The world-famous Acropolis in ancient Athens, delicious Mediterranean food, friendly locals and the beautiful beaches from Mamma Mia! … Greece certainly offers many gems to discover!
In this Greece Guide, I'm sharing my best tips for you to get the most out of your time and budget on a film-inspired trip to Greece…
Overview: Greece Guide
- Films to see for inspiration
- When to go to Greece
- Where to go in Greece
- The North: Thessaloniki and the Chalkidiki penisula
- The Capital: Athens
- The Greek Islands
- How to get around in Greece
- What to eat and drink in Greece
- Good to know before you go: Ten Travel Tips for Greece
1. Films to see for inspiration
15 films and series that have been set and / or shot in Greece
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) – filmed on the island of Kefallonia
The Bourne Identity (2002) – filmed on the island of Mykonos
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) – not actually filmed in Greece. Nevertheless, these two romantic comedies about Chicago-based Greek emigrants are still great movies to learn more about Greek culture.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) – filmed on the island of Santorini
Mamma Mia! (2008) – filmed on the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos
My Life in Ruins (2009) – filmed in Athens and Olympia
Before Midnight (2013) – filmed in Kardamyli, Messinia
The Two Faces of January (2014) – filmed in Athens and on the island of Crete
The Island of Secrets (2014) – filmed on the islands of Kos and Nisyros
Xenia – A New Greek Odyssey (2014) – filmed in several Greek cities, such as Athens and Thessaloniki, and Crete Island
Highway to Hellas (2015) – filmed on the island of Tinos
Europe, She Loves (2016) – filmed in Thessaloniki
TV series The Durrells (2016-) – filmed on the island of Corfu
Suntan (2016) – filmed on the island of Antiparos
Justice League (2017) – filmed on Kleftiko Bay, Milos Island
In the Fade (2017) – filmed around Athens
2. When to go to Greece
Many Greeks go on their annual holidays in August (roughly between the 1st and 20th). During this time, the tourists will have the cities almost to themselves, but the islands may be busy.
The Acropolis in Athens is pretty busy throughout the summer season from 1st of April to the end of October. But if you go in May or June (like I did), it's not as crowded yet.
Some of the Greek islands are year-round destinations. Others, such as the "Mamma Mia! islands" of Skiathos and Skopelos, are not. The season here runs roughly from May and until mid-October. Outside of the summer season, all tourist-related companies and restaurants will be closed.
3. Where to go in Greece
The North: Thessaloniki and the Chalkidiki penisula
Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece by population. As such, it offers many international flight connections and is easy to get to.
In the summertime, the nearby Chalkidiki peninsula is great for relaxing at the beaches, so you can easily combine a beach holiday with a city trip here.
Interesting fact for film fans: Thessaloniki is also known for hosting one of the most important film festivals in Europe every year in November.
Read more about things to do in this vibrant city in my post 24 Hours in Thessaloniki: A Compact Guide
The Capital: Athens
The ancient city of Athens is one of the most exciting places in Europe and the world-famous Acropolis a must-do on many people's bucket lists.
However, in such a busy city, deciding where to go and what to do can be quite overwhelming – especially for first-time visitors with limited time.
So in my post A Quick Film Fan’s Guide to Athens, I share my best tips on how to make the most of limited time in Athens… film fan style!
The Greek Islands
Perhaps the most famous film to ever having been filmed in Greece is the musical hit movie Mamma Mia! (2008). Most of its filming locations can be found on the Greek islands of Skiathos and Skopelos in the northwest Aegean Sea.
Read more about visiting the stunning "Mamma Mia! islands" in these posts:
Other popular Greek islands include Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Santorini. Just check out the films above for more film-inspired Greek island destinations.
4. How to get around in Greece
In the cities: If you stay somewhere central, you can easily walk everywhere. Otherwise, there are public busses. Athens also has an underground metro. Taxis are not too badly priced either. Finally, Hop On / Hop Off busses are a good choice to get around, especially if you are limited on time.
To get from city to city and to the islands: To get to the islands, you can either fly from cities such as Thessaloniki or Athens or take the train and then the ferry. I found the trains to be pretty good (with air-conditioning and seat reservations). They were also reasonably priced, even if booked shortly before the day of travelling.
On the islands: You can do as the locals do and rent a scooter. For maximum flexibility, you should rent a car. However, there are also many tours available, such as the Mamma Mia! Film Locations Tour on the island of Skopelos, with certainly is the most convenient (and film-inspired) way to get to know the island.
5. What to eat and drink in Greece
You can never go wrong with a classic Greek salad, which you can get everywhere of course.
As I am a vegetarian, I did have my doubts about the heavily meat-based Greek cuisine. But when I came here, I found that there were a lot more vegetarian options than I had anticipated, such as "Vegan Gyros" in Athens, or a good choice of grilled vegetables on the island of Skopelos.
Most of time though, I went with my favourite dish ever – Spaghetti Napoli (sometimes with a Greek twist).
For dessert, Greek yoghurt with fruits or nuts is always a great choice.
5. All Greece posts at a glance
6. Good to know before you go:
Ten Travel Tips for Greece
1. Wear a hat and sunglasses in hot places like the Acropolis. You’ll be easily recognizable as a tourist, but it’s better than to get sunburnt.
2. Drink water! It's important to keep hydrated. As far as I know, you can drink tap water in most places, but if you always drink water from bottle (like I did), you'll definitely be on the safe side. A bottle of 0,5 l of water should only cost you 50 Euro cents anyways, so it's pretty cheap. Plus, water from the bottle will usually come ice cold.
3. Siesta hours: During the hot summer months, many Greeks like to take a "siesta" between 1 and 5 pm. Some churches and other places of interest might be closed then.
4. Official Currency: Euro (€)
5. Credit Cards (including contactless) are widely accepted, but not everywhere. So bring some cash just in case.
6. Tipping practices are very much like in the rest of Europe. You usually "round the bill" or give about 10–20 % in restaurants with table service. In my experience, tipping taxi drivers is not really expected.
7. Cars drive on the right-hand side just as everywhere else in Europe (except for the UK, Ireland and Malta)
8. Plugs are the same as in other European countries (except for the UK and Ireland, which have different plugs)
9. Toilets: Most places have signs not to throw toilet paper in the toilets, so it’s best to get used to it.
10. The official language is Greek, although most people speak really good English. On the touristy islands, everyone will speak English. Some useful Greek words to know are "Jassas" (Hello, Bye), "Efcharisto" (Thank You), "Kalimera" (Good Morning) and "Kalispera" (Good Evening)
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
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