From vibrant cities like Athens and Thessaloniki to cozy life in small villages by the sea, Greece is a mosaic of different experiences and landscapes. And one of the largest open-air museums in the world. Here’s a collection of the 33 best places to visit in Greece on your journey to the land of myths, legends and picturesque beaches.
33. Cape Sounion
One of the most poignant natural sites in Greece is Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens in the Attica region. It is a must-see for travelers to Greece. At the top of the cape is the temple to the sea god Poseidon. In addition, fantastic views of the Aegean Sea with the islands of Makronsios, Kea and Kythnos.
No visitor will be disappointed by the overwhelming impression on Cape Sounion. Painters and photographers have depicted this unique place over and over again.
The ruins of a classical temple in the midst of a landscape that lies between the shimmering blue Aegean Sea and spectacular rocky coasts. In the distance, islands can be made out in the sea.
The ancient sanctuary and its location correspond to what many travelers associate with Greece. Cape Sounion captivates with its combination of art and nature.
The marble columns of the temple shimmer brightly on the cliffs above the deep blue Aegean Sea. Islands rise in the haze like distant shadows. A scenery that is unsurpassed in romance.
Sounion was strategically important for Athens in classical times. The sea route between Piraeus and the Aegean was controlled from the cape. In addition, the rock was an orientation aid for shipping.
Thessaloniki, or Saloniki for short in colloquial language, is the second largest city in Greece, after Athens, with about 360,000 inhabitants in its urban core, and the capital of Central Macedonia as well as the economic and cultural center of the Macedonia region.
Culturally, Thessaloniki is marked and shaped above all by the various ruling influences of its far-reaching past. From the Roman period, for example, there are still remains of the imperial palace to be seen or the Galerius Arch with scenic reliefs from the battles against the Persians in the 3rd century. In addition, the state theater, also called Odeion. From the early Christian, Byzantine period are especially churches with their countless mosaics and paintings from almost 10 centuries of architectural and historical relevance. Among them are the “Agios Dimitrios”, which is considered one of the first centers of Christianity and was built in honor of St. Dimitrios, the patron saint of the city; the Hagia Sofia and the Panagia Chalkeon in the city center.
Contemporary documents of the Ottoman rule are the mosques of the city, the Turkish bathhouses and especially the “Lefkos Pyrgos”, the “white tower” right at the harbor, which is considered the landmark of the city.
Besides the demanding sides of Thessaloniki, there are also places and areas to breathe and relax. Numerous market places and halls as well as shopping arcades invite to a leisurely stroll; the night life with its restaurants, ouzeries, bars, clubs and taverns offers a suitable framework for each own requirements to let eventful days pass in review and come to an end.
Karpathos is still a real insider tip among the Greek islands and attracts especially those seeking relaxation with its idyllic atmosphere, beauty and originality directly in its spell.
If you want to spend a quiet and relaxing beach vacation, Karpathos is the right place for you. The Dodecanese island offers numerous immaculate bays with crystal clear water and snow-white sand.
One of the most beautiful beaches of the island is located on the east coast. Kyra Panagia Beach is surrounded by imposing cliffs and scores especially with its idyllic atmosphere. You definitely don’t have to fear crowds of people here. Enjoy the tranquility and dine in the typical Greek taverns with a view of the sea – this place is a vacation dream come true.
Also popular is the beach Diakoftis in the south of the island, which with its turquoise blue water and velvety soft sand almost reminds you of the powder sugar white dream beaches of the Caribbean. Here you forget that you are actually in the Mediterranean Sea!
Not far from the island’s capital Pigadia you will also find the dream beach Apella Beach, which has been awarded many times. The natural bay is surrounded by a lush pine forest and offers a phenomenal view. The finest pebble sand and the blue shimmering water make this beach an absolute hotspot. Apella Beach is without a doubt one of the most beautiful bays in all of Greece.
A real must-see is the original mountain village of Olympos, located in the north of the island. As soon as you arrive in the charming village, you will feel as if someone has taken you back in time.
In the east of the Peloponnese lies the ancient cult site of Epidaurus. The very well preserved amphitheater is nowadays used for performances, and absolutely belongs on the to-see list during a visit to the Greek peninsula.
Epidaurus is the most important ancient cult site for Asclepius. This is the god of healing and son of the sun god Apollo. With the beginning of the 5th century BC, countless people made pilgrimages there to ask for recovery and health. Thanks to the elevated position with the pleasant climate and the scent of the many pine trees, many people felt better. As a result, the city became very prosperous. Even today you can feel the energy of the place and really breathe while looking over the surrounding hilltops.
The Epidaurus Theater is considered the best preserved ancient Greek theater and is still used for performances today. Every year in July and August it hosts the Greek Festival and the International Theater Festival, and you can attend performances and music festivals. Famous actors such as Kevin Spacey have performed and directed Shakespeare here. A magical place, especially when the sun sinks red and you sit in this millennia-old theater, listening to the music or watching the play.
