Greece is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, ranking in the world’s top 20 countries. According to the greek Ministry of Tourism, the nation received about 17 million visitors from January to mid August 2007, a large number for a small country of 11 million. Visitors are drawn to the country’s beaches and reliable sunny summer weather, its nightlife, historical sites and natural beauty.
Backstreets of charming Firá, Santoríni
Over 90% of visitors who come to Greece come from other European countries, although in recent years there have been growing numbers of tourists from other world regions. The vast majority of visitors arrive during tourism season, which is April through October. Peak season is July through August, and most of the tourists and tourism industry are concentrated in Crete, the Dodecanese Islands, the Cycladic Islands, the Ionian Islands, and to a lesser extent: the Peloponnese region and the Halkidiki peninsula in Makedonía region. There are still many rewarding areas in the country free of large-scale tourism.
Many first-time visitors arrive in Greece with specific images in mind and are surprised to discover a country with such regional and architectural diversity. The famous whitewashed homes and charming blue-domed churches only characterize a specific region of the country (the Cycladic islands). Architecture varies greatly from one region to the next depending on the local history. Visitors will find Neoclassical architecture in the cities of Ermoupolis and Nafplio, Ottoman-influenced buildings in Grevená and Kozáni, whitewashed Cycladic homes on the island of Páros, and pastel-colored baroque homes and churches on Corfu. The nation’s terrain is just as varied as its architectural heritage: idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards in the south, and lush forests in the north. Greece’s historical sights are just as varied; the country is littered with just as many medieval churches and castles as classical ruins and temples.