If you're looking for an exotic destination that seems to have it all, Greece is the word. Hailed as the cradle of western civilisation and blessed with abundant natural beauty, this European country charms visitors with once-in-a-lifetime memories that will never fade.
We bring you 12 best reasons why you should not hesitate to go on your Greek adventure!
P.S. Thinking of a trip to Greece but don't want the hassle of planning? Click the link?
1. Diverse landscapes which revitalise the soul
Our first impression of Greece was that it's a complete world on its own. We were overwhelmed by the countless magnificent sights. They instantly brought Quranic verses such as this to life: "And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance." (Surah Al-Hijr, 19).
It’s an awakening which is propagated by a divine energy. With numerous spectacular beaches, idyllic islands, enchanting mountains, majestic castles and monasteries in one single destination, no one can blame you for feeling like you had visited several different countries at the end of your big fat Greek vacation.
Credit: Paul Stephenson on Flickr
2. Walking on sunshine
Due to its diverse topography, Greece has many different climates. Much of the country is blessed with the gorgeous Mediterranean climate which results in about 300 days of sunshine a year. You can call it a Vitamin D paradise.
Greece’s summers are warm and dry, while its winters are relatively mild and rainy. Regardless of the weather, you won’t be short of things to see and do in Greece – guaranteed!
3. Unlimited pristine beaches
With countless beaches stretching over the world’s eleventh longest coastline, you won’t be hard pressed to find one or many which will cater to your whims and fancies. Make that a selection of award winning beaches with crystal clear turquoise, emerald or a dazzling combination of blue and green waters.
Credit: Orientalizing on Flickr
The sand is golden, white or pink and the environment untouched. Some even boast a stunning backdrop of the Venetian castle. Many of the beaches offer great privacy as they are located in secluded spots of the islands. The best times to enjoy the heavenly beaches are between May and October.
Credit: Nicholas Turland on Flickr
4. Of idyllic islands and mosques
Brace yourself for the picturesque Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes and more. The renowned sugar-cubed houses on the cliff exude an unmistakable romantic vibe.
Credit: david_maman on Instagram
The medieval part of Rhodes is home to 14 mosques including the town’s major landmark, the Suleiman Mosque. It was built in 1522 and named after the Turkish Sultan who conquered Rhodes. There is also the Hafiz Ahmed Agha Library, which was founded in 1793. It stores thousands of rare manuscripts from the entire scope of Islamic science. In the new town of Rhodes, you will find a Turkish cemetery from the Ottoman era near the Murat Reis Mosque.
If crowd doesn’t faze you, consider a day trip on board the cruise to Poros, Hydra and Aegina. The sunset on these islands is phenomenal. Grab yourself some handmade souvenirs or try the freshly baked Greek pastries from the local bakery. Back on the cruise, keep your eyes peeled and camera handy. You may be in for a treat when the dolphins decide to emerge and play on the open sea.
[ P.S. Here's 9 gorgeous Greek islands for your dream seaside getaway! ]
5. Islamic heritage
Greece has a rich Islamic heritage which dates back to the 14th
century when it came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The early Muslims stayed for over 500 years. Majority of the churches around the country became mosques under the Ottoman rule. In fact, the pagan temple Parthenon in Athens was once a mosque.
Today, Muslims make up about 1.2% of the Greek population, with the majority being of Turkish descent. They reside mainly in Thrace where Greek-Islamic architecture is still clearly visible. Not to be missed is The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art in Athens, which displays hundreds of artefacts from the Islamic world.Credit: Chris on Flickr
6. Fruits of the Quran
Greece is the world's third largest producer of olive oil after Spain and Italy. Therefore, when it comes to Greek souvenirs, there’s nothing more authentic than locally produced olive oil, soap, shampoo and body lotion to bring home. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said about olives in his hadith, “Eat the oil and use it on your hair and skin, for it comes from a blessed tree.” (Tirmidhi). Don’t miss the fun of sampling the huge variety of pickled olives at the markets until you find those that you like to buy.
