Greece travel is romantic, intoxicating and relaxing. From the whitewashed buildings of Oia in Santorini to the mosaicked labyrinth of Chios — Greece has a surprise at every turn. Delicious food, great restaurants, white sand beaches, turquoise Mediterranean waters and sunsets that can make your jaw drop, Greece is a destination rivaled by few others for pure romance. After spending around 3 months travelling the country, there is still much left for us to explore in Greece.
Not only is Greece stunning and romantic, it's actually quite affordable, particularly in the shoulder and off seasons. It's possible to visit year-round and even though the winter months are cooler, they don't have too much rain and discounts can be found upwards of 50%.
There are over 6,000 islands, islets and atolls in Greece - 227 of which are inhabited - but it's not just island life on offer here. The historic and bustling capital of Athens and the towering cliffs and monasteries of Meteora make the mainland almost as enticing as its archipelagic neighbours.
Mix in some of the friendliest people, best food, richest history and most dramatic landscapes in all of Europe and you have a truly fascinating destination with a more than a lifetime's worth of places to explore.
READ MORE ABOUT Greece
Check out our posts on the blog about Greece travel below. Having spent over 2 months travelling in Greece, we have a lot of information about the country! We do our best to cover as many different places as possible so that you can better plan your next trip to Greece. Whether you're a budget backpacker or a luxury traveller, we have a bit for everyone in the posts below.
experiences you shouldn't miss
Greece is one of those places that you can return to year after year and never see it all. Even if you visited two islands a year, it would take you over 100 years to visit every inhabited island in the country. Pick an island (or two) for each visit to Greece and just come back time and time again (like we have).
As foodies, it's not a surprise that this tops the list of things to do for us in Greece. Aside from salad, gyros and souvlaki, Greece is home to some truly scrumptious dishes like Dolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves), Keftethes (Meatballs), Moussaka, Pastitsio and much more. Greek people won't let you go hungry either, so make sure you visit Greece with an appetite!
With the Ancient Greek Empire being one of the oldest recorded civilizations in the world, it's really no surprise that Greece is a place that you'll want to explore the history. But the ruins, colosseums and amphitheaters stretch far beyond the capital. Get lost in the architecture of Rhodes, spend hours in the Museums of Corfu and explore deep into the ancient Cave of the Apocalypse.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Greece is overrun by tourists if you were to only visit the cascading hills of Santorini or the beaches of Crete, but it's not difficult to find your own slice of paradise here. Discover hidden gems like Lesvos, Chios, Lemnos and Halki. Visit places where the hoards don't and be rewarded for every step you take away from the main tourist trail.
With some of the Greek Islands being the most obvious first stop for those fleeing conflict in the Middle East, it's no surprise that many places in Greece have seen a massive influx of refugees in the past few years. There are a few programs in place to volunteer to help the refugees in Greece. Do more than Greece travel. Give back to those in need if you can.
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destinations you shouldn't miss
There may just be too many places to visit in Greece. We have travelled this amazing country for nearly 3 months and we feel like we've barely scratched the surface. Trying to visit all of Greece would take a lifetime, but knowing the best places to see will help you plan your trip. Here are a few of our top highlights in Greece — and don't miss our post on the best places to visit.
All of what makes Greece fantastic seems to culminate in the nation's capital (aside from the quiet beaches). Athens is a buzzing, modern metropolitan city juxtaposed by ancient ruins, stunning cathedrals and hidden ancient treasures. Give yourself a few nights to explore Athens as we did when we visited.
Read More: Things To Do In Athens.
Not surprisingly, Santorini appears on our list of the best places to visit in Greece because there's simply nowhere quite like Oia. But there's more to this little island jewel than the whitewashed buildings and spectacular sunsets. Rent a motorbike or a car and explore hidden wineries, lookout points, quiet beaches, volcanos and coves around the island. Enjoy a vacation in Santorini!
