Areas of Greece
Here are the most beautiful destinations in Greece. Which Greek cities, islands, beaches and regions are especially popular?
Attica / Athens
Athens is located in the prefecture of Attica and is the most populous region and prefecture of Greece. Attica includes Athens and the areas around Athens, the Athenian Riviera to the south and east, the islands near Athens, but also the island of Kythira (in the south of the Peloponnese). In addition to a variety of attractions, Attica is crossed by mountains and its offers miles of beaches at the same time.
At the heart of Attica we find Athens. The city of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, Plaka, the historic center of the city and cradle of European civilization. The most famous attraction is the Acropolis, which consists of various buildings; one of the most important buildings is the Parthenon (temple of the goddess Athena). The city is a living museum of historical and cultural wealth, complemented by a modern and very youthful profile: luxurious hotels, excellent restaurants, countless cafes and bars, shopping centers, but also old picturesque markets and galleries. There are countless museums to explore, including one of the finest and best archaeological sites in the world: the Acropolis Museum.
Athens uniquely unites ancient Greek aesthetics with modern art. In the modern urban landscape, traces of this art are visible, audible and tangible everywhere. Multicolored and polymorphic graffiti adorns walls, street musicians give the residents' daily lives their own rhythm, street painters, mimes and artists conjure a smile on the faces of passers-by. Every year there are festivals and cultural events with concerts, dance and theater performances, photo and art exhibitions by local and foreign artists.
Just a few minutes away from downtown Athens, the Athens Riviera begins, stretching from Palio Faliro to Cape Sounio. Beach bars, restaurants, cafés, bars and countless other venues are lined up side by side on this route, offering a variety of options for relaxation and fun. So, if you think that you have to leave Attica to enjoy the sun and the beach, think again! Well-accessible and organized beautiful beaches are to be found in Attica as well as elsewhere in Greece. At Cape Sounio you can visit the Temple of Poseidon and admire one of the most beautiful sunsets in Greece.
Sandy beaches with crystal clear water can also be found on the small rocky islands of the Saronic Gulf, most of which are developed. From the port of Piraeus you can travel to Aigina, Poros, Hydra, Salamina and Spetses in a few minutes or drive to the more remote island of Kythira. Whether you’re looking for a longer stay or for a single day trip, these islands invite you to linger with stately architecture, historic monasteries, picturesque streets and beautiful beaches.
In Greece, Athens is also considered the capital of shopping, with several consumer options, especially downtown. Whether it is local products or goods from abroad, whether you are looking for something simple or traditional, or luxurious goods, in Athens, you will find everything your heart desires. While shopping, you can take a break in one of the countless cafes or restaurants and watch the city’s hustle and bustle.
Party until you drop ... that's particularly true in Athens, as the city is well-known for its nightlife. If there is one place where entertainment options are unlimited and diverse, this is exactly this place. Thousands of Athenians flock to the city’s bars, wine bars, restaurants, clubs etc. to enjoy themselves. There is something for every taste. A city that is alive day and night and is prized for its own rhythms.
Central Greece is virtually in the center of Greece, bordering on the north with Epirus and Thessaly, and with the sea in other directions, the Ionian Sea on the west and the Aegean Sea on the east. Its major cities, besides Athens and Piraeus, include Lamia, Livadia, Karpenisi, Messolongi, Amfissa, Chalkida, Arachova and Galaxidi.
In addition to historic sites such as the oracle of Delphi, the knights’ fortress "Agriosykia" in Livadia or the Byzantine church of Agia Triada in Karpenisi, the region offers several museums, including, for example, the Archaeological Museum in Lamia with findings from the Neolithic period, the antiquity and the Byzantium era.
But Central Greece is worth a visit not only from a historical and archaeological point of view: on the second largest Greek island of Euboea, there is one of the oldest health resorts in the world, the medicinal springs of Aedipsus, which were known in antiquity, and the famous waterfalls in Drymona, where a natural park is being created. On the mountain Velouchi there is a small ski area.
Undoubtedly, the stark contrasts that characterize the region are characteristic of central Greece: traditional mountain villages coexist alongside picturesque coastal villages, creating an unforgettable picture of natural beauty and architectural diversity. The Thermopylae, inseparably linked to the historic battle against the Persians and the heroic figures of the Spartan fighters of the time, are of great historical interest. Close to the impressive statue of Leonidas is the historic center of the Thermopylae, where you can get all the important information about the battle and history of the time. Just minutes away from the Thermopylae is the archaeological site of Delphi, also known as the "navel of the earth". The Oracle of Delphi, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was the center of the ancient Greek world and one of the most famous sacred sites in the world.
The ultimate winter experience for those looking for relaxing moments in beautiful, picturesque yet cosmopolitan villages is definitely Arachova. At the Vagonetto Mining Park in Fokida you can go on an underground exploration of the metals and learn a lot about metal mining. In the village of Kamena Vourla in Fthiotida you can find some of the most important thermal springs and health resorts of Greece: the therapeutic properties of the springs and the site’s modern facilities allow visitors to find precious moments of relaxation and therapy amidst evergreen nature.
The prefecture of Evritania is referred to as the area in which it is allegedly always raining; a natural phenomenon that has no equal! The waters of the river Krikeliotis form waterfalls that fall from great heights over long stretches of its course, giving the impression that it is raining. Especially during the summer months, this region is a popular destination for excursions and vacations. Nature lovers will get their money's worth here: whether exploring the beautiful nature of Evritia or "river trekking", canoeing, rafting or even swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the river - relaxation and adventure options are unlimited.
