What’s not to love about Greece? Idyllic islands with white sandy beaches and gin-clear waters. Rich and deep-rooted culture and history dating back centuries. Warm and friendly locals who welcome you with open arms. And delicious, simple cuisine like nowhere else in the world.
Greece is the home of Western culture and an absolute treasure chest when it comes to magnificent edifices and ancient ruins. From Meteora’s magical monasteries perched high atop towering cliffs to the awe-inspiring marble sculptures of Delphi.
From Athens’ breathtaking Acropolis to the glorious Old Town of Rhodes, you could spend months on a historical sojourn around the islands.
Here are some of the top things to do around this beautiful country.
1. Visit the Acropolis
Rising above the capital city of Athens, the Acropolis is a rocky mound crowned by three elegant temples built in the 5th century BC. Dominating the skyline, the glittering marble temples that were once the site of the famous statue of Athena, the goddess of Athens, are considered to be the jewels of Western civilization.
The remarkable architectural design of the temples that make up the Acropolis (meaning ‘city on a hill) – the Propylaea, the Parthenon, and the Erechtheion are pinnacles of classical beauty. They stand as striking examples of human accomplishment in the ancient world.
The best way to explore this ancient wonder is on a guided walking tour where a knowledgeable local guide will delve into the rich and storied history of the Acropolis and the city of Athens.
A 2.5-kilometer walking path known as the Archaeological Promenade skirts the foot of the Acropolis. It connects to other top attractions in the city such as the Ancient Agora, the Roman Forum, Kerameikos, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Suggested Tour: Athens: Acropolis & Acropolis Museum Tour
2. Soak up the Sunset on Santorini
The crescent-shaped island of Santorini is nothing less than spectacular. Boasting picture-postcard traditional Cycladic domed architecture set against a backdrop of azure blue seas and an endless horizon, the island is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Also known as Thira, the island was formed by a volcanic eruption around 3,600 years ago that caused the center of the island to collapse, forming a deep sea-filled caldera with towering sheer cliffs. Today, these signature cliffs are home to quaint whitewashed villages that teeter precariously over the caldera like Oia and Fira and offer some of the most breathtaking views in the world.
Beautiful black volcanic-sand beaches line the south and east coasts and are ideal for sunbathing and swimming. The archaeological site of Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan settlement that was buried below the lava following the volcanic eruption is also well worth a visit. The island is also home to gorgeous boutique hotels with infinity pools overlooking the caldera that make for perfect honeymoon destinations.
Where: The Cyclades Islands, Southern Greece
Suggested Tour: From Santorini: Cruise with Thirasia Walking Tour and Lunch
3. Explore the UNESCO Heritage Site of Delphi
Built on the lower slopes of Mount Parnassus on the mainland of Greece, the ancient city of Delphi was once a sacred site for pilgrimages who came to worship Apollo, the God of light, prophecy, music, and healing.
Situated 180 kilometers from Athens, the UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooks a magnificent ravine and features the crumbling ruins of several temples, an amphitheater, and a vast stadium, dating from between the 8th century BC and the 2nd century AD.
The Delphi Archaeological Museum delves into the significance of one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in the world and displays an impressive collection of finds from the site and some of the most important discoveries in the history of civilization.
Where: Mainland Greece
Suggested Tour: Delphi Guided Day Trip from Athens
4. Visit the Monasteries of Meteora
The Monasteries of Meteora
Meteora is a magical area in central Greece that is made up of unusual rock formations, ancient boulders, and monolithic pillars creating haunting and beautiful landscapes. Several Eastern Orthodox monasteries are precipitously built on top of the towering rock formations and form one of the most spectacular religious sites in Greece.
The monasteries house Eastern Orthodox monks that fled to Meteora after the invasion of the Turkish army. They can be visited for a small entrance fee, however, no photos or videos are allowed in the churches and a modest dress code is required. The best way to soak up the ethereal and dramatic beauty of the monoliths is to hike up at sunrise or sunset.
Where: Meteora, Thessaly
Suggested Tour: Panoramic Meteora and Monasteries Tour from Kalampaka
5. Hike the Samariá Gorge
Nestled on the beautiful island of Crete, the Samariá Gorge is a spectacular canyon and a World’s Biosphere Reserve that is a must-visit for hikers and nature-lovers. The gorge spans 16 kilometers in length and is just four meters across in some parts.
