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How to Plan a Greece Vacation

Updated on January 30, 2013
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Plan Your Greece Vacation

Are you thinking of taking a Greece vacation? Greece is one of the best places to visit in the world.

The blue water of the Aegean sea. The sun-kissed days which stretch into the evenings. Life is slower, lazier, more relaxed. Somehow, you forgot all your problems and are focused only on the present. The food, the landscape, the people - Greece is meant to be enjoyed.

Sure, they've had their share or political problems over the past few years. But, I've been to Greece since they've unfolded and I can tell you that aside from avoiding the really "hot" area of Athens where most of the protesting is going on, it's fine.

I went to Crete in October of 2011 and June of 2012 and there was no spillover from the political upheaval to that island. I am sure the same is true of most places in Greece.

Anyway, lets assume you have decided to travel to Greece. My job, right now, is to help you plan it! I've been to Greece four times and I still feel like I haven't seen enough. But - I do know how to get in a nice overview. :-)

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Types of Greece Vacations

I have taken four Greek vacations so far, and I think I may end up going again later on in the year.

  • Cruise. The first involved a few days in Athens and then a cruise around the islands.
  • Santorini. Then, I spent a few nights on Santorini with my husband a few years later.
  • Crete (twice). This island is really warm with wonderful beaches. So, I've been twice. Once in October (it is still really, really warm then which is nice) and once in the summer. I think I may be going again at the end of the year.

Anyway, as you can see, you can either visit Greece by land or focus on the areas out to sea. I think that may be what I like about Crete so much. It has beautiful interior landscapes because it is a larger island as well as an ample and satisfying coastline.

Here is a list of some of the types of vacations in Greece that you can take.

  • Cruise
  • Stay in one island the whole time.
  • Island hop.
  • Visit mainland Greece
  • Take an organized tour.

Which vacation is right for you? I've done a little of each. The cruise was part of a tour package, spending some time in the mainland, and we island hopped. Other than that, my other three Greece vacations featured one island for the whole trip.

Plan Your Greek Vacation

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Greece:
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Book a Flight for Your Greece Trip

There are two basic things you can do when deciding how you are going to fly to Greece.

  • Fly to Athens. This is a good option if you are taking a tour or meeting up with a cruise. You can also do this if you plan on renting a car and traveling in mainland Greece. There is also the option of finding transportation to Piraeus, the port, and take ferries to various islands. Bear in mind that some of the Ferry rides are fairly long.
  • Fly to the islands. Islands like Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini have their own airports. This is a good option especially for people who are coming from mainland Europe because you can find direct flights from major airports like Frankfurt, Germany. If you are coming from the US most airlines will route you to the islands with a few stopovers.

Finding Great Airfare for Your Greece Vacation

Once you know where you are going to fly and when, you can check out the online sites like Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity to find out what the prices look like. Get on their mailing lists if you can and keep your eye out for specials and deals.

It is also worth it to visit the websites of individual airlines. Sometimes, they release fares and deals that are only available if you purchase the ticket directly through them. I've had to do this in the past to take advantage of specials.

If the trip is pretty far out you don't need to feel as if you should get the ticket right away. You can wait until you find the best price you can. Also, websites like Travelzoo offer roundups of the deals that are available for most of the major airlines and destinations.

You can also call a few travel agents to see what kinds of fares they can offer. Sometimes, they an help you save money overall if you book the airfare with a tour package or cruise.

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Book Your Hotel in Greece

The next step is to book your hotel. Of course, this will all depend on the nature of your Greek vacation. If you are on a cruise, for example, this is something you may not have to do unless you opt to stay in Athens before or after your trip.

What I Usually Do...

For me, I like to book all my own travel. First, I visit booking.com to see what types of hotels are available for where I want to go. Then, I search Tripadvisor to find reviews. Note that booking.com also shows user reviews. Based on the reviews I end up making a choice and then using booking it through the booking.com site. This is my favorite site to use for travel in Europe.

I also often just book my reservation directly through the hotel.

What you can do...

You can either follow my method or do something else. Here are some ideas.

  • Use a travel agent.
  • Book it directly through the hotel.
  • Use another site like Travelocity to find hotels.
  • See if you can find a vacation package that includes hotels.

The main idea is to make sure you are finding a hotel with the amenities that you want at a great price.

Greece Tourist Attractions

Budget Considerations for Traveling to Greece

In reading the comments, I realized that I forgot to remark on the budget!

My first trip to Greece happened in 1997. It was a cruise with a few days stay in Athens. I have no idea how much that cost because it was a long time ago and a family vacation. This was before the days of the Euro so I am assuming that it was a very good value.

