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Ready to start your backpacking adventure in Greece? Whether you are travelling as a couple, with a group or on your own, here are 10 useful tips to help you find your way and make the most of your backpacking holiday in Greece.
We suspect if you are embarking on a backpacking trip in Greece, you are not into all-inclusive deals. And rightfully so, since there are plenty of affordable accommodation options in the country. If you are in your early 20s, you may enjoy a stay at a youth hostel. It is definitely a cheap and easy solution to sleep and even socialize. For the rest of you, Airbnb (and Couchsurfing, why not?) is an ideal option, especially if you are travelling in a pack.
If you are planning on exploring distant areas, such as remote islands or regions of the mainland, check if there is a flight to take you there on the cheap. Ryanair and Olympic Airlines have connections from Athens and Thessaloniki to several islands and it could be convenient to take a flight to Thessaloniki if you plan to discover Halkidiki for example.
The big cities offer a plethora of tours and visits to monuments and centuries-old vestiges. So take advantage of the many opportunities. There are plenty of travel agencies and tour companies offering completely free tours around Athens such as Urban Free Tours or Athens Free Walking Tours for example, organize tours around the city and work on contributions. Be sure to check them out.
With its plethora of beaches, century-old temples and ancient cities and long summer, Greece is quite a touristy destination. To score more affordable deals and avoid the crowds, you can always decide to travel during the low season, roughly late April-May (and sometimes June, depending on the destination) and September-October. If you can, avoid July and August, which are the hottest months, especially in Athens.
Don’t assume Greece is all about the islands. There are wonderful destinations across the mainland as well. Myth-loaded Peloponnese, with Sparti, Kalamata, Olympia and Epidavros are definitely worth a visit. Central Greece, with its mountain ranges, the beautiful Delphi and the spectacular Meteora will give you a run for your money. Tranquil Epirus, with its mountain villages with stone houses, idyllic rivers and valleys and breathtaking nature are waiting for you, while northern Greece, with wine roads, ski resorts, ancient cities and marvelous beach resorts will fill your eyes and heart with unforgettable memories. Add to that the green paradise of Evia and the Pelio, and you get plenty of interesting destinations to explore.
Backpacking also means discovering different places so the good thing is that you can diversify your trip and not settle for one destination. Therefore, try to combine a part of the mainland with some islands. The many clusters of Greek islands, including the Ionian islands, the Cyclades, the Sporades and so on, are easily connected with one another and the mainland, making it the perfect destination for backpackers. Make sure to always check for flights to save some time so you can explore more. Your Greek adventure awaits.
If you are travelling as a group, car hire may be right for you. And don’t roll your eyes, it might actually be cheaper than you think. While public transport is also cheap, in many islands and isolated areas, it is not a reliable option especially during the summer months when the schedule runs slow. Plus, with your own means of transportation, you can definitely explore areas not covered by public transport. Travelling solo? No problem, you can still rent a scooter or a quad.
Of course, Greeks don’t expect foreigners to know any of the language and you will easily be able to communicate with people in English (of course, don’t expect the lovely giagia – grandmother – from the small village taverna to confirm her cuisine is gluten-free). But Greeks love it when you do show off your basic language skills. Even if it is just to greet them or to order a coffee, you will be rewarded with a smile.
The stunning beauty of Greece is an excellent excuse for free camping. But if this is your first time or if you don’t feel comfortable, you can always look for organized camping sites in your choice destination. Generally inexpensive, camping sites in Greece are in great condition and you can always meet fellow campers for a friendly chat.
Just like the weather, Greeks are warm people, who love to socialize. It may be that someone offers you a carafe of wine or ouzo in an isolated taverna, or a friendly woman at the bakery asks you where you are from. This is just how Greeks are, don’t be shy. Talk and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for directions to the best beach, for example. This is how you learn about the culture. You may even be rewarded with a local delicacy or a ride to your destination.