Visit Greece for the ultimate Mediterranean getaway. Discover 27 Unique Places to Visit in Greece, enjoy delicious food and drinks, explore ancient ruins, and experience the vibrant culture. From luxury resorts to quaint villages, there’s something here for everyone.
Discover the Unique Places to Visit in Greece
The 24 Unique Places to Visit in Greece: A Journey of Discovery
Greece is a country that has been captivating travelers for centuries with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’re in for a treat. With so many unique places to visit, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 24 must-see destinations that will give you a taste of everything Greece has to offer. From the ancient ruins of Athens to the idyllic beaches of Crete, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Greece has it all. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure. With our guide to the best places to visit in Greece, you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime.
Let’s start this trip to Greece in what is probably the only possible way, which is from Athens, the fascinating capital. Athens is the perfect blend of ancient and modern, with the added bonus of a unique personality and also a really interesting topography; life in Athens nonchalantly unfolds between priceless ancient temples and relics that are a testament to a grandiose past – as well as representing the foundations on which human history and civilization developed – and chaotic modern vibrancy, with art galleries, music events, trendy clubs and fast food restaurants.
We were talking about the topography of Athens: the most important, fascinating and surprising part is undoubtedly the Acropolis, which not only dominates the city from above constituting its most characteristic part, but is also the oldest, the one in which the grandiose Greek culture we studied in schoolbooks developed, and it is in the Acropolis that there are the best things to see in Athens.
Among them, we cannot fail to mention the temples, above all the Parthenon: dedicated to Athena Parthenos, it represents the quintessence of classical culture, the architectural perfection that has survived millennia of wars and natural disasters; there are also other very important and unmissable temples, such as the Temple of Nike, which stands on the edge of a precipice. The Theater of Dionysus, on the other hand, exudes a charm all its own: it dates back to the 6th century B.C. and in the heyday of the city of Athens was the gathering place par excellence, as well as the place where the great Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes staged their plays.
If the ancient part of Athens has so much to offer, the modern part is no less: there are many neighborhoods to explore, above all, the Plaka, one of the most picturesque areas, almost completely a pedestrian island and full of restaurants and stores.
2. Ancient Corinth: A Unique Historical Site
3. The Peloponnese
We have said that in Greece every place absorbs the charm of the myths about it. This is true of the Peloponnese, which is located in Southern Greece and although it has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, it was founded by Pelops who started the Mycenaean civilization.
Pelops is precisely the protagonist of a very famous myth. He was the son of King Tantalus, who played a trick on the gods to test their omniscience: he invited them to a banquet during which he served the flesh of his own son, Pelops; the gods noticed, punished Tantalus by condemning him to Tartarus with an impossible hunger and thirst to satisfy, and resurrected Pelops, who thus conquered the Peloponnese.
The main cities of the Peloponnese are in fact Argos-Mykines, Corinth, Kalamata, Patras, Pyrgos, Sparta and Tripoli.
Mycenae is a very ancient city, probably of pre-Indo-European origin, but all the myths that have come down to us-and there are quite a few of them-relate only to the city’s so-called Age of Heroes, and the fact that the mythological tradition is precisely so rich gives us an idea of the importance that Mycenae held at that time in Greece.
What is most interesting is that all these myths are reflected in the ruined remains of the city that one can and should visit when passing through Mycenae. For example, one can visit the mythical Tombs of Atreus and Clytemnestra: the former dates back to 1250 B.C. and consists of huge and impressive stone blocks that form a triangular entrance, while the latter is located outside the walls of Mycenae because, according to myth, Clytemnestra had killed her husband and king Agamemnon with the help of her lover Aegisthus and was therefore unworthy of being buried in the city.
Also not to be missed is the Acropolis surrounded by the Cyclopean Walls (since only the Cyclopes were able to move the boulders from which they were built) and the Lion Gate, a monumental gate with two lionesses depicted in bas-relief and which is the only sculptural monument of the Mycenaean civilization that has come down to us. Also not to be missed is the Archaeological Museum of Mycenae, where you can see the spectacular Mask of Agamemnon.
5. Nafplio: A beautiful town with a rich history
6. Pelion: A hidden gem in Greece
Olympia recalls in everyone one thing: the mythical Olympics! It was here that the first Olympic Games were held and that, every four years, in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera women dressed as priestesses symbolically light the Olympic flame.
Olympia was also an extremely important city for worship, and today, fortunately, there are many ruins that bear witness to this and can be visited. In fact, not only are there the remains of the stadium and the areas where the athletes trained, but there are also the remains of the Temple of Zeus (in whose honor the Olympic games were held) in which was placed a monumental and gigantic statue of the god made by Phidias in gold and ivory, and the Temple of Hera where the laurel wreaths with which the winners of the games were awarded were kept.
Among the many Greek islands, the beautiful island of Crete is undoubtedly one to put on the list of things to see if you want to visit Greece. Crete is the cradle of Minoan civilization and is a perfect blend of ancient history, unspoiled nature and spectacular beaches, and fun.