In Central Greece you can also enjoy talking walks on beautiful beaches. Glyfa, Eratini, Agios Isidoros or Alykes Drosia are just a few beaches awarded with the Blue Flag for sustainable tourism. A connection from the port of Agios Konstantinos to the Sporades, Skiathos and Skopelos, offers the opportunity to quickly cross over to the cosmopolitan islands.
As any inhabitant of Chalkidiki will tell you: "There’s no better place than Chalkidiki". Once you’ve visited Chalkidiki, you’re sure to return. Chalkidiki is one of the most important and beautiful coastal towns in Northern Greece. Small and large villages, archaeological sites, dense pine forests and the three “legs”, Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos, with breathtaking beaches – you will find all these and much more is Chalkidiki. In Kassandra and Sithonia you can visit some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece (many of them awarded with Blue Flags). Whether it's a party holiday, a family holiday, a camping holiday or a relaxing holiday, everyone can spend their dream vacation here. Miles of white sandy beaches, but also pebble beaches, turquoise, green or light blue sea water, pine trees so close to the water, small taverns, cafes and bars invite you to linger. A well-organized party paradise with countless possibilities - this is also Chalkidiki.
Another side of Chalkidiki to explore is the archaeological sites, with all the treasures that hide a millennium-long history. The most famous attraction in this context is the village of Stageira, birthplace of one of the greatest ancient philosophers, Aristotle. In Stageira is the so-called "Aristotle Grove".
South of Stratonikio (in the hinterland of Chalkidiki) is the picturesque mountain village of Stageira, also known as the birthplace of one of the greatest ancient philosophers, Aristotle. Stageira houses one of the most important sights in the entire Macedonia, the "Aristotle Park". The middle of the park boasts a large statue of the famous philosopher made of marble, but you will also find instruments (sundial, water whirlpools, pendulums, compasses, parabolic dishes, lenses, telescopes and optical disks), based on physical phenomena and are described in his work "Physics".
The ancient city of Olynthus was one of the most important cultural centers of Chalkidiki during the classical period in antiquity. According to legend, it was built near Kassandra, by Olynth, son of Herakles. Excavations in the area brought to light the remains of the former ancient city. Nearby, there is an Archaeological Museum, in which the life of Olynthus is recreated by audiovisual media.
The 335 square meter peninsula / leg of Athos or Mount Athos is a significant religious sanctuary, an Orthodox monastic republic with autonomous status, consisting of 20 Great Monasteries (World Heritage UNESCO) and hermitages. 17 of the monasteries are Greek, one is Serbian (monastery Chílandar), one is Bulgarian (monastery Zografou) and one is Russian (monastery Panteleímonos). Mount Athos is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Women are not allowed to access it, in honor of Mary. However, they are allowed to look at the peninsula from a 500 m distance, on excursion boats. Male visitors should apply for a permit by the representation of the monastic republic in Thessaloniki.
Another sight worth visiting is the stalactite cave of Petralona, near the village by the same name. There, you can see findings from the Paleolithic Age both in the cave and in the museum. The most important finding is likely to be the fossil skull (= Archanthropus europeaus petraloniensis), which was found in 1981 dated to an age of 160,000 to 240,000 years. Today, it is believed that the fossil could also be at least 300,000 years old.
Crete is the largest Greek island and is often referred to as Little Greece in the Aegean Sea. In Crete, the Libyan Sea touches the Aegean Sea. The inhabitants of Crete are known for their hospitality, for their good Mediterranean cuisine and their Mantinades (15-syllable Iambic rhymes, which are always formed strictly according to rules). An almost magical place lures visitors with some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and mountainous landscapes that take your breath away.
In Crete, there are exotic-looking beaches, organized and developed for tourism. Elafonisi is considered a natural wonder: white-golden sands, clear turquoise to green waters, ideal for swimming and relaxing (among the 10 best and most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean). Here, you’ll also find Matala, with the caves that fascinated the hippies in the 1970s, Malia, where the party never ends and Vai, located on a palm beach.
Crete is just as close to other Greek regions as it is to castles (Kazarma, Forteza, Koules), fortresses, museums, churches, monasteries and archaeological sites that testify to its rich past. The small, deserted island of Spinalonga, also known as the "Island of the Lepers", is a popular destination in Crete. You can quickly take a boat from the port of Agios Nikolaos to the island, where you can visit the partially collapsed buildings as well as the hospital for leprosy patients, that operated until 1957. Looking for traces of the first European high culture? Then Crete is just the right place: Knossos, Zakro, Malia and Phaistos testify to the heyday of the Minoan civilization, with a variety of archaeological findings. But the history of Crete does not end 2,000 years ago; it continues and can be seen in contemporary art museums, museums of natural history, the Museum of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis.
The Minoan culture started developing in 2.500 BC. Crete’s inhabitants were seafarers who not only traded but were also interested in fine arts, sciences and religious ceremonies. The center of the empire was the palace of Knossos, under the ruling of king Minoas, who provided his name to the first European civilization. Knossos, along with the smaller palaces in Phaistos, Zakros and Malia, bear witness to the Minoan architecture. One common feature is the impressive murals depicting situations from the everyday life of inhabitants. Knossos is also the homeplace for the Minotaur myth.
The main attractions in Crete include:
Heraklion: The Aquarium Aquaworld is home to hundreds of marine and reptile species. The archaeological museum exhibits works of Minoan art. The Venetian castle Koules is located at the entrance to the port and the archaeological sites of Knossos and Phaistos are close to Heraklion.
Chania: In Chania you can admire the beautiful old town and the promenade of Koum Kapi, the famous gorge of Samaria, the medieval castle Frangokastello and the exotic Elafonisi.
Rethymnon: In and around Rethymnon are the old town of Rethymnon with its picturesque streets, the monasteries of Arkadi and Preveli, the Venetian castle Fortezza and the impressive cave in Zoniana Sfentoni.