Read More: 15 Best Things To Do in Santorini
Still one of our favourite islands in Greece, Crete is so big that it's almost like a country in itself. We rented a car and took off driving around the island for two weeks, but you could also pick a different part of the island on each trip and simply plan to return. Blinding white sand beaches, stunning hikes, ancient ruins and fantastic restaurants await discovery on Greece's largest and most populous island.
There's just something about Zante Island. There's a cool, buzzing vibe here to go along with the normal holiday feel of a Greek Island. We rented a studio apartment for just $20 / night and stayed on Zakynthos for 2 weeks. We rented a car and explored the entire island and found out that there are many things to do in Zakynthos (including Shipwreck Cove, which is the subject of the most iconic images to ever come out of Greece).
If you're looking for a beach holiday in the Mediterranean, look no further than Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea. Blessed with arguably the best stretches of sand in the entire region, Kefalonia is a place that is hard to leave. Don't miss Myrtos Beach, and the towns of Assos and Fiskardo, and check out our post of Things To Do In Kefalonia for more ideas.
Greece Travel For Beach Lovers
Greece has 13,780 kilometers (8,562 miles) of coastline so it's no surprise that the country is blessed with some absolutely stunning beaches. Many of the beaches here are pebbly, but despite popular belief, there are actually some powdery white sands found on these shores.
Also known as Navagio Beach, this is by far the most iconic image of Greece. Shipwreck Cove is truly a sight to behold, but lazing on the sand isn't the best way to see it. After taking a boat to the beach itself, consider another trip. Drive up (or take a tour bus) up to the viewpoint atop the towering cliffs to look down at the beach from a bird's eye view. Stay inside the roped off area to avoid accidentally falling off of the cliffs (which has happened multiple times).
As far as water color goes, this is the best beach in Greece. You really can't explain this color, and photos really don't do it justice. You basically just have to see it to believe it. Somehow it looks as though someone has placed neon blue lights underwater that are so bright that they even manage to illuminate the beach in broad daylight. It's more pebble than sand, but that won't matter because you'll be hypnotized by the view.
Famous for pink sand (although the hue is changing after years of tourists stealing grains), this is definitely one of the more unique looking beaches in Greece. The sand here, while no longer obviously pink, is powdery and the water is beautiful. Many people stay here for an entire day. Bring a picnic if you decide to do so.
EXPLORE UNDERWATER REEFS
While Greece travel isn't as well-known for diving as the nearby Red Sea in Egypt, there is still some spectacular diving and enough locations to keep a true dive enthusiast busy. Diving didn't have a chance to flourish until recently, due to strict regulations, but these days more and more people are heading to Greece for a diving holiday. Here are some dive sites not to miss.
This ship is easily one of the most famous shipwrecks in the entire world, so if you're into getting lost in the dark caverns and hallways of a sunken WWI vessel, then you may want to make your way to Kea. This dive isn't for beginners however, so make sure you're well practiced and properly certified.
Image Left: WikiCommons
This is a great dive for those looking for clear water, an array of sea life and underwater rock formations. Here, at the northwest corner of Corfu, divers can enjoy a few small caves and an impressive archway. Day trips may also include dives at the Shipwreck of Ermones and the Skeloudi natural fish feeding site, both are in the Paleokastriksta area. This is one of the best things to do in Corfu, both above and below the surface of the sea.
Santorini's volcanic landscape lends itself to fantastic underwater formations and Nea Kameni is probably the best example of this in the country. The dive site features amazing solidified lava crests, deep caves and The Santa Maria, a 34 meter (112 foot) passenger ship wreck that sits at 18 meters (59 feet) of depth.
the best hiking and trekking
With a rugged, jagged and dramatic landscape, it's no surprise that Greece has some fantastic hiking opportunities. Whether you're looking for a challenging trek to a mountain peak, or an easy day hike that you can do as a family, there's a trail for everyone in Greece.
