Tourism in Greece has been a key element of the economic activity in the country, and is one of the country's most important sectors. Greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in Europe since antiquity, for its rich culture and history, which is reflected in large part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world as well as for its long coastline, many islands, and beaches.
Greece attracted over as much as 24 million visitors in 2018, 22.1 million visitors in 2017 and 21 million in 2015,   making Greece one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, and contributing around 25% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Its capital city Athens, as well as Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Crete and Chalkidice are some of the country's major tourist destinations.
In recent years, Greece has also promoted religious tourism and pilgrimages to regions with a significant historical religious presence, such as the monasteries in Meteora and Mount Athos, in cooperation with other countries.
Greece has a Mediterranean climate along its coasts and islands. Once inland, many areas and cities experience a continental climate.
Summers are usually hot and dry, while winters are generally mild and wet. Northern Greece can experience cold winters, while Southern Greece and the islands experience considerably milder winters.
Tourism in Greece traces its roots to ancient times. Cultural exchange took place between the Greek colonies of Magna Graeca and the young Roman Republic before Rome's rise to dominance of the Western Mediterranean. When Greece was annexed by the Roman Empire centuries later, the cultural exchange that started between the two civilization triggered as a result a large number of Romans visiting the famous centers of Greek philosophy and science, such as Athens, Corinth and Thebes, partly because Greece had become a province of the Roman Empire and Greeks were granted Roman citizenship.
Tourism in modern-day Greece started to flourish in the 1960s and 1970s, in what became known as mass tourism. During that time, large-scale construction projects for hotels and other such facilities were undertaken, and the country saw an increase in international tourists over the years. International events such as the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, both held in Athens, greatly helped to boost tourism in the country, while large-scale nationally funded cultural infrastructure such as the New Acropolis Museum also contributed to the flow of tourists in the country. Thessaloniki was the European Youth capital in 2014.
In 2009, the country welcomed over 19.3 million tourists, a major increase from the 17.7 million tourists the country welcomed in 2008. The vast majority of tourists in the country are from within the European Union (12.7 million), followed by those from the Americas (0.56 million), Asia (0.52 million), Oceania (0.1 million) and Africa (0.06 million). In the year 2007, more British people visited the country than any other nationality, numbering 2.61 million in total, making up 15% of the country's tourists for that year alone. Additionally, 2.3 million Germans, 1.8 million Albanians and 1.1 million Bulgarians visited the country that year. In 2007, 92.8% of the total number of tourists in Greece were from countries in Europe.
The most-visited region of Greece is that of Central Macedonia in northern Greece, near some of the most popular attractions in the country such as Halkidiki, Mount Olympus, Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, and Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki. In 2009, Central Macedonia welcomed 3.6 million tourists, or 18% of the total number of tourists who visited Greece that year, followed by Attica (2.6 million) and the Peloponnese (1.8 million). Northern Greece is the country's most-visited region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece comes second with 6.3 million.
According to a survey conducted in China in 2015, Greece was voted as the Chinese people's number one choice as a tourist destination. In November 2016, Austria, like China, announced that Greece was the favourite tourist destination for its citizens. In line with these observations, Greece's former Minister of Tourism Aris Spiliotopoulos announced the opening of a Greek National Tourism Organization office in Shanghai by the end of 2010, and GNTO currently operates two tourism offices in China, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. It is estimated that throughout 2013 Greece welcomed over 17.93 million tourists, an increase of 10% compared to 2012. More than 22 million tourists visited Greece in 2014 and this number increased to 26 million visitors in 2015 and is projected to attract 28 million visitors in 2016, making it one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world. Tourism in Greece will typically peak between May and September where approximately 75% of all tourist visits happen.
At the same time, tourism consumption increased considerably since the turn of the millennium, from US$17.7 bn. in 2000 to US$29.6 bn. in 2004. The numbers of jobs directly or indirectly related to the tourism sector were 659,719 and represented 16.5% of the country's total employment for that year.
As a developed country highly dependent on tourism, Greece offers a wide variety of tourist facilities. Tourism infrastructure in Greece has been greatly improved since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and continues to expand with a number of important projects particularly in areas of less mass-tourism.
Some popular beach resorts include Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Zante and Skiathos attracting millions of foreign tourists every year.
