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Greek Travel Tips Only Locals Can Reveal

Greece ● 18 December 2017

As the debt crisis in Greece continues making it difficult for local inhabitants to take Greek vacations on their own, the nation’s thriving tourism industry continues to thrive, ironically or otherwise. In an interesting positive feedback loop, local Greeks are converting their own homes and apartments into bed-and-breakfast lodges or rooms to let and offering special restaurant and hotel deals to visitors. Personalized tours and travel startups are drawing in more and more tourists, offering a boost to the Greek locals’ wallets as well as to the visitors seeking to experience some authentic Greek lifestyle.

If you’re going to visit Greece anytime soon, it would be wise to look up tips from the locals in addition to from experienced travellers, who are not actually from Greece. Here are some lesser-known travel tips that local Greece inhabitants understand intimately and that you might not be able to find in a travel brochure.

Sailing in Greece

● Give things time. We don’t just mean give your body time to adjust to jet-lag, seasickness, or at the very least, the time zone difference. In fact, Greek locals reveal that ferries, buses, and other forms of transportation run notoriously behind schedule. That’s not to say that it’s a wise decision to plan to arrive later than the scheduled time, lest the vehicle depart without you. However, you should wear sturdy walking shoes, bring plenty of water as you wait in the sun, and prepare yourself to be standing around for longer than you might have anticipated. Originally, if you’re banking on a ferry trip lasting exactly from 10am to 11:14am, don’t make a plan to catch a connecting ferry or train right at 11:25. Additionally, if you end up befriending any locals and making plans to meet up, don’t be surprised if they’re not punctual - chances are, no disrespect or rudeness was actually intended. The locals are used to these “suggested” timing lifestyles, so keep an open mind and get ready to adapt. Luckily, a main bus line from the Athens city center to the airport, called the X95, is known to be very good about staying punctual.

● Plan bus trips carefully! Locals might not think this as being much of a problem, but most buses around Athens are not exactly tourist-friendly, in the sense that there are not usually very detailed maps inside buses or in bus stations. Additionally, tickets and bus passes cannot be purchased on the bus itself or even in the stations; there are no ticket machines or card-swipe readers like in Boston or New York City. You will have to purchase tickets in advance from a mini market or a Metro station.

● If you’re not sure where to start your travel, a good “starter” vacation or exploration trip for people who have never visited Greece before would be to spend 2 or 3 days in Athens to get accustomed to the rich history and busy lifestyle of the nation. Then, catching a ferry to head to one or more of the islands, depending on how long you have. Each island has plenty to keep you busy for weeks at a time, but if you’re trying to pack in more than one island on your trip, spending 3 to 4 days in each island will still be enough to get you accustomed to the little nuances of each island.

● The ideal travel time is either June or September. Peak tourist season is from July to August, but it is still warm and summery in June and, by the time September comes around, the sea is still plenty warm and the sun is still shining brightly. Especially in June, there is almost no chance of rain. However, some of the main islands - especially Santorini, also Crete - are extremely popular tourist destinations all year round, no matter what the weather is doing.

● Island hopping is fun, but you should also visit lesser-known islands. There’s nothing wrong with hitting up Santorini, Crete, and Milos with the younger, party-happy crowds, but if you’re looking for a truly authentic Greek experience, you would be wise to visit less famous islands. Some of these so-called hidden gems include Folegandros, Paxoi, Amorgos, and Samothraki - not names you’ve probably heard of online before, but still offering you the benefit of traditional blue-and-white houses, whitewashed churches, and cobblestone alleyways. These will be less packed with tourists, which locals always appreciate for their privacy, but also recommend to brave visitors. Additionally, Sounio, while not an island, is only a 45-minute drive from Athens, and has plenty of beachy vibes even though it’s not an island. There are amazing secluded beaches, cliffsides, and coves, not to mention the impressive and ancient Temple of Poseidon.

● There is a variety of ways to explore and each location has a different “best” way to get around. Renting a car is really only recommended if you’re trying to take a road trip. There are also plenty of guided tours, but you’ll probably be able to do just fine exploring on your own, whether by foot, bus, or Metro. Additionally, hitchhiking is pretty common in less-crowded villages and islands, even though a more Westernized individual has probably been trained to avoid this habit due to stranger danger. In Greece, the lack of reliable public transportation has made it an extremely common way to get around, believe it or not!

Where to Stay

Hotel in Laconia, Greece Limeni Village
Limeni Village
Limeni Areopolis, 23062 Laconia, Greece

Limeni Village is located in the small, seaside settlement of LImeni, close to Aeropolis. Kalamata International Airport is 88 km away.

Hotel in Pelion, Greece Pilion Terra Hotel
Pilion Terra Hotel
Portaria, 37011 Pelion, Greece

Pilion Terra Hotel is built between the popular villages of Portaria and Makrynitsa in Pelion. Pelion Ski Centre is 15 km away. The town of Volos is 12 km away.

Hotel in Zagorochoria, Greece Pirrion Boutique Hotel
Pirrion Boutique Hotel
Ano Pedina, 44007 Zagorochoria, Greece

Pirrion Boutique Hotel is located in the traditional village of Ano Pedina. Voidomatis River is 17 km away. The National Airport of Ioannina is 32 km away.