Enjoyment of your trip to Greece can be enhanced by readings beforehand and while there. (You'll do more reading than you think - at the beach, on ferries or waiting for them, at night when you tire of Greek television). You can locate many of the following in local libraries or (for taking along) in used paperback stores or online sources for new and used paperbacks.


Important for understanding Ancient Greek culture and the ruins and art you will see - as well as just for enjoyment:

The Iliad and Odyssey, by Homer many praisethe newest translations by Robert Fagles, very poetic and in very good English. Translations by Fitzgerald and Lattimore tend to stay closer to the original Greek.

Religion in the Ancient Greek City, by Zaidman ( guide to the major religious festivals and sites, by a classical scholar) Available in UK libraries.

Early Myths: Award Winning Greek Myth Books for Kids. Aimed at 4-8 yr olds, these multimedia books are fun and educational. Available from the iBooks Store or from the website: www.earlymyths.com

The CompleteWorld of Greek Mythology, by Buxton ( pricey, so you may want to get it from a library). Wonderful photographs of archaeological sites accompany excellent analysis and presentation of the most important Greek myths.

Mythology, by Edith Hamilton. An American classic, simple, yet thorough.

D'Aullaire's Greek Mythology, for children is  well written, with beautiful illustrations.

Greek Tragedies, There are widely-available modern-English versions of the best known dramas of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus many of them involving major figures of mythology and legendary Greek heroes.

History and Art

Ancient times,Byzantine Era, up to the modern day.

A Travellers History of Greece, by Boatswain & Nicholson – Well-written, understandable overview of important Greek periods from prehistoric times, classical and Byzantine eras up to the 2lst Century, in paperback format.

The Pelican History of Greece, by A.R. Burns – The best in-depth intro-duction to ancient Greece for general readers (available as used paperback).

Greek Art, by Boardman – An enduring standard with 250 illustrations and insightful text (used copies of 1996 paperback edition available online).

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (why the Greeks matter), by Cahill - deservedly a 2003 best-seller, exploring classical Greek culture with wit and insight, illuminating their outlook on love, war, governing, creating, feeling.

Portrait of Greece, by Nicholas Gage – Insightful overview of Greek life,  customs and culture in 20th Century, showing interplay between ancient and modern traditions & beliefs.  (Find used paperbacks of 1995 ed. online)  


Contemporary Fiction

Thimio's House by Anglo-Greek author John Kefala Kerr is a beautifully evocative and poetic tale about a group of people living in a remote house on the Pelion coast. It's got sea, sun and mystery as well as a dash of Platonic idealism thrown in.

About Ancient Greece.

Novels by Mary Renault Renault (in libraries and as used paperbacks), superbly researched in mythology and lives of actual ancients, are enthralling reads!

The King Must Die (a Must for Crete-goers – Theseus, in a page-turner about Minoans, religion, violence, Minotaur!); The Bull from the sea, a follow-up; The Last of the Wine(partying in Athens’ Golden era), The Praise Singer and The Mask of Apollo(a poet, an actor long, long ago).



Works of Nobelist Nikos Katzantzakis, though often badly-translated, have great power. Zorba the Greek has a darker side than the sunny film; Freedom or Death dramatizes Crete’s fight against 19th Century overlords.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin,by de Bernieres – Kefallonia, World War II and after. The Magus, by Fowles – magical mystery inspired by Spetses in the 1950s.
Officers and Gentlemen, by Waugh – British in the WW II Battle of Crete.
The Priest Fainted, by Davidson - really a fictionalized memoir: a  Greek-American woman explores modern Greece and its links with past, with sexy interludes, tempting foods, and witty updating of myths… delicious!

Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa by Yvonne Payne -Historical adventure set in Kritsa, a village on the Greek island of Crete: based on a true story. 

The Illegal Gardener, (Greek Village series book 1) by Sara Alexi - Contemporary fiction focussing on issues affecting foreigners in Greece today.

Black Butterflies,(Greek Village series book 2) by Sara Alexi

The Explosive Nature Of Friendship (Greek Village Series book 3) by Sara Alexi

The Gypsy's Dream (Greek Village Series book 4) by Sara Alexi

The Art of Becomming Homeless (Greek Village Series book 5) by Sara Alexi

In The Shade of the Monkey Puzzle Tree (Greek Village Series book 6) by Sara Alexi

A Handfull of Pebbles (Greek Village Series book 7) by Sara Alexi

The Unquiet Mind (Greek Village Series book 8)  by Sara Alexi

Watching the Wind Blow (greek village Series book 9) by Sara Alexi

The Reluctant Baker (Greek Village Series book 10) by Sara Alexi


The Island, by Hislop – Spinalonga, off Crete, in its years as a leper colony.

Light fiction with Greek settings: Night of Rain and Stars (Binchy), Decision at Delphi (MacInnes) The Moonspinners (M. Stewart).

Nine Days In Greece by Dickinson - Contemporary romance novel set on the island of Crete.




Many wonderful older books are beloved world-wide: just realize that they may depict a vanished or vastly changed scene. A partial list must include: The Colossus of Maroussi - Henry Miller; family and other Animals - G. Durrell (Corfu); Reflections on a Marine Venus - L. Durrell (Rhodes); Affair of the Heart – D. Powell; It's all Greek to  – J. Mole; A house in Corfu – Tennant; Summer of  Greek Taverna – T. Stone(Patmos).