The Epidaurus Theater was built in the 4th century BC. It originally consisted of 34 rows and was extended by 21 more rows of seats. Thus, it could hold up to 14,000 spectators. An impressive number. Even more impressive is the amazing acoustics. When someone is standing in the Orchestra, that is the circular stage in the center of the theater, you can hear every sound even in the top rows. Even a whisper or the drop of a coin can be heard.
The Zagori region north of Ioannina is probably one of the most interesting natural landscapes in Greece. The rugged mountains, deep gorges and forested slopes are so unlike the image one has of Greece.
Its remoteness and wildness has probably meant that it has never been developed for mass tourism. Thus, it remains a well-kept secret and attracts mainly individual travelers and active explorers.
On site you will find a good network of hiking trails, among the highlights is the hike through the imposing Vikos Gorge. But there are also many short hikes. Besides the nature, it is the mountain villages, monasteries and the striking stone arch bridges that attract visitors.
Zagori is not very densely populated and there are a total of about 46 villages clinging to the mountain slopes. The houses and streets are built entirely of the regional stone, which gives them a unique character.
Some of the villages have been extensively restored and the houses are now used as hotels and restaurants. Still other villages are half-ruined and seem somewhat extinct, as they have few inhabitants.
Another landmark of the Zagori region are the impressive stone arch bridges. They are true masterpieces of engineering. In total, you will find 53 arch bridges in Zagori, especially between the villages of Dilofo and Kipi.
Have you ever heard of the three fingers of Greece? The three headlands of Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos are located in Chalkidiki and protrude into the Aegean Sea in the shape of fingers.
Because of this unique shape, the peninsula is nicknamed the “three fingers of Greece”.
In the north, the peninsula is bordered by the two lakes Vólvi and Koroní, while high mountain ranges rise in the interior and lure you to exciting hikes.
Kassandra is the first and also the narrowest finger of Chalkidiki. This promontory is considered the liveliest and most intoxicating of the three. Here one bar follows the next and there is always something going on.
In addition to the numerous nightlife options, Kassandra impresses with miles of sandy beaches that invite you to sunbathe. A wide range of water sports provides a certain amount of action.
The second finger is called Sithonia and forms the middle of the three fingers. This part of the peninsula is much quieter. Nevertheless, Sithonia is considered the part of Chalkidiki with the most beautiful landscape.
Great beaches and hidden bays make a beach vacation in Sithonia a great pleasure. Friends of nudism can enjoy the large number of nude beaches and relaxed let their clothes down.
Athos is the last and easternmost among the three fingers. The peninsula is known nationwide for its eponymous holy mountain Athos. The special thing: Athos is an autonomous monastic republic dotted with monasteries.
Access is only allowed to pilgrims visiting the holy site. Women are generally not allowed here. Accordingly, there is little tourist infrastructure on the peninsula.
At the foot of the majestic mountains of Taygetos, nestled in the enchanting landscape of the Peloponnese, lies the charming town of Kalamata with almost 70,000 inhabitants. Although the city has a long and interesting history, today it appears very modern with beautiful hotels, many gastronomic establishments, a diverse cultural offer and a lively nightlife. Kalamata is also famous for the worldwide export of olives.
The city of Kalamata stretches along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Greece. On the 2.5-kilometer-long main beach, the sea offers first-class water quality. On the long promenade you pass numerous hotels and cozy taverns with excellent cuisine. In the evening, tourists and locals meet in the bars, cafes and clubs located here. Of course, one should not miss a visit to the beautiful harbor area.
One of the most beautiful beaches in the country is Voidokilia Beach, which was even mentioned by Homer. It is hidden a bit behind dunes and offers a breathtaking view over the sea from the ruin on a hill. Also in a small bay you can find Foneas Beach, a beach with white pebbles and large rocks. Also highly recommended is Simos Beach, which attracts with crystal clear water, great bars and protective dunes.
Although it is the economic center of the South Peloponnese and a very lively city, Kalamata makes quite a quiet and relaxed impression. This is mainly due to the worth seeing old town with its many narrow streets, which provides a cozy atmosphere. Here you can do a nice shopping spree and buy typical Greek goods.
The ancient site, once designated by the eagles of Zeus as the navel of the earth, is one of the holiest places in Greece.
At that time, people from all over the world traveled here to seek the wisdom of the Oracle of Pythia, a woman who served as the earthly mouthpiece of the god Apollo. Its power was so influential that no great leader or warrior made an important decision without first consulting the oracle. Thus, Delphi served as the religious and spiritual center of the ancient civilization, contributing to the cultural development of the entire country.