Agios Nikolaos: In Agios Nikolaos and the nearby area you can visit lake Voulismeni, the palace of the old Zakros, the golden island south of Ierapetra, the cosmopolitan Elounda and the cave Dikteon Andron.
At the Cyclades you can realize the dream of a perfect holiday, and enjoy a longer stay. The wonderful and world famous sunset in Oia (Santorini), the exotic beaches of Milos, a walk through the markets and alleys of Andros, a pilgrimage to the church of Mother Maria in Tinos, endless partying in Mykonos. The Cyclades welcome all visitors with their endless white color and their sea breeze.
Enchanting landscapes have not lost their magic through time; some of them untouched. Castles, caves, ruins of old cities, ancient temples, white chapels, statues, theaters, forests, picturesque villages - this is where the Cycladic culture and diversity come together. Each island has its own story to tell: The Temple of Apollo and the Kouroi on Naxos, the volcano of Santorini, the theater of Syros, the miniature edition of the La Scala, the Pythara waterfalls in Andros, the archaeological site of Delos, Little Venice in Mykonos and the imposing castle fortress on Serifos. With so many options, it’s hard to make a choice! At what point in time would you like to go back to and from which Cycladic island would you begin your journey?
The whiteness of the Cyclades and the blue of the Aegean are also linked with religious devotion in the Cyclades. Countless churches and chapels with views of the Aegean Sea are to be discovered, adorned with impressive murals and icons. A religious center and one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Greece is the church of Panagia (Maria) of Tinos. Equally impressive are the churches of Panagia (Mary) in Paros, Panagia (Mary) in Naxos, Agios Nikolaos in Syros and Panagia (Mary) in Folegandros. The coexistence of Orthodox and Catholics in the Cyclades has also produced some beautiful Catholic churches, such as the Church of Saint George in Syros.
White golden beaches, white pebbles, beautiful natural landscapes and clear blue waters are characteristic features of the Cyclades. Beautiful, popular and lesser-known beaches include Sarakiniko in Milos with white rocks, Plaka in Naxos with its seemingly never-ending sandy beach, Achla in Andros with its emerald waters, Galissas in Syros, Elia in Mykonos, Vlychada in Santorini with its black Pebbles, Kolona in Kythnos.
What to discover at the Cyclades:
Santorini: In Santorini, visit the villages in Kaldera with their distinctive architecture, the famous volcano, watch the sunset of Oia and discover the city of ancient Thira.
Paros: Paros is famous for the Monastery of Panagia, the Valley of the Butterflies and the fortress Frangokastello.
Mykonos: Little Venice impresses with its never-ending party mood, but don’t miss out on the lighthouse Armenistis and the city of Mykonos itself.
Naxos: In Paros there is a castle, the Temple of Apollo with the wonderful view.
Syros: The medieval part of the city of Syros, the church of Agios Nikolaos, the town hall on Miaouli Square, the Apollo Theater.
Milos: Sarakiniko beach with its white cliffs, catacombs and the Archaeological Museum, which houses an image of the statue of Aphrodite of Milos, are some of Milos' landmarks.
Tinos: The church of Panagia and the traditional village of Volax with its huge spherical rocks are just some of the attractions of Tinos.
Andros: The cave of Aladinos, the waterfalls of Pythara and the castle of Chora can be explored in Andros.
The Dodecanese Islands form twelve diamonds in the Aegean. Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Kalymnos, Symi, Nisyros, Kastellorizo, Kasos, Karpathos, Astypalaia, Chalki and Leipsi adorn the southeastern side of Greece. The Dodecanese had not been included in Greek territory until 1948, but nevertheless formed an inseparable part of Greek culture. White combines with light blue. Turquoise, crystal-clear waters, sandy and pebble beaches, make the Dodecanese a popular holiday destination worldwide.
In Dodecanese you can find options to suit every taste. If you prefer peace and relaxation, Kastellorizo and Karpathos are ideal destinations. If you want to party all the time, you can visit Rhodes and Kos. You will find several water and land sports activities, which means that boredom is certainly out of the question. In Rhodes you can surf, in Kalymnos, Karpathos and Leros you can go mountaineering and hiking, Patmos is one of the world's most important destinations for Christianity and in Symi you can visit a very interesting cultural festival that takes place on an annual basis.
All these activities can be complemented by visits to archaeological museums, castles and fortresses, churches, monasteries and caves to get to know the history of the islands and each individual place better. Visitors stand admiringly and are amazed by the medieval old town of Rhodes, the healing place of Asclepius in Kos, the cave of the Apocalypse and the church dedicated to John the Theologian in Patmos, the volcano of Nisyros and the light blue cave in Kastellorizo.
The list of beaches in the Dodecanese is very long and varied. Not only because of the multitude of islands, but also because of their peculiarities, offering different beaches and landscapes. When in Rhodes, don’t miss out on the beaches Elli, Ialysos, Faliraki, Lindos. Top beaches definitely include Psili Ammo and Vagia in Patmos, Appela and Kira Panagia in Karpathos, Agios Georgios in Symi, Parrantais in Kos. The beaches of Kounoupa and Koutsomiti near Astypalaia are also enchanting. Alternatives and options are countless, as there are also undeveloped coastal landscapes in Dodecanese. At organized beaches, there is usually very good infrastructure and land connections.
Other attractions in the Dodecanese include:
Rhodes: Old Town, Grand Master's Palace and the Valley of the Butterflies.
Patmos: The Cave of the Apocalypse, the Church of St. John and the capital of Patmos, Chora, with its snow-white houses and alleyways.
Karpathos: The picturesque villages of Aperi, consisting of white and colorful houses, with windmills and a breathtaking view of the sea.
