Greece is a well-known and popular destination in Europe, with millions of people traveling there every year. If you have an upcoming Greece trip and are readying for your departure, don’t miss out on reading my 25 Greece travel tips. From the best time to visit and how long you should stay to tipping culture, transportation, food and more, here is what you should know BEFORE going to Greece to get the most out of your visit.
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There is nothing more memorable than a trip to Greece. For many, this picturesque European destination is high up on their bucket list — and for good reason!
When you think of Greece, what comes to mind is likely white-washed villages, turquoise blue waters, island hopping, beautiful beaches, mouthwatering Greek food, and relaxing in the sun. Sounds like the perfect getaway, am I right?
If you’re planning a trip to this magical country or have your flights booked, take a look at my 25 Greece travel tips. This is everything you should know BEFORE traveling to Greece to ensure you have the best trip here!
25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GOING TO GREECE
Choose Your Greek Destination Wisely
The cost of traveling to Greece can vary widely depending on your destination.
For instance, traveling to Mykonos or Santorini is likely going to cost a lot more than traveling to Corfu, Crete, or Kos. This is why it’s crucial to pick your destination wisely, especially if you’re keen on sticking to a smaller budget.
When I travel to Greece, it’s often on a budget. And for many, Greece can be very cheap! It all depends on where you go, when you go, and how you spend your time there.
Best Time to Visit Greece
In my opinion, the best time of year to visit Greece is around shoulder season! This is the time between low season and high season — generally around the months of May and October.
Off season (November to April) can also be a really great time to visit Greece, especially if you are interested in avoiding crowds and getting a real feel for Greek culture.
Obviously, the best time to visit Greece is very subjective and varies depending on the individual traveler. If you can only visit during the summer months due to schedule restrictions, then plan your trip for that time of year!
Just know that it will be more expensive and there will be far more people!
Planning on traveling to Greece sometime between March and May? Don’t forget to check out my guide on what to pack for Greece in the spring!
Book Things in Advance
This tip definitely depends on what time of year you’re visiting Greece and where you’re going.
Generally, if you’re traveling to Greece between June and September, booking things in advance is highly recommended. This includes flights, ferries, hotels, tours, and maybe even dinner reservations!
Sensibly Pack for Greece
When most think of Greece, they imagine warm weather, sunny days, and gorgeous beaches.
I mean, this is exactly what I pictured when I went to Greece for the first time in spring of 2017… spurring me to pack only dresses, shorts, and t-shirts, with one measly pair of leggings and jeans.
News flash: Greece gets cold! Like below-freezing, snowy-weather cold, depending on the region.
While most of Greece does not get snow, it can definitely get below 50° F (10° C), making it pretty chilly. This is why I recommend doing your research and packing sensibly (unlike me).
Get an International Driver’s Permit
Planning to rent a car, scooter, motorbike, or another form of vehicular transportation while in Greece? Don’t forget to get an International Driver’s Permit!
Though this generally applies to Americans, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) allows you to drive legally in several foreign countries, including Greece. It must be accompanied by your current national driving license to be valid.
Personally, I use AAA to get my International Driver’s Permit. You can apply up to six months before your trip and it is valid for one year after the permit’s effective date.
Learn a Bit of the Language
A game-changing Greece travel tip I can share with you is to learn a bit of the local language. This will help you better navigate certain situations, like saying “thank you” at a restaurant or “no” at a market.
Also, the Greeks love when tourists take the time to learn a bit of the language, as they are strong advocates for their culture.
Here are a few key pieces of the Greek language to use when you’re in Greece:
- Yassas = formal greeting
- Yasou = informal greeting
- Efcharistó (pronounced ef-hari-sto) = thanks
- Efcharistó para poli = thank you very much
Bring Your Own Snorkel Mask
If you love to snorkel and plan on doing so in Greece, one of my best Greece travel tips is to bring your own snorkel mask!
Not only will this save you money, as shops charge a pretty penny for these in the summer months, you’ll have one that’s good quality and that already fits your face.
Click here to shop top-rated snorkel masks on Amazon!
Get Up for Sunrise
I know, I know. This may seem like a seriously daunting task but hear me out! While sunsets in Greece are stunning, too, sunrises in Greece are on another level.
