Tourism in Greece
tourism in greece has been a key element of the economic activity in the country and is one of the country's most important sectors greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in europe since the 1970s for its rich culture and history which is reflected in large part by its 18 unesco world heritage sites among the most in europe and the world as well as for its long coastline many islands and beaches the igram noise sand beach in the greek island of lefkada noted for its blue crystal waters is a popular tourist destination greece attracted as many as 31.3 million visitors in 2019 up from 24 million in 2015 making greece one of the most visited countries in europe and the world and contributing to approximately 25 to the nation's gross domestic product greece is one of europe's most popular lgbt tourist destinations the religious tourism and pilgrimages the eco-tourism the conference tourism and the medical tourism are prominent and initiatives are being made to promote the seasonal tourism as well some of the country's major tourist destinations include the capital city athens the islands of santorini mykonos rhodes corfu and crete as well as the peninsula of chalkitis history tourism in greece traces its roots to ancient times cultural exchange took place between the greek colonies of magna graca and the young roman republic before rome's rise to dominance of the western mediterranean when greece was annexed by the roman empire centuries later the cultural exchange that started between the two civilization triggered as a result a large number of romans visiting the famous centers of greek philosophy and science such as athens corinth and thebes partly because greece had become a province of the roman empire and greeks were granted roman citizenship tourism and modern day greece started to flourish in the 1960s and 1970s in what became known as mass tourism during that time large-scale construction projects for hotels and other such facilities were undertaken and the country saw an increase in international tourists over the years international events such as the 2004 summer olympic games and the eurovision song contest 2006 both held in athens greatly helped to boost tourism in the country while large-scale nationally funded cultural infrastructure such as the new acropolis museum also contributed to the flow of tourists in the country thessaloniki was the european youth capital in 2014 land and climate greece has a mediterranean climate along its coasts and islands once inland many areas and cities experience a continental climate summers are usually hot and dry while winters are generally mild and wet northern greece can experience cold winters while southern greece and the islands experience considerably milder winters infrastructure as a developed country highly dependent on tourism greece offers a wide variety of tourist facilities tourism infrastructure in greece has been greatly improved since the 2004 athens olympic games and continues to expand with a number of important projects particularly in areas of less mass tourism beach resorts some popular beach resorts include crete rhodes coast corfu kefalonia santi and skiapos attracting millions of foreign tourists every year hotels and facilities the five-star portugaras hotel resort in chilkitiki hosted the european union leaders summit in 2003 hotel and corfu emerit hotel in kabbalah macedonia palace and thessaloniki magarin hotel in heraklion hotel pier goes in midillini costa navarino in messina hotels in alanda crete sani resort in sunny chippity key kairai mai hotel in mani messenya according to the hellenic chamber of hotels in 2016 the number of hotels in greece was by classification marinas greece has 51 marinas and 14 661 mooring places that provide such services as births fuel water and electricity telephony and repairs some of the most developed and busiest marinas in greece are just a few kilometers from the center of athens the marinas of alamos and flisbos on the south coast of athens have an aggregated capacity of more than 1 800 vessels spas and thermal springs greece has 752 thermosprings many have been classified as therapeutic by the national institute for geographical and mineral research several of them were known and exploited already since antiquity thermal or curative tourism was after all one of the earliest forms of tourism in the ancient world in 1983 was founded the hellenic association of municipalities with thermal springs some of these ancient spa resorts were situated in eight episodes known from the time of aristotle laotraki mentioned by xenophon treyanopoly founded by the emperor trajan in the second century a.d whereas some others are attested in the byzantine period such as the thermal baths of lagavos in the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century these hot springs were surrounded by cosmopolitan facilities namely hotels and restaurants whereas several prominent members of the society of both the modern greek state and the ottoman state invested in touristic infrastructure and private estates thermal tourism became particularly widespread in the 1960s and 1970s whereas in the 1980s it was widely supported by a social tourism program which subsidized large part of the expenses for the elderly users of the facilities nowadays however there is an urgent need to refurbish restore and elevate these spas to modern standards and create an international clientele visitors however can already find high standard touristic facilities in posar in adepsos and inca menovula in latraki close to corinth as well as at caiaphas on the western shores of the peloponnese a detailed list of spa towns in greece can give an insight in the inexorable richness of thermal springs of the country cultural attractions museums several kinds of museums are located in the hellenic republic generally speaking every major city and town in greece has its own archaeological museum which houses findings from the nearby area however most of them can be found in the big cities like athens where the famous new acropolis museum and the national archaeological museum are located furthermore there is a vast number of galleries like the national gallery there are many museums in thessaloniki too like the byzantine museum overall there are approximately 150 museums all over the country which are easily accessible by tourists archaeological sites and cities there are numerous archaeological sites dotted all around greece many of which are popular with tourists the greek capital athens has many archaeological sites the most famous being the acropolis the temple of olympian zeus the ancient athenian cemetery of karamakos the philippa hill the tower of the winds plato's academy in the ancient agra in the adjacent area of attica are the marathon tumuli burying mounds in marathon that house the ashes of the athenian and platian hoplites that were killed in the homonymous battle findings from the area and from the battle of marathon are preserved in the archaeological museum of marathon nearby in western attica is elusive where from as early as 1700 bc up to the fourth century a.d
