Leisure activities in Greece

Leisure activities in Greece
Updated 2017-09-18 09:07

Leisure in Greece has not been affected by the financial crisis. Not significantly, at least. Even though the way people are having fun and the places they frequent has changed, you can rest assured that Greece will always know how to show you a good time. Whether you're after cultural outings, quality cuisine and fine drinking or adrenaline-raising outdoor activities, you're definitely in the right country.

Greek culture

To say that Greece is a living, breathing museum, would be an understatement. It's not just the fact that there are 265 (and rising) museums scattered across the country: it's that the country itself is built on layers upon layers of history. Greece has been inhabited since the paleolithic age, which gives some historical significance to every little rock you come across. There are pieces of ancient marble everywhere (not always as well protected as they should have been), cyclopean walls in the middle of fields, and caves that have been used as sanctuaries for eons. No matter where in Greece you find yourself, it's worth doing some research about the local area and going on a 'scavenger' hunt.

Not all of the museums are housed in impressive buildings, but every single one of them have something that will pique your interest. There are archaeological museums (Greece has more than 100 of those), Byzantine museums, historical and folk art museums that celebrate endless culture, and thematic museums that will show you the secrets of long forgotten trades or crafts, or even give you a glimpse of the future.

Good to know:

Most museums are open every day except Mondays, and flash photography is not allowed.

Nature in Greece

Greece has such a diverse landscape that nature enthusiasts won't know where to begin. There are ragged mountains and steep gorges and cliffs, where you can do mountain-biking, trekking or climbing. There are also forests and lakes, where you can study the diverse marine and avian species -- more than 442 species of birds can be found in Greece. And then of course there are the islands, with beaches that stretch for miles and invite you to swim, water-ski or surf, and the deep blue seas with the mysterious underwater caves and ruins that urge you to put on your diving suit. The Mediterranean climate makes it easy to go exploring throughout the year, and a simple search online will find many professional groups that can provide the appropriate gear and guide you through your adventure.

Food and drink

You know you can't go wrong here. Although it's true that some areas (Thessaloniki or Crete) are more gastronomically superior than others, everywhere you go chances are that you'll be able to enjoy a good meal at a reasonable price. Whether you're looking for traditional Greek cuisine (Peloponnese is your best bet), imaginative street-food (Athens excels in that) or deconstructed and molecular gastronomy, it won't take you long to find it -- and you won't be that much poorer for it.

Fine drinking is also on the rise in Greece. Dozens of talented mixologists stir up innovative concoctions and do really well at global cocktail competitions -- Athens used to be the hub of this activity, but nowadays most islands have a cocktail bar or two that is really raising the bar. Alcohol is still very cheap to consume and buy in Greece, so people go out socially for drinks very often, even in winter.

Going out in Greece

Greece is not the country to go on a shopping spree. There are a few very talented, local designers whose boutiques you can find mostly in Athens, Thessaloniki and Mykonos, but other than that most shops don't have anything extraordinary to offer.

The partying scene is still very strong in Mykonos and some of the other islands, and in some big clubs in cities like Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras. But clubbing has been facing a decline due to the crisis and it's probably something you'd be better off enjoying seasonally (although island clubbing can be much more expensive than city clubbing).

Movie theatres are in a bit of a decline too, as people mostly stream or download movies at home. There's at least a couple of multiplexes in each big city, but the movie theatres that will never go out of fashion in Greece are the open-air ones: although the movie quality is understandably not that great, it's the overall ambience and the fact that they're intrinsically linked with the Greek summer that makes people choose them every time. There are Film Festivals that occur a couple of times a year, with some taking place on the islands.

Theatre has had it a bit worse, since a theatre ticket is that much more expensive than a cinema or a gallery ticket. Most theatres across the country resort to marketing offers to lure people in and using actors that the audience already knows from TV. That being said, the country that gave birth to the concept of theatre is not without hope: there is always Epidaurus, and the theatre festival that takes place there every summer is something you should definitely add to your list.

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