Three of the largest mountain massifs in the country lie on the northern edge of Delphi, forming an impressive geophysical canvas. No wonder then that Delphi is considered by many to be the most beautiful landscape on earth. The dreamy location high on the mountains, the shadows of the crystal clear blue sky and the massiveness of the green leaves of the olives will make your eyes shine with the most brilliant colors on earth. The almighty view over the green valley to the Corinthian Gulf will literally take your breath away. Within the sanctuary are some absolutely magnificent ruins, dominated in the center by the Doric Temple of Apollo with its Castalian fountain. Truly spectacular views can be enjoyed from the beautiful fourth century BC theater, and the nearby stadium is the best preserved in all of Greece.
The impressive landscapes, the remote wilderness and the divine spirit of the Delphic landscape testify that this place is a cultural and natural monument for eternity. A place that every person should explore once in a lifetime. In Delphi, Greek mythology becomes a reality.
As soon as you drive into the Greek region of Thessaly and get closer and closer to the Meteora monasteries near Kalambaka, the first visitors are amazed. The enormous rock needles are a simply unique geological phenomenon, many even describe it as a true natural wonder. Where roads and footpaths lead to the monasteries today, there were once only smooth rocks that made it almost impossible to get to the top of a rock.
It is not without reason that one wonders how these soaring monasteries were built between heaven and earth? The first monks are said to have come to the area in the 11th century. In the heyday of the late Middle Ages, around the 14th century, the first monasteries were finally built in the most diverse, sometimes unthinkable, locations. The building material is said to have been hoisted up with ropes and hoists, in some cases even the monks themselves. Alternatively, they used rope ladders to climb up. Only later were special paths built here to facilitate the ascent and also to make it possible for visitors to see some of the monasteries that still exist.
The largest island of the Cyclades dazzles its visitors with a special beauty even from a distance, as soon as they catch sight of the dizzying colors of its cliffs. The sky here is almost as deep as the sea, where the blue of the doors, windows and roofs stands out against the bright white of the houses above the dark shadows of the volcanic cliffs plunging into the sea.
The archipelago offers few swimming spots besides the charming Red Beach, but fascinating towns and villages like Fira, Oia and Imerovigli, and miles of hiking trails along the coast. On Santorini you can laze, swim, snorkel and enjoy romantic walks.
History buffs and amateur researchers will also get their money’s worth here. On both sides of the island, important remains of past eras were uncovered in the 1970s. This makes Santorini a remarkable archaeological site, an authentic testimony to the passage of time and the memory of the people who inhabited the island for over two millennia. The shimmering white buildings, the blue-domed churches and the world-famous sunsets have made Santorini one of the most popular, romantic and luxurious vacation destinations in Greece.
Visiting Santorini means traversing the steep slopes of the Cyclades’ most active volcano and wandering through some of the Aegean’s most beautiful villages.
Hydra is one of the most unique Greek islands to visit. The entire island is a national monument and has preserved all its charm and originality from the 17th and 18th centuries. The history and culture as well as the influence of the Greek Orthodox Church are visible everywhere. The architecture and social structure reflects centuries of external influences, creating the diverse, proud and very individual Hydra of today. From the mansions of the capital to the numerous chapels, churches and monasteries, each building and stone tells its own story.
Despite its popularity and the daily arrival of excursion cruise ships, Hydra seems surprisingly untouched by the passage of time: as a listed architectural reserve, any new construction is (theoretically) forbidden, and the city is free of motor vehicles – except for two small fire engines and a few miniature garbage trucks. Photogenic donkeys or mules are responsible for transporting goods here. The appearance of Hydra is instead characterized by magnificent villas and modest vernacular houses, amphitheatrically arranged around the marbled harbor. They date from the 18th and 19th centuries, when seafarers brought great wealth to the island, and some of them house museums and exhibitions.
Now very cosmopolitan and trendy, Hydra was discovered in the 1960s by a group of artists attracted by its spectacular harbor. Today, artists and celebrities still visit the island, earning it the title of an artists’ colony.
Athens, capital of Greece, is an ideal short vacation for those who like to walk in the footsteps of antiquity, but at the same time do not want to miss the beach and sun. A fascinating backdrop that combines 5,000 years of history, cultural-historical diversity and varied landscapes into an impressive whole. Athens is a city full of vitality and joie de vivre. With over four million inhabitants, modern Athens is the hub of Greek business and economic life.
The traffic is hectic, the driving adventurous – and yet the Athenians have retained their composure, humor and originality. You should not miss visiting the Acropolis. Despite the rush of visitors, it is still one of the most impressive testimonies of Greek antiquity. Surely you first seek out ancient Athens, the unique relics of a bygone era, the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus or the ancient Agora. But Athens is not only that. Typical for this city is the charming mixture of tradition and modernity, which can be felt everywhere.
A city full of contrasts and surprises. A beautiful city with thousands of facets that always shows a different side. Athens is also the ideal starting point for the Greek islands, the mainland and the Peleponnes.
