A holiday to Greece is something that most people dream of. The combination of beautiful, pristine beaches and unfathomably ancient history and archeological sites make for the best possible holiday.
But, just like anywhere else in the world, there are some attractions that are super popular but simply aren’t worth the time and effort – especially if you’re only visiting briefly and are on a budget.
So, we’ve put together a list of 10 must-visit places and attractions in Greece, as well as one that isn’t worth the effort, so that you don’t waste any time during your vacation.
1. The Acropolis
This ancient citadel located atop a hill overlooking Athens is absolutely worth visiting today, especially if you do a guided tour. The history you’ll learn about the ruins of the Acropolis is absolutely fascinating, and you’ll also be able to enjoy beautiful views of the city below. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most complete ancient Greek monumental complex, and it’s well worth the walk to the top of the hill.
2. National Archaeological Museum
The Greek National Archaeological Museum is considered not only the best museum in the country but one of the best and most comprehensive in the whole world. It houses some of the most important artifacts from ancient Greek civilization, and the museum itself has been in operation since 1889.
The Greek National Archaeological Museum has several different collections (five of which are permanent and a few other ones popping up here and there), and some of the oldest artifacts date back to 5,000 BC.
Mystras is quite unlike any other old Greek town, and for that reason, it’s certainly worth the time. Abandoned after an attack by Albanian Turks, this ancient Byzantine town of ruins is still full of historic buildings, stunning old artworks, and old churches that have somehow survived many years.
Located near Sparta at the foot of Mt. Taygetos, a visit to Mystras is worth every minute, whether you’re a history fanatic or not.
4. Mykonos Old Town
Mykonos may be one of the more crowded of the popular Greek islands, but in my opinion, it’s still totally worth the visit – especially to hang out in and see the Old Town. The island itself is beautiful, full of pristine beaches – some of which actually aren’t too busy – and the Old Town is a vibey, bustling area with loads to see and do. It’s also known for being quite liberal and gay-friendly, with a roaring nightlife.
Located in the Peloponnese, Mycenae is a famous Greek archeological site that was once a majestic fortified palace. It’s perched high up atop a hill, and the ruins of the ancient palace are quite astounding. If you’re into old Greek buildings and ruins, Mycenae is totally worth the visit.
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in the whole of Greece, and it’s located on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. The city is home to an incredible amount of ancient history, including that of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Much of the city was rebuilt in “modern” European style after a massive fire in the 20th century, but it’s still a fascinating and fun place to visit.
Meteora is in Thessaly, Greece, and it is an unusual rock formation – but it’s about more than just unique rocks. Meteora is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the fact that ancient monasteries are built atop these soaring rocks, and some of them date back to around the 15th century. It is, undoubtedly, an unusual attraction and it’s pretty incredible to see with your own eyes.
8. Olympia Archaeological Site
Olympia in Greece is easily one of the most well-known places to visit in Greece, and for good reason. This ancient archeological site is home to some of the most important places in Greek history, including the sanctuary of Zeus, among others. It’s most famous for being the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which originally took place here every four years from 776 BC until 393 AD. The modern Olympic Games may be one of the oldest traditions in the history of mankind, so a visit to the original Olympia Archaeological site is quite something indeed.
9. Epidauraus Ampitheater
Dating back to the fourth century, Epidauraus is another ancient Greek amphitheater, but it’s not just another old amphitheater. It’s renowned for having not only the most perfect acoustics of all ancient amphitheaters in the country but it’s also supposed to be the one with the best aesthetics. In fact, this 15,000-seater amphitheater still boasts fantastic acoustics!
Today, the modern town of Delphi is located near the ancient archaeological site of Delphi – the modern town is a really cool place to stay and visit, and it’s super convenient to be based there while you visit the archaeological site.
The ancient site was a religious sanctuary that was dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god, and today, it’s one of the best preserved archeological sites in the country, making it a great place to see during your holiday.
One Thing I’d Skip Next Time I Go to Greece: Santorini
Don’t get me wrong, Santorini is absolutely beautiful and the beaches are unparalleled. However, in my opinion, it’s just way too busy and far too commercialized. Everywhere you go is crowded and full of tourists, which also means the prices can be absurd – from accommodation to drinks at bars. Because the island is so focused on catering to foreigners, everything is more about creating the “Greek experience” rather than authenticity.
There are so many other beautiful islands and coastal areas in Greece that are quieter and actually have Greek people living there, that going to Santorini really just isn’t worth it. Unless you want to party all day and all night every day and every night, I’d give it a miss!
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