Greece and the Greek Islands; nowhere seems so exotic and yet so close and that feeling is shared by the 90m travellers that fly in and out of its airports each year. Whilst dozens of islands have airports and on the mainland, dozens more do, a third of all travellers to Greece use just five airports as their entry points.
It doesn’t take much to work out why most people go there; neither will it be a surprise which are the busiest airports for the name of the game is tourism. Pristine sandy beaches; the archaeology of civilisations that were ‘civilised’ long before the northern Europeans were out of animal skins and, of course, the meze, the archetypal Greek meal, all draw tourists from around the world.
No.1 - Athens Airport
Taking a closer look at each of the top five busiest airports, Athens Airport
, unsurprisingly is the busiest. With other countries, the capital’s airport is usually the busiest because business travellers use it but with Athens, especially in these dire days of economic uncertainty, it’s because it’s a hub for the smaller Greek islands and because of the archaeological splendours of ancient Greece that are to be found in the city. Athens is still considered by many to be the birthplace of civilisation and as important as Rome in European history and language.
No.2 - Crete Heraklion Airport
Early civilisations are the draw again for the second busiest Greek Airport, Heraklion Airport
or Iraklion as it is often called, the capital of Crete. There, the Minoan civilisation prospered until it is thought the volcano Thira on Santorini erupted. The tsunami that was unleashed as the island collapsed rushed across the Aegean and hit Crete head on decimating the civilisation and allowing the supremacy of other unaffected civilisations to rise in their stead.
No.3 - Rhodes Airport
The historic island of Rhodes is the next busiest and this time not principally for the archaeology, despite their being plenty of it! Rhodes attracts party goers to resorts such as Faliraki and others around the coast with several top class sandy beaches adding to its popularity. Rhodes is also a cheaper option for those considering a cheaper alternative to flying to Turkey for a holiday. Arrive at Rhodes Airport
on a budget flight and forty minutes later on the hydrofoil, you’re in Turkey.
No.4 - Thessaloniki Airport
is the fourth busiest in the list and was one of the original tourist destinations in Greece. The city is the second biggest in Greece and considers itself a strong rival to Athens. Travellers looking for beaches close to Thessaloniki can choose from many on the Halkidiki Peninsula whilst those interested in the religious heritage of Greece have Mount Athos to entertain them.
No.5 - Corfu Airport
The last in the top five is Corfu Airport
; a strange little island with a very British feel and cricket is even played there. It’s a very green island being quite far north and is in the Adriatic rather than the Aegean. With attractions like the monastery on Mouse Island and the beautiful pine fringed beaches, it’s no wonder it draws over three million passengers a year.
Greece, you must agree, has something for all which the variety seen in the destinations served by country’s top five airports shows.
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