City holidays can easily be combined with beach holidays, since the biggest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, are located right by the sea.
Greece is located on the southern tip of the Balkans and the thousands of islands around it. Three of the largest cities of the country, Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, are located on Continental Greece within the Balkans.
Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece, is located in the province of Macedonia. Thessaloniki is a laid-back yet lively center of Northern Greece, where art and history combine with the buzz of the university city. Thessaloniki has direct flight connection from many of the airports of Central Europe. The Chalkidiki peninsula, famous for its fine sandy beaches, unfolds south of Thessaloniki.
The holiday season of Athens covers the whole year, and its most famous attractions are widely known at least by their names. Athens is usually considered as a city destination, but the Attica Riviera unfolding right in front of it, has fantastic beaches. Athens has the most frequent flight connections to Greek islands.
The islands on the Ionian Sea, west of Continental Greece, are also popular holiday islands. Corfu is the northernmost of these islands. Corfu is located close to Albania, and the Albanian destination Saranda is a popular day trip destination from Corfu. Corfu is the second largest island in Greece, and it has plenty of beautiful, turquoise coves to enjoy a beach holiday. The best selection of shopping possibilities, restaurants and nightlife are to be found in the capital of the island, Corfu, and especially in its Old Town.
Many are of the opinion that the best beaches of Greece are in Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea. The beautiful island has plenty of beautiful nature to explore both on land and sea. Hotels, restaurants, nightlife and package tours are concentrated on the southeastern and southern areas of the island. For privacy, you can head off to the north of the island for bicycle riding or hiking. The historic attractions, the Knossos Palace ruins from 1500 BC, are situated close to the city. Chania, Rethymnon and Agios Nikolaos are all popular beach resorts in the island.
Santorini, which is situated north of Crete, is famous for its sunsets. Santorini is a volcanic island that descends dramatically into the sea, making the island perhaps the most picturesque of all Greek islands. The small, romantic villages of the island are popular among couples and honeymooners, whereas the capital of the island, Firá, has more buzz and partying going on. The lava sand beaches of Santorini are not everyone’s favorite.
Samos, Kos and Rhodes, all situated close to the Turkish coast, are popular destinations, suitable for the whole family. The biggest of these islands, Rhodes, is known as the sunniest Greek island. Rhodes is a versatile destination which, along with its great beaches, has historic attractions such as the Old Town dating back to the Middle Ages or the Lindos Acropolis. On the other hand, Rhodes has plenty of activities on offer for families, ranging from water parks to the valley of butterflies.
Also Kos has been a package tour favorite for years. The beautiful sandy beaches, turquoise sea and versatile nature are Kos at its finest. The southern parts, especially Kardamena, are popular among the youth, and the nightlife is busy accordingly.
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Athens and Thessaloniki in Continental Greece are suitable destinations all year round, although it does rain often during the wintertime. The best time to visit the Greek city destinations is between March and early May, as the hotel prices are still low and temperatures suitable for long walks. Seawater is still cool, however.
In May, temperatures rise above 20 °C. The end of May and June are well suited for a beach holiday all across Greece, although the busiest high season has not yet started. The period between July and August is the busiest time of the year in Greek islands, and that shows in the prices as well. Since the temperatures rise well above 30 °C, you might want to avoid Athens during that period. The beach season continues until mid-October or early November. Towards the end of November, the rain picks up and temperatures drop beyond a suitable beach weather.
Based on a survey by Eurostat is 2018, the cost of accommodation and restaurants are below the European average. Hotel prices have large seasonal differences. Moreover, the prices vary significantly between the Greek islands.
According to International SOS, the largest medical & travel security services provider in the world, the risks involved in traveling in Greece are low. Nonetheless, you should abide by general safety measures and pay attention to your valuables in the busy streets of the largest cities.
Earthquakes may occur in Greece, and if it does while you’re there, stay inside. During the hottest days in summer, there are wildfires in Greece. In 2019, they reached the suburbs of Athens. In case of wildfires, follow the instructions issued by the authorities.
Destination guides in Greece
Athens is one of the favorite city destinations in Europe. In this compact metropolis, it’ll take just minutes on foot from one fascinating attraction to another. Watch the world go by in the buzz of the city while enjoying Greek coffee and a spanakopita at a local café.
Read more: Athens
Chania is the most popular beach resort in Crete, and for good reason. In and outside the former capital of Crete, you will find magnificent beaches.
Read more: Chania
Corfu is referred to as the Emerald island due to its verdant nature. The island's dramatic landscapes, beautiful beaches and delicious local food make Corfu a popular destination.
Read more: Corfu
Heraklion is the capital of Crete and the cultural center of the island. A few days visit or a day trip to Heraklion provides a nice contrast to the beach lounging.
Read more: Heraklion
Text: Ville Ryynänen
Photos of the destinations:
Athens, Corfu: Ville ryynänen
Chania: daliu - stock.adobe.com
Heraklion: vladimircaribb - stock.adobe.com