The 8 Best Places You Have To Visit In Greece This Year
A guide with the absolute best places you need to visit in sunny Greece
When you think about Greece, the things that come to mind are probably ancient history, the white-washed architecture of the Greek islands, the blue color of the Aegean sea and the delicious mediterranean cuisine. But Greece is not only that, there are so many hidden gems and treasures waiting for you to discover them.
1. The Classic Choice – Athens
You will probably land in Athens, so take a 2-day stay here to visit one of the most ancient cities in the world. Athens, the birthplace of democracy and western civilization, is a city with enormous history. Climb the hill of Acropolis and find the imposing Parthenon, watch a play at Odeon of Herodes Atticus, visit the Acropolis Museum and discover the picturesque district of Plaka and Monastiraki square.
Besides the historical part, Athens is a contemporary city with a fast-paced, entertaining lifestyle. You will find plenty of choices for restaurants, traditional Greek tavernas, bars and clubs. In addition, the city during the last few years has developed an alternative type of sightseeing, street art! How can Athens not be one of the best places to visit in Greece? It really has it all!
This volcanic island will steal your heart with its small whitewashed buildings, the red and black sandy beaches, the breathtaking sunset view, and the list can go on and on. Santorini ranks among the most romantic destinations in the world, so if you are planning your upcoming wedding, maybe you just found the perfect location!
☞ For more info about wedding planning in Santorini – click here!
If you are more of a going-out type, then you have to visit Mykonos island.
Mykonos has become famous for its cosmopolitan lifestyle. The island offers a plethora of restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs as well as lively shopping boutiques and art galleries. You can usually run into famous Hollywood stars, while they are strolling in the beautiful alleys of Mykonos. Sights not to miss are the windmills from the 16th century (the perfect Instagram spot!) and Little Venice, which is a romantic seaside district full of restaurants , making it ideal for a perfect dinner for two.
The third island from the Cyclades complex that is one of the best places to visit in Greece, is Milos. Located in the westernmost part of Cyclades, Milos is famous for the discovery of the statue of Venus de Milo, which is exhibited in the Louvre Museum, in Paris. It is also a volcanic island, like Santorini, which makes the beaches red, pink and orange. The most famous beach is Sarakiniko. Large white volcanic rocks surround the clear blue water and form natural caves, ready for you to explore them. During the night when the light of the moon reflects on the rocks , it is like you are in a lunar landscape.
Furthermore, in Adamas, the port of Milos, you will find small sailing boats that offer you a mini-cruise at Kleftiko. Don’t miss that! Kleftiko is a complexion of large rocks, where it is said that pirates used to have their hideouts during the Middle Ages. Besides the impressive rocks, the crystal clear turquoise water will make it hard for you to leave this paradise.
Crete Island – A Feast For Your Senses
Crete is located in the south part of the Aegean Sea. It is the second-largest island of Greece and is truly magical. Nikos Kazantzakis, one of the greatest Greek authors, who was born in Crete, wrote in the “Report to Greco”:
“The mystery of Crete runs deep. Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force coursing warmly and beneficently through their veins, sensing their soul beginning to grow”.
These few sentences summarize the experience that someone gains once visiting Crete.
Due to the size and beauty of Crete, if you want to explore the whole island, you will need to devote at least five to seven days. Here you will find historical places like the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Kato Zakros.
There are also spectacular beaches like Balos, a blue lagoon in Chania, the exotic Elafonisos with white and pink sand, Seitan Limania, Ierapetra and the Palm forest of Vai in Lassithi prefecture. These are just a few of the many beaches worth visiting.
And here comes the food! Crete is the home of the Mediterranean diet. Its culinary tradition is based on simple goods coming from mother Earth, like extra virgin olive oil, raw artichokes, herbs and cheese. Do not leave without trying dakos (a salad with rusks, tomatoes, olive oil and plenty of oregano) as well as raki, a traditional alcoholic beverage that you can literary find in every corner of Crete. From this list of best places to visit in Greece, Crete might just be our favourite!
