CapitalAthens AirportGreece has 16 international airports, but only those in Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes and Iraklio (Crete) take scheduled flights; the other 12, scattered across the islands, are served by a variety of UK low-cost and charter airlines. CurrencyEuro (£1=1.24 Euros) Size51,000 sq miles Population11 million Average temperatureGreece can be divided into a number of main climatic regions. Northern Macedonia and northern Epiros have a climate similar to the Balkans, with freezing winters and very hot, humid summers; while the Attica Peninsula, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, and the central and eastern Peloponnese have a more typically Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and milder winters.
The ancient sites of Athens, with the Acropolis merely the most famous; Halkidiki, three beautiful peninsulas stretching out into the Northern Aeagean, dominated by Mount Athos, with volcanoes, beaches and monasteries; Pelios peninsula, well-known to Atheneans, little visited by tourists, criss-crossed by ancient mule tracks, with ancient villages, fabulous remote beaches; the Peleponnese, Greece at its ancient (Agamemnon’s Palace at Mycenae and Temple of Apollo at Corinth) and modern (west coast beaches) best; Kos, with beautiful powder-soft beaches sandwiched between verdant interior and turquoise sea; Santorini, perhaps the most iconic island of all, with famous blue-domed churches, white-washed villages and cobalt bays; Corfu’s wonderful old town; Hydra, fantastically scenic, with tiers of stone mansions cascading down towards a perfect horseshoe harbour; Patmos, where St John wrote the Book of Revelations, now a laid-back artistic hang-out; the extraordinarily atmospheric Delphi; Greece’s fascinating second city Thessaloniki; Meteora, one of Greece’s most spectacular sites, with clifftop monasteries overlooking the sea; take a rack-and-pinion train journey through the stunning Vouraikos Gorge to Kalavryta; lobster tavernas of the Fourni islands, a wonderful archipelago with gently shelving islands and hidden coves; the national marine park of Alonnisos, superb snorkelling; turtles on Zakynthos; Ikaria’s bizarre rock formations; spring and autumn migrations, when the cliffs of Lesvos swarm with birds; semi-tropical Samos and pine-scented Thasos with super beaches; tiny, hidden islands of Inousses, Fourni and Psara.
Greece is an easy place to travel around thanks to a comprehensive public transport system. Buses are the mainstay of land transport, with a network that reaches out to the smallest villages. Trains are a good alternative, where available. To most visitors, though, travelling in Greece means island-hopping on the multitude of ferries that crisscross the Adriatic and the Aegean. If you’re in a hurry, Greece also has an extensive domestic air network. While exasperating ferry schedules make island-hopping here a challenge, the individual character of each island more than makes up for the effort.
Greece’s 16 international airports are served by a number of scheduled, charter and low-cost airlines from the UK. Olympic, British Airways and British Midland all run scheduled flights to various destinations; flight time from the UK is about four hours.
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