Greece today attracts droves tourists to its Mediterranean islands and with the allure of a relaxed seaside lifestyle. In addition to being one of the most picturesque sailing destinations in the world, the country also boasts archaeological, historical, and cultural attractions within the sweeping scenic coastlines.
Greece has the honor of having bred the most prolific and influential mathematicians and philosophers in classical antiquity, with modern democratic ideals and the Olympic games owing much to the ancient civilization. As the birthplace of theatre, traditional arts and age old heritage are still evident in the country today.
Interesting Facts about Greece:
- Greece has over 6,000 islands and islets, with the Cycladic island of Delos believed to be the birthplace of the god Apollo and his twin sister Artemis.
- The island of Crete boasts its own distinct traditional folk music with the Cretan lyra at its core, a fiddle evolved from the Byzantine era
- The highest peak of Mount Olympus – Mýtikas, meaning 'nose' – rises 2,917 metres above sea level.
- The oldest underwater city ever discovered, Pavlopetri, off the coast of Laconia, dates back to 2,800 BCE with the complete city plan intact and frozen in time.
- The word 'thespian' originates from the inventor of the dramatic arts, Attica-born Thespis, the first actor in ancient Greece to take the stage acting out a tragedy.
The Greek capital is home to the famed Acropolis, one of the capital's two UNESCO world heritage sites (the other being Daphni Monastery). The Acropolis complex contains ancient monuments, theaters and temples, of which The Parthenon is the largest and the most well known.
At the base of the Acroplis, districts such as Monastiraki and the old Turkish quarter of Plaka are a good place to feel the colourful bohemian vibe, with a number of chic shops and cobblestone street-side cafes interspersed between neoclassical façades. The expat area of Kolonaki is decidedly the most upmarket, with the National Garden, several galleries and art museums dotted around the posh neighborhood.
As the sun sets on the Ottomon, Byzantine, and Roman monuments in Athens, the neighbourhoods of Gazi and Psirri come to life with vibrant clubs and cocktail bars offering the best nightlife in town.
Helios, the Titan sun god, smiles on the Greek islands for over half of the year, draping them in warm Mediterranean rays from around April to November.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and boasts picturesque mountain trails, a national park featuring a long gorge, Minoan palaces and Roman archaeological ruins. After a day out sunning on one of the many beaches, Hersonissos town is the place to be and the centre of Cretan nightlife.
The group of islands known as Cyclades is home to some of the most well known Greek islands, including Mykonos, Santorini, los, and Paros. The sophisticated jet-set destinations not only offer a vibrant nightlife, but its images of pristine stretches of sand, cliff perched towns, intimate alleyways and whitewashed Cycladic architecture represent the epitome of Grecian island charm.
Other popular island destinations include the historically-colourful island of Corfu, and the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kos.
While the majority of first timers make a beeline for the islands, regions on mainland Greece also hold many treasures.
The national park around Mount Olympus towers above Greece – both literally and figuratively as home to Zeus, Poseidon, and the rest of the Olympian gods – is popular with trek enthusiasts, and less than an hour's drive from the romance of Thessaloniki, the second largest city and the cultural heart of Greece.
Also in Thessaly are enigmatic monasteries perched atop sandstone pillars in Metéora, with half a dozen of them open to the public, so you can walk up the formations through staircases cut into the side of the pinnacles.
In Peloponnese, visitors are delighted with seaside towns, historic sites, castles, Venetian fortresses, and wonderful beaches.
Cuisine in the Hellenic Republic shares similarities with its Mediterranean counterparts, including the liberal use of olive oil, herbs, spices, fish, and wine and cheese integral to the experience.
The conditions in Greece are amenable to the breeding of sheep and goats, which is reflected in the types of meat eaten, as well as other food products such as gyros and feta cheese.
Other Greek dishes, such as the potato or aubergine-based moussaka, traces its origins back to the Ottoman empire with Turkish or Middle Eastern roots.
The joy of eating in Greece is one that is shared, at a estiatório, a more formal restaurant, or a taverna, a casual eatery. Many a hearty meal is preceded by a mezés, small dish platters offering a selection of appetisers to be shared with fellow diners.
The scattered geography of Greece has given rise to many regional dishes and variations, such as the Bourou-Bourou soup of Corfu fame.
Villa Holidays in Greece
As the center of the ancient universe, Greece has numerous attractions ranging from the natural beauty of islands to the archaeological ruins representing the foundations of philosophy, arts, and language as we know it today. Renting a private villa or apartment surrounded by such manmade heritage and natural splendour ensures a inspiring holiday.
Travel & Transport
Athens International Airport is the main entry into Greece, serving the capital and surrounding Attica region. Major destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini also feature airports, but routes may vary seasonally. Intercity domestic air, ferry, and bus routes are very comprehensive. Within a city, cars or walking are the best ways to explore.
Greece Top 5 Travel Tips [Bucket List]
1. The Rock
Sometimes the best way to appreciate a coastline is from the sea. Monemvassia is a fortified medieval town on the Rock of Gibraltar, a unique place with Byzantine churches, quaint narrow walk paths, and stunning architecture. Climb up to the top of the wall for unbeatable views of the town below, and the mainland across the sea.
2. Big Shoes to Fill
What do poetry and sandals have in common? Stavros Melissinos, a renowned poet who has been making sandals for over 50 years and counts the likes of Sophia Loren, Jackie Onassis, and the Beatles amongst his clients. Go during the weekends so you can browse the shops at Athen's Monastiraki flea market where his shop is located.
3. Of God and Men
In ancient times, gods spoke to men through oracles, and there was no greater oracle than the Oracle of Delphi at the Temple of Apollo, the god of prophecy and truth, light and the sun. Visit the archaeologic site at Dephi to see sacred springs, treasuries temple ruins and fluted columns, then walk to the top of the massive amphitheater with the valley sprawling out below.
4. Relight my Fire
Although the five interlinking circles we know today to symbolise the Olympics was only adopted in the early 1900s, the Games are widely believed to have started in Olympia in Peloponnese in as early as 776. Walk around the ruins, and visit the Temple of Hera, in front of which the modern Olympic flames are still lit.
5. Black Holes
Caves are a fascinating attraction, luring visitors into the belly of the unknown. Amongst Greece's many caves, the Dyros (Diros) cavern system in Gytheion can be explored in small guided boats, with multiple chambers littered with stalagmites and stalactites. After the dark journey, double up on the sunshine and swimming in the beach on the right of the exit.