6. Meteora – An Otherwordly Sight
The word Meteora in Greek means “suspended in space”. And this is exactly what it is: enormously tall vertical rocks making you gasp in disbelief. Apart from the geology of the landscape, the attention of the visitor is drawn by the monasteries that stand on top of the huge rocks.
The history of monasticism began here in the 11th century when hermits monks from Mount Athos climbed up to Meteora seeking a connection with God through peace, and solitude. In the 14th century, the Blessed Athanasios from Meteora founded the first monastic community in the Monastery of Great Meteor. Nowadays there are six active monasteries, which can be visited by all. The Greek state has declared the place a sacred spot, that must remain inviolate and immutable. It is also listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Besides the religious interest, Meteora is the ideal place for rock climbing enthusiasts. Climbers from all around the world come to enjoy the rock-climbing routes, some of which go up to a height of 500m. But it is not only rock-climbing; other popular options are hiking and mountain biking through the green forests of the valley and the rocky terrain of Meteora.
This list cannot be complete without a reference to the Peloponnese region. The Peloponnese is a destination for all seasons. It combines both marvelous sandy beaches, montane villages, places rich in history with ancient monuments and impressive attractions. You can read more about the incomparable beauty of the Peloponnese and its castles here. In this post, we will focus on the city of Nafplion, another must-visit during your stay in Greece.
Nafplion is located in northeastern Peloponnese, which makes it easily accessible from Athens by car. A stunning city, it consists of a seaport, neoclassical buildings, fortresses, wide sidewalks, and large squares. The city was the first capital of Greece back in 1828 until 1833 and was characterized by Venetians, during their staying here as the “Naples of the East”. Here are the absolute must-do in Nafplion:
Visit Palamidi castle: you have to climb 999 steps, but you will be rewarded with the amazing view once you reach the top of the castle. It was built between 1711 and 1714 by the Venetians and served as a fortress and later on as a prison.
Visit Bourtzi castle: this Venetian castle was built in 473 and is located in the islet of Agios Theodoros, just a few meters away from the coastline. You can reach it by boat and be amazed by its elegant architecture, as the irregular hexagon shape makes it looks like a stone sculpture. It served as the residence of two governments (in 1824 and 1827) and as a luxury hotel. Today, it is one of the city’s main attractions, and it hosts various cultural events.
Visit Akronafplia: this is the acropolis of the city. Due to its strategic position, the Venetians fortressed the city and later passed it on to the Byzantines and Ottomans. The last named it “Its Kale”, so don’t be surprised if you hear someone referring to it by this name. Climbing up to the top, you will figure out that there are three levels with a different castle in each one and walls from different periods.
Stroll around the beautiful city center and get a glance at the majestic architecture.
8. Paxi Antipaxi – The Jewels Of The Ionian Sea
In the Ionian sea, you will find perfection in a miniature form. The tiny islands of Paxi and Antipaxi are located south of Corfu. The picturesque Paxi is characterized by emerald crystal clear waters, and sandy or pebbled beaches in the form of small coves, ideal for your privacy. Antipaxi is famous for its exotic Caribbean-like beaches. Not a lot of people know about these two heavenly islands, but if they did they would undoubtedly think they are the best places to visit in Greece.
The island of Paxi has only three villages Gaios, Logos and Laka. Gaios, the port of the island stands with a cosmopolitan glamourous attitude due to the many yachts that stop at the island.
The best beaches not to be missed while you are exploring these two paired islands should be the Orkos beach in Paxi island, and the Vrika and Voutoumi in Antipaxos island. Most of the coastline is covered by unorganized beaches without many beach bars and sunbeds but with plenty of the exceptional flora that covers the island. Pine trees, mastic trees and mainly centuries-old olive trees come to upgrade the beauty of this paradise-like landscape.