Visit the picturesque nooks and quaint tavernas in Plaka, the friendly old town at the foot of the Acropolis, and Monastiraki Square, where there’s always a flea market on Sundays.
Zakynthos is a distinctive island that offers its visitors beautiful landscapes and places, as well as dreamlike beaches and unforgettable bays. One of these bays is Navagio Bay, which is depicted on postcards and pictures and is emblematic of a vacation in Greece. Characteristic of Navagio Bay are the 200 meters high cliffs that surround the beach with its shimmering white sand and turquoise blue water, but above all an old, stranded ship that is located on the beach of the bay. The ship is an old smuggler’s ship, which used to smuggle cigarettes illegally. After a shipwreck, the ship stranded on exactly this one bay, which today is also known as “Smuggler’s Bay” and has led the island of Zakynthos to world fame.
Zakynthos offers its visitors beautiful and varied landscapes surrounded by diverse vegetation. The east of the island is characterized by beautiful beaches and bays, while the west is characterized by mighty mountain massifs. The mountain Vrachionas in the west of Zakynthos is with a height of 756 meters the highest point of the mountain massif. Ideal conditions, therefore, for hikers who want to explore the island on foot.
The lively history, as well as the time of the Venetian rule, have left their traces on the Ionian Islands, but especially on the islands of Zakynthos and Corfu. Even today, the city and building architecture of both islands bear witness to the influence of the Venetians. This can be seen particularly well even today in Zakynthos Town, the island capital of Zakynthos, which bears the same name. On the top of the town still crowns a Venetian citadel.
The largest of the Dodecanese islands is no ordinary resort, but a cosmopolitan center with an international reputation. The charming medieval town, the sophisticated Lindos, the irresistible Valley of the Butterflies, the high quality lifestyle and the long golden sandy beaches make the days and nights on the island unforgettable.
In Rhodes, the present elegantly combines with the past. Endless beaches, green valleys, mountain villages and countless cultural and historical monuments: the island of the knights literally offers everything a vacationer’s heart desires. The unmistakable fairy-tale atmosphere unfolds especially in the beautiful medieval town of Rhodes. The entire old town is a fascinating mixture of different historical eras, cultures, aesthetics and architectures. The ancient city was founded in 408 BC and laid out by the famous town planner Hippodamus. It acquired its medieval character in the 13th century, when the Knights of St. John arrived on the island after their expulsion from the Holy Land.
Together with an intense nightlife in Faliraki, crystal clear waters and warm-hearted locals, this makes Rhodes the perfect vacation island! Be sure to also visit the charming mountain village of Lindos, overlooked by an ancient acropolis. It marks the center of Rhodes’ long east coast, which is adorned with numerous sandy beaches. If you want to escape the summer crowds, take a road trip to the island’s rugged and partially forested interior. Worthwhile destinations include the castles at Monolithos and Kritinia and the frescoed churches at Tharri, Asklipi and Agios Vardhas.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Gavdos, the southernmost point of Europe is located on Crete. The landscape is charming with its specific flora and fauna. Crete has four mountain ranges, the Ida Mountains, the White Mountains, the Dikti Mountains and the smallest, the Thripti Mountains. Crete is popular with holidaymakers precisely because it is the sunniest island in the Mediterranean, with 300 days of sunshine a year guaranteeing vacations.
Crete has been inhabited since at least 6000 BC. Finds indicate a much longer settlement. The first advanced civilization arose in 3000 BC and was the Minoan. Around 1450 BC the Mycenaean advanced civilization developed on Crete.
Gorges, mountains and the Mediterranean climate are the optimal conditions for hiking enthusiasts and outdoor fans. You should not miss the Samaria Gorge. It is the longest gorge in Europe and can be explored on foot. The unforgettable nature experience is the main attraction of the vacation for many island visitors. The mountain ranges are the ideal starting point for extensive trekking tours on the island. In addition to numerous outdoor activities, Crete has fantastic beaches to offer for bathing beauties. The palm beach of Vai in the east of the island has long been a tourist attraction. The beach of Balos is a popular natural beach that can be reached by boat or on foot. Especially the Balos lagoon is a unique natural spectacle. Red Beach attracts visitors with its reddish sand.
In addition to the fantastic natural spectacles, there are just as many cultural sights on Crete. The Palace of Knossos is located only 5 km from Iraklion and is the most visited sight in Crete. The palace was built around 1900 BC, was about 20,000m² in size and had about 1,000 rooms.
Corfu is considered to be one of the greenest islands that you can explore during your vacation in Greece. Everywhere you will see and smell olive trees, acacias and citrus fruits. Especially the dwarf orange tree (kumquat) is characteristic for Corfu. If you like orange marmalade, you should definitely try kumquat marmalade here.
