Greek Islands

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Greek Islands Money-Saving Tips

Language

There’s no need to pack a phrasebook – the younger generation (especially those working in tourism) speak English well, so communication is rarely a problem. Most signs are also posted in Greek and Latin script.

Sun smarts

Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing light cotton clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol consumption to avoid dehydration.

By sea

The Greek islands are served by a complex network of ferries and high-speed catamarans. On the mainland, the largest port is Pireaus (Athens), with boats serving all island groups except the Ionian, which is served by ferries from Patra.

Dining late

Be aware that Greeks tend to dine late: lunch can run from 2pm to 5pm and dinner from 10pm till well after midnight. During summer, however, many restaurants stay open all day.

After hours

In Greece, the party doesn’t start until around midnight, when most venues start filling up. Bars are typically open until 3am or later; many dance clubs rock until dawn.

Touts

On the more commercialized islands, touristy restaurants, bars, and clubs employ touts hired to lure unsuspecting passers-by inside. If you are not impressed, ignore them or employ the typical Greek gesture for annoyance – a single backwards flick of the head.

Avoid seasickness

The Greek waters are generally calm, however, if you are worried about seasickness, travel on the deck. Medication like Dramamine or Bonine can prevent symptoms like nausea and stomach cramps.

Religious modesty

Greeks take their religion seriously. When visiting churches and monasteries, both men and women should dress appropriately: no bare chests, no bare shoulders, and no bare legs.

Greek cuisine

The Greek Islands are renowned for delicious, reasonably-priced, fresh seafood like kalamarakia (squid), htapodi (octopus) and xifias (swordfish). Although the islands have individual histories, many dishes have both Turkish and Venetian influences.

Greek drinks

There are some good Greek wines, though resin-flavoured retsina is an acquired taste. Greeks also drink ouzo (an aniseed-flavored spirit, often taken with a dash of water, which makes it turn cloudy) and raki (a potent spirit made from distilled grapes).

Public holidays

Greece celebrates the following Public Holidays, when most banks, shops, and even some restaurants are closed: Jan 1st, Jan 6th, Mar 25th, first Monday of Lent, Orthodox Easter, May 1st, Whit Monday, Aug 15th, Oct 28th, Dec 25-26th.

Name days

Most Greeks are named after saints, and they celebrate on their name day. The most popular are: Giannis (Jan 7th), Giorgos (Apr 23rd), Eleni and Konstantinos (May 21st), Maria (Aug 15th), Dimitrios (Oct 26th), Katerina (Nov 25th), and Nikos (Dec 6th).

Naturism

With the exception of beaches in towns or villages, topless bathing is accepted almost everywhere. Naturism (naked bathing) is officially allowed in a few licensed places, though it is also unofficially accepted on many remote, secluded beaches.

Meltemi

The meltemi is a strong, dry north wind that blows on the Aegean Sea (but not the Ionian) in late-July and August. It can disrupt ferries, is dangerous for sailors, and can make sunbathing similar to being sandblasted.

Cruises

Cruise ships sailing the East Mediterranean from Venice to Istanbul pass through the Greek islands. The most popular ports of call are Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes.

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