Travel Guide to Greece

Greece is a country in the southern part of Europe. It lies on a piece of land called the the Balkan peninsula. Around this are the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas. To its north is Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

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1. Select the right time to go
Well, this is a no-brainer but choosing the right time of the year to go anywhere is important. Most people like to plan their holidays in the summer, which is peak season and that means peak prices.

Greece is particularly problematic in the summer, not only because the prices are sky high, but the weather is very hot and most of the places are crowded. Finding good accommodation can be challenging and needlessly expensive.

I would also advise against going in dead winter because it can get cold, and as many of the historical sites are outdoors, I would find that to be a particularly unpleasant time. It also rains a fair bit.

In this case, I would advise going in the fall or spring. You could consider visiting for the February Carnival (Apokri√°tika), for which the celebrations span three weeks, ending during the seventh weekend before Easter. For peak pageantry, check-out Patras Carnival - one of the largest and most flamboyant in the Mediterranean (and the third largest of its kind in the world). Patras itself is the largest city of The Peloponnese and its carnival boasts a chariot parade and exuberant costume parties.

2. Plan an itinerary
There are two ways to go about Greece. First, you can choose to see multiple places around a theme, for example exploring history. The other option is you find one spot to stay in and enjoy that spot.

If you are interested in more of a historical expose of Greece, I would advise to plan an itinerary around the Penepollese, and possibly add in a day or two of Crete. Make sure to brush up your classics and read the Iliad on the airplane. It would make your trip all the more enjoyable.

However, if you don’t fancy multiple destinations, you could do an island stay at Santorini, and book yourself a nice resort and be pampered. You won't necessarily be stuck in that you can still do island hopping. However, this itinerary will revolve more around relaxing and spas than around history and hikes. Besides Santorini, you could consider other islands such as Lesvos, which are less visited but as beautiful if not more.

3. Basic Geography and History
To plan an itinerary, it may make sense to have an idea of the geography of Greece. The country can be split into four sections:
  • Northern Greece 
  • Central Greece 
  • Peloponnese 
  • Crete
Each of these sections has its own to offer, with much of the historical sights centered in the Peloponnese.

A primer on Greece's history is also likely going to be of use. I really suggest that you read up a little about this place before you leave. We could break it down into a few time periods and which areas they were in rule for.

Early civilizations
This refers to the country's first inhabitants, who are now referred to as the Pelasgians. Very little is known about them, but most believe that they were a primitive people. The first civilizations were the Cycladic Civilization -they inhabited most of the islands between Athens, Turkey and Greece (the islands in pink) - and the Minoan Civilization, who inhabited the islands of Crete and Santor√≠ni. 

Dark Ages
This refers to the time when Greek-speaking Indo-European people arrived in the country around 1700 BC, from both the north and the west coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey), absorbing the locals. They were divided into a number of tribes (the Achaeans, Ionians, Dorians, and others), each which arrived in the country at different time intervals. Their arrival may have been responsible for ending the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations. The first Greek-speaking civilization, the Mycenean Civilization, were centered in the Peloponnese region. Then, the arrival of the Dorians brought the country into what is referred to as the Dark Age of ancient Greece; although it is now understood among historians that civilization in Greece remained sophisticated and advanced during this time. 
Related Posts: Mycenae

Archaic Period
Archaic Greece was the period lasting from the eighth century BC to the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC, following the Dark Ages and succeeded by the Classical period. This period laid the foundations of classical Greece, and was marked by an increase in population.

Classical Greece
Classical Greece is often called the Golden Age of Greece, when city-states were formed. Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes were the most prominent of the city-states (with Athens being the most prestigious). It was during this time that the Greek mythologies became popular, and that's how the oracle of Delphi myths arose. 
Related Posts: AthensDelphi

Hellenistic Period
Later, the main hub of Greek Civilization shifted, during the 4th century BC, from southern Greece (Athens, Delphi etc. ) to northern Greece (Thesoloniki etc). The northern Macedonian kingdom, under Alexander the Great, conquered all of Greece, and proceeded eastward, creating an empire all the way to South Asia with the stated intent of spreading Greek Civilization. 

Roman Period
The empire eventually broke up, and Greece was eventually annexed by the growing Roman Empire. Although weakened politically, Greek Civilization continued to flourish under Roman rule and heavily influenced Roman culture.

Arrival of Christianity and Byzantine Empire
Christianity arrived in Greece with St. Paul during the 1st century AD, and eventually spread throughout Greece and the Roman Empire. In the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and declared it the state religion. He moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium (present-day Istanbul), which he renamed Constantinople. Internal divisions divided the Roman Empire into a western half (West Roman Empire) and an eastern half (East Roman Empire.) 
Related Posts: CorinthIstanbul

Medieval Greece
This period refers to the time which is dominated by the Byzantine Empire and revolved around Christianity, Greek Language and Civilization, and Roman law. The empire together with Rome waged a war (the Crusades) against the Muslims. However, during the 13th century, the Crusaders turned on the Byzantine Empire itself, sacking Constantinople.
Related Posts: Istanbul

Ottoman rule
With the sacking of Constantinople, Greece fell under Ottoman Turkish rule, but vigorously retained its Greek-speaking Christian culture. However, many Greeks fled the country, establishing Greek communities elsewhere in Europe; these communities would later influence the Greek Revolution.
Related Posts: Istanbul

Enlightenment, Revolution and Later
At this time, the Italian city-states of Genoa and Venice competed with the Ottomans for control of various parts of Greece. They managed to conquer various islands and coastal areas, including Nafplion, an important port city. This also brought movements such as the Renaissance (and later the Enlightenment) to places like Crete and parts of the Peloponnese region. This also led to awakening of Greek identity, and gave birth to the goal of an independent, unified, and sovereign Greek state. The Greek Revolution finally broke out on the 25th of March, 1821, and led to a long war against the Ottomans for independence. The nation finally achieved its independence from the Ottomans in 1829. The newly-independent Greek State was briefly a republic, before becoming a monarchy. 
Related Posts: Nafplion 

With this primer on the history, you should be good to go. 

4. Wear appropriate clothes
While this is often a no-brainer, I do think that the attire in Greece tends to be more on the conservative side if you are outside of Athens and Santorini. Most of the locals I saw there were modestly dressed and I did not see extravagance. Also, make sure to wear jackets with hoods. It does rain for brief periods and you might be caught unawares.

5. Get outside of the capital
When noobs think of Greece, they think of Athens. However, most of the historical sites are outside of Athens. In fact, the city isn't beautiful by any means. Greece is a lot to offer, and you won't find it in the capital.

Now, with this guide, you can continue onwards to read the blog about Greece.