Corfu Town, or Kérkyra, is the tourist center of the island and has even been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here you can expect everything you could wish for in a small cozy vacation town: narrow streets, cobblestones, a marketplace with cafes and small boutiques. When you stroll through the streets, you should make a detour to the town hall. When Corfu was still under Venetian rule, the building was built in 1663 and was a meeting hall for the Venetian nobility. Later it was converted into a theater and only since 1903 it has been the official town hall of Corfu – and a beautiful one at that.
The beautiful Porto Timoni Beach you should definitely visit during your visit to Corfu. It takes about an hour to get there from Corfu Town and another 20 minutes to descend to the water from the village of Afionas, but it’s definitely worth it. At the end of the descent, the beautiful pebble beach with two wonderfully refreshing bays awaits you.
Thanks to a long tradition as a party metropolis, Mykonos is one of the most popular, well-known and expensive places in the Cyclades. Inspired by its former reputation as a paradise for those who have renounced a conventional way of life and love, Mykonos is the star island of the Cyclades archipelago known for its party scene. But it also has another side and enchants visitors with beautiful beaches, arid landscapes, small mills and cobbled streets. Few visitors, however, come here to admire the island’s Cubist-Cycladic architecture, with its white country chapels dotting the hills and creating a picturesque view. And few know that Mykonos also makes a good base for archaeological day trips to nearby islands like Delos.
Mykonos is not very big. There are two villages, Chora and Ano Mera. Mykonos Town or Chora is the capital and the picturesque village of the island. The landmarks of Chora are the windmills located on a hill, the beautiful neighborhood of Little Venice and the famous Pelican of Mykonos. With traditional architecture and a hectic atmosphere, the town is characterized by its cosmopolitan ambiance and lively nightlife.
Naxos is the greenest and largest island of the Cyclades and is located in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Mountains, valleys, rivers and streams, but also caves and sandy beaches surrounded by dunes and cedars distinguish Naxos with its multifaceted landscape from its neighboring islands. While you reach the steep shore in the east, the landscape becomes more and more flat towards the west. From north to south, however, the island is crossed by a granite mountain range. So it is best to pack not only flip-flops but also hiking boots in your suitcase.
The most famous sight or landmark of Naxos is the Portara, also called the Temple Gate of Naxos. It is a fragment of the temple of Apollo, which is made of Naxos marble. It should have served as the entrance of the temple to Apollo in the 6th century BC, however the temple was never completed. The sight is best visited at sunset, as the sight with the play of colors makes a beautiful photo motif.
Although the main town of the island is also called Naxos, it is equally called Chora like the main towns on other islands. As the central harbor town, this is where the colorful life of fishing, ferry services and pleasure boating takes place. A detour here is a good idea, as there are many great tavernas, small shops and places at the harbor where you can watch the locals mending nets or repairing their boats.
One of the largest pilgrimage centers in Greece, noble Tinos is also considered the island of mysterious beauties. This refers especially to the green landscape, authentic villages, folklore and rich culinary traditions. Swim at the picturesque beach of Stavros or explore the numerous historical sites such as the Poseidon sanctuary in Kionia, the Venetian castle of Santa Elena or the monastery of Kechrovouni. The special attraction of this place leaves no one untouched.
The discovery of an icon of the Virgin Mary in 1822 made Tinos a kind of Greek Lourdes. On August 15 of each year, thousands of pilgrims crowd the streets of the capital, Chora, to reach the Panaghia Evangelistria church and pay their respects to the Mother of Jesus.
But once you leave the city, a wonderland of natural beauty reveals itself. While Tinos’ endless sandy beaches and turquoise waters are a magnet for travelers, the island’s gems are its authentic villages, found in hidden coves, on terraced slopes and on misty mountains.
The fascination of Tinos lies in the hinterland and nature, the settlements and old country roads that lead to unexpected places. The inhabitants have preserved an amazing authenticity and maintain traditions like nowhere else in the archipelago. Nature has been generous with the island, it is one of the most fertile of the Cyclades. The landscapes change from one valley to another and one is constantly surprised by the natural and wild beauty of the places.
Beneath the imposing Mount Ainos, with its unique pine trees, stretch the enchanting shores of the island of Kefalonia, lined with golden sandy beaches. The dense road network, designed at the time of British rule, gives travelers the opportunity to comfortably get to know the entire island with its diversity of landscape, lush vegetation and wild beauty. The towns and villages have come back to life after a devastating earthquake in 1953; only in the north have many settlements withstood the fury of the quake. Here visitors can still get an unobstructed glimpse of the way of life and traditions of the past, where buildings with rare architecture show the beauty of a bygone era.
The exploration of the island is best done from the capital Argostóli. It is located in the center of the southern part, at the end of the bay of the same name. Visitors meet here a modern city reflected in the calm waters of its natural harbor with numerous new buildings.
Lassi is the main holiday resort of Kefalonia and enjoys great popularity among visitors from all over the world due to its well-developed tourist infrastructure and beautiful sandy beaches. The picturesque coastal road from Fanari to Argostóli starts in Lassi and offers beautiful views and small secluded bays along the route.
