Often cited as the birthplace of European civilisation, Greece offers a heady mix of ancient archaeological sites, chic hotels, rustic tavernas, family-oriented seaside resorts and hedonistic dance clubs. Scattered throughout the calm blue waters of the Aegean and the Ionian Sea are Greece’s 3,000 islands - each with their own magical story.
Small Group Tours
Take an in-depth journey across Mediterranean Greece. Travel from Thessaloniki, via Meteora, Athens and Crete to the sun-bleached island of Santorini.
Greece Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- There are about 3000 islands in Greece. However, only a few hundred of them are inhabited!
- The official name for Greece is the Hellenic Republic.
- The impact of Ancient Greece on the Western world can’t be overstated! The rediscovery of Greek classics of philosophy, science and literature in the 14th and 15th centuries had a profound influence on the development of Western thought, leading Europe into the Renaissance. The effects of those revelations are still with us today. The notion of democracy, the concept of the atom, the image of the Earth as round, the scientific method itself – all these and more had their birth in the writings of Ancient Greece.
- Though its recorded history goes back thousands of years, modern-day Greece was largely shaped by the past several centuries. The Ottoman Empire took control of Greece in the 15th century and governed until 1821, when the War of Independence began.
- Greece obtained full membership into the European Union in 1981 and replaced the drachma (Europe’s oldest currency) with the Euro in 2002.
- Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, with a height of 2,919 metres. It is believed to have served as the home of the Gods in the ancient Greek religion.
- The very first Olympic Games were held in 776 BC in southwest Greece, to honour the Greek God Zeus. Originally held on just one day every four years, only men were allowed to compete in wrestling and athletics, and they competed naked in homage to the Gods. Winners were presented with a wreath of laurel leaves, similar to the one worn by the God Apollo.
- Traditionally, Greeks have been known to celebrate their name days, rather than their birthdays.
- Shipping has been one of the most important industries in Greece since ancient times. Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975) was the most famous shipping magnate of the 20th century.
- Before the invention of soap, ancient Greeks used to soak in water and then daub themselves with olive oil. The oil (and accumulated grime) was then scraped off with a curved implement.
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Greece do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian Embassy in Greece:
5 Hatziyianni Mexi Street
Athens 115 23
Ph. +30 210 870 4000
Fax. +30 210 870 4111
The official currency of Greece is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
The recommended currency to take to Greece is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euro’s with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Athens is approximately €2.50 - €3.
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €10.
- The price dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €25.
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €4.50 - €5.
The preparation of Greek food is usually quite simple. Olive oil is a staple – after all, the Greeks have an olive-growing tradition that dates back 5,000 years. The Greeks also love to make dishes from fresh vegetables, such as eggplants, beans, lentils and tomatoes. Lamb and fish are also commonly used. This means that there’s more to Greek food than gyros. If you’ve only ever experienced Greek cuisine as a fast food in another country, you’re in for a treat. Athens has a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from traditional eateries to world-class gourmet restaurants. Common everywhere are tsatsiki (garlic-yoghurt spread), souvlakia (meat or fish kebabs marinated in garlic), spanakopita (spinach pie) and tiropita (cheese pie). There is also a huge variety of regional specialties ranging, for example, from numerous pita pies (with several fillings such as meat or vegetables). Pastries made from filo dough, nuts and honey (such as baklava) shouldn’t be missed. Greek coffee is usually quite good, though very strong. You are well-advised to avoid the tourist traps of Plaka and to eat in tavernas frequented by Greeks, such as the ones found in Psiri. Estiatorion are the more expensive conventional restaurants; tavernas are informal, family-run establishments; psistarias offer mostly grilled meats; and psarotavernas specialise in seafood dishes.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
The climate of Greece is Mediterranean, enjoying long hot dry summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures in Greece are tempered by the Etesian northerly wind which blows across the Aegean Sea, and breezes called ‘meltemia’, but the mercury on the mainland regularly hits the high spots. Winters are mild and wet (though rainfall is generally low in most areas). In the mountainous regions, however, rainfall is heavier, snow is likely and temperatures can be severe.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
Greek taxis are yellow and all should be run with a meter. Compared to other European cities, taxis are extremely cheap in Athens and other Greek cities. Be prepared that in Athens, the traffic can reach nightmare proportions, so walking is also a wonderful (…less frustrating…) way to see the sights.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Greece…
As Greece is so well known for its statues and monuments, great mementoes are masks, busts and reproductions of famous Greek art. Souvenir reproductions should cost no more than €30. Remember though that the unauthorised purchase of genuine antiquities is strictly forbidden. You’ll also find fabulously priced leather and fur goods almost everywhere. Belts, handbags, hats and other items are best bought in markets where you can haggle for the best deal, but you’ll never pay over the odds in any case. The quality of all such items is generally good.
