Greece is one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations, a sun-drenched nation devoted to ‘the good life’ filled with passion, epic landscapes, incredible food, and history. So much history!
Greece still retains many treasures from the civilizations of history which have risen, fallen, conquered, or left its territory – including Classical Greece, considered the cradle of Western civilization which seeded many of our modern ideas in politics, philosophy, science, and art
Thankfully today, things are a little more subdued than when conquests of Alexander the Great spread Hellenistic civilization from the western Mediterranean to Central Asia– but the inherited architectural jewels of Ancient Greece remain for tourists to fawn over. Not to mention plenty of more modern delights and divine natural landscapes.
There are so many places to visit in Greece; you could spend a lifetime explore its riches and only just scratch the surface. This is why we have developed this cheat sheet to help you with your travels.
But first – what is a landmark?
A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature that typically stands out from its environment and has become a local or national symbol. For modern tourists, a landmark is useful for navigation – in terms of a physical waypoint and trying to help you organize your itinerary.
Getting the off-the-beaten-track is all well and good, but at the end of the day – there are some spots you just have to see when you visit a country. Think about Disney World in Florida or Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Place so famous it would be almost inconceivable to skip such spots….and why would you want to?
When approaching a trip to the birthplace of democracy (and gyros), you will want to tick off as many famous Greek landmarks as you can – and the best way is to do that is often by flying between islands, catching a boat, or taking a tour.
With over 6000 islands and the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, there is a lot to explore in Greece…and no list of famous Greek landmarks could ever be exhaustive. But, we have tried to get the highlights by putting a call out to our few travel bloggers – and asking them to tell us about their favorite.
This way, you have a reasonable frame of reference to inspire your Greek travels where you can choose a few that you absolutely cannot miss… or cram as many as possible into one trip.
If you plan it right and have enough time, you might just hit them all — plus discover plenty more of your own highlights of Greece while you’re at it!
25 Famous Landmarks Of Greece To Plan Your Travels Around! 🇬🇷
- 25 Famous Landmarks Of Greece To Plan Your Travels Around! 🇬🇷
- Achilleion Palace in Corfu
- Acropolis in Athens
- Akrotiri Lighthouse in Santorini
- Ancient Theater of Argos
- Apollo Temple in Naxos
- Balos Beach in Crete
- Chania Old Venetian Harbour
- Church Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros
- Delphi Temple Of Apollo
- Hellenic Parliament Building
- Hosios Loukas Monastery
- Oia in Santorini
- Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos
- Spinalonga Island
- Super Paradise Beach
- Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth
- Temple of Poseidon
- The Ancient City Of Philippi
- Vikos Gorge
- White Tower of Thessaloniki
Achilleion Palace in Corfu
The beauty of Corfu Island is given not only by its beautiful beaches (which alone could occupy a whole vacation) but also by the fact that you have some interesting attractions to visit in the area. One of these attractions, the Achilleion Palace —also known as the Palace of Princess Elizabeth of Austria — stands out above the rest, however, as a landmark of Greece.
The Empress of Austria, Elizabeth (Sissi, as she has gone down in history), had already fallen in love with Corfu, her favorite holiday destination, and with Greek style and design when she decided to build a palace here. Depressed after her son’s suicide, a year later, she bought the land on which Achilleion Palace will be built, in Gastouri, 10 km from the island’s capital, Corfu Town.
The palace was her place of refuge, and she left her mark on its decoration. During the world wars, the palace was a war hospital, after kindergarten, later here operated the casino in Corfu. Now it is a museum and can be visited both inside and outside. You can reach the gate by car and, after paying the entrance fee, you will receive an audio guide in various languages, in great detail.
The palace is impressive! It is decorated with motifs from Greek mythology and is dedicated to the Greek hero Achilles. You can walk through its rooms to admire the works of art, the objects of the royal families that lived here, and elements of Greek culture. The high position offers visitors beautiful views of the Ionian Sea and the green island. For hot summer afternoons, when the sun burns too hard to sit on the beach, a visit to Achilleion Palace in Corfu is a perfect choice.
Explored by Corina from Another Milestone
Acropolis in Athens
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in all of Greece, the Acropolis is one of the most famous ancient archaeological sites in the world, and its history is truly rich, varied, and utterly fascinating.
Having been inhabited since prehistoric times, the overall function of the Acropolis has altered over the centuries, ranging from a citadel, a residence for kings, as well as a mythical home to the Greek Gods and a religious center. This fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Site towers above the city of Athens, and literally translates to ‘high city’ in Greek. Perhaps the most spectacular of eras of the Acropolis dates back to the time of the Pericles, between 460 B.C. and 430 B.C., when Athens was at its cultural peak; some of the most iconic elements were added during this time, including The Parthenon, a gigantic Doric-style temple which is still to this day a primary attraction of the Acropolis.
