Greece — Attractions
It has to be said that Greece’s amazing history and the famous landmarks from its millennia of influence at the height of the European Golden Age are the main visitor attractions. The beauty of its islands, remote coastlines, and stunningly rugged interior come a close second, and all travelers to this historic region adore the laid-back lifestyle along its beaches. Many sites can be accessed by bus or on foot, although the more remote sites can be visited via rental car, local taxi, or with an organized tour.
Perched on its hill above Athens, the Acropolis with its iconic Parthenon is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. Built entirely of white marble in the 5th century BC, the various temples were dedicated to a pantheon of Greek gods, with the Parthenon its crowning glory. Even without its famous carved friezes now in the British Museum, the temple satisfies everyone’s iconic image of the classical Greek period.
Address: Athens, Greece
Built about 4,000 years ago, the mysterious Palace of Knossos lies close to the town of Heraklion on the island of Crete, and was the center of the powerful Minoan Empire. Legends tell of King Minos, the Labyrinth, and the half-bull/half-human Minotaur. The entire complex was discovered in the 19th century by Sir Arthur Evans, a British archeologist. Original Egyptian wall-paintings show Minoans offering tribute at the Egyptian court and correspond with similar paintings uncovered at Knossos.
Address: Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Set atop Mount Taygetos in the Peloponnese, Mystras may not be as well-known as the classical Greek sites, and is far younger by Greek standards. Its Byzantine monasteries, palace, and fortifications were built in the 13th century, and the community became the second-most important of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople before finally being abandoned in the 1830’s. The fine architecture and early religious frescoes are Mystras’s glory, and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Address: Nr Sparti, Peloponnese, Greece
Known as the Holy Mountain to generations of Greeks, Mount Athos is home to 20 ancient monasteries and their present-day communities of monks. The spectacular peninsula and its iconic religious buildings are self-governed, and those wishing to visit will need special permits and women, sadly, to this day are not allowed on the premises. Simonpetra Monastery is one of the loveliest and many more are set on almost inaccessible rocky outcrops.
Address: Halkidiki Province,
The magnificent 4th century amphitheater at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese and its nearby Temple of Asclepius were dedicated to the gods of healing, Apollo, Asclepius, and Hygeia, and are exquisite examples of purist Greek architecture in the Golden Age. Now honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the theatre still host performances on warm summer nights surrounded by rugged, rural traditional fishing villages.
Address: Argolida, Peloponnese, Greece
The island of Mykonos is the see-and-be-seen fashionista and gay hub for all-night parties and dance clubs, but it’s also a charming little place famous for its windmills and picturesque villages. Medieval Little Venice, the ancient part of Mykonos town, has beautiful cobbled alleyways and white-painted houses with wooden balconies overlooking the sea.
Address: Cyclades, Greece
Home of the mysterious Delphi Oracle and a famous center for worship of Apollo, the Sanctuary at Delphi is spectacularly set on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Omphalos resides here, a huge, black stone considered by the Ancient Greeks to be the center of the universe. Greek kings visited the temple to consult the oracle at every pivotal point in their lives, and the Eternal Flame burned here for centuries.
Address: Delphi Town, Greece
Monastery of the Apocalypse
Located on the island of Patmos, a cave below the Monastery of the Apocalypse is believed to be where St John the Apostle received his visions from Christ which led to his writing the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. Legendarily exiled to the island in 95 AD, the great theologian is reputed to have stayed here until his death. The monastery itself is a picturesque, white-painted building, and the cave is decorated with Orthodox icons.
Address: Hora, Patmos, Greece
The ancient town of Monemvasia’s location, just offshore the southern Peloponnese coastline, was the result of a strong 3rd century earthquake which separated the promontory from the mainland. The town was founded by Byzantine traders in the 6th century, and was an important Mediterranean trading hub for hundreds of years. Nowadays, its unique old buildings are little changed, in spite of its recent popularity as a visitor and expat destination.
Address: Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece