Our classic tour of Greece, including the main historical sights and a relaxing getaway to two of the most beautiful Greek islands.
Our classic tour of Greece, including the main historical sights and a relaxing getaway to two of the most beautiful Greek islands.
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This is the first time we have used Exoticca but it won't be the last. Everything went smoothly, no hidden costs and the resort was gorgeous. Everything was perfect, thank you Exoticca for a much-needed vacation.
Most popular festivals in Greece have religious origins, in this case, in Orthodox Christianity. This branch of Christianity punctuates the calendar with important Greek festivals.
On each month of the year, Greeks have a specific popular festival for celebrating a stipulated event. Take note of the following events in Greece before planning your journey.
On the first day of January, Greeks celebrate the Feast of Saint Basil, on which gifts are exchanged and the New Year Cake (which is like the Spanish Roscon de Reyes, a festive cake eaten on 6 January) is eaten, containing small coins hidden within it.
On the sixth of January on the other hand, the Blessing of the Waters is celebrated within the popular festivals of Greece. This celebration consists of launching a cross into the sea which is recovered by voluntary swimmers. Whoever manages to bring it back to shore will have good luck throughout the year.
On the eighth of January is one of the most feminine Greek festivals: Women’s Day. During this day, Greek women gather in the bar to celebrate their day, while the men and boys take charge of the home.
In February, carnivals are the stars of popular Greek festivals. In Greek, the event is known as Apokrias, and this celebration lasts for two weeks. Different events take place throughout the country, with activities and festivals reminiscent of the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
Among the most unusual Greek festivals is the Katheri Deftera which is celebrated forty days before Easter. The custom is to fly paper kites, so if you are in Greece during these times, don’t miss out on this event.
In turn, on the 25 March Independence Day is celebrated in Greece. As in every country that celebrates this event, there are military parades and various official activities. Keep in mind that, during this celebration the Acropolis and all museums and archaeological sites will be closed.
Durante April, Greeks celebrate Holy Week, and particularly devoutly on Good Friday, especially in the more traditional towns and villages. During the Saturday, the custom is to ring the bells of all the churches. The largest celebration, on the other hand, takes place on Easter Sunday, during which it is traditional to roast a lamb and crack red-dyed eggs together.
If you are in the country during May, you can attend one of the most traditional Greek events: the folklore festival at Eleusis. At the same time, the island of Lesbos celebrates a Week of Prose and Art. And in Trikala, the celebration of the Hadjipetria Festival also takes place with various sports competitions, a conference and dances.
During June, the greatest number of events are held in Greece: in Lesbos the Bull Festival is celebrated, in Hydra they celebrate the Miaoulis Festival, and in the rest of the country the Agios Pnevmatos Festival. The latter lasts for a whole weekend and is one of the most well-attended and lively Greek festivals.
If you are travelling in July, another Greek festival that you should not miss is the Wine Festival of Rethymnon. In Janena, you can attend the Eprirus Festival, which is a cultural celebration of popular art, theatre, dance and concerts. Also in July (right through to September), the Heraklion Festival is celebrated in which the best Greek musicians take part.
During the month of August, specifically the 15th, Greeks celebrate Panagia Day or the day of the Virgin Mary. This is a day of popular festivals of great religious fervor which takes place throughout the country. In each town and village, the faithful make pilgrimages to the church on their knees in order to pay homage to the Virgin.
During the month of September, the Anhiolos (Salónica) Festival of Wine takes place. Also during this month in this region, the international Film and Song Festival is celebrated. Both events attract many people, so it is worth reserving beforehand if you plan to travel to Salónica during these dates.
On 28 October, the Eighth Day is celebrated. This festival is one of the most commemorative festivals of the Greek spirit. Homage is paid to the Greek resistance to the Italian occupation during the Second World War.
November is the month in which one of the most radical festivals in the country takes place. On 17 November each year is the anniversary of the student revolt at the Athens Polytechnic University which took place in 1973. Many students died during the demonstrations against the dictatorship and repression by the government.
Apart from Christmas, in Kozani Greeks also celebrate the Annunciation of the birth of Christ by the shepherds. This celebration is called Kladaries in Greek and consists of a ceremony in which locals light fires and dance around them. During the festivals, there are prizes for the best fire and much Greek wine is shared.
