The cultural and social life of Greece plays out amid and around the remnants of ancient landmarks. Explore ancient archaeological sites and taverna-lined harbours, dine on fresh seafood and don’t forget to try the Ouzo!
The land of Greece is one infused with ancient mythology and if you like archaeology, history, art, and philosophy, then a trip to this fascinating country is not to be missed. Today's visitors to Greece have the opportunity to trace the "fingerprints" of Greek history from the Paleolithic Era to the Roman period in the hundreds of archaeological sites, as well as in the archaeological museums and collections that are scattered throughout the country. Greece is made up of a series of idyllic islands that are surrounded by jet blue seas and covered in dainty white buildings, and you will also find crumbling ruins, engaging museums, and pretty coastal towns aplenty. Every one of the 3,000 Greek islands is a travelling experience in itself.
However, there is more to Greece than just its history. Apart from its ancient archaeological structures, there's a plethora of picturesque islands and beaches, that make Greece one of the best European destinations among tourists. Whether you're a serious adrenalin junkie or dedicated beach bum, Greece delivers. Days melt from one to the next under wide open skies and a sea speckled with islands fringed with the white-sand, pine-tree shade beaches of your dreams. Thrill seekers will discover world-class kitesurfing, wreck diving, and rock-climbing locations with dizzying views. Or simply hop on a boat and set sail into the glittering blue beyond. Greeks are passionate and live life to the fullest, even at the most difficult times. The result is a country seemingly riddled with challenges, yet full of people loving life.
Official site : http://www.visitgreece.gr/
The best time to visit Greece is between March and May and from September to November. Weather during these spring and fall months is agreeable and sunshine is pretty much a guarantee. Not to mention, crowds are thinner and hotel and airfare deals are easier to come by than in summer. But if you choose to visit between December and February (Greece’s winter season), don’t fret. Though chilly, Greece’s winters are relatively mild, thanks in part to its Mediterranean location. June through August, meanwhile, bring stifling heat and hordes of tourists, so sightseeing can be a bit uncomfortable and quite a headache at this time.
Language : Greek
Currency : [EUR] Euro
Timezone : GMT +3
Airport : Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos [ATH]
Annual Number of Visitors : 33 million (2018)
VISA : https://in-gr.gvcworld.eu/
Try to use independent accommodation and dining options as much as possible. Travelling between the main towns on the mainland is easy on the comprehensive bus network, with local services radiating out to villages. You can also make use of the limited but extremely cheap national rail service for a number of key destinations. You should watch your valuables, especially when travelling on crowded transport such as the metro. Don’t leave any of your possessions unattended on the beach. Purchase booze at a local grocery to enjoy in your accommodations as restaurants, bars and clubs will charge a fortune for drinks. Save your heavy-duty shopping for the mainland. Refrain from touching any remains or monuments. The fingers’ natural oils can be extremely damaging to artefacts. Punctuality is not held in the highest esteem in Greece, so don’t expect service in a restaurant to be too snappy or transportation always to run like clockwork.
Local Culture, Mountains, Beaches, Local Cuisine, Hiking, Camping, City, Off the Beaten Path, Landmarks/Sights, Walking Tours, All Water Activities, Scuba/Snorkelling, All Active/Outdoor, Mountain Biking, Family Friendly, At Sea, Peace and Quiet, Romantic, Heritage, Museums, Shopping, Fishing, Trekking, Golf, Adventure, Wine, Skiing
The Greek islands are renowned worldwide not only for their stunning beaches and crystal waters but also for their crazy nightlife and endless partying. The cheerful atmosphere, the friendly welcome, loud international music, and extraordinary cocktails magnetize youths from all over the world to dance from dusk till dawn and have a great time. The best Greek islands for parties include Mykonos, Ios, Paros, and many others. Beach bars transform into thrilling clubs with top international DJs, go-go dancers, and exotic cocktails. Just imagine sipping your cocktail or champagne, enjoying a breathtaking view of the dark sea and the lighted town! Sounds dreamy, right?
Island hopping in Greece is one of Europe’s unmissable adventures. But with over 200 islands where do you start? Ferry services are plentiful and mostly reliable through the warmer months, so why not choose a group of islands like the Ionians, the Dodecanese or the postcard pretty Cyclades and see as many as you can? Nothing beats sitting out on the deck of the ferry in the sunshine, sipping on a frappe, thumbing through a guidebook wondering what stories await at the next island. The anticipation as you wait in the crowd to disembark the ferry, as the alarm sounds and the door draw down – providing the first glimpse of your chosen destination.
