Discover Greece’s ancient treasures and modern attractions by land and sea.
Octopus drying in Fira
Photo Credit: Stocksy
In photos, Greece is easy on the eyes; the dramatic contrast of saturated blue and stark white and the interplay of shadow and light showcase Greece’s undeniable appeal. In person, the island-rich European nation on the Aegean reveals its true magic. Home to breathtaking whitewashed villages, lively tavernas, beautiful beaches and storied monuments, the cradle of Western civilization is a seductive and dynamic destination. It helps that the Greeks are a fun-loving, friendly and hospitable people who welcome visitors like family.
On the rise once again after a recession, Greece offers incredible value for travelers, making the unforgettable vistas, sunsets and contagious spirit an experience within reach.
The storied capital is the perfect place to begin exploring Greece. The impressive Panathenaic Stadium—where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896—is a reminder of the Olympic legacy, which began in 776 B.C., when athletes competed to honor Zeus. The mighty columns of the ruined Temple of Olympian Zeus, in the city center, are a classic example of Greek aesthetics, craft and ingenuity. In view from most of the city’s vantage points, the Acropolis—an imposing, ancient stone citadel—is a constant presence. After getting an overview at the Acropolis Museum, ascend the monument and marvel at its scale and grandeur. The ancient citadel’s focal point is the luminous Parthenon; built from Pentelic marble and limestone to honor the city’s patron goddess, Athena, in the fifth century B.C., it glows at night. It’s as loved as the city’s indigenous cuisine, which includes ever-popular souvlaki (grilled skewers of meat and veggies) and can be found on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants. Get your fill of both before taking to the Aegean Sea and its can’t-miss islands.
Sample taverna fare while exploring Greece.
Photo Credit: eStock
Photos of white clifftop villages and spectacularly fiery sunsets over the still-steaming caldera don’t do justice to the beauty of Santorini. The famous honeymoon island is what remains after a massive volcano erupted more than 3,500 years ago. To this day, the island seduces not only newlyweds but those with an appetite for exploring Greece’s history, top-notch food and wine and the wonders of nature. Take a guided visit to Akrotiri, the preserved Minoan town that was buried in volcanic ash in 1627 B.C.; it’s still being excavated by archaeologists. Viewing this ruin gives insight into how Greeks lived long ago; they adorned their buildings with intricate frescoes and had surprisingly modern conveniences like plumbing. For an afternoon as picturesque as basking in the sun on the lava-black Perivolos Beach or rusty Red Beach, wander through the narrow cobblestone paths of Imerovigli, Thira and Oia.
Although the approach by ship or boat to Mykonos differs from the approach to Santorini, the theme is familiar and stunning. A bright white-and-blue palette drenches the island, where a collection of famous spherical windmills with conical straw roofs—best seen silhouetted against a vibrant sunset—greets visitors. History buffs shouldn’t miss the pleasant boat ride to the holy island of Delos, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece. The ancient ruins, which date back to the third millennium B.C., represent the birthplace of the deities Apollo and Artemis. Laze on the postcard-perfect beaches of Kalafatis and Elia. Dip a toe in the iconic nightlife scene. Taste the island’s famous honey, olives and feta. Get caught up in the moment at a colorful local taverna, which captures Greece’s uniquely contagious, carefree spirit.