After Rome converted to Christianity in the sixth century A.D., many of the Acropolis’s temples were converted to Christian churches, and the city underwent a time of immense change. Later, in 1687, the Venetians bombarded the Acropolis, and the Parthenon was largely decimated. However, after years of damage, the Acropolis was eventually returned to the Greeks in disrepair after the Greek War of Independence in 1822, and restoration began.
Today, the Acropolis is open to tourists year-round and is one of the top attractions. If you are visiting during high season (May to September), try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and buy your tickets online.
Explored by Chrysoula from Athens and Beyond
Akrotiri Lighthouse in Santorini
While Santorini is one of the most popular places in Greece and millions of tourists flock to the northern part of the island (mostly to Oia and Fira), the southern part of Santorini is still off the tourists’ radar. If you want to experience Santorini without the crowds, then heading over to the Akrotiri peninsula is always a good idea!
Akrotiri used to be a well-connected port town, and it was one of the most important Minoan urban centers until the volcanic eruption in the 17th century B.C. As a consequence, the whole town was covered in volcanic ashes, which helped preserve the site. Because of that, Akrotiri is often referred to as the Greek Pompeii. Today it’s one of the most important archeological sites in Greece, and it can be visited every day except Mondays (the ticket costs 12 EUR per person).
Other than the archeological site, you can also find a white beach in the Akrotiri peninsula and a lighthouse on the western edge, from where you can see one of the best sunsets in Santorini.
You can drive all the way to the lighthouse; it takes around 50 minutes from Oia or 25 minutes from Fira. Since it’s not a popular site, finding a parking spot along the road will be easy, and after that, you can walk up to the lighthouse in a few minutes. If you’re planning to watch the sunset there, you can also climb up to the hill behind the lighthouse, this way you can see the sun setting behind the lighthouse.
Explored by Krisztina Harsanyi from She Wanders Abroad
Ancient Theater of Argos
Argos is little known but really an interesting Roman site. Besides the fort and the castle of Argos, the theatre of Argos, too, is worth exploring for experiencing that ancient charm of Greece. It is ranked among the largest theatres of Greece. It is amazing to see how the theatre has been designed and chiseled out of a hill as if it is being held in cupped hands.
Head to Larissa hillside in Argos town to see this marvel made of 90 steps in a steep incline. It is said in its heydays the theatre had the capacity to seat 20,000 spectators! There are two landings that neatly trifurcate the arena.
Much of it is in ruins today, but it has definitely seen much better and grander days. The Theatre of Argos was the venue for games, important political events, athletics, festivals, music, and dramatics.
This theatre was constructed in 320BC, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian from the 2nd B.C. Many constructional changes were made to the theatre during different eras in the centuries that followed. But with the passage of time and the devastating effects of wars, the importance of this theatre had slipped into oblivion till it was excavated and unearthed by The French School of Archaeology in the 19th century.
A lot of artifacts have been gathered from this and nearby sites. You can see the collection of these precious findings in the Archaeological Museum of Argos. The Ancient Theatre is in the heart of Argos town. Argos is 15 km from Nafplion, a 20-minute drive by road. Argos is 127 km from Athens. You can plan a day trip to Argos; a road trip will take approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.
Explored by Indrani Ghose from I Share These
Apollo Temple in Naxos
The Temple of Apollo in Naxos is easily the most recognizable landmark on this Cyclades island, and it comes with a deep-rooted history. Also commonly known as the Naxos Portara, which means “great door,” this iconic marble doorway sits on an islet overlooking Naxos’ old town.
The history of Apollo Temple dates back to 530 BC when the leader of Naxos, Lygdamis, wanted to have one of the most iconic and highest buildings in Greece built on Naxos. It is said that this Temple was going to be built to honor Apollo, which is how it got its name. However, there is also some dispute that it may have been built to honor Dionysus.
They began to build a massive temple on this islet off the coast of Naxos, but then a war with Samos broke out, and the construction was immediately stopped. Lygdamis was overthrown in 506 BC, and as a result, the planned Temple was never finished. All that remained was the marble gate you see today overlooking Naxos.
When visiting Naxos, a walk over to the Temple of Apollo is a must-visit. Not only is it an opportunity to enjoy a piece of Greek history, but it is home to some of the best views on Naxos island. For an extra special experience, visit when the sun is setting overtop of Naxos for a view of the sunset through the marble arch.
