Travel & Holidays in Greece - Greek Islands & Destination Guide - Vacations

When it comes to planning a holiday in Greece, your first major challenge will be deciding where to start. You could spend months travelling through this fascinating country and still feel you've only just scratched the surface of its treasure trove of natural and archaeological wonders. Cheap flights, affordable cruises round the Greek islands and package holiday deals have combined to give the masses access to a land of legends previously beyond their reach.

Until the 1960s only wealthy yachties, flower-power hippies and adventurous backpackers had the pleasure of exploring the countless delights of the Greek mainland and islands. These days more than 12 million foreign visitors pour into the country each year, aided by an ever-increasing number of tour operators, car hire firms and charter flight companies all falling over themselves in a bid to exploit the potential of one of the world's most alluring holiday destinations.

Greece has the longest coastline of any European country, its islands number more than 2,000 (though only about 100 are inhabited) and its awesome array of ancient sites are unrivalled anywhere in the world. The wondrous legacies of Ancient Greece are too numerous to take in during a two-week holiday, even if you spend the entire time dashing from one archaeological site to another. There's the Parthenon in Athens, the most famous ancient monument in the world, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the stadium at Olympia where the first Olympic games were held in 776 BC, the almost perfectly preserved 4th century BC amphitheatre of Epidaurus. In fact the list is endless; wherever you turn in Greece there's another ancient wonder waiting to take your breath away. Everywhere there are reminders of that golden age when Greece gave birth to western civilisation and spawned the greatest philosophers, artists, poets, scientists, healers and warriors of the ancient world.

The Greek Islands offer all things to all people. There are the unashamedly hedonistic party playgrounds such as Mykonos, Kos and Ios. There are tranquil, unspoilt islands where rural life continues much as it has done for centuries. And there are islands that offer something for everyone - such as Rhodes and Corfu where you can party around-the-clock or roam the hillsides far from the madding crowds.

Much of Greece is mountainous and the country has far more than its fair share of stunningly beautiful locations, many of which have been the target of Hollywood movie moguls. The lovely island of Amorgos, with its golden beaches and crystal clear waters was one of the locations in the French cult movie The Big Blue. The extraordinary mountain monasteries of Meteora, clinging impossibly to cylindrical pinnacles of rock, featured in the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only. And the breathtaking volcanic cauldron of Santorini in the Cyclades was the setting for Angelina Jolie's underwater antics in the 2002 Tomb Raider sequel.

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