Cheap flights to Greece

The Olympic Games were spawned in ancient Greece, along with democracy and the fundamentals of philosophy, science and mathematics. The Greek civilisation is renowned for contributing many of the cultural building blocks that western civilisation is founded on.

Modern Greece is better known as a great holiday destination, rather than a centre of learning and culture. Today the country attracts visitors by the thousands by offering simple pleasures: delicious food and wine at reasonable prices; beautiful beaches and plentiful sunshine; quaint villages; a seemingly endless lacework of coastline; and little islands full of scenic surprises.

The country exudes traditional charm, particularly on its ever-popular islands, which cling to their traditional architecture and way of life despite being often over-run with tourists. Black-clad women still deliver vegetables to island tavernas on panniered donkeys, while bronzed, weatherbeaten fishermen sit in the sun, drink thick coffee, and play dominoes or backgammon. The tourist infrastructure has intruded in many respects, but the timeless aspect of whitewashed buildings clustered on hillsides around narrow pebbled alleys has been retained. The myriad islands in the Aegean Sea are easily accessible from Piraeus, the historic harbour of Greece's mainland capital, Athens, by ferry or hydrofoil, offering a unique chance for 'island-hopping'. Many of the larger islands also have airports with connections to Athens or seasonally with major European cities.

On the mainland, the city of Athens in the south is sprawling, overcrowded and polluted but nevertheless enthrals visitors, while Thessaloniki in the north is vibrant and modern with a Byzantine flavour. Athens is dominated by its major landmark, the Parthenon, but the remains of other wonders of the ancient Greek classical world are to be found mainly on the Peloponnese Peninsula, south of Corinth, which is the gateway to a veritable treasure trove of history.

Greece and Greeks welcome with open arms the thousands of visitors that flock to admire their national assets every year - no one leaves without having been warmed, both by the sun and the hospitality.

Currency

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change are widely available and travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining euros.

Language

Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.

Attractions

For an all-in-one sightseeing, culture-rich, cosmopolitan, metropolitan and historic country destination, Greece is the word. Every facet of Greek society is an attraction in itself, from food to fashion to architecture; it's a big fat Greek tourism magnet. Most visitors head right for the capital of Athens, where ancient civilisations are preserved in the famous Parthenon and Acropolis structures and there are many great museums to be explored. The more modern part of Athens is located in and around the Syntagma Square, where the Greek parliament is housed.

From Athens, most tourists will set about a cruise to one or more of the multitude of smaller Greek isles. Mountainous Crete is the most popular, hosting sparkling beaches, spectacular green outcroppings, ancient Minoan and other historic sites as well as the jaw-dropping (and back-breaking) Samaria Gorge Trail. Other popular island destinations include: Corfu, for its mythic significance; Santorini, for its volcanic history and vibrant nightlife; and Rhodes Island which once held a Wonder of the Ancient World - the Colossus of Rhodes - and is today a World Heritage Site. While the boat gets you between islands, the most effective way to travel on the islands themselves is by scooter, bus or taxi.

For the historical sightseers and those fascinated by the ancient culture of the Greeks the Peloponnese Peninsula is one of the best regions to explore for its plentiful ancient battlefields and ruins.