The country of Greece is one of the most famous on the planet for many reasons. First of all, it is said that it is the cradle of modern society due to the importance and success of Ancient Greece. Rich in history and tradition that spans thousands of years, modern-day Greece is certainly a country that everyone wants to visit. It has so much to offer both in terms of a regular summer beach holiday and for tourists who want a sightseeing holiday rich with historical landmarks. This can also be a problem when you are traveling there for the first time. How do you choose the right place and ensure an unforgettable holiday?
Well, you cannot really do it all at once. You will need a few trips to Greece in order to see most of what it has to offer, but even then you will hardly have enough time to really meet the country, its culture, and its amazing people. In this article, however, we will try to help you as much as possible and tell you of the places you should visit in Greece. We leave to you the choice of where to go first but know that these are the absolute best destinations the ancient country has to offer.
1. Cape Sounion
Let us start with the southernmost point of the Attica peninsula. This area is famous for the ruins of a once glorious temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea. As one of the major deities in the Greek pantheon, anything devoted to him used to be of major importance to the people. The remains now stand perched on the headland, with the sea surrounding it on three sides. It is a popular excursion for the tourists who come to Athens as it can be toured in a day. The sunsets over the Aegean Sea are stunning, which is why most trips there last until the late hours. Photo ops are also magnificent and it does not take long for you to feel transported thousands of years into the past while there.
Everybody knows Athens since it is the capital and one of the most important cities in history. But what do you know of the second-largest city in Greece? It is also a capital, albeit of the Macedonian region Northern Greece is known for. It is a social hub and quite a modern place, so if you care about festivals, nightlife, and social events make your way there. It can be said that it is the cultural capital of modern Greece too. The city center is historic, there is a commercial district, and the old and the new mesh together well throughout its streets. Some of the best sites include Byzantine walls, the White Tower, and the Turkish baths. There are plenty of museums and galleries as well as colorful markets. Once the sun sets, make your way to a tavern or a club, and grab a bite at one of the numerous Greek fast food places on your way back. The city is also best toured if you can drive in it so think about renting a car. You will need an international driver’s permit, so be sure to visit here.
People often think that cities and beaches are the only things Greece has to offer, forgetting about other stunning regions like Zagori. It features two national parks and it has some amazing geology, so fascinating that you will forget that you are actually in Greece. Lush, dense forests, rugged mountains, and numerous rivers, this area is perfect for hiking, climbing, and camping. Numerous old villages with stone houses dot the rich wilderness, dating back hundreds of years. Vikos Gorge is the most popular place in the entire area. You may enjoy cities and beaches more, but give this part of the country a chance as well. You will hardly be surprised.
The southernmost point of Europe, and therefore Greece as well, Peloponnese is a very wide peninsula rich in luscious forests and the best sandy beaches you can find in the Mediterranean. It is connected to the mainland by the beautiful Rio-Antirrio bridge which is an engineering marvel and a modern sight to behold on its own. When it comes to history and culture, this part of Greece has it all. From classical temples and Venetian fortresses to Byzantine churches and Mycenaean palaces, history buffs do not have to look long before they come across the next wonder of the past. The ruins in Olympia are the most popular site, the place where the first Olympic Games were hosted.
5. Halkidiki (Khalkidhiki, Chalkidiki)
The place that people tend to spell however they like, is another peninsula Greece has to offer. It is shaped like a trident and it is close to Thessaloniki. The potential for an amazing holiday is equal throughout the trident, but each of the three spikes of the trident is known for something else. Kassandra is the best for nightlife, Sithonia has the best beaches, while Athos is for the monks and history buffs. Kassandra is the most modern as it is the closest to Thessaloniki. Sithonia features numerous campsites, coves and caves, and crystal clear waters. Greeks and tourists like them both equally. Athos largely belongs to the Mount Athos monastic community, which only allows male pilgrims to visit.
We cannot have a list of the top places in Greece without the ancient capital. Athens has been inhabited for more than 3 millenniums and it alone is known as the cradle of Western civilization. It is also referred to as the birthplace of democracy, although democracy like they had, does not exist anywhere in the contemporary world. It can be confusing to navigate and understand, but not for long. It is a weird combination of very old and very new features, but that is also its charm. The Acropolis is the main event, the Parthenon follows suit close behind, while the Ancient Agora and the Theatre of Dionysus draw in millions of visitors as well. There is no place like Athens elsewhere in the world really. The importance of the ancient monuments can only be compared to the Great Pyramids of Giza, Machu Picchu, and a few other places. However, this is also a bustling city and an important business, culture, and entertainment center of 21st century Greece.
Additional Places to Check Out
Once you visit these iconic destinations, make sure to also make your way to the following:
- Crete, the largest Greek island with cities, villages, and archaeological sites
- Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, and/or Skiathos for a true summer paradise vacation
- Delphi, the most popular archeological site outside Athens
- Meteora, a monastery complex 1,200 feet high on the summits of an isolated rock