The rugged river valley runs from Xyloskalo in the White Mountains down to the charming coastal town of Agia Roumeli, on the Libyan Sea. The gorge is situated in the Samariá Gorge National Park, which is home to 16 endemic species of fauna and flora, including the endangered kri-kri, or Cretan Ibex.
There are several hikes through the gorge that cater to a range of fitness levels, including walking the entire distance of the gorge, which will take between five and seven hours, depending on your level of fitness. Organized tours depart from Chania and Réthymnon in the summer.
Suggested Tour: Full-Day Samariá Gorge Trekking Excursion from Chania
6. Soak up the Sun on Zákynthos (Zante)
Best known for the picture-postcard sandy cove in which the famous 1980 shipwreck rests framed by towering cliffs, the island of Zákynthos (Zante) in the Ionian Sea is a popular summer resort. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and fringed by golden beaches like Agios Nikolaos, Alykanas, and Tsilivi, the island is a water-sports lover’s paradise.
The harbor city of Zakynthos is centered around the waterfront Solomos Square and is the buzzing heart of the island. Navagio or Shipwreck Beach is one of the many beautiful sandy beaches around the island where you can sunbathe and swim, and there is also excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
The Blue Caves, off the island’s northern tip, are a must-visit where the sparkling water reflects the color of the blue sky on the cave walls to create an ethereal glow.
Where: Off the west coast of the Peloponnese, Ionian Sea
Suggested Tour: Zakynthos Island: Navagio Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves Tour
7. Journey Back to Medieval Times in Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes Old Town
Surrounded by the Aegean Sea and just a stone’s throw from Turkey, the island of Rhodes (Rodos) is one of Greece’s top tourist destinations. Also known as the “Knights’ Island,” Rhodes has a rich history dating back to Medieval times and is starkly evident in the capital of the island, UNESCO-listed Rhodes Town.
Enclosed by an impressive fortification system of strong walls, monumental towers, and gates, the town oozes Medieval charm. Pedestrianized cobblestone alleyways are lined with beautiful old buildings and a medieval castle stands sentry over the bustling town.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands and has plenty of things to see and do, including visiting the pretty hillside coastal town of Lindos and its imposing Acropolis; checking out the Valley of butterflies, or exploring the ancient monastery of Filerimos. You can also take a short boat trip across to Marmaris on the Turkish coast.
Where: Dodecanese Islands, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: Rhodes: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Tour
8. Party the Night Away in Style on Mykonos
Mykonos is a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades and Greece’s most glamorous island destination. The pretty island is cosmopolitan and chic and has become a summer playground for the glamorous.
Recognized by the iconic 16th-century windmills that overlook Mykonos Town, the island is home to spectacular beaches, chic boutique hotels, world-class seafood restaurants, and stylish nightclubs and bars that stay open well past dawn.
The island also has a rich history, so in between partying, visit the beautiful, whitewashed church of Paraportiani in Mykonos Town or take a boat trip to the nearby island of Delos, one of the most treasured archaeological sites in Greece.
Where: The Cyclades Islands, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: Mykonos: Discover Authentic Mykonos Tour
9. Stroll Around the Magical Island of Delos
Located a few kilometers off the southwest coast of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea’s Cyclades archipelago, the island of Delos is the mythological birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.
The island, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a major port and a venerated holy sanctuary during the 1st millennium BC. Today it is home to magnificent marble ruins and houses with breathtaking Hellenistic mosaics.
You can stroll around among ancient Doric temples, an amphitheater, and fountains, the remains of once-bustling markets, and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues. Visit the Delos Archaeological Museum to see an impressive collection of artifacts found at the site, some of which date back more than 3,500 years.
Where: The Cyclades Islands, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: Mykonos to Delos 4-Hour Tour
10. Marvel at the Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal is one of Greece’s most incredible feats of engineering. Cutting a swathe through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, the canal links the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf, moving from the Ionian Sea to the Aegean. The canal slices through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth at sea level with a span of six kilometers and soaring 90-meter sides and has no locks.
The canal was begun by the ancient Roman emperor, Nero, and took centuries to finish, finally being completed by the French in the 19th century. The canal is still in working order today and ships can be seen using the canal to cross the Isthmus of Corinth. Another heart-stopping way to take in the beauty of the canal is to brave the Zulu Bungy Jump.
Where: Gulf of Corinth, Ionian Sea
Suggested Tour: From Athens: Half-Day Ancient Corinth Tour
11. Visit King Minos’ Knossos Palace
Dating back to 7,000 BC, the ancient city of Knossos in Northern Crete was a famous site in Greek mythology. King Minos built his magnificent palace here, as well as a labyrinth to house Pasiphea’s son, the minotaur. Unfortunately, the Palace of Knossos was destroyed by fire around 1,450 BC, and the legendary myth was eventually lost to time.