Traveling further to the southern part of Kefalonia, one enters the region of Leivatho. In Domata, the church of Panagia with its gilded icon screen and the temporary coffin of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory the Fifth, invites you to linger. In the lower part of the village of Kaligata is the picturesque beach of Avythos.
Venetian and Turkish buildings, winding labyrinthine streets and an extraordinary atmosphere – even the Greeks claim that Nafplio is the most beautiful of all cities on the mainland.
Nafplio was the first capital of Greece after independence. Due to its strategic location, Nafplio has three fortresses: the massive main fortress Palamidi, the smaller Akronafplia and Bourtzi on a small island west of the old town. There is a beautiful walk around the headland along the seafront that takes you to the imposing Palamidi Fortress, which towers 216 meters above the city.
Near the city is the beautiful beach of Arvanitia. The beach offers a spectacular view of Akronafplia Castle, Palamidi Castle and the Argolic Gulf. There is also Karathona beach, Nafplio’s “landmark” on Palamidi hill. To get to this beach, a little effort on foot is required. Tolo beach is slightly sloping, but it offers clear and clean water – a perfect beach for families.
The best part of staying in Nafplio, however, is simply wandering the Venetian streets and visiting the restaurants, taverns and cafes, art galleries and museums. The Komboli Museum is definitely worth a look and the perfect place to pick up a little gift to take home.
Mystras (also Mistra) is one of the most exciting and dramatic historical sites the Peloponnese has to offer; a delightfully airy place nestled at the 280-meter base of Mount Taygetos. The lush hillside is a remarkably intact Byzantine town that once housed a population of some 20,000 people and through which you can wander today. Winding alleys lead through monumental gateways, past medieval houses and palaces, and most importantly, into churches, some of which present excellent, if faded, frescoes. Embark on an extensive discovery tour of architecture, painting and sculpture – and into another age with a dramatically different mentality.
Deep in the hills of modern-day Sparta lies the ancient fortified village called Mystras. Located in the heart of the Taygetos Mountains, this village is one of those places where time seems to stand still. Mystras is a unique example of a Byzantine fortified town whose walls are still intact. Its location is exceptional and affords an impressive view of the Evrotas Valley and Sparta from a steep spur of the Taygetos. The Byzantine churches, monasteries, ruined palaces and houses testify to its former glory as the original capital of Morea, the ancient name for the Peloponnese.
Its dense pine, pine, sycamore and oak forests – which is why it is called “the green island” – as well as extensive olive groves, fruit trees of many varieties and vegetable cultivation (be sure to try the Thassiot tomatoes!) testify to the island’s abundance of water and fertility. Outside the villages, you will encounter painted bee hives at every turn, as Thassos produces about 10 percent of all Greek honey.
The warm Aegean Sea allows a bathing season on Thassos from May to October. The approximately 110 km long coastline around the island has numerous beaches for swimming and sunbathing. The offer ranges from fine sandy beaches (mainly on the east side) to pebble sandy beaches (mainly in the west). If you prefer company and variety, you will find plenty of beaches with bars and taverns; if you love secluded beaches, there are many small deserted bays. There are also many sporting activities.
10. Mount Olympus National Park
With its 2918 meters, Mount Olympus is not only the highest mountain in Greece, but also one of the most famous landmarks in Greece. Whether it is a mountain or a massif (actually there are four mountains), the gods may argue about it. After all, in the mythology of the Greeks, this place is considered the seat of the twelve gods around the god Zeus.
The national park of the same name, which measures about thirty by forty kilometers, can be visited in part by car, but is best explored on foot. In general, Olympus has a rather harsh and northern climate, temperatures are very cold after September and snow equipment is required in winter. However, the massif is also a popular destination for skiers.
A selection of mountain huts is available for hikes lasting several days. The summit of Mount Olympus should be tried in the company of experienced mountaineers and climbers! The most interesting hiking trail is the E4 from Litochoro, but there are also several attractive trails from Prionia. Explore the caves, gorges and plateaus and visit the monastery of Dionysios.
This recreational paradise on Mount Olympus definitely offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and the Aegean Sea.
9. Lake Kerkini
About 34 km from Serres – between Serres and Kilkis – lies the reservoir Kerkini. It is the third largest reservoir in Greece. In the middle of the nature reserve reveals this magnificent landscape, for bird lovers and birdwatchers a paradise.
The lake has developed over the years into a protected wetland, 30 species of freshwater fish and 300 species of birds have settled here.
With a view of the mountains Kerkini (2.031m) – on it runs also the Greek-Bulgarian border -, the mountain Mavrovouni (1.179m) from northwest to southeast in and west the mountain Orvilos (2.212m).
The reservoir is fed by the river Strymonas (Struma). Lake Kerkini has a surface area of 37.688 km² and a maximum length of 14.49 km and a maximum width of 5.65 km, depending on the water level. The dam is used for flood control and irrigation of the surrounding agricultural land.
