Let’s be honest, Greece never really lost its hold as one of Europe’s most popular summer getaways. But with the economic instability across the country over the last few years, it may have been overlooked in favor of its Mediterranean neighbors. The tide is starting to change though with Summer bookings looking to reach record heights. The Greek Tourism Board is doing all it can to ensure that visitors will not be disappointed. But with the guarantee of great food, culture and weather – there are a few things they don’t have to worry about.
1. The convenience
The Greek islands have always been a popular choice for international travellers and locals alike. But until now the islands have proved difficult to access with most flight routes requiring a stopover in Athens. That is until now. UK carrier British Airways will launch 2 weekly direct flights from London Heathrow Airport to the popular Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini from May 2014. For transatlantic travellers who may already have multiple legs to their trip, the new direct flights from London will be a welcome option.
2. The undiscovered islands
It is hard to imagine that a popular destination like Greece, which saw 18 million visitors last year, would still offer untouched, unspoilt places to discover. But with an estimated 1,400 islands and no more than 200 of these inhabited, this Southern European gem has enough off-the-beaten-track spots to excite even the most well travelled traveller. You may not find a direct flight to get there, but what’s an extra boat ride if you’re final destination looks like this.
3. The food
The Mediterranean is known for its delectable cuisine, and Greece is no exception. Traditional dishes have stood the test of time offering the perfect balance of healthy, fresh and flavorful. For the island-bound, you cannot go wrong with a wonderful local portside taverna. Let the locals direct you to the one that will serve up the freshest fish and the most authentic tastes – the locals are likely to be enjoying their ouzo by your side. But if you’re looking for a contemporary take on the classics, be sure to book a table at the Michelin-starred hotspot Funky Gourmet. This modern-minimalist restaurant in downtown Athens gives fine-dining a quirky twist.
4. The culture
As of 1st April, it will be even easier to enjoy a bit of culture across the country. 33 of the most popular Greek museums and archaeological sites will extend their operating hours, many remaining open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, right through to 31st October 2014. And if there is one museum that cannot go amiss, it is the Acropolis Museum. Housing the archaeological findings of the historic citadel, the museum is a contemporary nod to the ancient masterpiece that perches above.
5. The weather
300 days of sunshine with rain only in February and March – need we say more? There are few places in the world that can guarantee you that kind of summer-sun consistency. July and August are hot and dry across the country and rarely see temperatures drop below 20°C even at night. And if the Mediterranean waters are not refreshing enough, the islands enjoy the benefit of the cooling “meltemi” winds.
John-Christian Moquette is a Partner at IAVRA.
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