Listing all the places to visit in Greece would be impossible. It is a spectacular land of beauty with an endless variety of landscapes, from ancient ruins and snow-capped mountains, to white sandy beaches with turquoise waters. Greece offers the perfect mix of relaxation, culture, and history to its visitors. When traveling throughout Greece, there are a great many things to see and do and places to visit. Here are our top must-see places in Greece to visit.
City of Athens
Dripping in history and inhabited for more than 3000 years, Athens is widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Both ancient and modern, the city is famous for its archaeological ruins and monuments while also boasting many fantastic restaurants and cosmopolitan shops, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. Some of the many city sites to see include the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora, the Theatre of Dionysos, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic games were held in 1896.
No visit to Athens is complete without visiting this temple atop the Acropolis. The two are generally considered the most important ancient sites in the Western world. More than any other monument, the Parthenon epitomizes the glory of Ancient Greece. Meaning “virgin’s apartment,” it is dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the goddess embodying the power and prestige of the city. Construction began in 447 BC, replacing an older temple destroyed by the Persians, and was completed in 432 BC. During its long life it has served as a temple, a fortress, a church, a mosque, and even as a powder magazine.
Ancient Delphi – Top Must See Places in Greece
Built on the slopes of Mount Parnassos and overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, this World Heritage site was revered by ancient Greeks as the center of the earth. Developed in the 8th century BC and dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, the sanctuary in the Temple of Apollo was home to the Oracle of Delphi. This is where consultations with the oracle took place and the Pythia’s (priestess) chants were then interpreted by the priests of Apollo. The oracle was famed throughout the ancient world for offering advice on a wide range of topics from politics, battle strategies, farming, and relationships. Other significant ruins and structures at Delphi include the Athenian Treasury, the Delphi Theater, and the hippodrome that once hosted events of the ancient Pythian Games.
“Suspended in the air” is a collection of six monasteries, most of which were constructed during the Middle Ages. Spectacularly situated on top of several rock pillars, the inaccessibility of the rocks made the location an ideal retreat for hermit monks seeking spiritual isolation and freedom from religious persecution. Access required either long ladders or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. Today the monasteries are still inhabited by a small number of clergy who welcome visitors from all over the world.
Ancient Olympia – Top Must See Places in Greece
The Olympic games took place here for at least 1000 years, and today the Olympic flame continues to be lit here for the modern Games. Enough remains of the original, magnificent temples and athletic facilities to give you a hint of the World Heritage-listed site’s former glory. The Olympic Games were undoubtedly the ancient world’s biggest sporting event and victorious competitors won great fame and considerable fortune. Especially fun to see is the stadium where the stone start and finish lines of the 120m sprint track still survive.
At the southern most tip of the Attica peninsula, Cape Sounion is best known as the site of the ruins of the ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea. The remains are perched on a craggy outcropping, surrounded on 3 sides by cliffs that plunge 65m down to the ocean. Sunset over the Agean Sea, viewed from the ruins, is a sought-after tourist spectacle.
This (mostly Roman) city is home to the mythological “Jason and the Argonauts.” The ruins include a huge agora (market) in the center of which is a bema (marble podium) where Roman officials addressed the citizens. The apostle Paul also spoke to the Corinthians from this bema, teaching the gospel of Christ mostly in vain. You can walk along the Lecheon road which was once main thoroughfare from the city center to the Lecheon port on the Ionian Sea. Also interesting to see are the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, as well as what’s left of a public latrine – where some toilet seats still remain.
Thessaloniki – Top Must See Places in Greece
Northern Greece’s liveliest town due to its universities, cultural scene, arts, and nightlife. Explore the old quarter full of colorful winding streets, white-plastered houses, and Byzantine churches. Be sure to visit Thessaloniki’s most famous landmark, the 34m high White Tower with its harrowing history as a prison and torture chamber.
This World Heritage-listed site is synonymous with Homer’s “Iliad and the Odyssey.” These poems were regarded as no more than gripping and beautiful legends until the 1870s when amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann uncovered historical ruins both here and at Troy. Ancient Mycenae consisted of a fortified citadel and surrounding settlement, and as to whether King Agamemnon of legend ever existed, if Homer’s “Odyssey” is to be believed, he took part in the siege of Troy around 1100 BC, whereas the tombs at this location attributed to him and his wife date back to around 1300 BC. One thing is certain – myth and history are inextricably linked in Mycenae.
Mystras – Top Must See Places in Greece
Located near ancient Sparta, this Unesco World Heritage site and former capital of the Byzantine Empire is often considered the most compelling set of medieval ruins in Greece. You can walk the cobblestones of this classic fortress city and peek into the ruins of palaces, libraries, monasteries and churches, most dating from between 1271 and 1460.
Cruise the Greek Islands of Santorini, Rhodes, and Crete
Santorini was created by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history, which created its multicolored cliffs soaring over 300m from an Aegean Sea-covered caldera. In Rhodes’ Old Town you can meander down medieval, cobbled alleys with archways above and town squares that open up ahead. On Crete, be sure to hike the Samaria Gorge which runs through an ancient riverbed to the Libyan Sea. The magnificent canyon is home to varied wildlife, soaring birds of prey, and a dazzling array of wildflowers in the spring.