Emma is an avid traveller from Down Under, and lucky for us, a tour leader for Expat Explore. She has conquered most of Europe over the last couple of years and is especially fond of Greece. The thing she likes most about travelling is being able to try new things and experience new cultures – “travel forces you to get out of your comfort zone whether you like it or not!”
Emma’s love for Greece has made her an expert on the topic of this idyllic destination so we’ve asked for her top tips for anyone travelling to Greece.
Greece is like no other country I have visited, a perfect combination of cities and countryside, traditions and history, culture and food. There is something for all types of travellers. I have been lucky enough to spend the past few years exploring many parts of the beautiful Mediterranean country. I like to think of Greece as one of my many homes around the world and I have a big fat Greek obsession. The scenery, food, history and people make this an unmissable country to visit on a solo trip, family holiday or honeymoon breakaway. Below are three of my top tips to ensure you get the most out of your trip to Greece and hopefully end up loving it as much as I do!
Greece has a history spanning thousands of years and this is best represented in its capital Athens. Everywhere you look there is a breathtaking archaeological ruin, temple or museum. There are many must-see sights – a favourite being the Parthenon, which commands the hill of the Acropolis and provides an incredible view over the entire city. For the sports lovers, the Panathenaic Stadium is worth a visit as it hosted the first modern Olympic games and is the only stadium made completely out of marble. Or if you prefer to take in the sights from above, Athens boasts countless rooftop bars and restaurants with views spanning across the city.
If cities don’t appeal to you and you prefer to relax amongst the mountains, you can visit the “middle of the sky”, otherwise known as Meteora. This stunning collection of monasteries is one of the largest and most important collections within the Eastern Orthodox religion. Out of the thirty monasteries found throughout the centuries, there are six monasteries still active and open to visitors.
Food in Greece is unforgettable, even once you have returned home, the sight, smell and taste of the food will live in your memory long after. From bakery treats to fresh seafood and delectable desserts, there is something for every palate. Some of my favourites include:
Saganaki Cheese: It’s basically fried cheese…need I say more? Served as an appetizer with a squeeze of lemon, this is a great addition to the table to share with friends.
Moussaka: This is the Greeks’ answer to lasagne. This dish is layers of eggplant and potatoes with ground beef, topped with a cheese or white sauce and finished off in the oven.
Lamb kleftiko: In Greece, each region has its own way of preparing this traditional meal but they are all served with passion. Lamb is usually served on the bone baked in the oven over a long period of time with lemon, tomatoes and potatoes. I remember the first time I tried the dish at Fanari Restaurant in Fira on the island of Santorini overlooking the caldera as the sunset and the first bite felt like it came out of ya-ya’s (Grandma’s) kitchen. This dish is like a warm hug on a plate – comfortable, traditional and homely.
Gyros: Nowhere else in the world has gyros like Greece. Often known as souvlaki in other parts of the world (souvlaki in Greece is the meat served on skewers). Gyros is the meat from the spit, usually chicken or pork, wrapped in pita with tzatziki, tomatoes, onion and fries! A perfect on the go snack and very affordable usually between €2 and €3.
Island hopping is a must for any visit to Greece! There are over 6,000 islands to choose from, many within reach from Athens by plane or ferry.
Santorini: One of most the romantic and picturesque islands of them all! Whether you are enjoying a glass of locally-produced wine at one of the many wineries that cover the island, watching the sunset amongst the blue domes of Oia or relaxing on the black sand beaches. Santorini is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Mykonos: Mykonos is known for its nightlife! Not only can you party at the beach until the wee hours of the morning, but you can also enjoy a relaxed cocktail overlooking the water in ‘little Venice’. There is so much more to this famous island and loads to do during the daylight hours. You could get lost in the whitewash streets lined with boutique shops, enjoy delicious seafood at one of the many tavernas on the waterfront, or take a boat trip around the island to enjoy some of the infamous beaches of Mykonos.
Saronic Islands: If you have some extra time in Athens and are looking for a quick island getaway – go no further than the Saronic islands. From the traditional streets of Hydra to the crystal blue waters of Aegina, these islands are only 45 min -1.5 hours from Athens and easily accessible for a day trip or quick overnight trip. More traditional in aesthetics and less frequented by tourists, they give you a greater insight into traditional life on the Greek islands.
Join an Expat Explore tour to Greece and see first-hand why Emma keeps coming back!