Balos Beach in Crete
Balos beach and lagoon is a true gem of the Crete island. It’s located in the Northwestern corner of Crete, and it definitely belongs among the most beautiful places of the whole island. Turquoise water, white sand, and the picturesque island of Tigani make perfect scenery. Water in the lagoon is usually a few degrees warmer than in other places.
During the season, you can expect full service there – beach bar, showers, toilets, and changing rooms. You can also hire sunbeds and beach umbrellas. The easiest way to get there is by boat. Several boats are coming from Kissamos harbor to Balos every day.
It’s also possible to get there by car, but the journey is a little adventure. The last 8 km is just a dirt road with lots of rocks, so count at least 30 minutes for driving just this section. There is a fee of €1 per person collected at the beginning of the road – be prepared for that and have cash with you! And keep in mind that car insurance of most of the rental companies doesn’t cover driving on a dirt road like this. There is a free parking lot available at the end of the road.
The best time for visiting Balos is usually early morning, so you can enjoy a little while without other tourists – or even better, to go in shoulder season when there is nearly no one!
Don’t forget to take a picture of this lovely place from the upper viewpoint and check more about Balos Beach in Crete here.
Explored by Adriana Plotzerová from Czech The World
Chania Old Venetian Harbour
Chania’s Old Venetian Harbour is one of the significant historical landmarks in Crete. Like any other historic city, Chania’s face has changed over the centuries as empires changed. It was in the second Byzantine period (961AD-1204); the entire Chania was rebuilt. To protect the city, they built a fortress around the hill, known as Kasteli, some parts of which have survived until now. However, with the fall of the Byzantine empire, Chania fell into Venetian rule.
The harbor that we see today was built in the 14th century by the Venetians primarily to serve their military ships. The harbor also served as an important commercial trading route. During their rule, Venetians built many churches, mansions and fortified the town around Kasteli fortress. Soon in 1645, Venetians saw the threat from the Turks (Ottomans) and surrendered after a two-month siege. Under Ottoman rule (which continued until 1897), many churches were turned into mosques.
They also built new mosques, including the Yali Mosque on the harbor, built hammams and fountains, yet again changing the face of Chania. After many revolts and wars, the island was declared autonomous in 1897 and became the capital of the Cretan State. And in 1913, Crete was reunited back with Greece.
Much of what we see today in Chania are the remains of Venetian and Turkish times. However, if you peek into their culture, you can see a blend of Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish and Greek elements. Today the Venetian Harbour is not used as a commercial port but hosts small boats and yachts that belong to local families.
Chania’s Venetian harbor is one of the most photographed places in Crete, and a stroll along the Harbour is a must-do activity. Dine at one of the many restaurants along the harbor and savor the views of the sea and the gorgeous Chania lighthouse. If you want an alternate adventure, you can take a Trikke tour of Chania Old town that takes you around the Old Town and Venetian Harbour.
Chania has an international airport with flights that serve much of Europe. Alternatively, there are regular ferries that sail from Athens (Pireas) to Chania (Souda), which is a few kilometers away has a certain character that you cannot find in any other seaside towns.
Explored by Anu from Country Hopping Couple
Church Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros
The Church of Panagia, Ekatontapillani is a few meters away from the port of Parikia, the capital of Paros. The Church was constructed by the first emperor of Constantinople, Saint Constantine, after the offering of his mother, Saint Helene. Situated on the Paros island, this Church is one of the best-preserved Paleo Christian monuments in Greece.
During her journey to the Holy land, in search of the Holy Cross, a storm brought Saint Helene to Paros. There she promised the Virgin to build a church if her quest were successful. Her son built the Church after her death to fulfill her vow.
The Church was originally constructed in the 4th century A.D., whereas, in the 6th Century A.D., Byzantine Emperor Justinian made reformations to it and added a dome. Therefore, it is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in the nation. Through the centuries, more reformations were made to the Church, and now it is a mixture of Paleo Christian, Byzantine, and Post-Byzantine elements.
The iconic Church is also referred to as “the church of 100 doors”, that synonyms with the name Ekatontapillani. According to the tradition, it is believed that the Church has 99 doors and a secret door will open when the Church of Hagia Sofia will be orthodox again.
The entire complex of Ekatontapillani is the complex of the main Church of the Virgin Mary with the internal chapels of Agios Anargiros, Agios Phillips, and Osia Theokisti. In the exterior area, the visitors will be able to admire the huge iron gate if the entrance and the remaining temples as well.
The monastery of Panagia Ekatontapillani is just a 5-minute walk from the Parikia village bus station. Travelers can either reach there by bus or private rentals. Private rentals allow the tourists to discover many other places along with looking for the perfect luxury hotels in Paros for staying. Travelers may visit the Church on August 15 to experience their huge celebration in honor of Panagia. This will make their visit more positive.
