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Greece is a fascinating country, located in the south of Europe. Its 15,000-km-long (9,320-mile-long) coast is lapped by the Ionian, Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Greece has as many as 220 inhabited islands and thousands of uninhabited ones.
Wherever you go, you will find temples dedicated to the Greek gods, remains from the Roman era and amphitheaters where the social life of the ancient Greeks took place. Try souvlaki, gyros and a glass of ouzo. If you love history, museums and sandy beaches, you will indeed like Greece.
Explore Ancient Ruins in Athens, Greece
Welcome to one of the world’s oldest metropolises and the capital of Greece. Since ancient times, Athens has been an important cultural, educational and artistic center in the Mediterranean.
The temples of the Parthenon, Erechtheion and the sanctuary of the goddess Athena are located on the Acropolis. These ancient ruins attract millions of visitors every year and are a trademark of Athens.
In the Acropolis Museum, you will see the top works of ancient art. You can learn more about Greece’s rich history at the National Archaeological Museum, the Agora Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum.
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Below the Acropolis is Monastiraki Square, with many restaurants where you can eat traditional Greek dishes, like gyros and souvlaki. Take some time and watch the change of soldiers guarding the parliament building in Syntagma Square.
You can visit the marble stadium of Panathinaiko, where the first modern Olympic Games were held, and learn from local guides more about this fantastic place’s history. Nearby is the National Garden, a beautiful green oasis for relaxation.
Stroll along the promenade in Ermou Street, famous for its many cafés and boutiques. The bohemian Plaka district will delight you with its unique charm.
At the end of the tour of Athens, go 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of the city center. There, you can enjoy magnificent beaches, such as Alimos and Lagonisi.
See Thessaloniki on the Halkidiki Peninsula
Thessaloniki is an important port in the northern part of Greece, with numerous monuments, museums and Byzantine churches.
Climb the circular stairs to the top of the White Tower, the landmark of Thessaloniki with a great view. Visit Aristotle Square in the city center and walk along the famous Nikis Avenue, which features many restaurants and bars.
In Thessaloniki, you can see the glorious monument of the famous military leader Alexander the Great, riding his favorite horse Bucephalus. You can find out more about the ancient Greeks at the Archaeological Museum. Next to it is the Museum of Byzantine Culture, which is also worth visiting.
In Rotunda, an ancient building that served as a temple, you can see beautiful mosaics from the Roman period. You can visit the Roman Forum, also known as the Ancient Agora, and see the remains of ancient Roman buildings.
The historic district of Ladadika is famous for a great nightlife. There are many cafes and bars along the narrow cobblestone street. From Thessaloniki, you can reach popular resorts on the Halkidiki peninsula in just an hour or two. There you can find top beaches like Sani Beach, with fine sand, and a long shoal ideal for families with kids.
Halkidiki consists of three smaller peninsulas: Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. Afytos is one of the most picturesque villages on Kassandra, with numerous taverns and cafes, and narrow cobbled streets with many small shops. There are many vineyards and olive groves, so don’t forget to buy a bottle of quality wine or excellent olive oil from local producers.
Sithonia’s trademark is the clear sea and pine forests. Neos Marmaras and Sarti are small towns worth visiting because of the beautiful bays, coves and long sandy beaches. Sithonia also houses several big campsites with a capacity of over 2,000 people, such as Armenistis and Thalatta camp.
Visit Crete for Rich Cultural Beauties
Crete is the largest Greek island, known for its rich cultural and historic heritage and fantastic beaches.
Knossos was the capital of the Minoan civilization, so historians consider it the oldest European city. At the peak of its development, it had about 100,000 inhabitants. The remains of the magnificent Knossos Palace are the best evidence of that period. You can also see various objects and frescoes found at this site in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion.
Find tours, skip-the-line tickets and more activities around Knossos here.
Visit Chania old town, where you can see many old buildings, monuments and beautiful squares. You will be delighted by the taverns located in the narrow streets, where you can try delicious specialties of Greek cuisine.
To the northwest of Crete is the magical Balos Lagoon. This beach is remote, far from hotels and cafes, and you have to drive along a lousy road to reach it. Despite that, Balos beach is the most popular place in Crete and an excellent destination for a day trip from Chania or Heraklion.
If you love adventures, you will be delighted with a trip to Samaria Gorge. The whole National Park is beautiful, and it will take you five-six hours to pass through the gorge. In some places, the canyon is only 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide, with cliffs more than 300 meters (984 feet) high.