It is the ideal destination for those who love history and want to learn about the roots of our civilization, but also for those who like to roast in the sun lying on heavenly beaches, perhaps reading something about fascinating ancient myths. It is also the place to be for those who do not want to give up even on vacation the liveliness of the city bustle: Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos are the island’s two main towns and are full of things to do and see. Impossible to get bored!
Perhaps one of the most striking places not only in all of Greece, but in the entire world. Meteora in Greek means “suspended in the sky,” and indeed, seeing this incredible city makes one wonder if it does not defy the laws of physics: it is placed on top of impressive sandstone cliffs that really seem to float in the air.
The extraordinary morphology of this place, composed of four 400-meter-high rocky “towers,” is probably due to erosion initiated by the delta of the river that 25 million years ago flowed into the sea that was located where the Thessaly plain is today.
Not only is Meteora an extraordinary sight, but it is also home to one of the main groupings of monasteries in all of Greece, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. The Gorges of Samaria
The Samaria Gorges are one of the main natural attractions on the island of Crete.
It is a rocky gorge stretches a full 12 kilometers, starting from Omalos, which is 1250 meters above sea level, to the beach of Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea.
It takes a good four hours to do all of this trail in close contact with unspoiled nature: we pass through forests, clearings, streams, until we reach the gorge proper and the narrowest and most famous cleft of the trail, the Iron Gates, only three meters wide. A truly extraordinary adventure.
11. Mykonos: The ultimate party island
12. Vergina: A must-see for history lovers
13. Santorini: A place of natural beauty
14. Ionian Islands
We have already mentioned some of the islands of the Greek islands, but the truth is that Greece boasts numerous islands and archipelagos. Let’s start with the Ionian Islands, an archipelago in the Ionian Sea that includes seven major islands and numerous smaller ones.
Given their geographical location, they are the islands that have been most affected by Italian influences and domination by Venice. The major islands of the archipelago are Corfu, Paxos, Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Cerigo.
Each of these islands has peculiarities, but what they have in common is a breathtaking sea along with mountainous landscapes, and a warm climate that makes them perfect for spending summer vacations there.
15. The North Aegean Islands
We continue with the islands located in the northern Aegean Sea; here too we find a few main islands, such as Samos, Lesvos, Limnos, Ikaria, Chios and Agios Efstratios, along with a great many islets.
These islands are the ideal destination for those who want to spend a vacation full of nature, tranquility, but also history. The island of Lesvos, for example, is known for being the home of the poetess Sappho and boasts a magnificent Byzantine castle, while Samos was the birthplace of Pythagoras and Epicurus, and in the Archaeological Museum located in the capital of the same name you can admire ancient sculptures, vases and artifacts of Byzantine origin.
16. The Cyclades
The Cyclades islands are perhaps the most famous archipelago in Greece and a favorite destination for many young people looking for fun during the summer.
The archipelago consists of about 220 islands, of which the main ones are Amorgo, Anafi, Andro, Antiparos, Argentiera, Delos, Ios, Ceo, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Polycandros, Serfanto, Sifnos, Sicandro, Siro, Tino, and the aforementioned Santorini.
A great idea for a vacation could be to tour as many of the islands of this archipelago as possible by sea, disembarking from time to time at the one that inspires you the most and to fully enjoy the crystal-clear waters that characterize these islands.
17. Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese Islands are also definitely worth a visit, even better if itinerant, stopping on one at a time to discover the beauty and characteristics of each.
The capital is the island of Rhodes, about which we have already spoken, and the some of the other islands that make up the archipelago are Kos, the home of Hippocrates, Kalymnos, Léros, Patmos, Scarpanto, Simi, Stampalia, Kasso, Nìsiro, Lisso, Tìlos, and Castelrosso (where Gabriele Salvatores’ Oscar-winning film “Mediterraneo” was filmed).
We return to the mainland and visit Thessaloniki. Between art, ruins, culture, Byzantine churches, stores and typical restaurants, Thessaloniki is a city where it is impossible to get bored. Moreover, it is less known to mass tourism and for that reason even more extraordinary and authentic.
The symbol of the city is the church of Agios Dimitrios, the church of St. Sophia is reminiscent not only in name of the famous Turkish church in Istanbul, but the most famous monument in Thessaloniki is undoubtedly the White Tower, built on the remains of a Byzantine tower and home to a museum dedicated to the history of the city, as well as a belvedere from which the view is truly extraordinary. Also not to be missed is the Museum of Byzantine Culture.
The nerve center of Thessaloniki life, on the other hand, is Aristotle Square, a striking square jutting out toward the sea, where the entire surrounding area is ideal for shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, and having fun.
19. Ios: A place of relaxation
20. The Chalkidiki Peninsula and Mount Athos
If Meteora is home to one of Greece’s major groupings of monasteries, Mount Athos, which is the easternmost peninsula of the three that make up Chalkidiki, is the sacred mountain that houses the largest and most important grouping of monasteries in the entire nation. The first one was founded by St. Athanasius in 963, and today, on this mountain whose highest peak reaches 2,000 meters above sea level, there are 20 Orthodox monasteries and 12 hermitages, as well as religious artifacts and monuments scattered on the small surrounding hills.