Explored by Paulina from Paulina On The Road
Delphi Temple Of Apollo
One of the most interesting landmarks in Greece is the famous site of the legendary Temple of Apollo in Delphi. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Athens, and one of the most iconic places in Greece as a whole. The Temple in Delphi dates back to the 8th century B.C., where the Oracle of Delphi was erected. In the 6th century B.C., the Oracle was overseen by priestesses called the “Pythia” who made predictions about the future and consulted with leaders as well as everyday Greeks who came to the Oracle with their questions.
Delphi became a place for leaders of different leaders of Greek states, and it was a place of peace amidst the chaos between the city-states. The different city-states could flaunt their status by building monuments at Delphi as a sign of power, and this led to the building of the Temple of Apollo, the only structure which remains today.
Delphi became largely abandoned around 400 AD when Pagan practices were banned by Emperor Theodosius. While Delphi had some visitors in the interstitial years, it wasn’t until 1832, when Greece declared independence from the Ottomans, that Greeks began to excavate and celebrate Delphi once again. The excavation finished in the late 19th century.
Delphi is located about 185 km from Athens by car, a drive of about 2 hours and 15 minutes. It’s best to go by rental car or by guided tour, as public transit to Delphi takes much longer. I recommend a guided tour to learn more about the history — plus, laws dictate that Greek guides are always licensed, and in my personal experience, guides in Greece are so knowledgeable and passionate about their history.
Any time of year is good to visit Delphi, but I suggest visiting outside of the summer season, so you can avoid hot weather as there is no shade at the archaeological site. You can also avoid crowds this way! In my opinion, October is the best month to visit: great weather, low prices, and no crowds!
Explored by Allison Green of Sofia Adventures
Visiting the astonishingly well-preserved landmark of Epidaurus in the Peloponnese is a can’t miss experience when visiting Greece. And it’s only a short journey from Athens or Nafplio.
The grace of the ancient theater with its incredible acoustics (try whispering in one corner and you can hear it from the other side) still hosts plays every summer. You can climb to the top of the seats and catch the stunning views, which are a key part of the whole experience. Stopping into the small archeological museum on the site will give you additional context for the importance of this landmark.
But don’t stop there – head past the theater to the ruins of the Asclepeion, the ancient Temple where people came from all over Greece to be healed. When you’re breathing in the clean, pine-scented air and gazing at the surrounding hills, you might feel a little healing yourself. The grounds of the old city are good for a few hours of rambling and exploring the ruins and the surrounding lush terrain.
Getting there is an easy bus trip from Nafplio – the journey takes about one hour, and buses run several times a day, even in the off-season. Hop on the KTEL bus from Nafplio center. You can even take a bus from Kifissos bus station outside of Athens, which takes about two hours each way if you want to make it a day trip. You can also join an organized day trip from Athens, or rent a car and drive yourself the two hours there and back.
Hellenic Parliament Building
Overlooking Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens is the imposing Hellenic Parliament building. The stark Neoclassical building was constructed from 1836 to 1842 and originally served as the Royal Palace. Restoration of the building began in 1909 after being damaged by a fire, and after the monarch was abolished from Greece, the building became a museum and a makeshift hospital.
Parliament moved into the building in 1929 with the Ball Room on the ground floor, now the main Chamber of Parliament. At the front of the Parliament House is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inaugurated in 1932 to honor all unknown soldiers who died for their country. The monument is guarded by Evzones, an infantry unit of the Greek Army.
The Evzones stand silent and alert in their traditional uniform, 24 hours a day, regardless of the weather conditions. If you are in Athens, I would strongly suggest you time your visit to coincide with the must-see changing of the guards that takes place every hour.
This elite unit is specially selected for their excellent physical condition. They are disciplined and proud, extremely tall, and in peak physical condition. They also wear a very unique uniform. A kilt like a skirt known as a Foustanela was established by the first King of Greece as the formal dress in the 19th century and worn by the Evzones to show strength and prowess. It is worn with tights, tasseled knee garters, and big red clogs weighing 3.5 kilos.
Two Evzones guard the tomb three times every two days, with guards changing every hour. The changing of the guards is a very ceremonious process taking ten minutes. The full Grand Change, complete with a marching band, occurs every Sunday at 11:00 am. Instead of the everyday uniforms, the guards wear special white uniforms for the Grand Change and on National Holiday.
Explored by Lyn from A Hole In My Shoe
Hosios Loukas Monastery
Located in the west slope of Mount Helikon, Hosios Loukas looks majestic, monumental, and mesmerizing — a true landmark of Greece! This was built in early 10th C C.E. and is the largest of the three major Byzantine monasteries built in that era.
