Known as the birthplace of Western Civilization, Greece is a breathtakingly beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. From the stunning landscapes, hundreds of Greek Islands, tasty cuisine, and thousands of years of history. There are so many amazing places to visit in Greece, from the iconic whitewashed villages to the ancient Greek ruins, there is truly something for everyone in this incredible country.
Best Places to Visit in Greece
Greece is full of natural beauty and there are many amazing places to visit in Greece. Below is a list of the top 16 places to consider visiting on your next Greek vacation.
1. Santorini – The Most Popular Greek Island
Santorini is the island that most people picture when they think of Greece. The island was created by volcanic activity, which gives it dramatic cliffs overlooking a beautiful caldera in the Aegean Sea.
Santorini is one of the best places to visit in Greece. The whitewashed villages of Oia and Imerovigli are dotted with white Cycladic houses and blue dome churches and overlook the caldera. There are many luxury accommodations on Santorini that offer suites with jacuzzis overlooking the sea, making it ideal for a honeymoon or a luxurious vacation. While the island is known for being expensive, it is also completely possible to visit Santorini on a budget.
Santorini is more than just a beautiful place, and there are so many things to do in Santorini from visiting the wineries, hiking the cliffside path from Fira to Oia, or exploring the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. The highlight of Santorini is seeing its incredible sunset, which is famously known as one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The best place to view this sunset is from a boat tour on the Aegean Sea.
2. Athens – Best Place to Learn History of the Ancient Greeks
The Greek capital has over 3,000 years worth of history, making Athens a city worth visiting. One of the best things to do in Athens is to visit the Acropolis, an ancient city that consists of several ancient temples, such as the iconic Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion. There are also several other historical sites scattered throughout the city, such as the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Panathenaic Stadium.
Athens has an incredible history, but it also has so much more to offer. The city is vibrant and lively, full of culture, exciting nightlife, and delicious Greek food. One of the best neighborhoods to explore is Plaka, a picturesque neighborhood with boutique shops and traditional Greek tavernas. Athens is easily one of the best places to visit in Greece.
3. Naxos – Best Greek Island for Beautiful Beaches
Naxos is an amazing place to visit in Greece. The Cycladic island is a natural beauty, known for its long sandy beaches, picturesque villages, historical sites, delicious Greek food, and scenic views.
The main city of Chora (also referred to as Naxos City), is filled with boutique shops and restaurants serving up some traditional Greek food. This is a good area to stay, and then go exploring around other parts of the island.
Throughout the island of Naxos, you’ll find many charming villages that are worth exploring. Many of these historic villages offer scenic views of the island. You’ll also find many important historic sites such as the Portara (ancient Greek Temple of Apollo) and the Apano Kastro, the ruins of an ancient castle.
Naxos is one of the best places to visit in Greece for beaches. There are many golden sandy beaches across the island. Some of the best beaches to visit in Naxos include Plaka Beach, Agios Georgios Beach, and Agios Prokopios Beach.
4. Paros – A Hidden Gem Cyclades Island
Paros is a picturesque island in the Aegean Sea, known for its white-washed seaside villages and beautiful beaches. Paros is a beautiful, tranquil Cycladic island and is one of the best places to visit in Greece.
Paros is often overlooked by travelers, who flock to Santorini and Mykonos, making it a hidden gem island to visit in Greece. However, the island of Paros is starting to gain in popularity in recent years.
Some of the best things to do in Paros is to wander through the traditional, seaside villages and try some delicious Greek food. Other highlights on the island include visiting the historic Byzantine church Panagia Ekatontapiliani or exploring the Monastiri beach and Paros Park.
5. Crete – Best Island for Ancient History
Crete is the largest island in Greece and is home to stunning beaches, picturesque coastal towns, great hiking spots, and plenty of history. The large size of Crete makes it one of the best places to visit in Greece for a road trip.
Heraklion is the biggest city in Crete and is where the main ferry port and airport are located. It is worth staying in Heraklion to visit Knossos Palace, which was once home to the ancient Minoans in 1600 BCE. The important historical sites in Crete make it one of the best places to visit in Greece for ancient ruins.
Another must-visit city in Crete is the lovely coastal town of Chania. Located in the northwest corner, China is one of the prettiest places in Crete and is known for its beautiful 14th-century Venetian Harbor. Along the harbor, you’ll see colorful buildings and waterfront restaurants. It makes for the perfect place to stay while in Crete.
The best part of Crete is that it has an average of 300 sunny days per year, making it an ideal place to visit in Greece for a vacation. Throughout the island, are stunning beaches with white sand and turquoise waters, such as Elafonissi Beach and Balos Beach.
6. Meteora – Incredible Scenery
Meteora is one of the most fascinating places in Greece. Located in central Greece, Meteora consists of unique pillar-rock formations. On top of these rock formations are monasteries that were miraculously built by monks between the 14th and 16th centuries. It is a true wonder how the monks managed to build these expansive monasteries without any help from modern technology. There once were as many as 24 monasteries in Meteora, however, only 6 remain today and are open to visitors.
