Lofty mountain scenery, a seemingly endless coastline, and splendid islands scattered about in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas help make Greece one of the planet's favorite travel destinations. Located on the tip of the Balkan peninsula, Greece offers guests warm Hellenic hospitality and fantastic local cuisine. Along with its geographic appeal, Greece is characterized by sun-washed buildings surrounded by blue sea and sky, olive groves, ancient ruins, and idyllic villages.
A visit to this Southern European nation means connecting to a classic past that has significantly influenced the arts, sports, philosophy, politics, and even the language of the modern western world. Late April to early November is prime travel time for Greece. However, the calendar stays filled with festivals and special events most anytime. Sunny weather dominates May to October, and the islands are best then for sunning and swimming.
The Best Places to Stay
- For the perfect island experience, plan to stay on Crete, the largest Greek island by far and located in the gorgeous Aegean Sea. Guests here enjoy both rugged mountains and white sandy beaches. A variety of hotels dot the island's northern coast, and a few are sprinkled along the southern coast.
- Luxurious hotels and elegant restaurants are typical of the island of Santorini. They are set among the Cycladic whitewashed houses and picturesque landscape. Most, but not all accommodations here are high-end. The most expensive places to stay on Santorini are the cliffside towns of Fira and Oia where the views are so amazing. Find more budget-friendly options inland or in Perissa on the south coast.
- To experience plenty of history and culture, spend time in the sprawling city of Athens. Lots of ancient ruins are around to explore, yet, at the same time, it is a modern metropolis. Athens offers travelers a variety of accommodations to fit many needs. Most are located in the surrounding areas of the Acropolis Athens and southeast of the main train station.
- Corfu, the second largest Ionian Island faces Italy across the Ionian Sea. The island is popular for its history and its beaches. Accommodations here range from expensive hotels to budget and mid-range resorts and guesthouses.
Exciting Activities to Try
Go spelunking (cave exploring) at Melissani Cave. This craggy cave near Karavomilos is known for its immense beauty. The four kilometer-long cave was formed over centuries as water ate away at the soft rocks. Explorers can enter the cave via a tunnel.
Explore the island of Crete's Samaria Gorge. This unique gorge is a nature lover's dream. Although it's 16 kilometers in length, the gorge is a mere 4 meters wide in some spots. Choose a trek or walk the length of the gorge in about seven hours.
Climb one of the world's most famous mountains, Mount Olympus. Much Greek mythology surrounds the place where Zeus and Hades supposedly ruled. The highest peak is Mytikas at 2918 meters. Mount Olympus is located between Thessaly and Macedonia.
For an afternoon filled with adventure, head to Lake Plastira in the Lardista region of Greece. This man made lake is surrounded by natural beauty. Go canoeing or rafting, and hike or ride horses along the trails near the lake.
For the ultimate hike, find the Corfu trail on the beautiful island of Corfu. The dirt tracks trail weaves past a variety of landscapes like turquoise lagoons and summits with stunning vistas.
Sights You Can't Miss
Visit Santorini to admire the iconic Greek architecture surrounded by picture- postcard beauty. The island is popular as a haven for honeymooners. Cycladic homes and churches surrounded by turquoise water glisten in the Greek sun.
While in Athens, be sure to tour the Acropolis. It dominates the skyline and is one of Greece's top attractions. History buffs and art lovers alike will appreciate the architecture of the glistening marble, Doric columns, and Athena's Parthenon.
Be inspired with a visit to the Archeological site of Delphi. It's a top attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delphi is located on Mount Parnassus about 180 kilometers outside of Athens. It's known as the place where those of old times came to worship Apollo, the Greek god of healing, light, music, and prophecy.
To see an amazing feat of engineering, don't miss the Corinth Canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf out in the Aegean Sea. The ancient Roman emperor Nero started the project that was finished in the 19th century. Still, in working order, spectators can sometimes see ships traveling through.