or sunbathing. You will have to travel several kilometers away from Athens or, better go for the islands or Halkidiki Peninsula.

The Acropolis is the primary attraction of Athens and it has become the icon of Greece, even that of Western civilization.

Close to the site Roman ruins can also be found. Some might confuse the Greek ruins with the Roman ones. Obtain a detailed guidebook about the archaeological sites, if interested.

A number of other attractions, places of interest include: Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio (they are historic districts close to the Acropolis with many old buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s, shops, cafés and restaurants), Kolonaki and Psiri (you will find good restaurants here, also interestingly winding streets for taking photos of), Syntagma Square (where the old Royal Palace is located, here you can see the interesting ceremony of the changing of the guards), the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (should be perhaps the 1st museum you should visit to see a number of ancient items, such as statues, weapons, etc.).

Piraeus/Pireas

Close, practically stuck to Athens, this is the port city of the Greek capital and with a population of over 175.000 in the central area and over 470.000 in the metropolitan, it is the most populous city after Athens and Thessaloniki.

You can get to this city with the Athens subway easily.

Piraeus offers you beautiful views over ports.

You can travel to Pireus with the suburban railway's green line (Pireas-Kifissia line) directly from Athens.

There is a major port and 3 marinas: Zea Marina, Pasa Limani and a smaller marina to the northeast.

Please note that Pireus is a big city a

Thessaloniki

The country’s second largest city. Home to a number of churches, a fortress uphill and a famous tower near the sea.

Not a good place for sunbathing of swimming in the Mediterranean. For that, you will have to travel several kilometers away from Thessaloniki.

The Meteora Monasteries

Famous monastery area in central Greece with spectacular views. The monasteries were built about 800 years ago to escape from the invading Turks. Of course, what you see today is not necessarily 800 years old, only part of it. Much of the complexes seen today were built, extended, improved in the 21st century. Even today they are being improved and extended.

There used to be 24 monasteries, some were destroyed or were left by the inhabitants due to security reasons.

By a combination of train and bus/car you can get there easily. Train from Athens to Kalambaka and then bus/car or on foot to the monasteries.

The most important monasteries are: Grand Meteoron (Great Meteora) - this one is located at the top, the Varlaam Monastery, the Rousanou Monastery (this one is only used by nuns), the Ayos Nikolaos Anapafsas, further to the east are Agia Triada and Agia Stephanou (this one is also exclusively used by nuns).

It's best to travel to the town of Kalambaka/Kalampaka and then take a taxi all the way up to the Great Meteora Monastery. It costs about 7-8 Euros. The road is 8 km long one way. The way back you can walk. But, it is an exhausting trip, especially if the sun is strong. One strong adult male can drink up to 2 liters of water only waking down.

On the way walking back to Kalambaka on the road, you can also visit the village of Kastraki. It can be a great place to eat, rest, recharge your energy.

Please make sure you are fully prepared to do it, as the Greek heat is intense and it can take a whole day. Crowds of tourists can be expected. If you travel with your own car or by bus, then choose to get there as early as 9 o'clock. Many cars and buses go up there, especially the Great Meteora, Varlaam and Rousanou are frequented.

The other 2 monasteries: Agia Triada and Agia Stephanou can be reached by foot easier, but also on car, of course. You can reach Agia Triada first if you take the cobbled trail through the forest between the cliffs, just outside of southeastern Kalambaka. Make sure you are on the lookout for snakes. The sun is usually strong in the summer and snakes like to lie on them.

Fantastic views over the nearby dreamlike cliffs, hills.

Santorini Island

The most beautiful Greek island. Definitely a top destination in Europe, not only in Greece. It has become an icon of Greek tourism with its picturesque views, white houses and watery volcano crater.

The island is in fact a huge volcano crater and the interior is flooded with sea water from the Mediterranean. About ¾ of the crater still remains. Most of it has disappeared into the sea.

It is possible to navigate inside, into the crater. The land area is mostly crescent-shaped with a larger island on the northwest cut off from the rest by sea, so are several islets, cliffs as well.

Less than 14.000 people inhabit the island.

Santorini is also known as Thira or Thera.

The towns of Thira, Oia and Fira are beautiful, offer splendid views. Especially photographers love it.

It has its own airport, getting there from Athens or Thessaloniki is very easy.

Syros Island, Ermoupoli/Hermoupolis Town

One of the most beautiful Greek islands. Certainly in the top 5, perhaps even in the top 3.

You can get a good glimpse of the bay of Ermoupoli (Ermoupolis /Hermoupolis) from a boat/ship. The views are unforgettable.

There are many boat trips, ferry trips between Syros and the other islands.

Syros Island also has an airport, which facilitates transportation.

Mykonos Island

A beautiful island with iconic windmills and its own airport. You can simply fly in.

Most of it is uncovered with trees, looks rather semi-desert island with many arid areas, rocks. The towns are friendly fishing villages, hotels are quite affordable.

A popular family travel destination.

Rhodos/Rhodes Island

Located very close to Turkey, this is one of the most famous Greek islands. Its past goes back thousands of years and is often mentioned in ancient myths. It is said that there used to be a gigantic human statue at Rhodes, called “The Colossus of Rhodos”, but there is no certainty that it had ever existed.

Corfu Island

A large island off the southern coast of Albania. Yet, it belongs to Greece.

You can hike in the mountains, visit towns, spend time on the beach.

Halkidiki/Chalkidiki Peninsula

It is located in the northeast, close to the city of Thessaloniki.

You will recognize the Halkidiki Peninsula on the map easily: like 3 fingers, it stretches into the Aegean Sea.

Mostly families travel to Halkidiki for beach vacations, cruises and related leisure.


Transportation

By Air

Athens, Thessaloniki have the biggest airports. Many islands and big cities have airports nearby. Generally air travel to-, from-, within Greece is not a problem.

On Land

Greece’s mainland is quite complex. Many mountains, valleys and road quality and connection is only average. Especially the southeast of the country has a good infrastructure.
There are multiple rail companies and finding good connection and schedule information is very difficult. Only on location can you find out the details.

On Water

Boat rides, short cruises, ferry services are offered by local companies. There are many ports, but obtaining the schedule or the price of the services might be difficult. You will only know for sure when on location. Ships are often late.


Best Time for Visiting Greece

For beach vacationers who love the sun and want to go swimming, July and August is recommended.

For everyone else April – September is the best interval.


Risks & Precautions in Greece

Theft, Violent Attacks

Theft and gang attacks occur often, therefore stay away from bad neighbourhoods. Especially in Athens and Thessaloniki, this poses a serious problem to naive foreigners.

The Omonia Square and the region around (even about 1 km away) is quite dangerous at night, even in the evening. Avoid this neighbourhood. Hotels in the area have bad reputation and crowds of drug addicts and gangs roam the streets at night. Police also patrols heavily and clashes between gangs and riot police occur.

Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus are especially dangerous at night.

Swindles, Frauds

Naive tourists are often tricked by taxi drivers, hotels, restaurants, etc. What they do is to artificially increase your bill and give you various justifications for it. Be extremely careful.

Often suspiciously-looking people on the streets propose/offer various deals to foreigners. Be very explicit to say "No!", but not in an aggressive manner.


Interesting Things About Greece

The history of Greece goes back almost 3.000 years into the past, until 2.800 BC, making it one of the World’s oldest countries and oldest cultures that still exists today.
 

Olympia is located in Greece, the word “Olympics” is derived from it. Most of us know that Greeks were the ones who invented the Olympic Games.
 

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