Visiting Meteora is a truly unique experience in Greece and unlike any other destination, which makes it one of the best places to visit in Greece. The views from atop the rock formations are incredibly scenic and one of the best things to do is take a sunset tour.
Meteora is around a 4-and-a-half-hour drive north of Athens, but it is worth it to visit this incredible place. To visit, you can either rent a car and spend a night in the nearby town of Kalabaka or opt to take a tour from Athens to Meteora which includes other sites such as Delphi.
7. Milos – An Island with Gorgeous Beaches
In the southern part of the Cyclades islands sits the beautiful island of Milos. Known for its stunning beaches, charming fishing villages, and volcanic landscapes, Milos is one of the best places to visit in Greece.
An interesting fact about this island is that the famous Venus de Milo Statue was originally found on the island of Milos, and now sits in the Louvre in Paris.
In Milos, make sure to visit Sarakiniko Beach, which is a lunar-shaped beach with white cliffs perched amongst the bright turquoise waters. Sarakiniko Beach is one of the most Instagrammable places in Milos due to its unique cliff formations. It is also a popular spot for cliff jumping, swimming, and relaxing.
Another one of the best things to do in Milos is take a sailboat to Kleftiko Beach, which is a cliffside beach only reachable by boat. There are several sailboat tours each day that head to this famous beach.
8. Rhodes – Best Island for History Lovers
The island of Rhodes is located in the eastern part of the Aegean, off the coast of Turkey. Rhodes has an interesting history and was influenced by the Greeks, Turks, and Venetians who once captured the city. This is one of the best places to visit in Greece if you are interested in history.
Rhode’s old town is a medieval town and one of the only remaining towns in Europe that is fully surrounded by fortified walls. One of the best things to do in Rhodes is visit the Palace of the Grand Master and wander around the cobblestone streets of the old town.
Another highlight of Rhodes is the beautiful village of Lindos. The village is scattered with white Cycladic houses and small Greek tavernas. Overlooking the village is the Lindos Acropolis, an impressive ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena. Below the Acropolis is a beautiful beach that is perfect for swimming in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.
9. Mykonos – Greece’s Party Island
Mykonos is one of the most popular places to visit in Greece. The small island has become famous for its luxurious beach clubs and exquisite nightlife. If you are looking for a party paradise, Mykonos is the island for it.
The island has become a hot spot for people from all over the world, including many celebrities. The popularity of Mykonos has also made it quite expensive compared to other places in Greece. Some of the best things to do on the island include visiting the beach clubs, wandering through the boutique shops, and checking out the nightlife.
There is more to Mykonos than its vibrant party scene, as it first became known for its charming seaside villages, whitewashed streets, and iconic Greek windmills. Nearby Mykonos is the ancient site of Delos, which is an incredible place to visit as a day trip from the island.
10. Corfu – Beautiful Ionian Island
The lush, green island of Corfu is located in the Ionian Sea. The island was once conquered by the Venetians, and the historic old town fuses Italian architecture with Greek culture.
The old town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and consists of cobblestone streets and colorful buildings with baroque-style architecture. Some of the best things to do in the old town include exploring the Fortress of Corfu, a historic Venetian fortress. In front of the fortress, is the Spianada Square, one of the most magnificent squares in all of Greece.
Corfu is also known for its stunning beaches, and one of the best ones to visit is the scenic Canal d’Amour. Around the beach, there are several unique rock formations, caves, and hidden coves which make it the perfect place to explore.
11. Kefalonia – Perfect for Nature Lovers
Kefalonia is a breathtakingly beautiful place filled with scenic landscapes and is one of the Ionian islands. Kefalonia is a perfect choice for nature lovers and anyone looking for a tranquil and relaxing island to visit in Greece.
Kefalonia is home to several natural wonders such as the famous Drogarati Cave and the enchanting Cave of Melissani.
Kefalonia also has some postcard-worthy beaches, such as Myrtos Beach and Skala Beach. The beaches feature white sand, stunning cliffs, and turquoise waters that are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the scenic beauty of the island.
12. Zakynthos – Best Island for Natural Beauty
One of the Ionian islands, Zakynthos is a gorgeous island full of pristine beaches, olive trees, and lush landscapes. The island has a lovely harbor city as well as great beaches like Agios Nikolaos Beach.
Zakynthos is most famous for its Navagio Beach, also known as Smuggler’s Cove. This beach is one of the most photographed places in Greece due to a famous shipwreck that sits on the shores. The beach is only accessible by boat, but there are plenty of incredible boat tours that leave from Zakynthos.
Other things to do include visiting the Zakynthos Marine Park which has golden beaches, dunes, and even sea turtles. Zakynthos is also one of the best places to visit in Greece for scuba diving.