Conference tourism, targeted at academic, business, or cultural markets, is a cornerstone of the Greek national tourism policy. As a result, the Greek government, with strong support from local authorities, has been offering lucrative cash grants, leasing and employment subsidies and tax allowances to establish new conference facilities and expand existing ones. In a recent report in Meeting and Incentive Travel, Greece was ranked eighth in the world in overnight stays for conferences. Figures from the Tourism Satellite Accounting Research, conducted by WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) project a worldwide increase in revenues in business travel to Greece from US $1.51 bn. in 2001 to US $2.69 bn. in 2011. In 1998, the figure stood at US $1.18 bn.
According to the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels in 2016, the number of hotels in Greece was by classification (bedplaces):
Greece has 51 marinas and 14,661 mooring places that provide such services as berths, fuel, water and electricity, telephony, and repairs.
Some of the most developed and busiest marinas in Greece are just a few kilometres from the centre of Athens. The marinas of Alimos and Flisvos, on the south coast of Athens, have an aggregated capacity of more than 1,800 vessels.
Greece has 752 thermosprings. Many have been classified as therapeutic by the National Institute for Geographical and Mineral Research. Several of them were known and exploited already since antiquity. Thermal or curative tourism was, after all, one of the earliest forms of tourism in the ancient world. In 1983 was founded the Hellenic Association of Municipalities with Thermal Springs  Some of these ancient "spa resorts" were situated in Aidipsos, known from the time of Aristotle, Loutraki, mentioned by Xenophon, Traianoupoli , founded by the emperor Trajan in the 2nd century A.D., whereas some others are attested in the Byzantine period, such as the Thermal baths of Langadas . In the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century these hot springs were surrounded by cosmopolitan facilities, namely hotels and restaurants, whereas several prominent members of the society of both the Modern Greek State and the Ottoman State (for regions still incorporated in it) invested in touristic infrastructure and private estates. Thermal tourism became particularly widespread in the 1960s and 1970s, whereas in the 1980s it was widely supported by a social tourism program, which subsidized large part of the expenses for the elderly users of the facilities. Nowadays, however, there is an urgent need to refurbish, restore and elevate these spas to modern standards and create an international clientele. Visitors, however, can already find high-standard touristic facilities in Pozar , in Aidipsos  and in Kamena Vourla , in Loutraki close to Corinth  as well as at Kaiafas, on the western shores of the Peloponnese . A detailed List of spa towns in Greece can give an insight in the inexorable richness of thermal springs of the country.
Several kinds of museums are located in the Hellenic Republic. Generally speaking, every major city and town in Greece has its own Archaeological Museum, which houses findings from the nearby area. However, most of them can be found in the big cities like Athens, where the famous New Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are located. Furthermore, there is a vast number of galleries like the National Gallery (Athens). There are many museums in Thessaloniki too, like the Byzantine Museum. Overall, there are approximately 150 museums all over the country which are easily accessible by tourists.
There are numerous archaeological sites dotted all around Greece, many of which are popular with tourists.
The Greek capital, Athens, has many archaeological sites, the most famous being the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Athenian cemetery of Kerameikos, the Philopappou Hill, the Tower of the Winds, Plato's Academy and the Ancient Agora.
In the adjacent area of Attica are the Marathon tumuli, burying mounds in Marathon that house the ashes of the Athenian and Plataean hoplites that were killed in the homonymous battle. Findings from the area and from the battle of Marathon are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Marathon nearby. In western Attica is Eleusis, where, from as early as 1700 BC up to the 4th century AD, it was the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries, or the Mysteries of Demeter and Kore. At the eastern tip of Attica is Sounion, with the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon.
Central Greece is the location of Thebes, an ancient city that once rivalled Athens, and featured in Greek myth. Delphi has a distinguished ancient theatre, the site of the Oracle. Thermopylae is primarily known for the battle that took place there in 480 BC, in which an outnumbered Greek force probably of seven thousand (including the famous 300 Spartans) held off a substantially larger force of Persians estimated in the range 70,000-300,000 under Xerxes.
The Peloponnese peninsula, dominating the south of the mainland, has a wide variety of archaeological sites. Beginning at the north end, there is Ancient Corinth, near the modern town of the same name. In the northeast of the peninsula are Epidaurus, with its ancient theatre, now restored; Argos, with several ancient ruins, including the Heraion; and Nemea, where, in Greek mythology, Heracles overcame the Nemean Lion of the Lady Hera, and during Antiquity the Nemean Games were played. Most important of all, however, is Mycenae, which, in the second millennium BC, was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece and parts of southwest Anatolia. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. Tiryns, also in the area, is a Mycenaean archaeological site.
