5 Things You Should Know before Traveling to the Greek Islands

The Greek Islands are a unique destination and are among the most popular summer holiday destinations in Europe. With their rich culture and iconic architecture, they attract people from all over the world. Anyway, there are some things that are not commonly known about the Greek Islands and I want to share them here with you:

1. Get Backpackin’

Honestly, this was my biggest regret once I stepped out the plane in Santorini. The infrastructure in Greece is not made four a wheeled suitcase, and having to drag it along pebbled roads and onto ferries and little trucks is a huge drawback. Even though I would not consider myself a ‘backpacker’, I really wished I could just exchange my big old Rimowa for a carry-on Osprey and save me some time and hassle.

Pathos Sunset Lounge in Ios, Greece.
2. Plastic Money Won’t Work Here

This is both a curse and a blessing: I hardly use cash anymore here in Austria and almost never carry more than ten Euros in cash with me. Due to the fact that Greece struggles financially and has to return high interest rates to credit card providers, they do not necessarily like to accept them. I’ve found that in smaller boutiques they will sometimes even give you a discount when you pay in cash. So always ask to pay by card first and then wait for their reaction!

Santorini just before the sunset
3. Don’t Flush

I really could not come up with a better heading for this one. Let me put it that way, the Greek sewer system is a lot narrower than its Western counterparts. If this won’t already warn you enough, most Greek toilets in touristy areas have a warning sign inside the stall telling you not to throw used paper down the bowl, but instead into the trash can next to it. Unusual, but that’s just what it’s like in Greece.

Pikra Nera Beach in Ios, Greece.
4. Stairs and Stairs and Stairs…

Honestly, don’t bring heels unless you want to break your ankles! The alleys and narrow passages on almost all Greek Islands really are hard to navigate through and exhausting to stroll around. The thing that is often neglected in big, commerical reviews and tourist guides is the fact that most places on the Greek Islands are not accessible for everyone. During my whole trip I did not see any disabled person, simply because – surprise – it is almost impossible for any person in need of a walking aid to safely get from A to B. I really don’t want to shame the local authorities for not considering accessibility, as this can hardly be reached without changing all the architecture and infrastructure. But definitely take this fact into consideration when planning your trip.

Santorini at night.
5. It’s Worth the Wait

Coming from a Western mentality, I really struggled with the laid-back attitude Greek folks have towards waiting, or more having someone wait. As in most Southern European countries, everything just takes a little longer and might not seem as organized and clear at first, but it all turns out right in the end. For example, ordering at a restaurant in Greece usually is a multi-step procedure: first you order some bread and water, then a starter, then choose the wine from at least three different bottles, then you wait to order the main dish… It never really goes in one go as I’m used to from at home. On the other hand though, no waiter ever got my order wrong and the time spent ‘waiting’ is more time spent with your friends and loved ones chatting away and enjoying the scenery.

Greek wine at its best!

All that being said, you really can’t say I didn’t warn ya! Have fun discovering the Greek Islands and enjoy your trip!