Show reverence and respect for the elderly - it’s a custom widely observed in Greece.
Make a fuss over children. Greeks adore children.
When visiting churches, please make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. If required, appropriate clothing is usually available at the entrance of churches and monasteries.
Expect to find nude and topless beaches throughout Greece, but be sure you are on one before you strip – Greece is a very religious country.
The Greeks have a work-to-live culture, not live-to-work, so they run to their own schedule! Just go with the flow and enjoy the relaxed pace of life here.
Don’t enter conversations about politics lightly – a few topics are potential sore spots for the Greeks. These include problems with the Macedonian issue, Cyprus and, although to a lesser extent these days, Turkey.
Be careful with hand gestures! To swear at someone using their hands, Greeks hold up their hand as though signalling someone to stop, and if warranted, will use both hands. This essentially means ‘p___ off’, or harsher variations on that theme when both hands are used. To refuse a drink, simply put the palm of your hand over your glass instead of holding your hand up!
Smoking, while technically banned in all public areas including restaurants, is considered a birthright of the Greeks and many people (and some places) ignore this.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
If you notice anything about the Greek’s, it’s that they are always up for a good time and a celebration! Greece is, of course, the home of the ‘two birthdays’ – your actual birthday and the official name day of the saint you were named after. Travel anywhere in Greece and you won’t be far from a festival or celebration.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Epiphany (January 6th)
- Clean Monday (March 2nd)
- Greek Independence Day (March 25th)
- Easter Friday and Easter Monday
- Protomagia (Labour Day - May 1st)
- Holy Spirit Monday (June 8th)
- Assumption Day (August 15th)
- National Anniversary Day (October 28th)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
Athens exudes a unique charm, its lively character winning over thousands of visitors every year. Street markets, vine-covered tavernas, souvenir stalls and ancient monuments all form a conglomerate with buildings old and new in this city, which one out of four Greeks call home. For tourists, the greatest advantage is that most attractions are accessible on foot in the central area around the landmark Acropolis. Walking is the best way to soak up the Athenian atmosphere because the traffic can reach nightmare proportions. Athens was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, who according to mythology won the city as a prize after a duel against Poseidon. The city can chart its history back thousands of years and is regarded as the cradle of Western civilisation; the place where democracy was invented and philosophy, art and architecture were refined.
Thessaloniki is a busy, vibrant city and it is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and cultural centre as well as a major transportation hub in south-eastern Europe. As a cultural centre, it is renowned for its large number of monuments of Byzantine architecture as well as for some main Ottoman, and Jewish structures. The city is famous for its International Trade Fair which takes place at the beginning of every September and it is the place where the Prime Minister of Greece gives a major speech to announce the governmental plans for the year to come. Thessaloniki is also renowned for the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which is characterised as the most significant cultural event in south eastern Europe, attracting local and international celebrities of both cinema and theatre.
Sitting at the top of the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio is a charming seaside town on a small peninsula in the eastern Peloponnese. Its rich history has left a wonderful mix of ancient walls, castles, monuments, fountains and neoclassical architecture. It has been a strategic port since the Bronze Age and the importance of the city is demonstrated by the three fortresses that dominate the Nafplion skyline. The largest is the Castle of Palamidi, which sits proudly above the city guarding over its residents; Akronafplia fortress and the most photographed fortress, Bourtzi, sitting on a small islet at the end of the peninsula.
Conjuring images of whitewashed walls, blue tiled roofs and the sun sinking into the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, Santorini is a photographer’s dream! The picturesque village of Oia hugs the cliff face and has produced some of the most scenic photos ever taken. The pathway that winds through the village along the cliff face is dotted with cafes, shops and bars and is a wonderful place to watch the famous Santorini sunset.
Located midway between Athens and Thessaloniki, Volos is a vibrant port city on the Pagasetic Gulf. Its picturesque outlook is enhanced by the stunning Mount Pelion in the background. Greek mythology plays a big role in the history of Volos, believing that the mythical creatures of the Centaurs (part horse, part man) came from this area. Both the seafront esplanade, called Argonauts Avenue and the shopping area of Ermou Street are well worth a stroll.
Delphi, in ancient times, was considered the centre of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the place on earth where man was closest to God. In mythology, Delphi was the meeting place of two eagles, released by Zeus and sent in opposite directions. Where they met indicated the centre of the earth. Delphi is known as the centre of worship for the God Apollo, son of Zeus, who embodied moral discipline and spiritual clarity. But even before the area was associated with Apollo, there were other deities worshipped here including the earth goddess Gaia, Themis, Demeter and Poseidon, the God of the Sea. By the end of the Mycenaean period, Apollo had displaced these other deities and became the Guardian of the Oracle.