In March it is still very quiet here, only a few nature lovers and anglers are looking for rest and recreation. A large tavern, recreational activities such as horseback riding and boating on the lake give an idea of what is going on here in the summer. As a destination in March / early season, the reservoir is worth it, just because of the peace and the fabulous nature.
8. Monemvasia Fortress
Monemvasia in Greece is an impressive castle town in the southeastern Peloponnese. It was built invisibly from the mainland to avoid enemy attacks. It can be seen only from the sea and only a narrow path connects it to the mainland. This is how it got its name, which means only passage. This fantastic place was originally built in the Middle Ages and has been inhabited continuously since then. A walk through the cobbled streets of the castle town is like a trip back in time.
In Greek, the word “mone” means single, while “embassia” means entrance. However, it is also known as Malvasia, the Gibraltar of the East and The Rock. The latter is due to its particular location, as the town is built on a rock 300 meters high and almost two kilometers long, and is located on a steep, rocky island connected to the coast of Laconia by a low bridge.
Apart from the beauty of the city, the rock itself is also very picturesque, with colors that range between shades of gray and pink. On the southeastern side of this rock is settled the village, overlooking the bay of Palaia Monemvasia.
On Lefkada you will discover the Greece you thought disappeared 20 years ago. Clear blue waters and excellent beaches: this is the first image that comes to mind when you think of Lefkada. However, this hospitable Ionian island is a destination that has much more to offer than just beaches, including green paths, unspoiled landscapes, traditional villages and gastronomic surprises. Lefkada meets all vacation needs and caters to every taste. Admire its sights, taste the delicious food, take a boat trip and relax on Lefkada.
Lefkada is located in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, about halfway between Corfu to the north and Ithaca and Kefalonia to the south. The azure, transparent waters of the Ionian Sea are a real attraction, and the varied coastline offers a variety of sandy beaches, secluded pebbly coves and dramatic white cliffs, such as those of Cape Lefkada at the southernmost tip.
The green, forested interior of the island is more than worth seeing, with magnificent scenery, great hiking trails, mountains over 1100 meters high, and a multitude of unspoiled villages whose way of life remains deeply connected to the ancient traditions and customs of Lefkada.
The capital of the island, Lefkada, has a pretty maze of streets with many taverns, stores and bars and a popular marina. A few minutes’ drive from here, a causeway takes you to the Greek mainland, while frequent ferry services run from the ports of Nidri and Vasiliki on the east and south of the island to the other islets of the Ionian Archipelago – including Meganissi, Itaka and Kefalonia.
6. Acheron Springs
The sources of the Acheron River are located in southern Epirus, in the village of Glyki, near the picturesque town of Parga. According to Greek mythology, it is the “river of the dead” and the entrance to the underworld, since through it Charon led the dead to the entrance of Hades.
Besides its historical importance, it is also a river of unique beauty. The landscape is fascinating with its springs and streams. The water is crystal clear and blue-green, surrounded by huge plane trees. The beautiful surroundings are suitable not only for resting, but also for hiking, rafting, kayaking and canoeing tours or swimming.
Relaxing walks along the river are possible. There is also a path leading to a small viewing platform from where you can enjoy the breathtaking nature. Summer is suitable for river walks, a fantastic experience for brave nature lovers, as the river water is very cold. The water is not deep at the beginning, but later some places have to be swum through. If you decide to take the river path, you better equip yourself with water shoes.
Finally, you can rest at the taverns on the riverbank, under the shade of the huge plane trees, right on the water and especially enjoy the coolness on warm summer days.
5. Corinth Canal
As early as about 2,600 years ago, the Greeks were thinking about building a canal so that the southern peninsula of the country would not always have to be circumnavigated. In the 19th century, the dream finally became reality, because innovative inventions were now available for its implementation, such as blasting gelatine or dynamite. As a result, the breakthrough could be made at the narrowest point of the land bridge. The result was a canal 24 meters wide and 6.3 kilometers long.
The famous Panama Canal was completed in 1878, and the Suez Canal also brought the idea back into people’s minds. The then Greek King George I broke ground in 1881, and 12 years later the construction project was completed. Work on the Corinth Canal was extremely hard, as it was necessary to dig through the rock to a depth of 84 meters.
A connection was created between the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs, saving ships about 400 kilometers of distance. The steep walls of the canal have a height of up to 79 meters, and a total of five bridges span it.
Nowadays, the canal does not have the great importance it once had, as it can only be passed by smaller ships. While the bypassing of the Peloponnese used to be dangerous, the courses have been moved to a greater distance from the coast. Moreover, ships are now so well motorized that it takes them much less time to cover the distance. The rock on the cliffs is quite soft, so stabilization would be urgently needed. Even though the fees for passage are quite high, about 30 ships pass through the Corinth Canal every day.