Kalymnos: The cave Kefala with its impressive stalactites and stalagmites, the church of Agios Savvas, the castle of Chrisocheria.
Kos: Ancient Asklepio, the Roman settlement and the castle of Neratzia.
Symi: The Holy Church of Panormitis, the Archaeological and Local History Museum, the colorful stately homes.
Tilos: The monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, the cave Charkadio
Leros: The Mpeleni Tower, which serves as a museum of local history, and Panteliou Castle
Nisyros: The volcano of the island and the volcano museum
Kastelorizo: The castle monastery of Ai Giorgi tou Vounou (Saint George of the mountain) and the Blue Grotto (cave).
Epirus is located in northwestern Greece, west of Macedonia and Thessaly and north of central Greece. On the east, it borders with the Pindos Mountains, and on the west, with the Ionian Sea. Its capital is Ioannina and other important cities include Arta, Preveza and Igoumenitsa.
In Epirus, natural beauty meets tradition: untouched nature, traditional villages, beautiful towns and beaches. Epirus is synonymous with tradition, fertile land and simplicity and authenticity that combine in perfect harmony.
Mountains traverse the land, repeatedly broken by rivers, along with a variety of lakes, waterfalls and forests, in which oak, beech, fir and pine abound, shaping the landscape and encouraging exploration. Olive groves are more likely to be found on the coasts. Steep mountains sloping down to the sea dominate the coastal landscape of Epirus, where you can also find beautiful sandy beaches. The ancient theater of Dodoni and the ancient city of Nikopoli create a magical combination of nature and culture and, together with the oracle of Acheron, the bridge of Arta, the fort of Ioannina and Parga, are part of the list of historical and cultural monuments of Epirus and among the most important Greek archaeological sites.
If you think that Epirus is a popular destination only in winter, then you’re missing part of its charm: during summer months, the coastline offers many beautiful beaches (Valtos and Krioneri in Parga, Pisina in Sivotta, Drepanos in Igoumenitsa etc.) with turquoise water, while there are many smaller and larger towns along the coast, offering accommodation. The islands of Paxoi are also minutes away from Parga and Igoumenitsa.
The mountainous part of Epirus keeps the tradition alive. It consists of villages that have retained elements of traditional architecture with stone houses, cobbled and picturesque streets, small motels and taverns offering regional dishes. Of the 46 villages that make up the picturesque Zagorochoria, the villages of Monodendri, Megalo Papigko and Aristi are popular tourist destinations. These villages are built in the midst of wild natural beauty, in which peace and authenticity were preserved - far from mass tourism.
The most popular attractions of Epirus are:
• The famous ancient theater of Dodoni.
• The Arta Bridge: Let yourself be enchanted by the impressive architecture or the many stories and legends about the bridge.
• The rivers Voidomatis and Acherontas: dense vegetation, crystal clear water, winding paths, impressive bridges on which you can enjoy the breathtaking view again and again.
• Lake Pamvotida and Ioannina Island: The landmark of the city of Ioannina is always worth a visit. Small boats set on the small, famous island (also called islets), the promenade invites you to walk, you can try traditional products in small shops and the Ali Pasha Museum takes you back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. In Ioannina, you can explore the fortress in the heart of the city, the old town and the stalactite cave of Perama.
• The Dragon Lakes of Tymphi and Smolikas: Situated at an altitude of 2,500 meters, they are the result of melted glaciers and thought to have hosted dragons.
• The Gulf of Amvrakikos: One of the most important wetlands in the Mediterranean is home to rare and endangered bird species. Here, the traditional fishing method "Divaria", is used in the "fish barriers" to control the movement of the fish.
The second largest island of Greece is Euboea, known for its abundance of scenic beauty, which offers travelers different options for relaxation and activity. The island’s capital is Chalkida. Euboea is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
In Euboea, features of the mountainous nature of Greece are interwoven with coastal elements in a unique way. Untouched natural beauty with lush vegetation, waterfalls, lakes, winding paths, beautiful beaches - all these can be found on Euboea. Likewise, there are also countless churches and historic sites to explore. Beaches such as Almiropotamos, Agios Dimitrios and Figia or Chiliadou, Limiona, Aghia Anna, Ellinika and Pefki offer untouched and peaceful coastlines as well as organized and tourism-developed beaches. Sand or pebble beaches, green, turquoise or dark blue waters, beach bars and beach chairs – there’s something for everyone.
The mythical thermal springs of Aidipsos, one of the oldest and most ancient spa resorts in the world, are over 20,000 years old and have been narrated by many ancient philosophers (Aristotle, for example). According to Greek mythology, the healing springs were created by the hands of the gods: goddess Athena requested her brother and God Hephaestus to bring hot water to the surface. These springs were meant for Hercules to rest and heal after his famous deeds. So, Hephaestus struck the earth with his hammer and the healing springs of Aedipsus immediately sprang from it.
Worth seeing in Euboea are the "crazy waters" of the Euripos and their unsteady course. Standing on the old bridge of Chalkida over the strait of Euripos (the first cable road bridge in Greece) one can admire this mysterious tidal phenomenon. Twice a day, there are ebbs and flows in the Euripos; The water will flow in one direction for 6 hours and 13 minutes, changing to the opposite direction after a short break. This takes place on 23 or 24 days of a lunar month and on the remaining days there is either no change in the direction of flow or up to 14 different changes on some days! This is how the name of the Strait can be explained: Evripos means everything that changes, one that has no constancy.
