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Discover Greece
A country of ancient philosophers, antique culture, and the homeland of the Olympic Games
Greece is a country of rich ancient history and extraordinary beauty

General information

Capital:

Athens

Population:

10 741 165

Official language:

Greek

Currency:

Euro

Territory:

131 957 km²

Geography

Greece is located in the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It also includes a large number of islands, which make up 20 percent of the country's total territory. Ancient Greece is washed by the Mediterranean, Ionian, Aegean, Cretan, and Libyan Seas of the Mediterranean basin. It borders on Albania in the north-west, Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria in the north, and Turkey in the north-east. The Peloponnese (2200 square kilometers) is the largest peninsula and cradle of the ancient Greek civilization. It has a population of about one million people. Crete (8259 square kilometers) is considered to be the largest among the islands, followed by Euboea (3654 square kilometers), Lesbos (1630 square kilometers), and Rhodes (1401 square kilometers). The territory of Greece consists mainly of medium-high mountain ranges. The highest peaks are Mount Olympus (2917 m) and Parnassus (2457 m). Mountain rivers, breathtaking beauty of their waterfalls, many lakes of different origin, canyons, and caves, the incredible beauty of the bay and lagoon are other "zests" of nature in Greece.

The country's administrative system was reformed in 2011 under the Kallikratis Programme. Greece now has seven decentralized administrations, 13 regions, and 325 municipalities, as well as an Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain with a special status and its own visa regime.

Map Greece

What to see in Greece and where?

Athens is the capital of the country and bears the name of the ancient Greek goddess of war and wisdom. The names of the ancient philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and such masters of drama as Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides, are closely associated with the name of this city. One or two days will not be enough to visit all the sights of Athens. There are over two hundred museums alone. In addition to them, a tourist has to find time to see a large number of ancient monuments, including the Acropolis, the temples of Zeus and Hephaestus, the Tower of the Winds, and Panathinaikos Stadium, which hosted the first Olympic Games in modern history. The best panoramic view of Athens can be seen from Philopappos and Lykavitos Hills. The first one offers a magnificent view of the Acropolis and the architectural ensemble consisting of the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, Parthenon and Erechtheion. And when the weather is good, you can see the Saronic Gulf, the Port of Piraeus, and even the nearby island of Aegina from Lykavitos.

Thessaloniki is Greece's second-largest city, its northern capital, and the cultural center. Many of the monuments of Thessaloniki are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists who come to this ancient city have places to explore. Its architecture has not been exposed to modern changes. There are no skyscrapers, and all the buildings are not too high. The White Tower of Thessaloniki is a so-called symbol and the main attraction of the city. Visitors can see the exposition of the Museum of Byzantine Culture and climb to the observation deck, which offers stunning views of the city and the central waterfront. Archaeological lovers will be interested in visiting the ancient city of Dion (dedicated to the god Zeus), which is 90 km from Thessaloniki.

The peninsula of Halkidiki is located in north-eastern Greece, on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea. It is a real paradise for tourists. Halkidiki consists of three separate peninsulas: Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos. Kassandra is considered to be the most popular part of the resort, where the most comfortable hotels and beaches are located. Sithonia is associated with measured relaxation with small cozy coves and well-maintained beaches. Athos is a convent republic that consists of 20 orthodox monasteries. An interesting fact is that since ancient times there has been a ban on visiting the Holy Mountain by any female creatures. It concerns not only women but also animals. For violation of the law, criminal liability with a term of imprisonment from 8 to 12 months is provided. Men must obtain a special permit (diamonitirion) to visit Athos. Athos offers fascinating sightseeing tours in the monasteries of Meteora.

Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth-largest in the Mediterranean Sea. Several seas wash it at once - Libyan, Cretan, Ionian Seas. In the lagoon of Balos, you can watch all three seas merge. It is stunningly beautiful, with the water shimmering in all shades of blue. Heraklion is considered to be the capital of Crete, while other major cities include Rethymno, Lasithi, and Chania. There are many historical attractions here, but the Palace of Knossos, the Arkadi Monastery, and the old Venetian port of Chania deserve special attention.

Corfu (Kérkyra) is the second-largest island in the Ionian Islands. It is covered with cypress forests, olive groves, and orange plantations. It is, without exaggeration, a green paradise. The old town is surrounded by fortress walls built to protect it during the Venetian protectorate. It is a perfect island for a beach vacation. You should keep in mind that the water is warmer in the east of the country, so take this fact into account while choosing resorts. On the island, you should visit the resort village of Paleokastritsa with its caves and monastery, the Achilleion Palace and Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral, dating back to the XV century.

Rhodes is another beautiful Greek resort island. It is located in the Aegean Sea near Turkey. The coastline of Rhodes is an endless chain of sandy beaches. The capital of the island is the town of Rhodes, built by the Knights Hospitaller. Fortifications of Rhodes are the main attraction of the city, built during the blossom of the Byzantine Empire. The historical part of the town is a significant cultural heritage of world importance.

The island of Kos, located 4 km from the southwest coast of Turkey, will also be a great place to relax. According to one version, the name "Kos" is derived from the word "crab". In ancient times, the crab was the emblem of the island and minted on local coins. The father of world medicine, Hippocrates, was born on Kos. Lovers of antiquity are attracted here by the ruins of 22 early Christian basilicas, the most famous of which is the Basilica of Saint Stephen in Kefalos. It will also be interesting to visit the castles of Knights Hospitaller of the XV-XVI centuries in Andimachia and Kefalos, as well as the Byzantine castle in Pelion.

National peculiarities

  • The Greeks are quite conservative in their mentality. They honor the folk traditions, love national clothes, and always compare the sights of their country with others.
  • Older Greeks often gather in small local cafes. Here they socialize, play backgammon, drink frappés (coffee with ice), tea, white wine, and anise vodka.
  • The Greeks are quite wasteful. They believe there is nothing wrong with wasting their entire salary on entertainment. But the paradox is that the Greeks dream of wealth, but it is not for them to save money.
  • The Greeks are quite passionate in expressing their thoughts. Sometimes, it may seem that they are fighting, but in fact, it can be just a normal friendly conversation.
  • No one is in any hurry in Greece. They think here that while you take a break for a cup of coffee, nothing terrible will happen. In summer, when the thermometer shows +35-40 °C, the Greeks, like many Mediterranean peoples, throw a siesta.

What is the best time to visit Greece?

It is interesting to visit Greece at any time of year. Spring in Greece is beautiful with blooming gardens and warm weather. It is very romantic and beautiful at this time of the year. While there is no heat, it is very nice to admire the architectural sights. The end of May and the beginning of June, as well as September and October, is a good time for a beach holiday. During these periods, there is no exhausting heat, and there are fewer crowds of tourists. July and August are a high season in Greece. In these months, the temperature and prices are high with a flow of tourists. Autumn is warm in Greece. The season lasts until October, and in Rhodes, you can swim in November. Winter is an ideal time for shopping — when Greece has a sale season — and for museum tours (but some of them are closed in winter).

Hotels in Greece

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