From city breaks to island getaways, Greece has it all. Whether you are a sun-worshipper or a history buff, you are sure to find something to see or do when visiting the country – here is a breakdown to 20 must-visit attractions that Greece has to offer.
The cosmopolitan capital of Greece is one of the most interesting places to visit on earth. With a recorded history of over 3,000 years, Athens is a great destination for a city break with its plethora of sightseeing options, including the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the New Acropolis Museum and the Roman Agora. End the day exploring its wonders with a drink at one of the many bars or take the day off cultural visits to discover the Athenian Riviera or the nearby islands.
As Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki is an important hub in northern Greece. Blessed with a rich and long history, Thessaloniki is a gateway to Halkidiki, the beautiful little villages of Macedonia and the northern Aegean islands. Featuring Byzantine churches and Ancient Greece treasures, the Lady of The North is easily walkable, offering a wide array of sightseeing and fun in the northern region of Greece.
Home to the first ancient Olympic Games, held every four years to honor Zeus, Olympia features among the most important archaeological sites in Greece. In the western Peloponnese, this magnificent site welcomes visitors from across the whole world and plunges them into a distant past, where they can learn all about the Olympic Games, through the exploration of the site, which includes the ancient stadium, the gymnasium, the temples of Zeus and Hera, as well as the workshop of ancient Greece sculptor Phidias. A visit to Olympia is not complete without a stop at the nearby Archaeological Museum were many of its impressive artefacts are on display.
Thought to be the center of the earth, Delphi, located at the foot of Mount Parnassos (or Parnassus) is undeniably one of Greece’s most interesting archaeological sites in Greece. Home to the most important Delphi oracle in the ancient world, Delphi welcomed pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean Basin who came to inquire of god Apollo through the prophecies of the Pythia, the high priestess of his temple.
A spectacular sight to behold, Meteora, with its age-old monasteries perched on surreal rock formations, is another must-see destination. Located in central Greece, Meteora (which means suspended in the air) is home to 24 14th-century Byzantine monasteries built on top of rock pillars where monks could seek refuge from the Ottoman empire. The area was already a shelter for hermits and ascetics in the 10th century who were looking to live away from the world and closer to God. Out of all the monasteries in Meteora, only six are still in function and open to the public so don’t miss a chance to go visit this splendid site and to explore the neighboring region.
Tucked somewhere in the Pindus Mountains in Epirus, northwest Greece, the isolated region of Zagori is home to a cluster of over 40 stone villages, known as Zagorohoria. Surrounded with breathtaking and scenic landscapes, these villages are perfect for hiking. Very close by, visitors will find the Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest in the world. The other attractions in the region include paragliding, mountain biking and rafting.
A popular weekend destinations for Athenians, Nafplio is a picturesque little town in the Peloponnese. Set on a bay on the eastern coast of the region, it was the first capital of the modern Greek State in 1828, until Athens took over in 1834. As such, the city has preserved its alluring charm and is filled with neoclassical villas. Overlooked by the Palamidi Fortress, dating from the 18th century, it is very close to major sights such as Ancient Corinth, Epidaurus or Tyrins.
Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounio
At the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, 70 kilometers away from Athens, the Cape Sounio is known to be the place where Athenian king Aegeus jumped into the sea to his death when he thought his son Theseus was killed by the Minotaur, giving his name to the sea. But Cape Sounio is more than just a place of legend. It is home to the Temple of Poseidon. While the first version was destoyed by the Persians in 480 BC, the second version, of which a few columns still stand today, was built in 440 BC.
In the region of Argolis, in Peloponnese, Epidaurus is known around the world for its ancient theater. Built in the late 4th century BC, the theater of Epidaurus served to host religious ceremonies in honor of god Asclepius, whose healing center was located nearby. Famous for its incredible acoustics, this classical theater is still used today. Indeed, every summer it hosts performances of ancient Greek drama.
