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Greece - Peloponnese & Saronic Gulf Planning Tips and Fast Facts

Sail in the Wake of Ancient Gods in this Cradle of Civilization

Our Expert Opinion

Greece offers so many itinerary choices, and each island has its own enchanting rhythm… like a siren’s song beckoning you ashore and instantly stealing your heart. The allure of Greece has not paled with tourism, and you can discover it “your own way” on a private yacht charter. Ask our Charter Experts which route is best for you.

What is Destination Known For?

Ancient ruins, rich cultural heritage, bustling fishing ports, vibrant people, whitewashed villages, secluded coves, exquisite cuisine, the freshest seafood, charming mythology, dramatic landscapes, the “stuff” that romantic dreams are made of.

Location and Size

The Greek Islands are scattered in the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek sovereign land is comprised of around 6,000 islands and islets, of which only 227 islands are inhabited. The region is bordered by Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the north and by Turkey to the east. The capital city of Athens is situated on the Peloponnesus Peninsula. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes & Corfu are the most popular Greek islands. The islands together cover one-fifth of Greece's total area of 50,949 sq. miles (131,957 sq.km.).

History

Greece has an enthralling history that stretches 4000 years back and is commonly known as the birthplace of civilization. The region was originally called 'Hellas'. The early native 'Hellenes' were great explorers who organized enormous expeditions from the Mediterranean and Black Sea, to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caucasus Mountains. Their quest for new trade prospects led to many settlements across the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and the North African coast.

By the 5th century BC, Hellas , which was composed of city-states like Athens, Sparta and Thebes, represented a civilization that went on to become among the finest and most advanced ever. While the region produced luminaries in art, culture, literature, science and mathematics, the Hellenes was also home to some of the fiercest warriors of history who defeated the mighty Persians and reigned with undisputed military supremacy. Alexander the Great brought almost the entire of the known world under Hellas rule by the second half of the 4th century BC. The dominion ended only in 146 BC with the Roman invasion. The name 'Greece' was coined by the Romans. Emperor Constantine founded the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, with Constantinople as its capital in 330 AD. It was then that Christianity was introduced into Greece.

After a long period of ownership, the Byzantine Empire eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, who ruled it for the next 400 years.

The modern, independent Greek mainland was born in 1828, after the Turks finally yielded to revolts by the local population. Inclusion of the Ionian islands to the Greek territory began in 1864, with the last of the islands being merged with Greece only after World War II.

Getting There

By Air: The Athens International Airport (ATH) is the international gateway to the region. Directs flights are available from the US and the UK. Several one-stop flights are also available from Australia and New Zealand.

By Sea: The Greek islands are also accessible by a number of ferry services.

Best Time to Go

The Greek islands are known for their pleasant Mediterranean climate. The best time to visit Greece is between May and October. July and August are the peak tourist months. June and September are the shoulder season months and an ideal time to spend along the coast.

Local Customs to Observe

Hospitality reigns supreme is Greece, and you’ll find that the Greek people are among the most welcoming and generous people in the world. When they offer a kindness or to “treat” you as their guest, it is important to accept graciously and not protest or insist on paying.

Helpful Fast Facts

Currency: Euro.

Time Zone: Eastern European Time Zone (UTC+02:00).

Local language: Modern Greek is the official language of the region, but English is also widely spoken.

Population: 10,927,024 as of April 12, 2016

Airport: Athens International Airport (ATH).

Entry Requirements: All nationals are required to produce a passport with 3 months

validity beyond the duration of stay. Nationals of Australia, UK, Canada, the USA and other EU countries don’t need a visa for tourist and business visits up to 90 days.

Departure tax: €12.00 per person.

Legal Drinking Age: None. A person must be 18 years old in order to purchase alcoholic liquors.

Smoking Regulations: Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed spaces and public transports. Separate smoking sections are provided in major casinos, night clubs and bars.

Staying in touch: Network coverage is good on the mainland as well as on the islands. Various telecom service providers offer international roaming facilities in this region. Internet connectivity is also fairly good, but falters in the remote locations.

Medical Information: The Central Clinic of Santorini, located in Fira, is an advanced, well-equipped facility that provides quality health care services. Several private and government run hospitals exist in Athens.

Public Holidays: (Jan – 1) New Year's Day; (Jan – 6) Epiphany; (March – 25) Independence Day; (April – 9) Orthodox Good Friday; (May – 1) Labor Day; Orthodox Easter Monday; Orthodox Whit Monday; (August – 15) Assumption; (October – 28) Ochi Day; (December – 25) Christmas Day & (December – 26) Boxing Day.

Tourist Office: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/greek_islands provides detailed information on Greece's cultural attractions, things to do and see, getting there and more.

Shopping Information: Pottery, rugs, jewelry, leather items, local wines and spirits, metalwork, olive oil and goods made from olive tree wood are a must-buy on the Greek islands. Other popular buys include olive oil based eco-friendly toiletries and cosmetics made from mastic resin. The Sunday morning flea market in Monastiraki and Athens’ Central Market are the popular destinations for shopping.

Top Ten "Must Do's"

  • Frolic with the spirits of the ancient gods on the island of Delos
  • Wander through the thread needle alleyways of Mykonos and enjoy the windmill views
  • Ride the cable car to the village of Fira on Santorini and enjoy a sundowner in one of the most beautiful places on earth
  • Climb to the top row the ancient Epidaurus Theatre and listen to your voice resonate like Zeus
  • Ask your captain to find a secluded cove and paddle board along the shoreline
  • Visit the haunting monastery of St. John the Divine on Patmos
  • Hunker down at a local waterfront tavern, sipping retsina and enjoying the freshest of fish
  • Toast the sunset from the walls of Palamadi Castle in Nafplion
  • Visit the blue-domed churches and colorful roofed buildings of Oia
  • And of course, you must climb to the Parthenon in Athens before you cast off on your yacht

Major Local and Regional Events

  • Rockwave Festival (January-July) – A 3-day rock music festival organized at the Terra Vibe stadium near Malakassa
  • Anastenaria Firewalking Festival (May) – celebrated with parades, feasts, dance, firewalks and other cultural activities
  • Hellenic Festival (June – September) – celebrated with classical music and dance, opera, dramas, competitions and open-air-theater shows

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