25 Best Things to Do in Greece
Traveling through Greece is an experience everyone should have. The entire country is spectacularly beautiful, from the massive cliffs of Meteori in the north with ancient Orthodox churches perched on high to the Peloponnesus peninsula covered with orange groves to the absolutely spectacular islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea like so many colorful pearls. If nature is not enough, there are thousands of years of history and civilization that left behind entire cities and magnificent temples such as the Acropolis. Photo: sognolucido/Fotolia
Elia is one of the biggest sandy beaches on Mykonos Island; it is well managed and known for being gay-friendly. You will notice the rainbow flag at the right side of the beach as you face the sea. Especially popular is the area between the flag and water sports rental shops. That is also the part of the beach with the best sand, both outside and inside the water. Towards the end of the beach, beyond the rainbow flag and beyond the rocky outcrop, is an almost entirely gay beach.
Farther behind is a smaller sandy cove. The beach is well equipped with umbrellas, beach chairs, and fairly good food and drinks service. Arte and Mare Resort has a restaurant where you can order a hot meal and drinks – a runner will deliver right to your lounge chair. Elia Beach is generally quiet in the morning with people arriving around lunchtime and leaving in the evening.
Antonis Benakis established the Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization in 1930 to honor his father Emmanuel Benakis. The main collection, which focuses on Greek civilization and culture spanning the entire history of the country, is located in the Benakis family mansion in Athens. Other museum collections such as a large collection of Asian art, Islamic art, and Chinese porcelain and toys now occupy their own exhibit spaces.
The permanent collections contain more than 40,000 pieces of art from times of antiquity: the times of Roman domination and the medieval Byzantine period until the establishment of the modern Greek state. Some parts of the museum's collections have travelled all over the world thanks to the partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.
Contact: Koumpari 1, Athina 106 74, Greece, Phone: +30-21-0367-1000
Photo: Benaki Museum
With rugged mountains, ancient olive groves, sparkling white sandy beaches, and an incredibly clear blue sea, Corfu is one of the most beautiful Greek islands and certainly one of the most popular. Coveted for centuries for its location in the Ionian Sea and at times under British, Venetian, and French control, Corfu shows its mixed heritage and cultural influences in architecture and art.
It is cosmopolitan and has some of the most lavish resorts in the area. You will find plenty of vivacious towns such as Paleokastritsa, Kassiopi, Sidari, and Acharavi. The Old Town Corfu is declared a UNESCO Heritage Cite and is a delightful mix of influences with two enormous Venetian fortresses, lovely narrow medieval lanes, an ornate French-style arcade, and the spectacular grand Palace of St. Michael and St. George.
»Cycladic Art Museum
The Athens's Museum of Cycladic Art promotes and studies ancient cultures of the Aegean region and Cyprus, focusing especially on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium BC. The museum was founded in 1986 with the collection of Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris and has grown significantly with additional donations and acquisitions. The Cycladic civilization thrived throughout the central Aegean in the Early Bronze Age, 3rd millennium BC.
The museum has one of the world's most comprehensive and largest collections of Cycladic antiquities, with a number of significant marble vases and figurines, bronze tools, and weapons as well as pottery.
Contact: Neofitou Douka 4, Athina 106 74, Greece, Phone: +30-21-0722-8321
Photo: imagIN photography/Fotolia
»Things to Do in Greece: Delphi Theatre
If you are lucky to visit Delphi in the summer and go to the theatre to listen to a concert or watch a play, it will thrill you to think that people have been sitting in the same seats, row after a row, since the 4th century B.C. Made of beautiful Mount Parnassus limestone, the theatre has been wonderfully preserved and offers a spectacular view of the entire Delphi sanctuary where the ancient Oracle offered advice to the Greeks on their affairs.
The surrounding olive groves are equally beautiful. Restored and added to many times, the theatre could seat more than 5000 people in its time. On the same hill a little lower is another important Greek archeological treasure, the Temple of Apollo.
»Athens Food Tours
Greece is famous for its fantastic food, and coming to Athens is a wonderful opportunity to get an authentic taste of Greek's wonderful delicacies. Away from large, noisy, and touristy restaurants, Athens Food Tours will take you to the places where local Greeks eat.
