|Government||parliamentary republic; monarchy rejected by referendum 8 December 1974|
|Area||total: 131,940 sq km |
water: 1,140 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
|Population||10,645,343 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||Greek 99% (official), English, French|
|Religion||Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%|
|Time Zone||UTC +2|
|Country Calling Code||+30|
Greece is a country in Southern Europe with Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, Lybian Sea, and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Its surrounding countries are Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east.
Greece has an ancient culture that has had a significant influence on western society. The country has a number of famous archeological sites with contemporary documented histories. It is also the birthplace of the Olympic games.
- Central Greece
- Central Macedonia
- Mount Athos (Ayio Oros)
- Major Chalkidiki
- East Macedonia
- West Macedonia
Major cities include:
- Athens - the capital of Greece
On Peloponese you'll find ancient Olympia, Epidarus, Mykene, Corinth, Mystra.
North of the gulf of Korinth ancient Delphi can be found.
In Central Greece you can visit the monasteries of Meteora, Volos (ancient Iolkos, beginning of the Argonautic Expedition) and the mountain villages in Pelion (Land of the Centaurs, popular greek summer and winter tourist resort).
From Alexandropolis you can go to the beautiful Island of Samothraki.
The Greek National Tourism Organization (http://www.gnto.gr) is Greece's official government tourism authority.
Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992).
Greece enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate.
The latest weather and climatic information for Greece can be accessed via the Hellenic National Meteorological Service website (http://www.hnms.gr/hnms/english/index_html).
As Greece is a member of the European Union, most European and North American nationals do not need a visa. Citizens of the European Union may also enter with a valid identity card. Entering via ferryboat from Italy or by air from countries that are members of the Schengen Agreement, too, you won't need to show any document of identity under normal circumstances.
Prior to Cyprus's accession to the European Union persons carrying a passport with a stamp from the internationally not recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus were denied entry. After Cyprus formally in full became part of the European Union such a denial of entry is according to European Union officials not to be expected any more.
In summer charter flights to most islands arrive weekly from many European cities. Scheduled flights all the year round fly to Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, with Athens being the main destination. The national airline is Olympic Airlines; domestic flights are also operated by Aegean.
The typical train journey from Western Europe involves a train to Venice or Brindisi in Italy, followed by a ferry to Patra. Trains from Sofia and Istanbul arrive in Thessaloniki daily.
Driving to Greece from Western Europe usually involves driving to Venice or Brindisi and catching a ferry. Routes via the former Yugoslavia aren't dangerous any more if you keep away from Kosovo, but condition of roads can be worse than you're used to. On the other hand, driving through the Balkans is still a kind of adventure as you have to show your passport quite often which has become unusual in Western and Central Europe. You will also face another culture and another kind of living as for example Serbia and Montenegro's standard of living is still not as high as Western European countries'.
???? -- ????? ?????? ????????? ??????????: Confederation of Motorbus Operators -- is the principal inter-urban bus service of Greece. Tickets may be purchased at their Trieste, Ancona, Egypt and Cyprus.
From Turkey there are ferries from Marmaris to Rhodes and from Kusadasi to Samos.
Trains are in inexpensive way to get around. To get to the islands you will mostly have to take a ferry. In some cases, domestic flights (operated by Aegean and Olympic) are both a cheaper, faster and more comfortable alternative (eg. Santorini).
See also Continental Greece in ten days
Aegean Airlines E-tickets
E-ticket is a ticket purchased online. It only exists as an e-mail or a web page with booking confirmation. It should be provided printed at check-in desk at the airport (no need to visit airline office). Photocopies or notebook with a email in it may be not accepted, be careful.
Crete is good for hitchhiking, specially in village area, there you can take the first coming car sometimes, but traffic isn�t so busy. On the National Highway is it worse, but hitchhiking is also possible. No paying for it. My experience is that mainly tourist are taking, because Greek people are afraid of some problems. You can hitchhike directly on the National Highways, it isn�t forbiden.
