Bordered by Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey, Greece is right at the edge of Europe tipping almost into the Asian continent with many of its islands far closer to Turkey than mainland Greece.
This means to the lucky visitor coming on holiday to Greece that many influences abound creating a country that has established European roots yet with a hint of Asian influence.
The islands of Greece
To explore the beauty and diversity of the Greek islands is one of the reasons why many people come to Greece. With hundreds of islands contained within seven island groups, there are lots to get around but do not worry if you feel you are missing out by not being on a certain island. You will almost certainly find what you are looking for whether you stay on one or, as many backpackers do, hop around the islands on a whim.
The main islands of Greece are Rhodes, Crete, Mykanos, Corfu, and Santorini, but if you do not want to follow the crowds, try Hydra where no cars are allowed, Kasos with its craggy peaks or Skyros that has a 13th century fortress.
For a livelier holiday in Greece, try Crete, the largest island of Greece and arguably the most naturally beautiful with mountain ranges, caves and the Samaria Gorge, the longest in Europe. Crete also has a buzzing nightlife, especially on the north coast where the main tourist areas are situated.
Athens is of course the main city of Greece being the capital, but there are many other delights of mainland Greece to be savoured. Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, has a distinct character of its own with an ancient Turkish quarter and many museums.
The Archaeological Museum displays artefacts from prehistoric Thessaloniki and the Museum of Ancient Greek & Byzantine Instruments shows exactly that, with instruments covering many centuries.
For fantastic views over the city and surrounding area, climb up the White Tower, so called because it was whitewashed to expel remnants of its Turkish past when there had been massacres of prison inmates in the 19th century.
There is also an old Turkish quarter in the town of Kavala, along the coast towards Bulgaria. One of Greece’s most attractive towns, it spills gently down the hillside into a good sized harbour.
The Turkish quarter is centred round the streets of Panagia and many of the pastel coloured houses are in better shape than their counterparts in Thessaloniki. There is also a large Byzantine fortress to be explored, as well as marvelling at the 18 domed Imaret which overlooks the harbour.
To taste a bit of Greece, try some ouzo with the locals. This intoxicating spirit is made from aniseed and might not be to everyone’s taste but it certainly gets you in the mood for a party! So if you fancy getting in the mood in Greece, check out Vayama.ie’s offers on flights to Athens. You are sure to find something to please you and hopefully you will be flying to Greece before you know it!