Today, the ruins of the palace can be explored thanks to the painstaking work by British archaeologist Knossos, who spent 25 years uncovering the remains of the palace. While many of the sights are remodeled, such as the famous frescoes of Knossos, the palace ruins give visitors a glimpse into the world of ancient myth and legend.
Suggested Tour: Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Entry with Guided Walking Tour
12. Climb Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is at the heart of Greek mythology as it is known as the home of the Gods. Ancient Greeks believed it was the place where Zeus sat on his throne and the spot from which Hades ruled the Underworld. Located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, the 10,000-foot (2,918 m) high mountain is remote, majestic, and beautiful.
If you are an avid hiker and mountain climber, heading up Mount Olympus is a must. Head to the charming village of Litochoro at the base of the mountain for the easiest access to the mountain and its many hiking trails.
Where: On the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, 57 miles southwest of Thessaloniki.
Suggested Tour: From Thessaloniki: Day Trip to Dion and Mount Olympus
13. Gaze in Wonder Upon the Epidaurus Theater
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is a spectacular ceremonial space that was once dedicated to the famous god of medicine, Asclepius. Also known as the Ancient Theatre of the Asklepieion, the vast amphitheater was built into the west side of Cynortion Mountain in the 4th century and is regarded as the most well-preserved ancient theatre in Greece.
The 15,000-seat amphitheater is famous for its striking architectural symmetry and incredible acoustics and it’s worth watching a performance here. Next to the theater is the ancient sanctuary of Asklepios, which was a celebrated healing center of the classical world and also worth a visit.
Where: Epidaurus, near modern Lygourio
Suggested Tour: From Nafplio: Mycenae and Epidaurus Tour
14. Delve into the Myths and Legends of Ancient Mycenae
Mycenae is an ancient city located on the fertile Argolid Plain in the Peloponnese with a rich history. Dating back to the Bronze Age, the acropolis was an important Mycenaean center and played a pivotal role in classical Greek culture. It also played a central role in Greek mythology and was a source of information for artists, poets, and writers, including Homer.
Today, the remains of the citadel are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provide a fascinating insight into life during the Bronze Age. Stroll around the ruins of Agamemnon’s Palace, the Great Court, and the royal cemetery. The Mycenae Museum is located next to the ancient citadel and houses many items discovered during archaeological digs in the surrounding site.
Where: The Peloponnese
Suggested Tour: Full-Day Mycenae & Epidaurus Trip from Athens
15. Explore the Kastania Cave in the Peloponnese
Tucked away at the foot of Mt. Parnonas in the Peloponnese, Kastania’s Cave is a remarkable cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites in unbelievable combinations of colors and shapes. The cave was discovered at the end of the 1900s by a shepherd named Kostas Stivaktas who noticed bees entering and exiting a small fissure.
Estimated to be around three million years old, the cave is a natural wonder with impressive rock formations, gigantic multi-shaped columns, red and white-hued stone cascades, curtains of sheetrock, and odd figure-like formations and shapes.
The cave can be explored on guided tours that operate on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays on the hour.
Where: Kato Kastania, Peloponnese
16. Be Charmed by the Beauty of Symi
Hailed as one of the most picturesque and charming islands of the Dodecanese Islands, Symi is nothing less than breathtaking. The hill above the port of Symi boasts crayon-colored houses seemingly piled on top of each and winding cobblestone streets lined with bright bougainvillea.
The island is fringed with small sandy beaches where you can escape the heat, and on the southern part of the island is the renowned Panormitis monastery, which is worth visiting. Soak up the romantic, fairytale-like charm of the little port over a glass of ouzo at one of the sidewalk cafés at sunset.
Where: Dodecanese Islands, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: From Rhodes: Symi Island Full-Day Trip by Boat
17. Visit the Award-Winning Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is an architectural and archeological gem. Located in the southeast corner of the Acropolis rock in the heart of Athens, the museum houses vast exhibits of artifacts and items found during the excavations in the Acropolis and the surrounding slopes.
The four-storied museum boasts a striking design with extensive use of glass, including a glass floor that floats above the lower floors. Three levels showcase a myriad of historical artifacts from the Greek Bronze Age, the Roman, and the Byzantine era. The fourth level houses the gift shop, cafeteria, and a restaurant with spectacular views of the Acropolis.
