Celebrating Summer Solstice 2022

Today, June 21 marks the official start of summer and the longest day of the year in Greece, and all of the Northern Hemisphere; and with this comes plenty of sunshine, high temperatures, and a romantic vibe!

The summer solstice, also called midsummer, has long been celebrated around the world in many different ways; from beach parties to large festive gatherings in town squares.

The importance of the summer solstice to the Greeks dates back thousands of years, to the creation of calendar systems, many of which were developed based on geographical region. It is said that the Athenian calendar spanned from summer solstice to summer solstice, and the Delphic calendar began around the first new moon after the solstice. 

In Ancient Greece, the summer solstice also marked the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic Games and it also fell around the time of Kronia, a festival celebrating Cronus, the god of agriculture.

In Athens today, June 21, 2022 sunrise takes place at 6 am while sunset will be at 8:50 pm- allowing locals and visitors to enjoy a long, leisurely day filled with plenty of sunshine.

Temperatures around Greece are also expected to rise over the next few days, and according to the National Meteorological Service, the highest temperatures are expected to reach 40C-41C.

On Wednesday, temperatures will reach 38C to 39C in mainland Greece and 35C in the islands from Wednesday to Friday.

Temperatures in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday will reach 38C-39C.

On Thursday, the highest temperatures expected to prevail in Greece are 40C-41C. 

There will be a drop in temperatures on Friday and Saturday, but a new rise is expected again on Sunday 26 June. 

Temperatures Set to Rise Across Greece this Weekend 

Spring has sprung and the beautiful summer weather is on its way, with temperatures set to exceed 30 degrees Celsius in some parts of Greece this weekend. 

For those currently travelling around the country and hoping to get a swim, the warmer weather is expected in the coming days with the temperature predicted to gradually exceed 30 degrees Celsius in some areas of the country on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The weather service of the National Observatory of Athens meteo.gr forecasts up to 28-29 degrees Celsius in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras and up to 31°-32° C in Larissa, central Greece. 

The temperature will rise slightly in the north and will range from 10 to 28 degrees, in the west from 11 to 26 to 27 degrees, in the eastern mainland from 12 to 28 degrees and on the Aegean islands from 14 to 25 degrees Celsius; Rethymno and Chania in Crete are also expected to have warmer days, reaching the mid-20’s over the next few days.

New Cyprus-Greece Ferry Link to Set Sail in June 

After 21 years, the first Cyprus-Greece passenger ferry link will set sail on June 19 from Limassol Port arriving at the Port of Piraeus in Athens, 30 hours later. 

The announcement was made on Friday by Cyprus’ Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilios Dimitriades, along with Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades stating, “Our citizens will once again be able to travel to Greece and Europe by sea, transporting their private vehicles as well.”

The service will last until September 16, with four trips scheduled for June, eight in July, seven in August, and three in September.

The Cypriot-flagged passenger ferry which carries up to 400 people, includes  38 first-class cabins, 68 second-class cabins, 110 seats, 100 vehicle spots, as well as a restaurant, café, and a clinic. 

The cheapest return tickets for adults, with a simple seating arrangement, are set at 76 euros while a second-class cabin return ticket is 80 euros and one-way tickets cost 38 and 40 euros. 

Children aged 4-12 will be charged 56 euros while those aged up to four will be charged 31 euros and cars up to 5-meters long will have a fee of 203 euros. 

For more details on the new ferry link from Cyprus to Greece, head to Maritime Cyprus. 

Travelling Through Greece Over Summer Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Greece has officially announced that travelling throughout the country from May 1st will be a whole lot easier, as Covid 19 vaccination or recovery certificates will no longer be required, and mask rules relaxed in time for the peak summer holiday season.

Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris on Wednesday outlined the roadmap from May 1 through to August 31, confirming that domestic Covid passports will be scrapped with the rule applying to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and to both indoor and outdoor areas, including museums, archaeological sites, restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and other venues. 

Plevris said that the requirement to show a Covid pass to enter bars, restaurants and other public venues would be withdrawn on May 1 and from June 1, mask rules will be relaxed in most venues, with a few exceptions – likely to include healthcare settings – this will be outlined in the coming days. 

