The locals tell us what they love about Greece and how they’re preparing to welcome back international travelers
If you’re missing the hot summer sun, sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters, you’ve probably been missing Greece. The country has opened its borders to international travelers, yet you might be asking yourself whether it’s the right time to visit now. That’s why we have asked the locals to tell us about how the country is getting ready to restart vacationing and why everyone will fall in love with it, if they weren’t already.
Tinos Island is known for its good food and beautiful landscape
“Life in Greece is free now, everything is open and people can enjoy museums and restaurants or visit islands by taking an easy self-test,” says Ioannis, an associate professor of medicine at the UOA.
Ioannis was born in Athens 74 years ago and grew up to become a professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Back in 2000, he made a pilgrimage to Tinos island and since then has been going there every year for a month or two.
“Tinos is full of sandy beaches, picturesque villages, rocky mountains, fertile valleys, and good food. You can taste pork chops, sausages, and special omelets. There’s also Our Lady of Tinos, one of the most famous shrines of pilgrimage in Greece.
The island lies in the heart of the Aegean Sea, halfway between the capital Athens and Izmir in Turkey. One will find no airport on the island but it’s easy to get there on the ferry from Athens’ port of Piraeus or Rafina.
Hiking, swimming, camping, luxurious hotels — Athens is great for any type of vacation
Christos, a 30-year-old pharmacist from the northern suburb of Athens, Kifisia, tells us about why the capital city is among the best options when visiting Greece.
As the largest city in Greece, Athens is perfect for every type of vacation, be it hiking in the mountains, swimming in the sea, luxurious hotels, villas, or more relaxing airbnbs, or even camping for the more adventurous out there.
“Athens is the place you can find whatever you are looking for in a vacation but it’s also the place you start from to go visit the islands,” says Christos. “My suggestion for a vacation in Greece during summer is to start with a 2–3 day trip in Athens for sightseeing and then take the boat and go to the islands.”
Athens is hard to miss as it’s one of the biggest transportation hubs in the country and many adventures start and end there. International tourists can fly there and go on exploring Greece if they have the EU Digital Covid Certificate with information about their vaccinations, negative test result, or proof of recovery.
“I believe my country is a very safe place for vacations”
Christos describes the atmosphere in Athens and what visitors there can expect: “The COVID-19 situation is still a bit strict, for example having to wear a mask everywhere. The shops, cafeterias, restaurants, and bars are open but without music. Changes are coming day by day and every day, 100,000 Greeks get their vaccinations so I believe in a few weeks the situation will change.”
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“The employees of every shop, cafe, and restaurant have to take a rapid test twice a week to be able to work. I believe my country is a very safe place for vacations,” says Christos.
Greece is a great place to live and an even better one for holidays
Due to the pandemic, Athens-based Tzannetos had to put his dream of becoming a pilot on hold but sees now a life coming back to the country. He loves Greece and the fact that the beach is never too far away.
“In January 2020 I quit my job to start a pilot training. Usually, it takes around 12 to 18 months but because of COVID-19 I only managed to complete one and a half months before we went into lockdown. It’s been more than challenging but now, after one a half years and with the summer approaching, things are looking more and more promising,” says Tzannetos.
“Greece, and especially Athens, is a great place to live and even better for holidays. We have sun more than 300 days a year and the sea is never too far away. The beach is within a walking distance from my house and with the summertime lasting from mid-May to September, you can enjoy it half of the year.
“You never run out of things to do. You can go to the beach, go shopping, or to great clubs. Everyone that visits will have the opportunity to enjoy crystal clear waters, have a nice relaxed coffee or a drink, and at night experience the great restaurants and clubs. You will never get bored having a good time and each time you visit Greece you will find new ways to enjoy yourself even more than the last time,” he adds.
“Here in Kalamata, cafes, beach bars, and restaurants are open”
A seaside city on the south coast of Greece, Kalamata, is mostly known for its world-class black olives. Much like the capital, it offers something to everyone.
32-year-old Kalamata-born Angeliki proudly tells us why this town should be on the list of destinations to visit in Greece: “Kalamata is for everyone. It combines the sea and mountains and it’s considered one of the most beautiful cities in Greece.”
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“It has a picture-postcard port and its own airport and it’s very easily accessible from other places in Europe. There’s plenty of historical sightseeing to do, for example, a day trip to Olympia where they held the ancient Olympic Games thousands of years ago.
“We also have fantastic beaches around here like Voidokilia in the shape of the Greek letter omega, and others within a short driving distance from Kalamata. The main beach in town is a four-kilometer-long stretch with many bars and restaurants so there is a lot of room for everyone and no crowds.”
“Visitors have nothing to be worried about when coming to Kalamata. We have been in the green zone the entire time and are considered a safe place for a holiday. Coffee shops, beach bars, and restaurants can stay open till 12:30 in the morning, and starting from 12 June, they should be open till 1:30 am with music allowed again. From the beginning of July, the restrictions on opening hours are expected to be dropped altogether,” Angeliki adds.
“We’re returning to normal life again”
Falling in love with Greece sounds easy. For Dimitris, a 29-year-old native from Evia Island, his favorite place is his home and his taverna. He used to live in Athens and studied for six years in the Czech Republic to become a pharmacist but now lives back on Evia.
“Evia is a lovely island with plenty of sun, beaches, and mountains. My favorite place is where I live and where my taverna Kanatadika is. It’s great here for fishing, kitesurfing, kayaking, and pretty much any water sports activity one can think of. The island is ideal for hiking, climbing, and exploring waterfalls,” says Dimitris.
“Everyone here is looking forward to the summer and hoping the coronavirus will be over for good soon. The shops are open, the sea is warm, and life is getting back to normal.”
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