A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Greece

Explore pretty cities and magnificent coastlines on a solo trip to Greece
Explore pretty cities and magnificent coastlines on a solo trip to Greece | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
Anna Kambourakis

Welcome to the birthplace of democracy and philosophy, home to classical architecture, where mythical heroes were born and the Mediterranean diet was conceived – Greece has it all. With 15,000km (9,321mi) of coastline, some of the best beaches in the world are – unsurprisingly – on Greek shores. What are you waiting for?

What’s the vibe for solo travellers?

Greece has something for every traveller: foodies, history buffs, sailors, hikers and sunbathers. And, of course, people travelling alone. Each region has its own vibe, traditions and cuisine. It’s said that you visit Santorini to fall in love, Mykonos to party and Crete to eat. Smaller islands don’t need more than two nights but larger islands take a couple of weeks to explore. The countryside and tiny rural villages are the soul of the nation: take a day trip away from the beach and you’ll be captivated by the beauty and simplicity of village life.

You’ll fall in love with the beauty of swoony Santorini

A Greece trip overview for solo travellers

Greece feels like 10 countries in one. It’s famous for the islands, but don’t discount the amazing countryside, mountains and cosmopolitan cities. It’s the third-most mountainous country in Europe, and dozens of mountain villages are primed for snowy winter escapes, too.

What to do in Greece

If you visit Nafplio, don’t miss seeing the island fort of Bourtzi Castle

Absorb ancient history

If you only have a week, spend at least a day in the capital to see the most important sites: the Parthenon, the new Acropolis Museum and the ancient Agora of Athens. A short drive away is Nafplio, the first capital city of Greece, now a seaside town of cute shops, cafes and restaurants. Also on the mainland and north of Athens is Meteora. Monks built monasteries on top of these natural rock formations – it’s astounding to behold.

Culture Trip’s eight-day Athens to Santorini: a Greek Island-Hopping Odyssey in the Cyclades includes a walking tour of the Acropolis and a neighbourhood discovery.

Go skiing

That’s right – in winter head to Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. The food scene is amazing: small shops filled with honey-soaked pastries are on every corner. Several ski resorts are near the city – you can even ski Mount Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods. Also close by are the hot springs and thermal baths in Edessa.

See Santorini, the ultimate Greek island

White buildings, blue-domed churches… Santorini really is as beautiful as the pictures. But you only need a day or two. Take your photos then head to one of the quieter Cycladic islands – say, Naxos. If you want to eat the freshest food, sunbathe on pink-sand beaches, hike the largest gorge in Europe and drink some of the best wines all in one place, visit Crete, the largest Greek island. It has enough to keep you blissfully occupied for weeks.

Where to stay in Greece

There are high-end luxury resorts, renovated village houses, boutique hotels, beachside rooms and hip hostels. Try to book a night or two at a mom-and-pop place to fully grasp Greek hospitality. Airbnb owners leave homemade jams and fruit from their gardens, while proudly gifting olive oil from their groves. For accommodation inspiration, visit Culture Trip and discover our many guides, including the most beautiful hotels in Greece, love shacks for romantic getaways, popular places to stay in Athens, luxury pads in Crete and boutique bases in Mykonos.

Eating and drinking in Greece

Dine right next to the water in Little Venice on Mykonos

Greek food is irresistible. And everything is laced with heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil – so you must have a Greek salad at every meal. Classic gyro and souvlaki street food is the perfect cheap lunch choice on your way to the beach. Opting for Greek meze, or small plates, is a great way to try a lot of different foods.

Greeks dine late. If you venture out before 8pm, you’ll find empty restaurants, or places filled with tourists. A typical Greek dinner starts after 9pm.

Greeks might grab a koulouri Thessalonikis (sesame-seed-speckled bread ring) or bougatsa (custardy pastry) – but they don’t really do breakfast. Greek yoghurt, however, is a must, especially topped with thyme honey – and morning coffee is an event, to be drunk slowly while people-watching.

New wineries are popping up everywhere. Fancy white? Check out assyrtiko from Santorini, vidiano from Crete and moschofilero from the Peloponnese peninsula. Rather red? Try a xinomavro from Naoussa, agiorgitiko from Nemea or a limniona from Thessaly.

We’ve got masses of culinary information and inspiration – read more in our Greece food and drink guide.

Getting around in Greece as a solo traveller

Ferries are a common way to get around the Greek islands

Most areas are well served by public transport; Athens has a great metro system. Parking in cities can be a nightmare so try to rely on taxis, buses and subways – for remote areas and secret beaches, you’ll require a car. Island-hopping is easy with a well-connected ferry system. Stick to one group of islands to maximise your time. You can hop from Santorini to Mykonos to Paros to Naxos in the Cyclades, or Ikaria, Leros and Lipsi in the Dodecanese.

Cultural need-to-knows

The Greeks have hospitality, or as they say, philoxenia, in their bones. Tourism is one of the largest industries in Greece, something they do well and with pride. Nearly everyone speaks English – and usually two or three more languages – and is happy to help a traveller on a solo trip to Greece. If you fancy learning a smattering of Greek, the key words are: kalimera – good morning; kalispera – good evening; yamas – cheers; yiasas – hello; adio – goodbye; efharisto – thank you; parakalo – you’re welcome; and ena kafe parakalo – one coffee please.

​​Looking for some like-minded company on your Greece adventure? Join a small group of culturally curious travellers and a Local Insider on Culture Trip’s eight-day Athens to Santorini: a Greek Island-Hopping Odyssey in the Cyclades, which includes a walking tour of the Acropolis, a Greek cooking class and discovering pristine beaches on the island of Naxos.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Ethel Dilouambaka.

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