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GREECE TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Greece travel guide for solo travel over 40, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Greece travel planning.
ΚΑΛΏΣ ΉΛΘΑΤΕ ΣΤΟ GREEZE!
Greece – a country with an archipelago of 6,000 combined islets and islands that dot the Aegean and Ionian Seas is considered the birthplace of Western philosophy, democracy, political science, theatre, poetry, and the Olympic Games. It is home to Mount Olympus,Greek mythology, Homer, famous architecture like the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Sanctuary of Delphi, and the Theatre of Epidaurus, and the classic philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Greece produces 7% of the world’s marble and is one of world’s leaders in olive production (some of its current-producing olive trees going back to 13thcentury!). It has over 250 days of sunshine every year with wetlands that can house as many as 100,000 birds at a time; a world class city and capital, Athens (one of the oldest cities in Europe); and holds popular island destinations such as Santorini, Crete, Naxos and Mykonos, to name a few.
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LANGUAGES IN GREECE
The official language is Greek, originating over 3,000 years ago making it one of the oldest European languages spoken.
How's Your Greek?
Brush up on your Greek before your trip to Greece.
Considered to be the cradle of Western culture and democracy, its culture influenced the Roman Empire which in turn spread the Greek culture to many civilizations thereby impacting many modern cultures today – some who owe government by the people, trial by jury and equality under the law to the Greeks. Greek art, architecture, science, philosophy, theater, poetry, painting, and sculpture has also influenced many cultures to this day as well.
The Romans also helped spread Greek cuisine, which is built on wheat, olive oil and wine that thrive in the Mediterranean climate. In fact, it was a Greek who wrote the first cookbook in 320 B.C. Feta cheese, made of goat’s milk, is the Greek national cheese that dates back to 1100 and 800 BC. Traditional diets consist of vegetables, olives and olive oil, cheese, fish and bread, with meat being considered a luxury and eaten on special occasions. Byzantine cuisine infused with the Greek’s with fish, basil, lemons and nutmeg. Greek cuisine is also influenced by Italian and Ottoman dishes, such as baklava. Having produced wine since for over 6,500 years, Greece is considered one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.
Today, 98% of Greeks classify as Christian Orthodox making religion play an important role in their culture. The remaining population comprise of Roman Catholics, Jewish and Muslims. There is a rich history of Greek traditions, religious or from paganism, and Greeks are considered very superstitious, such traditions and superstitions can vary by region and by island to island. Today, most of the traditions and festivals still celebrated are religious, such as Name Day celebration (most Greeks are named after a Christian saint), Easter, and Apokries (the Greek Carnival).
The Greeks enjoy a low crime rate and value a strong family structure with mutual support within extended families being considered very important.
POPULAR GREEK ACTIVITIES
Football (soccer) is the national sport of Greece. There are many football leagues in Greece, but it is the Superleague, comprising of 16 clubs, that is considered the best. With a warm, sunny climate, many Greeks spend time outdoors. In many of the small villages or on the islands, “volta” is still practiced – the act of strolling up and down the main street on the beach at sundown. Many Greeks participate in or attend religious celebrations of saints with traditional music.
There are many churches in Greece where attendance is still high. Greece also has many museums of antiquities to visit. Most Greek festivals take place in the summer but many take place year-round, the most popular being the Athens Epidaurus Greek Festival. The Greeks also spend a lot of leisure time in their cafés and coffee shops, and nightlife can be lively consisting of dinner followed by drinks in a lounge or nightclub, some with dancing until dawn.
Greece uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.
Greece has all modern forms of transportation, including Uber (research in advance if they are in your destination area), and other regional ridesharing services and apps, so getting around and booking transportation in advance or working on the fly, is no problem.
TIPPING IN GREECE
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at Greece’s holidays.
GREECE ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Greece voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz, so bring Type C and F adapters (it doesn’t hurt to bring two of each) for Greece outlets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Greece outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapters with converter). Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country in addition to Greece on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience!
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TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR GREECE
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport. Visas are not required if your stay is less than 6 months. Make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 3 months from your return to the U.S. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Greece. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR GREECE
There are normally no vaccinations required for Greece travel. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Greece. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
GREECE TRAVEL SAFETY
Compared to other countries, Greece is considered safe to visit. There are rarely travel advisories for Greece. Although the crime rate is low, just take the general safety measures like you would anywhere else. That said, here my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT GREECE
Sounds like prices have gone up for Greece since I’ve been there. You can still do low budget accommodations like a hostel for backpackers or a cheap hotel, but then prices do go up from there. It could be expensive to fly to Greece so if you go, I would recommend making the most of the airfare and visiting at least another country, like Turkey or Italy. Like other countries in Europe, Greece’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (late June to August). Athens is considered pricier than other Greek destinations. Good prices can be found in April to early June or in September, and the weather will still be very nice. The off season, October to early April, is definitely the cheapest time to visit Greece.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, Greece consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
It has been quite a while since I’ve been to Greece, but I really enjoyed was it as a great leisure destination. After seeing the sites in Athens, which I highly recommend, I was able to enjoy beach time on the pink beaches of Naxos and black beaches of Santorini with a cold beer and a souvlaki pita – and very inexpensively! If you go to the Santorini beaches (why wouldn’t you?), don’t forget your shoes because that black sand can get hot! Go to Greece and unwind. Enjoy the many great dishes and wine Greece has to offer followed by amazing sunsets.