From its islands and inland, what to see in Greece: catch all the unmissable places

From its islands and inland, what to see in Greece: catch all the unmissable places

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12 October

Greece is the perfect combination of ancient culture, islands with white houses, breathtaking sunsets over the sea and fabulous food. What can you see on a trip to Greece? Here are some pointers!

We have Greece in our heart: it is certainly one of our favourite destinations when it comes to summer trips by the sea and fun. In reality, we love that country so much because it is multifaceted: there’s something to please everyone. Practically everywhere you turn you can admire the remains of Greek civilisation, with incredibly well preserved ancient ruins, and vivid traditions amongst its streets, markets and everyday life.

Continental Greece is ideal for anyone who fancies a trip to rediscover this country’s ancient history. The islands, from the Cyclades to the Ionian Islands, are gems of rare beauty, where the rhythms are relaxed and the summer evenings caressed by the cool sea breeze. And what would it be without moments of celebration and fun? On some islands, you never get a moment’s sleep at night. So, let’s go and discover what you absolutely must see in Greece!

Does Greece fascinate you? Discover our trip to Corfu!

What to see in Greece: Inland

1 Athens

the ruins of the Acropolis of Athens at sunset
Athens, the capital

The capital is the only reasonable place to set off from, so ancient Athens it is. The name’s etymology derives from the goddess Athena, who won a kind of divine battle against Poseidon – and dare we say it, this was the first act of girl power in history. Just like Rome, the city was built on seven hills. Just like the beloved Italian capital, it preserves archaeological finds that attract travellers and tourists from all over the world to date.

What to see in Athens? To immerse yourself in Greek history and mythology, set off from the Acropolis, which dominates the city, Acropolis Museum and Agora. To get back to our days, take a trip to Syntagma Square, where you can see the traditional (and quite folkloristic) changing of the guard, which is held every hour. Take a trip to Syntagma Square, where you can see the traditional (and quite folkloristic) changing of the guard, which is held every hour. If you are lucky enough to pass through Athens on Sunday, then stroll by the Monastiraki neighbourhood flea market. For a breathtaking sunset, climb to the Lycabettus Hill – one of the famous seven hills that the city was erected on. You can get there on foot or by funicular – the view from up there is spectacular!

2 Mycenae

view of brown and green landscape on a cloudy day

Mycenae is so ancient that its foundation is not even attributable to the Greeks. Neolithic populations are thought to have occupied this territory first – although the mythological tale says it was Perseus who founded Mycenae. It was also home to the legendary warrior Agamemnon who fought during the Trojan War.

Today, it holds the primacy of being one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece. What can you see on a visit? The ancient walls that surrounded the city, the royal palace and some gravestones where funerary furnishings of immense value were found.

3 Meteora

brown rocks with white building on a sunny day

Among the unmissable things to see in Greece, you need to pencil in Meteora. This is the nation’s crucial centre of the Orthodox church and is about a five-hour drive from Athens. Meteora literally means “in the middle of the air“. Its name is no accident. The landscape is dominated by imposing rock columns supporting monasteries that seem to be suspended in mid-air. A place that definitely has something magical and that, despite its impractical position, is one of the preferred destinations for anyone planning a trip to Greece.

How can you reach the monasteries? At one time, it was only possible to ascend using pulleys – let’s just say not exactly in line with today’s attentive safety standards! A staircase was dug into the rock to allow tourists to climb to the monasteries. The largest – and highest – is Gran Meteora, a respectable 610 metres above sea level. Of all the six visitable monasteries, this deserves the most: the view from here is unquestionably thrilling.

4 Delphi

ancient ruins with mountains in the background

The last stop we recommend regarding inland Greece is certainly Delphi. This city had vital importance to Greek civilisation. Here kings and princes came to talk to the god Apollo through the oracle of Delphi. This centre retained its power and importance for over six centuries and was undoubtedly a fundamental part of Greek history.

The site is located on Mount Parnassus and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once here, you can visit the remains of the temple of Apollo, where the oracle of Delphi once pronounced its prophecies, as well as the theatre and stadium. It is not only the site that makes this place unique. Even the landscape is stunning and it is the perfect backdrop to this place.

What can you see in Greece: the Cyclades Islands

5 Santorini

a woman walks through the narrow streets of Santorini between white buildings and blue sea
Island of Santorini

This island is definitely one of the best things to see in Greece. In fact, Santorini is one of the most attractive places that this country has to offer. It could be due to its particular conformation: most of the island overlooks the caldera and the view from here is somewhat magical. The sunsets in Santorini are among the most beautiful and photographed in the world. Among the most famous spots are Oia, the most popular and therefore the most crowded, and the lighthouse of Akrotiri, definitely quieter. On the cliffs overlooking the caldera, there are also numerous luxury hotels and resorts – popular amongst travellers for a romantic trip or their honeymoon.