Around the Cape Kavo-Doro (also known as Kafirea) different legends abound for the strong winds that suddenly occur there. Allegedly, the son of the god Poseidon, Nafplios, is said to be in that place. The ships of the Achaeans sunk on their return from Troy to avenge the death of his son Palamidis. In the Middle Ages, the cape was named Xilofagos because countless ships sank there due to the strong winds. Regardless of any traces of truth hidden in the legends, the Cape is still a great challenge, even for the most experienced sailors.
One of the biggest secrets of the island are the so-called Houses of the Dragons. These are stone buildings made of huge stone slabs without windows and foundations. According to scientific studies, the difficulty of erection is the size and exact placement of the plates. Since the inhabitants in earlier times could not explain how plates of this size were transported, they came to the conclusion that these buildings were the works and dwellings of very strong dragons. The most famous “Dragon House” still preserved is located on the top of Ochi.
Important historic monuments from the Frankish period and the Ottoman Empire are the countless towers scattered throughout the island. Among the most important are Koutoumoula, the fortress and the tower Karampampa, the tower Drosini, the twin towers Mitika / Lilantiou and the castle Castello Rosso.
The Ionian Islands, also called Heptanesos after the seven main islands, lie to the west of the Greek mainland and the Peloponnese. Geographically, they include the area below Albania to the southern tip of the Peloponnese. The Ionian Islands consist of six large islands, namely Corfu, Paxos, Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, and some smaller ones. Three of the islands have their own airport: Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. Lefkada is the only island connected to the mainland by a bridge. All islands are easy to reach by ferry.
Exotic beaches with turquoise waters and white sands, medieval fortresses, neo-classical palaces, Byzantine churches, caves and shipwrecks, with their millennia-old secrets, testify the history of the Ionian Islands and offer travelers the opportunity to become the protagonists of their own memories.
Some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece can be found in the Ionian Islands (some awarded with the Blue Flag). Myrtos, in Kefalonia, is considered the most beautiful coastline of Greece: the water, deep blue in some places, green in others, the white beach, the steeply falling rocks. Navagio, the most famous beach of Zakynthos, difficult to reach because of the rocks, the Skinos beach in Ithaca and Canal d'Amour in Corfu are some of the most attractive destinations.
Whichever island (s) you choose, each has its own appeal:
Corfu: Mountains, greenery and olive groves characterize the landscape of Corfu in combination with beautiful coves and sandy beaches. In addition to the scenic beauty you can trace the footsteps of the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantium or the English and Venetians in the streets of Corfu Town or in the palace of Achilleion, where Sissi lived, or Mon Repos of the English High Commissioner Frederick Adam. The church of the patron saint of the island, Saint Spyridon, captivates with unique icons.
Paxoi: Rich in beautiful bays on the east coast, decorated with grottoes on the west coast, Paxoi is a very popular holiday destination. The Church of the Virgin Mary, "the Katharon" in the Paxoi is one of the most beautiful in the Ionian Islands.
Kefalonia: Imposing cliffs and beautiful bays dominate the picture of this island. At the cave of Melissani you can marvel at 20,000-year-old stalactites and another attractive destination is the 100,000-year-old Drogarati Cave.
Kefalonia also hosts the castle fortress of Agios Georgios with the chapel of Evangelistria, built on the hillside outside Argostoli, offering one of the most beautiful views ever. Also worth visiting is the Church of Saint Gerasimos.
Lefkada: The island is named after the white stones that are typical of the landscape on the south. Lefkada is known for the beautiful beaches of Porto Katsiki and Kathisma. Here, you can also visit the impressive castle fortress Agia Mavra, which has protected the capital of the island for many centuries.
Ithaca: The island of Ulysses and Penelope is very mountainous and dotted with olive groves. The church, dedicated to the Holy Apostles, is the religious center of the island.
Zakynthos: Fine sandy beaches invite you to take a swim, some of them serving as breeding ground for the Caretta turtle. The island hosts the first National Marine Park responsible for Caretta, the protected marine turtle species. Well preserved in Zakynthos is the famous castle fortress Bochalis. Among the most important religious centers of the Ionian Islands is the Holy Church of St. Dionysius.
Macedonia covers the north of Greece, west of Thrace. Its capital is Thessaloniki. A journey through Macedonia takes you through a variety of landscapes in which the visitor encounters untouched nature in the midst of forests and mountains, lakes, rivers or beaches. But Macedonia also has a long history through many eras and ages, as testified by excavation sites, historical monuments, churches and monasteries. What makes Macedonia unique is the fact that all of this is achievable at not too long distances. Unique cities with traditional architecture can be found in the middle of or between lakes, rivers, valleys, caves, forests and canyons. In addition to Thessaloniki, other major cities include Kavala, Drama, Naousa, Veria, Kastoria, Florina, Edessa. Every city has its own story to tell.
In Macedonia there are many churches and monasteries to discover, especially from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine era. The most famous are three: Mount Athos, home to monastic sites that have been world famous for many centuries. Then, the Holy Church of Panagia Soumela in Veria, where the icon of the Virgin Mary is kept. And in Thessaloniki you can find one of the oldest churches, Hagia Sophia, as well as the church of the patron saint of the city Demetrios, well worth a visit.
Many archaeological finds from the heyday of the Macedonian Empire in the times of Philip II and Alexander the Great have been preserved. The most famous archaeological site is in Vergina, where tombs of Macedonian kings have been discovered, including that of Philip II. Of equal significance are the findings of the ancient city of Dion, a city consecrated to the father of God Zeus and of strategic importance for Alexander the Great. The Dion amphitheater hosts concerts in the summer, and it feels like being transported back to antiquity. In Kastoria, Thessaloniki and Platamonas, you can admire the well-preserved Byzantine fortresses.
The architectural wealth of the cities and buildings of Macedonia, however, is in no way inferior to the landscape diversity. Below are listed only a few natural beauties you can visit:
• The waterfalls of Edessa: The waterfalls are located in the center of the "City of Water" and are the largest ones in the Balkans. They are surrounded by a recreation park, where many cultural events take place.