Food experts passionate about what they do will take you in a small group to the hidden little eateries, the famous Varvakeios Food Market, colorful and fragrant spice shops, and other specialty shops, butchers, bakers, sweet shops, pie shops, and olive merchants. You will learn about the history, spices, and ingredients of many famous dishes and the origin of the popular Mediterranean Diet. This leisurely three-hour walking tour will allow you to see Athens from a completely different view and enjoy a glimpse into the lives of your Greek hosts. The tour starts and ends near Monastiraki Square and the famous Athens Flea Market.
Contact: Korai, Athina 105 64, Greece, Phone: +30-21-0884-6184
Photo: Athens Food Tours
»Things to Do in Greece: Goulandris Natural History Museum
Located in Kifisia, a northeastern suburb of Athens, the Goulandris Museum of Natural History was founded in 1965 by Angelos and Niki Goulandris to promote people's interest in the natural sciences and to raise the awareness of the need to protect Greece's natural habitats and species. The museum has significant collections of Greek mammals, insects, birds, shells, reptiles, minerals, rocks, and fossils.
The botanical collections have more than 200.000 species of plants, with 145 newly discovered ones. The museum is great fun for kids as it also has a 7.16-meter replica of Triceratops, life-sized replicas of a zebra, giraffe, and a white rhino, and a great collection of ancient fossils. One of the most popular exhibits is the Gaia Centre, which shows how modern people have affected the development and "behavior" of planet Earth.
Contact: Levidou 13, Kifisia 145 62, Greece, Phone: +30-21-0801-5870
Photo: Goulandris Natural History Museum
»Greek Islands Tours
If you are not the adventurous type and like to travel in comfort yet still see as much as possible, trust Greeka to organize your Greek Islands tour and take care of all the details – you just enjoy the experience. Most of their tours start at Athens, but some begin in Rhodes, Santorini, or Mykonos.
They take care of hotels and transportation, and they make sure you get to see the best parts of your destination. Their trips vary from three-days trips to romantic Santorini, Paros, or Mykonos to fifteen-day tours of the magnificent Cyclades islands that will take you Milos, Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros. Whatever your budget, interest, or age, they will make your trip an unforgettable experience.
Photo: Greek Islands Tours
»Things to Do in Greece: Kefalonia
The largest island of the Greek Ionian Sea, Kefalonia is lush and green. Pine, cypress, and ancient olive trees cover the slopes of Mt. Ainos, while lush vineyards grow plump grapes at the mountain base, producing a popular Robola wine.
The beaches all around the island are wonderful, with soft bright white sand and clear blue-green waters that hide a mesmerizing underwater world perfect for snorkeling or diving. Look for rare sea turtles that take refuge in Kefalonia waters or playful monk seals. You can sit on the beach or explore medieval villages, castles, and monasteries, stopping on your way in small village taverns to sample typical Kefalonia delicacies. Try to find the time to visit the cave lake of Melissani, a spectacular and almost unearthly site.
Located in the vast Naoussa Bay, Kolimbithres is one of the most beautiful and famous beaches on Paros Island. The beach has huge granite blocks formed into strange smooth shapes by centuries of sea and wind erosion. The beach is made of many small sandy coves that lay one after another, so at times you get the illusion that you have your own private beach.
Some of the beaches have water sports, umbrellas, and sun bed rental facilities. On the way to the beach along the road, you can find several taverns and beach bars. The beach can be reached by car, bus, or by small fishing boats from Naoussa Port. On the hill overlooking Kolymbithres beach is an archeological site with the remains of the Mycenaean Acropolis from the 13th century BC.
One of the largest of the Dodecanese islands, Kos is a popular tourist destination in the south-eastern Aegean Sea not far from the Turkish coast. While tourists are attracted by some of the most beautiful of all the Greek beaches, the island is a fascinating mix of massive crags, lush valleys covered with wildflowers, ancient olive groves, and remnants of antique monument such as Odeon, gymnasium, Asclepeion, and many others that, often unguarded and ignored, poke through the wilderness.
Kos is a lively tourist spot with great hotels, a famous bar street, and busy harbor. It also has a massive medieval castle standing guard over it as well as a fascinating archeological zone with precious ancient artifacts.
Lindos is an incredibly charming medieval village on the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands, an important archaeological site, a popular tourist destination, and one of Greek's national treasures. It is one of those rare places where no large hotels are allowed, and the narrow cobblestoned streets are traffic-free. The entire village is full of whitewashed houses that resemble sugar cubes clinging to the sides of the hill, with the massive ancient Lindos Acropolis at its top.