In the centre of the Peloponnese are Sparta, where, near the modern town, are ancient ruins, the most important being the tomb of Leonidas; Tegea, an important religious center of ancient Greece, containing the Temple of Athena Alea; and Lycosura, said by Pausanias to be the oldest city in the world.
On the western side of the peninsula are Bassae, an archaeological site in the northeastern part of Messenia; Messene itself, the ruins of a large classical city-state refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC; and, at Pylos, the ruins of the Palace of Nestor, which is the primary structure within a larger Late Helladic era settlement, likely once surrounded by a fortified wall. In the northwest is Olympia, with many ancient ruins, including the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, the Palaestra and the Leonidaion.
Archaeological sites in Epirus, the western part of mainland Greece, include Ambracia, the ruins of the ancient capital of Pyrrhus of Epirus; Dodona, whose shrine was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle, possibly dating to the second millennium BC according to Herodotus; Elaea, near the mouth of the Acheron; and Gitanae. Nicopolis or Actia Nicopolis, also in Epirus, was founded 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium the previous year. In addition, there are the ruins believed by some to be those of the Necromanteion of Acheron, an ancient Greek temple of necromancy devoted to Hades and Persephone.
The second city of Greece, Thessaloniki, is nicknamed the "Co-capital". It has many historic buildings, some World Heritage Sites, including the Arch and Rotunda of Galerius, the Church of Panagia Chalkeon and the White Tower.
In the adjacent region of Macedonia, there is Dion, the sacred place of the Ancient Macedonians. Dion is the site of a large temple dedicated to Zeus, as well as a series of temples to Demeter and to Isis. Pella, also in the region, is the capital of Ancient Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great and Philip II of Macedon.
Other archaeological sites in Macedonia include Olynthus in Chalcidice; Philippi, established by the king of Macedon, Philip II, on the site of the Thracian colony of Krinides or Crenides; Amphipolis, an ancient city once inhabited by the Edoni people; Leibethra, an ancient city close to Olympus where Orpheus was buried by the Muses; Stagira, ruins of the ancient city known as the birthplace of Aristotle; and Vergina, a World Heritage Site, the location of the Macedonian Royal Tombs and the ruins of the ancient Macedonian capital.
Thrace, of which only the western part belongs to modern Greece, has an archaeological site at Abdera. Didymoteicho is a historical town built near the Turkish border which has many Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman landmarks, including the ruins of the ancient city of Plotinopolis, the Byzantine fortifications built around the town, the Bayezid Mosque built in 1420 and the Silent Baths, the oldest hamam in Europe.
The Greek islands have numerous historical sites of their own. Chalcis is located on Euboea. Delos is an uninhabited island in the Cyclades famous for its numerous archaeological sites, including the Stoivadeion, the Temple of the Delians, the Terrace of the Lions and the House of the Dolphins. On Syros, near Piraeus, and linked to the latter by a ferry taking only 2.5 hours, is the neoclassical city of Hermoupolis, where two civilizations and two religions lived harmonically and peacefully together. It has beaches, classical theatre, casino, general hospital and many places to see.
The Samothrace temple complex is one of the principal Pan-Hellenic religious sanctuaries, located on the island of Samothrace.
Crete, the largest Greek island, has archaeological sites at Phaistos in the south, Zakros in the east, and most important of all, Knossos in the centre, which is famous for its ruined Minoan palace, with bull motifs.
Rhodes, one of the Dodecanese islands, is the location of the Acropolis of Rhodes, an acropolis dating from the Classical Greek period (5th–3rd century BC); the Acropolis of Lindos, a natural citadel which was fortified successively by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Knights of St John and the Ottomans; and the ancient city of Kameiros. On the nearby island of Kos is the Asclepeion, the ruins of one of the greatest healing temples of the Ancient World and the place where Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine was trained. On Kastellorizo, the easternmost island of Greece, is the Lycian Tomb, a rock cut tomb built by the ancient Anatolian civilization of the Lycians.
