The Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Guides

10 Things To Know About the Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Western Greece

1. What year was the Union of Licensed Tourist guides of the Ionian Islands established, and where is the headquarters?

The Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Western Greece was established in 1965 under the title “Union of Corfu Guides “and its headquarters is at Corfu island. Our Union is a member of the Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Guides, of the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.

2. What is the primary mission/goal of The Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands?

The primary mission of The Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Western Greece is to take visitors one step closer to the magnificent, sophisticated, historical and modern Greece. Tourist guides of our Union are passionate about their work; their goal is therefore to provide the best services with the brightest smile. More practically speaking, our Union’s main concern (except for our employment relations and interests) is to better coordinate the guided tours in our area, bring in touch guides with travel agencies and visitors and ensure that everybody will received the best service possible.

A further goal of the Association is to enhance the knowledge and skills of its members, organizing in winter time lectures and presentations of museums or art exhibitions. We offer our services, as well, voluntarily to the locals, organizing in winter time cultural tours for free.

3. How does someone become a qualified tourist guide in Greece?

To become an Official Qualified Tourist Guide in Greece one needs to study for 2.5 years at the School of Tourist Guides of the Greek Ministry of Tourism. The license one gets at the end of the studies and having succeeded at the final exams is national, which means that we are permitted to work as tourist guides in every part of Greece.

4. After becoming qualified, what are some of the professional development classes that guides typically take in Greece to enhance their knowledge and skills?

After becoming qualified, a tourist guide in Greece can participate at the annual conferences-seminars held by the Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Guides. The seminars are held each year in a different place of the country, in order to enhance the guides’ knowledge and skills.

In addition, our Association organizes lectures and presentations of museums or art exhibitions for its members.

5. Is there an official badge that qualified tourist guides in Greece wear?

There is an official badge that qualified tourist guides in Greece (see photo) wear, light blue with a photo of the owner and details about e.g. the languages that he/she is permitted to use when guiding.

6. How many qualified tourist guides are members of the Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands?

The Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Western Greece has 60 members who speak 14 different languages (Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese). The majority of our guides have academic qualifications in higher education and some have master degrees. Many of them specialize in themed tours, for example 2nd World War historical tours, culinary tours etc.

7. What are some of the top reasons for using a qualified tourist guide in Greece?

The combination of scientific knowledge and knowledge of, less known to the general public, myths and legends make the licensed-qualified tourist guides a decisive factor for the success of one’s vacation. Guides are able to reveal sites and information that no travel guide and no other book can provide. They have invaluable knowledge collected through years of studying and years of contact and socializing with the local population.

Taking as example to Ionian islands area of Greece:

  • The only way to properly experience the chaotic narrow paved alleys (a real labyrinth) of the old town of Corfu is with a tourist guide. Otherwise you have no other choice than to stick to the commercial, mass tourism central alleys, not being able to “smell”, to have a taste of how real life is in this amazing Venetian town.
  • Tourist guides have priority at the famous Achilleion Palace of Elisabeth, in Corfu. Use a guide and skip the lines!

8. What are some of the popular places to visit in the Ionian Islands?

The island of Corfu can offer more than 22 sights and more than 15 museums, alone A City Tour is always a smart idea if you wish to combine history and culture with modern life. The old town of Corfu offers museums, archaeological sites, churches, beautiful architecture to feed your mind and restaurants, cafés, shopping streets to cater for your body.

Tours at the north or south part of Corfu are always advisable, visiting the beautiful mansion of Empress Elisabeth, the famous “Achillion Palace”. Or discovering the traditional, picturesque villages like Paleokastritsa, Lakones, Acharavi, Kassiopi, Sinarades, Chlomos, full of amazing views, traditional architecture and friendly locals. Food tours and a variety of other themed tours are offered by the local agencies and the members of our association. It is not so easy to choose…

Our mainstream guiding tours include the mainland of Greece, the wild and unspoiled region of Epirus.

Some suggestions for the mainland include:

  1. Ioannina, the famous city of silversmiths, full of Ottoman remains, built at the shore of the melancholic lake Pamvotida.
  2. The archeological site of Dodona, with one of the biggest ancient theaters in Greece.
  3. Zagorochoria, a group of 45 traditional villages, surrounding the (listed in the Guinness-book of records) Vikos canyon.
  4. The picturesque town of Metsovo, a prime example of traditional stone-built architecture.
  5. The amazing Meteora in Thessaly, a group of monasteries dating back to the 14th-15th-16th centuries, built on the top of 400m high steep rocks.

9. What are some general tips you would give to potential visitors planning a vacation to the Ionian islands?

Make sure you book our guides in advance to be sure of availability and to avoid disappointment! Corfu Island and Western Greece are breathtaking areas, full of lush vegetation and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered And don’t forget your camera!

10. Where can potential visitor to the Ionian Islands region find our more information about the Union and also find a qualified tourist guide?

More information and contact:
 Union of Licensed Tourist Guides of the Ionian Islands and Western Greece
Samara 6, Saroko
49132 Corfu, Greece

 +30 2661046320 - +30 6945606382
President: Magda Kousouni: +30 6944245153
Secretary: Sofia Dari: +30 6974028590