Athens

Athens holds a great number of Greece’s treasured temples and archaeological sites contained within the tourist-friendly historical center. Work your way through the three-kilometer pedestrian path to get to the ancient landscape for which Athens is known.

The welcoming sight of Hadrian’s Arch symbolizes your entry to the city. Nearby is the temple of Zeus, which was one of the biggest temples in Greek antiquity, dating back to the 6th century BC.

You will also chance upon the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the venue for performances during the annual Athens Festival.

Capturing the essence of the capital is the Acropolis of Athens, rising from the center of the city. Visitors can find some of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces within this site, such as the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike.

The New Acropolis Museum boasts interesting finds unearthed from diggings around the Acropolis monuments.

Other eye-catching sights in the area include Areios Pagos, the most ancient court in the world and the Ancient Agora, the center for commerce and politics in ancient Athens.

Downtown Athens is home to the Presidential Mansion and the Panathenaikon Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympic Games.

Heraklion

Heraklion was occupied in the past by many foreign rulers, such as the Arabs, Venetians, and Ottomans.

One of the major urban centers of Greece, Heraklion is the capital and the biggest city of Crete. Crete, found in the southern section of the Aegean Sea, is the largest among the Greek islands.

The city is famous for its historical landmarks that define Heraklion’s cultural diversity. The Venetian fortress of Koules, dominating Heraklion’s Venetian harbor, gazes proudly at the Sea of Crete and is one of the iconic attractions of the city.

Scattered around Heraklion are Turkish and Venetian fountains as well, lending more historic charm to the city squares.

History enthusiasts will not want to miss a visit to Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum, housing several precious finds discovered in and around Crete. On the other hand, the market yields interesting local products, including wine, herbs, honey, and the popular Cretan olive oil.

Most journeys in Crete highlight the historical sites that figured prominently during the Minoan civilization – the period in which the legendary Minos, son of Zeus, ruled Crete. Only a short drive from Heraklion is the archaeological site of Knossos, the heart of the Minoan Age. You can see the ruins of the large and sophisticated Palace of Knossos, which dates back to 2000–1350 BC.

Lesvos

Lesvos offers an untainted view of the Greek islands, devoid of the ill effects of mass tourism. It ranks third among the country’s largest islands and is admired for its rich flora and fauna.

Despite being an industrialized area since the 19th century, Lesvos attracts with its traditional sleepy villages and strong ties to Greek literature. The island was home to the ancient poets Sappho and Alkaios, and 1979 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Odysseas Elytis.

Beyond the soap factories, olive groves, and tanneries, Lesvos makes for a meaningful destination for nature lovers. The Petrified Forest of Lesvos covers sections of Sigri, Eressos, and Antissa, preserving layers of history within its ecosystem that is estimated to be at least 20 million years old. There are six parks in this protected area that are open to visitors.

A visit to the capital, Mytilini, gives travelers a view of one of Greece’s ancient cities where traditional houses stand alongside Byzantine temples and neo-classical buildings.

Olympia

Olympia is instantly recognizable from its name alone. This revered historic site is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, thus a popular side trip for tourists based in Athens.

The impressive ruins include remnants of the ancient stadium where much of the action occurred 3,000 years ago. You may also visit the museum for a more intensive cultural insight of the area. The massive Temple of Zeus, the largest among temples in the Pelopennese peninsula, can also be found in the archaeological site.

Sculptures of Hermis of Praxiteles and Nike of Paionis adorn the grand landscape that never fails to inspire visitors. Join the celebrations during the Ancient Olympia International Festival, one of the most colorful events in the region during summer.

Olympia can be your launch pad to more fascinating sites such as Figaleia’s Temple of Apollo Epikourios and Temple of Aphrodite. Ancient Ilida in Kyllini offers more cultural sights that are related to the Games.

Hydra

Hydra is part of a group of islands in the Argosaronic Gulf located in southern Greece. Urban dwellers from Athens find these islands a haven from the hustle and bustle of city life due to their close proximity to the capital. Athenians only need to hop on a ferry and be whisked off to the breathtaking destination that is Hydra.

If you are looking for a peaceful vacation without the busy noise from cars and other vehicles, then Hydra will not disappoint as a remote getaway. Cars are not allowed to ply the narrow cobbled streets, leaving the charming squares completely isolated. Getting from one place to another in Hydra can only be done through boat rides or donkey rides. Such quiet nature of Hydra makes it one of the most romantic destinations in Greece.

Hydra’s lavish stone mansions offer a glimpse of the affluence the town enjoys. Its harbor front is a renowned yachting paradise that was featured in a 1957 Sophia Loren movie. Finding time away from the irresistible beaches, visitors can also explore the museums in town. Among these is the Museum of Post-Byzantine Art and History, which is housed in one of the noble mansions in Hydra.

 

 

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