You could say that beautiful Santorini is what travel dreams are made of. Spectacular cliffs, stunning sunsets and a dramatic history that pegs the island paradise as the site of the lost city of Atlantis make it one of the most romanticized destinations in the world.
Long known as the birthplace of modern democracy, Greece is a place that has it all—culture, natural beauty and an abundance of history. After all, this is the home of Plato, Socrates and Alexander the Great, and the start of modern philosophical and political thought is said to have started in this little country. No surprise then, that it’s also one of the biggest tourist destinations in world. Visit the Parthenon, the famous oracle in Delphi or some of Greece’s scenic islands and get a taste of the past and present in one bite.
Currency: Euro (EUR)
DID YOU KNOW?
- The highest point of Greece is Mount Olympus, which stands at 2,917 metres or 9,570 feet. This is said to be the home of the legendary Greek gods and goddess, the Olympians.
- While Greece has a great amount of mainland, which is mostly mountainous, it also houses thousands of small islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas. There are nearly 140 inhabited islands.
- One of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Greece is visited by nearly 16.5 million tourists a year. Tourism is responsible for nearly 16% of the country’s GDP
- In Greece, the birthplace of democracy, voting is compulsory. As of age 18, every citizen is expected to vote in elections.
Greece’s climate is quite temperate and typical for a Mediterranean country, with sunny highs of 33°C in the summer and lows of 13°C in winter—a climate fit for both the beach and the mountains. The mountains account for the dry climate in the north, while the shoreline of the Ionian and Aegean seas account for the temperate Mediterranean climate in the south.
- Winter: November–April
- Summer: May–September
- Spring: March–May
- Autumn: Late September—Early November
With excavations dating settlement back to the Paleolithic era (11,000 to 3,000 BCE), and the subsequent rise of the famous Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations—considered to be some of the greatest prehistoric civilizations in modern human history—Greece’s past has been long and rich.
But of all of its history, it’s the Classical period, from the 6th to 4th centuries BCE, that is considered Greece’s best time. That’s when the world saw rise to the city-states and to Athens, which became one of the world’s most powerful naval powers. During this time, Greece was also going through developments in culture, philosophy, political thought, music and drama—all which are still considered to be part of the canon today. Through this military power, Greece was able to disseminate these developments and spread their influence through areas that they conquered.
Following this period, Greece’s power slowly diminished and the country’s governing power changed hands; from Alexander the Great and his Macedonians to the Romans, this country became an annexed part of many great civilizations. Following the Roman Empire and the division into the Eastern and Western Roman Empire, Greece flourished, but was soon invaded by the Ottoman Empire.
In 1453, with the Ottoman invasion, the country suffered under the rule of the Turks, and many Greeks soon began to rebel. Near the 19th century, Greece began its fight for independence, finally winning it in 1829. Following the second world war, three decades of political strife plagued Greece&and that strife continues to this day. Greece is currently in a political and economic transition, and looking to austerity measures in hopes of tackling a massive deficit.
The Acropolis is one of the oldest and most frequented sites in the world. Visible from any part of Athens, the Acropolis sits atop the city’s highest point, and was previously home to the famous, and controversial, Elgin Marbles and a gilded statue of the Goddess Athena, the city’s patron saint.
The city of Delphi is home to the ancient Greek Oracle, who was consulted by Greeks throughout the ages to answer the unanswerable. Travel to this historical site in northern Greece, marvel at the views and learn about the ‘Navel of the World.’
Dating back to the Late Bronze Age, these ruins are an example of pre-historic art, architecture and civilization. The Lions’ Gate gives way to a whole new world, where people claim the story of the Battle of Troy first came to be.
MONASTERY OF THE APOCALYPSE
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the island of Patmos houses the castle of St. John the Theologian, or the Apostle John. A very important part of the Christian religion, the Cave of the Apocalypse is said to be where St. John had his revelations on the ending of the world.
Wander the ancient sites of Athens, where philosophy, law and democracy were born, then take in the modern thriving culture of Athens, a city that is as stylishly in the present as it is legendarily in the past.
Looking for the ultimate luxury travel experience in Europe with the right mix of sun, beach and sand? Here’s some expert picks from EuropeUpClose.com’s Terri Fogarty.