Greece has become in recent years a destination for ecotourism (especially hiking, canoeing, caving and climbing). The main destinations for skiing in Greece are Arachova, Kalavryta, Karpenisi and Metsovo. The Greek government is trying to bring more and more ecotourism to help and save the enviornment. So tourists and locals alike can have a clean enviornment.
The government intends to promote winter tourism in Greece, which could potentially increase international arrivals even further.
Tourism in Greece is run by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) who used Helena Paparizou, a famous Greek singer who won Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 as an ambassador. Singer Sakis Rouvas, who represented Greece in the 2009 Eurovision song contest, is currently the ambassador for Greek Tourism.
The advertisements displayed in the GNTO's web"site still focus on the triptych of sea, sun and sand. However, the tourism campaign is undergoing a significant change as city-breaks and conference tourism are promoted, along with cultural and wellness tourism. The impact of the new campaign will hopefully result in increased tourist revenues. The name of commercials is "You in Greece".
Agios Nikolaos or Aghios Nikolaos (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος [ˈaʝoz niˈkolaos]) is a coastal town on the Greek island of Crete, lying east of the island's capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia.
In the year 2011, the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, which takes in part of the surrounding villages, claimed 27,074 inhabitants. The town is a municipality of the Crete region and sits partially upon the ruins of the ancient city of Lato pros Kamara.Chalkidiki
Chalkidiki, also spelt Chalkidike, Chalcidice, Khalkidhiki or Halkidiki (Greek: Χαλκιδική, romanized: Chalcidicḗ, [xalciðiˈci]), is a peninsula and regional unit of Greece, part of the Region of Central Macedonia in Northern Greece. The autonomous Mount Athos region constitutes the easternmost part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit.
The capital of Chalkidiki is the main town of Polygyros, located in the centre of the peninsula. Chalkidiki is a popular summer tourist destination.Chios (regional unit)
Chios (Greek: Περιφερειακή ενότητα Χίου, Greek pronunciation: [periferi.aˈci eˈnotita ˈçi.u]) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of North Aegean. The capital of the regional unit is the town of Chios. The regional unit consists of the islands of Chios, Psara, Oinousses and some smaller uninhabited islands (including Antipsara), all in the Aegean Sea.Chrysi (island)
Chrissi (Greek: Χρυσή or Chrisi, "golden", also Γαϊδουρονήσι - Gaidouronisi "donkey island") is an uninhabited Greek island approximately 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Crete close to Ierapetra in the South Cretan Sea. Approximately 700 metres (2,300 feet) east of the island is the island of Mikronisi. Administratively these islands fall within the Ierapetra municipality in Lasithi.
It contains a small church and harbour on its northwestern coast, Ekklisia Agios Nikolaos.Dia (island)
Dia (Greek Δία ['ði.a]), also pronounced locally Ntia (Ντία ['di.a]), is an uninhabited island off the northern coast of the Greek island of Crete. The island is approximately 7 nautical miles north of Heraklion. Administratively, Dia is part of the community of Elaia within the municipal unit of Gouves, Heraklion regional unit, by the municipality of Elias.Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city (polis) in ancient Greece, on the Argolid Peninsula at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros:Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidaurus, part of the regional unit of Argolis. The seat of the municipality is the town Lygourio.Ermoupoli
Ermoupoli (Greek: Ερμούπολη), also known by the formal older name Ermoupolis or Hermoupolis (Greek: Ἑρμούπολις < Ἑρμοῦ πόλις "Town of Hermes"), is a town and former municipality on the island of Syros, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it is part of the municipality Syros-Ermoupoli, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is also the capital of the South Aegean region. The municipal unit has an area of 11.181 km2.Folegandros
Folegandros (also Pholegandros; Greek: Φολέγανδρος) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea that, together with Sikinos, Ios, Anafi and Santorini, forms the southern part of the Cyclades. Its surface area is 32.216 square kilometres (12.439 sq mi) and it has 765 inhabitants.