Address: Makriyianni Athens, opposite the Acropolis
Opening Hours: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm, except Monday and Greek public holidays.
Suggested Tour: Athens: Acropolis & Acropolis Museum Tour
18. Take a Boat Trip to the Leper Colony Island of Spinalonga
Nestled in the Gulf of Elounda off the coast of north-eastern Crete, Spinalonga is a small, uninhabited island that was a leper colony for more than half a century. The colony was founded in 1903 where the country’s sickest residents were sequestered away from society to protect the healthy. The island was home to over 1,000 residents and had its own church, a school, and even several cafés.
Today, visitors can take a ferry from the nearby towns of Plaka, Agios Nikolaos, and Elounda to the island to explore the crumbling remains of the isolated community.
Suggested Tour: From Agios Nikolaos: Boat Cruise to Spinalonga
19. Go Cliff Diving on Koufonisia
Surreal turquoise blue waters, golden beaches, and beautiful whitewashed Cycladic architecture – the island of Koufonisia is nothing less than spectacular. Resting between the islands of Naxos and Amorgos in the heart of the Aegean Sea, Koufonisia is a group of two small islands – Ano Koufonissi and Kato Koufonissi.
Famous for their pristine beaches and laid-back ambiance, the Koufonisia islands are surrounded by the most gorgeous blue waters. High cliffs on Ano Koufonissi are ideal for cliff-jumping into the crystal-clear waters below for adrenaline-junkies.
Where: The Cyclades Islands, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: Sailing Cruise to Rina Cave & Koufonissi with Lunch
20. Step into the Dark Past at the Heptapyrgion Fortress
Standing sentry over the city of Thessaloniki, the Heptapyrgion Fortress is an abandoned Byzantine castle and a notorious prison. Also known by its Ottoman Turkish name Yedi Kule, the Byzantine and Ottoman-era fortress has a macabre history tainted with torture and brutal executions.
Built during the Byzantine era, the fortress was first used as a garrison for Ottoman troops before becoming an infamous prison where torture was common, among other heinous activities. Today, the fortress can be visited and explored on guided tours.
Address: Heptapyrgion, 54634 Thessaloniki
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 8:30 – 15:30, The towers where the “Democracy” exhibition is hosted, as well as part of the roadside everyday 11:00 – 14:00
Entrance fee: Free
21. Explore the “Painted Village” of Pyrgi
The picturesque island of Chios is home to the little town of Pyrgi, which is also known as the “Painted Village” for its striking geometric design- and motif-decorated houses. The village is also one of the “mastic villages,” where the residents engage with mastic agriculture, a practice dating back to medieval times.
The sgraffito designs on the façades of buildings around the village, known as “xista”, are Pyrgi’s main attraction. Stroll around and soak up the breathtaking designs created from a beautiful artistic technique characteristic of the Italian Renaissance. Then enjoy a mastic liqueur or snack.
Where: Chios, Aegean Sea
Suggested Tour: Pyrgi and Mesta Tour
22. Relax on the Beautiful Balos Beach
Located on the scenic Gramvousa Peninsula on the island of Crete, Balos Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Surrounded by the crystal-clear azure waters of Balos Bay, the silver-blue sandy beach is one of the best places to spend some time sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
Balos Beach has several shallow lagoons filled with clear warm water teeming with fish and shellfish so it’s a great place to snorkel. You can rent sunbeds and parasols on the beach, but it does get quite crowded in summer.
Where: Kissamos, Crete
Suggested Tour: Boat Cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa from Kissamos Port
23. Explore the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil
The olive is to Greece like the moon is to the stars. Housed in a former Electrical Company building in Othonos Amalias in Patras, the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil tells the story of the humble olive and how it became one of the most important ingredients in Greek life.
The museum features several galleries that house exhibitions explaining the cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil, as well as the cultural and economic importance of olives for Greece and the process of producing olive oil, soap, and other by-products.
Signature artifacts include three reconstructed olive presses from the prehistoric, Hellenistic, and Byzantine eras; ancient amphorae used for transporting olive oil, millstones, and flat-bottomed Byzantine storage jars. Don’t miss the 14th-century clay tablets inscribed with the health-giving properties of olive oil or the small store where you can buy a range of local, organic and flavored olive oils, and handmade soaps.
