Greece

Greece is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, ranking in the world’s top 20 countries. According to the Greek Ministry of Tourism, the nation received about 33 million visitors in 2018, a very large number for a small country of 11 million. Visitors are drawn to the country’s beaches and reliable sunny summer weather, its nightlife, historical sites and natural beauty.

Over 90% of visitors come to Greece from other European countries, although in recent years there have been growing numbers of tourists from other world regions. The vast majority of visitors arrive during the tourist season, which is April through October. Peak season is July through August, and most of the tourists and tourism industry are concentrated in Crete, the Dodecanese, Cyclades, and Western Greek Islands, and to a lesser extent the Peloponnese and the Halkidiki peninsula in Macedonia.

Greece has an immense length of coastlines (16,000 km) and the country has still countless of beautiful places without large-scale tourism, which in most cases have nothing less to offer than their mainstream counterparts. You may be intrigued to visit a particular place in Greece that a friend of you has suggested, but in reality the options are more than you can imagine.

Many first-time visitors arrive in Greece with specific images in mind and are surprised to discover a country with such regional and architectural diversity. The famous whitewashed homes and charming blue-domed churches only characterize a specific region of the country (the Cyclades Islands). Architecture varies greatly from one region to the next depending on the local history. Visitors will find Neoclassical architecture in the cities of Ermoupolis and Nafplion, Ottoman-influenced buildings in Grevená and Kozáni, whitewashed Cycladic homes on the island of Paros, and pastel-coloured baroque homes and churches on Corfu. The nation’s terrain is just as varied as its architectural heritage: idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards in the south, and lush forests in the north. Greece’s historical sights are just as varied; the country is littered with just as many medieval churches and castles as classical ruins and temples.

Despite its small size, Greece has a varied climate.

Most of the country, including all coastal areas, enjoys a so-called Mediterranean climate, almost identical to much of California. Summers are hot and dry with a 7-month period of near-constant sunshine generally from April until November. The remainder of the year is characterized by a relatively cold, rainy period which generally starts sometime in November and lasts until late March or early April. Sporadic rains do occur during the dry season, but they tend to be rare, quick showers. The country’s Ionian Coast and Ionian Islands tend to receive more annual precipitation than the rest of the country. The islands in the southern Aegean and parts of the southeastern mainland are the driest areas of the country.

The most pleasant weather occurs in May-June and September-October. The warmest time of the year starts in mid-July and generally lasts until mid-August, when the annual meltémi winds from the north cool the country. Mid-July to mid-August is the height of summer, and the midday sun tends to get very strong; during this time, most Greeks avoid heavy physical activity outdoors between 1PM and 5PM. It is best advised to get in tune with the local way of life by waking up early, doing all sightseeing and errands in the cool morning hours, and then spending the afternoon in the relaxing shade or at the beach. In fact, the bulk of tourists arrive in Greece during the height of summer, to do just that! For visitors from more northerly climates, the off season from November through February can be a rewarding time to see Greece. It will not be beach weather, but temperatures are mild. The much added bonus is that there will be very few other tourists and reduced prices.

Summer evenings tend to be very rewarding. As strong as the sun may get on a summer afternoon, the low levels of atmospheric humidity in most areas of the country prevent the air from trapping much heat, and temperatures tend to dip to very pleasant levels in the evenings. But even during midday, high temperatures actually tend to be quite comfortable as long as the time is not spent doing a lot of walking or other physical activity. (Athens, however, can still be uncomfortably warm during summer afternoons due to the predominance of concrete in the city, an effect similar to New York City.) Coastal areas near open waters (away from tightly-closed bays and gulfs), especially on many of the islands, tend to be quite breezy, and can be quite cold at night.

While the Mediterranean climate characterizes most of the country, two other climate systems are present. One is the cool Alpine climate which is found on mountainous areas of the country’s interior, including many high-altitude valleys. Another system is the Continental climate found on the interiors of north-central and northeastern Greece, and gives those areas very cold winters and warm, relatively humid summers.

  • Athens — the capital city known for the Parthenon, the neoclassical Architecture , the museums and for food
  • Chania — second largest city on Crete surrounded with beaches and the Samaria National Park with beautiful old city
  • Chersonissos — party capital of Crete in the summer with lovely beaches and unique climate
  • Heraklion — Crete’s largest and most touristic city and fourth biggest with the archaeological site of Knossos, and medieval history, the enormous walls and also known for food and wines
  • Patra — 3rd most populated city, known for the biggest carnival in Greece and one of the biggest universities and the bridge Rio – Antirio
  • Larissa — the country’s fifth largest city with beautiful city center and two ancient theaters
  • Rhodes — magnificent city with impressive medieval structures, nightlife and beaches
  • Thessaloniki — the prime city in the Macedonia region and very historical, famous for food and nightlife
  • Volos — coastal port city with lovely sorrounding landscape mountain Pelio and the restaurants tsipouradika
  • Kavala – coastal port city with scenic old town
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