Greece is an absolute favorite among tourists – a paradise of windswept coastlines, Mediterranean islands, and subtropical beaches. It is a country crammed with ancient history and considered by many to be the birthplace of western civilization – at least everyone in Greece will tell you so. Its history dates back to 3000 BC from the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations to the city states of Athens, Corinth and Sparta to the great empire of Alexander the Great. After centuries of Roman occupation, Greece eventually became apart of the Byzantine Empire and then later was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Greek influence on the world can still be felt today in the areas of architecture, sculpture, literature, philosophy, the performing arts, language, sports, and politics. This country, after all, gave us the Olympics, democracy, the Socratic method, and Platonian ideals.
Geographically, Greece lies in the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe and is comprised of thousands of tiny islands and mountainous land. To experience Greece is to soak in the country’s beautiful scenery, tan away on its island beaches, explore and discover its various mountainous terrains, and appreciate its history through its ruins, monuments, museums, mansions, and medieval castles.
The top travel destinations in Greece include Athens, Rhodes City, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini, Tilos, Corfu, Naxos, Paros, Chios, and Kos. Some ancient sites that are must-visits include the Acropolis, Parthenon, the Olympia & Delphia, the Palace of Knossos, the Mistra (a Byzantine ghost town with beautiful churches), the Nemea, and the castles of Acrocorinth, Mistra, Argos, and Nafplion. Greece is also home to a few natural attractions like the Caves of Dirou, Samaria Gorge, Santorini Caldera, Vikos Gorge, and the Monemvassia, which is known as the Gibraltar of Greece.
There are also Greek islands too beautiful not to visit such as Crete, Santorini, Siros, and Hydra. Crete is characterized by rugged mountains and dozens of sandy beaches amidst ancient ruins. Santorini (or Cyclades) is one of the most amazing islands you’ll find anywhere and a major vacation hotspot. There are high cliffs, an ancient volcano, beaches overlooking the Aegean sea, and the site of Akrotiri – an ancient Minoan city frozen by a volcanic eruption that occurred thousands of years ago. Siros is another great island that is also a part of the Cyclades group of islands. It is a cosmopolitan beach resort with archaeological remains that can be visited. Other notable islands include Hydra, which is idyllic and postcard-like in its pleasant beauty and an island where you’ll find stone mansions, small shops, and restaurants.
The best beaches in Greece include Paradise, one of more than 20 beaches on the Mykonos. This is a well-known party beach with numerous bars, taverns, and shops. The Arvanitia in Nafplion is another nice beach and a great starting point to explore the ruins at Mycenae. Other notable beaches include the Plaka in Naxos (Cyclades), and Lalaria Beach in Skiathos (Sporades).