In Greece, extreme sports offer genuine emotional experiences. Your adrenaline will spike on dozens of off-road routes for cars and motorcycles, or as you jump out of an airplane in the extreme sport of skydiving. Rock and mountain climbing, hiking, biking, canyoning, skiing, rafting, riding, yachting, kayaking, windsurfing, kite-surfing, sailing, scuba diving…whatever your sport, you’ll relish it in Greece. The marvellous mild climate, a landscape that is four-fifths mountains and one of the longest coastlines in the world makes Greece special and ideal for all kinds of sports all year round. Gather your friends and gear, maps, a reliable GPS and set off on an unforgettable holiday adventure. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this captivating journey. All you need is a taste for the intoxicating freedom of the outdoors – and an appetite to experience what life in Greece is really all about.
Wine tasting in the country
Greece through a glass of wine – journey back to where it all began, 4,500 years ago, and follow the origins of Greece’s finest wines and ancient winemaking practices. Visit award-winning wineries that grow famous varieties such as Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, as well as Cabernet and bottle some of the finest labels, with the wine tasting country tour. Expand your knowledge of the wines that thrive best in this country’s fertile soils, while you sample the gastronomic treasures of the region, and stay in premium guesthouses chosen for their charm and location. In between, you can discover timeless cultural sites, authentic villages and romantic locations where you can feel the mythology of the past imprinted on the breeze.
Wander through the Caves
Nature works its magic and impresses us all, through the mesmerizing landscapes and the fabulous details in each canvas. It takes centuries or even millennia of hard work, shaping the ground and creating the antitheses that compose the dreamiest scenery. Gigantic mountains and steep gorges, cliffs and rocky territories, welcoming shores of fine golden sand and evergreen forests are just few of nature’s masterpieces. But in Greece, you should take the chance to wander through the most amazing caves. Carved in the stone, they have revealed the underground beauty. There are various caves available for diving and exploring, whether you are experienced or not.
Greece is an idyllic place for short or longer cruises, as it has many islands and ports which you can visit, as well as an ideal climate allowing for pleasant travelling conditions nearly all year round. A cruise on the Greek seas gives you the opportunity to visit important archaeological sites, unique churches and monasteries, monuments of more recent periods, extremely interesting museums and traditional settlements and villages as well as to enjoy the natural beauties in many of the country’s regions.
When you think of sun and sea, you think of Greece. A country synonymous with sunlight, crystalline seas, award-winning beaches and marinas, countless islands, yachting and sailing, sea sports and more. The blue sea, exotic beaches, hospitable locals, islands with their unique architecture and culture, in addition to the high standards of service, boutique hotels, spas and marinas, make Greece an ideal beach holiday destination. It’s a country drenched in sunlight, living by the sea year round!
If you are a Greek mythology fan and love the stories of ancient Greece, you could plan a Greek road trip and create your own Odyssey! You can experience Greek traditions in rural parts of the country by participating in village feasts or the Dionysian traditions still practiced for carnival or in the moving and deeply religious celebrations. But Greece is not just about the past. You will also be delighted by its modern culture and arts, to be found in the country’s museums, concert halls and art galleries of the major cities, as well as the thousands of cultural events, held all-year-round at open-air theatres, castles, and squares around the country.
To visit Greece is to enjoy an epic tale that goes back at least 5,000 years, where the dividing line between myth and history become beautifully blurred. The ‘300’ is not just a movie, the Odyssey is not just a book. They are instead milestones on the course of human history and the development of civilization. Every ancient site in Greece is blessed with wonderful natural settings that enhance the energy of temples, stadiums, theatres, and their compelling statues and timeless works of art. The Greeks have learned to honor their heritage and today the imprint of these past times lives on in time-honored traditions.
Greece promises to be a gastronomy experience that you’ll never forget. Here you’ll take part in a game of discovering new tastes and aromas, new combinations of foods, new fruits of the earth. The gastronomy here will excite you: traditional Greek breakfast, colourful authentic Mediterranean cuisine, local produces, fine wines, flavourful beers and local spirits. Every corner of the country has its unique specialties, dishes that have evolved over time from the interplay of necessity and invention. The key for any visitor is to ‘go local’, enjoy the gifts of the land and see and the company of people who have upheld ancient culinary traditions for centuries.
Santorini consists of two inhabited islands and several islets. Most visitors spend their time on Thira (the archipelago’s largest island), which is home to Santorini’s major towns, including Fira and Oia. One of the favorite Cycladic destinations around the world, Thira, will leave you speechless with its natural beauty. Swim in one of the wonderful beaches, such as Perivolos and Kamari, with its characteristic black, volcanic pebbles and the wonderful deep blue waters. Explore the volcano that created the island with its lunar landscape. Discover the wonderful architecture of the houses in the settlements of Pyrgos and Finikia. Come to the beautiful Fira, the capital of the island, and have a drink in one of the many bars. And of course, your trip to Santorini does not end if you don’t admire the famous sunset, from the top of the Caldera and the picturesque Oia.