The official language is Greek; English and French are widely spoken. Basic knowledge of English can be expected from most personnel in cafes and hotels; exceptions happen only in distant villages.
Since 2001, Greece's official currency has been the euro (�). Euro notes and coins were introduced in 2002. Although Greece is in the EU you will hardly find any ATMs excepting EC carts (except Athens). Visa- an Mastercard is widely excepted.
Popular local dishes
Try gyros (?????), tzatziki (????????) which is a combination of a kind of yoghurt and then various things mixed in, such as finely chopped vegetables (like cucumbers), and skordhalia (?????????), which is a garlic mashed potato sauce that's usually served cold (but very good, particularly if you like garlic).
Greek salad (called locally as country salad is a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and onion, all sliced -- plus some olives).
Also consider: moussaka, pastitsio (variety of Peloponnese, Crete, Goumenissa, Santorini, Naoussa). Peloponnese). Crete). Santorini:
- Volcan Wines. Volcan Wine Museum.
- Santo Wines. http://www.santowines.gr
See also: Greek wines on Wikipedia
Beer (bira: ?????) is less popular as a drink, but excellent local varieties like Mythos and Alpha, as well as Western European imports like Heineken and Amstel, are readily available mostly everywhere (North American beers generally are not).
Liquor is known generically as oinopnevma (??????????), from the ancient Greek words for "wine" and "spirit." A speciality is ouzo (????) an anise-based liqueur; another is Metaxa (??????), a variety of brandy. The quality of Metaxa is rated with stars, and as with hotels and restaurants, "you get what you pay for". Metaxa Ephta (seven stars) is considered superb.
Quality scotches, bourbons, gins, etc. are usually available in bars and kapheneia, especially in urban areas or places frequented by tourists. The Greek name for your favorite spirit is often close to its native name: ?????? is whiskey,
Coffee (kafes: ?????) is an important part of Greek culture. Kafeneia (coffee houses) are ubiquitous, found even in the smallest village (where they traditionally served a function similar to that of the village pub in Ireland). There are also many cafes that offer coffee, beer, wine, spirits - at night most of them function as bars. Coffee is prepared in the traditional manner with the grounds left in - but don't dare call this coffee 'Turkish' unless you want to start a heated political discussion! It is also made espresso-style, French press (mainly at hotels), and with modern filter technology (the latter is sometimes known as ????????: Gallikos - French - which can lead to some confusion with the press method. It is best to ask for ???????: filtrou, which refers unambiguously to filter coffee).
In the summer especially, most people (Greeks and foreigners) consume Frappe: Iced Greek Coffee (?????)  (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art12380.asp). Recently in the summer Espresso or cappuccino freddo are also very popular  (http://www.illyespresso.gr/english/illy/suntages.htm). Espresso Fredo is simply espresso + ice (no milk or foam); Cappuccino Fredo may be served from mousse containers, not prepared just-in-time -- be careful to check it.
In mass-sector taverns and cafe, iced tea typically mean NesTea or something similar. Ask twice if you need manually prepared ice tea.
A glass of water is normally served with any drink you order; one glass for each drink. Some cafes charge extra fee for water, especially if it's served in a bottle--even if you didn't ask for it. This is not included into cover fee, which normally goes a separate line.
If you enjoy the local traditions and charm, unhurried rhythm of living: small, family-run pensions are the best way to enrich your experience. Owners and personnel there are friendly and open-minded, compared to stand-offs you normally meet in large hotels.
Students from countries constituting the European Union may enter many sites for free. Students from other countries have their entrance fees reduced. So take your International Student Identity Card with you.
- It is strictly forbidden to take photos of military installations or other strategic locations. The Greek military will take violations quite seriously, and the unwary tourist can get into a lot of trouble.
- According to car rentals in Athens, you can safely leave luggage and other stuff in a car anywhere in continental Greece. Same applies to a car radio.