Some of the most important parts of Acropolis are the Doric Temple of Athena, the relief of a Rhodian Trireme, the Propylaea of the Sanctuary, Castle of the Knights of St John, the Greek Orthodox Church of St John, and a second century Hellenistic staircase. Among the medieval walls there are narrow lanes with taverns, bars, and restaurants, many set on the rooftop gardens. A fascinating mix of Roman, Italian, Turkish, and Byzantine influence is evident everywhere in the Lindos.
»Things to Do in Greece: Meteora
Far from the sea at the northern end of Greece near the town of Kalambaka is a very different Greece. Massive vertical cliffs of Meteora soar 1200 feet into the sky, representing humans' attempt to reach the Divine. On top of the high cliffs are Christian Orthodox monasteries built between 14th and 16th centuries by monks who lived in the local caves as hermits for centuries. Of twenty-four austere monasteries, only four survived the ravages of nature and still serve their purpose to the monks, who want to live in perfect isolation, peace, and harmony and hope for spiritual elevation.
This is becoming increasingly difficult with the influx of tourists taking bus and train tours, but monks are invariably patient and welcoming. The visits become much more than just another tour – they are almost a kind of pilgrimage regardless of visitors' faith. Tourists cannot reach all monasteries, but those that can be visited inspire awe and immense respect for people who built such incredible structures and continue to live in simplicity and dignity. One way of really enjoying the whole Meteora complex is by taking a hiking tour that is strenuous and not for the faint of heart, but it is an absolutely spectacular experience.
Photo: Iakov Kalinin/Fotolia
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Located on the easternmost peninsula of Chalcidice in the Aegean Sea in northern Greece, Mount Athos has been the spiritual heart of the Christian Orthodox church since 1054, enjoying an autonomous statute since its formation until today. The Holy Mountain, now home to about 1400 monks, is forbidden to women and children. It is also recognized as an artistic site, and its school of painting widely influenced the history of Orthodox art as far as Russia. The whole mountain is densely covered by lush Mediterranean forest with small farms in between, and they are regularly farmed by monks.
The monasteries of Athos, works of art in and of themselves with their unique architecture, are also immensely rich conservatories of art masterpieces with 1290 wall paintings by Manuel Panselinos and 1560 painting by Frangos and priceless portable icons, embroideries, gold pieces, and illuminated manuscripts. Unfortunately, only monks are allowed to visit Mount Athos. Some men can visit with a special permit, while women and children have to be satisfied by cruising around and taking in the spectacular landscapes of nature and architecture living in harmony.
Photo: Sergii Figurnyi/Fotolia
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Mykonos is a lovely Greek island in the Cyclades that is now a glamorous tourist destination with cruise ships, gay communities, and tourists looking for an enjoyable outing. With its rich history and fascinating mythology, Mykonos has had its ups and downs. Many armies have occupied and fought over it many times, until it became one of the poorest areas in the region until tourists discovered its magnificent beaches and charming towns.
Originally, it was discovered by artists always on the lookout for scenic and beautiful scenery. The gay community later came in search of the secluded coves, excellent restaurants, and hip hotels. The cruise ships stop in the area year round, even when everyone else leaves and sharp winds start blowing. At times, up to 15,000 people come to visit Mykonos' quaint shops and taverns.
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»Things to Do in Greece: Myrtos Beach
One of the most beautiful and the most photographed beaches in Greece, Myrtos Beach is located on Kefalonia Island in the Ionian Sea about 30km north of the town of Argostoli. A wide stretch of fine white sand and smooth pebbles, the beach is close to massive hills covered by dense Mediterranean vegetation that plunge into the azure sea.
Easily accessible by the road, the beach is often busy with visitors who do not mind the steep walk down the hill and want to appreciate the magnificent views that stretch all the way to the horizon. Most of the beach is well equipped with lounge chairs and umbrellas, and a charming little bar offering refreshments. There is a small part of the beach that remains completely unspoiled, perfect for those looking for a bit of isolation.
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Mystras is a fortified ancient town in Laconia on the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece. The town is located on Mt. Taygetos near ancient Sparta. During the Byzantine era, Mystras was the second most important town after Constantinople.
Today an important archeological site, the town is famous for its medieval castle on top of the hill and several magnificent Byzantine churches with unique architecture and precious frescoes. Below the castle is the contemporary village that offers modest accommodation for tourists. The whole area is full of scenic hiking paths beckoning visitors to discover Mystras' hidden natural treasures and magnificent vistas.