Founded under the Byzantine empire during the 6th century, the town of Monemvasia is a stunning medieval town in the southeastern part of Peloponnese. Nestled on a big rock, Monemvasia is a magical place where you can step back in time. Invaded by the Crusaders, the Venetians, and the Turks, the city was a fortress reachable only by boat, although in recent years a causeway was built to connect the town to the mainland.
A top destination in Greece, Santorini ranks high among the most romantic destinations in the world. This volcanic island in the Cyclades experienced a severe volcanic eruption, which gave the island its current aspect. Blessed with unique beaches with red or black sand, the island is home to picture-perfect villages on top of the caldera, luxurious beach resorts and a dynamic wine production scene.
The island of the Apocalypse, Patmos is a place with intense spiritual charisma. According to Christian tradition, it was in a cave of the island that Saint John was inspired to write the Book of Apocalypse after he had a vision. This is the reason why there is a large monastery of Saint John in Chora, the capital of the island. Chora is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoying a view to the Aegean Sea, but the most touristy place of the island is probably the village of Skala.
The largest island in Greece, Crete is a little country in itself. Home to glorious beaches, impressive landscapes and traces of magnificent civilizations, Crete boasts a scenic interior, with the Samaria gorge, and a rich gastronomic culture.
The verdant island of Zakynthos is located in the Ionian Islands. While the island is known for the numerous parties held there, Zakynthos (or Zante) is a beautiful island blessed with natural beauty, pristine beaches and turquoise waters. The main town of the island has a number of historical and ancient sites to offer but probably one of the top attractions is the Navagio beach (also known as the Shipwreck beach, where you can see beautiful white shores and crystal waters.
Right next to the Cosmopolitan island of Mykonos lies Delos, the mythical place where twins Artemis and Apollo were born. Legend has it that Leto, the mother of the twins, was seduced by Zeus and to escape his wife’s scorn, Leto was forced to settle in Delos. The island was then considered a sacred place during ancient times. While the island has been inhabited in the past, it underwent a purification process in the 5th century BC, where birth and death was prohibited on its soil. After its destruction in 88 BC, the history of the island remains unknown, but today, the island is an open-air museum where visitors can explore on a day trip.
Covering over 20,000 square meters, the Minoan Palace at Knossos is located near Heraklion in Crete. Decorated with beautiful frescoes still visible today, the palace featured many rooms and according to the myth of the Minotaur, a labyrinth. Minos Kalokairinos, a Cretan antiquarian was the first to excavate the site in 1878, which allowed him to discover that the palace was built on a previous palace, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1700 BC. The second palace, rebuilt right after, was again destroyed, by a fire in the 14th century BC and was never rebuilt.
Located in the Florina region, the Prespa lakes are one of the most important wetlands in Europe. This paradise where visitors can enjoy observing migratory birds is located 850 meters above sea level. Perfect for bird watching aficionados, the lakes are an ideal destination for those looking for some peace and quiet in the middle of paradise.
Corfu ranks among the most beautiful islands of the country. Situated on the north-western part of the country in the Ionian Sea, it is a cosmopolitan island where you can enjoy its unique character. Corfu Town is particularly beautiful, with its Venetian architecture, small streets and many sights. The island is dotted with charming villages and astonishing beaches, and thanks to its great location, a vacation in Corfu can be combined with some island hopping to the other Ionian destinations.
Close to Turkey, the largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes is little gem. Take time to explore its capital, UNESCO-listed Rhodes Town, which is enclosed by impressive fortifications, built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century. Explore the cobbled streets of the old town on foot or discover the coastal town of Lindos, with its Acropolis. The island also has many beautiful beaches perfect for a day under the sun.
Named after Icarus, son of Daedalus, who fell into the nearby sea when his wax wings melted from the sun, Ikaria is often dubbed the island where people forget to die. Blessed with stunning beaches of golden sand and turquoise waters, the island is a relaxed haven where you can spend a laidback vacation. With picturesque villages, wineries and a relaxed way of life, it is a place where we can all learn a thing or two about taking a step back and actually living in the moment.