That’s why it is called the “island of winds”. The winds in Mykonos never stop, making the island an ideal destination if you love extreme sports. Come to the paradise of windsurf, the amazing beach of Kalafatis. Go for wave-riding and kitesurf in Korfo. Take your windsurf and come for racing in exotic Ftelia. And of course, because you are in Mykonos, the fun goes on at the beach bars for the ultimate summer party. Luxury, gourmet food and stunning beaches. The cosmopolitan Mykonos has everything. Shop like never before in the world-famous Matogiannia for endless shopping in the famous boutiques. Take a stroll in picturesque little Venice to take photos of the Windmills and the unique sunset. Go to one of the beautiful beaches, Kalo Livadi, Elia or Agios Sostis, and live the ultimate party at the most famous beach bars of the Cyclades. Don’t leave without sipping gourmet dishes from the most famous chefs in the award-winning restaurant, in beautiful Gialos, overlooking the sea.
Used as the backdrop for epic tales by both Homer and Shakespeare, the island of Corfu (also spelled Korfu or Kerkyra) continues to attract weary travelers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The sight of its lush green landscape and the scent of olives and citrus from nearby groves is enough to melt away any ounce of stress. And the feel of the sprawling, pebbly beaches beneath your feet or the view of the cerulean waves of the Ionian Sea is enough to make you feel as though you’ve found paradise. The miles of coastline and picturesque beaches are what draws tourists to Corfu each year.
Crete, Greece’s largest island, is known for its varied terrain, which ranges from fine-sand beaches at Elafonisi to the White Mountains. Mt. Ida, the tallest of the range, is home to the Ideon Cave, which was the birthplace of Zeus, according to Greek mythology. The capital, Heraklion, is home to the renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum, housing Minoan artefacts, and Knossos, a Bronze Age settlement. Crete captures the spirit of Greece and enchants everyone who visits it. The mystery of Crete runs deep. It’s an island of thousands of vibrant images, filled with an open-hearted and vivacious spirit, rich history, world-famous cuisine and hospitable people.
Few cities rival Athens when it comes to historical importance. As the sun rises over the smooth marble monuments of the Acropolis and fills the cobblestone streets along its base, the people of Athens emerge from their homes and head to local markets or sidewalk games of chess. Life moves more slowly, as if the entire city is reveling in blissful retirement from its glory days as a political and cultural powerhouse. But as the sun sets, Athens’ contradictions come to light: The air thickens with the aroma of spiced lamb and music from a nearby taverna, dance clubs blast rock music amidst ancient columns, and the bright lights of Omonia Square mirror the glistening columns of the Parthenon, illuminated for all to see.
White beaches, sea turtles and partying around the clock make Zakynthos a favourite holiday destination. The Venetians called this southernmost Ionian island Fiore di Levante, the Flower of the East. Its nobility and fertility made it the jewel of their empire. Today’s visitors would agree, though they come for its endless beaches – Lagana, Tsilivi, Argassi, Kalamaki, Alykes – where they party day and night. You’ll find indelible moments when you swim at the famous Shipwreck Beach, watch the sunset from the cliffs of Keri and Kryoneri and see the endangered caretta caretta sea turtles lay their eggs in the island’s white sands.
Skopelos is the greenest island in Greece with more than two third of its territory covered with virgin pine forest. A trip to this idyllic location is about enjoying a world which moves at a different pace, as the island has preserved much of its laid-back traditional island ambience, contrary to a lot of the other Greek islands. The supremacy of the eye-catching green landscape is only interrupted by aquamarine crystalline waters on golden coasts and the whitewashed villages built in traditional Pelion architecture. The island enjoyed international acclaim when Hollywood producers chose it to shoot the famous movie “Mamma Mia”, establishing the island as a holiday destination for tourists from all over the world.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands – near Turkey – and deservedly among the most visited of all Greek islands. With its bright green hills, lush valleys and almost uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is an ideal holiday spot not only for those who want to relax but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday. The main reason why you should put Rhodes on your bucketlist are the island’s two star attraction, the ravishing hillside village of Líndhos with its ancient acropolis, and especially the magnificent medieval Old Town, an UNESCO World Heritage site, that lies at the heart of its capital, Rhodes Town.
Gorges, rivers, dense forests, steep slopes, natural pools, rocky peaks, such as the seemingly sculpted Astraka peak, and the so-called “Dragon Lakes” (drakolimnes) – the dwelling places of dragons, according to local legend – await the more adventurous traveler. This is an imposing place, challenging and untamed by the demands of modern civilization. The renowned Vikos Gorge in Epirus is registered in the Guinness book of records as the deepest gorge in the world in proportion to its width, with a depth of more than 900 m.
