Top 10 places to visit in Greece
Known for its plethora of ancient ruins, whitewashed villages, sunny beaches, tasty cuisine, and friendly atmosphere, it's no wonder Greece ranks among the top tourist destinations in Europe.
But the reason tourism exists in the first place is that it's so beautiful here. You will often find that beauty in the many scattered islands, which lie like little gems in the seas that surround the Greek mainland. Each offers its own slice of stunning scenery, historic sites, nightlife, and cultural delights.
There are a plethora of these to explore. From the Ionian Islands in the west, including Kefalonia and Corfu, to the Aegean Sea, with Mykonos, Santorini, Kos and Rhodes, among others. Then there is the pre-Hellenic Minoan culture of Crete to the south. Back on dry land, there are landscapes worthy of the gods everywhere. The Meteora monastery, the ruins of Delphi and then, most famously, the capital of Athens and its iconic Parthenon. Here's a look at the best places to visit in Greece:
10. Cape Sounion
Located at the southern tip of the Attica peninsula, Cape Sounion is best known as the site of the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea.
The remains are perched on the promontory, surrounded on three sides by the sea. The site is a popular day trip for tourists from Athens, with the sun setting over the Aegean Sea, seen from the ruins, a coveted sight.
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and the capital of the North Macedonian region of Greece. Lively festivals, social events and a lively nightlife make this city the cultural capital of Greece.
Comprised of a historic city center and shopping district, Thessaloniki offers attractions both old and new, from its Byzantine walls, White Tower, and Turkish baths to colorful food markets, museums, and art galleries. Thessaloniki's nightlife is second to none. From small taverns to nightclubs and other entertainment venues, Thessaloniki offers it all.
Zagori is a region of outstanding natural beauty, with amazing geology and two national parks, in northwestern Greece. Its dense forests and rugged mountains are criss-crossed by mighty rivers and dotted with traditional villages, many with grand stone houses dating back to the late 18th century.
The best way to enjoy the area is by walking the many paths that link the towns. The most accessible and rewarding goal is the wonderful Víkos Gorge.
Halkidiki is a trident-shaped peninsula near the city of Thessaloniki, which has excellent beaches. The three separate peninsulas can be roughly summarized as follows: Kassandra has the nightlife, Sithonia has the beaches, and Athos has the monks.
Being closer to Thessaloniki, Kassandra is more urbanized, while the quieter Sithonia has campsites, hidden coves and crystal clear waters. Both are popular with Greek and Eastern European tourists. Much of the easternmost peninsula belongs to the Mount Athos monastic community. It is accessible by boat and is open only to male pilgrims.
Shaped like a large leaf, the Peloponnese was traditionally called Morea, meaning mulberry leaf. Located in the southernmost region of Europe and Greece, the Peloponnese is a wide peninsula connected to the mainland by the Rio-Antirrio bridge.
Interspersed with classical Greek temples, Venetian fortresses, Byzantine churches and Mycenaean palaces, the Peloponnese reflects the ancient cultures and events of its long history. Among these ancient ruins is Olympia, where the first Olympic Games were held in honor of Zeus.
Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece. Located about two and a half hours from Athens along the slopes of towering Mount Parnassus, Delphi was once revered by the ancient Greeks as the center of the earth. Dedicated to the god Apollo, Delphi was an important oracle.
In ancient times, people would come to this sacred place to ask the priestess for advice on a wide range of topics, from agriculture to relationships and politics. Important ruins and structures at Delphi include the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, the theater and the hippodrome that once hosted events from the ancient Pythian Games.
The Greek word meteora means “suspended in the air,” and this phrase aptly describes the dramatic cliffs that rise more than 1,200 feet (366 meters) into the air and overlook the towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki to the north. central mainland of Greece.
What makes these cliffs even more inspiring are the historic monasteries located along the peaks. Dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries, Meteora's monasteries were built by monks seeking spiritual isolation and freedom from religious persecution.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is a spacious land of pleasing contrasts where landscapes range from a stunning coastline to rugged mountains and rolling fields dotted with olive trees.
Bustling metropolitan cities stretch further into sleepy towns centered around outdoor cafes. Steeped in history, Crete still preserves archaeological remains of the many civilizations that have inhabited it over the centuries.
Inhabited for more than 3,000 years, Athens is widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. The city presents a confusing mix of historic and modern features. Athens is famous for its archaeological ruins and monuments such as the famous Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora, and the Theater of Dionysus, to name a few.
However, Athens is not just about ancient ruins. This bustling city is also a major center for business, culture, and nightlife.
Housing neighborhood by neighborhood: Where to stay in Athens
Excursions: Main attractions of Athens
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The best hotels: Best hotels for value for money in Athens
1. Greek Islands
The beautiful and exotic Greek islands attract throngs of tourists every year, making them one of the top tourist destinations in the world. With over 2,000 islands to choose from, you may at first be taken aback by their number and variety. From beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, colorful harbors, and active volcanoes, the Greek islands have it all.
Part of the Cyclades group, Santorini is among the most picturesque islands and definitely one of the best places to visit in Greece. Also part of the Cyclades, Mykonos features a modern, cosmopolitan society mixed with traditional whitewashed houses and labyrinthine streets.
Located in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey, Rhodes is the capital and largest island of the Dodecanese archipelago, popular for its great beaches and historical importance. The northernmost of Greece's Ionian Islands, it was controlled by many foreign powers, particularly the Venetians and the British, which is reflected in their culture and the architecture of the island.