Greece is probably my second favorite country in the world after Italy. This is because, for years, I dreamed of the day when I could visit Greece. And when I finally decided to book my flight to Athens, the feeling was incredible!!!
Whether you explore one of the country’s thousands of archipelagos or venture into mainland Greece, there’s always much to discover in this territory. From paradisiacal islands and picturesque villages to cosmopolitan cities and thousand-years-old sites, Greece has a unique historical and cultural legacy in the world.
So, do you want to know more about the 10 Best Places To Visit In Greece (Besides Athens)? Keep reading!
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Best Places to Visit in Greece
First of all, Athens is a city with an unmistakable landscape. The Greek capital is world-famous for its Acropolis, certainly one of the best testimonies of the greatness of the Ancient Civilizations. In fact, the entire Acropolis of Athens complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
However, there are many other reasons that make Athens a must-visit destination in Greece! For example, no visit to the Acropolis of Athens is complete without a trip to the Acropolis Museum. Here, you can extend the “time travel”, as the museum brings together the archaeological treasures of monuments like the Parthenon.
Besides the Acropolis, there are many other ruins scattered throughout the historic center of Athens. This is the case of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, or the Cemetery of Kerameikos, just to exemplify. You should also visit the Panatenaico Stadium, the Hadrian’s Arch, and the various museums and squares in the city.
Among the main squares, Syntagma Square – the seat of the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – stands out first. Finally, Athens is very popular for its historic neighborhoods. My favorites are, without a doubt, Monastiraki, Plaka, Thissio, and Psirri.
Read my complete guide to Athens, one of the best places to visit in Greece!
On my list of best places to visit in Greece, the second place is certainly the most visited. After all, I’m talking about Santorini, the largest island in the small namesake archipelago, in the south of the Aegean Sea. At the same time, the Santorini Archipelago belongs to the Cycladic Islands group, which has more than two hundred islands!
Did you know that the official name of this island isn’t Santorini, but Thira? This is because the island territory was called Thera in Ancient Greece. The other islands in the archipelago are Thirasia, as well as the uninhabited Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Aspronisi, and the three Christiana.
Although Santorini is a popular destination for honeymoons, I think anyone should visit this paradisiacal island. First of all, watching the sunset in Oia is an unforgettable experience. Just remember that a lot of people have this same idea…
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is also an excellent option. Here you can learn about the island’s history by visiting either the Museum of Prehistoric Thera or the Archaeological Museum of Thera. The Three Bells of Fira is also one of the most popular attractions, especially for the “blue domes” lovers!
Next on the list of the best places to visit in Greece is Meteora, which is located in the Thessaly region. Interestingly, I was unable to visit Meteora when I went to Greece, all because of a public transportation strike!
You’ll find rocky sandstone pillars in this unique place, with orthodox monasteries at the top! At first, access depended on rudimentary cranes, and stairs were only added in the 20th century. In total, twenty-four monasteries have been built since the 14th century, but only six have survived to this day:
- Megalos Meteoros (Great Meteor);
- Agios Stefanos (Saint Stefan);
- Agia Triada (Holy Trinity);
- Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas (Saint Nicholas).
Currently, Meteora is not only the largest archaeological site in Greece (in terms of area) but also a tourist destination. After all, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989 and an official sacred place in the country in 1995.
To visit Meteora, you can take two or three days of a longer stay in Athens or Thessaloniki. Each monastery has a different closing day, so it’s best to visit them on weekends. Even if these are the busiest days, it’s the best (and only) option to visit all six.
Crete is not only Greece’s largest island, but also the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. In addition, this Greek island is crucial to European history. This is because Crete was the birthplace of the Minoan Civilization, the oldest ever recorded in Europe.
Today, you can explore the architectural ruins of this civilization at the Palace of Knossos, the largest archaeological site in Crete. It’s located on the outskirts of Heraklion – the island’s capital – and is a very important testimony of the Bronze Age in Greece.
Speaking of Heraklion, the city has its own Archaeological Museum. And at the entrance to the old port, you’ll find the Koules Fortress, also known as Rocca al Mare. Constructed in the early 16th century by the Republic of Venice, the monument is still in perfect condition.
On the other side of the island, you must visit Elafonisi, an area with beaches of pink and golden sand, which are among the most beautiful in Greece. And for the more adventurous, the Samaria Gorge can be an ideal destination! It’s on the south coast of Crete and belongs to the National Park of Samaria, the largest in Greece.
Thessaloniki may be the second-largest city in Greece, but unfortunately, it’s not widely visited by tourists. In fact, after Athens, the most popular destinations in Greece are the various islands included in this list. Still, if you travel to the Greek region of Macedonia, you will want to visit the White Tower, the icon of Thessaloniki.
Built during the 16th century, this tower was part of the city walls, when it belonged to the Ottoman Empire. However, the city has grown over the centuries, and most of the walls fell. The White Tower managed to resist the passage of time and in the 19th century, it was even used as a prison!
