No matter where in the world you live, a visit to Greece will be an incredible and unique experience. Typically, tourists arrive by plane from everywhere, by cruise ship, ferry boat, car, or train from most European cities. So yes, you can use your rail pass, you can take a boat from Italy, Cesme in Turkey and from Albania. You can undoubtedly drive if you are already in Europe.
The best way to find the best rates on flights is to look everywhere. This means checking with the airline websites directly (airlines such as Olympic, Aegean, Delta, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Alitalia etc.) In addition, websites like CheapOair and Skyscanner will search for all available flights and offer you the best rates.
Immunizations and Visas for Greece
Before you plan your trip, know that immunizations are not required, but a visa may be required. If you are an EU citizen, you will not need a passport; your identity card is sufficient to enter Greece. If you are travelling from a non-EU country, you should check the list to see if you are eligible for entry on a three month, automatic visa. You can see all countries requiring and not requiring a visa on the Hellenic Ministries page. US & Canadian citizens do not require a visa.
If you are from a country that does require a visa for travel to Greece, you will need to purchase your plane tickets and plan your trip with hotel booking confirmations before going to your local Greek Embassy for the visa. The process is a little lengthy, but if you have the time and credentials necessary, it should be easy and will certainly be worth it.
When to visit Greece?
Let’s start at the beginning of the year and work our way through Greece’s “tourist seasons”.
January – March
January, February and March in Greece are considered winter and low season. On the islands, there will be a few hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants open. Museums will be available, but most archaeological sites and monuments are subject to weather permitting conditions and time constraints. The weather will be cold to freezing depending upon where you will visit.
Going north, you will find ski slopes and lots of cold weather and going south to Crete; you will find warmer temps. Although it has snowed in Crete before and rain is always a possibility during these months. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are always windy.
April – June
April, May and June are the months for spring when everything comes to life, including the regular ferry boat schedules and all of the hotels, shops and restaurants on the island. However, spring is not too hot, not too crowded and not too expensive. Everything opens with the Easter celebrations on the islands, and it is a perfect time to visit Greece.
Although Easter in Greece is a fantastic experience, you should know that most hotels will have peak season pricing and very little availability for holy week. Also, expect temperatures to be in the 70’s during the days and very cool at night. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are always windy.
July – August
July and August are the peak season months for tourism to Greece. Every year, no matter the economic climate globally, the sun is shining on Greece, and the islands are entire. Pricing is at its highest, tourism is at its highest, and just about all the hotels are full. August 15 is a national holiday and the biggest holiday of the summer. Do not expect to find last minute reservations for this period. And by last minute, I mean plan for the week of August 15 at least 3-6 months in advance. Temperatures soar in the summer up to 100+ degrees.
Greece has nice Meltemi winds and very little humidity, so it is not as bad as it seems, especially if you are near the water or in the shade. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are always windy.
September – October
September and October are the months for fall and are considered midseason, just like in spring. Cooler temperatures, everything is still open, lower pricing and a great time to visit. The ferry boat schedules will continue on their regular summer schedules until mid-October when the rain usually starts again. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are always windy.
November – December
November and December are the rainy seasons, and you can expect to see grey skies, a little sun and winter-like conditions. Temperatures may go up in the ’70s or stay as low as in the ’50s with very cool nights. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are always windy.
Helpful tips for your visit to Greece
Greeks are hospitable
The Greek people are known to be hospitable and friendly. I have travelled all over Greece for years, alone and with my family. I have made so many new friends who would not let me leave without taking something home with me. I have been offered numerous bottles of homemade wine, bread, cheeses, various sweets and many little knick-knacks.
So many tourists enjoy biking or hiking around Greece, and some have told me about locals who saw them sleeping on the beach and offered their homes or others who were stopping for a break and they were brought a cold drink or a plate of food. Hospitality in its best form!
Crimes are not prevalent.
Crime is something new to the Greek people, and when I say crime, I mean the things you see in your news every day are relatively new to us, but sometimes bad things are happening. You should use the same personal precautions at home and keep an eye on your possessions.
The chances of being robbed or part of some violent crime are slim to none, but it is still an excellent idea to be prudent about your surroundings and belongings.
Expect things to be different here in Greece.
You are not travelling through your own country or any other country; this is Greece – there is no comparison. The country has different customs, mentalities, foods, different ways of doing things, different music, passions, and something that makes us happy or angry.
Although everything may not be agreeable to you, please do try to respect people while visiting. The Greek people are mostly very laid back and enjoy good food, music, drink and good company with animated conversations.
Yet being very passionate people, you can expect some tempers to be short and discussions to get loud. During my first week in Greece, I saw two men arguing in the street. It looked like they were ready to start hitting each other. Arms flailing, pointing in different directions, both shouting, I couldn’t imagine what was happening. I asked my friend who told me that one guy was giving the other guy directions!
Go with the flow.
The best advice I can offer is to go with the flow, try everything, say hello to everyone you interact with, learn a few words in Greek (which will be well-appreciated) and taste anything that is offered to you!
I tried “patsas” after a night out because everyone was eating this soup that was the common after-hours go to. The bowl arrived, and I was mortified because it was made from sheep entrails. I tried it, knowing I wasn’t a fan of anything in that bowl. I didn’t like it, but the people I was with were laughing and loved it that I was willing to try. They ordered me a bowl of vegetable beef instead, and it was great!