He added that the removal of international entry requirements, where visitors must show proof of either vaccination (including a booster if their second dose was administered more than 270 days before), recent recovery from Covid, or a negative test to visit Greece – are also under consideration. 

For all the latest travel requirements to Greece head to travel.gov.gr

Aegean Welcomes Guests to New Business Lounge at Athens Airport

Greece’s leading airline carrier Aegean has welcomed its first guests to the brand-new Business Lounge, located at the extra Schengen area of Athens International Airport. 

The new 1250sqm lounge has been designed to enhance passengers’ travel experience with unique aesthetics, functionality, comfort, and hospitality through state-of-the-art technology and upgraded services. 

The modern space, which marks the airline’s fresh start to the 2022 tourist season, has been inspired by traditional Greek architecture and was designed by leading Greek architecture firm K-Studio. Featuring marble, terrazzo, glass and wood, it offers a contemporary and comfortable environment for guests to make the most of the new media lounge, social lounge, and quiet lounge; as well as the meeting rooms, two cafeterias and a restaurant alongside a wine bar. 

Insights Greece - Aegean Welcomes Guests to New Business Lounge at Athens Airport

“As the new Aegean Business Lounge is aiming to serve as a platform to promote Greekness, all warm and cold dishes as well as wines offered, come mainly from fine Greek producers,” announced Aegean. 

The new Business Lounge will be open to all Business Class and Miles+Bonus Gold passengers, as well as to members of the Star Alliance network, where they will have the opportunity to experience all of Aegean’s unique services.  

Images Courtesy of Aegean

Historic Corinth Canal Set to Reopen in Summer 

Greece’s Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport has announced they expect the Corinth Canal to reopen for navigation from the 5th of July.  

The 128-year-old canal has been closed to traffic since February 2021, after a series of landslides made it unnavigable. Following its closure, the Greek government commenced vital restoration works worth 30.6 million euros.  

The famous canal that separates the mainland from the Peloponnese can accommodate small cruise ships and is crossed by several bridges, including a motorway and railway.

Also known as the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal connects the Ionian and the Aegean Seas, making the passage of cargo and passenger ships between the two much quicker and safer.

As Greece opened up to tourism and yachts last summer, visitors who passed through from the Ionian to the Aegean Seas on yachts and cruise ships had to take the long and costlier route around the Peloponnesian peninsula; however this year the Greek Development & Investments Ministry is hoping to see the Corinth Canal open in July through to the end of October. 

A press release issued by the Corinth Canal SA states, “We would like to inform our customers and partners that the restoration works are in progress and that according to the official schedule of the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport, the canal will be available for navigation from the 5th of July until the end of October 2022, where restoration work will continue.” 

To see the Corinth Canal, visitors can drive to it, take a bus, or board a boat cruise that goes through it – boat trips run from Loutraki. 

Naxos Airport Set to Receive a Long-Anticipated Upgrade 

The airport of Naxos (the largest Cycladic Island) is set to receive a long-anticipated upgrade- allowing direct international flights to Naxos, once the project is completed. 

Deputy Development and Investments Minister Ioannis Tsakiris’ signed off on the project, which is budgeted at 23,07 million euros. Major works will include expansion of the runway and the aircraft parking area; while there are also plans for improvement of the maneuvering area, widening of existing taxiways, and construction of two new taxiways. 

According to the Ministry, this project will create the appropriate safety conditions necessary to service international flights; as well as improve the level of service required for larger aircraft and direct flights from overseas.

Naxos State Airport “Apollos” is located approximately 4km southwest of the island’s capital Chora and it’s also close to Agios Prokopios, one of the island’s most popular spots. The runway is currently only 900m long and can only service small planes, that fly direct from Athens International Airport; European airports can also fly to Naxos- only via pre-arranged charter flights.

This new project is set to boost tourism while making it easier for locals and international visitors to arrive and depart from Naxos island.  

Direct Flights Daily From New York to Athens Have Taken Off 

Just in time for peak season 2022, United Airlines has commenced its direct flights to and from New York and Athens daily. The non-stop flights will run from April 4 right through to October 30, with the airline also announcing it will start its seasonal direct flights from Washington D.C. to Athens on May 7. 

