Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in southern Europe on the tip of the Balkan peninsula. About 80% of Greece consists of mountains or hills, thus making Greece one of the most montainous countries of Europe; western Greece contains lakes and wetlands. Greece is full the history of ancient civilzation as well as mythlogy. Greece also is made up of the Greek islands which offer some of the most beautiful sunsets and beaches in the world. No matter what type of vacation you are looking for – there is something for everyone in Greece.
Greece recently ranked 12th in terms of international tourist arrivals world wide with a figure of 14.180 Million visitors. As you might imagine, there are many attractions in Greece including: Acropolis in Athens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, Ancient Agora in Athens, the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Lykavittos Hill in Athens, the Athens Olympic Stadium in Athens, and the shopping district of Plaka at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, just to name a few.
For a more relaxing vacation consider visiting one of the Greek islands including Santorini and Mykonos. These islands offer a more authentic Greek expirence.
Santorini is famous for its black rock beaches and breathtaking sunsets and the famous archaeological site of the Akrotiri Excavations. It is sometimes said that Santorini is the lost City of Atlantis. A mule or cable car ride in Fira is just as exciting as a sunset in Oia. Mykonos is known for its extraordinary night life and white sandy beaches. The most popular clubs include Argo and Cavo Paradiso. Mykonos attracts people from all over the world and is known as very freindly to the gay travler. When visiting mainland Greece or one of the Greek islands – you are sure to have a wonderful time.
When traveling to Greece tourists have many options with regards to accomodations. Being Greece recently ranked 12th in the world for international tourist arrivals, you can imagine that Greece offers a lot for tourists. Fodor’s, Rick Steve’s, and Trip Advisor recommend hotels near the Plaka shopping district and the Acropolis in Athens Greece.
The top ranked hotels in Greece include: the Palazzo di Pietro in Chania, Crete, this hotel is a traditional style hotel in the town of Chania offers a warm and friendly atmosphere and a hospitable staff, (2) the Santorini Princess in Santorini, Cyclades is a beuatiful hotel which is tucked 300 meters above the sea in a quaint village and offers amazingly scenic views of the sea and the breathtaking sunset, (3) the AVA Hotel Athens is a four star accomodation offering both apartments and suites and is located only a few steps away from the heart of modern Athens and all Olympic venues.
Greece offers many different types of vacation options. There are big cities like Athnes, and smaller beach towns on the Greek Islands such as Santorini. Hotles have a wide price range in Greece, so choose your location first and then your level of accomodations. On the Greek Islands, there is the option of staying with a Greek family and in the cities, a hostle.
Greece Restaurant Information
Greek food is some of the best in the world. The best saganaki (fried cheese) and tzatziki (a cucumber yougurt sauce) are found in Athens Greece and on the Greek islands. No meal would be complete without an authentic Greek salad containing cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, oil and feta cheese.
Some of the best restaurants in Athens Greece include Zorba’s Restaurant in the Plaka and Vitro with views of the Acropolis. Some of the best and most famous restaurants on Santorini include Selene in Fira and Oia’s Cafe in Oia. Both are one of the best places to catch a sunset along with dinner on the famous island of Sanrorini. The best and most famous restaurants on Mykonos include the restaurants of “Little Vencie” and Alexis in Paradise Beach. Be sure to check out the nightlife of Mykonos.
The Plaka in Athens (Piraeus) one of the major tourist centers in all of Greece. There are terrific restaurants and bars in this area as well. The food, drink and people watching is incomparable. Some restaurants that are worth a try include Kouklis where Tripodon, (the road that goes around the Plaka side of the Acropolis) connects with Epiharmou. This ouzerie is packed with people on balconies looking over the road. The specialty is Greek flaming sausages called lukaniko. Kouklis is populare with young Greeks and tourists who are not ‘tourists.’
Kafeneon an ouzerie near Kouklis on Epiharmou street. The prices are nearly the same as Kouklis but the menu is a bit better. The ouzo is all the same. If you are sitting on the street, be careful as the grade is steep and a chair or two have been known to fall over. Be sure to come by in the winter for a tasty tsipuro.
The Greek Islands
When visiting Greece, be sure to venture off the main land and spend some time exploring the Greek Islands. There are many ways to plan these excursions including ferries from the main land or Greek Cruises offered by all teh the major crusie lines including Royal Carribean, Holland America, an Princess Cruises. Some of the most popular and beautiful destinations include Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Rhodes, and Naxos.
Santorini is what you think of when you picture the white washed buildings with blue roofs on the travel posters of Greece. The population of the island lives on the top of the crater formed by ab underwater volcano and the buildings hang off the edges for dear life. Some believe this is the true Island of Atlantis. The main port of Fira (Thira) offers three ways up to the island’s towns – cable car, donkey ride, or foot path. It is your choice and depends on how adventurous your are feeling. Once you arrive in Fira everything is with walking distance including shopping, hotels and wonderful Greek restaurants. There is a foot path all the way to Oia witch is about a 7 mile walk. If you wish to visit the beautiful less congested town it may be best to hire a cab. Or just wander down this foot path and stop of at one of the restaruants and wonder at the sea and the beauty of the island around you. At the southern tip of the island is the ruins of the ancient city of Akrotiri – a town destroyed by a volcano and preserved by layers of lava. This is truly an archeological wonder.
