Greek is one of the oldest languages in Europe, with an oral tradition of 4000 years and a written one of around 3000 years. This language has given origin to many of the words we know today, such as psychology or chromatic.

While you’re not expected to learn Greek when you travel to Crete, knowing a few words and expressions can make your holiday a little less complicated: you’ll find it easier to move around, talk to the locals, and even have your wedding on the island!

Because Greek is an entirely different alphabet, we’re only presenting the transliterations for the words. So, what Greek words should you learn before travelling to Crete?


This is an informal way of saying both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and is, therefore, one of the most common words you’ll hear while in Crete. For a politer way of saying hello, yia sas will do the trick! Use this when talking to older people or people you’ve only just met.


Meaning ‘good day’, this expression is used until 12:00, after which kalispera (good afternoon) is used instead. Using these words while travelling around Crete will endear locals to you, as you’ll not only sound polite, but you’ll also be doing an effort to learn their language!

Ne and Ohi

Another two words that are absolutely essential for everyday conversation in the island. The word for ‘yes’ is ne and the one for ‘no’ is ohi – they’re easy to pronounce, so you’ll be impressing everyone in no time.


Saying ‘thank you’ in Greek is equally easy, and you’ll probably be wanting to say it a lot after all the delicious food you’ll eat or the warmth and hospitality with which you’ll be received! Just by saying efharisto you’ll show everyone just how appreciative you are about it.


The accompanying word to ‘thank you’, parakalo means ‘you’re welcome’, although it is not the only meaning it has. You can also use this word to say ‘please’ and ‘how can I help you’. The meaning will depend on the context at the time, so you’ll know when to use this word and when not to.


This is one of those words that can tell you a lot about Greek culture. You’ll find that Cretan like to indulge in the activity of people-watching, which you may also partake in when you visit. With the countless cafés and restaurants that have tables outside, it’s not surprising that Cretans love to sit down and relax with a glass of wine and some delicious food while watching people go by.

Cretans speak Cretan Greek, which is a variation of modern Greek and, while there are some differences between them, words and sentences are pretty much the same. While you won’t become fluent with these words, this is a basic introduction to some of the most commonly used ones in Greece and Crete, which will always come in handy when you visit!