From sailing the Greek Isles to sampling the unique dishes in Athens, Greece has a lot to offer for solo travelers. Katelyn Michaud, a healthcare analyst and freelance writer uncovers all the reasons to visit Greece on your own in this week’s Women Who Travel Solo.
How did you get started traveling?
I left the country for the first time at 19 years old to visit Quebec City, Canada for a ski trip in college. Growing up my parents could never afford international vacations for our family of five. We usually just stayed home in Maine, which is not a bad place to be at all. After all, Maine is known as “Vacationland.”
I was never able to study abroad in college because I was a biochemistry/pre-med major. Today it is my biggest regret in life. Luckily, I was able to do a two-week short-term winter break course in Italy for English credit in 2007, which quenched my thirst slightly. I didn’t leave the country again until 2011 when I spent two weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua on a medical mission.
I’ve always had a strong case of wanderlust, but it wasn’t until this trip that I realized that I desired a life of travel. Since then I have been to 12 different countries, and will visit several more this year. Next year I am finally embarking on my “Great Escape” after working hard the past few years to save up my money.
Why did you decide to take a solo trip to Greece?
I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. I love ancient history and it only makes sense to travel to the place where modern civilization began. The Greek isles are famous for a reason. They are absolutely stunning. When I was planning my big return to Europe trip this past May, I centered my whole trip around a single sailing tour in Greece. I spent seven days sailing the Saronic coast of Greece with a wonderful company called MedSailors. I was also able to spend a couple days in Athens and then a couple more exploring the magical world of Meteora. Greece does not disappoint and I fell madly in love with its history, diverse landscape, food, and its friendly people. So far it’s my favorite country.
Almost all of my travel thus far has been solo travel. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel. I’m not going to wait around until my friends decide they want to come along for an adventure. I just go. Going to Greece (and Europe) was no exception. I met plenty of new friends along the way.
Tell us about your experience with solo travel in Greece.
I love Greece. I found the people to be super friendly and willing to help you with directions or recommendations. Greeks are friendly, laid-back, and love to eat. Greek food is delicious so eat up! I spent my first few days in Athens, which is a massive city, but I found the public transportation system to be easy to navigate and I felt safe the entire time. I made several friends at my hostel, one of which was from my hometown! We graduated high school the same year at two different schools about five miles apart. It’s such a small world!
My sailing tour with MedSailors was amazing. I relaxed and partied on a yacht for seven days with another American girl and eight guys from New Zealand, Australia, and England. Let’s just say I wasn’t complaining! The local Greeks on each island were incredible. They were all welcoming and inviting as they love tourists, especially right now during their economic issues.
After arriving back in Athens I headed straight to Meteora to explore the monasteries built of 1200 foot cliffs. The place is incredible and I highly recommend adding it to your Greece itineraries! Once again I was met with the utmost kindness and opening arms. Greece is a great place to visit as a solo traveler. The hostel culture is strong so chances are you’ll meet a lot of new friends from around the world.
What recommendations do you have for solo travelers in Greece?
You absolutely need to visit Meteora for at least a couple of days. The place is absolutely out of this world! Seriously, I’m not kidding. If you go, make sure you stay at Also’s House in Kalambaka. Also, the owner, is one of the kindness people I met in Greece and he even fed me a home cooked meal when I was there. The prices are budget friendly as well. I highly recommend the sunset tour with Visit Meteora. The sunset is incredible so don’t miss it.
In Athens I recommend staying at Athens Backpackers Hostel. It is just blocks away from the Acropolis and in a very safe neighborhood near a metro exit. It’s a bit more costly, but you can’t beat the rooftop bar with views of the Acropolis at night and the location. Obviously you have to visit the Acropolis and other historic sites. The entrance to the Acropolis and other significant sites is €12 and the ticket is good for multiple uses over four days. I also did a walking food tour with Athens Walking Tours, which was a great way to explore Greek food and culture. I learned so much about olives, wine, and Greek food in general that I have a new respect and appreciation for Greek food. If you love food then I do recommend this tour. Yum!
Greece is an amazing country and you can’t go wrong. From exploring its world famous islands to its urban cities to the countryside, you’ll find the Greek landscape to be very diverse and unique. The food is good and cheap so indulge when you can. I recommend trying Greek pizza (yes, I know, but trust me!), gyros, loukoumades, and bougatsa. And, the local red wine is fantastic. They chill it, but it goes down smooth unlike the Raki or Ouzo.
What was the best part of your solo trip to Greece?
The best part of my trip was my sailing tour. I got to share a yacht with eight attractive guys with sweet accents so I wasn’t complaining. MedSailors offers a top notch seven day tour of the Greek isles at a very budget friendly price. You won’t be going to Santorini or Mykonos, but the islands you go to are awesome. We spent the days sunbathing in the sun and swimming in the Aegean Sea and the night dancing away at a beachside club. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
What was the worst part of the trip?
I didn’t have any bad experiences while I was in Greece. However, I was certainly confused at times due to the language barrier. I was originally planning on taking the train from Athens to Meteora but all the trains sold out ahead of time so I was forced to find the bus station and take the bus. I got a little lost but with the help of some friendly locals I found the station in no time. I learned an important lessons as most of my travel has been in Central America where you don’t really have to book things in advance. In Europe you should book trains and hostels ahead of time, especially on the cusp of high season!
Is Greece a safe destination for solo travel?
I’ve used Couchsurfing before for free accommodations and meet other travelers and locals to explore with during my travels. Prior to leaving for Greece I put up a public message on the Athens message board asking if any travelers or locals wanted to meet up for coffee or explore the Acropolis with me. I got several responses from older men that made me uncomfortable. One guy even went so far to ask me to have a threesome with his girlfriend. I immediately deleted my message. While I never felt threaten by the men I met during my travels, I always stayed vigilant. If you want to couchsurf or meet locals through couchsurfing I definitely recommend staying with other females and this goes for really anywhere in the world.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
Just go! Seriously! While in Brussels I had a couple of beers with two girls I met on our Belgium beer tour and they thought I was brave for traveling solo. I don’t think I’m brave at all. I’m just very independent and when I want to do something then I just do it. I absolutely adore solo travel and I recommend that every woman tries it at least once in her life. You learn so much about yourself. You’ll learn that you can survive and have fun in a different country that probably doesn’t speak your language. Plus, you’re never really alone. You’ll meet so many people along the way through your hostels, at bars, and on tours. Don’t be afraid to smile. Some of my closest friends today are ones I met abroad. As Nike says, just do it!
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women solo travelers?
I lost my mother unexpectedly six years ago and it completely changed my outlook on life. I had just graduated college and was entering the American rat race. I had numerous goals and ambitious and wanted to make a name for myself at a young age. After my mom died at 52 years old I realized that there are no guarantees in life. There was so much more my mom wanted to do in life but she never got a chance. We all have expiration dates. It could be tomorrow. It could be next year or it could be 50 years from now. Travel is something I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t want to be on my deathbed wishing that I had seen the Eiffel Tower in springtime, seen a wild kangaroo in Australia, and hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. I’m going to do it now when I’m young.
About Katelyn Michaud
Katelyn is a 28 year old healthcare analyst and freelance writer currently located in Portland, Maine. After being a certified workaholic for three years, Katelyn is finally embarking on her “Great Escape” in January 2016. So far she has traveled to 12 countries with many more planned for the next three years. Next year she is heading to Australia on a working holiday visa to experience life Down Under. Her life goals include competing in the cycling race, Tour d’Afrique, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, and earning her PhD in international public health. Katelyn’s dream job would be working for an NGO promoting girls’ education across the globe. Follow her adventures on her blog, Diaries of a Wandering Lobster.
Women Who Travel Solo
Women Who Travel Solo is a weekly column that shares the stories of women’s solo travel adventures in hopes of spreading the message that traveling alone is not only safe, but wildly rewarding. Inspire other women to travel solo by sharing your story with Something In Her Ramblings. Email Lauren at email@example.com.