The land of Greece is one infused with ancient mythology and if you like archeology, history, art, and philosophy then a trip to this fascinating country is not to be missed. Greece is made up of a series of idyllic islands that are surrounded by jet blue seas and covered in dainty white buildings, and you will also find crumbling ruins, engaging museums, and pretty coastal towns aplenty.
From throbbing cities like Athens to a slower pace of life in little villages by the sea, Greece is a mosaic of different experiences and landscapes, as well as one of the world’s largest open air museums.
Here are the best things to do in Greece:
1. Tour the Acropolis
Dominating the skyline of the capital city of Greece, Athens, is the Acropolis.
If you are in Greece then this is probably the number one attraction not to miss and the complex, made from glittering marble, used to be the site of the famous statue of Athena who was also the goddess of Athens.
Anyone remotely interested in ancient architecture can marvel at the Doric columns and the spectacular temples and the Acropolis is lined with pathways that let you walk around at your leisure and enjoy the highlight of this monument which is the stunning Parthenon.
2. Climb Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is probably one of the most famous mountains in the world and if you are a fan of Greek mythology then this is not be missed off your itinerary.
If you want to climb the mountain then you will need to travel to Litochoro where you can trek part or all the way to the top depending on your ability and fitness levels.
Mount Olympus is known in Greek mythology as the spot where Zeus sat on his throne as well as the place where Hades ruled the Underworld, so as you climb you can imagine the legends that are interconnected with this mountain.
3. Uncover Lake Plastira
Lake Plastira is something unusual in Greece which is known for being blessed with a plethora of natural beauty.
What makes this lake different is that it is manmade although this doesn’t make it any less impressive.
The lake is surrounded by oak and chestnut trees and you can go canoeing or rafting here as well as horse riding or hiking along the trails around the lake.
Lake Plastira is located in the Larditsa region of Greece and offers an adventure filled afternoon.
4. Admire the architecture in Santorini
Santorini is also known as the island of Thira and is the haven of honeymooners looking to get away from it all in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Santorini is known for its picture postcard good looks which see it covered in traditional Cycladic homes which gleam white under the hot Greek sun and contrast beautifully with the deep blue seas and churches.
Walking around the island gives you the chance to take in all the spectacular architecture here and because the landscape is formed by a volcanic crater you can expect some of the most spectacular views in all of Greece.
5. Visit the Delphi
Delphi has the claim to fame of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the top attractions in Greece.
Delphi sits on the sides of Mount Parnassus and was a popular pilgrimage spot in the days of old for those who would come here to pay homage to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of healing, music, light, and prophecy.
Followers would come here to seek guidance from the Oracle at Delphi and nowadays you will find temples, an impressive stadium, a theater, and delightful ancient ruins.
Delphi is located around 180 kilometers away from the capital city of Athens, so this makes a good place to come if you want to get out of the city and explore a different area of Greece.
6. Explore the Samaria Gorge
Nestled on the stunning island of Crete is the Samaria Gorge which is a must-visit for any nature lovers to Greece.
The gorge spans 16 kilometers although parts of it are just 4 meters wide.
There are a range of treks available at the gorge although if you want to walk along the entire section then it can take anything up to seven hours.
7. Discover the Acropolis Museum
One of the most popular modern attractions in Athens is the Acropolis Museum which opened in 2009. You will know the building when you see it as it’s made of cutting edge glass and steel and houses some of the most famous artifacts in Greece.
Some of the signature pieces in the museum include the Moschophoros which is a statue of a man with a calf on his shoulders and the Parthenon marbles.
The museum is also known for its cafe which has a terrace that looks across to the breathtaking Acropolis.
8. Marvel at the Epidaurus Theater
In Epidaurus in the region of Argolis is the Epidaurus Theater, a ceremonial space that is dedicated to the famous god of medicine, Asclepius.
The Sanctuary of Asclepius is located next to the theater, and you can visit both at the same time.
The theater dates from the 4th century and you can sit in the stone tiers and imagine watching a performance here in the years of old.
9. Visit the monasteries of Meteora
Meteora is known for its monasteries that sit on top of towering rock formations.
The monks that live in the area are Eastern Orthodox and fled to Meteora as a result of the invasion of the Turkish army.
There are 6 monasteries in Meteora, although at one point there would have been over 20, and as a result this is one of the most spectacular religious sites in Greece.
Meteora is crowded with ancient boulders and monolithic pillars and this is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the rock formations offer one of the most haunting and beautiful landscapes in all of Europe.
10. Go spelunking at Melissani Cave
Located near to Karavomilo is Melissani Cave which is a craggy cave known for its beauty.
The cave is almost 4 kilometers long and was formed when water eroded the soft rocks over the centuries.
Inside the cave is the equally famous Melissani Lake, an underground body of water that was discovered in 1951. In ancient times the cave was dedicated to the Nymph Melissani who gave the cave its name.
You can go down into the cave via a tunnel and then go out on the lake and glide across the turquoise waters on a boat.
11. Admire Hephaestus Temple
Located in the charming Thissio neighborhood of Athens is the Hephaestus Temple.
As with all temples in Greece, this one is dedicated to the gods, in this case Hephaestus who was the god of fire and Athena, the goddess of pottery and ancient crafts.
The temple dates from 450 BC and sits atop Agoreao Koronos Hill.
Designed by the same architect who worked on the Pantheon, Hephaestus Temple is known for its pretty columns and its Pentelic and Parian marble decorations.
You will also find friezes and sculptures dotting the building which is said to be one of the most historically important in all of Greece.
12. Marvel at the Corinth Canal
One of the most amazing feats of engineering in Greece is the Corinth Canal.
It took centuries to build and was started by Nero, the ancient Roman emperor, before finally being finished under the French as late as the 19th century.
