Greece: useful information

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Useful tourist information about Greece, regarding all the things to know before departure, including characteristics of the territory, necessary documents and how to get there.


Greece in a nutshell

  • Capital: Athens
  • Area in sq. Km: 131,957
  • Population: 10,645,343 (first half 2001)
  • Religion: Greek Orthodox with Muslim and Catholic minorities.

Where is it

Greece flag The state of Greece includes the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula, the Ionian and Aegean archipelagos and the island of Crete.

It borders Macedonia (Fyrom) and Bulgaria to the north, Albania to the north west and Turkey to the north east, and is washed by the Ionian, Mediterranean and Aegean seas.


The territory of Greece is mainly mountainous and its coasts are jagged and rocky.

The Ionian coast is characterized by the gulfs of Arta and Patras, further south the peninsular overhangs of the Peloponnese enclose the gulfs of Messenia, Laconia and Nafplio.

The coasts of the Aegean Sea are articulated and with deep inlets. From the Pindo massif, two buttresses branch off to the east, delimiting the flat basin of Thessaly: the northern one culminates in Mount Olympus (the highest peak in Greece 2,917 meters) and the southern one extends to the south in Mount Eta.


The Pindo continues in the southern part with the Peloponnese Mountains.

Regions

Greece comprises a total of 13 regions and 52 provinces. The regions are Attica, South Aegean, North Aegean, Crete, Epirus, Ionian Islands, Central Macedonia, Western Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia, Central Greece, Western Greece, Thrace, Thessaly and Peloponnese.

Important cities and inhabited centers are Athens, which is the capital, Thessaloniki, Lárissa, Patras, an important port located in the Peloponnese, Iráklion, commercial port of Crete, Rhodes, also a port city, Vólos, Piraeus, the largest natural port of the country.


Among the important historical centers, Knossos, Epidaurus, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae and Sparta are worth a visit.

Hydrography

The rivers of eastern Greece are characterized by a torrential regime, while those of the western side have a more constant regime and higher flows.

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The longest river is the Aliakmon, which flows into the Gulf of Thessaloniki.

Other important rivers are Achelòos, (second river in length), Arachthos, Alfeiòs, Evròtas, Nèstos, Marizza, Peneiòs.

The most important lakes are: Trichonida, Volvi, Vegoritis, Prespa (divided between Albania, Greece, Macedonia).

Climate

The climate of Greece is Mediterranean with mild and rainy winters and hot and dry summers.

In winter, the temperature decreases gradually moving north, in particular in the inland and northern mountainous areas.

In the summer on the islands the heat is less intense compared to the continental part, especially to the internal areas of Greece and to the big cities like Athens.

In summer, a wind called etesien (meltem) that characterizes the islands of the Aegean Sea blows very often on the Aegean and Bosporus.


Population

The population of Greece is mainly composed of Greeks and Turkish, Bulgarian, Armenian, Macedonian and especially Albanian minorities (who arrived in large numbers after the fall of communism in Albania).

Almost half of the population is concentrated in Athens and Thessaloniki, the remainder is located in rural areas and smaller urban areas.

Spoken language

The official language is modern Greek.

Time zone

In Greece compared to Italy, it is necessary to move the clock hands one hour forward throughout the year.

Economy

Greece has a good agricultural tradition even if the territory is not very favorable, being mainly mountainous.

The cultivation of olive trees, vines, citrus fruits, wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, sugar beets and also cotton and tobacco is important.


The main sector on which the Greek economy is based is the tertiary sector. Trade, banking services, transport and above all tourism are the most important activities in Greece.

In the industrial sector there are the food, chemical, plastic, technology and telecommunications industries. Since 1981 Greece has been part of the European Union.

When to go

The best times to visit Greece are spring and autumn, when the weather is good and the influx of tourists decreases, which is present in the summer months.

During the winter (late November, early April) most of the hotels close, although in the future there seems to be an intention to keep open all year round.

Necessary documents

In order to enter Greece, Italian citizens need an identity card valid for travel abroad or a passport.

The country is part of the European Union and adheres to the Schengen agreement.

Phone

From Italy to call Greece you need to dial the number 0030 2 followed by the prefix without the 0 and the desired number.

To call from Greece to Italy you must dial 0039 and the required number.

GSM cell phones work throughout the country.

Electricity

Electricity in Greece is 220 volts.

Currency

The official currency of Greece is the euro. Credit cards are accepted and there are ATMs, with the exception of a few smaller centers.

How to get

plane
Olympic Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, easyJet operate flights between Italy and Greece.


Sea
Ferry ships from Venice x Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Patras.

From Ancona x Igoumenitsa and Patras.

From Bari x Igoumenitsa, Patras, Kefalonia (summer only) and Corfu.

From Brindisi x Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Patras, and only in summer x Kefalonia, Zante and Corfù-Paxi, only passengers are catamarrated.

Bus
In summer there are departures from various Italian cities to Athens.

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