Photo: Ivonne Wierink/Fotolia
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»National Archaeological Museum of Athens
Founded at the end of the 19th century to protect antiquities discovered all over Greece, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the most important world museums devoted to ancient Greek art and the largest museum of archeology in Greece. The original purpose of the museum was to protect and showcase the finds from the excavations in and around Athens conducted in 19th century, but the museum grew to become the country's main archaeological museum with more than 11,000 exhibits.
The exhibits provide a wide panorama of Greek civilization from Prehistory to Late Antiquity. The museum is housed in a huge 19th century neoclassical building designed by L. Lange. The exhibition space with its numerous galleries covers 8,000 square meters, and it houses five main permanent collections: The Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities, the Sculptures Collection, the Vase and Minor Objects Collection, the Stathatos Collection, and the Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection.
Contact: 28is Oktovriou 44, Athina 106 82, Greece, Phone: +30-21-3214-4800
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»Things to Do in Greece: National Gallery
Located in downtown Athens, the National Art Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum was established in 1878 in its original form with a small collection of 117 paintings from Athens University. In 1896, art lover and jurist Alexandros Soutzos gifted his estate and entire art collection to the Government of Greece with the goal of creating a major national art museum. The museum opened its doors in 1900.
It has changed its form and location several times and has existed in its present form since 1976. With more than 9,500 paintings, engravings, and sculptures, it is today the most important Greek art institution focused on the history of important Greek and Western European art. Greek art covers eras from the 14th to the 20th century – from post-Byzantine times to modern Greece. Of European art, the most significant is the collection of Renaissance art.
Contact: 50 Vassileos Konstantinou, Athens 115 28, Greece, Phone: +30-21-0723-5937
Photo: Roman Sigaev/Fotolia
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»Parthenon and Acropolis
Located on the Acropolis, a hill overlooking the city of Athens that is now very much a part of it, the Parthenon is one of the most famous and recognizable monuments in the world and the symbol of Greece. The Parthenon of today is what is left of the magnificent temple to the Greek goddess Athena, the patron of the City of Athens.
The Parthenon was designed in the Doric style by the famous sculptor Phidias at the order of the founder of Athens politician Pericles, who was accredited with starting what is known as the "Golden Age of Greece." The temple was completed in 438 BCE, and its architectural style with huge Doric pillars has had an influence on significant public buildings all over the world ever since. Most of the treasures from the Acropolis were taken by Lord Elgin and taken to England, where they are displayed in the British Museum.
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Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea near the Turkish coast, rich with rugged mountains that slope almost vertically into the azure sea and are covered by lush Mediterranean vegetation and broken by scenic wooded valleys. The island is popular for its modern beach resorts, excellent water sports and ancient ruins, some of which are remains from the Crusades during the occupation by the Knights of St. John.
The Old Town in the City of Rhodes features the medieval Street of the Knights and the imposing Palace of the Grand Masters, today a history museum. The island has a number of picturesque villages with traditional whitewashed houses. Lindos is famous for its spectacular beach and an ancient acropolis on top of the hill. Kamiros has remains of an ancient clifftop settlement that is now an archaeological site. Magnificent gardens and forests surround Ialysos's Monastery of Filerimos. One of the most popular beaches on the island is Faliraki Beach with a range of water activities, while Prasonisi is a popular windsurfing destination.
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»Things to Do in Greece: Samaria Gorge
Located on the island of Crete in the White Mountains, the gorge of Samaria is part of the National park of Samaria established in 1962 and the Biosphere Reserve. A fairly small river that runs between the White Mountains and Mt. Volakias formed it. The gorge is closed to visitors during the winter rainy months when it sometimes fills with fast running water. This spectacular gorge is a very popular tourist destination, and it gets very crowded at times even though it takes up to seven hours to cross it and requires a certain level of fitness.
The gorge is 16 km long, starting at 1230 meters altitude, and it takes you down to the coast of the Libyan Sea in the village of Agia Roumeli. The most interesting part of the gorge is the narrow stretch called the Gates or Iron Gates where the gorge narrows to only four meters, soaring to a height of 980 feet. The gorge is a refuge for the rare Cretan goat kri-kri, which lives only in the park and a small island off the shore of Agia Marina. The gorge is home to several other rare and endemic species and many species of Mediterranean flowers and birds.
