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Traveling through Greece

Visiting Greece is an exciting experience that brings you to a culture rich in history.

Its mountainous geography and multitude of islands create a diverse country. With the Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west, Greece is a complex destination which includes 6,000 islands. Only 227 are inhabited.
The geography, scenery, the warmth of the people, the history, and the cuisine are among the highlights of a trip to Greece, so slow down long enough to immerse yourself in all four.
That’s what we did on our first trip to Greece. By spending a few days in just a few places, we came back enlightened about Greek history, culture, and cuisine.


We began our trip on the island of  Chios, just five miles off the western coast of Turkey. Flying from New York to Athens, we took a domestic flight to Chios where fig and olive trees cover the hillsides. Rocky cliffs are dotted with pines, and tiny villages abound. Mastic trees produce a resin of the same name.
The island, approximately 30 miles from north to south and 8 to 15 miles east to west, was ruled by the Genovese (Genoa, Italy) from 1346 to 1556, and then occupied by the Turks until 1912. It retains an interesting blend of three cultures: Italian, Greek and Turkish.  The fifth largest of all Greek Islands, Chios (pronounced HI-os by the Greeks), with its narrow, winding roads, feels far removed from the hustle bustle of Athens.


With a population of approximately 3.1 million, Athens is one of the oldest and most densely populated cities in the world. As the capital and largest city in Greece, it’s an essential stop on any Greek itinerary. Unless you just want to cruise some of the Greek Isles, don’t miss Athens and plan to stay at last three nights.
We situated ourselves at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Marriott property, centrally located in Syntagma. If you’re a strong walker or, at least, enjoy walking, it’s an ideal location for visiting nearby places of interest on foot. For example, the Museum of Cycladic Art, 4 Neofytou Douka Street, is an 11-minute walk via Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. The museum is in Syntagma, near the border of Kolonaki, one of Athens’ most upscale neighborhoods.


You don’t want to miss Plaka, Athens’ oldest and continuously lived in neighborhoods. Though some call it touristy, if you’ve never been to Athens, you’ll want to spend some time just walking  Adrianou Street, approximately a mile from Syntagma. A relatively new addition to Athens is the Maria Callas Museum, 44 Mitropoleos Street, which opened in September 2023. A tribute to the internationally renowned 20th Century Greek opera soprano, the museum depicts her life and career through texts, objects, videos, and audio recordings.


Often described as one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands, Santorini is part of the Cyclades, a group of literally hundreds of islands in the southern Aegean Sea. They were home to a civilization dating to 3,000 B.C. Twenty-four of the islands are inhabited including Mykonos, Paros, Santorini (also called Thera), Ios, Serifos, Sifnos, and Naxos. Though each is unique, they tend to be rocky, barren and austere, with the most intense light in Greece.


The southernmost of the Cycladic islands, Santorini, is actually a group of smaller islands: Thira, Thirassia, Aspronissi, Palea and Nea Kameni, and the site of an active volcano. When the Santorini volcano erupted in 1,500 B.C., it is believed to have destroyed the Minoan civilization.
Besides the intense light on the island, the blue and white architecture, the archaeological site, Akrotiri, stands out.
A  visit to  Akrotiri is worthwhile. You’ll see the remains of what is believed to be a Minoan civilization. Some of the original wall paintings have been removed from the site, and are on exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, including the famous Boxing Children and the Antelopes. Ferries can take you to other islands in the Cyclades.


One of the Sporades, a group of islands scattered off the Mount Pelion peninsula along the eastern coast of mainland Greece, Skiathos is gentler and greener than any of the Cyclades. An island with gentle hills covered with olive trees, Skiathos (pronounced Ski-A-thos), is less remote than either Chios or Santorini. Skiathos has many beaches and night life for those who crave it. Visit the former house, now a small museum, of the Greek novelist and poet Alexandros Papadiamantis, who was born and raised on the island.


ASK Your Clients
Since your clients can only experience so much on their first trip, help them decide what they wish to see and how much time they have.
Do they want to experience an overview of several places or concentrate on Athens or just two or three islands? Will they spend a week or 14 days or more? How do they prefer to travel between destinations? By plane, ferry, or by cruise ship? Or, some combination?


What’s the best way to travel between Athens and, for example, Chios? Between Athens and Skiathos? From Athens to Santorini? “There is not one way for all islands,” says Loukia Leonidou, head of leisure travel department, EZGreece DMC. “Each one has different issues, and all is dependent on time and budget. For all three islands (Santorini, Chios, and Skiathos) domestic flight is the fastest and best way.”

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