What to Wear in Greece in the Summer | What to Pack for Greece

You have booked your tickets to visit Greece this summer and now it is time to pack your bags. But your country of residence might have a completely different climate than the one in Greece. Should you pack your winter jacket “just in case”? Do you need to wear tights under your dresses? Should you leave your leather boots at home?

This article will not give you advice on trends. It provides you with general information on preferred materials, forms, and colors for a hot and dry summer. There is also a list of essential items for your Greek vacation, along with some tips on how to blend in with the locals.

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What is the Climate of Greece?

To begin with, it is important to remember that Greek summer is generally hot and dry. On average, expect temperatures that rise up to 31 degrees Celsius during the day. But packing a thin jacket (e.g. a jean jacket or a shawl) is recommended, since nights can get a bit chilly.

In Northern and Western Greece (e.g. Ioannina), the climate is usually more humid and cool than in other parts of Greece. Some of the most popular Greek destinations, such as Santorini and Mykonos, are sunny, windy, and warm. Vegetation is sparse, so be prepared for prolonged sun exposure.

With the exception of Athens, Greek summer is bearable, as long as you pack the following essential items. The Athenian summer is usually the hottest, with temperatures often rising over 40 degrees Celsius. It is therefore recommended to schedule all your outdoor sightseeing activities early in the morning and spend the afternoon in indoor museums (e.g. Benaki Museum, Acropolis Museum).

The Essentials for Your Greek Vacation

  1. Sunscreen with High SPF. Greece is one of the sunniest countries in the world. Apply sunscreen to your face and exposed skin before leaving the house in the morning to protect it from damaging UV rays.
  2. Hats. A straw hat or a breathable jockey hat that protects your head and face is essential when sightseeing during the day. Hats don’t only protect your skin, but they also help you maintain a low temperature.
  3. Sunglasses. UV rays can be harmful to your eyes. Not only that but sunny weather can make your eyes feel tired and appear red. Sunglasses are an essential accessory for Greece. Make sure to get your pair from an optic shop rather than from a retail shop. Sunglasses should not only come with tinted lenses but also with UV protection. Tinted lenses with no UV protection can cause more harm than good! Moreover, although small sunglasses are trendy right now, you should opt for glasses that cover the skin under your eyes when sightseeing or sunbathing.
  4. Reusable Water Bottle. Avoid leaving the house without water and make sure that you stay hydrated. In some islands and villages tap water is not drinkable; purchasing bottled water is recommended.
  5. Swimsuits. Greece is known for its countless breathtaking beaches and swimming spots. Even if you are not an avid swimmer, you will get the urge to take a quick dive into the waters. If you don’t own a quick-dry swimsuit, always pack a second one to change into while you’re drying.
  6. Beach Towel. Assuming that you will be spending time by the sea, a beach towel is essential. If you will be visiting unorganized beaches, you need a second one to lay onto. You don’t want to dry yourself with a towel full of sand.
  7. Moisturizing / After-Sun Cream. Dry and hot climates can dehydrate your skin. Moreover, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to sunburns and skin blisters. A moisturizing cream (usually based on aloe-vera) is an essential item.
  8. Mosquito Repellent and Fenistil Gel. It is recommended to spray your legs and arms with a mosquito repellent before sunset to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitos are usually active at dawn and dusk. A gel or topical cream for skin irritations and insect bites (e.g. Fenistil) might come in handy. You can always purchase these items from any pharmacy in Greece.
  9. Face Masks (2021 only). Face masks are required in public spaces according to the 2021 COVID-19 restrictions. This rule might be lifted once the vaccination plan is completed.