The hinterland and the beach area are undeniably less expensive, and also relish far more nightlife. What can you get up to in Santorini? Visit Oia, Fira, the capital, and Pyrgos, a less crowded and therefore more authentic centre. If you love trekking, take a hike from Fira to Oia (about 9 km, 2 hours walk) that runs along the caldera and offers incredible views. If you like history, you can find out more about Santorini’s past at the archaeological site of Akrotiri. Lastly, don’t forget to do a local wine tasting in one of the myriads of wineries!

6 Mykonos

waves crash on the beach of Mykonos

Of all the Greek islands, Mykonos has the reputation of being the one with the wildest nightlife. So much so that it is often compared to Ibiza. In fact, it’s like this! If you’re looking for a trip where the nights are clubbing and days spent sleeping by the pool or on the beach, then Mykonos is for you. Between cocktails, take a stroll to Matoyianni Street, the shopping street, which flows into Little Venice, a neighbourhood where houses are built on the sea and seem to float on the water.

One characteristic of Mykonos is the mills – you cannot miss them at least once during your stay. If you are tired of the nightlife and looking for something more authentic, you can visit Ano Mera, a small village that still retains the charm of a Mediterranean village. Do you want to snap the perfect sunset pic? Then we recommend you reach the lighthouse of Armenistis. The lighthouse itself is nothing much. It is abandoned. However, from here the view is astonishing. Just stick to the dirt road to get there!

7 Milos

white rocks and blue sea on a sunny day
Island of Milos

And here we can predict this: Milos will become the new Santorini. So our advice is: hurry to visit it now since it still hasn’t been flooded by tourists from everywhere. So you can enjoy it in peace and soak up its beauty. Here, the sea is an incredible blue and Sarakiniko is made even more intense by the pure whiteness of its rocks. This beach is the most commonly shown in the photos because the landscape looks lunar-like. You just have to see it!

In Milos, you cannot miss a boat trip to admire the spectacular rock formations (always white) and why not take a nice dip in the open sea? The towns – e.g. Adamas or Plaka – are worth a visit to immerse yourself in the Greek culture. Milos is made up of white houses, taverns where you can eat baked feta and the sweet sound of music that resonates in the narrow streets. If you can, add the fishing villages (some reachable only by sea) of Klima, Madrakia and Firopotamos to your itinerary.

8 Naxos

ancient ruins with city lights in the background at dusk
Island of Naxos

Among the Cycladic Islands, Naxos is the most extensive – with no shortage of things to see and do here. Most travellers reach this island for its sea: the beaches to choose from are endless. Some can be reached on foot from Naxos (the main town), while others require a car or scooter. Among our favourites are Kastraki, which offers a beautiful view of the nearby island of Paros, and Pyrgaki, which is not very crowded and has two taverns where you can eat with a sea view!

If you love history, Naxos also boasts some points of interest. In Chora, you can reach Portara, the remains of a temple dedicated to Apollo. In Apollonas and Flerio you can see the kouroi, huge unfinished marble statues that are still in the quarries. The hinterland also deserves a peek. You can sample kitron, a local liqueur in Halki, while after visiting the town in Filoti, you can go trekking. In fact, the path starts here to climb Mount Zeus, the highest of the Cyclades and the birthplace of the god Zeus.

9 Paros

blue and white boats with white houses in the background

Near Naxos, we find Paros, probably a quieter island and thus chosen by those seeking a little tranquillity. Go to Naoussa to try the good Greek food in any small restaurant. Naoussa was an old fishing village, but now it is the most fashionable centre of the island. To get to a less crowded place, head to Lefkes, one of the most picturesque and characteristic villages on the island. Even quieter is the small port of Piso Livadi, with quaint family-run taverns overlooking the sea.

Even in Paros, there are plenty of beaches to choose from. As with the other islands, the best way to visit them all is to have your own vehicle, whether it is a car or, even better for parking spaces, a scooter. If you are fond of trekking, even Paros has something for you. There are several options for routes at Paros Park – and after a rough time, you can take a dip in the sea at Monastiri beach. One last excursion not to be missed is to the small island of Antiparos, where the coves are intimate and the rock formations spectacular.

What to see in Greece: the Dodecanese islands

10 Rhodes

a castle and small houses perched on a promontory in the afternoon
Island of Rhodes

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and in ancient times it was known for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Unfortunately for the giant statue, there was nothing left after an earthquake destroyed it. In Rhodes, there is no shortage of things to see and do. For example, starting with the medieval city of Rhodes, which is the largest and best-preserved fortified city in all of Europe. Lindos is the second town we suggest you scribble on your list, especially for its Acropolis where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea.

