If you have been thinking your whole life that someday you would like to visit Greece, now is the time. Here are 8 reasons why:
The Euro has not been so low since 2002, meaning that Greece has gone from an affordable travel destination to one that is downright cheap. When we arrived here in the spring of 2014, the Euro was at 1.38. Today it is 1.06. Our typical restaurant meal tab, with very respectable house wine, comes to about 35-40 Euros for two—with near Euro-Dollar parity, eating out in Greece is a serious bargain. And if you are traveling with kids, a respectable meal of gyro souvlaki, fries, and salad can be had for 5 euros or so.
Athens has never looked better. For years, Athens had a reputation for being somewhat down at the heels, dusty, hot, and polluted. Today, its city center is pleasant and lively with hundreds of cafes, bars, shops, and clubs, most of which, despite the economic crisis, seem to be full of locals nearly all the time. Many visitors to Greece give short shrift to Athens on the way to the islands, but its fabulous museums, lively street life, and great restaurants provide a wealth of options for the visitor these days.
The New Acropolis Museum: This was highlighted in nice article in the New York Times last summer and it truly is a gem that shouldn’t be missed. The space itself is gorgeous and the exhibits beautifully presented.
Athens Wine Bars: If you are a wine lover, you will really enjoy the profusion of new wine bars that have appeared in Athens in recent years. Check out https://www.facebook.com/search/115504291797975/places-in/192661127431931/places/intersect/ to see a dozen or so great spots for trying out the dizzying array of Greek varietals in wines produced by a new generation of innovative enologists.
Relative calm in the streets. The period of regular strikes and demonstrations, some violent, that plagued Athens in particular a few years ago has passed. Sure, you can expect the occasional demonstration but, for the most part, the public seems to be giving the new government some breathing room. Major strikes have been rare over the last year (though one never knows when this could change.)
Islands, Islands, Islands: A few of them, like Santorini, Rhodes, and Mykonos, are international stars, but the dozens of Greek islands offer a wealth of options that can meet the needs of any traveler. Whether you are looking for the hottest night life, best beaches, most interesting history and culture, great wine and wineries, verdant mountains, or Blue Lagoon beach experience, you can find an island or ten that meets your criteria. And in this time of economic crisis, many places are offering pretty good deals these days.
Plenty of Space, if you go at the right time: Outside of the top-top destinations, most places in Greece have plenty of room outside of the peak period of July 15 to August 31. European vacationers are remarkably rigid in their schedules, meaning that if you go in June or September when the weather is fabulous, you will rarely have trouble finding a room and you will pay far less than you would for peak dates.
Greece Needs Your Help: If you sympathize with the little guy in Europe who is trying to recover from a devastating economic crisis, your vacation dollars will go to a good cause. (Even if you don’t sympathize with Greece’s predicament, it is in all of Europe’s—and the world economy’s—interest for Greece to recover without the destabilizing effects of a Greek exit from the Euro.) Tourism is pretty much the only bright spot in Greece’s economy, but there is still a lot of room for growth in the sector.
So, come on over and visit—you won’t regret it.