Reasons to visit Greece and What to Expect
There is a myriad of experiences to be had when visiting Greece and it didn’t take long before Greece gave us it’s own unique set of ‘feels’. You know, those feelings, emotions and visuals that evoke a sense of the country or an area that you find yourself in; leaving an imprint upon your memory. Where an image or a faint scent can, for a brief moment, transport you to another time and place. There are so many reasons to visit Greece but we’ve put together a few to give you a taster of what to expect from this ancient land.
Reasons to visit Greece and What to Expect Once There
With Mediterranean climes, Greece is particularly enticing with its lure of almost guaranteed hot summers and mild winters. The coastal areas provide the perfect escape if you are looking for either of these things. However, the mountainous areas can offer a cool summer retreat and in winter there is definitely a brisk nip in the air. The higher mountain peaks even attract snow.
Due to the diverse landscape in Greece, the weather is variable. Even so, it has limited rainfall in comparison to many European countries. Thus making Greece a popular destination in summer and winter.
In fact, we travelled through Greece at the end of autumn into winter and would say that was the ideal time to travel if you would like to avoid the hordes of tourists that descend in summer – particularly to the many islands that Greece is so well known for.
So many reasons to visit Greece
The Greek Islands
You are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to visit in Greece. Not only does the mainland offer so many choices, but there are also over 200 Greek Islands. It’s like being in a lolly shop choosing which mouth-watering sweets to drop into that paper bag. Do you go for the most popular? A known favourite? Or do you try something you’ve not tried before – it might just suit your taste perfectly, even surpass the old favourites. Of the many reasons to visit Greece – having such a diverse choice means there is likely to be something for everyone.
If you are a fan of the film, Mamma Mia you may want to explore the island where much of the film was made, the island of Skopelos – you can even take a bus tour of all the Mamma Mia filming locations.
Here’s the Dancing Queen clip from the movie to get you in the mood and to give you some stunning glimpses of this Greek island.
Mamma Mia movie clip – filmed on the Greek Island of Skopelos
If you are trying to decide which Greek Island you may like to travel to, then this guide of the best Greek Islands to visit may help you with your decision.
Greek Ancient Artifacts
Greece is home to so many amazing ancient Greek monuments and artifacts – the Greek Gods favoured this part of the world it seems.
You can certainly get your fill of ancient Greek architecture, culture and mythology in this mythical land and if you have an interest in this type of history, then that is reason enough to visit Greece.
During our Greece trip, we visited the most famous of these ancient areas including Olympus, Delphi, Sparta and the Acropolis in Athens – but also so many ruins found off the beaten path.
Greece has no less than 18 UNESCO Heritage Listed sites and hundreds of archeological sites and museums. With a history rich in ancient culture, art and architecture Greece is a destination of choice for discoveries for lovers of history and Greek mythology.
Towards the end of our Greece campervan trip, I have to admit that we did succumb to ‘ancient ruin fatigue’ – crumbling columns that once held up the homes of the ancient Greeks and their Gods and Goddesses no longer held their initial appeal. We had become desensitized to their allure.
But luckily there are so many other reasons to visit Greece that our developed lacklustre attitude towards the hundreds of Greek ruins had little impact on our continued enjoyment of the country.
Greece is full of cats and kittens. Even amongst the ancient ruins, you are likely to stumble upon either a brazen Tom demanding your attention or a tiny whiskered face , peeping out from behind giant ancient artifacts, wondering whether you are friend or foe.
The Greeks don’t seem to see the cats as a nuisance – and many locals we talked to said they were useful for keeping the vermin down and the villagers took on a communal responsibility for looking after the strays.
Masses of Blue and White
Many of you will already associate the blue framed windows and whitewashed walls with Greece. Social media is awash with images from the popular Greek island of Santorini – instantly recognisable with its blue and white-domed churches overlooking the turquoise ocean.
Not only will you find this countrywide decorative taste in Greece’s buildings and homes but its blue and white flag will fly patriotically almost everywhere you go.
Tiny Greek Churches
Europe is full of churches, huge decorative buildings dominating many of the city and town squares. But Greece, Greece surpasses these with its extraordinary monasteries built into the sides of mountains and balanced precariously atop of pinnacles. With its plethora of tiny churches that are found in the unlikeliest of places – hidden high on mountain tops, built into rock crevices and on remote coastlines miles from anywhere.
The reasons to visit Greece don’t just pertain to the sights you’ll see but your other senses are also catered for.
