Greece is one of the most intoxicating and alluring destinations in the world. Everyone who experiences a Greek holiday agrees on one thing above all other things: that Greece is absolutely unforgettable.
This is because Greece has a very unique quality – it is a land full of contradictions!
In Greece, you will find all the history you could ever want to discover, but you will also find modern cities with a European and cosmopolitan flair. In Greece you will find crowded and busy centres and also peaceful and idyllic islands. You will find rugged mountains, but also long stretches of beach with crystal clear waters. You will find a rich and diverse cuisine with ancient and Eastern flavors as well as contemporary influences. You will find varied architecture in Greece, from the white-washed houses and churches of the islands to the neoclassical buildings in Athens. You will find the best night-life in Greece as well as the best in high culture, but you will also find long-forgotten traditions, spiritual and mystical, and unchanged-by-time folkloric villages.
In Greece you will find chaos and order. In Greece you will find something foreign and exotic, but also something very intimate and familiar.
Nia Vardalos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) once said, “in many ways we are all sons and daughters of ancient Greece.” And this is true. Many people come to Greece with some knowledge, however vague, of knowing something about this ancient land. After all, it was the Greeks who gave the world concepts like democracy and philosophy. The ancient Greek values, language, culture, music and ideas developed over two-thousand years ago are familiar ideas today in contemporary politics, languages, and culture.
This dual character of Greece – the modern and the ancient, the contemporary and the folkloric, the cosmopolitan and the idyllic – is what makes Greece a memorable holiday and one of the top twenty destinations for travellers in the entire world. As the author George Bernard Shaw once said, “Nobody can say a word against Greece.”
Of course, it is not by accident that Greece is so complicated and varied! One look at a world map will reveal that Greece sits snugly between the East and the West. This means that the country that influenced the world with its ancient culture, has since been influenced by the Eastern and Western cultures, languages, and traditions.
Today, Greece is at once European and not-European, familiar and exotic, organised and chaotic. Greece exhibits all of its history wherever you go. Cities and villages are built upon layers and layers of history that dates back to the prehistoric times. You can be sure that where you go in Greece, you will be walking on top of some hidden past still waiting to be rediscovered by the archaeologists. In fact, Nikos Kazantzakis (the author of Zorba the Greek) described Greece as a palimpsest of historical writings. And this true, because each new historical period or civilizations built upon the old one and each civilization – Roman or Ottoman – has left its mark somewhere, either in the cuisine, language, architecture, or music.
But most people travel to Greece for the Mediterranean climate and the hot, dry summers. Greece’s tourist period peaks in summertime with millions of visitors arriving in the islands, especially the Cycladic islands of Santorini and Mykonos, for Greece’s world-famous sun, sand and sea. On the mainland it is the Peloponnese region in the south and Halkidiki in the north that are to most popular. For most first time travellers, however, it is the islands that are the most quintessential Greek experience. The Greek islands have seduced many souls throughout history. Even the poet Lord Byron exclaimed with rapture, “The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!…Eternal summer gilds them yet.” It certainly does seem as if summer is eternal in Greece.
Wherever you go in Greece, whether you choose to bathe in island waters, to trek in ancient mountain ranges, or to have ouzo and meze in a folkloric taverna, there is always much more to discover. Greece is the holiday destination for all ages, all tastes and all interests.