Best for partying: Greece
You've got two precious weeks to let your hair down so it's likely that decent nightlife is at the top of your holiday wish list. With cheap flights around Europe, young Brits aren't short of options.
The Canary Islands are cheap, but still quite tacky; Ibiza's got lots to offer but it'll cost you a small fortune and Magalluf works if you want to wake up in a different hotel room every morning. But if you're looking for somewhere that combines chilled-out days on beautiful beaches with value-for-money and different party scenes, we reckon you should be heading for Greece.
Geography: Often referred to as the 'birthplace of democracy', Greece lies between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Placed on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula it borders Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria to the north, with the Aegean and Ionian Seas surrounding the south and encompassing the vast number of islands that are part of the country.
Climate: Greece's Mediterranean climate offers lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. In the height of summer temperatures can reach 29°C, but May/June and September are still warm enough to enjoy the beaches - and they'll be quieter. The winters can get a lot cooler, depending on the region.
GMT: Greece is two hours ahead of GMT
Visas: Greece is a member of the EU, so British passport holders do not need a visa.
Language: The national language is Greek, which uses a different alphabet and can be confusing. In most tourist areas you'll be able to communicate in English, but make the effort to learn a few basic phrases.
British embassy: Ploutarhou St. 1 Athens. Tel: 210 7272600
- Watch you behaviour - especially if you are preparing to party hard. Respect the locals and remember that there are heavy fines for indecent behaviour.
- If you are going to hire a moped, make sure you wear a helmet. Road accidents are common in Greece (especially on the islands where the roads are often windy and badly kept), and your travel insurance may be invalid if you don't.
- Don't buy drugs - there are heavy penalties for possession of even small quantities.
- Don't take photographs of military or official installations and ask permission before photographing individuals.
Getting there/getting around
EasyJet fly direct to Athens from as little as £30 one way, where you'll find a reliable ferry service with boats to most islands. If you'd rather fly to your destination, try Olympic Airlines or Aegean Airlines for domestic flights. If you're island hopping, try travelling by boat and find out where the best places are to shop or party.
One option is to book a package holiday with accommodation included. This will probably be a hotel or a self-catering room and may be the cheapest bet if you are travelling during high season. More independent travellers can pick up rooms as they go; many locals offer reasonable rates on rooms in small guesthouses, although it's easier to get a bargain out of season when they'll be more open to a bit of bartering. There are also over 340 camping sites operating in Greece.
"I've backpacked round Greece twice and never had any problem with just turning up and getting a room on an island and they've usually been loads cheaper than you would pay if you booked in advance," says 20 year-old Stephanie.
Sightseeing & activities
Entertainment & nightlife
Think about just how hectic you want your 'holiday' to be before booking. 18-30s can be a good deal, but the reps are often encouraged to give punters a hard sale on trips and activities, and most of the time you could organise your own cheaper. You may also end up feeling pressured to join in with games and parties that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable and are quite disrespectful to the locals. That said, the 18-30 concept remains popular and as long as you have a clear idea of the type of holiday you want there's no reason why you can't enjoy it.
With 227 inhabited islands, you'll obviously get a different experience depending on your chosen destination. The main party hotspots are Ios, Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete.
Paradise Beach on Mykonos hosts round-the-clock partying to a mixed gay/straight crowd. Bars along the beach include the Tropicana Beach Bar and The Sunrise Bar. There are beach parties most nights in the height of summer, but the best time to rock up is on a full moon when you can dance all night under bright moonlight.
Ios has spent years earning its reputation as the island to party on. It may seem peaceful by day, but just look around at the hoards of young tanned beauties bathing on Milopota beach to get a taste of what happens when the sun goes down. There's no shortage of choice here; bars range from Irish pubs, jazz bars and rock joints to slammer bars and even traditional Greek.
Rhodes is home to the now infamous Faliraki, thanks to the heaps of bad press pissed Brits heaped upon it a few years back. There have been major clampdowns since then, which doesn't have to be a bad thing judging by all the spewing and sex-in-the-streets (just get a room, please) scenes we saw on Club Reps. Remember that the local police are pretty fed up and they're prepared to dish out fines for stripping, bar crawls and sex games.
Crete is big enough to feel more like the mainland than an island, but the beauty of this is you can both enjoy and escape the party scene. If you're heading to Crete for nightlife, you're likely to end up in the capital, Malia. There are serious numbers of clubs and bars, all willing to stay open to the wee hours if you can hack it.
Food & drink
Greek cuisine is heavily influenced by what's grown locally. So it's no surprise that olives and olive oil, tomatoes, herbs and fish all pop up on most menus. Traditional dishes include: moussaka, an aubergine-based dish that can be served with mince or vegetarian; stuffed vine leaves; calamari (fried squid); and spinach and feta pie.
Many restaurants will bring out complimentary shots of ouzo at the end of a meal. This is designed as a digestive; if you start downing it like vodka be prepared for a hangover from hell the following day when water will take on the aniseed flavour of ouzo. Believe us, it's best avoided. Greek wine is a much gentler option.
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