More recently y-published titles:

Greece: A love Story   – Short essays by women, set in many locales.
Dinner with Persephone , by P. Storace – another half-Greek woman tries modern Greek life, is both enchanted and disenchanted; a wry work of art.
Tales from a Greek Island , by R. Jinkinson (Karpathos) – an ex-pat’s 25 years in a Greek village (but NOT the usual-bought-an-old-villa clichÈ).
Eurydice Street , by S. Sinovieff - Fascinating memoir of life in today’s Greece by an English anthropologist who marries a diplomat, moves to Athens with 2 daughters; as they ‘become Greek” she sharply observes interplay of past and present in Greek customs, habits, outlooks.

Travel Picture Books

Browse pictorial books at a bookstore or library. Using the latter enables you to view excellent photgraphy at leisure. Be aware that some serene, empty beaches seen in photos may not be the same if visited in August!


Travel Guide Books

Check out any Greece Travel guides  you see. Even if titles seem off-topic for your tripA (E.g Top Deluxe Resorts)You will always find some nugget of useful information. At most large bookstores you can sit and browse the latest editions of guides listed below and others To save, just buy the one(s) you like best. At a library you can find many of the others, perhaps earlier editions (but main changes are in prices; sights don’t change much). TIP: Photocopy relevant pages, especially town and city maps, to carry in your day-pack instead of a heavy guide.  Some top choices:

  • For Pictorial Overview - DK Eyewitness Travel Guide(s). 1. The Greek Islands (incl Athens) 2. Athens& The Mainland. Why? Very pictorial: Not just photos,but graphic illustrations to help you grasp how Santorini "blew up", the Palace of Knossos, the huge walls of Rhodes Town, the layout of Chios' mastic villages, how the Acropolis and Agora really looked back then.
  • For Fullest Information - The Rough Guide to Greece. This guide pays its writers (what a concept!) and its details (which corner to catch the bus) prove their know-how. Few photos, but excellent island/city maps that copy well. And, a splendid History Section (3,000 BC - 2006 AD in 70pp). This 1200-page paperback is heavy,BUT is cleverly designed so you can pull out sections and "bind" the separately (duct tape?) to pack for your trip. (Note in this category LONELY PLANET is runner-up; recent editions have added colour photos but slashed text and downgraded map quality. Plenty of logistics still - transport/hotels etc - but less description and text.
  • For Ferries & Fun -- Cook's GREEK ISLAND HOPPING how to hop with ease and speed!  Diagrams show best routes for 1 week, 2 weeks, etc. Tips on beaches, bargain lodgings, hot nightlife, for the young and young at heart. LET'S GO GREECE, true to its collegiate origins, shows how to save Euros, plus top ruins, party places, AND where the local laundromat is.
  • For Wit and Candor - Frommer's Greece Fun to read, well-organized.
  • Also for wit and humor - How to be Greek Without Being Greek: A guide to Greece (and living life) by Tom Simek. Published by Parisianou. Ebook available cheap and sometimes for free on Amazon Kindle


  • For Context & Glorious Prose! Cadogan Guides: The GReek islands (2002) Peloponnese & Athens (2008) Culturally rich, with background & insight you find nowhere else, superbly written, a bedside read before/after a trip, or years later. Why can't Americans write this well? (says this Yankee).


  • Note: Other Guides  - Bookstores and libraries stock at least a score of other Guides, general or specialized for regions or interests (ancient sites, hikes, foods etc).You’re sure to find some that suit your tastes.  

Travel Books - Children

Travel Books - Children
For an excellent introduction to Greece for a novice traveler, child OR adult, browse travel and geography guides in the children's or junior sections of a local library. These guides, some only 50 pages long, with color illustrations, can provide an excellent overview of historical and  landscape highlights.


Travel DVDs or Videocassettes

  • Travelogues/Documentaries – Alas, a slim category. In the USA, most available DVDs/videos are Travel Channel or PBS-TV episodes from series like Rick Steves or Pilot Productions (Lonely Planet) that betray their age by  talk of drachmas! Others sound like your grandmother’s Lecture Series. Lucky UK residents can get DVDs of Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage, a 2008 BBC series about sailing from Venice to Istanbul, with many Greek stops along the way. Not licensed in America yet. If you do an internet search on Greece Film Travelogues “Movies Unlimited” lists titles you can also ask for in local libraries or rental stores.
  • Feature Films/TV Episodes  -- If you search TA’s Forum for “Movies filmed in Greece”, TA contributor “Foggy” lists A-Z HUNDREDS of motion pictures and television episodes filmed in Greece. Here are just a few:
  • “Classics” (of interest beyond the setting):  Zorba the Greek (Crete), Never on Sunday (Pireaus), Shirley Valentine (Mykonos), Pascali’s Island (Symi), Mediterraneo (Kastellorizo) Corelli’s Mandolin (Kefallonia),
  • Mainly for celebrities & Scenery: The Big Blue (Amorgos), Summer Lovers (Santorini), Mamma Mia (Skiathos/Skopelos) High Season (Rhodes). 

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