13. Delphi – Best Place to Visit Ancient Ruins
Delphi is one of the most important sites of the ancient world, located in the rugged mountains along the slopes of Mt Parnassus. Delphi is one of the best places to visit in Greece to explore ancient ruins and archaeological sites.
Once the home of the mystical Oracle of Delphi, this is one of the best places to visit in Greece for history lovers. The ancient Greeks would travel from faraway land to Delphi, to hear the prophecies told by the Oracle at the Temple of Apollo.
Delphi also held treasuries for important city-states such as Athens and Sparta and this is where they would keep gold and other valuable treasures.
Today, you can visit the archaeological site of Delphi and the Delphi Museum which holds important artifacts that were excavated from the archeological site.
Delphi is located around 2 and a half hours northwest of Athens and is a popular day trip from the Greek capital.
14. Nafplion – The First Capital of Modern-Day Greece
Once the capital city of Greece, Nafplion is a beautiful city in the Peloponnese Peninsula. Sitting on the coast of the Argolic Golf, this is a lovely place to visit in Greece.
As a port city, Nafplion was once ruled by the Venetian Empire and today retains much of its Venetian charm. The pastel-colored buildings resemble Italian architecture and there is plenty of delicious gelato to be had here. The town is beautiful and is easily one of the most romantic towns in Greece.
Overlooking Nafplion is the Fortress of Palamidi, a Venetian fortress and one of the best places to visit in the city. Nafplion is also a great place to stay while taking day trips to significant historical sites such as Corinth, Mycenae, and Epidaurus.
15. Olympia – The Birthplace of the Olympics
The birthplace of the Olympics is found at the archeological site of Olympia, a historic site located in the Peloponnese Peninsula.
The first Olympic Games were held in the Greek city of Olympia back in 776 BCE and were held to honor the Greek Gods. Today, the Olympics are the most famous sporting event in the world, with countries from around the world coming to compete.
In Olympia, you can visit the ancient Olympics site and explore the ruins of the ancient stadium, athletic training areas, and temples that were once dedicated to Zeus and Hara.
16. Thessaloniki – A Hidden Gem of Northern Greece
Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, is a completely underrated travel destination located in northern Greece. This incredible city has so much culture, history, delicious food, and friendly people, yet there are very few tourists as many people skip over Thessaloniki and only see Athens and the Greek Islands.
Thessaloniki has a lot of history and was once a powerful and wealthy city of the Byzantine Empire. Today, there are great historical sites to visit throughout the city such as the famous White Tower. Other must-visit sites include the Roman Forum and the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
The port city also boasts a beautiful harbor and one of the best things to do is wander along the seafront promenade. Not far from the harbor front is the historic Aristotelous Square, which has many restaurants and shops around it.
Getting Around Greece
There are so many must-visit places in Greece, that you’ll easily want to see more than one on your next trip. Luckily, you will discover Greece is relatively easy as the islands and mainland are well connected by flights and ferries.
Most international flights will fly into Athens International Airport, and this is where you will transfer to a domestic flight or the ferry port. Another option is to rent a car and drive around the mainland and the Peloponnese Peninsula.
Most of the larger Greek islands have small airports. As many of the islands are fairly spread out, flying is the fastest way to get to the islands. For example, the popular island of Santorini is around a half-hour flight from Athens but can be several hours by ferry.
Aegean Airlines is the national airline that flies from Athens to the Greek islands and is a well-rated option. There are also budget airlines available such as Sky Express.
One of the most popular ways to get around the Greek islands is by ferry. There are three ferry ports in Athens, but the most popular one is Piraeus. The port in Athens connects to a majority of the island ports, although the ferries mostly run during the high season of June through September.
There are several ferry options from high-speed ferries like Seajets to slower ferries such as Bluestar. One thing to keep in mind is that while the high-speed ferries get you there quicker, they can also have a bumpy ride depending on weather conditions. So, if you are prone to seasickness it is better to take the slower ferries or fly.
Best Time to Visit Greece
As Greece is such a large country, the best time to take a trip to Greece depends on where you plan to go.
The best time to visit the Greek Islands is in late April through early June or September through October. This is because the peak summer months of July and August can be hot, crowded, and expensive. However, to explore the sunny beaches, it is best to visit Greece in the late summer or early fall when the Aegean Sea is warmer. In the winter months, a majority of the Greek islands close down or have limited places open during the off-season.
The capital city of Athens and other places in Greece’s mainland can be visited year-round, although the best weather will still be in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
So Many Reasons to Take a Vacation in Greece!
Greece is an awe-inspiring place full of beautiful destinations. From the best Greek islands that are full of white sandy beaches and traditional villages to the rugged mountains and ancient sites of the mainland, there are so many places to visit in Greece. Greece is a bucket-list destination, and with so many options of where to go, there is sure to be something for everyone to have an incredible Greek vacation.
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Amber is an American who has spent the last decade traversing throughout the incredible countries of Europe. She is a full-time travel writer at Get Lost in Wanderlust who loves visiting beautiful places.