We are absolutely obsessed with visiting Greece. Even though both Allison and I keep going back on trip after trip, we have barely scratched the surface with all the amazing places to visit in Greece! So we asked some of our favorite travel writers to tell us their favorites as well.
No time to read now? Pin this post for later!
The Best Places to Visit in Greece
Blessed with hundreds of islands to explore, eighteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful ski resorts, and dozens of charming mainland villages, there’s no way we can list every amazing Greek vacation spot in one post. So we narrowed it down to the top fifty…but even that was hard!
In addition to boasting idyllic islands, the ancient culture in Greece is rich wherever you choose to go. But if you want a truly authentic, local experience, then Aegina is the place to be – and it’s our favorite place to visit in Greece.
The better half of our traveling duo has family living on the island and countless fond memories of running down to the crystal clear waters of the nearby beach (which is a stone’s throw away from the house).
Aegina is one of the lesser-known tourist destinations in Greece which means that it provides an incredible break away from countless tourist traps on many bucket lists. However, the island still has all of the comforts you could wish for when traveling in the Mediterranean region.
Aegina can easily be reached by a short one-hour ferry trip from Athens. Once your feet touch the dock, you’ll be welcomed by friendly, character-filled locals, the smell of souvlaki being prepared on a spit and fresh coffee being served on the tables laid out on the cobble-stoned streets.
Walk a little further and you’ll find yourself in a local fish market, strolling through quaint, narrow streets and animated Greek men playing backgammon. There are a variety of different beaches to visit, history to explore and food to indulge in.
If you are looking for a real, authentic Greek experience Aegina is by far one of the best places to go.
Contributed by Ollie and Candi from Ollie and the Captain.
Agistri is an island small in size but big in natural beauty. The island’s pine-clad, hilly inland keeps its lush, bright green color all year round while the coast offers some of the prettiest beaches in the Saronic Gulf.
Lying only one hour away from Athens, Agistri is an ideal destination for an easy day trip from the Greek capital. Regular ferries connect Agistri with the mainland with tickets costing as little as 12 euros each way.
There are only two larger settlements on the island, the port town of Megalochori and the seaside resort called Skala. Both offer a good range of accommodation and plenty of cafes, taverns, and shops.
But the main attraction of Agistri are its beaches! The most famous of them, Chalikiada, is a picture-perfect combination of white pebbles, crystal clear sea and impressive reddish cliffs crowned by pine trees.
Other beaches worth mentioning include Dragonera and Aponissos on the western side of the island. Both have beautiful clear sea and laid back beach bars with sunbeds and umbrellas, perfect for those wishing for a bit more comfort during their beach break.
Agistri is an awesome place for active travelers, too. From hiking to horse riding, cycling, kayak tours or scuba diving trips, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing your adventure.
Contributed by Helena from Just for one summer.
Located in the eastern part of the Cyclades, Amorgos is home to less than two thousand permanent residents. You can easily reach the island by ferry from Pireus, this is the perfect escape for someone wanting to spend their days on beautiful hikes and walks around the island.
The main sites are fairly spread out, but you won’t want to miss Hozoviotissa Monastery, the white-washed jewel perched on the edge of a cliff.
Amorgos town is considered by many to be one of the most quintessential Greek island capitals. Give yourself at least a few days to explore here!
Pro tip: make sure to bring good shoes, since a typical Amorgos vacation will include a lot of activity and a lot of steps!
Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on the road.
Contributed by Becki Enright, from Borders of Adventure
The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion is a beautiful ancient Greek temple located right on the water and dedicated to Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea.
There is a legend that King Aegeus threw himself into the sea here, which is how the Aegean sea came to get its name.
More recently, the English poet Lord Byron carved his initials into the temple when he came to Greece to help fight for Greek independence. You can see his initials carved into the marble – along with countless other eighteenth and nineteenth-century travelers.
You can easily visit Cape Sounion as a day trip from Athens.