Discover the Ionian archipelago
The Old Town in Corfu is impressive. The Venetian heritage is reflected in the architecture, churches and fortresses from the 16th century. Stroll along the narrow streets and peek into charming souvenir shops or seafood restaurants. You will also be delighted by Paleokastris, a coast with numerous bays, capes and beaches. We also recommend visiting Porto Timoni beach.
Kassiopi is a fishing village with a lovely harbor and lots of wooden fishing boats. One of the most exciting places in Corfu is St. George’s Church, from the 19th century.
The most beautiful building in Corfu is definitely the Royal Achilleion Palace. It was built for the needs of the Austrian royal family, and today it is open to the public, so you can enjoy its gorgeous interior and beautiful garden.
Parga is a pretty town on the Ionian coast. It is located in the northwest of Greece and is an excellent base for excursions to Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos. You will enjoy a walk along the long promenade by the sea, with numerous restaurants and cafes, as well as narrow streets with colorful houses. And if you just want to lie in the sun and relax, Lichnos, Krioneri and Valtos beach await you.
Lefkada is another famous island in the Ionian archipelago, with beautiful beaches, lovely Nidry waterfalls and charming harbor Vasiliki.
On the island of Kefalonia, Mount Aenos stretches to a peak of over 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) above sea level. The view from the top is worth hiking. On this hilly island, you can also see the pretty villages of Assos and Fiskardo, with numerous taverns along the quay. Kefalonia is best known for Melissani Cave, an attractive underground lake with crystal-clear water.
Zakynthos is the southernmost island of the Ionian archipelago, just 25 km (15 miles) west of the Peloponnese. Make sure you go to Navagio beach and swim between the high cliffs. Laganas is the most popular spot on the island, with lovely beaches, numerous cafes, taverns, shops, hotels and villas. This place also has a great nightlife.
Tour the Meteora Monasteries on Cliffs
The incredible story of Meteora monasteries originated in the 14th century when a monk took his followers to central Greece to preach their religion in inaccessible caves. In time, the monks built more than 20 monasteries in an incredible place – on the tops of high stone cliffs.
Six monasteries have survived various rulers, wars and physical damage over several centuries: The Monastery of Varlaam, St. Stephen, Holy Trinity, Roussanou, St. Nikolaos and Great Meteoron monastery.
In the beginning, the monks came to the monastery by a ladder, and now you have steps, so it is available for everyone who wants to visit these fantastic places.
You can do this as part of a day trip adventure from Athens or Thessaloniki, but you’ll need about a 3-hour drive to get there. There are also special tours, among which the most popular are Meteora hiking tour, Meteora sunset tour and Meteora day trip from Athens by train.
Since 1989, Meteora monasteries have been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Meet the Gods of Olympus, Greece
Welcome to the mountain of the gods. Did you know that according to Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is home to the supreme god Zeus?
For more than half a year, the peaks of Olympus have been covered with snow. The highest peak, Mytikas, rises to 2,917 meters (9,570 feet) above sea level and is the second-highest peak in the entire Balkans.
The whole area was declared the first Greek national park in 1938. More than 100 species of birds and endemic plant species live in this area, so the UNESCO National Park Olympus has been declared a biosphere reserve.
You can start conquering the great peaks of Olympus from Litochoro. This village is located just an hour south of Thessaloniki. As many as 10,000 mountaineers each year conquer Mytikas, Stefani, Skolio and other peaks. Here is another interesting fact: the highest Orthodox church is located on Mount Olympus. In the 16th century, it was built on one of the peaks at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) above sea level.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit the magnificent Orlias Waterfalls near Litochoro. The nature of Olympus is genuinely fascinating and will surely leave you breathless.
Be sure to learn some Greek before you go so you can learn more about Olympus and the rich culture. Rosetta Stone offers flexible language plans that work around your schedule and level of learning. Check out their lesson options and deals here.
Witness the Volcanic Islands of the Aegean Sea
The Cyclades consists of as many as 39 islands. Located between Athens and Crete, it is a favorite place for honeymooners because of the impressive sunsets.
Santorini is the most famous island in this archipelago. You must have seen beautiful photos of its white and blue houses. Santorini is a volcanic island, and one of the main attractions is the Caldera hike from Fira to Oia. We guarantee you a fantastic view that you will remember for a lifetime.