Clothing Items to Pack for Greece

  1. Lightweight, Breathable Fabrics. Linen blouses and pants, cotton shorts, loose dresses and skirts are the clothing items you should aim for. Avoid tight jeans and materials such as wool, polyester, fleece, nylon, vinyl, and leather. Moreover, you might think that exposing more skin equals feeling breezy. This might be the right strategy when visiting humid and warm locations. But, when visiting sunny and dry destinations, such as Santorini, flowy, light-colored, and breathable clothes that cover your body will better protect you from the heat.
  2. Light Colors. Although you can easily wear a total black outfit once the sun is down, it is recommended to wear light colors, such as white, beige, and pastels, during the day. You want to reflect the sunlight, rather than absorb it.
  3. Shawls, Kimonos, and Light Jackets. You don’t need a winter jacket when visiting Greece in the summer. But, with the exception of big cities, such as Athens, temperature tends to lower during the night. You may need to wrap yourself with a shawl while drinking your midnight cocktails by the sea. If you are planning on visiting Central and Northern Greece, such as Chalkidiki and Pelion, a light jacket (e.g. a jean jacket) might be needed.  
  4. Comfortable and Breathable Shoes. Two to three pairs of shoes are usually enough for your trip to Greece. Leather sandals for strolling in the city or island town. Canvas casual shoes for those who don’t want to expose their toes. Flip-flops or waterproof slippers for the beach (avoid wearing leather shoes in the hot sand). Breathable sneakers for hiking and outdoor sightseeing tours.
  5. Straw / Raffia Bags, Canva/ Cotton Tote Bags. Straw and raffia bags are the most popular bag of choice in Greece during the summer. Canva tote bags are a much cheaper alternative. Although leather bags are still a popular choice, sunlight and heat can damage the leather material. Additionally, leather items – especially black leather items- tend to absorb heat. As a result, your personal items will start overheating and your skin might get irritated. You may want to avoid carrying your favorite black leather handbag during your daytime sightseeing activities.

Unnecessary Items for Your Summer in Greece

  1. No need to pack your high-heeled pumps. Most Greek villages are built amphitheatrically. You will most likely need to walk on cobblestone streets, rather than asphalt. Therefore, balancing on stiletto heels won’t be an easy task. Thick-heeled sandals and platform shoes are a better alternative. Wearing heeled shoes is much easier in cities. But keep in mind that the overall atmosphere in Greece during the summer is very relaxed and laid-back. High heels are not a staple item.
  2. Avoid packing clothes made of vinyl or leather. Walking around Athens or Santorini wearing a black leather jacket, or a pair of vinyl skinny pants sounds like a nightmare. Not only do these items of clothing contrast with the relaxed summer atmosphere, but you also risk getting a heatstroke. The same applies to leather bags – especially black leather bags. Leather can be damaged under prolonged sun exposure. Leather boots are also not weather appropriate for your summer vacation in Greece.
  3. Tights are not essential. Tights don’t get a weather/fashion pass for summer. Most Greek women either expose their bare legs or wear long skirts/ pants to cover them. Tights (in any color) are considered a fall/winter accessory.

Are There Clothing Laws in Greece? Is There a Greek Dress Code?

Greece does not have laws that prohibit people from wearing specific items of clothing. People are free to wear whatever they want, as long as they don’t walk around in their birthday suits. Women are also allowed to sunbathe topless (unless stated otherwise) and there are many nudist beaches across the country. But there are a few written and unwritten rules you may want to know.

It is generally prohibited to wear high heels or shoes with spiky soles when visiting ancient theatres and sights, where the floor is made of marble or mosaic. Wear flat shoes and avoid damaging the floor or… your ankles.

Moreover, Greece has many picturesque monasteries and churches that you can visit. Women are usually requested to wear long skirts and cover their chest and shoulders before entering a monastery. If you don’t own a long skirt, don’t worry; most monasteries will lend you a skirt for free. Men should also make sure that they do not enter a monastery shirtless or in shorts.

There are no specific clothing rules when visiting churches. However, you want to avoid entering religious sights in your beach attire. If you come across a liturgy, it is recommended to look presentable (e.g. don’t enter in your beach attire). The priest, however, might welcome you in regardless of your clothes.

It is common to enter businesses and shops in swimsuits, as long as they are located in close proximity to the beach. Dining in seaside seafood tavernas wearing your beach attire is also common. But you may want to visit your hotel room to shower and change clothes before visiting the city center or island town. This is more of an unwritten rule, rather than a requirement. Being denied entrance to a restaurant for your choice of clothing is very rare occasion in Greece. But, taking the collectivistic elements of the Greek culture into consideration, you might get a few stares.