The most famous of all the Greek foods has to be their olive oil – which also happens to be an ingredient in most Greek dishes. One Greek family of four told us that they use about 3kg of olive oil per fortnight. Greece is also one of the top three olive oil-producing countries in the world.
Greece’s lush pastures and its free-roaming sheep and goats (that you’ll most likely encounter meandering on the roads at some point during your trip), means that Greek feta is also a favourite. Local olives and feta being a great accompaniment to the Greek country bread (Horiatiko Psomi).
Greek feta cheese © Visit Greece
Dogs with Jobs
Stray dogs aren’t exclusive to Greece – in fact, they are common sights in Eastern Europe particularly, but along with their feline counterparts they are to be frequently spotted wandering along the streets.
However, you are also likely to come across dogs gainfully employed shepherding sheep or cattle. On many occasion, we came across a herd being nudged along the road by a few dogs – avidly keeping their flock on track and protected.
The tradition of using livestock guardian dogs has been around for about 2000 years but for those of us from places like the UK, USA or Australia are more used to seeing dogs herding the sheep in fields and helping the farmer rather than protecting and moving them along streets, without the owner, to find different pasture areas.
The Greek dogs that guard the livestock are ‘imprinted’ with the herd from young age and will mingle and protect the herd. Therefore, it’s advisable not to get too close as they could see you as threat to the herd.
While we were travelling – I got too close to look at a cute calf and didn’t see the dog sat in the grass. The dog sure saw me though and let me know in no uncertain terms with a deep growl that I needed to back away real quick.
Greek shepherding dog guarding his flock
“It’s all Greek to Me”
Many of the signs are written in Greek – a little tricky for those among us who aren’t used to interpreting the Greek alphabet – we may have heard of the Alpha and Omega but not necessarily recognise them in print. You quickly realise where the idiom, it’s all Greek to me, may have come from when you are trying to decipher the road sign ahead.
If you are driving in Greece, it helps to keep a sense of humour. We use a good tension breaker when things are getting a bit heated on the navigation front and change into our driving personas of Lady Penelope and Parker – which gives us a laugh and reminds us to take things less seriously.
Another great reason to visit Greece is that it is easier to travel on a budget here relative to many of its European counterparts. Greece uses the Euro currency.
Popular tourist destinations in Greece can be expensive in summer, but if you travel out of season – such as when we flew from Athens to Santorini in December, we were able to get up to 60% off the summer rate in a boutique hotel.
The cost of food is cheaper and it won’t break the bank to eat out. We travel on a budget and normally cook our own food rather than dining out – but these Chicken pitas and chips only set us back 2 euro each in Sparti.
Greece has plenty of hills, mountains and gorges just perfect for exploring and hiking.
The Meteora area and Vikos Gorge in northern Greece are both popular hiking areas. You can read more about the two hikes we did in these areas in our Greece road trip post here.
Hiking the Vradeto Steps at Vikos Gorge
In the Peloponnese in the south, another popular hike is in Lousios Gorge. This hike takes you past more ancient Greek ruins, an ancient tiny chapel and magnificent old monasteries built into the gorge mountainsides, Prodromou Monastery and the old and new Philophosou Monastery.
Read all about that hike in our Lousios Gorge hike here:
Pebbled, black volcanic sands, white sands, shallow bays, long strands, remote or full of water sports – the variety goes on and on.
For us, being able to park the campervan on so many beautiful beaches and watch the day fade while listening to the gently lapping waves was bliss. That was in winter – the beaches in summer are alive with activity.
When I was younger I had a windsurfing holiday on the Greek island of Lefkada, in Vassiliki and before that, I went scuba diving in Corfu.
Whether you are looking for quiet relaxation or an active beach holiday – the beaches of Greece and its coastline are another reason to visit Greece – summer or winter.
Quiet Sambatiki Bay in the Peloponnese, Greece
Skaloma Bay, Peloponnese
Reasons to Visit Greece Round up
There are plenty of reasons to visit Greece and we hope you have gathered a few travel tips for visiting this awesome country. With a rich Greek culture, numerous archaeological sites (many of which are heritage sites), warm people, delicious food, old towns and fabulous scenery, Greece is a fabulous option to satisfy your wanderlust.
And with so many islands and Greek destinations to choose from, there is bound to be something that will tickle your fancy.
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Have you been to Greece? What was your favourite destination? Let our other readers know by leaving a comment below. We love to hear about your travels too.
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