6 Things To Do BEFORE Going To Greece
Have you been dreaming of Greece your whole life? Is your wildest wanderlust fantasy about to come true?! Stop watching the clock countdown to takeoff and feed your inspiration instead. Get excited for your trip with these 6 things to do before Greece!
Be sure to check out my post on the perfect Santorini Airbnb before you book as well. (Don’t get stuck staying in crowded Oia. This Airbnb is within walking distance to all the touristy spots but offers much more privacy and peace!)
Sample Greek Food
I love taking my preconceptions and expectations about a place and replacing them with reality. I enjoyed tasting the “American” version of Greek food and then having my mind completely blown in Greece.
Word of advice: keep an open mind. I never cared for Greek yogurt and had only ever tasted commercial brands. At the port in Santorini yogurt was included as a side at breakfast, no substitutions. I have NEVER tasted such a light and heavenly sweet Greek yogurt flavored cloud. I have yet to find a grocery store product that compares.
Watch a Cheesy Film
We all know that Hollywood isn’t the best place to go for accuracy or reality. BUT now is the time to let your imagination soar, and what better way to do that than with a movie?
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Lena is escorted to her grandparent’s Cycladic home in Oia via donkey– need I say more? Yes, I forced my husband to watch this movie with me before we went. Yes, when we were in Santorini we found the cove where Lena and Costas had their meet-cute <3
I had to include a Disney movie on this list. I enjoyed revisiting the image of Greek mythology I grew up with and then comparing it to factual history while in Athens. Spoiler alert- the Disney version is a little more kid-friendly and light-hearted than the actual tale of Hercules.
Okay, opposite of Disney movie. Way opposite of historical accuracy. But it was fun to compare pop-culture’s take on Sparta with seeing actual relics and actually being in Greece.
OXI: An Act of Resistance
Check out a Greek film. I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Greek cinema, but I chose one that I found subtitled! As a bonus “No” takes place in modern day Greece.
Learn Some Language Basics
Because Greece is largely a tourism economy, you are never far from someone who knows at least a little English. However, it is always a good idea to know a few key phrases before traveling anywhere new.
“Good day” = “Kalimera” (kah-lee-mare-uh)
“Excuse me” = “Signomi” (seeg-no-mee)
“Please” or “You’re welcome” = “Parakalo” (par-ah-kah-lo)
“Thank you” = “Pharisto” (feh-reh-stoh)*
*My travel dictionary failed me on this one. Most sources show the proper word “efkharisto” (eff-car-ee-stoh). On the ferry to Santorini, we were lucky enough to sit by a local who shared the more common, and less complicated term. Feh-reh-stoh is the way to go.
Do Some Bible Mapping
For me, getting biblical context was one of the most important things to do before Greece. The majority of the New Testament has ties to Greece thanks to the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys in the first century.
In my travels, Athens was the only relevant place with a Biblical connection. Most notably, Paul regularly delivered sermons at Areopagus, a rock outcropping with a beautiful view right next to the Acropolis.
We made it a point to climb up the rock (which was actually sort of treacherous because we missed the tiny metal staircase) and have a small quiet time. Acts 17:16-34 is actually known as the Areopagus sermon. It was great to spend time at a location mentioned by name in the Bible.
Pray for Greece
For full transparency, this is not something I did before going to Greece. However, it is definitely a habit I am trying to make before visiting another country. Check out my easy prayers for travel to spark some topics to pray with God about. These prayers help you be more conscious of the political, social and economic needs of Greece.
Read a Classic
Sooo completing this before going to Greece may take a bit more time.
The ultimate classic literature that comes to mind is Homer’s The Odyssey. One of the oldest books in Western literature, this “epic” follows Oddyseus as he tries to make his way home (to Greece of course).
I remember being forced to read this in high school, but I actually enjoyed revisiting the unlucky adventure that includes a blind cyclops, countless shipwrecks, and infamous Sirens. Reading this reminded me just how rich (and ancient) Greece’s history is!
Make Your Own Greek Bucket List
Now that you have fresh inspiration, make your own list of must-dos.
Did this list get you excited to go to Greece? Do you have anything to add? Let me know your things to do before Greece in the comments!
“Thank you” is efharisto with the accent on the o. Not “pharisto”.
I am an American who moved to Greece and I never really liked yoghurt until I tried the Fage brand. It is called Total yoghurt and is so smooth and tastes very much like sour cream. I will not eat any other yoghurt here in Greece because they are to sour for me. I encourage all my friends and family back home to use Fage Total for the true Greek yoghurt flavor. I have seen it in the supermarkets all over the States. Easy to find!
I really like that you included tips of things to do before traveling! Very fun 🙂
Thank you! I get so excited before I leave, preparing is fun as well.
Thanks for these great ideas! I found your page when looking for info to prepare for a long weekend trip in Thessaloniki, Greece.
While I was looking for general info on Greece / Thessaloniki when I found this article, I’ve also been looking for info related to the historic / cultural context of Paul’s trips and the letters to the Thessalonians.
I remember reading Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill when in Athens, and wanted to have more historical background before our upcoming trip to talk about with our family while there. If you know of any articles related to that (I’m only finding long sermon series, and not the general context I’m looking for), I’d love to have a link! (Or maybe one day you’ll write it. . . Haha!)
Hi Alexandra! I’m so glad you found my blog 🙂 I love the overview Visit Greece provides. They list all the cities that Paul visited, and I was then able to go and do further research in my Bible once I knew his context in each city. I also love the SheReadsTruth study bible. The maps are very easy to understand and they provide scripture references that are visual and easy to match to the map as well. I hope this helps!
Wonderful list! Then you can explore and enjoy the traveling anywhere in Greece.
Thank you! I hope this is helpful for getting around this beautiful country!
Greece is one of our much loved destinations. The food is just delicious…like nothing else we’ve tasted on any of our other travels (secretly Naxos, by far the most mouth watering delicious food!) Each island we visited had its own special charm. The hospitality of the Greek people was amazing, there is a word, philoxenia and philotimo, that encapsulates the Greeks and their beautiful Greece!
A must vist destination!
I absolutely love Greece as well- although I didn’t get the chance to visit Naxos so I guess I will just have to go back! Thank you for sharing those Greek words, they truly do encapsulate the people there.
I have always wanted to go to Greece. I wonder, did you have any trouble with any possible dangerous areas while traveling there, or once you were there? What I mean is, are there areas that should be on a “American ban” list?
You definitely should, it is beautiful! In Athens it was pretty easy to tell if you were heading into an unfriendly area. I wouldn’t say “ban” but rather needing common sense to stay safe. We mainly stayed around touristy areas there and never ran into any problems. Santorini, on the other hand, was beautiful and welcoming day and night. I was never worried about avoiding any areas at all on the island!