Read Next: 17 Spectacular Day Trips from Athens, Greece
Most people think of ancient monuments and beautiful beaches when they think of a holiday in Greece and many of the country’s other islands get all the attention. But you should consider visiting Crete for all of this including the dazzling city of Chania, located just a short 1-hour flight from Athens.
Chania is the stuff of your Mama Mia dreams, as you’ll enjoy incredible views around every corner. What I love the most about this city is its relaxed vibe and affordability. You can enjoy some high-end level hotels or apartments for a fraction of the price of other Greek islands, not to mention world-class beaches. This city is has a plethora of museums, bars, and restaurants to keep you entertained and a uniquely Greek vibe to it.
If you’re searching for history then look no further, this city is ancient and its history dates to the year 3000 BC. There is so much history for you to explore that you can never really grasp it all. In the meantime, you’ll want to check out some of its historic structures including the fortified wall which was originally constructed during the first Byzantine period. There are also plenty of historic sites nearby easily reachable by car or bus.
Chania is the perfect place for rest and relaxation. You can enjoy the beach, wander its old streets, and explore its history before you set off to explore Crete.
Contributed by Jose Harvey from My Normal Gay Life.
Hopping on a short ferry ride from Albania, Corfu was my very first introduction to Greece. Although I didn’t have anything from Greece to compare it to quite yet, this northern Ionian island did not disappoint with all its Venetian glory and crystal clear waters. Now after spending a month in Greece this past summer, I can fully confirm that it still ranks supreme as one of my favorite places in Greece.
Although the more southern islands are undoubtedly beautiful in their own right, the colorful architecture in Corfu reaps the benefit from years spent under the rule of the Venetians, French and British before being united with the rest of Greece in 1864. The myriad of influences makes Corfu stand out from the rest of the Greek islands with two Venetian fortresses in the downtown area, colorful facades, winding medieval cobblestone roads, and multiple palaces with nods to French design.
Besides gorgeous architecture, the natural beauty of Corfu is one to be reckoned with. With picturesque shorelines and luxurious beaches of turquoise waters, the island contains a plethora of hot spots with something for everyone. One of my favorite days on the island was spent exploring the cliffs of the Paleokastritsa Monastery that overlooks the picturesque Paleokastritsa Beach from above. The u-shaped bay with light-colored cliffs surrounding the beach, the area looks more like the set to a movie rather than a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Famous worldwide for its appearance in the New Testament, Corinth’s is also home to the world-famous Corinth Canal, which connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea
Many choose to visit as a day trip from Athens (or even as a quick stop on the way to Mycenae or Epidaurus). However, there’s enough to do here for a few days if you know where to look.
Visit the ancient Greek Acrocorinth and other remnants of ancient Corinth before relaxing in the modern town at night.
Read Next: 17 Spectacular Day Trips from Athens, Greece
Crete, the largest Greek island, offers the perfect mix of paradise beaches, charming little cities and towns, natural sceneries, and historical landmarks. It also has a fantastic culinary scene and a contagious chilled and happy atmosphere that will make you feel at home.
If you’re looking for utter relaxation, Crete’s 1000 km of coastline provides some pretty dreamy beaches like Sfakia, Matala, Istro, and Tymbaki. For something a bit more unusual, you can also find a few unique Cretan beaches like Elafonissi with its pink sand or Loutro, which is only accessible by hiking or by boat.
After some time in the sun, you have to explore Crete’s cities and towns. From Chania and its colorful old town to Matala and its street paintings to the views of Agios Nikolaos, these places prove that Crete is more than just beaches. But this island has a few more surprises up its sleeve. While adventurers will enjoy rock climbing or hiking in Crete’s gorges, history fans will love Spinalonga island, which was one of the last active leper colonies in Europe.
Since it is such a diverse island, your Crete itinerary could include one region (out of four), day trips from one main city like Heraklion the capital, or a road trip through the entire island. Whatever your plans are, you will never get bored in Crete.
Contributed by Or from My Path in the World.
If you are a fan of ancient history, the kind involving legendary heroes and gods of all sorts, then you definitely need to make your way to the island of Delos. Located just a short 30-minute ferry ride from Mykonos, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delos makes for an excellent day trip.
