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Greece: The Summer Capital of The World

Santorini Atlantis
The idyllic Greek island of Santorini. Credit: Dimitra Damianidi/Greek Reporter

A favorite tourist destination, Greece has become known as the summer capital of the world, and not without good reason.

Its unique mix of natural beauty and cultural amenities have established the eastern Mediterranean country as a first-class destination for any traveler wishing to experience a feel-good and carefree vacation in a land of true hospitality.

So what makes Greece irresistible for the international traveler?

1.Perfect Summer Weather

islands
Sarakiniko Beach on Milos Island. Crédit: dronepicrCC BY 2.0

Greece is among the top three European destinations with the most days of sunshine per year and hours of sunshine per day and has been found to be the warmest European country even during winter.

That makes it a perfect sunny holiday destination for most of the months of the year.

As you probably already know, sunlight is not only essential for the creation of vitamin D in our bodies, but it is also a known natural mood enhancer.

Sunshine lifts people’s mood and even provides for an increase in energy levels since it increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, thereby guaranteeing happier times (so long as you don’t forget your sunscreen, that is!).

2. Summer in Greece is surrounded by the sea, kissed by the sun

Mykonos Greece Summer Vacation
Mykonos Port. Crédit: Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece has been a popular destination for beach vacations since the 1950s, when some of the country’s best-known modern-day vacation hotspots started to gain international acclaim—most notably the picturesque islands of Mykonos and Santorini in the Cyclades, as well as the vast and varied island of Crete.

With 2,500 islands of which approximately 227 are inhabited, Greece is the country with the largest coastline in the Mediterranean Basin, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Island of Naxos
Aerial view of the crystal-clear, blue waters on a sunny summer day at Vigla Beach on the island of Naxos. Photo: En Agris LLC. CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikipedia Commons

With 13,676 kilometers (8,498 miles) of coastline, you can simply never run out of options for a dive or a place to lay out your sunbathing towel.

The Blue Flag eco-labels program can make choosing your swimming site a bit easier—though only a tiny bit, as there are over 500 Blue Flag-designated beaches across Greece. These should probably do for the average tourist’s beach vacations for an entire lifetime.

3. Unmatched cultural opportunities

Culture for Summer Vacations
The majestic Odeon of Herodes Atticus, adjacent to the Acropolis of Athens, sets a captivating scene for summer night performances. Credit: Berthold Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons.

As the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, theater, and the Olympic Games, Greece has made unsurpassed contributions to world culture, a fact that is quite obvious even on your first visit to the country.

From the Acropolis of Athens to the Pythagoreion in Samos, Greece boasts eighteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is amongst the most in the world for any country. Another fourteen landmarks of unique cultural or natural value across the country are currently placed on UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage list.

In addition to this invaluable heritage, Greece remains a place where the the arts are truly valued and appreciated. Its people continue to actively enjoy the arts, encouraging every form of cultural dialogue, making it a place of intrinsic interest for travelers.

Throughout the summer months, this tradition escapes enclosed spaces and heads to the outdoors. A kaleidoscope of performing arts festivals are available to all audiences, the most prestigious of which is the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

The selection of shows features high-profile performances by either Greek or international artists, often instilled with cutting-edge and controversial creative approaches.

Visitors can also experience colorful folk festivals with traditional dancing all across the country, especially on the islands and inland villages, throughout the months of July and August.

For the avid learner, most Greek museums also offer interactive walks, talks, and educational activities, serving a vast array of interests ranging from archaeology and natural history to the modern arts and sciences.

The Acropolis Museum has won numerous international awards since its launch in 2010 while new, completely original museums keep emerging across the country.

4. A variety of natural and architectural landscapes

Mystras Greece Summer destination
View of the Mystras Castle from the top of the Castle. Crédit: George E. Koronaios – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Thanks to its unique geography, Greece is a remarkably versatile country with an impressively wide range of landscapes both natural and man-made.

Although best-known for its beautiful beaches with turquoise blue and emerald green waters, Greece is actually one of the most mountainous countries in Europe.

In areas such as Pelion in Thessaly, Monemvasia in the Peloponnese, and even Crete, sandy seashores seem to merge with mountains and one can even go from one to the other by going on a short thirty minute drive.

Likewise, urban landscapes vary greatly in Greece because various regions have been influenced by contrasting cultures over different time periods during Greece’s turbulent history; Venetian and Ottoman monuments and architecture are present in several historic cities on the islands and inland alongside Byzantine churches and ancient Greek temples.

5. Summer in Greece is doable for all budgets

Oia Greece Summer Capital of the World
Sunset in Oia, Santorini. Crédit: karol m – originally posted to Flickr as Oia sunset, CC BY 2.0

As a tourist destination, Greece is a place that accommodates literally every budget.

There are low-cost or free camping sites and traditional pension-style or agro-touristic accommodations for the low-budget traveler. Those looking for finer accommodations, on the other hand, may turn to luxurious villas, architecturally sophisticated boutique hotels, or spa resorts. There is something for everyone’s budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic in Greece.

6. Top quality food and drink

greek food
Octopus and horta. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece is famous for its cuisine and delicious local dishes based on top quality ingredients, such as fresh vegetables and the seafood catch of the day, always enhanced with extra virgin olive oil for added flavor.

Eating and drinking well are non-negotiable aspects of one’s Greece itinerary, as the food is simply unbeatable and goes beyond expectations with its rich, natural flavors and textures.

Aside from strong regional characteristics, the use of sophisticated blends of Eastern herbs and spices in certain traditional dishes allows the Greek cuisine to stand out from other European Mediterranean cuisines.

Make sure to try the local cheese products, “spoon sweets,” and meat or fish stews, usually typical of particular areas.

This also goes for the many Greek wines, such as Robola in Kefalonia, and other spirits such as Ouzo and Tsipouro, or the less well-known mastic and fruit liquors.

Share your tasting selection either with family, a loud group of friends, or your better half and you shall surely feel like you are in seventh heaven—whether at an old-fashioned tavern or a high-end restaurant.

Folegandros for vacation in greece
Restaurant in Folegrandros, perfect for summer in Greece. Credit: rene boulay, CC BY-SA 3.0

7. Greece’s summer leisure mentality

The Greek countryside and isolated islands—primarily Ikaria in the Cyclades—are known for their high rates of longevity of residents attributed to the combination of a balanced diet and carefree lifestyle.

The latter is easily adopted by summer visitors, either domestic or international, and is amongst the most invigorating elements of a Greek vacation.

Regardless of whether one spends their vacation by the sea or in the countryside on the mainland, the Greek summer is forever linked to peace of mind, open-heartedness, limitless leisure, and party time as you take life at a slow pace and free your mind of worries.

8.  Greek Philoxenia makes your summer unique

Last but not least, there is one cultural characteristic that makes a vacation in Greece truly unforgettable and distinguishable from other vacations abroad.

Greek philoxenia, meaning ‘a friend to a stranger,’ and the eagerness to exhibit hospitality to tourists, is a moral concept rooted in antiquity.

Over the centuries, it has become a standard practice that has been incorporated into the manners and customs of just about most of today’s Greeks.

Visitors can experience Greek philoxenia as it extends beyond a warm welcome into a genuine expression of generosity, courtesy, and heartfelt hospitality in this stunningly beautiful country.

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