The 13 best places to visit in Greece

 

In the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf is the Saronic Island of Hydra. The main town, known as Hydra Port is a classic Greek coastal village of steep narrow stone streets between tightly compact whitewashed buildings. Situated around its crescent shaped harbour, this small tourist friendly village is regarded one of the prettiest in Greece.

13. Hydra

 

On the small Cyclades island of Santorini is one of the most photographed and iconic locations in Greece, the town of Oia. Extending approximately two kilometres along the northern slopes of the coastal mountains, the predominantly white painted restaurants and houses have been carved into the lip of the volcanic crater. Visitors should seek out the windmill, the Palia & Nea Kameni volcanoes, and make sure to walk the Nikalaou Namkaou, the main winding street that climbs its way through the maze of houses.

12. Oia

In the extreme south east of the Greek island chain, close to mainland Turkey is the city of Rhodes, the capital of the largest and most well known of the Dodecanese Islands. Historically famous around the globe as the location of the Colossus Of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, the island remains one of the most visited locations in Europe. One of the highlights of the city is The Palace Of The Knights Of Rhodes, a medieval castle more commonly known as the Kastello. Dating from the 7th century, the castle is a huge structure of detailed brickwork with an enormous courtyard surrounded by arcades, outer corridors and arches with mosaics and columns inside and out. The palace along with the entire old town of the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11. Rhodes

 

South east of the city of Thessaloniki, on a peninsula that stretches out into the Aegean Sea is Mount Athos, The Holy Mountain, the most important centre for Eastern Orthodox Monasticism in the world. Home to twenty ancient monasteries, some of which date back over 1,000 years, they feature a rich collection of well preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents and artworks of immense historical value. Male visitors can only enter with formal permission from the Monastic's States authorities, with women prohibited from entering full stop. The Monastic State Of The Holy Mountain of Mount Athos has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Mount Athos

 

On the island of Crete, the largest and most populated of all the Greek islands is the Samaria Gorge National Park, encompassing a large protected area of the White Mountains. Centred around the enormous Samaria Gorge, the park is a major trekking location, home to the one of the finest hikes in the country. The five to seven hour strenuous 16 kilometre (10 mile) trek takes visitors through the most famous part of the gorge, a stretch known as the Gates. It's here that the walls of the gorge are a mere 4 metres (13 ft) apart and reaching up to 300 metres (980 ft) high. 

9. Samaria Gorge

To the north west of the capital, Athens, famous for being the seat of the oracle who was consulted on all important decisions throughout the ancient world, is Delphi, today an extensive archaeological site. Occupying an impressive position on the slopes of Mount Parnassus it overlooks the coastal plains and the valley below. The most notable sites are the Delphic Pholos, the remaining columns of the Temple of Apollo and the ancient theatre. With so many historical monuments in an area that had enormous influence in the ancient world, it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the ancient theatre.

8. Delphi

 

Across the Aegean Sea from the city of Thessaloniki is the 240 square kilometre (92 square mile) Mount Olympus National Park, protecting a vast area of the Olympus mountain range that includes the mythical home of the twelve gods of antiquity, Mount Olympus. Rising to 2,198 metres (9,573 ft) above sea level it is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest peak in the Balkans. The landscape within the park is defined by steep rocky mountains, deep gorges, thick alpine forests and an abundance of rare flora and fauna unique to the region.

7. Mount Olympus National Park

Off the western coast in the Ionian Sea is the island of Kefalonia, known for the Melissani Cave, one of the most picturesque caves in the world. Rediscovered in 1951, the great opening in the ceiling forms a kind of cenote, such as those found in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Since photos emerged of the Melissani Cave, it has become a major tourist attraction.

6. Melissani Cave

 

West of mainland Greece, on the Ionian Island of Zakynthos is Navagio Beach, better known as Shipwreck Beach due to the remains of a Freight liner that lay rusting in the white sandy bay. The area itself is a place of outstanding natural beauty with high white cliffs covered in green vegetation, surrounded by the azure blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Climb to the top of the cliffs for the most striking view of the bay and the surroundings.

5. Navagio Beach

 

In the west of the country, covering an area of some 2,330 square kilometres (900 square miles) are the national parks of Tzoumerka, Peristeri and Arachtos Canyon, a vast mountainous terrain of protected parkland. With its countless waterfalls and caves, huge forested canyons and high mountain peaks it is easily one of the finest natural landscapes in the country.

4. Tzoumerka National Park

 

In the centre of mainland Greece is a wonderful landscape of immense monolithic pillars that dominate the local terrain, an area known as Meteora. Second in importance only to Mount Athos, though considerably more visually spectacular, the location is renowned for the six remaining Eastern Orthodox Monasteries that sit precariously atop the immense natural rock formations. One of the most unique and recognisable locations in the whole country, it is every bit the spectacle visitors imagine it to be. The entire area has been inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Meteora

 

In the north west of the country, close to the border with Albania is the 127 square kilometre (49 square mile) Vikos-Aoos National Park, one of the most spectacular protected landscapes in Eastern Europe. In an area of steep mountainous terrain with numerous rivers, lakes, canyons, caves and dense forests it makes for one of the finest and most rugged landscapes in Greece. Named after the Vikos-Aoos Gorge, it starts on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi and cuts through the mountains approximately 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) in length. With a depth that ranges from 450 metres (1,476 ft) to 1,600 metres (5,249 ft) it is one of the deepest gorges on the planet.

2. Vikos–Aoös National Park

At the south eastern tip of mainland Greece is the countries capital, Athens, the current largest city in the country, once the heart of one of the most powerful civilizations in human history. Still dominated by landmarks that date back to the 5th century BC, none are more synonymous to Greece than the ancient Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical importance. The most significant of these is the Parthenon. The ruins of the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, the Theatre of Dionysus and Temple of Athena Nike make up the Acropolis of Athens, one of the worlds most iconic, famous and important historical locations. The centre of the ancient Greek world, one of the most visited tourist destination on the planet, overlooked as one of the original Seven Wonders Of The World because the Greeks felt too ashamed to choose their own creation, it is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site of insurmountable importance.

1. Athens

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