Greece simply seems built for holidays. With its treasure trove of beaches, informal, family-embracing culture and dazzling summer sunshine, it rarely disappoints.
A large, sprawling nation, it comprises 110,496 square kilometres of (largely underrated and under-visited) mainland, plus 227 inhabited islands – not to mention thousands more uninhabited islets. You could go back dozens of times and barely scratch the surface – especially if, like most Grecophiles, you find one place that suits you perfectly and end up going back.
When tourists think of the mainland, they usually picture Athens – one of Europe’s great culture capitals, with millennia-old ruins peppered around smart or hip neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, “Greek islands” conjures a travel-brochure image of sugar-cube houses and dramatic, charcoal-grey cliffs, a look that’s specific to the Cycladic islands. Other island groups have a different feel, many richer in dense pine forests or golden-sand beaches, though you’ll find classic Greek cuisine and warm hospitality all over. Here’s where to start.
Read more on Greece travel:
Best for history buffs: Athens
Greece’s handsome capital is a must-do city break that works at any time of year – but if you go from May to October, you’ll also find ferries from its Piraeus port, making it easy to tack on a beach or nature break.
Read more: How to spend a day in Piraeus, Athens’ rejuvenated seaside neighbourhood
Most of the ancient Greek sites are based on and around the Acropolis Hill, so for very short breaks you should base yourself in central Monastiraki and Plaka so you can sightsee straight from your doorstep. If you have a bit more time to play with, you might want to stay in cooler Psyrri or Pangrati, where hole-in-the-wall restaurants and craft beer bars nudge up against concept stores and pavement cafes. Or Kolonaki, the upmarket “Knightsbridge of Athens”, where you’ll find the ritziest hotels.
Best time for weather
Outside of July and August to avoid soaring temperatures – breezy March and still-toasty October are loveliest.
Cheapest time to go
Winter, when flights are still running and few tourists are in town. In October, return flights start at around £80 return; in January that almost halves to around £45.
Dodge the crowds
November, January and…
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