Flights depart Athens Airport daily at 12:15 pm, and arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport at 4:15 pm the same day. The return flight departs Newark daily at 5:15 pm, arriving in Athens at 10:10 am the following day. 

With the Washington route, flights will depart Athens daily at 11:50 am, arriving at Washington Dulles at 3:15 pm the same day. The return flight will depart Washington daily at 5:10 pm, arriving in Athens at 9:55 am the following day. 

Athens International Airport Communications & Marketing Director Ioanna Papadopoulou said that the United States market showed great resilience even during the pandemic period, and remains one of Athens Airport’s most popular and significant markets, thanks in great part to the large and active Greek-American community.

While United Airlines’ Director of Sales for the UK, Ireland, Israel & Off-line Sales Bob Schumacher expressed the company’s “enthusiasm of returning to Athens in 2022 with the restart of direct flights from Greece to the US.” The flights to the United States, he added, are supplemented with connections to over 95 destinations in the entire American continent. The daily to and from flights will be carried out by Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes, said Schumacher. 

Greece’s Summer Season Opens March 1, as Travel Restrictions Ease  

As of Monday, February 7, 2022, travellers to Greece with a European vaccination certificate can enter the country without showing a negative COVID-19 test, as the country prepares to open early for the summer season- marking March 1 as the day that the industry begins to officially welcome international visitors. 

On Friday, Greece’s Health Minister Thanos Plevris announced, “Starting Monday, February 7, those entering the country with a European certificate will do so without a mandatory test.”

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias supported Greece’s decision on easing travel restrictions for European Union citizens, as the country plans on opening the tourism sector earlier than ever. 

“Our country is taking all the vital steps this year to welcome our visitors for the summer season, earlier than ever before, as of March 1,” Minister Kikilias said. 

“Greece sends a strong message of security to its visitors with a valid European Covid Certificate. The decision follows a number of measures that facilitate potential travellers to plan their visit to Greece,” added Kikilias.

Greece welcomed more than 7.2 million tourists during the January to November period of 2021, however, the government is hoping these numbers increase to pre-pandemic times, with record levels of 2019, when travellers to the country spent more than 18 billion euros, according to receipts. 

For non-European citizens, it should be noted that so far, 33 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions. 

The COVID certificates issued in those 33 countries (and territories) are accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate. These countries are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cabo Verde, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Iceland, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay and The Vatican. 

Greece Approves New Tourism Projects Worth 320 Million Euros

Greece’s Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced the Greek government’s approval of new tourism projects and investments budgeted at 320 million euros, to be funded by the European Union’s Greece 2.0 Recovery and Resilience Plan.

With a focus on winter and mountain tourism, wellness and health, gastronomy and agritourism- the Tourism Ministry plans on showing the world there is more to Greece than summer, sun and Santorini!

The Greek government included travel sector projects in the Recovery and Resilience Plan (worth 3.35 billion euros in total) following their approval by Alternate Finance Minister Theodoros Skylakakis.

According to Minister Kikilias, the new funding will “mark the beginning of a new cycle of development in the tourism sector, with benefits for everyone. The pandemic has shown that we live in a beautiful country that we must protect for ourselves, our children, and future generations. This is for Greeks and for people worldwide who dream of experiencing Greece’s magic every year.”

The government aims to promote Greece as an all-year-round destination with the government utilising 320 million euros worth of resources from the Greece 2.0 Fund, as well as additional private funding in a bid to “change the model and to achieve the maximum possible result.”

So far, the government has approved projects including upgrades to tourist ports, development of winter and mountain tourism, development of wellness and health tourism, training programs for tourism employees, agri-food and gastronomy tourism, diving and underwater tourism as well as making beaches more accessible to those with disabilities. 

New Travel Rules For Entering Greece Come Into Effect Today

If you are planning a Greek winter holiday, the country’s Health Ministry has made important changes to Greece’s entry requirements for travellers, which come into effect today Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Beginning at 6 am today, all travellers to Greece are required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or a laboratory rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Greece.

Mina Gaga, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Health, announced in a press conference that the testing requirement will apply to all travellers 5 years old or older, regardless of vaccination status or method of entry to Greece.

