Greece Panorama Photo

Nature Reserve bird's eye view. Mediterranean Sea, Greece

Guide to Greece

Where is Greece?

Greece is a country in southern Europe which is bordered to the east by Turkey and to the north by Albania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia. It has miles of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea. There are also many Greek islands including Rhodes, Crete and various islands in the Dodecanese, Cyclades and Peloponnese.

What is Greece?

Greece is a Parliamentary Republic, having abolished the monarchy in 1974. Long before that the country had to free itself from the yoke of the Ottoman Empire in 1829. Today the unitary state has both a President and a Prime Minister in charge. With the 10th largest coastline in the world, Greece is an incredibly popular tourist destination which welcomes more than 15 million visitors annually. However government corruption has meant that other parts of its economy have struggled and the country recently needed a massive EU bailout. 

Why go to Greece?

Greece enjoys amazing weather all year around and it has incredible ancient sites and superb beaches. That means that visitors to Greece regularly outstrip its actual population of about 10 million people. Tourists are usually a mixture of sun worshippers and those who want to explore the country’s fascinating archaeological sites. The capital Athens is an amazing blend of classical Greek and modern architecture, while cities such as Sparta played a fascinating role in ancient history. Indeed Greece is considered to be the birthplace of modern democracy and shaped the views of famous thinkers including Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. Greece prides itself on welcoming visitors with a friendly manner and lots of food.

Who lives in Greece?

Ethnic Greeks make up 93% of the population in Greece and 99% them speak Greek. The overriding religion is Greek Orthodox, though 4% of the population are Muslims. Just over 4% of the population is Albanian and 2% are of other nationalities. 

How do you get into Greece

All EU members can get into Greece. It is also a member of the Schengen agreement that allows countries which have signed the agreement to pass freely between borders. There are a number of visa requirements which may apply to other countries which should be investigated before travel. On the other hand if you come from Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein it is not necessary even to have a passport to enter, only an ID card.

1) By Air
Athens Elefthérios Venizélos International Airport is the largest airport in the country. It is located near to the suburb of Spata and deals with more than 15 million passengers on an annual basis. Many of these are flights are headed to the Greek Islands. There are also busy airports in Crete, Rhodes and Thessaloniki. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air are two of the national air carriers and there are a number of low cost flights operating to Greece. See additional information on hiring a car when you arrive.

2) By Land 
Normally there are trains to Bulgaria and Turkey from Thessaloniki but they have been suspended due to the poor economic situation in the country. However you can drive to Greece from any of the bordering countries and a few cross border bus services operate. Drivers should be aware that Greece has a high accident rate, see our Drive Smart Greece page for more information.

3) By Sea
There are hundred of ferries connecting the Greek islands with the mainland. In addition you can go to Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Turkey by ferry and there are routes serving multiple cities in most countries. You can also take cars from Italy to Greece by ferry.

What to do in Greece

See the majesty of the Acropolis from its central position overlooking Athens. Here the temple of Parthenon was built to the goddess Athena.

Visit the site of the Battle of Thermopylae at Sparta where the Greek forces and the Persians clashed. The Statue of Leonidas is a memory of the braveness of the Spartan soldiers. Nearby is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras, a Medieval Greek Settlement.

Go nightclubbing in Mykonos, a beautiful island in the Cyclades which attracts tourists from all over the world who are looking for some fun in the sun.

Have the perfect romantic evening watching the sunset over Santorini, a small volcanic island which looks picture-perfect with its charming whitewashed buildings.

What to do in Greece

See the historical centre of Rhodes. The harbour of this island once housed the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the ancient wonders of the world. 

Visit the amazing Monasteries of Meteora which the Greek Orthodox monks used to escape persecutors. These monasteries are perched high up on tall cliffs with limited rope access.

Live like the Gods with a trip up to Mount Olympus, the tallest peak in Greece. Nearly 3,000 meters high this is an important biosphere reserve for Greek wildlife.

Statue of Leonidas at Sparta

Statue of Leonidas at Sparta

Rhodes Harbour

Rhodes Harbour

Visiting Greece?
Check out our Top Ten Things to do?


Quick facts
Government  Parliamentary Republic, Unitary State
Prime Minister  Giorgos Papandreou
Population  11,305,118
Date Format  
Drives on the  Right
Internet TLD  .gr
Dialling Code  30
Time Zone  EET
Currency  EUR - €

Greece Public Holidays

Assumption Day

Finding of the True Cross
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