This year is proving to be quite a year. As we all know, a new virus has messed up our lives. Tourism has been particularly hit. Though we all love to travel, aren’t we all a bit scared? Granted, the best way to stay safe is to limit traveling as much as possible. However, we are lucky to live in Athens, close to some of the world’s nicest beaches and islands. Greece is one of the safest places to be right now. Both the government and the Greeks reacted on time and efficiently back in February and again in November last year. Therefore, the country suffered one of the lowest infection rates in Europe. Having tackled the virus successfully, we are happy to report that it’s safe to travel to Greece in 2021. Here are our 10 reasons why you should travel to Greece this year.
Is it Safe to Travel to Greece Right Now?
You have every right to be worried about the whole virus mess. We worry too! First and foremost, an online analysis will tell you that Greece is amongst the countries that best dealt with the situation; far fewer cases and deaths than other countries in Europe. Greek authorities placed restrictions ahead of time and saved a lot of lives. For those of us that live in Greece, this didn’t surprise us. Greeks value health and good living above all things. That’s how they greet you: geia, which means health!
Greece is finally open for tourism. Unfortunately, only tourists coming from certain countries are exempt from the quarantine upon arrival. Bars, restaurants, and cafes are only allowed to serve customers in the open. Traveling between the regions is finally allowed, although you need a negative PCR or proof of vaccination to visit the islands. There is also a nighttime curfew from 01:30 AM to 5 AM. So yes, it’s pretty safe to travel to Greece right now.
Things to Know before Traveling to Greece
To keep everyone safe, the Greek government has introduced the Passenger Locator Form (PLF). You should fill out this form at least 24 hours before entering Greece. The form includes detailed information on your point of departure, previous travels and duration, and your address in Greece. If you plan to move around the country, you must provide the address of your first accommodation. Though you might find these measures a little bit annoying, they are here to protect you and other people around you.
Tourism in Greece is essential, and 2021 is no exception. Shops, bars, restaurants, travel companies, and hotels are currently following strict protocols to safeguard their employees and guests. We are delighted to report that these protocols are easy to follow and work! Regarding transportation, there are empty seats between passengers, disinfectant gel is everywhere, and personnel and passengers wear masks. Everything is spotless! Don’t forget to fill the contact tracing form before entering the boat, to keep your mask on, and to enjoy the ride. We advise you to carry your own pen everywhere you go, so you don’t have to touch someone else’s. Once again, remember to check this link for up to date safety recommendations.
10 Reasons to Visit Greece in 2021
Greek Culture is Millenary
Who hasn’t dreamed about traveling to Greece? I am sure you’ve all heard about Greek philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Their beliefs and ideas still influence the world in so many ways. All of us history and literature fans love Greek mythology, ancient poems, and contemporary books. Greek art and architecture are amongst the best in the world. What else could you possibly ask for? The best food in Europe and some of the best beaches in the world complete the feast. Greece is an attack on the senses. Here, you get to travel in time to ancient cultures, embrace the future, explore gorgeous nature, eat superb food, and enjoy splendid weather!
Greek Hotels are Different
When it comes to hotels, Greece excels again. Most hotels are small and medium-size, so you get a lot of space. We stayed in several hotels last summer and felt safe at all times. From our splendid Nymfes Hotel in Kamares beach in Sifnos, the superb Benois Hotel in Galissas Beach in Syros, the luxurious Amaronda Resort in Eretria, and the lovely Coralli Bungalows in Serifos, everything was spotless! For breakfast, all we had to do is choose from a wide variety of delicious food, and it was brought to us safely. Once again, there was never overcrowding. The few guests that shared the hotels with us did respect the protocol and did keep the required social distance. Thanks everyone for taking such good care of us!
Greek Open Air Terraces are Splendid
One of the things that makes Greece safe is the number of open-air terraces. As you know, viruses spread easily in closed and unventilated areas. Thus, sipping your cocktail and tasting delicious moussaka on a lovely terrace is fantastic and healthy. Besides, you get to enjoy unforgettable views. Travel to Greece in 2021 and eat outside every day! The food is delicious all around the country, and no one does outdoor eating like the Greeks. Greek hospitality is in a league of its own. The service is elegant and warm, everybody speaks English, and the restaurants are beautiful!
