Greece has always been a popular travel destination, attracting millions of visitors annually with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the famous rock formations of Meteora to the sparkling waters of the Aegean, the most exciting places in Greece are treasure troves of adventure and exploration.
I traveled to Greece in both 2013 and 2015. During my time there, I fell in love with its rich history, friendly locals, and vibrant food scene. Whether you’re a history buff, a sun-seeker, or a foodie, this country offers something for everyone. In this travel guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top places to visit in Greece, from the iconic Acropolis in Athens to the breathtaking beaches of Santorini.
Greece is a wealth of beautiful and soulful travel destinations. Some of the top places in Greece for travelers include Athens, Crete, Santorini, Zakynthos, Tinos, Naxos, Corfu, and Rhodes. Santorini is one of the most famous, with its picture-perfect villages, stunning sunsets, and volcanic beaches. Athens is home to the iconic Parthenon, while Crete offers historical sites and beautiful beaches.
Zakynthos and Tinos are perfect for a quiet and relaxing vacation, while Naxos and Corfu offer stunning landscapes and cultural attractions. Rhodes is another must-see destination, with its medieval old town and beautiful beaches.
But if you’re looking for more off-the-beaten-path destinations, I suggest destinations like Kalymnos, Thessaloniki, Symi Island, Sounion, and Halkidiki. In this article, I’m diving into my personal favorites, including tourist hotspots and low-key spots off the beaten path.
As one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens should be at the top of every traveler’s list when exploring the best places in Greece. No visit to Athens is complete without a trip to the famous Acropolis Hill, home to the iconic Parthenon.
This ancient citadel, commissioned by Athenian statesman Pericles in the 5th century BC, is a testament to Athens’ grandeur. It’s also a sign of its role as the intellectual center of the ancient world. The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, is an architectural marvel. It’s known around the world for its elegant design and intricate detailing.
Athens’ rich cultural heritage is also evident in its archaeological sites. The Ancient Agora served as a political, social, and economic hub. Meanwhile, the Roman Agora functioned primarily as a marketplace. I recommend buying a combined ticket that grants access to multiple attractions. That way, you can see sites like the Acropolis, Parthenon, Dionysus Theater, and Kerameikos on one ticket!
For a taste of modern Athenian life, wander through the charming neighborhoods of Plaka and Monastiraki. Both neighborhoods boast a fusion of traditional and contemporary culture. Their narrow, winding streets will transport you back in time. Lining them are shops, cafes, and tavernas where you can relax, indulge in delicious Greek cuisine and shop for souvenirs.
Santorini, with its iconic white and blue houses and dramatic cliffs, is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places in Greece. The island’s most famous towns, Oia and Fira, sit on the edge of a caldera, offering stunning views of the Aegean Sea. Wander through the pedestrian-friendly streets and browse the charming boutiques. Don’t forget to enjoy a meal at a local taverna while watching the sun set over the caldera!
Santorini is also known for its unique beaches, such as the famous Red Beach and White Beach. These volcanic beaches are characterized by their colorful sand and pebble shores. They’re perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or simply admiring the natural beauty.
Santorini’s volcanic soil lends itself to the production of some of the most distinctive wines in Greece. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Gaia Winery and Sigalas Winery. There, you can sample some phenomenal Assyrtiko, a white wine indigenous to Santorini.
Meteora is one of the most recognizable places in all of Greece. It’s best known for its dramatic “stone forests” and monasteries atop steep sandstone rock formations. Dating back to the 11th century, these monasteries were once a haven for Orthodox monks seeking solitude and reflection.
Today, visitors can explore six remaining monasteries. They include the Great Meteoran Monastery and Holy Monastery of St. Stephen. Both offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The vistas are spectacular, especially at sunset!
Meteora also offers many outdoor activities, including hiking and rock climbing. With over 2,000 rock climbing routes and numerous hiking trails, Meteora is a paradise for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Take a guided hike through the rock forest or challenge yourself with a scramble hike or rock climb for an unforgettable experience!
Kalymnos is a lesser-known Greek island located in the Dodecanese islands in the southwestern Aegean Sea. Compared to its bustling counterparts Santorini and Mykonos, it offers a quieter and less touristy experience. The island is home to several medieval castles and Byzantine churches. Ancient archaeological sites also dot the island, showcasing its long, rich history. Its charming fishing villages and beaches make Kalymnos perfect for those who love the water.
The island is a haven for sponge divers, and you can find local sponges across Kalymnos. Pothia, the capital city and main port, has a sponge museum and a Maritime and Folklore Museum that offer insights into the island’s rich culture and history. Visitors can also explore the castles of Chora and Chrysocheria, which date back to the 14th century.
Its most popular attraction, though, is world-class rock climbing. Kalymnos boasts over 2,000 established rock climbing routes that attract sport climbers from all over the world. Be sure to look up certified instructors like Simon Montmory of Climbing in Kalymnos for fun and safe lessons!
To get a true taste of Kalymnos, I highly recommend indulging in some of the island’s tastiest seafood. You can find mouthwatering seafood like fish, octopus, and shrimp at traditional fish tavernas along the harbor.
Symi Island is yet another underrated gem in the Dodecanese island chain. It’s accessible via a ferry from Mandraki Harbor in Rhodes Old Town.
Upon arrival, visitors will find colorful fishing boats and neoclassical island homes. The main harbor on Symi is Gialos, where visitors can rent scooters to explore the island’s sites. I recommend Jimmy’s Rent a Moto shop.
Sightseers should visit the 15th-century monastery of Panormitis and the village of Chorio. Be sure to meet Chorio’s herb sellers and enjoy the local neo-classic dwellings.
For beach lovers, the small coastal village of Pedi and Marathounda Bay offer beauty and seclusion. Foodies may not have many dining options, but the best is easily Manos Fish Tavern. It’s the most famous spot on the island for its fresh seafood and casual atmosphere.
Greece is a land of unparalleled beauty and history. With countless places to explore and limitless adventures to be had, it is the ultimate European vacation spot. Whether you’re wandering the ancient streets of Athens or hiking the alien landscapes of Meteora, there’s something for everyone in this Mediterranean paradise.
Greece is one of my favorite travel destinations in the world. I’ve been multiple times, and I hope to go back sooner rather than later. Book a trip to southeastern Europe right now to discover the best places in Greece. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.