To sum things up, there are no laws dictating what people can or cannot wear in Greece. Public nudity is prohibited with the exception of nudist beaches and other designated areas. Topless sunbathing is generally allowed. There are, however, written and unwritten rules when it comes to visiting museums, archaeological sites, monasteries, churches, and private businesses.

What Is the Greek Fashion Sense?

Modern Greeks usually dress casually in the summer. However, the concept of what “casual” means is different from country to country. Comfort is important but so is attractiveness. You will rarely see locals wearing sandals with socks, crocks, or oversized t-shirts with logos. But you will see less people going to work in ties and blazers or walking in high-heels.

Modern Greeks prefer loose-fitting and less structured clothes in the summer. But they might add belts and other accessories to create an attractive silhouette. Shapeless items of clothing and anatomic shoes are often considered “unattractive” and are less popular among younger generations.

Plain cotton t-shirts or loose-fitting linen shirts and short trousers are the most popular items of clothing for men. Women usually wear flowy maxi/midi/mini dresses, skirts, and shorts paired with tops, t-shirts, or blouses. Long linen pants are also a popular clothing item. Women like wearing makeup but it is usually minimal compared to other parts of the world (e.g. USA). There is a focus on creating a healthy-looking complexion, rather than changing facial features.

When it comes to footwear, men often wear canvas sneakers or moccasins, whereas women prefer flat leather sandals or slip-ons. Flip-flops are usually worn at the beach or for grabbing something fast at the local kiosk or mini market.

It goes without saying that each person has their own personal sense of style, and you will see many locals dressed in their own unique way. If you would rather blend in with the locals, adding some of the above-mentioned pieces to your suitcase will do the trick!

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Reading Your “Summer in Greece” Stories (Travel Stories)

Today we celebrate Helinika’s YouTube milestone by reading subscribers’ stories from Greece. A story of a Polish girl who visited the island of Ikaria for the first time, a story of a German girl who had the most unbelievable experience after she revisited Greece, and the story of an anonymous subscriber who had a close encounter with a… Caretta-Caretta!

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Top 10 Greek Islands | Ten Breathtaking Islands in Greece

Greece has thousands of islands, with approximately 200 of them being inhabited. That makes it a top summer destination for Europeans but also for people from all around the world. Here is Helinika’s list with the top 10 Greek islands to visit this year. These are some of the most popular and breathtaking islands in the country.

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Top 10 Greek Islands | Breathtaking Islands in Greece

  1. Santorini
  2. Crete
  3. Corfu
  4. Zakynthos
  5. Paros
  6. Naxos
  7. Mykonos
  8. Serifos
  9. Rhodes
  10.  Milos

Milos Island, Greece

If you want a trip to the moon, you can simply visit the Cycladic island of Milos with its “lunar landscapes”. Sarakiniko Bay in Milos is a coastline of smooth chalk-white rocks that contrast with the deep blue waters. The scenery is breathtaking. The volcanic island has a long history that takes us back to 15.000 years ago, when the local Obsidian was Milos’ main commodity. In modern times, Milos was one of the first Greek islands to join the Greek War of Independence.

Rhodes Island, Greece

If you love Medieval history, castles, knights, and the Mediterranean, then Rhodes is an island you should add to your list. The Greek island in the southeastern Aegean Sea was widely known for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Visitors can go see the Memorial of the Colossus. Other sights are the palace of the Medieval castle of the Grand Master of the Knights, the Castle of the Old Town, the Medieval Clock Tower, the countless medieval churches, and the Valley of the Butterflies – a beautiful biotope with millions of multicolor butterflies. Of course, the island has countless swimming spots with crystal clear waters.

