Where to go in Greece
While starting off your Greek holiday in Athens may be a no-brainer, where do you go after that? You might want to explore more of the mainland, including sites like Meteora, Delphi, and Olympia before cruising to the islands, by ferry, or maybe even a sailing excursion. Which islands depend on whether you’re looking for lively beach parties and exciting nightlife, a wine- and food-focused trip, authenticity and history, family-friendly activities, or perhaps simple tranquility enjoyed among breathtaking scenery. A conversation with our Greek travel experts can ensure you’re matched with the best possible destinations according to your own personal preferences.
Best places to go in Greece
Here is a summary of some of the best and most popular areas to visit.
The birthplace of western civilization, visitors can walk in the footsteps of the ancient greats in the Greek capital, exploring some of the world’s most iconic landmarks like the Parthenon that dominates Acropolis hill, rising about the city. While Athens attracts archaeology and history enthusiasts from around the world, the Parthenon is just a start. Visit the Acropolis Museum which showcases treasures uncovered on the hill, stroll through centuries-old neighborhoods, and discover fascinating ruins around nearly every corner. There are plenty of modern delights too, from sidewalk cafes, world-class eateries, and lively markets to hopping nightclubs.
One of the most popular of the Greek Islands, Santorini lies in the Southern Aegean as a fantasy come to life with whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches spilling down the caldera cliffs. Your first impression when sailing in on the ferry is the steep walls of its dramatic caldera, a sight you’ll probably never forget. While the main attraction may be the landscape and breathtaking sea views, here you’ll discover red, white, and black sand beaches, vineyards and wineries for tasting and tours, and a 3,500-year-old Minoan town, well preserved in volcanic ash like Pompeii.
Famous for its postcard-perfect beaches, upscale shopping, fine dining, and lively nightlife, cosmopolitan Mykonos attracts plenty of high-profile types and partiers, but it offers something for everyone. There are not only more than 30 beaches for soaking up the Mediterranean sun, but you’ll find historic whitewashed windmills, traditional Cycladic architecture, and “Little Venice,” the historic 18th-century district in Mykonos Town. There’s a long list of outdoor adventures, from snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear turquoise sea to hiking, biking, and 4 X 4 tours. After a day of play or relaxation, you’ll find many farm-to-table eateries serving delicious Mykonian dishes too.
Located in the heart of the Cyclades, Paros isn’t as well-known as islands like Mykonos or Santorini, but that just means you can enjoy its many beaches without bumping elbows with others. While there are busier stretches for you can enjoy all sorts of activities and watersports, like diving, kitesurfing, and windsurfing, you’ll find plenty of quiet stretches with secluded spots too. There’s lots of history to explore, while the marble-paved streets in Paros Town, lined with Cycladic-style homes, will bring you to a 13th-century castle.
Crete is the largest island in Greece and is incredibly diverse with everything from stunning beaches, including pink stretches, all surrounded by dazzling clear blue waters, along with towering mountains for hiking and plenty of ancient ruins to explore. When it comes to history it’s one of the best too as the home of Europe’s oldest city, Knossos, built by the Minoans. There are charming villages for authentic traditional experiences and vibrant cities with world-class eateries and buzzing nightlife, too. One of the best for those visiting the Greek islands, it offers a little bit of everything.
Naxos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, with soft powdery white sands and crystal-clear aquamarine waters ideal for swimming, towering mountains to climb, and ancient ruins to explore. Watersports like windsurfing, sea kayaking, and paddle boarding are all popular too. There are picturesque Cycladic towns with whitewashed homes and plenty of ancient sites to explore, like the Gate of the Apollo Temple which comes into view when sailing in by ferry, and the 6th-century BC Sanctuary of Demeter. The island is also a foodies’ delight with everything from fresh seafood to local artisan cheeses.
The greenest of the Ionian islands, Corfu is a nature lover’s paradise with emerald-covered mountains, cascading waterfalls, bird-filled lagoons, and nearly 135 miles of coastline that holds some of the best sandy beaches in the Mediterranean. The nearly untouched interior is home to ancient olive groves and forest cliffs, while villages feature pastel-painted Venetian buildings and whitewashed homes. Corfu Town is a bustling metropolis where one can get glimpses of its historic past under Venetian, French and British rule while enjoying the unique shops, trendy cafes, and upscale restaurants.
Rhodes is a must for history buffs with medieval Rhodes Town home to a maze of cobbled streets where you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to the days of the Byzantine Empire. Marvel at the castle-like Palace of the Grand Masters and impressive Venetian buildings and then explore the myriad of historic treasures throughout the island, including the ruins of a Minoan settlement, centuries-old temples, and an ancient monastery. There are a wealth of idyllic beaches to enjoy, scenic hikes on Mount Atavyros, and the popular Valley of the Butterflies, filled with mesmerizing waterfalls and countless butterflies.
An unspoiled gem in the Cyclades, Folegandros offers a tranquil escape without the crowds, jam-packed with stunning natural beauty with remote trails to hike, picture-perfect beaches to relax on, and winding narrow alleyways with quintessential Cycladic architecture to discover. With no airport and no cruise ships docking here, the island has managed to retain a more traditional, laid-back feel, almost as if it’s stuck in time a century before. In Chora, motor vehicles are banned, making it especially enjoyable to stroll while gazing at well-preserved homes, some a thousand years old.
Beautiful Milos lies about midway between Athens and Crete, boasting diverse landscapes that include over 75 beaches edged by a sea that ranges from pale and sapphire blue to brilliant green and deep emerald. It’s become famous for its lunar-like Sarakiniko Beach and it’s also known as the place where the Venus de Milo statue was discovered. The island’s geothermal activity has resulted in many natural hot springs to soak in and visitors will find a wealth of fantastic restaurants serving authentic yet sophisticated Greek fare among its thriving culinary scene.
The island that some say brought tourism to Greece, a visit to Hydra is like visiting another time. On this, virtually vehicle-free island transport is on foot, by donkey, or by boat, an ideal place to get away from the noise, hustle, and bustle of the city. Stroll the narrow, cobbled streets, unwind in the peaceful squares, and relax with a view of the pretty horseshoe-shaped harbor while the donkeys trod by. You’ll find plenty of ways to get active too, from hiking one of the many scenic paths that lead to monasteries and awe-inspiring views to snorkeling and diving.
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