• The Argiti Sources Cave in Drama: The largest river cave in the world is located in Drama, more than 21 km long. Inside the cave there are countless large stalactites to admire, as the river Angitis flows in the bottom of the cave.
• The Enipea Gorge in Litochoro on the Olympus: A beautiful landscape with lush vegetation, bridges, streams and small lakes that form in several places, among the largest Greek mountain, Mount Olympus.
• The lakes in Macedonia: From Volvi to Kerkyni and from Vistonida to Koronia, this region is well known for its lakes. Most lakes harbor rare species of birds and plants. Take a walk along the Prespa lakes and watch the pelicans.
• Ski resorts in Seli, Kaimaktsalan and Vasilitsa: Winter sports fans will find beautiful ski resorts in Macedonia. The well-known ski resorts are usually well-equipped with hotels and chalets.
• Olympus: In the southern part of Macedonia lies Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece at 2,917 m. The mountain is ideal for adventurous hikes on its often cloud-covered slopes. At its feet there are miles of beaches and clear blue water.
In the eastern part of Macedonia, you can visit the picturesque harbor town of Kavala, where there is much to discover: the Byzantine fort, the Roman aqueduct, the St. Nicholas Church with the Pauline monument and St. Mary's Church. It is easy to take the ferry from Kavala to the islands of Thassos or Limnos. Not far from Kavala are the ruins of Philippi with a well-preserved wall, an acropolis and an ancient theater. The Delta of Nestos, home to various ecosystems, begins at a small distance from Kavala. The wetland consists of alluvial lands, freshwater lakes and lagoons and it includes lakes Vistonida and Ismarida.
North Aegean Islands
The islands of the Northern Aegean seem to be cut off from the Greek mainland and far away from other islands. But they are definitely worth a visit! These are real pearls of the Aegean, beyond the cosmopolitan glamor of other islands. Samos, Ikaria, Chios, Limnos, Thassos, Samothrace, Fourni, Psara, Agios Efstratios and Inousses provide perfect landscapes for nature lovers, and ideal locations for art and culture lovers. The islands of the northern Aegean are best described as follows: picturesque and traditional villages, each with its own culture, stately homes and castles, seaside taverns, beaches surrounded by greenery, exotic waterfalls and fascinating caves. Places where time stands still, and the adventure begins.
A journey into the era of myths, antiquity, but also the Middle Ages inevitably leads to Samos, the island of Pythagoras, where the philosopher hid in the famous cave from tyrant Polycrates. The journey continues to the temple of goddess Artemis. The castle and fortress of Molyvos in Lesvos, the churches in Chios, rich and famous for their mosaics and the church of Panagia in Limnos are only a few sights to visit.
On the islands of the North Aegean you will find some special beaches. In Chios, the beach of Mavra Volia with black pebbles of volcanic origin, in Thassos, the beach Gkiola, with its form and green waters resembling a natural swimming pool, the beach of Skala Eressos in Lesbos, the beach of Naauf in Ikaria, the beaches of Pachia Ammos and Vatos at the mouth of the gorge under the same name in Samothrace. Ideal for any type of holiday, whether with family or friends, the coastal landscapes and beaches of these islands are characterized by their uniqueness, their natural beauty and their crystal-clear waters.
The main attractions of the North Aegean Islands include the following:
Chios: The castle of Chios as well as the Ottoman baths (Hamam), the villages Mastichochoria, where the most famous product of Chios, “Mastix” is made, the archaeological museum and the monastery of Nea Moni (World Heritage by UNESCO).
Lesvos: The castle of Molyvos and the rare petrified forest, 20 million years old.
Limnos: The castle of Myrina, the dunes that remind of a desert in the heart of the island, the archaeological site of Hephaestia and the chapel Panagia Kakaviotissa, the only church without a roof!
Samothrace: The famous springs that combine to waterfalls and natural swimming pools, the archaeological museum with a statue of the Nike of Samothrace.
Thassos: The waterfall outside the village of Kastro, the beautiful beach of Giola and the ancient theater.
Samos: The archaeological site of ancient Miletus, birthplace of Thales, the waterfalls outside the town of Karlovasi and of course the Heraion, the ruins of the temple of goddess Hera.
Ikaria: The forest of Ranti, with a rare species of aria oak, the Chalari Gorge, ideal for nature lovers and the castle of Nicaria.
Not far from Athens lies the southern part of Greece, the Peloponnese, which is connected by a bridge to the Greek mainland. The Peloponnese offers a varied landscape of land and sea, lush, but also barren vegetation, archaeological and modern wealth. Much of Greek history is noticeable in Epidaurus, Mycenae, Mystras and Olympia.
In ancient times, the Peloponnese was home to one of the two important city-states, Sparta. But even in modern times, a Peloponnesian city, Nafplio, was the first capital of the newly-created Greek state after liberation from the yoke of Ottoman rule.
The ancient theater in Epidaurus is almost perfect both aesthetically and acoustically. The building was built in the 4th century BC, its construction beginning in the 2nd century BC. It is one of the largest theaters and it can accommodate 13,000 to 14,000 spectators. In the theater of Epidaurus performances of classical pieces take place, especially in the summer months.
Here you can also visit the World Heritage Site of the ancient site of Olympia, built in the 5th century BC. and taking visitors back to the time of the original Olympic Games. While in Olympia, it’s worth visiting archaeological sites, such as the Temple of Zeus and the Museum of Olympic Games.