At first glance, Paros seems a bit like a Greek postcard island. It combines all the advantages of the Cyclades, but is less touristy or cosmopolitan than some of its neighbors. With its fishing villages in brilliant white contrast to the deep blue of the sea, its cut-out coasts and long stretches of blond sand dipped in transparent water, Paros is a concentrate of the Cyclades. However, the island also reveals to explorative visitors a beautiful and wild hinterland with traditional villages, monasteries, windmills and the herds of goats disregarding any rules of the road. Since ancient times, Paros has also been nicknamed the “island of marble”: This is where the material for the sculptures of the temples of Delphi and Delos and also for the famous Venus of Milo came from.
One of the most typical islands of the Cyclades, Paros is famous for its traditional architecture, beautiful beaches and nightlife. The island is quite small, you can drive around it in less than three hours. But the beauty here, as so often, is hidden within, as Paros is made up of numerous valleys and hills that offer very different landscapes and a variety of activities. The offer ranges from kite and windsurfing, diving and snorkeling to hiking and sunbathing.
Paros is often described as “Mykonos without the madness” – and there is some truth to that description.
The island is characterized by magnificent stretches of coastline, lush mountain landscapes with quaint villages and an abundance of ancient sights. Sunshine, olive groves and vineyards combined with Greek joie de vivre and excellent cuisine make a vacation on Samos perfect.
Also worth seeing on the island are the ancient theater, the walls of Polykrates and the tunnel of Eupalinos. Of course, a visit to the Temple of Hera, which was once one of the largest temples in Greece, should not be missed during a vacation on Samos.
An abundance of dream beaches awaits on Samos – the vacationer can choose between secluded unspoiled bays and well-organized beach resorts near the hotels. Especially popular on the north coast of the island is the large Potami beach near Karlovasi, which also offers visitors a selection of typical restaurants and beach bars. On the other hand, Agios Konstantinos, Lemonakia and Tsamadou are a bit quieter. In the charming harbor town of Vathy in the east of the island, visitors are drawn to the seemingly endless beach of Mykali.
Gourmets also get their money’s worth on the island of Samos, which is one of the most fertile in the Aegean. Sun-drenched tomatoes, plump eggplants and colorful peppers grow here. Lots of crunchy vegetables combined with freshly caught fish, seafood or tender lamb fillet guarantee culinary delights on every vacation day. The dinner is rounded off by the famous Muscat wine from Samos, which was already cultivated here in ancient times and is still one of the most popular dessert wines in Greece.
After Rhodes, Kos ranks second among the members of the Dodecanese archipelago in both size and visitor numbers. On Kos, too, an imposing castle of the Knights of St. John towers over the harbor, and the streets are lined with Italianate buildings. Minarets alternate with palm trees as they trellis over Hellenistic and Roman remains. The few mountain villages are charming, the tourist infrastructure excellent, and the swimming opportunities limitless – about half of the island’s edge is surrounded by beaches of varying sizes and textures.
As a visitor to Kos, you’ll enjoy a wealth of cultural attractions, a vibrant yet tame nightlife, and some of the Aegean’s best beaches. The southern coast is sparsely populated and, apart from the region around Kardamena, fairly inaccessible. However, some of the best beaches of all the Greek islands await here. A strip of sand several kilometers wide stretches north from Cape Tigani and is locally divided into beach sections with names like Paradise Beach and Magic Beach. To the south is Agios Stefanos, an appealing little town. Here is probably the most beautiful beach in Kos, with the island of Kastri within bathing distance and ancient ruins scattered all along the beach.
The rich history of Kos is visible throughout the island through the scattered heritage of historical monuments. In Kos, multiculturalism is always present. It can be seen in the unique architecture that encompasses all the historical periods of the island, as well as in the exciting history that has produced a culture with impressive monuments.
The charming island of Ios is one of the more idyllic representatives of the Cyclades archipelago. However, thanks to its famous nightclubs and dreamy beaches, it is also very popular among young tourists and beach vacationers. The busy life is mainly confined to the capital Chora, outside it is quiet and peaceful even in high season. Visitors love the traditional style and the sandy, crystal clear beaches. Vacation in Ios can be both peaceful and intense, depending on personal preference. There are places where families with children can spend a relaxing time, but there are also places like Mylopotas, where beach bars and water sports invite to an active leisure.
Charming chapels and archaeological treasures, dreamy beaches and cultural attractions – on Ios everything combines into a melting pot of fascination. The best place to explore the island’s historical heritage is the capital Chora. The small town is colorful and inspiring, mainly thanks to the contrast between colorful doors, shutters and window sills against the backdrop of snow-white painted house facades. With Paleokastro, Ios has yet another landmark to offer: a magnificent Venetian fortress from the 15th century. Ios is also inextricably linked with the ancient Greek poet Homer. He is said to have spent the last years of his life here and also found his final resting place.