Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda) is a country in Southern Europe, on the southernmost tip of the Balkan peninsula, with extensive coastlines and islands in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas. It shares borders in the north with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. It has an ancient culture that has had a significant influence on the arts, language, philosophy, politics, and sports of western society, including the genres of comedy and drama, western alphabets, Platonic ideals and the Socratic method, democracies and republics, and the Olympics. Furthermore it's a geographically appealing place to visit, with a mountainous mainland and idyllic island beaches.
Greece is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, ranking in the world’s top 20 countries. According to the Greek Ministry of Tourism, the nation received about 33 million visitors in 2018, a very large number for a small country of 11 million. Visitors are drawn to the country’s beaches and reliable sunny summer weather, its nightlife, historical sites and natural beauty.
Over 90% of visitors come to Greece from other European countries, although in recent years there have been growing numbers of tourists from other world regions. The vast majority of visitors arrive during the tourist season, which is April through October. Peak season is July through August, and most of the tourists and tourism industry are concentrated in Crete, the Dodecanese, Cyclades, and Western Greek Islands, and to a lesser extent the Peloponnese and the Halkidiki peninsula in Macedonia.
Greece has an immense length of coastlines (16,000 km) and the country has still countless of beautiful places without large-scale tourism, which in most cases have nothing less to offer than their mainstream counterparts. You may be intrigued to visit a particular place in Greece that a friend of you has suggested, but in reality the options are more than you can imagine.
Many first-time visitors arrive in Greece with specific images in mind and are surprised to discover a country with such regional and architectural diversity. The famous whitewashed homes and charming blue-domed churches only characterize a specific region of the country (the Cyclades Islands). Architecture varies greatly from one region to the next depending on the local history. Visitors will find Neoclassical architecture in the cities of Ermoupolis and Nafplion, Ottoman-influenced buildings in Grevená and Kozáni, whitewashed Cycladic homes on the island of Paros, and pastel-coloured baroque homes and churches on Corfu. The nation’s terrain is just as varied as its architectural heritage: idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards in the south, and lush forests in the north. Greece’s historical sights are just as varied; the country is littered with just as many medieval churches and castles as classical ruins and temples.
Good to Know
Is it better to name a country like the locals do, or using the nomenclature of the imperial invaders? Sadly, in the case of Greece, we’ve taken the second approach. In English the country’s name is derived from the Latin word Graecia (literally meaning ‘the land of the Greeks’) and not Hellas, as the Greeks call themselves. Eheu! But it’s easy to see why: ancient Romans not only took control of Greece in 146 BC, and subsequently most of Europe’s territory, but their Latin tongues also invaded many European languages; thus, ‘Greece‘ generally got favoured over ‘Hellas‘. There are still some visible traces of this old name in our modern vocabulary, in particular when we use Hellenic as a synonym for Greek in newspapers and elsewhere. But to be frank, Hellas has a strong claim to being more than a mere nickname…
The following geographic divisions reflect the approach to the country which will be taken by most travellers in deciding where to go. Administrative divisions are somewhat different. Articles within these five sections will be arranged with a view to enabling travellers to sort out which specific destinations best match their interests.
Greece regions map.png
Attica (including Athens)
Central and Northern Greece