Once Greece switched to the Euro, it stopped being as economical as it was for people in Europe and the United States to enjoy an inexpensive holiday. It is still a cheaper destination when comparing it to the rest of Europe, but it isn't what it once was.

With that being said, for my third trip to Greece, a stay at a resort on Crete, was relatively inexpensive. However, there were several factors that made it so. I lived in Germany at the time and was able to utilize the in-country travel agents who have great deals on travel. We went to a travel agent who used the TUI company to give as a fantastic package that literally included everything.

We didn't venture out that much either. My friend's husband had just come back from deployment and mine was deployed. We just wanted to relax. We did rent a car to visit the gorge and took a taxi a few times into Chania to explore and take in the night life. All told, it was a great way to see parts of Crete. :)

Deals are out there.

Coming from the US is more expensive, however. I am back in the US and have been pricing airfare for October 2013 for Chania, Crete (I think there may be two stopovers!) Anyway, it's at $1300 round trip which is high for Europe in October. Maybe the fare prices will go down as airlines start announcing discounts. It may be too far out for any deals to pop up.

As an aside, Crete is pretty far south. Last time I was on Crete in October the weather was AMAZING. 80 degrees and sunny - still beach weather. Amazing. Crete pretty much shuts down at the end of October, though.

What do you think?

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    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! People who love Greece are very passionate. I know what you mean about it being not "that" dangerous. I lived in Munich during a year when there were a lot of protests against the US (Remember the whole No War for Oil thing in 2003?). There may be a picture of me somewhere, peering over at the protesters with my shopping bags in hand. Is that kinda what Athens is like? Then, when Rumsfeld came to the city, for some kind of meeting, I stayed home that day and figured I could window shop for shoes some other time! :-)

      Yes, Greeks are very nice and very hospitable. We are always treated well. Two times I've been to Greece with my Greek descent family and the other two I went with non-Greek speakers (and therefore barely spoke myself) and the treatment was always the same.

      Thanks again!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      5 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Hi, Kohuether! I enjoyed your hub. It's very inspiring. However, I feel the urge to add one remark: the center of Athens is not that... dangerous. Syntagma square might feel a bit like 'shaky ground', but only when there's some sort of protest [ which is usually announced in advance, just for the sake of tourists'safety, so there should be no worry ab that]. Apart from it, the center is quite alright; nothing to worry about - except for, maybe, higher prices than expected when going out at night [compared to other spots I've been to, that is... for example: it's more expensive to go out in Athens for a wild night out - drinking, dancing, bar crawling, etc - than in Amsterdam]. There is a price for quality, though - as the quality of the services offered seems to be high in Athens [and drinks are better!]. Also, there is a sense of generosity depictable throughout Greece; there's extra care and pampering for the customers - it might come along with that widespread idea ab the Greek hospitality [ it is actually true!].

      Going back to the safety issue, I claim that Athens is just as safe as any other city.

      Anyway, great hub! Voted up and useful! Cheers!

      Elias

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      I'd say Greece is fine as long as you stay away from the center of Athens. :-) The islands are very, very romantic. I am biased, of course, because I am an American of 100% Greek descent and my family stayed close to the culture, and I speak some Greek. To me, it feels like going home.

    • Family Fun Faith profile image

      Family Fun Faith 

      5 years ago from League CIty

      Thanks for the article, I am seeking to find the right trip for a fiftieth wedding anniversary, and Greece was on my short list, but the upheavals had moved me toward Italy. Now I may have to rethink!

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thank you so much for your insight! I haven't been to Athens since 1997 but a Greek who sold me olive oil a year or so ago told me the same thing - stay away from the center and only go to the tourist spots. The insurance is a good tip, too - I would also get traveler's assistance because that can help in an extreme crisis.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 

      5 years ago from Olney

      Nice and informative article however as one who has lived 10 years in Greece there are things to watch out for regarding budget and places to visit. Athens has changed in the last 2 years and the centre is not a safe place to be at night any more, stick to the real tourist spots such as Plaka. Prices in Athens are very expensive a cup of coffee costing 7 or 8 euro. The islands have been least effected by the crisis but make sure you have medical insurance as the standard of health care has dropped from the best in Europe 6 years ago to the worst in Europe now.

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks for the feedback guys. I am going to remark on the budget and make an edit shortly!

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 

      5 years ago from Mexico

      I am very interested in having a Greece vacation. My ideal trip would be to rent a little boat and sail through the islands!!!

      You didn't mention anything about the budget though. How expensive is Greece? Is this economic-crisis time a good time to visit or not? Is it as expensive as other countries in Europe?

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 

      5 years ago from New England

      Great article. I'm heading to Greece in a couple months so this was helpful.

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