90 years ago today (25th March) Greece abolished its monarchy and became a republic – putting the power in the hands of the people and their elected representatives. Since then 20th Century Greece has overcome a number of challenges, including wars, invasions and uprisings, before blossoming into the popular holiday destination that we know and love today.
When the world was opened up with air travel in the 60’s and 70’s, and package holidays became the norm in the 80’s, Greece and the Greek islands were easy choices for excited travellers. With its intriguing history, rich in myth and legend, combined with stunning landscapes and coastlines, the appeal of Greece as a holiday destination was easy to see, and the arrival of the cheap package holiday made it easy for those dreaming of discovering this mysterious country, and its islands, to turn their dreams into a reality.
The surge of tourism to Greece fuelled and funded development of the country’s transport links, tourist attractions and holiday resorts, creating a positive cycle and allowing Greece to continue offering an ever-improving holiday experience. The 2004 Summer Olympic Games and the Eurovision Song contest in 2006, both held in Athens, further boosted the profile of the country, leading to increasing numbers of holidaymakers choosing stunning Greece as the setting for their summer holiday.
It’s a testament to its unwavering charms that Greece put itself firmly on the holiday destination map at a time when an overseas holiday was a big deal. Before the days of the budget airline even a cheap package holiday was a luxury, with travellers selecting destinations with care. And although Greece has grown with the popularity of overseas travel, the fact that it is still riding high as one of the most popular European holiday hotspots shows that it hasn’t lost its unique personality.
Part of the draw of Greece is the fact that it’s managed to retain much of its original charm, despite developments to make the tourist experience more enjoyable. You’ll still find whitewashed builds lining rocky cliff faces, winding streets and blue domed churches. For every busy beach with all the facilities you could wish for, you’ll also find a secluded stretch of sand to discover, and even the most popular resorts have preserved their old towns, with sites of historical importance sitting alongside tourist-friendly attractions.
On mainland Greece, Athens is the big player. However, it is the Greek islands that really draw the summer crowds, with Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Zante sitting at the top of many a holidaymaker’s shortlist from the 1970’s onwards! Hands up who had an ‘I Heart Kos’ T-shirt as a child!
For those who like to avoid the busier resorts, Santorini, Skiathos and Lesbos are now just as easily accessible as the bigger names, and offer a quieter, unspoilt Greek island experience.
Whatever the destination of choice, it’s safe to say that Greece has earned its stripes as a top holiday destination.
Happy Birthday Greece from Thomas Cook!