Life in Athens is Almost Back to Normal
We are not going to lie to you. Like everywhere else in Europe, 2021 is being hard for Athens and Greece as a whole. We went through a pretty strict lockdown in spring last year and again this winter and spring, with most commercial activity on hold. Fortunately, we were able to walk outside and exercise every day. Since then, slowly but surely, measures were lifted. Today, almost everything is open and, following protocols, safe.
Last summer was almost like every other summer. Bars and restaurants were open with more space between tables, constant cleaning, and masked employees. You could hear live Greek music in the streets of Plaka and Monastiraki. Some concerts were taking place too, but with smaller audiences and strict social distancing. What’s more, the wonderful Athens and Epidaurus Festival was back! You could enjoy great music in open-air historical settings!
Modern Trains to Beautiful Places
These are not the best times for people like us who don’t like to drive. Cars are a hassle, pollute, smell, and make a lot of noise. That said, in current times, a private car is the safest way of moving around. So what do you do in Greece if you don’t drive? You can take any of its buses, trains, planes, and ferries. Trains are our favorite means of transportation, so we’ve taken the one that goes to the nearby city of Chalkis.
We’ve spent two weeks on lovely beaches in Chalkis. We even took our bikes on the train and biked from the train station to our hotels. You can also take the train to several beaches, Patras and the gorgeous city of Nafpaktos. Since June 2020, the train goes along the coastline and ends in Aigio, some 40 km east of Patras. You can hop there on a bus or a taxi and be in Patras in no time! Or even better: take a taxi, a ferry and another taxi to Nafpaktos.
Incredible Islands a Short Boat Ride Away
Traveling on a ferry to the wonderful islands of Greece is pretty safe. We are not so crazy about traveling by boat because Eitan gets dizzy. Therefore, we decided to go to the closest islands in the fastest boats. It took us a bit over 2 hours to reach Sifnos. We combined it with Serifos, only a half an hour away from Sifnos. We also went to Syros and Paros, slightly further away. All the boats were spotlessly clean and well organized. There was enough space, and everybody was wearing a mask. The boats didn’t even move that much!
From Patras you can take a boat to Zakynthos, Cephalonia, Lefkada or Corfu. If you are in Central Greece you can take a train to Volos, and then a boat to gorgeous Skiathos or Skopelos Islands.
We use Ferryhopper to check prices and buy our ferry tickets across Greece.
Brilliant Places near Athens
Though the islands get most of the attention, there are outstanding sites close to Athens too. Comfortable buses connect Athens with three ancient sites. Delphi, the ancient sanctuary with fantastic views, is only a 2 hour bus ride from Athens. Another option is the marvelous theater in Epidaurus, 2 hours from Athens. An even closer destination, one hour from Athens, is the old temple by the beach in Sounion. If you are into beautiful cities, you can take a bus, and in 2 hours you’ll be in Nafplio, the former Greek capital. Of course, you can also rent a car or hire a taxi.
The Popular Islands are No Longer Crowded
This mess is also a fantastic opportunity. Everyone that wanted to visit Santorini but couldn’t take the crowds should go now. Since we are crowd adverse, we’ve been to Santorini in winter. Now it’s our chance to do so in summer, and explore its beaches. Santorini will soon open for tourism with both local and international flights. Likewise, you will be able to take any of the numerous boats from Athens and other islands. The same applies to other popular islands, such as Mykonos, Rhodes, and Crete. When will you ever have the chance to enjoy paradise in summer and with few people?
Discover Meteora without Crowds
Greece is much more than its heavenly islands. Meteora, in Thessaly, is another world-famous beauty. Meteora is a fantasy come true. Outstanding nature blends beautifully with fascinating architecture. Six medieval monasteries stand high on cliffs that rise tall out of nowhere. Each ancient monastery is an attraction on its own. Besides, there are tones of wonderful treks into nature. We visited in winter and had the entire place to ourselves. Visit Greece in 2021 and experience Meteora in summer. Once again, you can rent a car and drive there or take a safe train from Athens or Thessaloniki.
Chalkidiki Seems Deserted
Northern Greece is perfect for those of you coming from the rest of Europe by car. Thessaloniki is close to Promachonas and Evzoni, two of the three border crossings currently open to tourists. Note that when you arrive at the border, you need to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for COVID-19 not older than 72 hours. The nearby Chalkidiki Peninsula and its outstanding beaches are almost empty. Thessaloniki is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a plethora of historical sites. When it comes to beaches, the ones in Chalkidiki have nothing to envy from the Greek islands.