The advancements of Greece’s Classical Period gave birth to much of what we today call modern, Western civilization. From philosophy to politics to language to art, Greece remains relevant to the world as a whole.
We are a nation proud of our heritage – of our rich mix of culture, tradition and democracy. Greece is a historical and archaeological great. An Olympic legend. And, too, a witness to one of the greatest economic collapses in the world, not to mention one of the highest unemployment rates in the Western world.
What Greece is all about, one can only wonder.
It’s complicated, to say the least.
Urban and rural. Sea and mountain.
Ancient and modern. We’re a study in contrasts.
One thing that is clear: Greece is more than a sweeping panorama of picturesque landscapes and ancient locations.
When someone wonders about Greece today, one of the first thoughts is of our current economic and political situation. But we’re more than that…
The rich tapestry of Greek culture – music and dance, gastronomy and mythology – weave together in what we know as philoxenia, literally “guest-friendship” and the ancient Greek word for hospitality. To Greeks, you’re not just a guest; you’re our close friend, our family.
Greece is the sunniest culture in Europe, a nation of hundreds of islands with more than 4,000 traditional dances among them. We are almost as rich in culinary delicacies as we are antiquities. It’s a traveler’s dream, which is why every year we welcome twice our national population in tourists – 22 million in 2014, as compared to about 11 million citizens.
Mythology and History
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mythology or history buff: there’s a good chance that you’ll be amazed by the astounding accomplishments of a civilization that is far from being forgotten. In Athens, the Acropolis with its museum; throughout the rest of Greece, a plethora of sites to help visitors build tangible bridges to the past – to establish meaning regarding the important things in life.
The Coffee Culture and Food
After a visit to a museum or an archaeological site, not to mention a long day of discovering, Greeks know it’s time to sit back, grab a coffee at a local café, and enjoy the scenery.
Going out for coffee is an important part of Greek culture, whether your goal is to spend time with friends, people-watch, or simply relax. Alternately, savour a traditionally cooked meal in one of our numerous tavernas, which are family owned restaurants where the food is homemade (and delicious). You’ll have the time of your lifetrying all the local dishes!
Insider tip: Don’t hesitate to order up a glass of chilled ouzo, the traditional alcoholic aperitif of Greece and a tasty companion to a plate of mezes!
Music and Dance
Greek music has shown constant development and progression, from the traditional genre of songs, most common in the rural areas of the country, to the more modernized genres, which are popular worldwide and can be heard in every bar and coffee shop around Greece. Put your dancing shoes on because here, you can go from dancing in circles to the sounds of syrtaki, to shaking todubstep in about five minutes.
Last, but not least, do yourself a favour and keep your eyes open to Greek open-air artists – the street performers, dancers and musicians who concentrate in pedestrian areas of urban commercial centres. And while you’re in the thick of it, don’t miss the chance to learn a few words in Greek. Complicated as it may sound, it’s worth a try, even if all you pick up is the common slang.
Greece’s diverse offerings are varied to the point of overwhelming.
Our best advice:
Seek out your own version of balance. Strike your ideal equilibrium between tourist musts and rural locales, ancient sites and modern marvels, environmental wonders and historic riches. Plan a trip that both rejuvenates your soul and feeds your mind. Allow yourself to fall as in love with the Greek people as you do with our landscapes, history and food.