Furthermore, travellers eligible to enter Greece, carrying with them proof of recovery from COVID-19, should also now be aware that the validity of their certificates has been shortened in half by the Greek authorities.

The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority announced that COVID-19 recovery certificates will now be valid for entry into Greece for a shorter period of 90 days instead of 180 as it was previously.

The decision will affect travellers from 43 world countries who haven’t been vaccinated but have so far been eligible to enter with proof of having previously fallen ill, in particular those who were infected with COVID 19 between April 15 and July 15 this year.

These 43 countries are: Australia, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Israel, India, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mexico, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, and the Vatican.

However, the same can enter Greece if they take a PCR test for COVID-19 in the previous 72 hours before reaching Greece or a rapid test within the 48 hours before.

Please note, travel is open to all Greek islands and around the mainland. Hotels are open, operating with strict government-imposed safety protocols, as are archaeological sites & museums (with reduced capacity). 

Who Can Enter Greece Without Quarantine on Arrival?

If you belong to any of the following, you will not need to quarantine in Greece: Nationals and permanent residents of member states of the European Union & Schengen Area (including their spouses or partners with which they reside and their minor children). Additionally, permanent residents of the following countries do not need to quarantine: Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Singapore, Rwanda, Israel, the Russian Federation, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belarus, Bahrain, Qatar, China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Montenegro, Albania, Japan, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Moldova, Brunei and Kosovo.

Current Rules

Outdoor entertainment venues 

  • Restaurants, cafes, bars & clubs are operating up to a maximum of 85% capacity, serving only seated customers and 10 people per table. 
  • Open-air cinemas and live theatre and music shows (for seated guests only) are operating with reduced capacity.

Indoor entertainment venues 

  • Restaurants & cafes, nightclubs, music spaces, theatres and cinemas will require guests to show an official certificate of vaccination (14 days since full vaccination) or recovery (within the last six months and minimum of 30 days since the first positive result). Paper or digital certificates are accepted.
  • Customers must be seated to be served at bars and clubs and under-18-year-olds are required to have carried out a Covid-19 self-test for all indoor venues.
  • The following signage is also being used in indoor restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres to reassure customers of their specific Covid-19 safety levels:

    1.   Covid-free– Catering only to guests able to show an official certificate of full immunity (vaccination or recovery)
    2.   Mixed space– Also admitting unvaccinated individuals with a negative PCR or rapid test, taken within the last 72 or 48 hours respectively.
    3.   Fully vaccinated staff – Indicating that all staff have been inoculated.

Mask Wearing

You will not be required to wear a mask in uncrowded open places. However, you will need to wear a mask in congested outdoor spaces and indoor spaces including public transport, shops, taxis and public utilities, as well as private communal areas including hotels.

Please note that you may find additional, temporary measures in place in some locations, such as a restriction on movement between 1-5 am and music is forbidden in public places. It is best to check with your holiday provider before departure for details of any local or updated measures.

Full details can be found at Travel.gov.gr 

Renovation Work on Panepistimiou Street Begins

The highly-anticipated renovation works of Panepistimiou Street, in the centre of Athens, have commenced with the section between Amerikis and Sina Streets being the first part of the project to take place.

Work began on Sunday the 28th of November, 2021, with this part of the revamp expected to be completed by March, 2022.

The new 3 million euro eco-friendly project is said to create an additional 19,360 m2 of public space and 2,260 m2 of green areas, which will include 87 new trees, as well as bike routes and recreational areas. The project has been influenced by similar urban plans that can be found in other European cities including Paris and Berlin.  

The renovation also includes the creation of new sitting areas, as well as new public fountains with drinking water to cut down on plastic waste in the capital; plus much-needed mobility ramps.

“Panepistimiou is changing, the works on Panepistimiou has begun and in about a year the most important thoroughfare between Omonoia and Syntagma will have changed,” said Deputy Mayor Vasilis Axiotis.

Panepistimiou St, covers a great part of the city’s centre including all the major banks, ministerial seats, universities, and a variety of stores. 

Some shopping arcades are found along its length, as well as several museums and historical buildings such as the National Library, the Greek University, and other well-known sites. The long road starts at Amalias Ave and ends at Alexandras Ave.