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 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 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 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 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.
Santorini needs no introduction as it has been widely featured in travel literature and film. Also known as Thira, Santorini is a group of islands dotting the southernmost area of Cyclades. Often hailed as the jewel of the Aegean Sea, crescent-shaped Santorini is a famous spot for weddings and honeymoons with its paradise-like scenery.
Considering that the Santorini islands were formed by great volcanic eruptions in the past, one can only wonder in amazement at Mother Nature’s handiwork.
The picturesque town of Fira is the capital of the island, which appears like a painting on the tip of the caldera. Fira serves as the balcony of Santorini, offering visitors unrivalled views of the active volcano in the middle of the sea.
The iconic blue and white houses provide Santorini its popular landmarks. Take a dip in the warm volcanic beaches of Armeni and Ammoudi for that quintessential Santorini holiday. Don’t miss the chance to view the glorious sunset from the village of Oia, a daily tradition that mesmerizes both locals and tourists.
Delphi, tracing its roots back to 1400 BC, was the holiest place in Ancient Greece and home of the famed Oracle. Believed to be the center of the world, Delphi became the refuge for those who sought divine guidance for their daily undertakings. Today, the ruins of Ancient Delphi are still a sight to behold.
The historical site’s main attractions are the two sanctuaries erected in honor of Athena and Apollo. Heralding your entry to the area is the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia where the remains of the temples for the goddess stand. The Sanctuary of Apollo was an integral part of Ancient Delphi because it housed the enclosed quarters from which the priestess delivered the oracles.
You will also encounter a gymnasium and the Castalian Spring. Back then, visitors from Athens cleansed themselves with the water from this sacred spring before seeking the Oracle’s help.
Spend the night in any of the small hotels in modern Delphi town if you want to discover more of this historic mystical place.
Thessaloniki is yet another cultural treat for the visitor. This Central Macedonian city is the second largest city in Greece next to Athens. Located in the northern part of the county, Thessaloniki takes pride in its array of monasteries, churches, monuments, and mansions, reflecting the many civilizations that have risen and fallen through the centuries.
Among the ancient sites found in Thessaloniki is the Ancient Forum – a complex of porticoes, squares, baths, and temples. The Palace of Galerius Maximianus, dating back to 4th century AD, is another historic place of interest you might want to see. Another monument to the past emperor is the Triumphal Arch of Galerius.
Thessaloniki’s Byzantine churches will no doubt provide thrills for architecture buffs, whereas the great White Tower from the Ottoman period is the city’s iconic landmark. There are Turkish bathhouses as well that were constructed as early as the 15th century.
It’s not all historical grandeur for Thessaloniki as you’ll find out by taking a short drive to Thermaikos Gulf. Beaches, such as Aretsou, Perea, and Angelochori, offer leisure options like swimming and a great selection of water sports.
Rhodes is one of the Dodecanese islands tucked in the southeastern part of the Aegean Sea. Blessed with year-round sunshine, Rhodes is the epitome of a Greek holiday island. It is one of the prominent beach destinations with its endless coastline.
Many attributes create an attractive reputation for Rhodes. From its medieval architecture to a bustling nightlife, the island serves up an insatiable menu for an action-packed vacation.
Walking around Rhodes unravels a number of splendid castles, temples, and fortresses that were left behind by the Romans, Venetians, Turks, and Crusaders. Old Town, one of the biggest medieval towns found in the continent, offers the majestic spectacle that is the Palace of the Grand Master – a Byzantine fortress in the 7th century AD. Explore the cobblestone streets and visit the Archaeological Museum for a taste of the island’s history.
Most tourists frequent the resorts of Paradisi, Ixia, and Trianda. Lardos and Glystra beaches located in southern Rhodes have fewer visitors if you want a quiet holiday.
Corfu makes for an interesting study of a Greek island with more evident influences of the West. History points out that the first Greek university and the first Philharmonic Orchestra were established in this part of the Ionian Islands. Due to the settlements of the British, the French, and the Venetians, Corfu has gained a multi-cultural heritage.
Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its showcase of architectural highlights such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Classical styles. Have fun and lose yourself in the narrow cobbled streets and get that unique feeling of walking into a living museum. Then, sit down for a cup of coffee in one of the cozy cafes in Liston, an old haunt for the well-heeled townsfolk of Corfu.
Among Corfu’s impressive landmarks is the Church of St. Spyridon, which has an immense bell tower looking over the whole town. The island’s museums are world-class in their own right, with the likes of the Museum of Asian Art and Archaeological Museum. The Museum of Dionysios Solomos offers visitors a look into the national poet’s legacy and works.
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