it was the site of the eleusinian mysteries or the mysteries of demeter and core at the eastern tip of attica is sunyo with the ruins of the temple of poseidon central greece is the location of thebes an ancient city that once rivaled athens and featured in greek myth delphi has a distinguished ancient theater the site of the oracle thermopylae is primarily known for the battle that took place there in 480 bc in which an outnumbered greek force probably of seven thousand held off a substantially larger force of persians estimated in the range seventy thousand to three hundred thousand under xerxes the peloponnese peninsula dominating the south of the mainland has a wide variety of archaeological sites beginning at the north end there is ancient corinth near the modern town of the same name in the northeast of the peninsula are epiduras with its ancient theater now restored argos with several ancient ruins including the hooray on and nemia where in greek mythology heracles overcame the nemean lion of the lady hera and during antiquity the name games were played most important of all however is mycenae which in the second millennium bc was one of the major centers of greek civilization a military stronghold which dominated much of southern greece and parts of southwest anatolia the period of greek history from about 1600 bc to about 1100 bc is called mycenaean in reference to mycini turins also in the area is a mycenaean archaeological site in the center of the peloponnese are sparta where near the modern town are ancient ruins the most important being the tomb of leonidas taguia an important religious center of ancient greece containing the temple of athena alaya and lycosura said by possanias to be the oldest city in the world on the western side of the peninsula arbase an archaeological site in the northeastern part of messenia messine itself the ruins of a large classical city-state refounded by apamandis in 369 bc and at pilos the ruins of the palace of nestor which is the primary structure within a larger late hellenic era settlement likely once surrounded by a fortified wall in the northwest is olympia with many ancient ruins including the temple of zeus the temple of hera the palestra and the leonie dion archaeological sites in papyrus the western part of mainland greece include embracia the ruins of the ancient capital of pirus of papyrus dodona whose shrine was regarded as the oldest hellenic oracle possibly dating to the second millennium bc according to herodotus elia knew the mouth of the acheron and jatani necopolis or action necopolis also in a pirus was founded 31 bc by octavian in memory of his victory over anthony and cleopatra acting in the previous year in addition there are the ruins believed by some to be those of the necromanteon of acheron an ancient greek temple of necromancy devoted to hades and persephone thessaly another region of central greece has an archaeological site in larissa the furio hill which is the location of an ancient theater in the ruins of a basilica the second city of greece thessaloniki is nicknamed the co-capital it has many historic buildings some world heritage sites including the arch and rotunda of galerius the church of panagia chokyon and the white tower in the adjacent region of macedonia there is dion the sacred place of the ancient macedonians dion is the site of a large temple dedicated to zeus as well as a series of temples to demeter into isis pella also in the region is the capital of ancient macedonia and birthplace of alexander the great and philip ii of macedon other archaeological sites in macedonia include olympus and calcitus philippi established by the king of macedon philip ii on the site of the thracian colony of crenetas or chronides amphipolis an ancient city once inhabited by the edney people lebethra an ancient city close to olympus where orpheus was buried by the muses stagira ruins of the ancient city known as the birthplace of aristotle and virena a world heritage site the location of the macedonian royal tombs and the ruins of the ancient macedonian capital thrace of which only the western part belongs to modern greece has an archaeological site at updara vidimo taco is a historical town built near the turkish border which has many ancient greek byzantine and ottoman landmarks including the ruins of the ancient city of platinopolis the byzantine fortifications built around the town the bayazid mosque built in 1420 in the silent baths the oldest imam in europe the greek islands have numerous historical sites of their own kalsas is located on ubia delos is an uninhabited island in the cyclades famous for its numerous archaeological sites including the stove of adan the temple of the delians the terrace of the lions and the house of the dolphins on ciros near pareas and linked to the latter by a ferry taking only 2.5 hours is the neoclassical city of hermupolis where two civilizations and two religions lived harmonically and peacefully together it has beaches classical theater casino general hospital and many places to see santorini one of the cyclities is the location of ancient thera an antique city on a ridge of the steep 360 meters high mesebano mountain and of akrotiri a minoan bronze age settlement the samothrace temple complex is one of the principal panhellenic