Your Most Popular Questions About Greece: Answered!

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Greece is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, and with good cause! A wealth of classical culture, spectacular coastal landscapes, amazing food and warm, friendly people all contribute to making this an A+ destination. Today our Greek guide Chantel shares answers to the most common questions she’s asked by ToursByLocals travellers.

1) WHEN WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE BEST TIMES TO VISIT GREECE?

A city break to breathtaking Athens and vibrant Thessaloniki can be done all year round. In summer it is wise to start your tour early in the morning and go indoors during the scorching heat of midday. Paying those cities a visit in winter is a clever idea. You pay less for accommodation, you avoid the crowds and you will likely savor the mild temperatures and sunshine.

When planning to be active, it is best to avoid the hot summer months. Nature lovers will be thrilled to see many and rare bird species and countless plants abloom - many endemic- in spring and autumn! Keep in mind that in Athens and on the Greek Islands the summer is the dormant period for plants, while the first autumn rains cause a "second spring" with many bulb flowers to come out.

2) ARE TBL TOURS IN GREECE GOOD FOR FAMILIES?

As those that have visited Greece will confirm, it is one of the most family-friendly destinations that exists. Overall, Greeks are family-friendly and very hospitable. Eating out will usually be outdoors and the atmosphere in a Greek tavern is very relaxed. Kids can run around freely and nobody will be bothered with that!

Athens, Delphi, Ancient Olympia, Ancient Corinth, Santorini and Knossos on Crete all have Ancient sites and museums, boasting a dazzling cultural heritage. A visit to those places with a TBL private guide will make history come alive, for both young and old.

Apart from the classical tours, you have a range of family-friendly alternative tours to choose from! All of the Athens tours along the Athens Riviera are perfect for families! They range from sea-kayaking, yoga, and food-foraging to swimming in a natural spa lake while getting your feet nibbled by Doctor Fish! The new Athens bike tour with a private guide is great for all the family because child seats, children’s bikes and electric bikes are available!

3) ARE THERE THINGS ABOUT GREECE YOU THINK ARE VERY UNDER-RATED?

While the cultural heritage of Greece is universally known, the natural heritage of Greece is seriously underrated. Greece has the highest biodiversity known in Europe! A few facts:

1. Greece has around twice the number of plant species (6000) as compared to a large country like Germany (which has 3000 plant species) whilst around 15% of the plant species in Greece are endemic.
2. With 446 bird species recorded in Greece it makes it a paradise for bird lovers and a great place for bird watching.
3. Northern Greece has vast mountainous areas, important wetlands, a virgin forest and the largest population of European Brown Bears of Southern Europe!
4. The marine environment is an important biotope for species like the near extinct Mediterranean Monk Seal, the Logger Head Turtle and the Eleonora's Falcon.

The Greek islands are world famous but many lesser-known islands are still waiting to be discovered! Let's not forget that Greece possesses a coastline comparable to Africa and some 200 (!) inhabited islands. So next time why not go to Karpathos instead of Rhodes, Syros instead of Mykonos or Kefalonia instead of Zakynthos to get a taste of the real Greece? In these places, what you spend goes directly to the locals. Also, this is probably where you will have the most memorable encounters.

Wine lovers rejoice! Greece has a (little- known yet) emerging and exceptional wine culture with indigenous grape varieties like the dry, full-bodied "Assyrtiko" white wine from Santorini, the spicy "Moschofilero" white wine from the Peloponnese and the complex and fruity "Xinomavro" red wine from Naoussa in Northern Greece.

4) WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST ARE SOME OF THE BEST GREEK SOUVENIRS TO BUY?

Quality Greek wines, spices and herbs, extra virgin olive oil, honey, tsipouro, raki and ouzo make nice souvenirs but probably won't last that long. More durable goods are: objects of olive wood, hand made Greek art, hand-made leather bags, textile and hand-painted Greek amphora. Warning: be careful not to buy natural sponges from the tourism shops. Most are imported and the Greek ones are usually collected in a non-responsible way, with devastating results for the marine ecosystems.

If you’re headed to Athens in 2015, consider getting in touch with Chantel to design a customized private tour that will show you the best of the city and surrounding region.
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