Greece is not only beautiful with its ocean landscapes, distinct architecture, and delectable food, but it’s also incredibly affordable. Things cost half what they do in other parts of Europe. As one of the continent’s most popular destinations during the summer times, people from around the world flock to its famous islands for the sun, and to the cities for the history. I love Greece. It’s warm, it’s cheap, it has delicious food, rugged, windswept but relaxing islands, and lively and friendly locals. It’s the perfect summer destination. Everything you have ever seen or heard about Greece is true and I highly recommend you spend some extended time here. Also, try to get off the islands and into the interior as it’s mostly free of crowds!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Greece
1. Visit the Acropolis
2. Visit historic Crete
3. Walk up Mount Olympus
5. Explore the beaches
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Explore the past
Greece is where western civilization began and everywhere you turn, you will find ruins that are thousands of years old. Start in Athens with the museums, the Acropolis and surrounding ruins (the Agora is wonderful), and then set off to explore the ruins of Delphi, Sparta, and Crete. If you love history, you’ll love Greece.
2. Remember the Spartans
Sparta was the ancient rival of Athens and known for her fierce warriors. The city has a long history and ruins to explore. There is no shortage of things to do, excursions to take, and places to eat when you visit the city. It’s an often overlooked city, but you can get all the history of Greece without the tourists of Athens if you visit. I wouldn’t suggest skipping Sparta!
3. Attend the Hellenic Festival
Every summer, the Hellenic Festival in Athens has concerts and performance theater, including reenactments of Greek tragedy. It’s one of the country’s top cultural events and if it coincides with your visit, you’ll see just how proud the Greeks are of their past.
4. Take in the sun in Corfu
The Greek Islands may get all the press but sunny Corfu on Greece’s west coast is also a good place to enjoy the beach too. It’s a popular destination for young backpackers, but once you get out of the main town, you avoid them and their partying ways and get the island to yourself!
5. Explore the Delphi Ruins
Delphi has always been a place of historic and spiritual significance. This is where the omniscient Oracle would contact Apollo and give advice to those seeking good fortune. Although the eternal flame no longer burns inside, a visit to the Temple of Apollo is obligatory.
6. Melissani Cave
A boat tour will take you into these caves, where you can admire the magical quality of ultramarine water and monumental walls that surround you.
7. Go to Santorini
Although it is but one of the numerous Greek islands, many consider Santorini to be the most spectacular. Aside from the beautiful landscape and volcanic presence, it is an amazing place for beachside camping, winery tours, scuba diving, and more. The ruins on the southern part of the island were some of the best I saw.
8. Hike the Samaria Gorge
For the outdoor enthusiasts out there, this is considered one of the best hiking experiences in Greece. While it isn’t the shortest or easiest trek, the Samaria Gorge does promise beautiful landscapes, fantastic photo opportunities, and a great workout.
9. Experience the Patra Carnival
Every year in mid-January, the city of Patra is host to what is basically a month-and-a-half-long party. There’s a slew of events, both major and minor; increasingly crazy weekends; and various costume parades, which even feature floats. It’s usually a good idea to make hotel reservations well in advance.
10. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
The number one attraction on Crete, this museum also happens to be Greece’s second largest archaeological museum next to the museum in Athens. There is a stunning collection here, which highlights the Cretan civilization (dating back from Neolithic times, through to the Roman empire). It’s open daily 8:30am-5pm, except Mondays when it opens at 12pm. It does have abbreviated hours December-February. Admission is 6 EUR.
11. Party on the island of Ios
Ios has the wildest nightlife out of all the Greek islands. It is the summer party island where days are spent hungover on the beach while nights are spent eating cheap food and drinking. If you don’t want to do that but still want to see Ios, it’s best to go to the eastern part of the island where it’s quieter. Don’t let Ios’ party reputation deter you from visiting, it’s a beautiful, rugged island (and home to the grave of Homer) and only busy June-August!
12. Temple of Olympian Zeus
While you are walking about Athens, this is a incredible archaeological site to stop at. This temple is massive and took over 700 years to construct (dating back to the sixth century). There are a number of Corinthian columns still standing, though many have fallen. It’s quite an impressive sight. Admission is 2 EUR (it’s free if you already have admission to the Acropolis). It’s open daily from 8am-8pm with abbreviated hours in the winter.