It has beautiful beaches, sports activities, trendy bars and clubs, tasty food, wineries, traditional architecture, paths for trekking and hiking etc. Let the liveliness and youthfulness of Paros bring you together. Its beaches are considered among the best surf beaches and call you for endless play. Visit Santa Maria for unbelievable diving and wakeboarding. Then head to Punta for water skiing and fun in the waves, but also on the beach’s famous beach bar. But also visit the Golden Beach, where you surf and take the lessons from the most experienced athletes in Greece. That’s why if you go to Paros, you notice the variety of ages that visit it, from young people and students to families and older couples. This creates an amazing mix that gives this island an extra dimension!
The beautiful Naxos has some of the most beautiful, organized beaches with the most crystal clear waters. Water sports can be found in almost everyone, but for the very enthusiastic there is Mikri Vigla. The sandy, idyllic beach has the air on its side and is a favorite meeting point for those who love to windsurf. The island boasts ancient Byzantine history, authentic hilltop villages, mouth-watering local delicacies and endless, pristine sand beaches. So, take your time exploring this underrated treasure and you could soon feel yourself falling in love with an island that has every shade of blue under the sun. An easy place to start discovering Naxos’ charm is the old town – also known as “Chora”.
Greece’s second city is filled with remnants of its multi-layered past, but sprinkled among the monuments are plenty of modern diversions. The once-powerful port is still filled with the UNESCO-listed remains of the three empires that ruled it — the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans — as well as many traces of its multi-religious past, which saw Muslims, Christians and Jews living side by side. Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. The city was named after princess Thessalonike of Macedon, who was the half-sister of Alexander the Great. During the Roman period it was an important metropolis. The energy in this ancient cultural capital is palpable – especially in the vibrant downtown that was rebuilt in a spectacular Byzantine style after a devastating fire in the early 1900s.
Syros is the capital island of the Cyclades, but it scarcely registers on the agenda of most visitors to the region. There’s plenty to see in Ano Syros. Most impressive is the historic Church of St. George, the sprawling and renovated Catholic complex that sits at the town’s summit. Even if you don’t fancy checking out the attractions, you can spend an afternoon getting lost in the town’s narrow, sprawling alleys. Savor the views, play with the local cats — you’ll find them basking on rooftops, skulking along walls, and meowing at restaurant diners — and stop for regular refreshments at the historic town’s chilled-out bars.
The diminutive isle of Milos — most well-known as the site where the Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820 — is something different from the mainland. Its landscape is one sweeping hillside after another, dotted only by sparse vegetation, white-washed homes, blue-roofed churches, and a rogue goat or two. And its food is divine. The tranquil and picturesque Milos is ideal for relaxing and having some of the most beautiful beaches of Cyclades with the most enchanting emerald waters, such as Sarakiniko, Tsigrados and Fyriplakas. Take a seat on the boat and enjoy the tour of the island that will reveal hidden coves with incredible geological formations. Unforgettable will be the mysterious and impressive catacombs of the island.
The adventure begins in Tinos, which, although it has a religious reputation, will amaze you with its fantastic beaches and mountain scenery. Rather than resorts that tend to your every desire, packed nightclubs, and hip restaurants and bars, Tinos is filled with breathtaking landscapes, historic Greek villages, a cuisine built on fresh, local ingredients, and beaches dotted with thatch-huts and a single van selling cheap drinks and snacks. Only a 20-minute ferry trip from the glitz and glitter of Mykonos, Tinos is worlds away in attitude and appearance.
On most Greek islands, what hits you first is the light, bouncing off burnished rocks or painting the horizon a fuzzy peach. On wildly beautiful Sifnos in the Cyclades, it’s the aroma of orange-and-anise biscuits drifting down whitewashed lanes; pockets of sage and oregano in wind-chiselled valleys; blasts of brine as sea urchins are prised open, orange roe scooped up with salty fingers. Sifnos is an island that has everything and offers both alternative holidays and fun. To live on its quieter side, choose the relatively quiet beaches of Poulatos and Apokofto. If you want to be completely isolated, head to the amazing Toso Nero, a small, rocky beach, accessible only by trail or boat, with a wonderful diving floor.
For beauty, Serifos is up there with the Cyclades’ more famous islands – but it surpasses them for easygoing charm, which is why Athenians come here. The clean Serifos remains untouched by tourism, which makes it ideal for relaxation and quiet holidays. Enjoy your baths in golden sandy beaches, Ganema, Kalo Ambelli and Psili Ammos. Walk to Kastro and the Taxiarches Monastery for a unique view of the sea and the sunset. At the end of the day, come to the beautiful Ano Hora for food or drink.