But the best part? Most people don’t get up this time of morning, as during the summer months sunrise is at like 5 am, so you’ll likely have the area to yourself.
This is especially useful in many popular Greek destinations, such as Santorini, Mykonos, or Athens, as you can take advantage of a gorgeous sunrise with only a few people instead of the hundreds who would be there for sunset.
Pack a Travel Adapter
If you’re coming from somewhere outside of Europe, a travel adapter is a key Greece packing essential, as the plugs are different than those in places like the US, Canada, and UK.
Personally, I use one like this Universal Travel Adapter, which comes with one AC socket, four USB ports, and one USB-C port. Additionally, it works for most plugs, like those from the US and UK.
Drinking the Tap Water in Greece
In major cities, such as Athens, drinking the water is perfectly safe. However, it’s generally not recommended while on the Greek islands (but usually this is still safe, it may just taste funny).
Personally, my top tip when traveling Greece is to bring a filtering water bottle. This not only makes it super easy to get water from any tap but also reduces your plastic waste by eliminating the need to buy bottled water.
I travel with the GRAYL water bottle, which my absolute favorite filtering bottle. It provides clean, safe, drinkable water in less than a minute by using a GeoPress® purifying filter that eliminates any virus, protozoa, bacteria, particulates, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals.
Check it out for yourself by clicking here. Even better, they ship globally!
Get Travel Insurance
Protecting yourself, your baggage, and your plans is a key part of traveling. No matter where I’m going, I always get travel insurance to ensure my trip is protected.
Personally, use World Nomads, which is comprehensive travel insurance for those who tend to be more adventurous, as they cover a wide spectrum of activities.
Alternatively, I’ve also used SafetyWing, which is more affordable and still provides medical and travel coverage but not as many activities as World Nomads.
Always Carry Some Cash
While many places in Greece take card (they are legally required to), I recommend always carrying some cash, as many Greeks prefer this type of payment to lower their tax burden.
Why? Because Greece has a ridiculously high value-added tax at 24%.
So when you’re traveling around, keep some Euros on you to not only support the local Greeks, but also have some cash on hand for tips, parking, and whatnot.
Try Alllll the Greek Food
Greek food is delicious. There are SO many different dishes throughout Greece that feature a variety of vegetables, legumes, spices, and meats.
As a vegan, I get a ridiculous amount of local food choices in Greece, from fava dip, gemista, dolmades to stuffed zucchini flowers, briam, and gigantes.
When in this vibrant counties, don’t miss out on all the vibrant food dishes! You won’t regret tantalizing your tastebuds with the wondrous flavors of Greece.
Expect Late Dinners
While we’re on the subject of Greek food, one thing to be aware of in Greece is that dinners are generally late in the evening, like 8 or 9 pm (and even later). Most Greek restaurants (or “tavernas”) stay open well into the night (many don’t close until midnight or later).
Much like other destinations in the Mediterranean, such as Italy, it’s never too late to have a delicious dinner!
Have a Taste of Raki or Ouzo
Along with the broad spectrum of Greek dishes, there are two common drinks that you’ll likely have at each meal — Raki and ouzo. Ouzo is found throughout Greece, while Raki is plentiful on the islands of Crete, Rhodes, Chios, and Cyprus, as it originates from Turkey.
Like many other Greek travel guides you’ll find on the world wide web, one of my top tips is to not miss out on trying this! It’s a big part of Greek culture and you’ll be expected to have a taste when at dinner. And don’t forget to say “Yamas!” when cheers-ing! This means “to our health” in Greek.
How to Tip in Greece
When planning a trip here, many often ask me, “do you tip in Greece?” The answer is most likely.
While tipping culture isn’t super strong like it is in the U.S., it’s common to leave a small tip in appreciation of the service. Generally, I will round the bill up or leave a 5-10% tip. For example, if the bill comes to €28, I’ll leave €30.
Explore Some of the Ancient Greek Sites
While many who head to Greece prioritize beaches, days out on the sea, sun bathing, and exploring the picturesque Greek villages and landscapes, one of my best Greece travel tips is visiting some of the ancient sites throughout the country.
Greek has a wondrous, long-standing history that’s well-represented by a plethora of historical sites. All across the Greek islands and mainland, you’ll find incredible ancient ruins, monuments, landmarks, and more.
