Greek tourism 2014 set to sizzle

Mykonos Greece
Mykonos Greece
The island of Mykonos where you party hard or go home

Gorgeous Greece expects another bumper season for tourism in 2014, with sporadic civil unrest unlikely to affect visitor numbers. Greece has a long and colourful history of protests and strikes, but these have become progressively fewer over the past 12 months. The pictures of violent protests in international media from downtown Athens understandably make travellers nervous, but tourists are rarely caught up in such incidents. The ongoing economic crisis has abated somewhat, although the unemployment rate remains high and poverty is sadly visible, especially in cities. Many Greeks are doing it tough.

Oia, Santorini
Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, predicts as many as 18.5 million tourists will visit Greece this year, compared with 17.9 million in 2013, generating 13 billion euros in revenue. Visitors have relaxed about the economic uncertainties and are returning in greater numbers than ever before. Greek tourism 2014 is looking good so far.

Skyros Island
I’ve been in Greece the past two years. I experienced few inconveniences due to strikes or stoppages, although I acknowledge some visitors had frustrating experiences. If taxis are on strike, you can take public transport which is well organised and plentiful. The Athens Metro is a blessing to the capital’s infrastructure and gets everyone where they want to go quickly and punctually. I use it all the time. It’s also very cheap at 1.40 euros a ticket, and half that if you qualify for a discount. At the Acropolis station, it’s decorated (pictured below)  with copies of ancient treasures!

Acropolis Metro station, Taste for Travel
Acropolis Museum, Athens
If you’re off to the islands, and most visitors are, then you’ll scarcely notice anything is amiss unless transport strikes occur. These often are only 24-hour stoppages. Despite the economic malaise of the past five years, the essential ingredients of Greece’s magnificence as a Mediterranean destination remain constant.

Travel tips for Greece tourism 2014

  • Weather is settled and warm to hot June-September. The seasonal Meltemi often makes the Aegean periodically windy in July. Visiting Greece off season is very rewarding. The crowds will have gone and accommodation prices drop, and the shops have plenty of bargains
  • If demonstrations are imminent, avoid the centre of Athens. Otherwise, the Greek capital is a pleasure. The centre, showcasing the ancient and modern, is brilliantly walkable
  •  Islands are picturesque, offering historic sites, great swimming, great nightlife, immense variety of accommodation
  • Greece is widely considered to be a safe destination for women, but always use your common sense, dress modestly away from the beach (except for nightclubs, of course!) and don’t accept bar drinks from total strangers
  • Santorini and Mykonos are Greece’s most expensive and commercial islands, and also home to the highest concentration of five-star hotels. Corfu, in the western chain of the Ionian Islands, has a lot of unlovely average hotels, which is a shame because it’s such a beautiful place otherwise
Santorini, Greece,
This is what travel agents will show you. See my image (second from the top) for the real colours and beauty of Santorini. The island doesn’t need any enhancement!
  • But at the other end of the scale, you can also find pension-style rooms, or small family-style hotels and studio apartments/villas for about 40 euros a night on expensive and inexpensive islands
  • August is the busiest month and many of the most popular islands in the Aegean are very crowded, so again, if you want to chill out, you can easily hop on a ferry and go somewhere else. Islands such as Folegandros, Patmos, Tinos, Skiathos and Syros are less frenetic

    Crowded narrow street of Oia

  • Don’t forget the mainland: The Peleponnese is mountainous, steeped in history and beautiful beaches; the east coast region comprising Volos and two hours north up to Thessaloniki is always less crowded (except for August when Greeks traditionally go on holiday too) and full of small beach surprises such as Pelion
  • The credit squeeze made cash transactions more desirable in Greece, so still don’t expect to use your credit card everywhere
  • The archaeological sites are some of Greece’s top attractions and they remain stunning – economic stress isn’t going to make the marble columns fall down! They’ve survived worse crises
  • Food is fresh, cheap and tasty. You can even get a souvlaki with salad, chips and toasty pita bread for only 2 euros

A 2 euro chicken souvlaki with everything, Athens

  • Clean beaches – Greece used to have major coastal pollution problems but a lot of effort has been put in to conserve the environment. Even on overloved destinations such as Santorini and Mykonos, I was impressed last summer at how clean the beaches are.
  • Please be a tidy tourist and leave nothing on the beach other than your footprints. I love this image taken by freelance photographer Linda Psillakis who lives in Crete and draws constantly new inspiration from her beloved island

Crete

  • Free wifi is everywhere. Cafes use it as a lure for customers. If you have an insatiable need to be connected, then have no fear. Greeks love to be connected 24/7, by the way

Free cafe wifi in Mykonos, Greece

  • English is widely spoken, but basic greetings such as kalimera (good morning), parakalo (please)  and efharisto (thank you) are always welcomed
  • The summer drink of choice, iced coffee, starts for as little as under 2 euros.  Cafe culture is one of the best ways in Greece to refresh, people watch and decide your next move

Cafe freddo cappuccino, back street cafe, Mykonos
Beachfront cafe on Mykonos
If you have any queries, please ask! I lived in Greece for over 10 years and it’s still my favourite holiday destination.

More of my recent posts on Greece:

10 reasons to visit Greece off season

Best cheap eats in Greece

Greek cafe culture a sweet taste of life

Amazing grace of the Acropolis

Watercolor of Greece

9 thoughts on “Greek tourism 2014 set to sizzle

  1. Hi Pacific Drive. I took the photo on Mykonos at a peaceful back street cafe in the centre of the main town, where I had coffee (the next picture down). Greek cafes are well endowed with free wifi. They usually have signs to advertise the service.

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    1. So my cousins nearly missed their flights because the cabbies were striking and yeah, stressful much. How do you get around that?

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      1. Hi Peter, sorry to hear your relatives nearly missed their flights. The Athens Metro runs from the airport into the city and beyond, and I think that’s the best way to get to and from the airport. It might take longer, but it’s also massively cheaper – 8 euros (special airport ticket) compared to a minimum 35 euro cab fare. And it’s a superbly reliable service.

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  2. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for such a comprehensive view of your incredible country. Conrad and I were just talking the other day about how we want to get there someday soon. Those casual, simple places are just our style. We love low-cost pensions tucked into a neighborhood. Greece has so much history, also.
    Can’t wait to get there!
    Josie

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    1. Hi Josie, thanks for your comments. I think pensions and small hotels are the way to go. They’re family run, and Greek hospitality is so heartfelt. I remember wearily dumping my bags in the foyer of a pension, and within two minutes, the receptionist had brought me a glass of ice-cold water and a Greek coffee – without me asking. She knew exactly what was called for.

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      1. Yes, Tania’s art is drop dead sexy amazing. I should have added to the sweet coffee story that she then tried to overcharge me by 10 euros a night. Good thing I thought it was almost funny.

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  3. Hello! My name is Stathis. I just discovered your site and I really liked this specific article on Greece’s tourism. I look forward to sharing it with the social media community of ”Zorba The Entrepreneur” which is promoting the New Greece, the best of its beauty, nature and culture, to the world. You’re very welcome to join us and share your blog’s content related to Greece and connect with Greek entrepreneurs and creatives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/zorba.the.entrepreneur/

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