The three have been listed together as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Hosios Loukas has been named after its founder, and it literally means St. Luke in the local language of Greek. His relics are in this Church to date.
This entire complex consists of 2 churches, one monastery, one crypt, and more. Today, there is a museum where the monastery once existed, that explains all about St. Luke and how the monastery functioned in its hay-days. The crypt is filled with frescoes dating from the 11th century C.E., which were recently discovered in only the last 100 years. Both the churches (Hosios Loukas & Katholikon) are interconnected, and both are filled with exquisite Byzantine mosaic art.
The entire place sparkles with those mosaic bits! The most prominent of them all is ‘Jesus of Navi,’ huge and very detailed and almost unbelievable that it’s mosaic art. The decoration is lavish, extremely ornate, and are indeed perfect examples of Byzantine Art.
It is located in the village of Distomo in Central Greece. A visit would take a couple of hours and could be either visited as a stop-over on the way from Athens to Delphi or during a skiing weekend in Arachova! The churches are still functioning places of worship. So do follow decorum and wear appropriate clothing to respect the religious sentiments of locals.
Explored by Bhushavali from My Travelogue by Bhushavali
Knossos, five miles outside of Crete’s capital of Heraklion, is a series of Minoan palaces. Excavated by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans in the early 20th century, today, it gives people an insight into a lost world. This was the center of trade and activity and had links to many of the other European centers. It was occupied from Neolithic times until the 5th century A.D.
These palaces were at the center of a vibrant and colorful royal life for 2000 years, and today it’s possible to walk through now abandoned hallways and gaze at wall paintings and toppled pillars. It’s a very atmospheric place where you can feel history alive.
Key sites are the Hall of the Double Axes, the Queen’s Hall, the theatre (where you can sit on the steps as people would have done thousands of years ago), and the Throne Room.
Despite this being one of the most visited sites in Crete and an absolutely unique reminder of Greek history, there is so much that is still unknown about Knossos. For example, the name of the people who lived here has not been discovered; it was Arthur Evans who named them the Minoans.
As with everywhere in Crete, it really is better to drive to Knossos, and there is a large car park nearby. There is a bus stop at the entrance, so public transport is a possibility if driving isn’t. It’s a great place to visit with kids, and if you’re looking to stay, there are lots of family friendly hotels in Crete the area around Knossos itself has a few. There are plenty of restaurants on the main road outside to stop for a snack, and the site itself has a fantastic juice bar and cafe for refreshments.
Give yourself time to visit Knossos as the site is very large and not one to be rushed. If you have time to visit the Archaeological Museum in nearby Heraklion, you can see many of the treasures excavated from the site, including beautiful vessels, figurines, and the original wall art.
Explored by Nicola from Family Hotel Expert
Of all the most fabulous and must-visit landmarks of Greece to experience, one of the top has to be Meteora, located in the northern central region of the mainland.
Meteora is stunning with its gorgeous landscape, beautiful boulders, and immense natural rock pillars and some topped with amazing monasteries that were built originally as places of refuge that were difficult to climb and secured Christianity in the area. The original monasteries were built high above hollowed out caves and only accessible through tall ladders.
Eventually, the monasteries became larger, and there are now over six monumental monasteries located above these rock karsts and open for the public to explore and hike from the main city, Kalampaka, below the gorgeous formations. You can take multiple hikes through the area or do a tour to visit more of the monasteries and landscapes in a shorter timeframe.
I would definitely spend a minimum of two days to enjoy nature and these historic UNESCO structures combined and experience one of the most unique and beautiful areas of Greece. For more inspiration, check out my post on 20 photographs of Meteora to tempt you to come to visit soon. Try visiting in fall when the change of colors and minimal tourist crowds makes this region even more special to experience.
Explored by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Oia in Santorini
One of the most unmissable and best landmarks in Greece is the picturesque blue domes in Oia, on Santorini. While the entire village is known for its views and idyllic whitewashing buildings against the blue water backdrop, it is these blue domes in Oia that really bring the photograph to life and make the village unmistakable from other villages on the island (and in all of Greece).
The most photographed blue dome in Oia is Agios Spiridonas and Anasteseos, two churches that you will often see in the millions of photographs taken from the same spot annually. Their position right on the cliff overlooking the Aegean really gives them the edge against other buildings, and people travel from all over the globe to check them off of their Santorini bucket list.
Some of the other buildings that are notable in Oia for their blue domes are Panagia Platsani, a church dedicated to the Akathist Hymn of the Virgin Mary. While the origin building was destroyed in an earthquake in 1956, the rebuilt one is one that lures in the tourists year after year. A couple of other blue domes worth checking out on Santorini are Panagia Theoskepasti in nearby Imerovigli village, Agioi Theodoroi in Firostefani village, and St. Gerasimos.
