Trying to find out what language is spoken in Greece 🇬🇷 before your next trip?
No matter if you are planning your first trip to Greece or you are looking to move there, you will always have the warmest welcome.
The Greeks are incredibly hospitable and will always try and help you the best they can. But like in many other countries, a language barrier can get in the way.
So what languages do they speak in Greece? This guide explores everything you need to know about the languages spoken across Greece and its islands that attract millions of visitors every year.
✅ Let’s dive in so you can learn more about what languages Greek people speak all across this Mediterranean gem.
What is the official language of Greece?
If you are wondering what the language spoken in Greece is, it’s Greek! The country has a proud history of rich culture, colorful landscapes, and ancient monuments. But one of its most celebrated features is its language: Greek.
As the official language of Greece, it’s spoken by 99.5 percent of people in the country. It’s also widely spoken in other destinations in the Mediterranean, like Cyprus 🇨🇾
Greek is a language full of beauty and complexity, with its alphabet and ancient roots that have been passed down through generations. It’s known for its fluidity and poetic rhythms – perfect for expressing love or telling stories 🗺
Dialects of the Greek language
While major cities and popular destinations in Greece are great for learning the classic form of Greek, you will encounter other forms of the language as you travel around a bit more. The Greek language has 10 major dialects that can be heard in different parts of the country.
Here are some of the most common Greek dialects:
Pontic Greek: This dialect is more common in Northern Greece. Pontic Greek is a mix of the Byzantine koine Greek and the old Ionian Greek.
Cypriot Greek: This dialect is considered to be the closest to the Ancient Greek because of its pronunciation and grammar. What’s interesting is that Cypriot Greek still has a lot of features of the original Ancient Greek that don’t exist in other dialects.
Cretan Greek: Most common in Crete, the largest island in Greece, Cretan Greek boasts a musical flair thanks to longer vowels than the classic Greek language.
Is it hard to learn Greek?
Greek is not the easiest language to pick up or speak. However, learning a few phrases before your trip will make your trip a lot more enjoyable. Not only will the locals warm to you a lot more but for booking restaurants and tours, it’s incredibly useful.
Whether you’re visiting Greece or just curious about the language, learning a few phrases can be a great way to engage with the locals. 😃
For those wanting to rent a car in Greece 🚗 I also highly recommend learning some basic greek phrases, as it will help you out, especially if you break down or run into any issues on the road.
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There are a few places you can learn Greek, one of the best is Duolingo as you can hear native Greek speakers pronounce some of the most common words and phrases. If you want to learn conversational Greek, it’s best to practice with someone who speaks it too. There are apps like italki and Tandem that can help you with that.
Still, Greek isn’t the easiest language to learn for many. So if you want to navigate Greece without speaking the Greek language, apps like Uber and efood are available to help you eat and get around.
Just make sure you do your research, as some of these services are not available on many Greek islands. For example, Uber is currently not available in Rhodes, but there are other local taxi apps.
Is Greek a dead language?
No, Greek language is not dead. Over 12 million people speak it, so the Greek language is far from dead ☠️
Despite the ancient Greek language being developed in the 13th-14th centuries and being one of the oldest languages in Europe, Greek is still spoken by millions of people around the world 🌎
It is an official language in Greece and Cyprus but is also widely spoken in many other countries like Albania, Armenia, and Bulgaria.
No matter where you stay throughout Greece and its magical islands you will notice 99% of people will speak Greek, so the language is very much still alive!
How many languages are spoken in Greece?
Although the main language spoken in Greece is Greek, many other dialects and languages exist throughout the country. Greek is the official language of Greece, but it has various dialects, such as Cretan Greek, Cypriot Greek, Cappadocian Greek, and Pontic Greek.
You will also find other languages spoken in Greece including Macedonian (also known as Slav-Macedonian), Albanian, and Turkish. So if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Greece, be aware of the different dialects in different regions.
What is the closest language to Greek?
The closest language to Greek is Armenian. This ancient Indo-European language is still spoken by millions of people around the world. It’s one of the oldest languages in the world, with some records suggesting it dates back as far as 2,500 BC.
Primary Foreign Languages Of Greece
Greece is an incredibly diverse country with a rich cultural heritage. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that many Greeks have invested in learning a foreign language or two.
The primary foreign languages of Greece are English, German, French and Italian – the four most commonly learned languages among native Greek speakers. However, the English language is by far the most popular foreign language in Greece and is widely used in everyday life.
So if you are struggling to learn Greek for your holiday, consider visiting popular destinations like Kos and Rhodes, where many locals speak English.
Do they speak English in Greece?
Yes, English is spoken in Greece, especially in popular destinations like Santorini, Kos, Mykonos, Corfu and Athens. Most Greeks are proud to be able to use their language skills, and many locals are willing to help when tourists struggle with the Greek language.
While the vast majority of Greeks speak at least some English, it is always appreciated when visitors make an effort to learn a few words in Greek. Even if you can master only the basics like “hello,” “good morning,” and “thank you,” locals will be delighted by your attempt at their language.
It’s also worth noting that even though many Greeks speak English, conversing in the local language can be a great way to get around more easily and make friends with locals.
Top Greek phrases to learn
Even though speaking Greek fluently may not be on your mind, it’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases before visiting Greece. Even if it is just saying hello to someone, it will get you a long way!
One of the most useful phrases for anyone visiting Greece who needs some help is “Milas Anglika?” which means “Do you speak English?”
Here are a few more Greek phrases you should try and learn before visiting Greece:
1. Καλημέρα (Kalimera): Good morning!
2. Ευχαριστώ (Efharisto): Thank you!
3. Συγνώμη (Siggnome): Sorry /Excuse me
4. Μπορώ (Boro): I can
5. Ναι (Ne): Yes
6. Όχι (Ochi): No
9. Παρακαλώ (Parakalo): Please
Final thoughts on the languages spoken in Greece
With millions of people speaking Greek as their first language and so many different dialects, it’s no wonder that Greece is such a linguistically diverse country. By understanding the various languages spoken across Greece, you can better appreciate the rich culture and history of this country.
No matter where your travels take you in Greece, it’s easy to find someone who can speak English. However, learning some Greek phrases before your trip will help you connect with locals on a deeper level and make your experience even more memorable.
Travel resources for planning your trip to Greece
- Agoda.com – a great website for budget hotels in many popular destinations in Greece
- WorldNomads – Great service for insurance coverage that will keep you safe on the road.
- Safety Wing – Excellent insurance plan for long-term travelers that offers competitive rates is you are planning to stay on the road several weeks in a row.
- iVisa – the best website for getting help with your visa for Greece. if you are visiting from another country.
- DiscoverCars.com – There’s nothing like exploring Greece at your pace. Rent a car at Discover Cars if you want to spend more time in the country and get off the beaten path.
- GetYourGuide.com – This is one of the best platforms for finding best guided tours in Greece. Get Your Guide is my favorite platform that offers awesome tours and top-notch guides in many cities in Greece.
- CheapoAir.com – One of the best platforms for saving money on flights to Greece and beyond.
- Booking.com – a popular website with tons and tons of options for accommodations of all sorts.