At 2,917 meters (9,573 ft), summiting Mount Olympus (Greeces's tallest peak) is a challenge for even experienced trekkers, particularly if you try to conquer to sea to summit challenge which takes you from sea level at Litochoro all the way to the summit stopping at refuges A, B, & C along the way.
Still thirsting for some exercise after summiting the mighty Mt. Olympus? Consider hiking the beautiful Samaria Gorge. When we visited the gorge in 2011 it was busy... really busy. So make sure you get up early to avoid the crowds. Alternatively you can hike up, rather than the more common descent route in order to enjoy more peace and quiet on the trail.
Read about our experience here.
Located in the Northern Pindos Park around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Ioannina and close to the Albanian border, Vikos Gorge is a nature-lovers paradise. But it's not just the epic trails that draw intrepid travellers to this area. There are 46 villages within the area of Zagori that you can visit during your trek.
Read More about Vikos Gorge here.
how much will Greece cost?
As far as affordable European destinations go, Greece offers excellent value for money, particularly for those who are willing to visit in the shoulder and off seasons.
We've visited Greece twice, both times in April/May and were rewarded with discounts on accommodation as high as 50%.
As en example, we had a little studio apartment in Zakynthos which included a delicious Greek breakfast every morning (cooked by the most hospitable Greek mama) all for just $20 / night. Pretty amazing.
While food in Greece isn't quite as cheap as the European destinations farther east, you can still find great value there and cheap table wine is usually of very good quality as well.
€55 / day (€85 For 2 people)
I think this is a pretty comfortable budget for Greece travel. It will give you enough to pay for the occasional historic sight entrance ticket, some tasty food and cheap accommodation like Airbnb rooms or studios.
It will also allow you to take a ferry every week or so in between islands, but little more than that.
When we travelled to Greece last (in 2017) we spent a bit more than this to ensure that we'd be able to go out for more sit-down meals and afford a car rental, but as a base for a comfortable budget, I think this would suffice. See the budget box in this section for a more direct breakdown of different levels of travel.
The cost of accommodation in Greece will vary a lot depending on when you visit, which accommodation you choose, and which part of the country you visit. If you visit in the shoulder season, you'll probably find discounts of 50% off many places including hotels, hostels, resorts and Airbnbs. Accommodation isn't cheap though, so this will likely be one of the biggest expenses in your Greece travel budget.
Budget: In cities and towns not on the coast, it’s possible to find double rooms with a private bathroom for as little as $15-20. In popular beach towns, you can expect to pay a bit more ($25-30 on the low end). For these prices you’ll get your own bathroom but probably won’t get A/C or free breakfast.
Mid-Range: Hotels in the mid-range in Greece tend to be between $50-75 a night depending on where you are. At this price range, you can definitely get rooms with a private bathroom and A/C. Many mid-range hotels also offer free breakfast.
Top-End: The sky's the limit when it comes to top-end accommodation in Greece. Coastal cities boast several options for beautiful boutique resorts, which usually come with a price tag of $250-500 a night. You’ll have several pools, a private beach, and will be able to eat and drink all you want. You may, however, have to pay extra for things like WiFi. In places like Athens, you can score a 5-star international hotel room for as little as $250, but most cost somewhere in the $250-700 range.
There are quite a few options for hostels in Greece. Those looking for a cheap dorm bed can expect to pay around $12 - $15 per night. If you get a private room in a hostel it'll run you closer to $20. Want a private bathroom? Then you're probably hitting the $25 - $30 mark, at which point you'll probably get a better deal last-minute on Booking.com or with an apartment on Airbnb.
We love staying in apartments in Greece. Most of the times that we've travelled to Greece we've booked small studios or one-bedrooms rather than staying in hotels.
We've found some great deals on Booking.com (particularly in the shoulder season), but there are also great places on Airbnb and VRBO. Use our Airbnb Coupon to save up to $55 off your first booking.
