The Ultimate Guide To The Must See Sights In Greece

Ultimate GreeceGreece is the ancient centre of enlightenment; an age old hub of philosophy, science, art, architecture, mathematics, sport and of course democracy. It’s also a fantastic place to explore on holiday or extended travels, but where should you go on a Greek break?

Greece is an expansive nation, covering a decent area of southern Europe, from Corfu off its north west coast to Crete and Cyprus beyond. The mainland has many wonders and attractions so visiting it is a must, but then there are the islands. Between 1,200 and 6,000 islands actually, (the difference in number depending on definitions of ‘island’). A mere 227 are actually inhabited, though seeing them all on a fortnight abroad would still perhaps be a push.

But here we are not constrained by time; we aim simply to list the very best must-see sights in Greece, so you can pick and choose as you please, whether you are simply passing through or taking the time to let the historic Mediterranean country really get under your skin.

Historic Sites

If there’s one thing Greece has its fair share of, it’s historic attractions. From fascinating archaeological sites to famous ancient temples, the country still allows you to peer into its rich history by visiting its top historic sites.

1) The Parthenon

The premier historic site in Greece is found smack bang in the middle of its premier city, Athens. This world famous acropolis was dedicated to the worship of Athena, and has stood since 438 BC.

2) Delphi

After the Parthenon this is Greece’s most popular historic attraction, and for good reason. Found along the slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was once thought by ancient Greeks to be the centre point of the earth, and is subsequently littered with remnants of those times.

3) Olympia

Birthplace of the Olympics, Olympia has countless archaeological sites to explore. Mount Kronion was the most sacred spot in Olympia, and is still very special.

4) Meteora monasteries

Perched on top of huge, other-worldly rock pillars sit the Meteora monasteries. Monks and nuns still reside and worship in these penthouses of God, and you can visit them, provided you have a head for heights.

5) Rhodes

Rhodes has a plentiful supply of historic attractions, from the Acropolis of Rhodes to the Temple of Apollo and the Acropolis of Lindos.

6) Corinth

Corinth is an ancient city that lies less than 50 miles from Athens. It is home to temples of Apollo, Octavia and Aphrodite and holds much spiritual as well as historic import.

7) Cave of the Apocalypse, Patmos

In Patmos is a sacred grotto where St John apparently had visions. The cave is visited by many Christians and those of the Greek Orthodox denomination in particular.

8) Mystra, Peleponnese

Mystra is located on Peloponnese and is the site of the most complete Byzantine city in Greece. Ruins of houses, churches, palaces and more sit at the base of the Taiyetos mountains, and the views in this area are incredible.

9) Knossos, Crete

Knossos on Crete is a fascinating archaeological site, still full of columns, frescoes and murals. It is also the legendary home of the minotaur, and was at one point a great centre of Minoan civilisation.

10) Polyrinia, Crete

Another Cretan attraction that is a real adventure. To access this forgotten city state with its ruined acropolis you have to walk 6km through the Sikari gorge, but the remaining echoes of history are well worth it.

Beaches

Whether you are on a week away with the family or a year out on your lonesome, you will struggle to resist Greece’s beautiful beaches. Golden stretches of sand, secret hidden coves, turquoise, crystalline water…sound alright so far? In that case here are a few Greek beaches you can’t afford to miss.

11) Elafonisi, Crete

Elafonisi has been called the best beach in Greece and is located on the south coast of Crete. It’s a rather remote destination, with just a scattering of hotels and houses in the area, lending this golden beach even more allure.

12) Red Beach, Santorini

Santorini’s beaches are unique. They are not gold but because of the volcanic nature of the earth they are grey, black or red. As the name of this beach somewhat gives away, this is a red one, and a great place to spend a day.

13) Plaka Beach, Naxos

Naxos has a selection of beaches to choose from, but the best is probably Plaka Beach. It has turquoise sea and soft, yellow sand, making it ideal for sunbathing and dipping in the ocean.

14) Paradise Beach, Mykonos

This is a great place to party in the evenings and late afternoons, and a beautiful beach to bathe on earlier in the day. It is surrounded by plenty of hotels and apartments, so you can stay just a short stroll away.

15) Kamares Beach, Sifnos

Sifnos is a less visited Greek island, meaning that Kamares Beach is relatively quiet and a great place to relax on the sand, or have fun in the sea.

16) St Paul’s Bay, Rhodes

A stunning little cove which is ideal for swimming, as it is protected from the sea by rocky outcrops.

17) Paleokastritsa, Corfu

This Corfu beach has a series of bays, onto which laps crystalline rich blue water. Boat trips also run from the beach, giving you the chance to see the beauty of Corfu from a new viewpoint.

18) Logaras Beach, Paros

Some of Paros’ numerous beaches are a little overcrowded, but Logaras Beach is tucked away, so more peaceful and generally more pleasant.

19) Perissa Beach, Santorini

This is one of Santorini’s grey beaches, and has been rated as the nicest sand, and the nicest beach on the island.

20) Mylopotas Beach, Ios

Beautiful golden sand and aquamarine sea make Mylopotas Beach very popular among tourists and locals alike.

Islands

As we have mentioned Greece has 227 inhabited islands, all of which have something to offer a traveller or holidaymaker. If you are trying to decide which you should visit we will try and narrow it down a little, with what are perhaps the 10 best islands in Greece, with some clues as to what you will find on them.