A few kilometers northwest of Sparta is the small village of Mystras, known for its fortification, which surrounds one of the best-preserved Byzantine cities. Mystras was built by the Franks in 1249 and quickly became the property of the Byzantine emperors. The fortress, consisting of small churches, monasteries and five palaces, takes the visitor on a journey back to the Byzantine era. Every year in May, the so-called Palaiologia take place, a series of cultural, religious and sporting events in honor of the last emperor, Konstantinos Palaiologos, Despot of Mistra.
The small historic town of Monemvasia is famous for its medieval fortress on the rock by the same name. The rock is reminiscent of Gibraltar and is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The history of Monemvasia goes back to the year 588. With its picturesque streets, churches and museum, Monemvasia looks like a place steeped in history.
The diversity of the Peloponnese is not limited to the many historical places to visit but also offers a wealth of scenic beauty.
At Elafonissos, and its long white beaches and turquoise waters, as well as the beach of Simos, the Peloponnese is more reminiscent of an exotic destination. Tree-lined beaches blending green with turquoise to Cycladic coastal areas, the Peloponnese covers the full range of possible 'sea experiences'. Due to the high mountainous part of the peninsula and the sea that completely surrounds the peninsula, visitors and locals have several options for physical activity: sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, mountain biking, trekking etc.
Other attractions in the Peloponnese include:
• The famous fortresses Palamidi and Bourtzi, the small island in beautiful Nafplio;
• The gorge of Polylimnios with its natural lakes and dozens of small and large waterfalls;
• Picturesque, traditional villages such as Dimitsana, Vitina, Kastanitsa Kardamyli and Stoupa, both in the coastal areas and in the mountains of the Peloponnese;
• The archaeological site of Mycenae with the tombs of Atreas and Clytemnestra;
• The region of Kalavrita with the ski center and the monastery of Agia Lavra;
• The wetland of Lake Stymphalia and the Environmental Museum amidst beautiful green countryside.
Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece and one of the most beautiful Greek cities, is also known as the Jewel of the North or the nymph of the Thermaic Gulf. The city is cheerful, open and hospitable and has developed as a European city with good infrastructure. Thessaloniki has managed to maintain a unique and fascinating cultural character, expressed through various festivals and artistic activities, but also emphasized in the mixture of folk elements from various ethnic groups. Certainly, the city’s unique character can also be attributed to its unbridled desire for entertainment and fun. No wonder that National Geographic included Thessaloniki is one of the ten top cities with the best nightlife in the world! The city has more cafés per inhabitant than any other European city.
The city's landmark is the White Tower, built during the Ottoman rule, most likely in the 15th century. Formerly known as the "Tower of the Janissary" or "Blood Tower", it was formed a place of torture and execution. In 1890, the tower was struck by a Jewish prisoner, who managed to break free. The White Tower has been used as an exhibition venue since 1985 and since 2008 it has been hosting an exhibition on the development and history of Thessaloniki, from its establishment to present day. A walk along the promenade can therefore be combined with a little discovery tour in the White Tower. The view from the top of the tower to the city and the Thermaic Gulf is breathtaking.
In Thessaloniki you can visit sights from Roman times:
• The Galerius arch (Kamara) with reliefs of scenes from the battles of Galerius against the Persians 296/297;
• A rotunda built in the 4th century, perhaps as the mausoleum of Galerius, then used as an Orthodox church and later as a mosque (remnants of a minaret). Today, the rotunda is a museum;
• Next to it, the remains of a forum (145 × 90 m) with subterranean gallery under the South Stoa and with an Odeion (theater).
Early Christian and Byzantine buildings also form the city’s landscape. For example, the Latomos monastery of Osios David. The monastery is adorned with a mosaic of the 5th or 6th century, representing a beardless Christ, and served as a forerunner of the cross-domed church with mosaics and paintings. The early Christian and Byzantine churches in Thessaloniki, were included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1988, due to their beautiful mosaics and paintings.
Some of the most beautiful and important churches include the Church of Saint Demetrios (Agios Dimitrios), the patron saint of the city, a five-nave basilica with mosaics from the 7th and 9th centuries and the Church of Saint Sofia (Hagia Sofia), a three-aisled basilica with mosaics from the 8th and 9th centuries.
The historic district, Ladadika, sung and celebrated as a place of absolute entertainment, has retained its traditional character despite the integration of modern elements. The wide pedestrian street with its innumerable tavernas, cafés and clubs offers top quality food and drinks and is definitely one of the most popular places in the city for both locals and visitors. The famous promenade and Aristotelous Square are lined with cafes and bars, offering colorful and diverse options for entertainment. Favorite local haunts include the flea market and the tavern quarter Mpit bazaar. Small shops selling all sorts of trinkets, as well as tavernas and restaurants serving mouth-watering entrees, provide memorable evenings in a late 19th-century atmosphere. And if you're looking for relaxation and tranquility, you can indulge in a refreshing spa or relax in an oriental hammam.
Among the most important market and trading places is the market of Tsimiski. Whether you’re looking for department stores or small retail outlets, here you can fulfill your consumer’s dreams with shoes, jewelry or clothing of exceptional quality. There are also bookstores, cinemas, cafes and restaurants where you can take a break.
In Thessaloniki, various ethnic groups of different cultural backgrounds always feel at home. This has decisively shaped the character and the flair of this city. Each of the numerous museums tells a different story: the Archaeological Museum presents the development of Macedonia from its origins, the Museum of Byzantine Culture hosts collections from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine period of Thessaloniki and Macedonia and in the Jewish Museum you can see objects, documents, costumes and everything that could be preserved intact by the Jews in Thessaloniki until the Second World War. The State Museum of Contemporary Art shines with important paintings and sculptures by Greek and foreign artists.
