Greece is in southeastern Europe on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, surrounded by the Ionian, Aegean, Cretan, and Mediterranean seas. The mainland is full of character, even though many of the 2,000+ sun-washed islands may be more well-known. With the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, and largely mountainous landscape, it offers both relaxation and adventure, including scuba diving, climbing and hiking, and beachside lounging. It’s where Western civilization started, so if you’re a history buff, you’re going to love all the ancient ruins at every turn. From nightclubbing in Ios to winery hopping in Santorini, or visiting archaeological sites in classical Athens to the mystical monasteries at the top of the Meteora rock formations, Greece will impress you with its stunning authentic charm.

Did You Know?

  • 7% of the world’s marble is produced in Greece
  • All Greek citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote.
  • The Greeks have been cultivating olive trees since ancient times; some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives!
  • Greece one of the most mountainous countries of Europe, with 80% of landscape consisting of hills or mountains
  • Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world
  • The first Olympic Games took place in Greece in 776 B.C. 
  • Greece has one of the richest varieties of wildlife in Europe, with half of the endemic mammal species in danger of becoming extinct.
  • Greek has been spoken for more than 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest languages in Europe.
  • Greeks wave with the palm closed, not open. It’s considered an insult to show the palm of the hand with the fingers extended.
  • Mount Olympus is Greece’s highest elevation at at 9,750 feet (2,917 meters). It is also known as the legendary home of Zeus and other Olympian gods and goddesses.

Travel Tips

If you’re traveling as a citizen from a country that has not joined the Schengen Area of the European Union, you may need a visa to enter Greece. Your passport should also be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival, with proof of sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can provide more detailed information ( or US citizens may want to contact their Foreign Consulate Office

It’s also advised to have suitable insurance coverage for emergency medical or other needs, as tourists from countries other than the EU may not have access to their health care system. Again, you may want to contact the Foreign Consulate Office.

The Greek climate is pretty mild, with mostly sunshine and minimal rainfall. It’s naturally cooler in the mountains, which do get snow in the winter. They have a longer summer, running from mid March through October. July and August are the hottest months – which is also when the locals travel away, so it’s good time to visit if you don’t like crowds. Just be aware it may be hot – they can get heat waves over 100F! 

As a Member-State of the EU, Greece uses the Euro for currency. Most banks accept currency for exchange, and credit cards are accepted widely in most businesses and at ATM machines. A passport is required when exchanging currencies. Relative to other parts of Europe, Greece is fairly affordable comparatively.

The best way to access the internet is with your own phone. Sign up for an international/global plan, and bring it with you. Wifi is available at most hotels, and often at a café. But if you need to make a lot of calls or emails while traveling, it’s recommended that you buy a European SIM card. Also be aware that the electric current is 230V AC (50Hz) in Greece. Appliances and chargers from North America will likely require a transformer or adaptor.

If you don’t want to drive yourself around Greece, get train or bus tickets as needed – getting a full railway pass doesn’t make sense for most travelers. You may also consider renting a moped. Easily found, they’re cost efficient and a fun way to see streets. There’s also a ridesharing service, BlaBlaCar, that will provide rides with locals between cities. Drivers are verified, but they may not be as reliable to be on schedule. And, with all the islands around, you’ll likely also be taking a ferry at some point. They also have overnight ferries and you may buy tickets in advance if you know your travel plans.