The wild beauty of the landscape in Folegandros makes it one of the most special islands of Cyclades. With unique views from the rugged slopes and secluded beaches, it is ideal for hiking and exploration. Do not miss the beaches of Agali and Katergos with the most crystal clear, idyllic waters. Folegandros has little in the way of package tourist amenities or major roads and those who come to the island looking for organized water-sports, discos and wild nightlife will be disappointed. But a lack of nightlife does not mean a lack of good restaurants and cafes for after all, on a quiet island, once you have walked through the hills in solitude, smelling the wild thyme, oregano and the array of colorful wildflowers in he spring, what better way to end the day than with a nice meal and some good wine?
Fira to Oia Hike, Santorini
The best way to take in Santorini is to walk, and there is no better route than the one from Fira to Oia. This hike is 6 miles one-way and passes through four towns, including Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. It’s important to know that there is no marked trail or pathway for this hike, but a matter of following the roads closest to the caldera. Along the way, travelers will find numerous sites worth stopping for, in addition to spectacular ocean views and picturesque towns.
Most travelers agree that, if you have the time, a daytrip to the nearby island of Delos – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a must. This little island was once the religious and political center of the Cyclades; because of its mythological significance, the ancient Ionians declared Delos their religious capital. A few centuries later, the Athenians set up a treasury here. Today, you can wander about the ancient ruins of once-monumental structures like the Propylaea (formerly a grand marble archway) and the Sanctuary of Apollo. You should make some time to hike up the rocky Mount Kythnos (just southwest of the harbor) for excellent views of the surrounding islands.
Amoudi Bay, Santorini
For beautiful views of the caldera, descend the 300 steps from the northern city of Oia to the charming port of Amoudi Bay. Surrounded by striking red cliffs and dotted with white-washed buildings typical to Santorini, this little village features several quaint tavernas serving up the catch of the day. Aside from digging in the bounty of the sea, visitors can enjoy some swimming here, though the beach is rocky so you should bring appropriate footwear, especially if you plan on cliff diving (a popular activity in Amoudi Bay).
Kato Myli, Mykonos
These iconic windmills overlooking Little Venice date back to the 16th century, when islanders used wind power to grind grain. There are 16 windmills in total, and while they are no longer operational, they stand as a monument to early innovation. The views here are spectacular: From this hilltop perch, you can see Chora and the harbor in the distance. On your way to the windmills, don’t overlook the surrounding neighborhood of Alefkandra. This historic area is a great place to stop for a bite to eat or a glass of ouzo.
Little Venice, Mykonos
This Chora neighborhood is known as one of the most stunning places on the island. Overlooking the southwest end of the harbor, it was here that many early ship captains decided to settle down and built uniquely magnificent homes overlooking the sea. Today, many of these historic homes have been transformed into a variety of cozy restaurants, trendy bars, shops and nightclubs, making this a bustling place at all hours of the day.
Palaio Frourio, Corfu
At one point in time, all of the residents of Corfu lived inside the walls of the Palaio Frourio, or Old Fortress. Built in the 16th century by Venetians, Palaio Frourio lies at the eastern end of Corfu Town, separated by a moat. Some sections of the fortress offer breathtaking views of Corfu and its surroundings. Another major highlight of the fortress is the Church of St. George which was built by Venetians and utlitized by the British during their occupation of the island in the 1800s.
Panagia Paraportiani, Mykonos
If you ask them, Mykonians will tell you that their island is home to 365 churches – one for each day of the year. However, Panagia Paraportiani is by far the most famous. Sitting in central Chora, this somber whitewashed church dates back to the Byzantine era and features a variety of religious decorations dating back to the Middle Ages. In fact, it’s actually five churches constructed together. From its main entrance, you’ll have spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Paradise Beach, Mykonos
Many people flock to Mykonos for two reasons: beaches and parties. A trip to the southern coast and Paradise Beach – Mykonos’ original nudist beach – will kill two birds with one stone. Soft sands, azure seas and a rowdy atmosphere have made Paradise one of the most popular places on the island. Paradise Beach sits about 2 miles south of Chora and can be reached on foot, by boat or by bus.
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
It’s only right that Greece’s biggest city in the north and the region that gave us the great Macedonian dynasties should have an archaeological museum to rank amongst the very best in the country. Whether you’re on a city break or a stopover on your way elsewhere in Macedonia or Halkidiki, a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is a must to understand everything about this famous land and its people.