Address: 129 Othonos-Amalias Street, Patras, Sparta
Opening Hours: Open daily except Tuesdays, 10.00 -18.00
Suggested Tour: Day Trip to Sparta from Kalamata
24. Hike the Corfu Trail
Corfu (Kerkyra) is an island off Greece’s northwest coast in the Ionian Sea with spectacular landscapes of rugged mountains and lush vegetation. The Corfu Trail is a 137-mile (220 km) trail long-distance walking route that winds through the untouched landscapes of the island that are inaccessible to most visitors.
The trail meanders from Kavos in southern Corfu, all the way to Agios Spyridonas in northern Corfu. It is made up of dirt tracks that weave through groves of olives, karst plateaus and rugged gorges, beaches, and juniper dunes, and turquoise lagoons. It takes between eight and 10 days to walk and requires a certain level of fitness to enjoy.
Where: Ionian Sea
Suggested Tour: The Corfu Trail: 10 Days
25. Check Out the Tourlitis Lighthouse on Andros
Rising like a phoenix from the azure waters around the island of Andros, the Tourlitis Lighthouse is perched on a spindly spire of rock that has been shaped by natural erosion and has lighting the way for seamen for more than 120 years.
Built in 1897, the lighthouse was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in the early 1990s by an oil tycoon to become the first “automatic” lighthouse in Greece. Boasting a resemblance to an exotic structure out of Dungeon and Dragons, the lighthouse has become a popular tourist attraction due to its unusual beauty.
Where: The Cyclades Archipelago, South Aegean
26. Hit the Slopes on Mount Parnassos
Greece may conjure images of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, but winter brings excellent skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Mount Parnassos in central Greece. Towering above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, the 7,500-foot-high mountain is home to the largest ski and snowboard resort in Greece.
The eponymous resort has 23 different runs with 14 lifts and is suitable for all levels of skier and snowboarder. It is open from December through May, depending on the weather.
Where: Central Greece
27. Visit the Birthplace of the Olympic Games
Olympia is an ancient site on the Peloponnese peninsula that was the birthplace of the Olympic Games. First held in 776 BC in honor of the God Zeus, the games have continued to take place every four years and celebrate the world’s best athletes.
The ancient site features extensive ruins that include temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus, a stadium with a 200m running track, and athletic training areas. The Olympic Torch still burns in the Temple of Hera and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia has some fascinating exhibits of artifacts found at the site.
Suggested Tour: Private Guided Tour of Ancient Olympia
28. Explore the Melissani Cave – the Home of the Nymphs
The Melissani Cave (Melissani Lake) is a cavern on the island of Kefalonia with a beautiful turquoise lake in the center surrounded by verdant forests. Centuries ago, the roof of one of the two chambers in the cave collapsed, letting rays of sunlight into the dark space.
The sunlight hits the turquoise-blue waters and fills the whole cave with ethereal blue light, creating a magical illusion. The best time to visit the cave is in the early morning or later afternoon when the slanting rays of light are spectacular.
In Greek Mythology, the cave was thought to be the home of the Nymphs. The second of the chambers in the cave is darker and covered in stalagmites.
Where: Kefalonia, Ionian Sea
Suggested Tour: Kefalonia: Melissani Lake and Antisamos Beach Private Tour
29. Shop at the Monastiraki Flea Market in Athens
Spend a few hours strolling around the famous Flea Market at Monastiraki in the heart of Athens. The grand bazaar-type market is a warren of stalls and outlets selling everything from antiques, leather crafts, and carpets to handmade jewelry, old books, and souvenirs.
Wander through Avissinias Square and the maze of street vendors selling both junk and gems. Head to Psiri where you’ll find cozy tavernas serving local food such as spanakopita, tzatziki, and dolmas. Street performers come out in full-force in the afternoons and evenings and offer an array of entertainment from live music to juggling and mimes.
The market is open daily, however, the best time to visit is on Sundays.
30. Go Windsurfing on Paros
Located in the heart of the Cyclades Islands, Paros is a charming island with rolling hills, fertile valleys, pretty Cycladic architecture, and white sandy beaches. The azure waters around the island are perfect for water sports and one of the best places for windsurfing in Greece.
The northern winds that blow over the Cyclades in summer make Paros a world-class windsurfing spot. The best beaches for hitting the waves are on the southeastern side of the island such as Golden Beach and New Golden Beach. Santa Maria on the northern side of the island and Pounda Bay on the side of Parikia are also windsurfing hot spots.
Many beaches have windsurfing centers where you can rent equipment and take lessons or courses.
Where: The Cyclades, Aegean Sea