GREECE FAST FACTS
Drives On: Right
Phone Code: +30
National Day: March 25
Internet Domain: .gr
Electrical Outlets: Type C
Greek World Heritage Sites: 18
Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. This is a list of things you should know before you travel to Greece.
Greece, which is known in ancient times as Hellas, is a country located in southeastern Europe. There are over 10 million people living in Greece (as of 2011). The country is divided into 9 geographic regions: Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, Crete, Thrace, Central Greece, Peloponnese, Ionian Islands and the Aegean Islands.
The modern Greek state came about following their independence from the Ottoman Empire during the 1830s. Today, Greece is a highly developed and democratic country. The quality of life and economic condition is high. Greece is also one of the founding members of the United Nations.
The geography of Greece is dominated by mountainous, peninsular mainland. The Greek coastline is listed as the 11th longest in the world. There are also several islands that consist of Greece and several of these are frequented by tourists. Meanwhile, its Mediterranean climate offers wet winters and hot and dry summers.
History of Greece
The history of Greece is long and quite storied. It follows the development of an ancient civilization to the modern nation-state of Greece. There are several periods that are encompassed as part of the history of Greece:
- Ancient Greece
- Roman Greece
- Byzantine Greece
- Ottoman Greece
- Modern Greece
According to historical records, the first Greek-speaking tribes settled in the Greek mainland during the Neolithic period. Meanwhile, the Ancient Greece period represents the period in Greek history before the Roman Empire. It was during this stage in history that the first Olympic Games were held. It is looked at as the foundational culture of the Western civilization. The Greek culture turned out to have a major influence to the Roman Empire. Its influence is evident in language, philosophy, architecture, art, politics, and the educational system.
The Roman Greece period is the time when the Romans conquered Greece as its military force weakened. On the other hand, Byzantine Greece was a period of artistic revival and economic prosperity. Meanwhile, the time of the Ottoman rule in Greece saw the occurrence of two Greek migrations.
Finally, the Modern Greece era represents the period from 1821 to the present times. There was a huge social structure transformation that took place in the country during the late 19th century.
Travel Facts About Greece
Connectivity: There are several hotels, cafes and coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi access in Greece. There are also those that charge for connection and they can be quite expensive. Buying a local sim card is recommended for tourists who travel to Greece. You can choose from any of the three main mobile operators in Greece: Wind, Cosmote, and Vodafone. You can choose from any of the packages so you can stay connected during your travel within Greece.
- Vodafone offers three options: 1) for 10 EUR, you can get 9.5 GB of data with 100 minutes call time valid for 1 month, 2) for 10 EUR, get 2.5 GB of data with 1,500 minutes call time valid for 1 month, and 3) 16 EUR for 9.0 GB data with 0 calling minutes valid for 1 month.
- Wind Greece has two options: 1) for 5 EUR, get 1 GB data or 2) for 15 EUR, get 15 GB data.
- Cosmote Greece offers two options: 1) for 10 EUR, you can get 1GB data for 1 month, and 2) for 10 EUR, get 3GB for 7 days.
International Airports: The main international airport in Greece is Athens International Airport. Here is a list of other major airports in Greece:
- Santorini (Thani) National Airport
- Heraklion International Airport
- Thessaloniki Airport
- Corfu International Airport
- Mykonos Island National Airport
Getting Around: Bus is the main choice of overland transportation in Greece. There are rail networks in Greece but they are quite limited. You can take the bus towards several primary routes in Greece and to access other islands. For inter-island travel, there are ferries and catamarans to facilitate transport.
Visa Required: Certain countries (such as those belonging to the Schengen Agreement) enjoy visa-free travel to Greece. For citizens from these countries, all they need is a valid passport for at least 3 months from departure date. For a complete list of countries that require and do not require a visa to Greece, visit here: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/before_you_travel/passports_and_visas
International Driver’s License Accepted? If you are from any of the EU countries, you can use the driver’s license issued from your home country to drive in Greece. For citizens from other countries, you will need an international driver’s license.
Crime: Historically, the crime rate in Greece is one of the lowest in Western Europe. However, there is an increase in property and organized crimes in Greece over the past decade.