religious sanctuaries located on the island of samothrace crete the largest greek island has archaeological sites at feistos in the south sacros in the east and most important of all nasus in the center which is famous for its ruined minoan palace with full motifs rhodes one of the dodecanese islands is the location of the acropolis of rhodes an acropolis dating from the classical greek period the acropolis of lindas a natural citadel which was fortified successively by the greeks the romans the byzantines the knights of saint john and the ottomans and the ancient city of camaros on the nearby island of coast is the island the ruins of one of the greatest healing temples of the ancient world and the place where hippocrates the father of modern medicine was trained on castelo rhizo the easternmost island of greece is the lichen tomb a rock-cut tomb built by the ancient anatolian civilization of the lycians alternate tourism lgbt tourism greece also is one of europe's most popular lgbt tourist destinations particularly its largest cities athens and thessaloniki and some of its islands such as lesbos santorini skiathos and mykonos the latter is a well-known gay-friendly destination with many establishments catering for the lgbt community according to lonely planet skiathos and mykonos are ranking among the most lgbt-friendly destinations in the world religious tourism greece is promoting religious tourism and pilgrimages to regions with a significant historical religious presence such as the christian monasteries in meteora and mount athos in cooperation with other countries medical tourism greece's temperate climate highly trained medical staff and cutting edge medical innovations also are contributing to the country's medical travel industry eco-tourism greece has become in recent years a destination for ecotourism the main destinations for skiing in greece are arahava and mexibo the greek government is trying to bring more and more ecotourism to help and save the environment so tourists and locals alike can have a clean environment conference tourism conference tourism targeted at academic business or cultural markets is a cornerstone of the greek national tourism policy as a result the greek government with strong support from local authorities has been offering lucrative cash grants leasing and employment subsidies and tax allowances to establish new conference facilities and expand existing ones in a recent report in meeting and incentive travel greece was ranked eighth in the world in overnight stays for conferences figures from the tourism satellite accounting research conducted by wttc project a worldwide increase in revenues and business travel to greece from 1.51 billion us dollars in 2001 to 2.69 billion us dollars in 2011 in 1998 the figure stood at 1.18 billion u.s
dollars four seasons and winter tourism the government intends to promote four seasons and winter tourism in greece which could potentially increase international arrivals even further economic impact at the same time tourism consumption increased considerably since the turn of the millennium from 17.7 billion u.s dollars in 2000 to 29.6 billion us dollars in 2004 the numbers of jobs directly or indirectly related to the tourism sector were 659 7719 and represented 16.5 percent of the country's total employment for that year visitors in 2009 the country welcomed over 19.3 million tourists a major increase from the 17.7 million tourists the country welcomed in 2008.
the vast majority of tourists in the country are from within the european union followed by those from the americas asia oceania and africa in the year 2007 more british people visited the country than any other nationality numbering 2.61 million in total making up 15 of the country's tourists for that year alone additionally 2.3 million germans 1.8 million albanians and 1.1 million bulgarians visited the country that year in 2007 92.8 percent of the total number of tourists in greece were from countries in europe the most visited region of greece is that of central macedonia and northern greece near some of the most popular attractions in the country such as halkidiki mount olympus pella the birthplace of alexander the great and greece's second largest city thessaloniki in 2009 central macedonia welcomed 3.6
million tourists or 18 percent of the total number of tourists who visited greece that year followed by attica and the peloponnese northern greece is the country's most visited region with 6.5 million tourists while central greece comes second with 6.3 million according to a survey conducted in china in 2015 greece was voted as the chinese people's number one choice as a tourist destination in november 2016 austria like china announced that greece was the favorite tourist destination for its citizens in line with these observations greece's former minister of tourism aura spilito pulos announced the opening of a greek national tourism organization office in shanghai by the end of 2010 and gnto currently operates two tourism offices in china one in shanghai and one in beijing it is estimated that throughout 2013 greece welcomed over 17.93 million tourists an increase of 10 compared to 2012. more than 22 million tourists visited greece in 2014 and this number increased to 26 million visitors in 2015 and is projected to attract 28 million visitors in 2016 making it one of the most visited countries in europe and the world tourism in greece will typically peak between may and september where approximately 75 of all tourist visits happen promoting greek tourism tourism in greece is run by the greek national tourism organization who used helena paparizo a famous greek singer who won eurovision song contest in 2005 as an ambassador singer sakas rufus who represented greece in the 2009 eurovision song contest is currently the ambassador for greek tourism the advertisements displayed in the gnto's website still focus on the triptych of sea sun and sand however the tourism campaign is undergoing a significant change as city breaks and conference tourism are promoted along with cultural and wellness tourism the impact of the new campaign will hopefully result in increased tourist revenues the name of commercials is you in greece