Of the 6,000 islands and islets on offer, only 227 are inhabited, and only 78 have more than 100 permanent residents. The largest Greek island is Crete, followed by Euboea, Lesbos and Rhodes. The rest of the islands are much smaller and lend themselves perfectly to sailing holidays.
Surface area : 10402.0 km2
Population : 660000 inhabitants
Time difference : +2hrs
Except for Mykonos, the Greek Islands and Greece in general are not the best for shopping. However, take advantage of the culinary favourites and bring back olive oil, Ouzo (local liqueur), as well as ceramics and traditional woven textiles, especially in the village of Apirathos, in Naxos. While you can buy copies of ancient jewellery on the mainland, you will also be able to find shell jewellery or Voulgaris' luxurious contemporary creations in Mykonos' old port.
Greece has long been dominated by Turkey. Therefore, it is not surprising that Greek cuisine has eastern influences. They start a meal with small starters called mezedes. Tarama and tzatziki - cucumber yogurt - are amongst the most popular. Moussaka (beef and eggplant gratin) is one of the most famous Greek main courses, along with peppers, stuffed grape leaves or Greek salad - bursting with tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber and olives. For good cheap food on the go, pick up some souvlaki (big brochette) or pitas (stuffed bread).
It is common for Greeks to take a nap or a break between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, before going back to work until 8:00pm. Dinner takes place quite late in the evening, usually around 10:00 pm.
Be aware that religion and politics are important matters and can be sensitive for Greeks.
Some holidaymakers try to see several islands within two or three days. This can be manic, so if you are looking to relax and unwind, stick to one or two islands. If you only have a week to spend in the Cyclades, it's best to choose a direct flight without a stop in Athens - you'll appreciate one to two extra days on the islands.
However, if you're even slightly interested in history, a stopover in Athens will provide you with one of the most amazing lessons on the capital's ancient sites. The Acropolis with the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Agora, and the Theatre of Herodes Atticus all stand as a testament to the prowess of the Ancients.