Here, I’ve compiled a brief list of a few easily overlooked and seldom discussed things that you should know if you’re planning a trip to, or through Greece ! This is a list of the things that I found either were, or would have been useful to know before my trip to Greece in May of 2019, Travelling through, Athens, Santorini and Mykonos.
Hopefully these tips can help you to have the most enjoyable vacation possible and maybe even save you a little time, money, or both !
As always you’re invited to share your feedback or any other insights you may possess below in the comments ! Xo
1. Pack Water shoes - Even though their probably only a few notches more fashionable than crocs, they’ll be more than worth the investment if you’re travelling through Greece. though I did wind up at a beautifully sandy beach - Ornos beach in Mykonos , the first few steps into the water were still rather uneven and difficult if to walk into - seeing people grimacing over those first few feet when entering and leaving the ocean definitely reinforced my pleasure at having my water shoes with me. (I ordered mine on amazon for around 30$ and they held up surprisingly well and were super comfy and breathable! (Add about Kamari beach and sea urchins. )
2. Athens is amazing. You might have heard, as did I that Athens can be dangerous and is dirty etc, however it’s full of such a rich and beautiful history as isn’t worth missing out on because of a couple “bad reviews.” Remember not everything speaks to everyone and that’s ok. It might not be as picturesque as the Greek islands , but that’s because it’s another city and appears as such. While in Athens, our hotel was in a very popular tourist area just minutes from the acropolis and the market , which is referred to as plaka, so because we were only in Athens for a few days we mostly stuck to this area. The panhandlers and taxi drivers can be a little aggressive at times, but not in a violent way. That doesn’t go for all of them however , the taxi driver who picked us up from the airport was one of the nicest humans I have ever met. (He gave me his jacket to lay down in the back seat because I wasn’t feeling well.) Other drivers , however seemed to want to take us where they think we should go as opposed to where we’re going - but that might not be such a bad thing , perhaps we were missing out !
3. Off season - still pretty busy. Visiting Greece in the “slower” months doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a ghost town. During the peak of the season millions of people flock to the area, so “off-season” can still get pretty busy.“Off season” doesn’t mean it won’t still be beautiful outside and even possibly swimmable - depending when in the “off season” you visit! Before my trip to Greece last May, I was trying to figure out whether or not I’d be able to swim in the ocean and came across A-LOT of misleading information, leading me to believe I probably wouldn’t be doing much swimming. I checked the weather of course and it appeared that I was set for mildly warmed temperatures, however I ended up spending 80% of the trip by the water and it was much hotter than expected ! 😀 Im not complaining 🤷🏽♀️ It does cold down rapidly after sunset, so if you’re out and about for dinner or to enjoy the sunset you’ll be happy to bring a light jacket at the least ! Whether or not you’ll find the ocean comfortable for swimming in Greece during the off season also depends on what your body is used to, if you’re visiting from warmer countries such as India or the UAE you’re likely to find the temperature a little chilly but a Canadian like me might find it perfectly refreshing !
4. Hot spring / boat tour - When entering Santorini, and again at our hotel, we were told of a lovely boat tour that you can take to enjoy the sunset and take out the nearby hot spring! Because we had other plans for Santorini and have previously visited volcanic locations and hot springs in Costa Rica we declined this excursion. Throughout our stay we heard from many people that a) Although they were given blankets, they were freezing out on the water watching the sunset. b) you have to swim from the boat to the hot spring, in water that , at this time is freezing! and c) the hot spring is lukewarm at best - at-least in May, and smells heavily of sulphur, which is not unusual for a hot spring. This could still be a lovely tour in the warmer months or even if you just go prepared with extra warm socks, track pants and a sweater for when the sun sets and the weather cools down!
5. Scooters, motorbikes and electric bikes are the main method of transportation, which makes sense as the streets in most areas are pretty winding and narrow. However, I don't advise renting one unless you are comfortable and/or experience as the roads and traffic in Greece can get a little bit crazy ! Better Safe than Sorry !
6.$$$ - Lets just say the taxes in Greece are pretty high... Actually lets just say tax in Greece is about 24%, and leave it at that. We found the best method of conversion was to pull $$ directly out of ATM machines in Greece. Not only will you get a better exchange rate than you would if you were , for example, converting cash in a hotel lobby, but it will also help you to limit/ track the amount of cash you have on you at any given time, which is wise to do when travelling.
7.There are Smoking rooms in most airports in Greece! So YAY if you’re a smoker on a long commute!
8.“Greek” = Goat Now I’m not saying that the word Greek literally means Goat but food wise in Greece is kind of does 🤷🏽♀️ To save the trouble of asking, let’s just say it’s pretty much safe to assume that “Greek yogurt , Greek feta,” and almost any other food item termed “Greek” is made with goat cheese! Which is fantastic, if you like goat cheese, and if you don’t there are typically other options readily available, though I’d definitely recommend trying everything Greek and anything Greek you can, even if it’s only once !
9. The red sand beach, in Santorini, is technically “closed.” The beautiful and popular tourist attraction the red sand beach is not currently open to visitors due to the dangers of falling rocks, it has been classified as unsafe. At the trail leading to the beach you’ll be greeted with signs advising you of this. However , many tourists do still make the trek down to the beach and some can even be seen lounging in the sun for hours ! If you are dead set on visiting and v6do intend to visit the red sand beach in Santorini it is wise to tread lightly, exercise extreme caution and explore the area with a group !
Greece , like most other places I’ve visited is full of nice people and opportunists as well , use your common sense and be cautious with your travel documents and you’ll be sure to have an amazing time in Greece !
10. Talk to the Locals -Who would know the hidden gems in the area better than someone who's spent most of their life surrounded by them. Whether you're looking for an exciting day trip, an authentic restaurant or even the best live music in area. Talking to a local, whether the concierge at your hotel or some pedestrians on the street, will be sure to get you the inside scoop and enhance your vacation immeasurably! This is a given in A LOT of destinations, but keep in mind there are some countries where it may be wise to skip this tip all together
11. Visiting the Ruins - Dress appropriately & Educate yourself on the code of conduct prior to visiting the ruins. You can get yourself into some serious trouble by lighting a cigarette in the area, or touching or standing n the marble. Also be sure to exercise extreme caution while visiting these sites as there are dangers of loosing your footing in these ancient areas! Remember that just because its a "tourist attraction" doesn't mean that you're protected from a slip or fall! The marble has a tendency to become very slippery especially if it has rained earlier in the day, and because were talking about ancient ruins, well, things are pretty old and some area's of the ground may have reached a certain state of decay!
I hope this post helped to give you the inside scoop and consider some things you might not have thought about otherwise, helping you to be more prepared so that you can focus solely on enjoying your beautiful vacation !
xo stay chic! 🌸