Mykonos is an unavoidable stop if you are looking for a great time. Top DJs and crazy parties are almost daily during the season. Mykonos also has beautiful beaches, such as Elia and Paradise.
Going by boat to the island of Delos is a good idea for a day trip. Delos has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its great cultural heritage, archeological sites and monuments.
You can also find beautiful beaches and adorable mountain villages on the islands of Naxos, Amorgos, Paros and Antiparos. The big attraction of the island of Amorgos is the shipwreck “The Olimpia” located in the bay of Liveros.
Search the Ancient Ruins of Delphi, Greece
According to legend, Zeus sent two eagles to two different parts of the world. Zeus determined the place where the eagles met as the center of the world. There, at the foot of Mount Parnassus in the 7th century BC, Delphi was built.
The main building of this ancient site was the temple of Apollo. There is also a temple of the goddess Athena and facilities built for the needs of learning and playing sports. Pythian Games were also held here, and competitors from all ancient Greek cities took part in them.
You can also see the remains of a huge amphitheater in Delphi, where performances and ceremonies were held. With the arrival of Christians to these areas, ancient religions were banned, and temples and buildings were destroyed.
The whole site is located in a beautiful natural environment, and due to its outstanding cultural and historical significance, in 1987 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore The Peloponnese – Home to Modern Civilization
Just an hour from Athens, you come across the Corinth Canal. It separates central Greece and the Peloponnese peninsula, located between the Ionian Sea in the west and the Aegean Sea in the east.
Nafplion is a charming town and former Greek capital, on which the Venetian conquerors left a significant mark. You can stroll through the old town, with narrow streets and painted facades. Climb Palamidi Fortress on a hill above the city for a fantastic view or spend a day enjoying Karathona or Arvanitia beach.
Between the Corinth Canal and Nafplio, you can visit the archaeological site of Mycenae. According to Greek mythology, this place is known for King Agamemnon and the large stone walls with the Lion’s Gate, which the one-eyed giants Cyclops built. You can find out more about the history of the Mycenaean civilization at Nafplio’s Archaeological Museum.
Not far from Nafplio is another important UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Epidaurus, you can see the ancient theater from the 4th century BC, which could accommodate 14,000 visitors. It is very well preserved and known for its excellent acoustics.
You can visit several more interesting places in the Peloponnese. In Mystras, an ancient fortified city, you can see Byzantine churches and palaces. On the island of Laconia, you can find Monemvasia, a picturesque medieval village under the cliffs.
South of the Peloponnese is the beautiful island of Elafonisos, with the famous Simos beach, one of Greece’s most beautiful ones.
Olympia is another exciting place that you can visit. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the ancient Olympic Games. There you can see the Temple of Zeus and the ruins of old sports arenas.
Travel Back to Medieval Times in Rodos, Greece
Rhodes belongs to the Dodecanese islands located in the southeast of the Aegean Sea, near the Turkish coast. Various rulers have left a rich heritage, mainly reflected in architecture, archeological sites and numerous fortresses.
The medieval city of Rhodes is the largest and one of the best-preserved fortifications in Europe. It was built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century, featuring long walls and tall towers.
The old town is dominated by the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. Take a stroll through the old town’s narrow streets with its many cafés, tavernas and shops. For the city’s best view, climb the hill on which the Roloi Clock Tower is located.
Outside the walls of this fort is Mandraki, a modern city with boutiques and beautiful buildings such as the National Theater of Rhodes. Visit the picturesque village of Lindos, Monolithos Castle in the Siana and Kalithea Springs, so you can properly rest after these long walks.
If you love museums, you can get to know the history of Rhodes best if you visit the Byzantine Art Museum or The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.
Rhodes also has excellent beaches, such as Faliraki beach, Tsambika and Glystra, with fine sand and clear water. You can also go on boat trips to other Dodecanese islands such as Leros and Kos.
Book This Trip
Ready to explore the culture and cuisine of Greece? Get prepared with insider knowledge on local restaurants, hotel or VRBO options, tips on the best secluded beaches and more by checking out Travelocity and TripAdvisor.
When you’re ready to pick your travel dates you can find the best airline deals and ground transportation packages all in one place through KIWI Travel.
Be sure to check out our Greece Travel Guide before you go!
Author Bio: Based in Serbia in Europe, Marija Stojanovic Petkovski worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her. She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty homemade lasagna. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.
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