Greece still offers
its best for tourists
Why you should turn off the news and head for the islands.
By Alicia Schneider
This summer’s headlines make a strong case for why you shouldn’t travel to Greece. The media has painted an image of a country broken by its own economy: long line ups at ATMs, riots in the streets of Athens, and constant protests of unhappy Greek citizens. There’s no doubt that Greece’s tourism industry has been affected by the crisis. Those travelers concerned that their vacation might be ruined by the uncertain economy should know that it’s business as usual for tourists. Not convinced? Read on for a few reasons on why Greece should be at the top of your travel bucket list.
Greece is cheap, if you want it to be
With or without the economic crisis, Greece is a relatively cheap travel destination if you’re looking for a European getaway. Though you can snag some great deals, international flights to Greece may not be the cheapest, but daily costs such as activities, shopping, and food can be surprisingly affordable.
To take this vacation on a small yet comfortable budget, you can expect to pay around $50-60 CAD a day. This budget includes a clean and cozy room in a small hotel, Airbnb, or hostel for very low prices if booked in advance; three meals such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast, a quick gyro for lunch, and a freshly caught seafood dinner with wine; and a lounge chair and umbrella rental while you spend your days on the beautiful island beaches. Even expenses like day trips or renting a small car, ATV, or scooter to reach secluded parts of the islands are cheaper than in other popular European destinations.
Of course, for those wishing to splurge on a luxurious travel experience, the sky’s the limit. There are plenty of picturesque white villas and exclusive boutique hotels overlooking the ocean to satisfy travelers with less budget restrictions.
Greece is not bankrupt on natural richness
If Greece could pay its debts with the abundance of natural beauty found in nearly every corner of the country, they’d undoubtedly be in the clear by now. Until that is a possibility, you will just need to visit to uncover Greece’s true riches.
If Greece could pay its debts with the abundance of natural beauty found in nearly every corner of the country, they’d undoubtedly be in the clear by now.
The islands are a perfect way to enjoy nature on both land and sea. Spend your time exploring the black or red beaches in Santorini, where you will be treated to something other than the familiar soft white sand. Sail through the Aegean Sea and spend your day exploring secluded pebble beaches only reachable by boat, diving off cliffs into water so crystal clear it appears as if you can touch the bottom with your toes, and snorkeling through caves for a peek at an underwater wonderland.
Be sure to end your day enjoying a Greek sunset. Locals and tourists alike treat watching the sunset as mandatory daily event, because once you’ve seen the sun fall over the distant islands and fade in to the sea, you’ll want to see it again and again.
You don’t know it yet, but Greek food is your favourite
Greece is the best place to gorge on food while vacationing without feeling too guilty about it. Unlike a plate of pasta or a humongous pizza in Italy, the Greek diet won’t leave you feeling regretful or lethargic once you’ve scoffed down every morsel of food on your plate.
Mediterranean staples like seafood, olive oils, and fresh raw vegetables are standard with every meal, but you’ll find that you won’t get sick of them because of the interesting ways they are being introduced to your daily meals. Tzatziki is served with almost everything and it’s so good that you won’t even mind smelling like garlic for your entire trip. A few French fries are stealthily stuffed on the inside of gyros to add an extra layer of flavour and texture that you never knew was critically necessary. The freshness and delicate seasoning packed into a plate of fish will leave you wondering if every other seafood dish you’ve eaten up until that point was even the real deal. Even if you opened up your menu to discover that it is entirely written in Greek and you ordered something at random, it would still be the right choice.
Vacation your way
The great thing about Greece is that it can accommodate many types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a city getaway, a walk through history, a relaxing time on the beach or party destinations, this country has got you covered.
Whether you’re looking for a city getaway, a walk through history, a relaxing time on the beach or party destinations, this country has got you covered.
Athens is the first city that comes to mind for those wanting to view ancient Greek architecture, but in order to avoid the crowds of a busy city, it’s best to stick to the islands. Delos, a small island not far from Mykonos, is made up solely of preserved ruins. Spend a day walking around one of the most important archeological sites in Greece in what used to be Apollo’s sanctuary.
Mykonos, often referred to as the “Ibiza of Greece,” is a definite hub for young partygoers. With clubs, bars, and beach parties running until sunrise, this island is perfect for those who want to spend their days relaxing on the beach and living it up at night.
Santorini is undeniably one of the most world-renowned Greek islands. It is a breathtaking spot for honeymooners or those looking for a scenic romantic getaway. However, travelers looking for a more laid back and less touristy alternative may want to consider the islands of Naxos or Ios. Boasting just as much charm and even better beaches, these islands are perfect for those wanting a more authentic experience.
If these reasons haven’t yet convinced you to jump on the next flight headed for Greece, then consider this: every stereotype you’ve heard about the locals is false. They are not lazy, and they are not constantly angry about their current economic position. In fact, speaking with a local waiter, shopkeeper, or tour guide will give you insight into the true personality of the Greeks (and yes, they all speak English quite well). They are helpful, kind, dedicated to their jobs and families, and are willing to share their concerns over politics and the economy in a way that educates rather than worries. Despite whatever is happening in their government, banks, and homes, one thing remains true: the Greeks value hospitality before anything, and that alone will bring your travel experience from great to unforgettable.
Images: Alicia Schneider
Alicia Schneider earned her BA in English and Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal where she currently lives. She is a social media guru, a cat enthusiast and an anglophile. She aspires to travel the world and write about it, one country at a time. Feel free to stalk her on her LinkedIn or Instagram pages.