7 Unmissable Spots for the Best Ever Vacation to Greece
Greece has had some troubles in recent times but is still one of the top spots for a European vacation. The country is a wonderful mixture of historic locations, beautiful coastlines, thriving towns and cities and stunning scenery. You can enjoy touring around different spots or rent one of the many luxury homes in Greece to use as a base for your vacation. To help you plan the spots you don’t want to miss, here are some of the very best.
Greece travelling tips
Before we start with the locations, let’s begin with a few tips for travelling to Greece. For starters, if you aren’t a fan of the tourist rush, then avoid going during peak season which is from late July to the end of August. This is when the weather is hottest and when the Greeks themselves go on holiday so everywhere tends to be busy (and therefore more expensive).
Greek cuisine is famous around the world so don’t be shy about trying it. Ask the locals what the dishes are, and you will be surprised how many ingredients you recognize. Remember that the Greeks tend to eat late – often after 10pm. And either opt for local barreled wine which is cheaper than bottled options or be daring and try local spirits such as ouzo or tsipouro. Don’t worry about bottled water as the tap water is fine.
While many of the younger generation are modern and open-minded, the older generation of Greeks are still quite traditional, and the Orthodox Church is prominent. So, no nudity on the beaches unless it specifies it and don’t visit churches or monasteries in skimpy tops for the ladies or bare-chested for the guys.
Any visit to Greece should always consider visiting the capital, Athens and the heart of the ancient city is the Acropolis – the symbol of the city but also of Western civilization. It sits on a rocky mound in the center of the city and has three amazing templates on it dating from the 5th century. The Parthenon is the most notable with its ornate decorations and originally 58 columns.
You can also walk the Archaeological Promenade, a 2.5 km walkway that circles the base of the Acropolis and leads to other notable sites such as the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Kerameikos.
You can also visit the Acropolis Museum, one of the most visited attractions in the country. It is a modern, glass and steel structure that displays many finds from the excavations of the temple complex. You can even see the controversial Parthenon Marbles.
Thessaloniki (also known as Salonica) is the second biggest city in Greece after Athens and was founded in 316 BC as a crossroads into Asia. You can spot Byzantine churches, Roman monuments such as the Triumphal Arch of Galerius as well as the 15th century White Tower found on the seafront. There is an excellent Byzantine Museum in the city as well as an archaeology museum. It is also a thoroughly modern city with a number of shopping malls and boutique shops lining the streets.
The island of Santorini is one of the most well-known of the Greek Islands. With its strange, crescent shape due to an ancient volcanic explosion and iconic white and blue buildings, it is a popular spot for a vacation. Like most of Greece, it offers the perfect balance of relaxing, white beaches, water spots, places to explore and lots of history. You can visit Akrotiri, an Ancient Minoan settlement that was buried by lava some 3600 years ago.
Santorini is easy to combine in a vacation based in Athens as there is a regular ferry from the port of Piraeus, just beside the capital city.
Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. Sacred to the ancient Greeks, it was the site of the Oracle of Delphi and there are still many ruins to visit. These include a number of templates, a theatre and a stadium, all dating from as early as the 8th century BC through to the 2nd century AD.
You can walk along the Sacred Way, the main route to the sanctuary of Apollo, where the oracles would once have waited for visitors. The Temple of Apollo itself only has some remains, having been built and destroyed at least three times. It also has stunning views across the surrounding area.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands and its capital, Rhodes Town, is UNESCO listed. It is also one of the top tourist destinations in the country with its monumental towers and gates built by the Knights of St John. They took control of the island back in the 14th century and added an impressive fortification system.
The town itself is pedestrian only and is a great place to explore, do some shopping and try some authentic Greek cuisine. You can travel from here to locations such as Marmaris in Turkey or to Athens via ferry.
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Corfu Town has slightly different heritage – it was built mostly by the Venetians when they ruled it and has a wealth of Italianate architecture. There are two 16th century fortresses to explore while the arcaded Liston is lined with old-fashioned cafes. The town is also a great place to charter yachts to explore the surrounding Ionian islands as well as travel as far as Albanian towns such as Saranda and Butrint.
For outdoors fans, Samaria Gorge is an ideal spot to include in a Greek vacation. Sixteen kilometers in length yet only four meters wide at its narrowest point, it runs through the White Mountains to the Libyan Sea. You can walk some or all of it but depending on fitness, the total hike can take 5-7 hours so good shoes and plenty of hiking gear is compulsory. The gorge is within the larger Samaria National Park and there are a number of organized tours to join.