Electrical Adapters: The electrical supply in Greece is powered by 220 volts and 50 Hertz. Use an adapter or voltage converter if your country has a different electrical source type.
Trivia: There is an average of 16.5 million tourists that visit Greece annually – this is more than the entire population of the country. In fact, 16% of the country’s income is brought on by the tourism industry.
Interesting Greece Facts
- Greece is approximately 50,949 square miles in size, which makes it almost equal the size of the state of Alabama in the US. However, Greece is more densely populated with 10 million in population (compared to Alabama’s 4.5 million).
- Voting is required by law for every citizen aged 18 and above. No one has the excuse to not vote.
- Greece has more international airports compared to other countries in the world.
- Greece is number three in the world in terms of the production of olives.
- Grece’s landscape is made up of 80% mountains. Even though it has rivers, all of these are non-navigable.
- There are 12 million people in the world that can speak Greek.
- Before the 1950s, only 30% of the adult population in Greece could read and write. Today, though, the country has a 95% literacy rate.
- With a settlement history that dates back 7,000 years ago, the city of Athens in Greece is one of Europe’s oldest cities.
Greek cuisine is one of the most popular in the Mediterranean region and even in the entire world. The typical ingredients used for cooking Greek dishes are olive oil, wine, lemon juice, vegetables, olives, fish, poultry, and lamb.
Greeks also serve mezes, or a collection of a variety of small dishes together with wine as part of every meal. You will also notice that the Greeks like to eat their meal, especially bread, with dips.
There are several notable dishes to come out of the Greek cuisine. For example, they have a variety of traditional bread aside from the popular pita. These breads include the following: lagana, paximadi, and eliopsomo or bread with olives. Salads are also an important part of a traditional Greek meal. A traditional Greek salad is made with tomato salad, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onion, olive oil and feta cheese. There are several variations to this recipe depending on which region you are from.
Other popular Greek dishes are as follows:
Historical Attractions of Greece
Acropolis of Athens: This ancient citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on top of a rocky outcrop in Athens. Today, the site features ruins of the ancient buildings that were of historic and architectural significance in Greece. The Acropolis of Athens was constructed in the mid-5th century BC, which was also known as the Golden Century of Greece.
Meteora: This is one of the largest complexes for the Greek Orthodox in Greece. It is built on top of rock pillars and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Knossos: This archaeological site dates back to the Bronze Age. It is also the oldest city in Europe. It is the most important historical attraction on the Crete island, which was discovered by a British archaeologist in the early 20th century.
Temple of Zeus: This ancient temple is located in Olympia and was built around 472 and 456 BC. It features a classical Greek architectural style.
Ancient Delphi: This is an important religious sanctuary for the ancient Greek. It was created to honor the god Apollo. It is also the site of the 4th century BC Temple of Apollo. The remains of the sanctuary consist of an ancient theater and stadium. Delphi also had military and political associates when the time that it was still in use.
Ancient Olympia: As the name implies, this is the ancient site where the concept of the Olympic Games was first started (during the 776 BC). Every four years, the games were organized in honor of god Zeus. The sports competition eventually became popular in other Greek cities and eventually adapted all over the world.
Greece Podcasts and Youtube Channel
- Rick Steves Greece and East Mediterranean Podcast
- Indie Travel Podcast | Greece Travel
- Visit Greece Official Youtube Channel
- DiscoverGreece.com Youtube Channel
- Breathtaking Athens Youtube Channel
Books on Greece Travel
- Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese. This is yet another highly recommended book on Greece from Rick Steves. It is recommended for those who want to explore the cultural and historical attractions in the Greek capital.
- Frommer’s Athens and the Greek Islands (Complete Guide). This travel guide is written by Stephen Brewer wherein he takes you through the famed and lesser-known destinations in Greece. There are practical tips such as exact pricing so you can spare yourself from the surprises during your trip.
- Lonely Planet Greek Islands (Travel Guide). From colorful maps to highlights and itineraries, this book will answer everything you need to know about Greece before you travel to the country.
Greece Internet Resources
- Greece Pinterest Board
- The Top 10 World Heritage Sites in Greece
- Top 7 things to do in Santorini, Greece
- The Greek Mythology Tour with Alternative Athens