The best thing about visiting the blue domes in Oia or on the island is that you can see them regardless of whether you visit Santorini in winter or summer. Many activities close down during the off-season, but sightseeing and beautiful sunsets remain a year-round favorite.
Explored by Megan at Megan & Aram
Olympia sits on the western side of the Peloponnese, one of Greece’s biggest archaeological sites. This was the site of the organization of the original ancient ‘Olympic’ Games, which is why, before the advent of the games, an entire sanctuary of God Zeus was founded next to the sports facilities to honor the gods to watch over those competing.
In contemporary days, the essence of the ancient Olympics influenced their rebirth. A typical town with lush vegetation and plenty of tourist facilities is next to the ancient site, making this one of the easiest and most rewarding landmarks of Greece to visit. The birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games, which were coordinated by all Greek city-state leaders, games ran here from the 8th century B.C. until the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius banned the Olympic Games as a pagan ritual in 394 AD.
Many millennia later, it was the French baron Pierre de Coubertin whose idea saw the games restarted again in 1896. The immense ruins include playing fields, a stadium, or temples dedicated to Hera and Zeus and can all be explored by intrepid tourists.
It’s crazy to think a traditional started here almost 3,000 years ago has now spread around the world, including as far-flung as Sydney in 2000 and 2016 in Rio de Janerio, and on a visit here, you’ll surely wonder what the athletes that competed all these years ago would think upon hearing this.
The Parthenon, constructed between 447 and 432 B.C., was a magnificent marble temple and one of the most enduring and famous landmarks in Greece (and the world). A relic of a time when the ancient Greek Empire was at the height, the Parthenon sits high over a complex of temples defined as the Acropolis of Athens, committed to the Greek goddess Athena.
The fact that the Parthenon has enduring over all ages is in itself incredible as it has survived earthquakes, fires, battles, bombings, and plunder, but is still a mighty emblem of ancient Greece and Athenian civilization, although bruised. Established in the 5th century B.C, the Parthenon was the center of religious life in the prosperous Greek city-state of Athens, which was then the leader of the Delian League. It was a sign of Athens’s power, richness, and high culture and the biggest and most sumptuous temple the Greek continent had ever seen.
It’s now one of the world’s most prominent landmarks — like the Taj Mahal in India or the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia — and a lasting emblem of Ancient Greece. The Acropolis and the Parthenon have two entry options.
You can buy a ticket for the Acropolis alone, or you can buy a combined ticket to the Acropolis plus six other archaeological sites. I recommend both since it would be impossible to choose to visit one over the other.
Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos
Shipwreck Beach, also known as Navagio, is one of Greece’s most popular beaches and a famous tourist attraction as well. It’s located on the beautiful Greek island Zakynthos, stationed off the western coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. The quickest way to reach the island is by plane. You can take a ferry from the Kylliini Port, which is about 3-hours outside of Athens.
Nestled in a secluded cove that’s surrounded by white sugary sand and pristine waters, Shipwreck Beach is a must-see when visiting Greece. This famous shipwreck of the Panagiotis ship occurred around 1980. Greek authorities were chasing the crew onboard for suspicions of smuggling alcohol and cigarettes and during the attempt to escape the shipwrecked into a shallow groove. Shipwreck Beach has now become one of the most iconic and photographed beaches worldwide.
The only way to reach the cove is by boat. Zakynthos has four ports that will get you to this beach. You can catch a panoramic view of Shipwreck Beach by car or purchasing a tour. Before venturing off, make sure to pack a few essentials with you. Shipwreck Beach does not have any concession stands to purchase food or beverages. Be sure to bring some water and snacks in case you develop an appetite or become thirsty.
Shipwreck Beach’s cove has very little shade, so make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen and pack extra. Toss a few beach towels in your bag before you go. You want to make sure you have a place to sit or dry off after taking a dip in that clear turquoise water.
Restrooms are nonexistent at the ports and Shipwreck Beach. So, make sure to use the restroom before heading off on your adventure. To enjoy a less crowded beach, the best time to visit is early morning. Shipwreck Beach tends to get packed with other tourists later in the day during the summer.
Located near the northeastern coast of Crete, Spinalonga Island is a fascinating piece of history you must add to your Greece bucket list. It’s mostly known as one of the last active leper colonies in Europe thanks to Victoria Hislop’s brilliant novel ‘The Island’ (that was later adapted to a Greek tv series), but its history actually goes all the way back to the 16th century.