With its charming Venetian style port and strong medieval history, Nafpaktos is sure to enchant even the most seasoned travellers. The seafront along the port area is the very pleasant centre of this community, with many fashionable restaurants and bars on offer. Due to its strategic coastal position, many famous sea battles were fought in this area.
The site of the Olympic Games from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, ancient Olympia is located in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ in the western Peloponnese region. Here, it’s possible to explore the impressive ruins of the stadium and gymnasium where the athletes trained and competed centuries ago, and to visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, housing some of the most important works of Classical Art including the statue of Nike by Paionios, the Hermes of Praxiteles, and one of the richest collections of bronze works in the world.
Located in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, Crete is Greece’s largest and most populated island, and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Not only is it scenically beautiful, Crete also has a rich history, and in the capital, Heraklion is one of the ancient wonders of the world, the ancient Palace of Knossos. This was the centre of the Minoan civilisation during the Bronze Age and at its peak (around 2,000BC) was home to some estimated 18,000 people.
Walk along Sharambeyan street in Dilijan, marvel at some of the oldest Greek, Persian and Arabic manuscripts in Yerevan, and witness the historic cave monastery of Geghard.
From the spectacular snow-covered Alps and picture-perfect panoramas, to the quintessential elegance of its larger cities, Austria is a fascinating country to explore
A relatively untouched country, there is so much to see in Azerbaijan including the Baku Fire Temple, Burning Mountain and the Palace of Shirvanshahs.
Discover intriguing history at the old city centre of Sarajevo, Baščaršija and the Museum of Sarajevo and experience the world-famous Stari Most bridge.
With its magnificent coastline, 1,185 islands, islets and reefs, Roman ruins and picturesque medieval villages, Croatia is alluring for lovers of fun, sun and fascinating history.
From its picturesque capital, Copenhagen, to its windswept coastline and everything in between, Denmark will lure you in with its warmth and welcoming hospitality.
Watch the northern lights dance across the sky, relax and unwind in a Finnish sauna, cruise Lake Inari and visit Suomenlinna, an 18th-century sea fortress steeped in history.
A popular destination with all travellers, you can soak up the glamour of the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles or sip on a coffee and watch the world go by.
Positioned between Europe and Asia, the country of Georgia has one of the most unique cultures in the world.
Infused with a rich history, Germany offers a fascinating mix of picture-perfect towns, lively festivals, modern, urban cities and beautiful rolling countryside.
Hungary’s location in the centre of Europe, along with its hospitable attitude, makes it an inviting destination, proudly upholding its Magyar traditions, culture and arts whilst incorporating a fascinating mix of history and the present-day.
Land of la dolce vita, it is little wonder that Italy is one of the world’s most-loved destinations with two-thirds of the world’s historical, artistic heritage coming from Italy.
Otherwise known as the jewel of the Mediterranean, Malta is an island located off the Italian coast packed with stunning scenery and a rich culture.
Experience jaw-dropping coastal views of the Mediterranean Sea, try your luck at the Casino Monte-Carlo or explore the botanical world of Jardin Exotique.
Discover surreal views and charming villages across the Bay of Kotor, explore the old town of Kotor surrounded with ancient medieval architecture and enjoy some local Montenegrin cuisine.
Morocco’s dazzling mosaic of Arab and Berber cultures, with a dash of African and European influence, is at once strange and romantic, alluring and surprising.
From fields of colourful tulips and beautiful canal-lined cities to historic architecture and iconic windmills, the Netherlands is a wonderland for any kind of traveller.
Known as ‘The Land of the Midnight Sun’ Norway is ideal for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy stunning scenery, while history buffs can immerse themselves in Norway's rich cultural heritage.
Portugal has it all; the sun-drenched beaches of the Algarve, exclusive golf resorts, medieval hilltop towns, colourful fishing villages, a cosmopolitan capital, the vine-filled valley of the Douro and wild remote mountains.
Slovenia is packed with unusual and often unique experiences, from primeval forests, Karst limestone caves and thermal springs to the lively and architecturally beautiful city of Ljubljana.
Fall in love with Spain’s intriguing history, marvel at the architectural wonders of Barcelona, enjoy a traditional Spanish tapas dinner and people-watch at a terrace café in Madrid.
Snowbound winters, meatballs, herring, Vikings and Volvos, IKEA, ABBA and the Hives - whatever your pre-existing notions about Sweden, a visit to this multifaceted country is bound to both confirm and confound them.
With its snow-capped Alps, emerald green forests, fairy-tale castles and shimmering lakes, it’s easy to see why Switzerland has been one of the world’s top tourist destinations for the past two centuries.
With its covered bazaars, whirling dervishes, sultans’ treasures and Byzantine mosaics, Turkey is both a cosmopolitan and exotic destination.