Honestly, many destinations in Greece, like Athens, Rhodes, Crete, Olympia and Delphi, feel like a history book come to life.
Cool Off with a Freddo Cappuccino or Frappe (or Aperol Spritz)
My favorite is by far an Aperol Spritz… but if you need caffeine to get yourself going and want to cool off on a hot day, definitely try a freddo cappuccino (iced espresso that’s shaken and poured over ice) or a frappe coffee (instant coffee, water, sugar, and milk with ice).
When I was in Greece this past summer, I regularly had frappe coffees with almond milk for a vegan version. They were so delicious and refreshing! (I also had a ton of Aperol Spritz, which is a classic European summer drink.)
Bask in the Greek Hospitality
If there’s one thing about Greece, is that the Greek people are SO nice and welcoming. No matter where you’ll go, you’ll find a local who’s happy to help you with whatever you may need.
Also, you’ll find that Greeks often give whatever they can to ensure you have the best time, whether this be a free dessert and drink at dinner (one time we got a complementary wine and baklava!) or tour recommendations.
How to Book Accommodations in Greece
Traveling during high season (June to September)? Book your accommodation as soon as possible! Especially if you’re a big group, as hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs, and hostels sell out quick.
Personally, I use Booking.com to book all of my accommodation, as I often in this site has the best deals and many listings include free cancellation.
Generally, I tend to avoid Airbnbs, unless I know they can be sustainably booked. (Hint: here’s how to use Airbnb sustainably!)
Don’t Miss Out on the Little-Known Greek Beaches
Beaches are important to many visiting Greece! However, instead of visiting the most popular one near you, I recommend renting a car or hopping on a bus to check out the more underrated or little-known beaches.
My favorite way to discover these is by scouring Google maps on satellite mode and exploring the coastline to see if there are any small beaches that may not be listed.
Also, just be aware that many people in Greece go topless! Also, some beaches are naturist, or nude, beaches. If you aren’t comfortable with this, make sure to read the beaches reviews before heading there.
Visit Multiple Islands on Your Greece Trip
Don’t visit just one Greek island on your trip! Instead, choose a region and plan to visit multiple Greek islands to get the most out of your visit.
For instance, spend two weeks exploring Paros, Ios, and Naxos. Or ten days exploring Athens, Hydra, Aegina, and Poros. With thousands of islands, the options are endless. Don’t box yourself in by just visiting one!
Expect a “Service Charge” at Tavernas
When eating at a Greek restaurant, aka a “taverna,” you will likely see a service charge on your bill.
This accommodates for any bread and oil or non-bottled water you might have received during your meal. Typically, it ranges from €1.50-2.00, depending on where you are in Greece.
Be More Assertive (But in a Nice Way)
Coming from the United States, one thing I noticed about Greece was that the service in restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and whatnot is much more relaxed. In restaurants specifically, the service is much more reactive, rather than proactive.
What do I mean by that? Well, for example, in the US, servers will continuously fill up your water, ask you about your food, and regularly ask how you’re doing.
In Greece, the servers tend to leave you to your meal and let you sit there for hours chatting away (which I love). They really only come to you to clear up or if you get their attention for something, such as another drink, more food, or paying your bill.
When in Greece, be more assertive (nicely, that is) when you need to get your server’s attention.
Less Stress, More Flexibility
In Greece, things move at a slow pace (which is great if you’re traveling slow to be more sustainable!). This is true for most aspects of Greek life: restaurant service, taxis, ferries, tours, shopping, and the like.
When you’re traveling through this beautiful country, one of my top Greece travel tips is to embrace flexibility and let go of the stress associated with keeping yourself on a strict schedule.
Things might not (and likely won’t) happen on time, and that’s okay! This country is all about relaxation and, in most cases, everything always works out anyhow.
With this big list of 25 Greek travel tips, I hope you feel ready and prepared for your awesome trip here! Get ready for beautiful sites, lovely landscapes, gorgeous beaches, lots of sun, welcoming Greeks, delicious food, and so much more.
Tell me, what else should I include on this list? Any tips you have to share with fellow readers? Put them in the comment section below!
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Fern BundeFebruary 23, 2023 5:31 pm
Sophie it sounds so beautiful and the pictures, the ancient ruins, the water I wish I could travel. Thank you for sharing