As you can see, the popular festivals of Greece are many and varied. Whether from religious or pagan origins, they deserve a space in your travel diary for you to discover them.GO TO EVENTS
There are many traditional dishes to eat in Greece that you will enjoy. Being a Mediterranean country, Greece has a very varied, healthy and delicious cuisine. As in our country, olive oil, vegetables and wheat are the main ingredients of Greek food.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, onions, and mushrooms are all part of Greek gastronomy. All are well-known throughout the world. However, although okra is a native of Africa, it is a delicacy for the Greeks. But let’s find out about traditional Greek dishes and what you should eat when in Greece during your travels.
Before the first course of a Greek meal, you must try the delicious and varied aperitifs. The Mezze, for example, is a mix of starters served with pitta bread, which originated in Turkey. Other traditional starters in Greek gastronomy are:
Tzatziki is a sauce made by mixing garlic and cucumber with yogurt. It is one of the most famous starters at an international level.
This starter consists of a mixture of potatoes with soaked bread and cod roe. Its a real Greek delicacy.
This long name is given to the most delicious pasties which are made with spinach and feta cheese and are just waiting to be tasted.
This entrée is of Turkish origin and is made with meat, rice and/or vegetables wrapped in a vine leaf. It is also traditional in Lebanese and Pakistani cuisines, but the Greek version has a secret touch.
If you want to try a traditional Greek dish, you should ask for a horiatiki or Greek salad. Its preparation includes tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, olives, and feta cheese. All of which are seasoned with oregano and lots of olive oil.
If you like pickles you’re in luck because this dish is based on gherkins, onions, celery, prawns, tomato and cucumber with feta cheese. You will love it. For the final touch, it is seasoned with lemon juice and olives.
Among all the types of soup that you can eat in Greece, don’t miss out on the Fasolada, a very tasty soup made of beans with tomatoes, celery and carrots. Another traditional Greek dish is lentil soup, to which a touch of vinegar is added.
For fish lovers, the Psarosoupa is made with fish and vegetables, to which olive oil is added. And for meat eaters, the Avgolemono is a chicken soup made with vegetables, eggs, rice and lemon juice.
Now let’s move on to the most traditional dishes from Greek gastronomy, according to their worldwide fame:
It is very probable that the whole world has tried this delicious dish of roasted aubergines with meat and a béchamel sauce. Not only have we tried it, but we have also cooked it from a recipe ourselves. Nonetheless, eating it in Greece is sure to give it a completely different flavour.
This is one of the most surprising traditional dishes to eat in Greece. On the first appearance, it is a simple dish of roast tomatoes stuffed with rice and meat, but it has a delicious flavor.
The pastitsio is a substantial dish of baked macaroni with minced meat and an abundant béchamel sauce. For pasta lovers, this is a good dish on which to begin your journey into Greek gastronomy.
If you miss vela kebabs, you should know that these are eaten almost everywhere in Greece. They can also be made with pork, and there is a smaller sized variety that is served inside a pitta bread.
This is one of the most popular Greek gastronomy dishes among the Greeks themselves. It consists of roast meat with tomatoes and onions, all served in a pitta bread accompanied by tzatziki.
If you like meat, another thing to eat in Greece are the very tasty, elongated meatballs. They are made with meat and a large variety of spices, all covered in a delicious tomato sauce.
This is another traditional Greek dish that you must try, particularly if you like cheese. It is served as an aperitif and is made of fried cheese, seasoned with lemon and served with mint leaves and finely-cubed tomatoes.
And to finish the Greek banquet, what better than a frappe coffee? An instant coffee overflowing with froth. You can eat all this and more during your visit to this historic country. Oh yes, and don’t forget to try a small glass of some of its famous wines, as the country grows over 250 varieties of unique native grapes.GO TO GASTRONOMY
If you don’t know what to buy in Greece it's because you don’t know this beautiful European country. The Hellenic Republic has a very rich history, hence there are typical Greek products that you will not find anywhere else in the world.
Traveling to Greece is traveling to the ancient Greek civilization, home to the greatest thinkers in History. For this reason, amongst the things to buy in Greece, it is usual to find antiques, sculptures, and tapestries with references to Greek mythology.
Before deciding on one of the Greek souvenirs, pay attention to the best things you can buy in the country.
Greek artisans are masters of metalwork, they mostly use high-quality gold and silver. With these materials, they make high-quality jewelry, with multiple designs, from orthodox symbols to antique replicas.
Don’t forget that jewelry in Greece is centuries old, its value is such that various European museums have entire collections dedicated to the art of Greek jewelry. But without the need to go back to the past, in present-day Greece, jewelers and artisans continue to produce unique pieces of great value.
Komboloi is a type of beaded bracelet of Arabic origin, in fact, in reality, it is a rosary, which Arabs used as far back as the year 700 to pray. It is shaped like the Tibetan malas, but with thirteen beads and a final one which is used for counting.
