Widely considered the cradle of European civilisation, Greece is a country of art and culture par excellence, where its myths, monuments and traditions are unmissable testaments to the grandeur of its history. Travelling in this country, the birthplace of countless artistic and cultural movements, is an almost sacred experience for culture vultures - but no one can fail to be impressed by its offering. As you move captivated among its ancient cities, temples, and charming islands, you will be drawn irresistibly into the fabulous world of Greece.
Greek customs date back to a time so distant and hazy that it is difficult to trace their origins. To discover the most fascinating festivities of Greece, be sure to visit Patras. There, a spectacular carnival takes place over several weeks between February and March. Various animations, parades and shows await, especially during the closing of the carnival. It is an excellent opportunity to admire traditional costumes, theatre, dance and to revel in the local music.
Other festivals such as the Koulouma, the feast of pure Monday, remind us of the attachment of Greece to the Orthodox religion. During this event, the Greeks meet for a merry picnic punctuated by music and the Tsamiko, a folk dance. But perhaps the most iconic activity to mark the day is the kite parade. The Greeks find, in the simple act of flying these kites, a way of purifying themselves.
Greece has long sat at the crossroads of many cultures and trade routes, and this unique fusion of cultures and the diversity of products available to Greece is represented in its culinary offering. Ingredients and approaches often found in other cuisines - be they Turkish, French, Balkan, Libyan, Italian - reappear in fascinating combinations throughout Greek cooking.
From the earthy to the divine, the Greek mainland and hundreds of inhabited islands that surround it boast a magnificent array of culinary experiences for you to indulge in. In fact, it’s difficult to think of Greece without conjuring a cornucopia of succulent grapes, shiny olives, stuffed vine leaves, fresh herbs, sheep’s cheeses, ripe lemons, gleaming fish, heavenly parcels of filo pastry, rich Greek yogurt…
Like all iconic tourist destinations, Greece preserves a wealth of culture, with traditions that often date back several millennia. Within these, it is the colourful nature of the customs that leave a lasting impression most deeply on tourists. Derived principally from the paganism of antiquity and Orthodox Christianity, they are essential components in understanding the Greek people, many of whom are bathed in superstition and believers of supernatural phenomena, especially among the older generations. Knowing the Greek traditions and customs is therefore an excellent way to foster closer relationships and shared experiences wherever you travel in the country.
And so, when crossing the different parts of the country, travellers will spot many local inhabitants wearing the traditional clothes of their region. In Crete, for example, the traditional costume of men consists mostly of the "vraka", which are large puffy trousers, a shirt, a waistcoat and a pair of knee-high boots. Women, meanwhile, rarely wear their traditional outfits as part of their day-to-day, but rather save them for special occasions and holidays. In general, their costumes are composed of loose blouses and long skirts adorned with beautiful, embroidered patterns.
Greece could never attempt to hide its status as one of the oldest and most influential civilisations in the world, blessed as it is by countless beautifully preserved sites continuing to echo its past power and wealth.
The Acropolis of Athens is a shimmering wonder of antiquity, the epoch when the Greek Empire reached its apogee. Meanwhile, photo opportunities abound at the famous Parthenon, the temple of Athena and the theatre of Dionysus. There are also lesser-known but equally precious monuments to leave you in awe, such as the Erechtheion or the Propylaea.
Beyond Athens you can also visit the archaeological sites of Delphi, Delos, Mycenae and Olympia. Cities like Rhodes, Corfu or places like Mount Athos and the theatre of Epidaurus will surely also capture your curiosity.
The Greek calendar is overflowing with festivals so numerous that anyone whose villa stay extends over two weeks will surely have the chance to attend one of them. The most popular celebrations are the Fête du nom, baptisms, engagements, weddings, Easter, but also the Apokriá, or Apokries, carnival.
Usually, it takes place during the three weeks preceding the first day of Lent. The celebrations of the 25th of March, the day of Greek independence, as well as that of October 28th, commemorating the courage of the Greeks against the army of Mussolini, are also fascinating celebrations not to be missed.