Contact: Old National Road Chanion-Kissamou, Lefka Ori (White Mountains), Sfakia, Crete 730 05, Greece, Phone: +30-2821-045570
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Santorini has it all: spectacular rugged landscape with multicolored cliffs that drop 300 feet almost vertically into the dark blue sea, 4000 years old history with ancient ruins on every step, and the legend of Atlantis lost at the bottom of the sea, serene vineyards that produce fantastic wines, picturesque villages with typical white houses, and spectacular beaches where smooth lava pebbles come in a rainbow of colors.
The island has a crescent shape after one of the world's biggest volcano eruptions of all times. Exceedingly popular with visitors, Santorini has something for everyone. Its timeless beauty has attracted artists for centuries, and many of them made it their home. Stroll through the narrow, steep streets of the lovely towns of Fira and Oia (which cling to steep cliffs), visit galleries, taverns, and bars, or hike the rugged hills and enjoy the view all the way to Turkey and another continent across the water.
Photo: science photo/Fotolia
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»What to Do in Greece: Santorini Red Beach
Santorini's volcanic origin resulted in many truly spectacular beaches on the island, but Red Beach stands out. Located just steps from ancient Akrotiri, this small beach attracts huge crowds, although accessing it requires a bit of hike down the steep slope. Some people prefer to avoid the crowds and just stay on the headland to enjoy the view of the colorful cliffs that erode into millions of colorful red, black, and gray pebbles that make Red Beach so popular.
If you do not want to hike, you can hire a boat from the Akrotiri port. The beach is well organized and offers visitors umbrellas and lounge chairs. The colorful rocks are also under water, so snorkeling is a fantastic pastime. Some people go diving in search of the legendary Atlantis that is said to have vanished in the volcanic caldera just off Santorini coast.
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»Things to See in Greece: The Temple of Poseidon
Perched high up on top of Sounion hill and sacred since prehistoric times is the temple of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, forever watching over the cobalt blue waters of the Aegean. Sounion Hill stands at the southernmost point of Attica, which is a short drive from Athens and is rich in myths and legends. According to one, King Aegeus drowned himself in the waters below Sounions, and another says King Menelaus and his ship dropped anchor there on their way from Troy.
The magnificent temple built in the fifth century BCE was part of an ambitious building campaign of Athens' administrator Perikles. The same architect who designed Hephaisetion in Agora probably designed this temple as well. Decorative sculptures made of marble from Paros Island depict Theseus and battles between Giants and Centaurs. Poseidon's temple was built at the site of a much older sacred location of the Bronze Age, but not much is left of it. Watching the sunset from the hill between massive Doric columns always makes for a memorable experience.
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25 Best Things to Do in Greece
- Elia Beach, Photo: Courtesy of sognolucido - Fotolia.com
- Benaki Museum, Photo: Benaki Museum
- Corfu Island, Photo: Courtesy of lukaszimilena - Fotolia.com
- Cycladic Art Museum, Photo: Courtesy of imagIN photography - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Greece: Delphi Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of Nedelia - Fotolia.com
- Athens Food Tours, Photo: Athens Food Tours
- Things to Do in Greece: Goulandris Natural History Museum, Photo: Goulandris Natural History Museum
- Greek Islands Tours, Photo: Greek Islands Tours
- Things to Do in Greece: Kefalonia, Photo: Courtesy of adisa - Fotolia.com
- Kolymbithres Beach, Photo: Courtesy of jsk12 - Fotolia.com
- Kos, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Lindos, Photo: Courtesy of r_andrei - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Greece: Meteora, Photo: Courtesy of Iakov Kalinin - Fotolia.com
- Mount Athos, Photo: Courtesy of Sergii Figurnyi - Fotolia.com
- Mykonos, Photo: Courtesy of lukaszimilena - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Greece: Myrtos Beach, Photo: Courtesy of WitR - Fotolia.com
- Mystras, Photo: Courtesy of Ivonne Wierink - Fotolia.com
- National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Photo: Courtesy of lexan - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Greece: National Gallery, Photo: Courtesy of Roman Sigaev - Fotolia.com
- Parthenon and Acropolis, Photo: Courtesy of tanyaeroko - Fotolia.com
- Rhodes, Photo: Courtesy of gurgenb - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Greece: Samaria Gorge, Photo: Courtesy of CCat82 - Fotolia.com
- Santorini, Photo: Courtesy of science photo - Fotolia.com
- What to Do in Greece: Santorini Red Beach, Photo: Courtesy of smallredgirl - Fotolia.com
- Things to See in Greece: The Temple of Poseidon, Photo: Courtesy of WitR - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sognolucido - Fotolia.com
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