21) Skyros

This is a great destination if you are looking for a new age holiday. For chilled out exploring rather than all night partying this is definitely a winner.

22) Tilos

This island once had a population of pygmy elephants and is home to a vast array of birds, so a great choice if you like to see some nature on your Mediterranean break.

23) Corfu

This lovely island has a vibrant party scene for those with a taste for a heavy holiday, but it caters equally well to those who just want to sit by a pool and bask in the sun.

24) Santorini

Santorini is a favourite among honeymooners, because it is a gorgeous island, with its white and blue domed houses and colourful beaches. It is also home to plenty of amazing restaurants and tavernas – what’s not to love?

25) Icaria

The isle of Icaria is similar to Delos and Knossos in the historic sites is has to offer. Its advantage is that it is far less well known.

26) Gavdos

If you are looking for a Greek island that is not swarming with other travellers and tourists, Gavdos is the place to go. While not quite being undiscovered, the charms of Gavdos are yet to reach the masses.

27) Mykonos

This is a fantastic party island, offering numerous bars, clubs and restaurants in which you can take it as easy or hard as you like.

28) Crete

Crete has the typical tourist accommodation and strip, but also plenty on offer for the more refined traveller – not that there’s anything wrong with being a typical tourist.

29) Naxos

White sands against turquoise waters, ancient ruins, beach culture and ample excellent Mediterranean food and drink make Naxos a very desirable island destination.

30) Symi

The neoclassical harbour on Symi is a particular bonus to visiting this island, which rises above you as the ferry glides in to dock. A beautiful place to spend some time.

City Living

A trip into the city is another way to get a good feel of what a country has to offer, and this is certainly true in Greece. There are numerous bustling hubs of activity, commerce and industry throughout the nation, and the following are well worth seeing.

31) Athens

We may as well start with the obvious one. The capital is a must-visit place, because of everything from its world famous antiquities to the vibrant modern city that it has become.

32) Thessaloniki

Greece’s second biggest city is Thessaloniki, which is famous for its nightlife and numerous festivals held throughout the year. It combines a modern, fun side with historic attractions from the Byzantine era.

33) Patras

This city is located in western Greece and it’s the capital of this district. It’s a commercial hub so full of modern attractions, as well as historic evidence of past civilisations from Greeks to Romans and beyond.

34) Rhodes

The city of Rhodes is home to some 100,000 people and has been an important part of Greece since ancient times, when it was the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

35) Heraklion

Heraklion is the premier city on Crete, and a great place to pound the pavement and do some shopping, or visit the city centre bars and tavernas, which offer more diverse fare than many tourist spots.

36) Volos

One of the country’s largest and prettiest cities, Volos is full of life and close to the ancient site of Iolcos, where much about local history can be discovered.

37) Ionnina

Ionnina is the largest city in the Epirus area of mainland Greece. It has existed since the 6th century AD and remains a fascinating coastal town.

38) Chalcis

The main city of the island of Euboea has a lively seafront and all the modern amenities you would expect. It is also rich in history, and was mentioned in the Iliad.

39) Chania

Crete’s second city lies on the north coast of the island and is famous for its pretty Venetian port.

40) Larissa

This is the largest city in the region of Thessaly, where it is said that Hippocrates died and rumoured that Hercules was born. It offers the usual hustle and bustle, as well as beautiful beaches and waterfront areas to explore and enjoy.

Natural Wonders

As well as amazing architecture, history, culture and fun, Greece is home to an amplitude of natural wonders. A full picture of the country can’t be seen without heading out to explore some of them, and the following are certainly memorable.

41) Meteora

Meteora has already been mentioned once, for its high-rise monasteries, but it deserves another inclusion for the gigantic stone pillars themselves. Meteora means suspended in the air, and there is something about these spectacular cliffs that seems to defy gravity.

42) Cape Sounion

On the southern tip of the Attica peninsula lies Cape Sounion, a stunning headland surrounded by the ocean on three sides. It is home to historic ruins but is an awesome natural wonder in its own right.

43) Zagori

Zagori is an area with two national parks, and everything from dense forests to craggy mountains and meandering rivers.

44) Peloponnese coastline

The Peloponnese is made up of a wide peninsula connected by bridge to the mainland. It is rich with history and culture, but the coastline of sandy coves and thick lush forests is reason enough to visit. Having said that, the intriguing Diroscaves should definitely be explored too.

45) The Santorini Caldera

Climbing cliff faces form a bowl around ferries coming in to Santorini. Red, yellow and ochre rock create this formation, which seems like something from another world.

46) Mount Athos

A UNESCO World Heritage Site on a northern Greek peninsula, Mount Athos is a holy site where only Eastern Orthodox men over 18 can live, and then only as workers or monks. Visitors can thankfully still look around.

47) Mount Olympus

This mountain is home to 12 gods according to Greek myth, which says the mountain was created after a great triumph against villainous titans.

48) Samaria Gorge

A Cretan natural wonder which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Greece.

49) Rhenia Island

An uninhabited Greek island that you can visit on a boat tour. This is a great experience and the island really feels undiscovered when you arrive.

50) Kastania’s Cave

An amazing cave full of stalactites and stalagmites which was only discovered in the 20th century.

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About Darren

Darren is the master in chief of all things Villa Hunters and is dedicated to bringing you the best content from around the web on Greece. You can follow us on twitter (@VillaHunters) or subscribe to our email updates using the box above.

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