The old town of Chania with its world-renowned Venetian lighthouse, the aristocratic suburb of Halepa, Tabakaria (centre for leather production), Neoria (arsenal) and Kum Kapi, teeming with bars, cafes, restaurants and elegant hotels.
Discover the old town of Rethymno, with its Venetian buildings, mosques, minarets, fountains and cobblestone alleys lined with shops, cafes, bars and hotels. Explore Idaio Antro – one of the most important caves of Minoan worship.
The Venetian port of Heraklion is a lively city filled with sights, museums, restaurants, bars and hotels. Walk along the walls of the old city and explore Morosini (Leondaria) Square, the Loggia (City Hall), Agios Titos and Armeria (the armoury).
Minoan Palace of Knossos, Crete
Minoan myths, palatial splendour and details of everyday life and artwork from almost 4,000 years ago…visiting the Palace of Knossos is humbling in its significance. The oldest civilisation in Europe, the oldest throne in Europe, the legends of King Minos and the Minotaur, and even artwork that continues to inspire today. The site is big and sprawling (43,000 m2), once containing 1,300 rooms connected with corridors around the main courtyard.
The National Marine Park, Zakynthos
The sea and coast around Zakynthos were picked for Greece’s first marine park. This is where the rare caretta caretta sea turtles lay their eggs. In spring these endangered creatures set off for Zante from the Libyan Sea and the southern Adriatic, not because they like the swim but because nature tells them to lay their eggs in the sands of Gerakas, Dafni, Kalamaki, Marathonisi and, especially, Sakania, east of Laganas, as they always have.
St. Dionysios, Zakynthos
One of Orthodox pilgrimage sites in the Ionian, St. Dionysios draws crowds of believers throughout the year as it houses the relics of the saint of the same name (also the island’s patron saint). The impressive church was built in 1926, with a three-aisled basilica and inner arch. The catastrophic earthquake of 1953 left it virtually undamaged. Miracle or just solid foundations?
Delphi has the claim to fame of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the top attractions in Greece. Delphi sits on the sides of Mount Parnassus and was a popular pilgrimage spot in the days of old for those who would come here to pay homage to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of healing, music, light, and prophecy. Followers would come here to seek guidance from the Oracle at Delphi and nowadays you will find temples, an impressive stadium, a theater, and delightful ancient ruins.
Meteora is known for its monasteries that sit on top of towering rock formations. The monks that live in the area are Eastern Orthodox and fled to Meteora as a result of the invasion of the Turkish army. There are 6 monasteries in Meteora, although at one point there would have been over 20, and as a result this is one of the most spectacular religious sites in Greece. Meteora is crowded with ancient boulders and monolithic pillars and this is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the rock formations offer one of the most haunting and beautiful landscapes in all of Europe.
Mycenae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was made famous in Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer claimed that Mycenae was built by Perseus who was the son of Zeus and Danae and it belonged to the Royal House of Atreus. Whatever the real story, we know that Mycenae was founded in the 6th century BC and some of the highlights here include the mighty Lion Gate and the royal cemetery. You will also find the Agamemnon Palace and the Great Court as well as smaller houses that contained famous artefacts like the Warrior Vase.
Epidaurus Theater, Argolis
In Epidaurus in the region of Argolis is the Epidaurus Theater, a ceremonial space that is dedicated to the famous god of medicine, Asclepius. The Sanctuary of Asclepius is located next to the theater, and you can visit both at the same time. The theater dates from the 4th century and you can sit in the stone tiers and imagine watching a performance here in the years of old.
Lake Plastira, Larditsa
Lake Plastira is something unusual in Greece which is known for being blessed with a plethora of natural beauty. What makes this lake different is that it is manmade although this doesn’t make it any less impressive. The lake is surrounded by oak and chestnut trees and you can go canoeing or rafting here as well as horse riding or hiking along the trails around the lake. Lake Plastira is located in the Larditsa region of Greece and offers an adventure filled afternoon.
Samaria Gorge, Crete
Nestled on the stunning island of Crete is the Samaria Gorge which is a must-visit for any nature lovers to Greece. The gorge spans 16 kms. although parts of it are just 4 meters wide. There are a range of treks available at the gorge although if you want to walk along the entire section then it can take anything up to seven hours.
Temple of Hephaestus, Athens
As with all temples in Greece, this one is dedicated to the gods, in this case Hephaestus who was the god of fire and Athena, the goddess of pottery and ancient crafts. The temple dates from 450 BC and sits atop Agoreao Koronos Hill. Designed by the same architect who worked on the Pantheon, Hephaestus Temple is known for its pretty columns and its Pentelic and Parian marble decorations. You will also find friezes and sculptures dotting the building which is said to be one of the most historically important in all of Greece.
