Greece is a great place to spend your holidays, and this is not news, as show the queues of Bulgarian-plated cars that consistently and predictably form at the border crossings with this country each long weekend and each summer. Each of the persons in these cars will give you his or her own reason for his or her choice of vacation destination. Some say it is the clean sea, others – the calmness and the lack of stress, and third are in love with the quality of service and food. All of these are true, and there are many more. Here is a list of some of the reasons to pack your luggage and head Greece.
When you live in Bulgaria, a trip to Greece is easy and quick. Only 190 km stand between Sofia and Kulata, the most popular border crossing with Greece. In the past few years a number of new crossings between the two countries were opened. Now, depending on your starting point in Bulgaria, besides Kulata you can go through (counting eastward): Gotse Delchev, Zlatograd, Makaza, Ivaylovgrad and Svilengrad.
The summer in Greece is longer and hotter than in Bulgaria, and you can have your sea and sun steadily and predictably from May to October. The country enjoys more than 250 sunny days yearly. Summer aside, Greece is great for visits the year round. The spring and autumn are pleasant, and are the best time to explore the country's historical sites and mountains. The winter is much milder than the Bulgarian one.
Spread along and in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Ionian, Greece is defined by sea. The waters here are like no-where else in the world. Deep blue and salty, they are clean and calm enough for even the most inexperienced of swimmers. For the surfers and lovers of water sports, there are enough windy spots and waves. Fish and numerous sea creatures abound and swim with you, an experience that excites children and mesmerises adults.
Coastline and beaches
Pointing out that Greece's coastline is 13,676 km long, making it 13th in the world in this respect, is enough. But the border between land and sea in Greece is not only long. It is diverse, pleasant and beautiful, a thing to remember and love for the rest of your life. There are magnificent mountains falling picturesquely into the sea. There are tiny coves with space for only a couple of towels. There are long sandy beaches. There are indescribably beautiful fishing villages by the sea. Often, all of the above can be found in the span of a couple of dozens kilometres.
Big and diverse like Crete, small and unexplored like Sifnos: the sea of Greece is the home of between 166 and 227 inhabited islands which, together with the uninhabited islands and islets makes for the impressive number of 1,200 (or even 6,000) pieces of land dotting the shining seas. One can spend his whole life exploring them. Each Greek island has its own "face," and combined, they sum up the ultimate summer experience: from beaches to buzzing resorts to traditional villages and stunning archaeological sites.
Rocky mountains and peaks make the other half of the equation that is Greece. They are on islands like Crete and Samothrace, and form the backbone of mainland Greece. They nurture amazing pieces of geography, like the Samaria Gorge in Crete and the Vikos Gorge in the Pindus, but also historical sites like the Meteora monasteries, traditional towns like Kastoria and villages like the ones in the Zagorochoria region.
Greeks cherish the easy way of life and outside the big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki you will hardly see someone hurrying. This calm way of thinking and living quickly infests the visitors. A day here, and the stress of months of living in a busy city is gone.
Quality of service
From the waiters to the shopkeepers to the receptionists and the bartenders, everyone in Greece seems to know the secret of how to be friendly and helpful to the client without going out of his or her dignity zone.
Greek food is one of the best in the world. The Choriatiki and the dzadziki salads, the fresh fish and seafood, the juicy grilled meats, the delicious musaka, the olives and the cheeses: we can spend the day talking about our favourites. Eating in Greece, however, is more than stuffing yourself with great food. It is an experience. Sitting at a seaside or a market taverna, sharing a whole table of appetisers with friends, talking, laughing, looking at the scenery and the passerby: it is heaven on earth. And it's healthy, too. Greek food is in the base of the so-called Mediterranean diet. The local olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, cheeses and pulses, yoghurt are all great for your body. You only have to try not to overeat with baklava.
Cultural and historical heritage
It has been repeated ad nauseam that Greece is the cradle of Western civilisation, but repetition doesn't mean that this statement is untrue. Greece is dotted with remains from the glorious days of Antiquity, from famed sites like Athens and Delphi to lesser known but picturesque ones like Dodona, a shrine with oracle of Zeus in the Epirus. Greece's heritage is much richer, however: the spacious palaces of Minoan Crete, the impressive tombs of Mycenae, the Byzantine monasteries at Mystras, the Venetian atmosphere of Corfu city, the castle of the Knights Hospitallers in Rhodes, and more, and more. Exploring it is like a real-life history lesson, only funnier.