With so many options at your fingertips, planning a holiday to Greece can throw up a lot of questions. Island or mainland? Beach or countryside? Follow the crowd or go it alone? Our handy A to Z guide should give you a starting point…
A is for Athens… Greece’s capital, one of the world’s oldest cities, and the home of sites like the Temple of Zeus. It’s been called both ‘the birthplace of democracy’ and ‘the cradle of Western civilisation’, which says it all, really.
B is for beaches… A staggering 408 of the country’s sand, shingle, and pebble curves were awarded the Blue Flag for quality in 2014. Totted up, there are around 16,000 kilometres of coastline to go round.
C is for Crete… Crete is Greece’s biggest island, and it packs in a pick ’n’ mix of beaches, historical sights aplenty, plus lovely mountainous scenery that’ll have you posing for selfies in no time.
D is for DJs… As well as lazy villages and bleached-white towns, the Greek Isles rack up some of the hottest places to party. Malia, Kavos, Faliraki, Laganas, and Kardamena are a few of clubland’s veterans.
E is for escapes… Slip away from the crowds to secluded bays, like Zante’s famous Smugglers Cove. Accessible only by boat and framed by cliffs, the sugary sands are home to the wreck of an alleged smugglers’ ship.
F is for feta… It’s highly unlikely that you’ll go for dinner and not see this crumbly white cheese somewhere. Made from sheep’s milk, it’s creamy and tangy, and it’s usually diced up and scattered over salads.
G is for gyros… If you thought your local did the best kebabs ever, wait until you’ve tried the Greek version – gyros. Slithers of pork or chicken are stuffed into a pita with tomatoes and lashings of tzatziki.
H is for Halkidiki… Shaped like Poseidon’s trident, Halkidiki juts out into the Aegean from the mainland. One of its fingers is good for beach holidays. One’s better for nature lovers. And the other one is a monastic state that’s only accessible to men.
I is for islands… Around 6,000 islands and islets are scattered off Greece’s mainland, ranging from firm favourites like Corfu and Kos to sleepy Ikaria.
J is for JSI… We can’t quite figure out why, but this is the international airport code for Skiathos Island National Airport. Just make sure you don’t book a flight to SKI – you’ll end up in Algeria!
K is for Kefalonia… This Ionian A-lister made its big-screen debut as the setting for the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Find yourself on Myrtos Bay’s chalky sands, and you’ll soon see why Kefalonia had to make the final cut.
L is for luxury… Greece knows how to do luxury to the nines. Take Sensatori Resort Crete – 6 pools, 7 restaurants, and rooms with swim-up terraces.
M is for mythology… Hercules, Jason, Aphrodite, Zeus – no, it’s not the line-up of Greece’s next big pop group, but a handful of the gods and heroes that make up the country’s mythological background.
N is for nature… We know Greece goes heavy on natural beauty – green forests, blue seas and all. But did you know dolphins, turtles, lynx, and even bears live here?
O is for Olympia Coast… An unspoilt and historical corner of the mainland. The birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games. Thomson’s newest Greek destination. The Olympia Coast is all of the above.
P is for Parga… Set in the north-west of the mainland, Parga is real take-it-easy territory. Here, you can tip-toe through cobbled streets, and sip ouzo in front of sailboats bobbing in the harbour.
Q is for quiet side… If you’d rather duck away from the big-name islands, head for places like Paxos, Samos, Meganissi, and Thassos. Here, the beaches are footprint-free, and high-rise hotels are a no-no.
R is for Rhodes… As the most popular Greek isle, Rhodes lures more than 270,000 Brits to its shores every year. Why? Beaches galore, centuries-old sights, and plenty of big names to please the clubbing crowd. That’s why.
S is for spanakopita… Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? A tasty one, though. It’s a spinach pie, topped with flaky pastry and filled with feta cheese, fresh onions and seasoning. A proper crowd-pleaser, it’s served in tavernas all over the country.
T is for tavernas… OK, so you might not up sticks á la Shirley Valentine, but the friendly atmosphere, al fresco table set-up, and mama’s kitchen menu in one of these quintessentially Greek restaurants will definitely have you thinking about it.
U is for UNESCO sites… A plethora of ancient throwbacks puts Greece on UNESCO’s map. Athens’ hilltop Acropolis, Corfu’s fortressed old town, and the mythological site of Delphi top the list.
V is for volcanoes… Some of Greece’s thousands of islands started life as volcanoes. The most famous is Santorini, where whole, maze-like villages are perched on a cliff-face overlooking the caldera.
W is for windmills… Mykonos, Greece’s über-cool answer to St Tropez, is chock-full of iconic windmills. They’ve been gracing postcards for decades, and share the limelight with the island’s trendy waterfront cocktail bars.
X is for Xenia… The ancient Greek concept of hospitality, or ‘guest friendship’, means that whether you choose an All Inclusive hotel, or a do-it-yourself villa, you’ll be greeted with open arms.
Y is for year after year… Thanks to its history, its cuisine, and its endless tanning opportunities, holidaymakers have a real affection for Greece, which is why we get back on the plane year after year.
Z is for Zante… This Ionian Island flaunts an interior of rolling hills, an A-star coastline, and a choice of go-slow villages or bustling bar streets. Plus, Zante is the Med’s best place for spotting rare loggerhead turtles.
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Author: Lee Dasilva
Published: July 23, 2014
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