A must-visit when in Greece, the Acropolis is the greatest and finest sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. Dating back to the 5th century BC, the Acropolis dominates the center of the modern city from its position on a rocky crag. The most celebrated myths of ancient Athens, its greatest religious festivals, earliest cults and several decisive events in the city’s history are all connected to this sacred precinct. The Acropolis’ monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.
Olympia is known to be the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games. They were organized on this site every 4 years from 776 B.C to 393 A.D, before being forbidden. Nowadays, the Lightning Ceremony of the Olympic flame takes place in Olympia before every opening of the Modern Olympic Games. On the ancient site, you will see the ruins of Temples dedicated to the Greek Gods Zeus and Hera, as well as sporting facilities such as the stadium and the gymnasium. If you want to learn more about Olympia, you definitely have to visit the Olympia Archaeological Museum.
This fortified city is located in the south of Peloponnese, on the East coast of Laconia. It has a quite unusual position, located on a huge rock, only connected to the mainland by a small road. The road to Monemvasia is really unique, as the village is completely hidden by the cliff until you arrive. The houses will only appear once you’ve passed the wall of the medieval city. Cross the main gate and enter the medieval city to start discovering the village. You will for sure enjoy walking in the lower town paved alleys – it’s very cute and calm, with many shops and restaurant. Following the main street will take you to the central square, offering a nice view on the sea.
The site about 10 kilometres away from Sparta on the slopes of Taygetus mountain. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful archaeological site of the Peloponnese. Mystra was once one of the capitals of the Byzantine Empire as well as a major cultural city. Due to its dramatic history, it has been left in an advanced state of decay for a long time. Today, after an impressive restoration work, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is really worth a visit. There, you will admire the fortress and the Kastro (Castle) as well as many churches and monasteries in a beautiful environment.
Temple of Poseidon, Sounion
Archaeological evidence indicates that Sounion was a sacred area as far back as the Bronze Age, but the temple visible in our day was built in the middle of the 5th century BCE. Given the similarities of the Temple of Poseidon to the Hephaisteion and the temple of Nemesis in Rhamnous, many historians have concluded that they were designed by the same architect. An inscription confirms that the temple was dedicated to Poseidon, and it was built upon the remains of an even earlier poros temple whose foundations are still visible.
Melissani Cave, Kefalonia
Melissani Cave is probably one of the most famous in the entire country. Located on the island of Kefalonia, this is a fully developed cave stretching to 3.5 kms. in length. Rocks have dissolved, forming this exceptional place on Earth. The lake is accessible by boat and the experience is truly mystical. Shades of blue and green are mirrored on the sea surface. From the top of the cave, sun rays touch the scenery gently and create such lovely colors that will astound you.
Blue Caves Zakynthos
Blue Caves Zakynthos are equally breathtaking caves in Greece. These unique geological formations have been shaped after thousands of years. There are various caves available for diving and exploring, whether you are experienced or not. But what is true in most of them is the incredible beauty of the emerald waters. Crystal clear sea, inviting you to dip inside and discover all the hidden treasures.
Pythagoras Cave, Samos
On the Greek island of Samos is a cave system that was once home and classroom to famous mathematician and philosopher, Pythagoras. The cave is located on Mount Kerkis, an extinct volcano that forms the second-highest peak in the East Aegean. According to local legend Pythagoras fled to these caves when he was being hunted by the infamous tyrant, Polycrates, around 400 B.C. During this time, it is believed that Pythagoras inhabited one small cave and used a nearby larger cave as his classroom.
Thirassia, although exactly opposite the Santorini caldera, is a complete contrast from Santorini. Quiet and undeveloped, it is almost untouched by tourism. Until 236 BC Thirassia was still connected to the northern part of Santorini, but an eruption in 236 BC destroyed a land bridge that connected the two island. Because there are no really good sandy beaches on the island, Thirassia has never developed into a tourist destination. This is why the whole island still remained very much unspoilt and a visit to it can feel like a visit back in time.
Ancient Akrotiri, Santorini
The prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (Thíra) is one of the most important sites in the Aegean. In prehistory it was a well connected Minoan port town, with connections to mainland Greece and as far afield as Egypt and Syria. As the town was covered in ash following a volcanic eruption on the island, preservation of the settlement is exceptional, making this one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece. Akrotiri is referred to as the ‘Greek Pompeii’ because the site was covered in volcanic ash.
Kamari Beach, Santorini
Santorini’s volcanic history has led to the formation of some of the more unique beaches in the Greek Isles, and Kamari is no exception. Sitting about 4 miles southeast of Fira on the island’s east coast, this stretch of black sand is one of the largest in Santorini. The beach is backed by the town of its namesake, a popular resort area where you’ll find numerous hotels, restaurants, beachside bars and shops. On the beach, visitors can take advantage of the available lounge chairs and umbrellas. Kamari is free to visit all hours of the day and night, though it’s never a good idea to swim without a lifeguard present.