It is important to know that only 120 Orthodox pilgrims are allowed on Mount Athos per day, 10 non-Orthodox pilgrims, and women are not allowed under any circumstances.
The peninsula can only be reached by sea, thus offering a spectacular panorama of lush vegetation in which Byzantine monasteries and castles are set.
21. Elafonissi and Balos
Two of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Crete are undoubtedly Elafonissi and Balos. The former is a spectacular pink beach that has nothing to envy the famous pink beach of Bermuda. The pink sand contrasts with the crystal blue sea and is in a remote corner of the island, thus winning it the title of a true paradise on earth.
Balos Lagoon is another paradise, with white sand and warm blue water. It is ideal for nature-lovers and adventure seekers as it requires 11 kilometers of dirt road through goats and shrubs to reach it, and a footpath that takes about 20 minutes to walk.
22. The monasteries of Daphni, Ossios Loukas and Nea Monì
To visit some of the most important and beautiful monasteries in Greece, you don’t have to travel to Mount Athos-the monasteries of Daphni, Ossios Loukas, and Nea Monì are for you-they are the best examples of Macedonian art in Greece.
The monastery of Daphni is located north of Athens in the forest of the same name, and features stunning mosaics that are among the most beautiful in the world; the monastery of Ossios Loukas is located in Boeotia and a prime example of Byzantine art and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the monastery of Nea Monì, on the other hand, is located on the island of Chios and according to tradition was built on the site where three monks found an icon of the Virgin Mary hanging from a myrtle branch.
Mistra is famous because it was the last center of Byzantine scholarship and for the splendid churches and monasteries that can still be visited today.
Above them all, we find the wonderful Cathedral of Agios Demetrios-Demetrios was revered by the Crusaders, he helped them during battles-the Monastery of Perivleptos and the Convent of Pantanassa. The latter is still inhabited by nuns who sell handmade lace and embroidery by them to passersby.
The town of Mistra is truly charming and picturesque because it seems to be standing still in time, and it is also ideal for a quiet day trip-there are in fact only 1,500 inhabitants in the town!
24. The Vikos Gorge
The Vikos Gorge is the example of natural scenery you don’t expect in Greece: its surroundings are characterized by snow-capped peaks, crystal streams and rivers, and it is nestled in the North Pindos National Park.
Vikos Gorge itself is a 20-kilometer-long, 900-meter-deep, 1,000-meter-wide fissure in the rock: it is a truly breathtaking natural monument carved out over millions of years by the Voïdomatis, a tributary of the Aoos River.
The entire area can be explored both for a full immersion in truly unspoiled nature-it is in fact home to many endangered species that have found in its almost virgin condition the ideal place to stay-but also in history, as bridges and traditional villages are dotted all along the way.
25. Euboea and the Sporades
The Sporades refers to two different archipelagos in the Aegean Sea, the Northern Sporades to which Skiatos, Skopelos, Alonnese and Skiros belong, and the Southern Sporades which includes Samos, Ikaria and the rest of the Dodecanese.
Evia, on the other hand, is an island that is only 40 meters from the mainland and is not only the point from which many ferries to the Northern Sporades depart, but also offers plenty of wonders to explore.
It is little known to European tourists, making it very authentic and livable. Its coastline offers both sandy and rocky beaches and, of course, crystal clear sea almost everywhere.
Evia’s main town is Chalkida, while Limni is a pretty hamlet, a former fishing village full of typical taverns where you can eat local specialties and with a beautiful harbor.
Delphi is one of the most important cities in Greece because of the archaeological site it houses, and it was undoubtedly the important city of Ancient Greece: for it was here that the Oracle of the god Apollo, the most important of all oracles, was based.
The sanctuary of the Pythia of Delphi was first built in the 7th century B.C. and was destroyed and rebuilt several times. There are so many stories and myths involving the Delphic oracle, the most famous perhaps being the response that the Pythia gave to Oedipus.
Today the remains of this incredible institution of can be visited, and excavations also include an impressive theater, a stadium, and of course the remains of the Temple of Apollo.
Another important shrine in Ancient Greece was the one present at Epidaurus dedicated to Asclepius, the god who healed worshippers who came to the temple to pay homage to him during festivals in his honor.
Of this temple the foundations, the single-nave cella, and the pedestal on which the statue of the god must once have stood have come down to us.
Also part of this incredible archaeological complex is the Theater of Epidaurus, which, fortunately, we can not only still admire but which is also used today for theatrical performances and which still retains the perfect acoustics that in 350 B.C. Polyclitus the Younger had managed to achieve.
Discover Greece with Costa Cruises
Set off with Costa Cruises to discover Greece, its mythical cities, its history, its ancient artifacts, but also its magnificent islands. Be enchanted by Athens, the Ionian and Cyclades Islands, but also Meteora and Olympia, and so much more.