One of the most beautiful areas in Thessaloniki is "Ano Poli" (= upper / northern part of the city). The district is reminiscent of medieval scenes from old films: surrounded by parts of the ancient and medieval fortress, you will find many taverns and cafes in winding, cobbled streets, where you can be enchanted by the traditionally built homes / buildings. Various influences have flowed into the architectural styles and have combined to form a unique mix of styles. Undoubtedly, the famous sites in Ano Poli include Kemal Ataturk's Birthplace and Museum, the last remnants of the great fortress and Vlatadon Monastery.
Thessaly & Sporades
Thessaly lies between Macedonia (north) and central Greece (south), bordering on the west with Epirus, and on the east with the Aegean Sea. Thessaly also includes the Northern Sporades, i.e. Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos. Thessaly's capital is Larissa, the city with the generally highest temperatures in Greece in summer, but also the city where the largest ancient marble theater was excavated. Other important cities in the region include Trikala, Karditsa and Volos.
Thessaly is in no way inferior to the other Greek regions. It offers a varied landscape of natural beauty with lush valleys, impressive mountain villages, lakes, rivers and beautiful beaches. The fertile soil of Thessaly is not only used for agriculture, offering high-quality fruit, milk and cereal products, but it also perfectly combines the green of nature with the beautiful beaches of the Pagasitic Gulf and the Aegean, famous mountain resorts with picturesque coastal villages, Byzantine monasteries and archaeological sites with industrial complexes and neo-classical buildings. Whether it is Pelion or the famous Lake Plastira, the imposing Meteora monasteries or the splendid Tempe Valley, through which the Pinios River flows, or the Sporades, Thessaly impresses with its simplicity and natural beauty.
East of the Pindos Mountains lie the impressive Meteora monasteries, (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The 24 monasteries and hermitages, of which only six are inhabited, are built on high sandstone cliffs at an altitude of 313 m. The monasteries of Meteora are considered to be among the world’s most beautiful monasteries due to their stone architecture and the spectacular views they offer.
The technically landscaped Lake Plastira is known for its beauty: surrounded by an evergreen landscape, traditionally built villages with stone houses, monasteries, museums, caves and bridges. For nature lovers, the Lake Plastira is a very popular destination, especially if you are looking for silence, relaxation and breaking away from the stressful routine of everyday life. The arched dam around the lake is probably the most appropriate place to admire its breathtaking beauty.
South of Larissa lies the Pelion peninsula, once home to the centaurs. Pelion has preserved its scenic beauty.
A hilly landscape dominates the peninsula, steeply sloping into the sea on the eastern part, to a rocky coast. The image is rounded off in the western part by small coves and beaches, where there are many small mountain villages to explore. In summer, the beautiful beaches attract tourists, while in winter you can do winter sports in Pelion.
Three of the most beautiful Aegean islands are located near Volos: Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. Irresistible, enchanting beaches (Kokkinokastro, Koukounaries, Kastani etc.), and a good tourism-oriented infrastructure preserve the natural beauty of the islands and create a cosmopolitan atmosphere that promises unforgettable moments.
Each of the big cities of Thessaly has its own magic, but Volos stands out. Architecturally, old mansions coexist in an almost harmonious manner with buildings of industrial design. Volos is famous for its small taverns specializing in "tsipouro" and appetizers, next to which there are countless cafes and bars to visit. Also worth visiting are the museums of Volos, such as the Railway Museum.
Thrace is not a classic tourist destination in Greece. The authenticity and integrity of this region does not allow visitors to explore the country as tourists, but as "travelers". And where the East meets the West in Greece, these two elements coexist in this region, creating a colorful, intercultural and memorable mosaic.
The region of Thrace is located in the northeast of Greece and is bordered by the river Nestos in the west and by the river Evros in the east. In the north, the Rhodope mountain range forms the natural border with Bulgaria. Alexandroupoli, Komotini, Xanthi, Orestiada and Didymoticho are the largest cities in the region.
Thrace as a gateway between the West and the East, Europe and Asia and hosts a wealth of ancient, Byzantine, Middle Ages and Ottoman Empire sights. The region is characterized by the centuries-long cohabitation of Christians and Muslims. The 50 or so Pomak villages, mostly located near Xanthi, as well as traditional buildings and streets, the oldest mosque in Europe and museums where this heritage is exhibited, testify to this fact. The refugees who were resettled after the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922 in the north of Greece and in Thrace, have influenced culture and tradition. At bazaars you will experience aromatic experiences through the spices on sale and will find all sorts of goodies to eat: traditionally made sausage or the so-called Pastourma (dried meat), Kouskousi, pickled cabbage and paprika (in different strength variations), roasted chickpeas, Pastelli (sesame Honey bar), sucuk lukum (fruit confection in sausage length).
Thrace can be visited every season. The largest cities in the region are ideal for vacation and have a very good infrastructure. In the scenic diversity of Thrace you will find:
• Kilometers of coastline and beaches to swim in southern Thrace;
• Unexplored nature in the Greek Rhodopes (mountain range), which begin on the east of the Nestos River and extend to the level of the Evros River in the east;
• In the nature reserve Evros-Delta, sea and fresh water meet and form a natural habitat for approximately 300 bird species, 46 fish and 7 amphibian species, 21 reptiles and more than 40 mammals.
Do not forget the island of Samothraki, a mountainous and water-rich Greek island in the North Aegean, about 80 km from Alexandroupoli. Samothraki attracts its visitors with unique, partly undeveloped natural beauty, beautiful beaches and archaeological wealth. The famous sculpture was Nike was found on this island (sculpture of the Greek goddess of victory), which is now exhibited at the Louvre. According to Homer, Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, is said to have watched the battle of Troy from Mount Fengari; in good visibility conditions you can see as far as into Asia Minor.