Visiting Greece provides an opportunity to examine the culture that provided many of the threads woven into the fabric of Western Civilization. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that visiting Greece is like a tour through a dull, crumbling museum. Greece is a spectacular and scenic country whose inhabitants know how to live life to the fullest.
While almost every visitor is drawn to Greece’s world-famous antiquities, few can resist focusing on sun, sand and fun when exploring the many faces of Greece. Greece is endowed with a seemingly endless coastline and thousands of islands thrown in for good measure. Whatever your plans for touring Greece, make sure they include visiting several of the fabulous Greek Islands. Many of you will see Greece on a cruise. Those who do will find themselves wanting to return to spend more time touring the country’s enchanting “islands”.
Greece’s capital is filthy, noisy and often frustrating. But once you look past the smog, you’ll love its vibrant cafes, pedestrian sidewalks and lush parks. And unlike other ancient cities, all the historic monuments are clustered together for easy access.
Visit the Agora, the ancient square that was once the center of commercial and political life in Athens. Though in ruins, there’s still plenty to see: the Stoa of Zeus, the Temple of Apollo, the Altar of the Twelve Gods, and the Odeon of Agrippa.
For a glimpse into the seedier but no less charming side of Athens, visit Psiri, the ancient enclave of anarchists and rebels. Its narrow streets vibrate with cafes, restaurants and boutiques. If you’re there on a Sunday, visit the flea market in the adjoining neighborhood of Monastiraki, where you can buy just about anything.
No visit to Greece is complete without checking out its most famous island. Here you’ll find postcard-perfect whitewashed houses on steep cliffs overlooking the sea, complete with black sand beaches and amazing local cuisine. There’s even a legend that the resident volcano caused the disappearance of the city of Atlantis.
Thira is the main municipality of Santorini and the one most worth visiting. Find a high point and you can spend hours gazing at the rooftops cascading down to the sea.
The towns of Perissa and Kamari have black sand beaches with diving centers for unforgettable snorkeling. Good restaurants also abound.
Mykonos is the playground of the rich and beautiful, where the famous and elegant come to frolic, and sometimes strip their coverings. Great nude beaches abound and its central city is great for shopping. Get plenty of rest before coming here, because you won’t want to sleep.
A guide to Mykonos is like a yacht in the desert: pointless. You just have to explore the countless attractions for yourself, and decide which ones are best. Not to miss, however, are Paradise Beach and Paraga Beach, where many a penniless student traveler saved “ouzo money” by camping out in a cave for the night.
They were featured in a James Bond movie ( For Your Eyes Only ), so the monasteries in Meteora must be cool. Perched precariously on clifftops, one immediately wonders how on earth they got there. Apparently, Byzantine monks escaping bloodshed at the hands of Turks used ladders and windlasses to get up there. Today, you can use interlinked bridges.
One of the most famous archaeological sites in Greece, Delphi offers interesting excavations of ta major archaeological site that was dedicated to the worship of Apollo. It is, also, known as the home of the Oracle of Delphi, the most important of the oracles in ancient Greece. The Delphi Museum includes the Charioteer and other renowned statues
Closest of the Greek Islands to Europe, Corfu is regarded by many visitors as one of the most beautiful places in Greece. The island’s vegetation is luxurious compared to other of the Greek Isles. It is a fine destination for those seeking a beach vacation and Corfu Town is known for its night life.
The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete has been a stepping-stone to Europe from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Crete features fantastic beaches and extensive, interesting archaeological digs related to the Minoan Civilization. Be sure to visit the Palace of Knossos, home of King Minos, originally constructed almost four thousand years ago.
Rhodes was an important port through much of history. As you approach the island, you will be amazed by the medieval walled town created by the Knights of Saint John. The island offers great scenery, pleasant people, good shopping, and lots to do.
Be sure to visit Lindos to see the hilltop ruins of the Temple of Athena, providing a gorgeous view of the Aegean. As you ascend the hill to the temple, examine the fine linens for sale by trail-side “grannies”.
Rhodes was once the home of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.
In the western Peloponnese, in the “Valley of Gods”, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece, and the birthplace of the most important athletic mega-event of all times; the Olympic Games. Olympia is one of the most well known tourist destinations in Greece, and one of the most powerful brand names worldwide.
10. Temple Of Poseidon
The road to Cape Sounion passes the idyllic beaches of the Saronic Gulf – Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza – as well as countless caves. The ancient Greeks certainly knew how to choose a temple location, as Cape Sounion is a remarkable site. The Cape’s Temple of Poseidon is perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the sea, a gleaming white beacon for ancient (as well as modern) travelers along this dangerous stretch of coast.
The view across the Aegean is magnificent, extending all the way to Kea and the Peloponnese on a clear day. The Temple of Poseidon was built in 44 B.C., and many of its original Doric columns are still standing. One of the columns has a graffito left by none other than Lord Byron in the early 1800s.
This is a great half-day tour option if you’re looking to explore Greece beyond Athens.