Mykonos has become more and more famous as a vacation destination in the recent years. This has been fuled by mainland Greeks opening restaurants and businesses on Mykonos as well as the beautiful scenery and beaches. Getting lost in the maze of back streets and allys is part of the adventure of Mykonos. You may stumble on that perfect gyro or greek salad or catch a veiw of sea that you have not seen before. There are several museums to visit but most just spend their time relaxing on the beachs in Mykonos.
Athens Greece is one of the most beautiful cities in the world complete with the Acropolis rising from the middle of the city. However, there is much more to see and do in Athens besides the Acropolis and all of the history it has to offer. Athens can seem dirty, crowded and full of traffic. Look past some of the flaws to see the beautiful and lively city thriving in the middle of some of the most ancient and wonderful arcifacts in the world.
Be sure to visit the Agora and the temple of Hephaistos at the foot of the Acroplois and spend a few evening hours strolling and shopping in Plaka. Visit Constitution (Syntagma) Square to view the active government of Athens, Greece. Ther are numerous Greek Orthodox Churches to vist and awe at their beauty. The nightlife starts late in Athens with most locals eating dinner about 10:00 PM and then hitting the streets. There are also summer festivals including the Hellenic Festival, the Lycabettus Festival, the Epidaurus Festival, and a music festival called the Rockwave Festival. For shopping check out the Plaka-Monastiraki neighborhoods. What ever you are looking for, Athens Greece is sure to deliver with flair.
When travelling in Athens, Greece the experience is all about the food. The Greek cuisine is some of the most delicious identifiably unique cuisine in the world. Enjoy a Mousaka or Gyro in the Plaka at any one of the streetside cafe’s. For desert, indulge in a piece of baklava drenched in honey with a cup of Greek Coffee. Greek Coffee is a bold blend of dark coffee with cinnamon and sugar.
Getting around Athens Greece is much improved since the Olympics. As a run-up to the Olympics, Athens expanded its public train system. Between cabs, walking and the train, you can tour the whole of Athens. At night, if you decide to take the train or walk, stroll with a partner and stay in the well lit areas just to be on the safe side. No matter your mode of transportationn in Greece, you will be certain to enjoy your Athens Greece travel vacation.
The Acropolis in Athens
When visiting Athens, Greece the main attraction is the Acropolis and all that it has to offer. The Acropolis is home to one of the most famous temples in the world – the Parthenon. Also located at the Acropolis is the National Archaeological Museum of Greece, Nike’s Temple, Beule’s Gate, and the Erechtheion comeplete with the beautiful Caryatids. No trip to Athens would be complete without a trip to the Acropolis. There is a small bookstore on the way up to the Acropolis that sells information for self guided tours or you may join one of the numerous guided tours of the Acropolis as well.
The Parthenon is the temple dedicated by the Greeks to the goddess Athena. Once a huge golden statue of Athena stood in the middle of the Parthenon but has been destroyed. The Parthenon has served many functions over the thousands of years that it has been in existence. It has been a church, temple and even a mosque. Its major source of destruction came when it was bombed by the Venetians as the Parthenon was being used to store ammunition by the Turks, who occupied the Parthenon at that time. Most of the orginal frieze and pediment sculpturs are housed in the Natioanl Archaeological Museum with some on display in Britan after being stolen by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.
You will enter the Acroplois thru Beule’s Gate with Nike’s temple to your right. Up the small hill the Parthenon will rise before you and to your left will be the Erechtheion which was built as a tomb to honor the king of Athens, Erechtheus. A hole in the celing and floor remain where Posideon struck with his trident in a contest with Athena to have the city named in their honor. Athena countered with the olive tree and won the contest – hense Athens.
Sailing the Greek Islands
When traveling to Greeece a great way to see the most beautiful parts of the counrty is to sail the Greek Islands. Many cruise lines offer cruises that sail the Greek Islands and hit all of the hot spots such as Santorini and Mykonos. These cruise lines include Royal Carribean, Princess Cruises, Silverseas and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. Many Greek cruises can be booked through MLT Vacations who can help you plan the perfect vacation.
Or you may choose to stay in Athens and use the ferry system to the different Greek Islands and plan a few days at each island. This way you are in contol of your lenght of stay. If you fall in love with the sunsets of Santorini – stay an extra night. If you fall in love with the night life of Mykonos – stay an extra few days.
One of the most luxurious ways to see the Greek Islands in style is by yacht. Renting a yacht in Greece gives you total control of your once in a lifetime vacation. With five star service by an exceptional crew all of the most beautiful Greek Islands are at your fingertips. What better place to see the Agean sunset than from the balcony of your Greek yacht. The service is unmatched and the ease of travel is great. Skipper a Greek Island Tour today.