Should you book a holiday to Greece?

Should you book a holiday to Greece?PA


Greek tourism has been threatened by the euro crisis, but now it seems that booking your summer holiday in the ailing country could help to boost the economy.

The Observer reports that although there have been well-documented riots and food shortages in Athens, this summer it's business as usual in the Greek Islands.

Admittedly, bookings are down by 11 per cent so far this season, but UK tour operators have reported a surge of bookings for school holiday travel.

According to Reuters, the number of Germans booking a holiday in Greece has dropped by almost a third, and local Greek tourists are also less likely to travel. As a result, the beaches, bars, and restaurants are expected to be quieter than normal.

In addition, hotel and restaurant prices have dropped, which means that British holidaymakers will find that their money goes further.

If you're travelling to Greece, Thomas Cook suggests carrying cash in small denominations. Should Greece pull out of the euro, which looks unlikely for now, the interim currency will be existing euro notes with a corner clipped, which will be worth 30 per cent to 40 per cent less. Carrying smaller notes means that tourists stand to lose less on a transaction.

In addition, The Observer reports that some small shops, cafes and restaurants are already asking for cash rather than cards, especially on the smaller islands.

However, it's still worth taking a credit or debit card as you are unlikely to have problems using it on the larger islands such as Corfu.

To make sure that your money stays in Greece, consider flying with Olympic or Aegean Airways or booking a package deal with a tour firm that specialises in Greece, such as Olympic Holidays, Sunvil or Ionian Island Holidays.

These firms are also Atol-bonded, which means the they will guarantee your holiday if the euro crisis deepens.

Bigger islands, especially those with airports, will always attract tourists. But look at the smaller islands, as these are the ones that will suffer most from the drop in tourists.

Click on the image below to see our editor's pick of the top ten Greek islands...

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Top 10 Greek islands
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Should you book a holiday to Greece?

Why we love it: It's not packed full of tourists! Ios is as known for its camping sites and lively backpacker scene as it is for its rocky coastline- great fun for diving off. The village of Chora is a gem - a labyrinth of stairways climbing a steep hill from the port.

Stay: For peaceful, pretty abodes, check out the 18 villas Petra Holiday Village

Why we love it: This island is just four kilometres from the Turkish coast and in antiquity was considered one of the most beautiful in the Aegean. Today, with its Genoese castle, glittering waterfront and Roman ruins, Kos Town has plenty of reasons to linger, while inland, picturesque villages dot an enchanting mountainous terrain.

Stay: Check out the family-friendly Olympia Mare hotel.

Why we love it: Named after Apollo's grandson, Mykonos is one of the most hedonistic resorts in the Mediterranean, attracting top DJs and a cosmo, gay-friendly crowd. Cobbled alleys wind beneath balconies overflowing with bright flowers. In the late afternoon locals love to have enjoy a glass of Ouzo on the waterfront and watch the sun go down over the sea.

Stay: The eight-roomed Belvedere Hotel offers sophisticated five-star luxury.

Naxos is the largest of the Ciclades Islands and has some of the finest beaches, particularly at Plaka, Agia Anna and Alikos. Its capital is the picturesque, whitewashed city of Naxos, which has wonderful seafood restaurants.

Stay: The Naxos Beach 1 is only a few metres away from St George's beach and all the watersports ameneties.

Why we love it: Lesbos is known as the Emerald Island because of its wonderfully verdant landscape, dominated by olive groves and petrified sequoia forests. The poetess Sappho lived on Lesbos, and it is because of her homoerotic poetry that we get the word 'lesbian'- for this reason Lesbos is a popular destination among lesbians.

Stay: The Aphrodite Hotel, with its own little private pebble beach.

Why we love it: Rhodes is associated with the Sun God Helios and the sun does seem to shine brighter here, just off the coast of Turkey. Rhodes Town is home to the stupendous Palace of the Grand Master, a huge 14th Century fortress built by the Knights of St John, a bewildering labyrinth of medieval alleyways with some of the finest shops outside Athens and minarets dating back to Ottoman rule. On the south-east coast is Lindos- its delightful beaches and old town dominated by the towering presence of a ruined acropolis.

Stay: The Elite Suites at the Amathus Hotel are THE place to stay.

Why we love it: Santorini owes its dramatic beauty to explosive volcanic eruptions, which left a huge lagoon surrounded by 300 ft high cliffs on three sides. Many of its prettiest towns- Oia, Fira, Thera- are built on the side of this huge caldera, with sublime views. Perhaps the most spectacular of all is Imerovigli, with its blue domes and winding stairwells perched over the azure abyss.

Stay: Romantics should definitely check out the Vedema Resort - one of Sovereign's Couples Retreats.

Why we love it: Many historians claim Homer's legendary hero Odysseus was not from what is now called Ithaca, but from Kefalonia. The largest of the Ionian Islands, it's home to natural wonders such as Myrtos Beach- one of Europe's most spectacular- while at Kaminia Beach you can see an endangered species of turtle, the loggerhead. Also worth visiting are the caves at Drogarati and Melissani Lake.

Stay: The stylish beachside Villa Costa Hotel is perfect for pure relaxation.

Why we love it: The Mediterranean's fifth largest island is forever associated with the Knossos, the ancient Minoan palace that was home to the Minotaur- a terrifying creature who was half man-half bull. Other attractions include the beautiful Venetian port of Rethymno, the leaping gorges of Samaria and the lively ouzeri taverns of Heraklion.

Stay: Check out the five-star Blue Palace Resort and Spa  in Elounda.

Why we love it: Corfu's old town is full of bistros and tavernas dotted along the 'kantounia' (cobbled streets) leading to a lovely marina and Venetian fortress, the Palaio Frourio. Large Georgian houses of white Malta stone are a reminder of bygone British rule. Paleokastritsa is one of Greece's loveliest spots, where olive and cypress-clad mountains tumble down to cliffs, harbours and sandy beaches.

Stay: The Delfino Blu, which sits on a beautiful beach, has 12 apartments to choose from.

There are fewer better ways to spend the lazy days of late summer than hopping between some of Greece's 227 inhabited islands. From crazy Corfu to cultured Kos, there's something to please everyone.

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