Not far from this monument, you’ll find the Arch of Galerius (or Kamara) and the Rotunda, which are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In fact, there are fifteen monuments that were inscribed on the UNESCO list in 1988, under the name Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika. In addition to ten churches and two monasteries, the others are the walls and the Byzantine Baths.
As far as is known, Thessaloniki was the second most important city in the Byzantine Empire (after Constantinople) and these monuments are proof of that. If you want to know more about its history, visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.
Like Santorini, the island of Mykonos also belongs to the Cyclades. Interestingly, the term “Cyclades” means “circular” in Greek and refers to the fact that these territories make a circle around the sacred island of Delos. According to Ancient Greece’s mythology, Delos was the birthplace of the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis.
Mykonos has a capital with the same name, but it’s often called Chora – which in Greek means the main city on an island. The city of Mykonos / Chora is mainly known for its lively nightlife.
The five Windmills of Mykonos are, without a doubt, the best-known symbols of this island in Greece. But there are many other areas worth visiting, such as “Little Venice”. As its name implies, this line of colorful houses by the sea is reminiscent of Venice. In addition, “Little Venice” consists mostly of cafes and restaurants, whose terraces are the perfect place to watch the sunset!
If you want to visit Mykonos for its beaches, then I leave you the best on the island: Platis Gialos, Ornos, Psarou, Paraga, Elia, Paradise, and Super Paradise. For shopping, the ideal place is Matogianni Street, with souvenir shops, boutiques, and other types of local and international commerce.
The Archaeological Site of Delphi is one of the most important sacred sites in Ancient Greece and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Indeed, in Classical Antiquity, this panhellenic sanctuary in central Greece was considered “the navel of the world”.
The most important building in this now-ruined city was the Oracle of Delphi, which was found inside the Temple of Apollo. Over 2500 years ago, this was the home of priests and priestesses who influenced and advised the most diverse personalities in the ancient world.
Around the Temple of Apollo, there were several chapels (called treasuries) that kept the offerings of all those who came to ask for help or to thank the Oracle of Delphi. Of all, the most important were the Treasury of Athens, the Treasury of Sifnos, and the Treasury of Argos.
Among other ruins of Ancient Greece’s monuments that you can visit at this archaeological site, the Delphi Stadium, the Chios Altar, the Delphi Theater, the Stoa of the Athenians, the Delphi Gymnasium, and the Temple of Athena Pronaia stand out.
Corfu (also known as Kerkyra) is an island in the Ionian Sea, located on the northwest coast of Greece and on the border with Albania. Corfu belongs to the Ionian group, which also includes the islands of Paxos (and Antipaxos), Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zacinth, and Citera.
The Old Town of Corfu was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007 and, since then, the island has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in Greece. In addition, Corfu has several medieval castles, which contributed to making the territory one of the most fortified in Europe.
These castles were built at strategic points on the island and prevented the Ottoman Empire from invading Corfu on several occasions. In my opinion, the most impressive castles are Angelokastro, Palaio Frourio, Neo Frourio, Gardiki, and Kassiopi.
Corfu also occupies an important place in the history of education in Greece, as it houses the Ionian Academy. Considered the first academic institution funded in Greece in modern times, it was the precursor to the Ionian University (established in 1984).
Like Delphi, the Archaeological Site of Olympia was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. Notable by its name, this city in Greece was the site of the Ancient Olympic Games, organized every four years between 776 BC and AD 394.
At the same time, Olympia was world-famous thanks to its Statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With over 12 meters high and ornamented with gold, ivory, and precious stones, this sculpture of the most important Greek god was sculpted by Phidias, around 435 BC.
The Archaeological Site of Olympia, indicates the existence of an old sanctuary, with more than seventy buildings. Among them, there was the Altar and Temple of Zeus (which guarded the sculpture), as well as the Temple of Hera, Stoa of Hestia, Stadium, Propylaea, Stoa Eco, Pritaneum, and Gymnasium, among others.
The archaeological excavations, which began in 1829, also revealed the existence of twelve Chapels – or Treasuries, like in Delphi. These “chapels” were built side by side and resembled miniature temples, with columns all around.
Rhodes is the largest in the Dodecanese group of islands and the fourth largest in Greece, after Crete, Evia, and Lesbos. In the old port of the homonymous capital stood the Colossus of Rhodes, another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
This bronze statue was approximately 33 meters high and represented Helios, the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Built around 280 BC, the Colossus of Rhodes was sculpted by Chares of Lindos, a local artist. However, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC, just over half a century after its creation.
The Medieval City of Rhodes has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Within the walls, you’ll find the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, the Kahal Shalom Synagogue (in the Jewish Quarter), the Rhodes Archaeological Museum, and numerous gates of the ancient city.
Other places to visit in the capital are Mount Smith (named after the English admiral Sir William Sidney Smith) and, of course, the Acropolis of Rhodes. On the rest of the island, you can explore the Acropolis of Lindos and the Castle of Feraklos (on the east coast), and the Castle of Monolithos (on the other end).
Map of the Best Places to Visit in Greece
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