British author and TV travel presenter Simon Reeve shares his top tips for visiting Greece.

Why go . . .

I realise that for Kiwis it's not a budget flight away but, goodness me, it's as exotic and varied as almost anywhere on the planet, I think.

It's a gorgeous thing to do, to just get a simple ferry between the Greek islands. It's a cheap and brilliant cruise, in my book anyway. Obviously it's got a fantastic history, but the Greeks are also very passionate, emotional, interesting and interested people, who have roamed the planet themselves and taken interest in what's going on elsewhere. I love the people, the place, the food, the history, the culture and the religion.

Where to go . . .
The islands are extraordinary. You want to get away from places that have an international airport on them because it will be rammed with other travellers. Obviously Greece was one of the first countries to be touched by the joys and problems of mass tourism, so carefully pick where you go.

I think Greece is a place you can return to. I would really recommend Symi; an island I've been to a number of times. It doesn't have an airport so there's not mass tourism and you've got to get a ferry to get there. But then you arrive into what I think is the most beautiful natural harbour in Greece. You're surrounded by houses that are Neo-classical looking and just glorious as a result. I've seen people arrive there on a ferry and their mouths just hang open; it's such a fantastic sight.

When to go . . .
I think going out of conventional season, if you can, is a great idea. Most people just head there at the height of summer when it's scorching, so going before and after summer is a great idea. Greek Easter is something very special, when you've got loads of traditional ceremonies on smaller islands and you've got the spring flowers popping up and looking absolutely glorious. Conversely, it's still warm and hot there in September and into October and the Mediterranean Sea has had a chance to warm up as well so that time is still a really good time to visit.

Simon Reeve.
Simon Reeve.

Don't miss . . .

In the north of the mainland of Greece there are mountains that look like the Canadian Rockies in the sunshine, so you've got a really varied country there that is packed with history and culture. And, of course, lots of fantastic touristy resorts.

What to eat . . .

I love almost all Greek food but some good spanakopita - a spinach pie - is probably a favourite. I have attempted to cook it at home and failed miserably so I only eat it when I'm in Greece. If you can get a big chunky slice of that, it seems to carry through the day.

And on the islands you still get such delicious seafood. But you don't need to eat as much when it's so lovely and warm. Your body doesn't need the energy.

Greece with Simon Reeve will . . .
In all the programmes I've done, I've tried to blend issues into what are genuinely real adventures, and I really hope that in some small way it encourages people to travel with their eyes open. You don't have to ignore the deeper, darker, older stories of a place when you're on a jolly holiday. I hope the series gives people a bit of a picture of the place at the moment. It is a country that has an enormous number of challenges and we try and explain some of those, but there's also reasons it got into the situation it's in and we try and go into that as well. I hope it gives people a clearer picture of the modern story of Greece as much as you can possibly hope for in two hours of TV.

Two-part series Greece with Simon Reeve, a look at the beauty - as well as the economic, political and social troubles - of the country and its islands, premieres on Prime on Sunday, April 2, 7.30pm.