Serifos Island, Greece

Close to Milos island there is also Serifos island. Serifos has some of the most beautiful coastlines in Greece. If you want to spend your vacation relaxing by the sea, Serifos should be on your list. It is also an affordable option in comparison to some other neighboring islands. Serifos is known for its traditional white and blue houses, picturesque churches, its old mines, the castle of Gria (The Old Woman), and the cave of Koutalas – where, according to ancient Greek mythology, the legendary Cyclops resided. The Cycladic island will give you a taste of authentic Greece; it has the typical blue-white houses you find in other Cycladic islands, without being packed with groups of tourists.

Mykonos Island, Greece

If you love partying, Mykonos, “the island of the winds”, is a Greek destination you should visit. The Cycladic island is one of the busiest summer destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors every year. The island is very sunny, which comes as no surprise; according to Greek mythology, the founder of the island was the grandson of god Apollo – god of music and light. Its famous windmills, archaeological Museum, identical wells, and secret party beach known as Paradise Beach, are some of the island’s most important landmarks.

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Naxos Island, Greece

Naxos Island is the largest Cycladic island. It was the center of the archaic Cycladic civilization and the birthplace of many important figures, such as the playwright Iakovos Kambanelis. Today, the island is the perfect summer destination for families. The ancient Portara, its 13th century castle, its countless picturesque churches, impressive ancient ruins, and breathtaking coastline, attract many –but not too many– tourists every year. Since it can get quite windy in Naxos, it’s the perfect location for wind and kite surfers.

Paros Island, Greece

Paros is located in close proximity to Naxos. Contrary to Naxos, Paros is an island that attracts mostly young single people. Its picturesque windmills, white-blue houses, and Medieval churches, including the legendary Panagia Ekatontapiliani, are some of the island’s landmarks. It goes without saying that the island of Paros has also some of the most magnificent swimming spots in Greece.

Zakynthos Island, Greece

Zakynthos island is located in the Ionian Sea in western Greece. Although the island is full of picturesque Mediterranean houses, the typical Cycladic white-blue houses are rare on this side of Greece. Zakynthos attracts both families and people who love partying. If you are not a fan of dry landscapes, the green island of Zakynthos should be on your list. The island is known worldwide for the breathtaking “Navagio” – the shipwreck cove that can only be accessible by boat.

Corfu Island, Greece

Corfu or Kerkyra is also located in the Ionian Sea. It is an island with rich history and strong Venetian influences in its architecture and overall local culture. It is a very unique Greek island; instead of roofless white-blue houses you will find impressive arches and clusters of colorful buildings from the Venetian period and eclectic mansions with the austere Greek-revival style. The island has a picturesque old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), countless medieval castles and ancient temples, and crystal-clear green-blue waters. The Spianada square is the biggest square in the Balkan peninsula. Kerkyra will take your breath away with its elegance and natural beauty.

Crete Island, Greece

Crete is the largest Greek island and a destination with the most unique landscapes. Its coastlines vary – many of its beautiful beaches have an exotic look. These include Balos, Istro, Elafonisi, and Falassarna. Many people can’t imagine that all of these unique locations can be found in one Greek island. Moreover, Crete has a rich history and culture that spans for thousands of years. Visiting the ancient Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos is a must! The same goes with tasting the local cuisine and attending a traditional music feast. Hikers can also explore the breathtaking National Park of Faraggi tis Samarias – a World’s Biosphere Reserve.

Santorini Island, Greece

Thanks to its breathtaking sunset views and unique volcanic landscapes, Santorini or Thera is by far the most popular Greek destination. In 2019, Santorini had over 500.000 international air arrivals. It is a couples’ island due to its romantic atmosphere. The Cycladic island has a long history, just like most of the previously mentioned destinations. It got its unique landscape after the Thera volcanic eruption around 1600 BC – which resulted in the destruction of the Minoan Civilization. Santorini is known for its typical white-blue houses and churches and magnificent views. One thing to keep in mind is that its swimming spots have a striking appearance, since the coastline is composed of volcanic sand and pebbles. Moreover, most villages are built amphitheatrically, so be prepared for some stair climbing. The quick exercise will totally worth it once you stare at the breathtaking sunset from the Caldera!

Are you planning on visiting Greece in the future? Comment down below which destinations are on your list!