The canal is sliced into a section of rock and spans 6 kilometers with sides that soar up to 90 meters.
The canal is still in working order and you can catch ships traveling if you happen to be here at the right time.
One of the other main attractions on the canal is the Zulu Bungy Jump which is certainly not for those who don’t have a head for heights but is also an amazing way to take in all the majesty of the canal.
13. Learn some history at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
If you are in Thessaloniki then make sure not to miss a trip to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki which is owned by the Ministry of Culture.
The building it is housed in dates from 1962 and is a modern Greek treasure in itself and is a wonderful example of new architecture in Greece.
At the museum you will find artifacts from Macedonia, an ancient civilization of Greece (not to be confused with the country of the same name!) which are separated into seven sections that you can walk through and tell the story of this part of the country.
14. Get a head for heights at Mount Athos
Sitting on the Chalcidice Peninsula is Mount Athos which has long been considered a place of great importance in Greek history.
The mount is the home of 20 monasteries that dot its scenic slopes and this is a central point of worship in Eastern Christian Orthodox faith.
The most amazing thing about the monasteries here is that they are still in full working order and this makes them the oldest monastic community in the world today.
One thing to note here is that, due to ancient laws that govern the area, only male visitors can enter the monastery areas.
15. Explore the Palace of Malia
The Palace of Malia in Malia dates from 1900 BC although it has been rebuilt several times since then following a range of natural disasters like earthquakes.
There are a variety of exhibitions halls here as well as photographic galleries and scale models of how the complex would have looked in days gone by.
Look out for some of its signature pieces such as the Kernos Stone which is a disk with 24 holes in it.
16. Enjoy Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth is even more impressive as it sits in a village that highlights the difference between modern day surroundings and these ancient ruins which are a mix of Roman and Greek relics.
If you like your history then this used to be the home of Jason of the Argonauts (who stole the Golden Fleece). Some of the highlights here are the Temple of Apollo as well as the Peribolos of Apollo and an ancient theater.
There is also a museum where you can learn more about the history.
Much of the complex is Roman but one Greek addition is the Doric Temple of Apollo that dates from the 5th century.
17. Visit the ancient site of Phaestos
Phaestos sits around 60 kilometers from Iralkio and offers you stunning vistas over the Messara Plain and Mount Psiloritis.
Phaestos is a ruined palatial city and the palace here is similar to Knossos.
The big draw here is the fact that the city is still in a mostly ruined state which adds an other-worldly charm to it and you will also find some pretty frescoes here.
The whole site is one big history lesson and you can explore areas such as the theater, the main palace buildings, the storerooms, and even the crypt.
18. Enjoy the myths and legends at Ancient Mycenae
Mycenae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was made famous in Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Homer claimed that Mycenae was built by Perseus who was the son of Zeus and Danae and it belonged to the Royal House of Atreus.
Whatever the real story, we know that Mycenae was founded in the 6th century BC and some of the highlights here include the mighty Lion Gate and the royal cemetery.
You will also find the Agamemnon Palace and the Great Court as well as smaller houses that contained famous artifacts like the Warrior Vase.
19. Learn some history at the Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust
If you are in Kalavryta then make sure to visit this museum which is also the only holocaust museum in Greece.
The museum is designed to honor the residents of this city who were attacked and killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The museum sits inside a former schoolhouse which is where many residents lost their lives and you will find galleries here that include personal possessions of the victims as well as photographs of Kalavryta through the ages.
20. Relax on Balos Beach
Located on the scenic Gramvousa Peninsula on the island of Crete is the legendary Balos Beach which makes one of the best places to relax and enjoy the surf in Greece.
The beach is made up of delightful lagoons that open up onto azure waters and it is so clear here that you will be able to see a plethora of underwater life in the form of fish and shellfish.
You can rent sun beds and parasols and this is one o the prettiest spots on Crete to spend some time sunbathing or swimming.
21. Enjoy the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil
Located in Othonos Amalias in Patras is the delightful Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil which can come as a refreshing change if you have been visiting ruins, temples, and historical museums throughout your time in Greece.
The museum tells the story of the humble olive and how it became one of the most important ingredients in Greek life.
You can visit galleries that will explain how olive oil was used for fuel and in perfume, and there are a variety of ancient oil presses that are still in working order.
22. Visit the Vergina Royal Tombs Museum
The Vergina Royal Tombs Museum in Macedonia is not to be missed if you are in the area as you can visit the tumulus here, which are the ancient burial mounds, and go down into the royal tombs located underground.
The highlight here is the tomb of Phillip II which dates from 336 BC and you will also be able to see the items that he was buried with in preparation for the afterlife including a shield made of gold and ivory, a suit of armor, and silver chalices.
23. Hike the Corfu Trail
The stunning island of Corfu is home to the Corfu Trail where you can go hiking, although don’t imagine a leisurely afternoon stroll.
If you want to walk all 220 kilometers of the trail then it will take 8 to 10 days to walk along it and you will pass all kinds of landscapes along the way.
Much of the trail is made up of dirt tracks and you will weave past turquoise lagoons and rise to scenic summits.
24. Museum of Contemporary Art
Greece is often thought of as a place of antiquity, but if you want to explore its modern side then head to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Hora.
Here you will find some amazing galleries that showcase a whole range of world-renowned contemporary artists and there are also exhibits that are dedicated solely to Greek painters, sculptors, and photographers.
25. Sunbathe in style at Psarou Beach
Psarou Beach in Mykonos is one of the most famous in Greece and is known for its signature blue sun loungers.
There is always a strong party atmosphere here and the beach is covered with bars and restaurants so you can order food and drinks and dance the night away.
This is not one of the cheapest places to visit in Greece however and you will be able to get a sense of the kind of clientele from the amazing super yachts that sit just off shore.