During the Venetian rule, it was fortified because of its strategic position protecting the Elounda harbor. Later on, it was a refuge for the Christians during the Ottoman rule and a refuge for the Ottomans during the Cretan Revolution. Finally, from 1903 to 1957, it was a leper colony (though the last habitant only left the island in 1962). With such an incredible history, it’s no wonder why it is one of the top landmarks in Greece.
Today, you can visit the abandoned leper colony (and the Venetian fortress) and get a glimpse into the lives of the isolated community that used to live there less than a century ago. Though most of what’s left are ruins, you can get a sense of what it must have felt like to be “trapped” on a tiny island.
How to get to Spinalonga from Crete: Boats leave the villages of Elounda and Plaka and arrive at Spinalonga Island daily, though you can also take a cruise from the town of Agios Nikolaos. Depending on where you’re staying in Crete, getting by bus to Elounda or Plaka is not always convenient, so I highly recommend taking a guided day tour to Spinalonga.
Explored by Or from My Path in the World
Super Paradise Beach
The Island of Mykonos is what most people think of when imagining Greek island paradises. And so, it should come as no surprise that the nonstop party island is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Aegean Sea because of its whitewashed houses, stunning beaches, clear blue water, and 300 days of sumptuous sunshine.
Rich in both tradition and myth, Mykonos is a gay paradise and a celebrities’ playground. One of its most famous landmarks in Super Paradise Beach, where the atmosphere of loud music and all-out outdoor partying is regular every afternoon and evening. For those who have come to parties, the infamous Jackie O’ Beach Club on Super Paradise Beach is the perfect beach for hedonism. On the south side of the
Mykonos, Super Paradise beach has many facilities-bar, loungers/parasols, beach service, jet skis, and more. There are lots of fabulous people-watching opportunities, a bus to the old town, and a buzzing atmosphere from sun up to well after sundown.
Should you not want the party to end, you could also stay at the Mykonos Gay Hotel – Elysium, which is considered a famous landmark of Greece by itself. At least to gay men.
Explored by Jack from Queer In The World
Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth
The Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth makes for a fantastic day trip from Athens. Located two hours by car from Athens at the isthmus of Corinth, Ancient Corinth sits at the narrow neck of land that connects Attica with the Peloponnese to the west of Athens.
Guarding the inland route to the west, the Acrocorinth is similar to the Acropolis of Athens. It towers over Ancient Corinth and contains the ruins of castles, temples, and fortifications.
There is a whole ancient city-state to explore below, including a museum in the central archaeological zone. You can wander around Ancient Corinth yourself, with well-signposted monuments, streets, and areas, all in English!
The most spectacular monument in Ancient Corinth is the Doric Temple of Apollo, and while it is not one of the best-preserved temples dedicated to Apollo in Greece, it is an unforgettable sight. The Temple was built in 500 BCE, at the height of the power of the ancient city-state. It consisted of double Doric columns, six along shorter sides, and 15 on the longer sides. The foundations are still there to see but what remains of the upright columns are of one corner of the walls of the Temple, which once included two rooms, a nave, and a treasury.
Ancient Corinth is very close to many other attractions, including the Corinth Canal, and 40 minutes from Nafplio. The modern city of Corinth is only three miles away, and the beautiful coastal resorts make a great beach stay away from the bustle of Athens.
Explored by Monique Skidmore from Tripanthropologist.com
Temple of Poseidon
The Temple Of Poseidon is located in Cape Sounion, Greece. This Temple is dedicated to the Greek God Poseidon, who is well known as the God of the Sea. A little less known is that Poseidon has also been referred to as the God of Earthquakes, Storms, and Horses. The Temple is one of the best-preserved monuments of the Gold Age.
Visiting the Temple Of Poseidon is easily accomplished on your own, but if you are more comfortable with an organized tour, there are plenty of those available. If you plan the trip on your own, make sure to take a couple of euros for your entrance fee and to grab a snack or lunch at the cafe.
The Temple of Poseidon sits on the Aegean Sea, which has absolutely stunning views. From the Temple, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Island of Aegina, home to the Temple of Aphaia. A well-known fact is that the Temple of Poseidon, Temple of Aphaia, and Athens Parthenon make up what is known in Greece as the Sacred Triangle. All of these historical areas are easily visited if you spend a few days in Athens and make day trips out of them.
Here at Mommy And Me Travels, we highly recommend that you explore Greece with your kids. Kids that have read any Greek Mythology will easily recognize the name Poseidon and will be even more excited to visit his Temple. Not traveling with kids, no worries, this is still a must-visit during your trip to Greece as there are so many beautiful views and quiet locations for you to see and explore.