Nowadays, these rosaries don’t have a religious use, but they are used as a hobby, or stress relieving object. In any case, they are a classic amongst Greek people, so you will see them in different materials and colors.
Visitors often choose tapestries as one of the typical Greek products to take home. The finely embroidered fabrics recreate beautiful mythological scenes, which makes them a perfect souvenir of the country.
As well as being highly decorative, Greek tapestries are the result of very fine and laborious artisan work. Without a doubt, it is something to buy in Greece that you won’t find anywhere else.
Another of the typical products to buy in Greece is leather crafts: shoes, belts, bags, etc. The Greeks are expert artisans of this material. The most typical are leather sandals, that are not just pretty, but very practical as a gift or for personal use.
As with jewelry, the Greeks were the first to design their own footwear with great aesthetic taste. There are also samples of this in the different museums if you are interested in the history of footwear.
Although you won't be buying pottery from the 4th century, you will be able to buy perfectly made replicas, which will be the perfect Greek souvenir. The ability of the Greek culture to decorate pottery and ceramic objects forms part of the history of humanity, so you will be taking a piece of history home with you.
The same happens with ancient sculptures, even though the authentic ones are in the museums, you can buy exact copies. For those who are looking for something to buy in Greece that makes them stand out, undoubtedly, a replica of a famous sculpture is the ideal souvenir.
Bronze objects and replicas of archaeological pieces have become one of the most searched for souvenirs to buy in Greece. From warrior's helmets to copies of jewelry, if the work is high quality, you will be given a certificate of authenticity.
As well as being a good souvenir of your trip, this type of object is also perfect as a gift for friends and family. They are not the typical low-cost souvenirs, but authentic pieces of high aesthetic taste and handcrafted work.
For lovers of this art movement, these brightly colored souvenirs of Greece have become fashionable. All types of scenes are recreated in the most varied pictures that attract the attention of travelers. From the classic Greek tavern to scenes of the ancient Greek civilization, everything comes to life in these pictures.
Of everything there is to buy in Greece, if you like music, you have to take home some of the most traditional Greek authors. Greek music has become famous around the world through cinema and the great exponents of the genre. What better typical Greek product than a compilation CD of Greek top hits.
And to complete the list of things to buy in Greece, don't forget food. In this beautiful country, you have high-quality olive oil, wine, and very good spirits, and spices to season your dishes.GO TO SHOPPING
It’s time to sip a glass of ouzo and immerse yourself in the treasures of Greece, the Cradle of Western Civilization. Nowhere else on earth offers the culture, climate and coastlines of Greece and this beautiful country is the birthplace of Western philosophy, democracy and the Olympic Games. A vacation to Greece suits all kinds of travelers, whether it’s the endless history, delicious cuisine or sun-soaked beaches that tempt you.
Situated in southeastern Europe, on the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece shares land borders with Turkey, Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria. The surrounding seas of the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean are dotted with Greece’s paradise islands, of which there are 227 inhabited islands. Holidays to the Greek Islands are always popular, with Crete, Santorini, Lesbos and Mykonos among the best-known islands, although there are hundreds of little-known islands to discover on a tour of Greece. Furthermore, the romantic charm of these islands, as portrayed in the blockbuster movie Mamma Mia makes a honeymoon to Greece a popular choice among newlyweds. The only question is which Greek Island to visit!
If you’d rather stick to the mainland, you’ll find plenty of unspoilt beaches along the whooping 16,000 kilometres of coastline. Although Greece’s gorgeous Mediterranean climate is well-suited for an all-inclusive beach vacation, the interior of the country is filled with picturesque mountain scenery, perfect for more active pursuits. In fact, 80% of Greece is mountainous, where you’ll find the famous Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods.
In the ancient capital of Athens, you’ll find bucket-list sights such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus, where you can walk in the footsteps of legendary Athenians such as Plato, Pericles and Aristotle.
There are infinite things to see and do in Greece; it could take a lifetime to truly experience the richness of this ancient civilization. Endless cultural gems, warm hospitality and stunning natural scenery make travel to Greece eternally popular. From island-hopping in the Aegean to consulting the mysterious Oracle in Delphi or exploring the magical monasteries of Meteora, the possibilities are endless on a trip to Greece.
The best time to travel to Greece for a beach vacation is during the summer months when you can enjoy long, sunny days and balmy evenings. Travelling to Greece for sightseeing is recommended in the spring and autumn, before the crowds of summer and when the temperatures are better suited to exploring the country’s cultural delights.