Dining out in Greece isn't overly cheap when comparing it to Eastern European countries or other popular traveller spots like Thailand and Bali, but it's still a good value, especially when you take into account the ridiculous portion size. Leave space to eat a meal out at least once per day in your Greece travel budget if you can.
Greek people eat meals in courses, so don't be surprised if the waiter tries to push an appetizer and a dessert on you. They simply don't want you to go home hungry.
We found that even if we didn't order the appetizer, the chef would cook one for us for free. You could see this in two ways. Either it's a great backpacker money-saving tip, or it's just a really easy way to gain weight while you're in Greece.
In cheaper sit down restaurants expect to pay around €10 ($12 USD) for a dish and around €6-€8 ($7-$9 USD) for an appetizer.
Table wine is affordable and actually quite tasty (most of the time) with a half carafe normally costing around €5 ($6 USD).
At more expensive restaurants you'll pay quite a bit more (we had one meal that was €75 per person for a set of 5 courses). Also, there are normally separate lunch and dinner menus, the former being much cheaper, so if you're on a budget you could rent on Airbnb and try to cook for yourself for breakfast and dinner.
In cities like Athens and the real party hot spots, you might pay as much as €20 just to enter into nightclubs and then drinks can be €10 each once inside. But nightclubs always have ridiculously inflated prices, so the below examples are at regular bars and restaurants.
We're not personally big drinkers of Greek beer and we tend to stick to red wine, but that's not to say we don't pop the odd bottle of Mythos or Alpha while travelling in Greece.
A bottle of beer in a restaurant usually costs around €4, while you can get them for under €1.50 at the supermarket.
If you're picking up a bottle of wine from the supermarket to drink in your hotel room or Airbnb, you can get them for as little as €2!
If you're at a restaurant, then a bottle of house wine will usually be at least €10, while a half carafe can be as cheap as €5.
You can get raki and ouzo pretty cheap in Greece, but when you start mixing cocktails it gets a bit more pricey. A mixed drink, even at a normal bar / restaurant will likely cost you at least €8 (double that in nightclubs and fancy lounges or in popular party spots like Mykonos, Athens and Rhodes).
If you're picking up spirits at the supermarket to make in your room, you can get 750 mL bottles of cheap and recognizable brands starting at around €15.
Tipping in Greece is customary, but in no way obligatory. Greek people will only tip in certain situations and if the service is excellent. Here's a breakdown of tipping situations in Greece. You don't have to plan tipping as a hefty expense in your Greece travel budget.
Restaurant Waiters: It is standard to leave a tip of around 5-10% for good service at a restaurant, but if the service is slow or you're not happy with your waiter, don't bother leaving anything.
Sometimes a service charge is added to the bill already. In this case, no additional tip is necessary. There are some restaurants that add a "cover charge" to the bill which covers the cost of the table setting and bread. This is not a tip and unless gratuity is added to the bill, you'll still be expected to tip for good service.
Bartenders: Generally they don't expect tips in Greece and it would be strange if you left them a large tip (as often happens in the US and Canada). Instead, if the bartender offered great service, consider rounding up to the nearest 1€.
Taxi Drivers: Similar to bartenders, a tip isn't really expected from taxi drivers, but it's always appreciated if you round up to the nearest €1.
Tour Guides: If you're on a group tour for the day, then generally €2 per person is a fair tip to give. If you're on a free walking tour, then you may consider tipping a bit more as the guide doesn't likely get paid outside of the tips. For private day tours or multi-day tours, a tip of around €20 per day to the guide is expected.
Door Man: If someone helps you with your luggage and offers you good service, you can choose to offer €1 for their time, but generally a simple thank-you is sufficient.
Spa Treatment: Generally a tip isn't really expected at spas in Greece, but if the treatment was better than expected, longer than agreed on or the service was excellent, a tip of 5-10% would be appreciated.
By staying in dorms, using public transport, eating street food and finding free or cheap activities, you can keep your budget quite low.
Spending a little more means you can get a private room, eat at decent restaurants, go out for a few drinks, and do a bit more sightseeing.