It has three small villages, Chora, Karavostasis, and Ano Meria, which are connected by a paved road. Folegandros is part of the Thira regional unit.Gavdopoula
Gavdopoula (Greek: Γαυδοπούλα, [ɣavðoˈpula]) is an islet located north-west of its larger neighbour, Gavdos, in the Libyan Sea. It is located to the south of Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania. It is part of the municipality of Gavdos, and it was part of the former Selino Province.Greek National Tourism Organization
The Greek National Tourism Organization (Greek: Εθνικός Οργανισμός Τουρισμού, Ethnikos Organismos Tourismou), often abbreviated as GNTO (Greek: EOT) is the governmental department for the promotion of tourism in Greece. It functions under the supervision of the Ministry for Culture and Tourism.Kasos
Kasos (; Greek: Κάσος, pronounced [ˈka̠so̞s]), also Casos, is a Greek island municipality in the Dodecanese. It is the southernmost island in the Aegean Sea, and is part of the Karpathos regional unit. As of 2011, its population was 1084. The island is known in Italian as Caso.Kimolos
Kimolos (Greek: Κίμωλος; Latin: Cimolus) is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It lies on the southwest of the island group of Cyclades, near the bigger island of Milos. Kimolos is the administrative center of the municipality of Kimolos, which also includes the uninhabited islands of Polyaigos, Agios Efstathios and Agios Georgios. The island has a land area of 36 square kilometres (13.900 sq mi), while the municipality's land area is 53.251 square kilometres (20.560 sq mi), and it reported a population of 910 inhabitants in the 2011 census.Ministry of Tourism (Greece)
The Ministry of Tourism (Greek: Υπουργείo Τουρισμού) is a former government department of Greece in charge of tourism. Known previously as the Ministry of Touristic Development (Υπουργείο Τουριστικής Ανάπτυξης), it was merged with the Ministry of Culture on 7 October 2009 but re-established as a separate department on 21 June 2012.Mochlos
Mochlos (Greek: Μόχλος) is a modern island in the Gulf of Mirabello in eastern Crete, and the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement. There is evidence that Mochlos was not an island in Minoan times, but was attached to the mainland and acted as an eastern harbor.
The name Mochlos also applies to the small fishing village and resort located on the main island of Crete, opposite Mochlos island. Only 150 metres separates them. The island is administered from Tourloti which is only 9 km (6 mi) away.National Theatre of Greece
The National Theatre of Greece is based in Athens, Greece.Oinousses
Oinousses (Greek: Οινούσσες, alternative forms: Aignousa (Αιγνούσα) or Egnousa (Εγνούσα)) is a barren cluster of 1 larger and 8 smaller islands some 2 kilometres (1 mile) off the north-east coast of the Greek island of Chios and 8 km (5 miles) west of Turkey. Administratively the islands form a municipality within the Chios regional unit, which is part of the North Aegean region. The principal town of the islands and seat of the municipality is also called Oinousses. Oinousses has a small resident population, living primarily in the island's town of Oinoússes (pop. 792), and a recently built monastery. The town is centred on a square and a small port; it includes a school, several churches, a Naval high school and a maritime museum. The only other populated settlements are Kástron (pop. 29) and Aspalathrókampos (5).
The vast majority of the workforce of the island is engaged in seafaring, fishing and goat-herding.
The islands are noted as the origin of an unusual cluster of successful ship-owning families: the Lemos, Pateras, Hadjipateras, Kollakis and Lyras families. Whilst most of the families now live elsewhere most of the year, the islands and town are well maintained with a strong naval connection. Oinoussians abroad are noted for their successful entrepreneurial skills in the industrial transportation industry. Although the number of Oinoussian ship operating companies has fallen since their heyday in the 1960s they still maintain a formidable position in the industrial transportation industry.Patmos
Patmos (Greek: Πάτμος, pronounced [ˈpatmos]) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, most famous for being the location of the vision given to the disciple John in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, and where the book was written.
One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,998 and an area of 34.05 km2 (13.15 sq mi). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres (883 ft) above sea level. The municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi (pop. 44), Marathos (pop. 5), and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,047 (2011 census) and a combined land area of 45.039 square kilometres (17.390 sq mi). It is part of the Kalymnos regional unit.
Patmos' main communities are Chora (the capital city), and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The mayor of Patmos is Gregory Stoikos.Polygyros
Polygyros (Greek: Πολύγυρος) is a town and municipality in Central Macedonia, Greece. It is the capital of Chalkidiki.Souda (island)
Souda (Greek: Σούδα) is an islet in Souda Bay on the northwest coast of Crete. In ancient times this islet was one of two islets that were referred to as Leukai. The second islet is known today as Leon.
Tourism in Europe
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