The history of Greece is tightly bound with the history of Western civilization as a whole. Ancient Greece is credited with the creation of democracy, mathematics and the Olympic Games and stories of this mighty civilization have captured our imaginations for centuries.
The Golden Age of Ancient Greece took place around the 5th and 4th centuries BC. During this important period, Greece was divided into city-states, known as polis, the most famous of which were Athens, Sparta, Delphi and Thebes, among others. Each polis had its own laws, languages, customs and governments and there were often conflicts and struggles between the states for domination of Greece, known as Hellas at the time. The legacy of this period can be seen in some of the country’s most inspiring monuments, such as the Parthenon in Athens, the Sanctuary of Delphi and the ruins of Olympia. A vacation to Greece is incomplete without visiting at least a few of the ancient sites from this Golden Age.
Following the Macedonian takeover and death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Greece soon came under the control of the ever-growing Roman Empire. The days of the organised polis were over, but self-governance was still allowed by the Romans, although there was strict supervision. Nevertheless, the Romans admired the intricacies of Greek culture and the customs and language of Greece traveled far and wide across Europe thanks to the Roman Empire. The Roman Agora and Hadrian’s Library in Athens were both constructed during this era, and are must-see sights on a tour of Greece.
After the split of the Roman Empire, Greece became part of the Byzantine Empire for several centuries. You’ll find a number of Byzantine Churches throughout Greece, recognisable by their domed roofs. In 1453 the Fall of Constantinople marked the end of the Byzantine Empire and Greece came under the control of the Ottomans. It was not until 1821 that Greece declared its independence, although struggles and conflicts over territory continued for many years.
In the 20th-century, Germany occupied Greece during the Second World War and in 1944 a complicated and violent civil war took hold of the country. Finally, in 1975, Greece became a democracy once more and it later joined the European Union in 1981.
Greece is a perfect travel destination. As well as legendary historical sites and vibrant national culture, Greece is also filled with unmissable natural wonders. On a trip to Greece, you’ll find pristine beaches, ancient caves, canyons, lush forests, beautiful waterfalls, rugged mountain ranges, endless vineyards, and of course, plenty of olive groves!
From the snow-capped mountains of the north to the white-sand beaches of the Cyclades Islands, Greece offers a cornucopia of natural beauty and countless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Some of the most breathtaking natural wonders to explore on a Greece vacation include the magical underground lake in the Cave of Melissani on the island of Kefalonia, the giant rock formations and monasteries of Meteora in central Greece and the azure Blue Caves of Zakynthos.
Mount Olympus National Park, home to the highest peak in the country, is a haven for walkers with plenty of hiking routes, waterfalls and caves to explore. If your tour of Greece takes you to the historic island of Crete, be sure to explore Samaria Gorge National Park. A biosphere reserve, this magical 16-kilometre long gorge was carved out by a small river and offers all kinds of exciting walking and climbing routes along its narrow pathways and dramatic cliff faces.
Greece is also home to some of the most diverse wildlife in Europe, including brown bears, wildcats, jackals and wolves, not forgetting the sea turtles and dolphins you’ll find around the shores of the Greek Islands.
With thousands of years of history, Greek culture is rich and vibrant, filled with traditions, music, folklore, delicious food and socialising. In fact, socialising is a pillar of modern Greek culture, which you can observe on the terraces of any cafe, where groups of all ages take time out of their days to catch up over coffee or a refreshing glass of ouzo, the famous Greek aperitif.
Greek culture comes to life at the dining table and the timeless trinity of feta cheese, olives and olive oil are sure to leave your taste buds enlivened. Washed down with a generous glass of local wine, Greek cuisine is an important part of Greek culture and certainly a highlight of any trip to Greece.
Of all the elements of Greek culture, language is perhaps the most important. Known for its unique alphabet, the Greek heard today is directly derived from Ancient Greek, something the locals are fiercely proud of as it has endured for millennia.
If you travel to Greece you might be fortunate enough to experience some of the vibrant cultural festivals that are scattered across the annual calendar. Most festivals are closely linked to Greek Orthodox traditions, but you’ll find different regional celebrations, dances and folk music throughout Greece.
On a vacation to Greece, you’ll appreciate the laid-back way of life. You’ll likely find that life moves at a slower pace, especially in the Greek Islands, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the delights of this beautiful country.
Travel to Greece, the Cradle of Western Civilization, where nature, culture and history combine to create a one-of-a-kind destination. From the mysterious ruins of Knossos in Crete to the windmills of Santorini, there are endless treasures to explore on a trip to Greece.
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