The Parthenon is a resplendent marble temple built between 447 and 432 B.C. during the height of the ancient Greek Empire. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon sits high atop a compound of temples known as the Acropolis of Athens. The Parthenon was the center of religious life in the powerful Greek City-State of Athens. Built in the 5 century B.C., it was a symbol of the power, wealth and elevated culture of Athens. It was the largest and most lavish temple the Greek mainland had ever seen.
The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. In the shadow of the Acropolis, the Plaka is like a village within the city. It is now an area of restaurants, Jewelry stores, tourist shops, and cafes. Most of the restaurants are typical tourist places but the quality of food is not bad in some of them. Most of the shops have pretty much the same stuff for pretty much the same prices but there are some that are more eclectic than others that sell antiques, or actual hand painted icons, wood carvings and paintings.
The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple constructed on the Acropolis of Athens between 421 and 406 BCE in the Golden Age of the city to generally glorify the great city at the height of its power and influence. The Erechtheion, named after the demi-god Erechtheus, the mythical Athenian king, was conceived as a suitable structure to house the ancient wooden cult statue of Athena.
Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, Athens
Built in the 11th century and altered repeatedly throughout the centuries, the church of the Holy Apostles was restored to its original form from 1954 – 1956. It is the only structure in the Ancient Agora apart from the Temple of Hephaestus, to survive intact since its foundation. It marks the beginning of the Athenian style churches from the Byzantine period with its signature eight-sided dome and a floor plan in the shape of a cross, with apses on the four sides and a narthex on the west side.
Ancient Agora, Athens
Discover the heart of ancient Athens, the core of political and social activity, where everyone from philosophers and priests to politicians and prostitutes crossed paths. The open plateau of the Ancient Agora provided a place for the citizens of ancient Athens to meet, bond and deliberate on the issues of the day. The Ancient Agora was a dynamic place, where the great thinkers Sophocles, Socrates, Protagoras, among others, would meet and where ordinary citizens could come and interact with their peers, voice their concerns, agree on solutions and courses of action.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens
One of the legendary sites that sits beneath the slopes of the Acropolis on the southwest side, is the stunning open-air theatre, Odeon of Herodes Atticus. In ancient times, Odeons were built for musical contests and this ancient stone theatre has gone on to host some of the world’s best musical performances during the last 60 years since its modern day re-opening, including Nana Mouskouri, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra to name a few.
The Panathenaic Stadium, Athens
The spectacular Panathenaic Stadium remains one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and is a shining beacon of modern Athens. Following several transformations over its long history, it eventually became the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and remains the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble. The stadium originally had a rectangular shape that was typical of ancient Greek stadiums (such as in ancient Olympia and ancient Epidaurus) and would be used for the first time in 330 BC.
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art. It was founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, thus displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value. Its rich collections, enumerating more than 11,000 exhibits, offer the visitor a panorama of ancient Greek culture from the prehistory to the late antiquity.
Hadrian's Reservoir, Athens
One of Roman Athens’ most amazing engineering feats now lies below a modern outdoor movie theater. Fans of the silver screen can gather beneath the night air to watch their favorite films, all while perched atop a nearly 2,000-year-old reservoir. Due to Athens’ growing water needs in the second century CE, Emperor Hadrian ordered a project to increase the city’s water supply. Construction thus started for an aqueduct that began at Mount Parnitha and stretched more than 12 miles to the base of Mount Lycabettus, where a reservoir was built.
Benaki Museum, Athens
The Benaki Museum was founded by Antonis Benakis in 1930 and subsequently donated to the Greek state. It is the oldest museum in Greece operating as a Foundation under Private Law. Arranged across nine buildings open to the public, the Museum’s collections are extremely diverse, featuring four archives, an extensive library and over 500,000 works of art, books, photographs, and rare documents.
Acropolis Museum, Athens
One of the most popular modern attractions in Athens is the Acropolis Museum which opened in 2009. You will know the building when you see it as it’s made of cutting edge glass and steel and houses some of the most famous artefacts in Greece. Some of the signature pieces in the museum include the Moschophoros which is a statue of a man with a calf on his shoulders and the Parthenon marbles. The museum is also known for its cafe which has a terrace that looks across to the breathtaking Acropolis. The new Acropolis Museum has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters, ten times more than that of the old museum on the Hill of the Acropolis. Since opening, the Museum has been recognized by many international cultural, architectural and tourism organizations and rated as being amongst the first museums of the world.