Credit: Rob Wallace on Flickr
Like olives, grapes and pomegranates are also widely grown in Greece. Rich associations run like a common theme through the cultures of antiquity. These fruits are among those that are deeply rooted in ancient Greek mythology, as they are in the Quran. “And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied.” (Surah Al-An'am, 99)
Credit: Lucas on Flickr
7. Delectable Mediterranean cuisine
One can’t talk about Greece without extolling the virtues of its Mediterranean cuisine. The Mediterranean diet has been proven by research to reduce numerous health risks including heart diseases. Enjoy authentic Greek food by the Mediterranean Sea. Who knows, it might be the start of a life changing moment for you.
Many of the country’s cuisine reflect the influence of Turkish rule, particularly in the popular dishes such as Souvlaki (skewered meat), Doner Kebab (spit-roasted meat) and Baklava (honey-based dessert). There are several halal eateries in Athens, such as Raja Jee Fast Food in Omonia. In locations where halal-certified options were not available, we ordered from the restaurant’s vegetarian or seafood selection.
Credit: Alpha on Flickr
We can’t get enough of Vegetarian Moussaka (Baked Eggplant with Cheese), Yemista (Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers with Rice), Neapolitan Pasta, and the wide array of Greek salad. Lip smacking is an understatement.
8. Great, fresh seafood galore!
Imagine sinking your teeth into top quality seafood which has been freshly caught off the glistening Mediterranean coast, topped with aromatic herbs and spices, and drenched with the famous Greek olive oil. Hello and welcome to seafood heaven!
Ask the locals for recommendations of traditional Greek seafood dishes. Where alcohol is used as an ingredient, you can request for it to be omitted from your order. Then, sit back and indulge to your heart’s content.
Credit: B L on Flickr
9. Culture, politics and a glorious past
As the birthplace of democracy, art, science, sports and philosophy, Greece offers a fascinating journey into history. Every summer, the Hellenic Festival in Athens has concerts and theatre performances which re-enact scenes of the country’s glorious past. You will find centuries-old ruins scattered throughout the country, as they coexist with current constructions and modern works of art.
Credit: Chuyan94 Flickr
Visit the museums for a glimpse of Greek mythology and the rich collection of historical artefacts. Don’t panic if you get caught in the middle of a political protest like we were in Athens. Public demonstrations have been woven into European democracies. They are a normal and usually peaceful occurrence.
Credit: Chuyan94 on Flickr
Every Sunday at 11am, don’t miss the ceremonial changing of the guard in front of the Hellenic Parliament building on Syntagma Square. The Presidential Guards are smartly attired in the elaborate 19th
century costume from southern Greece.
10. UNESCO sites and architecture
Put on your walking shoes and explore the numerous ancient archaeological sites around the country. Among those which are registered in the UNESCO List of World Heritage are the Acropolis in Athens, the Hellenic Sanctuary of Delphi and the Archaeological Site of Olympia.
A lot of the buildings in the new Islamic Empire worldwide were designed by Greek architects. In addition, nearly all modern theatre designs can be traced back to the theatrical traditions first established by the Greeks. The Epidaurus was built in the 4th
century B.C. Stand in the centre of the amphitheatre and yell out your name. You will immediately discover the untouched superior sonic quality of this theatre and why Greek architectural expertise is revered around the world.
Credit: Ronny Siegel on Flickr
11. Greek holidays have become affordable
While the Greek economic crisis is causing chaos for the citizens, the beauty of Greece has not been affected by it. The silver lining for tourists is that a Greek holiday can now be had for less.
Hotel prices are down, quality of hospitality is up. Treat yourself to a hotel room with a view!
There are also great deals for airfare, dining and shopping. By visiting Greece during such austere times, you get the added satisfaction of helping an economy in need which really appreciates your presence.
[ P.S. These 10 reasons will make you want to take the next flight out to Athens! ]
12. The Greek way of life
Greek people are famously gregarious, friendly and hospitable. When you appear lost while navigating your way around the country, there is a good chance that a kind-hearted Greek will lend you a helping hand. Perhaps, the Mediterranean sun is shining brighter than others but we found the Greeks to be incredibly optimistic. Simple things such as baking bread, chatting with friends over coffee and walking by the ocean bring them immense pleasure.
Credit: Minolta102 on Flickr
If there is one thing that the Greeks can inspire us with, it is their ability to take things easy and connect with their inner self – the perfect pathway to self-contentment.
There are very few countries which could impress with their enchanting mix of ancient history and bustling modern life. So, dust off your passport and pack up your luggage. The splendours of Greece are yours to explore!