Explored By Tiffany From Mommy And Me Travels
The Ancient City Of Philippi
It’s amazing that a city once so important could be abandoned so quickly. For much of its 16 centuries-long existence, Philippi was a thriving city of strategic importance, great wealth, and spiritual significance. Three great civilizations thrived here, and the traces of them that remain in this vast archaeological site give deep insight into the life of the ancient world, the dawn of Christianity, and the splendor of the Byzantine empire.
Philippi was not always Philippi – it was initially founded as a colony of the Thasians (the island Thassos is very close by). They named it Krinides, which means ‘springs,’ but it didn’t stay Krinides for long; in 356 BC – just 3 or 4 years after the colony was founded – Phillip of Macedon conquered it and named it after himself. The nearby gold mines drew him, as well as the strategic position. The city was between Amphipolis and Neapolis – today’s Kavala.
Romans conquered the city in 168 BC. They built a grand Forum – two areas flanking the great Via Egnatia – flaunting the city’s wealth. This is the city that the apostle Paul found in 50 A.D. when he first set foot on European soil. It’s thought to be the first place he preached, and he baptized Europe’s first Christian – Lydia of Thyatira – near Philippi.
There was an early Christian community here, and Christianity firmly took hold as the centuries progressed, with the first Church dating from the 4th century. By the mid 6th century, there were seven. The churches of Philippi rivaled those of Thessaloniki and Constantinople in grandeur and opulence. Seeing them in ruin makes one realize how extraordinary an experience it is to see the Byzantine Churches of Thessaloniki, not only still standing but still in active use.
Philippi was abandoned after the region was conquered by the Ottomans, and is now a grand ruin. The highlights include a grand theater, the forum, and the foundations of several churches. Many columns and roads are partially intact, and one has a sense of the layout and grandeur of this splendid forgotten city.
Philippi is an easy day trip from Thessaloniki (about 2 hours) or from Kavala (just 20 minutes by car).
Explored by Amber Charmei from Thessaloniki Local
One of the most famous landmarks in Greece is the breathtaking Vikos Gorge in the Pindus Mountains in Epirus in northern Greece. A trip to the Zagori region where it is located is an absolute must if you are spending time in the fascinating nearby city of Ioannina with its rich history. From there, the best way to reach the gorge is by car, with a trip taking about an hour.
The Vikos Gorge is located in the Vikos-Aoös National Park, which was established in 1973 and is home to rare animals such as bears, wolves, and eagles, as well as many plants used in herbal medicine. Fun fact: There were healers in the region who worked with these plants and traveled as “Vikos doctors” to heal people of their ailments.
Locals proudly call the Vikos Gorge the deepest gorge in the world, although it is actually the deepest in relation to its width! Nonetheless, the views from the Monastery of Saint Paraskevi, which is situated right on its edge, are absolutely spectacular. The monastery is no longer in use but is well worth a visit for the frescoes in its chapel.
The gorge is about 11 km long, and almost 1 km deep and is a popular hiking destination, mainly with Greeks. The hike takes about five hours if you are a regular hiker, but you can also visit the gorge without hiking it. For example, it’s possible to park in the village of Monodendri and walk to the monastery from there. Make sure to calculate some extra time on your trip to have a look at the dozens of picturesque villages known as the Zagorohoria that you can find in the region, another highlight more popular among Greek tourists than international ones.
Explored by Nina from Lemons and Luggage
White Tower of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, the biggest city in Northern Greece, is crowded with buildings, fortifications, and other edifices that are a testament to the area’s complex history. None is more symbolic of Greece’s second city than the White Tower of Thessaloniki.
Built at the eastern end of the waterfront, the distinctive cylindrical stone structure double top tiers were built by the Ottomans after the capture of Thessaloniki in the mid-1400s. It was erected on the site of an old Byzantine tower that served to guard the city’s natural harbor. Under the Ottomans, the tower earned its first nickname, ‘Blood Tower’ or ‘Red Tower,’ thanks to the brutal conditions of the prison it housed. When Thessaloniki was taken by the modern-day Greek State in 1912, they whitewashed the tower in a symbolic ‘cleansing’ gesture, signaling a fresh start for the city.
The White Tower has stood at the head of the promenade ever since, acting as a north star for anyone strolling down the waterfront towards the historic old town. The fact that it survived the Great Fire of 1917 that destroyed most of the city only cemented its place in the city’s subconscious.
Today, the White Tower houses a small museum that documents Thessaloniki’s heritage. For the entry price of 3 Euro, you can wander the exhibits and climb a narrow staircase to the sixth floor, where an observation deck offers views of the sparkling Thermaic Gulf. Visit first thing in the morning when the tower opens at 8.30 am for a chance to see all the way out to Mount Olympus before the sky hazes over.
Explored by Emily from Wander-Lush