Greece is a land of mysteries, myths, and legends, some of which have not been revealed to this day. It has the longest coastline in Europe and over 6,000 islands scattered across three seas.
Island hopping is the main reason people travel to Greece, but with so many regions to choose from, this is one instance where it really does pay to plan your visit.
But before you even get to choosing which islands you’ll jump between, there are a few basics we recommend covering as part of your initial planning for Greece.
The Basics for Planning a Vacation to Greece
Is it Difficult?
Greece is a very easy country to visit and navigate on your own, even if you’ve decided to go abroad for the first time.
The country is part of the border-free Schengen Area, which means it’s very easy to visit for most travelers worldwide. The tourist sphere is well developed, and the people are friendly, safe, and it’s not too expensive.
That said, while Athens is largely accessible, the islands themselves may prove to be a challenge for travelers with disabilities, as the historic nature of the islands means a lot of stones, marble, cobble, and steep alleys which present challenges for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues.
While Greek is a tough language to learn, the majority of the tourist trail speak English which means there’s not really a language barrier. However it’s still worthwhile to learn a few basic phrases like greetings, as a sign of respect for the locals.
Getting to Greece
Flying into Greece is the most accessible and affordable way to arrive in the country.
While there were a lot of flights before the pandemic, now there are fewer direct flights, and the price tag has increased. However, the cost depends greatly on the season and direction.
Business class to Greece from US may be on sale during off season (winter), so it’s worthwhile considering your flights against the time of year you’re visiting, and whether this means you can steal some deals on prices and upgrades.
Most travelers fly into Athens, and this is the main central hub for then connecting onto local domestic flights, or catching ferries and tours that hop through the Greek Islands.
There’s a lot to do in Athens (and a lot to eat!), so it’s worth spending some time here before venturing out further, though there are also international airports on main islands like Santorini, Corfu, and Mykonos.
Check if You Need a Visa
It’s obviously worth making sure you can enter the country before you put too much into planning.
In terms of visas, Greece is a member state of the Schengen Zone common travel area, which means that it has a visa-free policy in place for 90 countries.
It’s important to note however that every tourist will need an ETIAS visa waiver for Greece as an added security measure. This means you have to apply through the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and be approved before you enter any Schengen country, including Greece.
Independently or on Tour?
Independent trips provide more freedom of movement, and you can explore Athens up and down, roll hundreds of kilometers across Crete, go to Meteora, see Thessaloniki, and climb Mount Olympus.
Tours however offer the highlights of the country where all the planning has been done for you, by experts who know Greece inside and out.
Greece has fantastic tourism infrastructure and is very easy to navigate yourself, however tours also come with the benefit of connecting with likeminded travelers for sharing the experience.
If you’ve traveled cheap business class to Europe consider whether you also want the luxury of a trip that is fully planned out for you without the stress of handling the logistics yourself.
When to Go
If you’re looking for smaller crowds, affordable prices, and comfortable weather with no rain, the best time to head to Greece is late spring (May) and fall (Sept-Oct).
There’s technically no bad time to go to Greece, though come June the weather is warm enough to swim in the ocean.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Greece – June, July and August, though huge crowds descend starting late June and it’s the busiest months of the year.
Things drop off dramatically come September.
These are the basics for planning your trip to Greece. Once you have your transport, visa, and time of year sorted, you can then start planning which of the 6,000 islands to hop!