For anyone who wants to immerse themselves in history, a visit to Camirus is just the ticket. If you want to relax on the beach, there are quite a few options – but again, it is better to have your own car otherwise reaching them becomes tricky. If you love animals, then visit the Valley of the Butterflies. Here the trees are literally covered by butterflies between June and September! For a day of pampering, head to the Kalithea springs, which are said to have therapeutic and healing properties. For a trip out of town, what about the nearby island of Simi? This is home to colourful houses that clash with the blue of the sea.

11 Kos

view of the sea at sunset
Island of Kos

What should you see in Greece? Without a doubt, Kos. This place has everything a Greek island should have. We are really close to the Turkish coast – Bodrum is only 4 km away – and the air you breathe is that interesting blend of Greek and Middle Eastern culture. Kos is also called the island of Hippocrates. In fact, it’s the birthplace of the father of medicine who lived and taught there. Around the harbour of Kos Town, you can see the famous Tree of Hippocrates, under whose leaves legend has he held his lessons.

What else to see and do in Kos? The villages in the hinterland are beautiful and intimate, immersed in the peace of the mountains. Among the beaches, we have a favourite: Agios Stefanos, facing the homonymous island that can also be reached by swimming. An excursion we recommend you take is to the nearby island of Nisyros, where you can walk in the caldera of the Plyvotis volcano.

12 Karpathos

colourful houses perched on a mountain
Island of Karpathos

Decidedly wild and peaceful, the island of Karpathos is the southernmost of the Dodecanese. It is not one of the most popular destinations for mass tourism and for this reason, Karpathos keeps its most authentic spirit and its somewhat harsh nature intact, which can be inhaled especially in the mountain villages. Among these, we suggest you not miss Aperi, Volada and Othos. If you come across the latter between 26 and 28 July you will also be lucky enough to participate in a traditional party. Needless to say, even the beaches deserve mention. There are countless to choose from, some more frequented, others decidedly wilder.

What to see in Greece: the Ionian Islands

13 Zakynthos

brown and green rocks surrounded by blue sea

Zakynthos and Corfu have become two of the favourite destinations when it comes to nightlife in recent years. They are located in the Ionian Sea so it is not so difficult to reach them – not only by plane but also by ferry. Zakynthos is also the birthplace not only of the Italian writer and poet Ugo Foscolo – who dedicated the famous “A Zacinto” – but, from what is gathered from tales, also of Venus. To visit the island start from Zakynthos Town and then continue to discover all the most beautiful and characteristic beaches.

What should you see in Zakynthos? Undoubtedly the beach of the shipwreck, also called Navagio Beach. You can only reach it by boat but it is absolutely worth it. On the beach, you can find the wreck of an old boat, which makes the landscape highly suggestive. Even more beautiful if seen from above: halfway between the villages of Volimes and Anafonitria you can go down to a natural terrace overlooking the beach. Another unmissable highlight of Zakynthos is the Blue Caves, enchanting coves carved by the sea into the white rock.

14 Corfu

grey and green rocks overlooking the sea

Of all the Ionian islands, Corfu is probably the best known for being the most festive. The nightlife is undoubtedly one of the island’s main attractions and countless youths come here every summer to have fun in its renowned clubs. Of course, even the sea wants its share. The beaches here are inviting, especially after having a night on the town until six in the morning! The villages are also the typical Greek ones and, for a dip in history, you can visit the Achillion, the summer residence of Sissi.

15 Paxos

boats and colorful houses in Paxos in the daytime
Island of Paxos

Paxos is the smallest of the Ionian islands – it is only 10 kilometres long – and legend has it that it was created by Poseidon himself. Its small size makes it ideal for a green trip: you can rent bicycles and get about on two wheels. There are many beaches to choose from, as well as day trips to nearby islands. For example, you can reach Antipaxos, which has 100 inhabitants and is therefore very quiet, or Panagia and Ai Nikolaus. In these two, you can visit some Orthodox churches and ancient monasteries.

What to see in Greece: Crete

pink and brown sand with grey rocks and turquoise sea
Elafonissi beach

Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands – and it also seems to be a country in its own right. To get around you will need a vehicle of your own: you will be much freer to travel around Crete far and wide. Start from the capital, Iraklion, where you can discover the history of the Minoan civilisation that dominated the island – Minos and the Minotaur. Does that not ring a bell? Enter Knossos Palace, the island’s main archaeological site.

Which beaches should not be missed?

First of all, Elafonissi, the pink beach, where you can also spot sea turtles if luck is on your side. On the beach, you can even visit Canea, a small town that displays a perfect blend of the island’s dominations – Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian. And don’t miss the daily excursions to the nearby islands of Chrissi, a small paradise with a tropical appearance, and Spinalonga, which was a bulwark of the Republic of Venice.

Now that you know what to see in Greece, are you ready to go?

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team