The sky is the limit a this point. There are plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury 5 star hotels in Greece.
Greece travel is already very budget-friendly, but there are still some things to keep in mind that can make your trip even cheaper. Here are a few money saving tips to help you out.
Greece TRAVEL FOR THE INTREPID
With over 200 inhabited islands, and only a few that are frequented by tourists, it's really not that difficult to enjoy off-the-beaten-path Greece travel. Travellers who explore further afield will be rewarded with unique experiences with locals and some fantastic historical sites all to themselves.
Known as the island of long life, thanks to its large community of 90-somethings that still remain active and a notably decreased rate of heart-disease and cancer among its residents, Ikaria Island in the Ionian Sea is one of the most laid back places you'll ever find. You probably never figure out what time shops are meant to be opened or closed and you might get dragged into a local festival or two, but it's all part of the charm.
This Dodecanese gem is home to a 100-year-old town with well-preserved Italian Rationalist architecture, but that's not all. Leros basically boasts all of the best aspects of the country; beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages, hilltop windmills and funky tavernas, but there's hardly anyone around. If you're looking to get off the beaten path in Greece and find a touch of Italy on the way, then look no further than beautiful Leros.
Blessed with a stunning old town, great diving, dramatic landscapes and a collection of perfect islets, islands and atolls just off shore, Alonissos is a place where you'll want to spend some time. Enjoy walks through pine forests and olive groves, go bird and dolphin watching in the encompassing National Maritime Park or head to a local folk medicine doctor to find herbaceous cures for whatever ails you.
Located in the heart of the Cyclades Islands, Paros is what Mykonos was like 20+ years ago. With just over 10,000 inhabitants and more than 120 kilometres of stunning coastline, this is an off-track destination in Greece that really should be more popular. Pristine landscapes, green valleys and rolling hills, Paros will not disappoint the intrepid traveller.
Read More: Things To Do in Paros, Greece
Greece travel for foodies
With one of the most iconic cuisines in Europe, if not the world, Greece is a place where foodies can truly flourish. We try to eat a different meal every time we go to a restaurant in Greece. We've hardly had the same meal twice and I don't think we've ever been disappointed.
The cuisine itself features a lot of vegetables, olive oil (some of the world's best), seafood, grains, wine and a meat. Dishes will commonly have olives, pasta, lemon juice, herbs, yogurt, bread, wheat, barley and spices. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Greek food is definitely one of our favourite parts about Greece travel.
It wouldn't be a visit to Greece without at least one gyro (pronounced "YEE-roh"). These delicious meat and bread wraps are cooked in the shawarma or tacos el pastor style where layers of fresh meat are stacked on a metal stick and rotated around a heat source before being shaved into a fluffy pita wrap. Inside you'll find meat (typically beef, chicken or lamb), vegetables, yogurt, herbs and oftentimes, french fries.
Give me anything with herbs and rice wrapped in a vine leaf and I'll be happy. Dolmades are light, herbaceous, green, fresh and are usually stuffed with ground meat (lamb, beef or both) and rice. They are usually served as an appetizer with a couple of lemon slices to add a bit of acid and tartness to the dish.
Okay I have to get a few of the staples out of the way because you can't go to Greece without having Dolmades, Gyros and Souvlaki! This delicious plate of skewered meat (usually chicken) served with rice and salad is a must-have meal for any first-timers or returning visitors to Greece.
Who doesn't like this affordable and popular dish of scrambled egg with tomato and feta? Also known as kagianas and melemeni, this is a dish that can be served hot or cold and is usually considered a lunch food or light snack as opposed to a breakfast meal (as westerners often think).
This cheap but simple staple is so nice to have before a meal, after a meal or just as a meal. When we first visited Greece we were on a very tight budget, so this was our go-to meal when travelling around the country. Almost every grocery store and restaurant will have this available for cheap. If you get it at the market it can be as little as €3 for all three!