You can explore the island on your own or opt for ½ day guided tour. Either way, the island offers some incredible glimpses to the ancient Greek world because most of it is one gigantic ruin. Habitation by humans on the island goes all the way back to 3000 BC and it was considered the birthplace of the god Artemis and Apollo. As such, the island became the home of many temples dedicated to various gods and you can still see their ruins.
I love the island because it feels like you’re stepping back in time and you can get up close and personal with history. In fact, the mosaics in some of the houses on the island are the most well preserved in Europe. Just be sure to grab a map so you know what you’re looking at and please be respectful by not climbing or generally causing damage to the ruins. With a little adventurous spirit, you can explore the incredible birthplace of ancient Greece’s heroes and gods.
Contributed by Jose Harvey from My Normal Gay Life.
Greece and its surrounding islands are full of breath-taking beaches. But Elafonisi beach in Crete takes the crown for being the most magnificent! In fact, it’s been voted one of the top beaches in the world and it’s no doubt my favorite place in Greece.
One of my favorite places to visit on Crete in winter, Heraklion is Crete’s gritty, Balkan capital. I find it to be the perfect mix of Greek food and beautiful architecture surrounded by a harder urban core.
Gems like the Lakkos Historic District and the tops of the Venetian Walls often go unvisited by people who just pop in to see the Palace of Knossos. So many tourists come for just a day or two, but I spent two wonderful weeks here and didn’t even see everything!
Make sure to eat your way around the city, as it has some truly excellent restaurants for every budget.
Hydra is like a Greek island time capsule. The narrow streets have meant that cars are banned, the white-washed houses and charming harbor are a wonderful welcome.
There are beautiful churches and important ecclesiastical museums to explore here, but make sure to give yourself enough time to relax and eat outside right on the harbor. Of course if you have a few days and April through October, spend at least one afternoon on one of Hydra’s wonderful beaches!
This beautiful hilly Cycladic island is a popular day trip from Santorini or as the next stop on a Santorini itinerary since it’s located about halfway between Santorini and Naxos.
Considered one of the best party islands in Greece, it’s popular with young travelers and the backpacker set. However, during the day it is much more laid back, with tourists flopping on the island’s beautiful, golden beaches.
Beyond the beaches and parties, Ios is a popular scuba diving spot. You can also visit what some believe to be the tomb of Homer, along with the prehistoric site of Skarkos.
Karpathos might be the best Greek Island you’ve never heard of. It’s tucked in the southeast corner of the Dodecanese Islands between Crete and Rhodes, where it’s served as a trade route stop, a hiding place, and a fertile home to people since antiquity.
The finger-shaped island, about thirty miles long and six miles across, is sprinkled with mountain villages and lined with cliffs and coves. Most of Karpathos’ 7,000 residents live in the southern section. Here visitors will find a sizeable airport with daily flights from Athens, as well as ferry service to the mainland and nearby islands. To date, there’s no harbor to accommodate large cruise ships, so the main city of Karpathos (also called Pigadia) remains calm and friendly.
Karpathians love to share their island and family stories. Most villages have strong family ties with the United States, and emigrants regularly return to this “hidden paradise.”
Karpathos Island attractions include secluded beaches on the leeward side, a fantastic network of well-signed hiking trails, excellent birding, snorkeling and caving, windsurfing, and of course the food and cultural heritage.
To dive deep into the island’s history and culture, visit Olympos. This northern village dates back to the 5th Century fortifications built when islanders sought protection from pirates. Later, homes and chapels were built into the rocky mountainside. A nearby valley still provides valuable agricultural plots.
The best of Greek artisan crafts thrive in the traditional environment of Olympos. Find a store selling the islands’ famous honey; shop custom-made stringed musical instruments including those used in local celebrations; visit shoemaker J. Prearis in his workshop store, and see fine examples of local wood carving and textiles.
Olympos is a great starting point, too, for adventures. By land, head out on some of the hiking trails or arrange a tour for a seaside fresh-catch lunch. Or, by boat, head to Saria, the fingernail-sized island to the north (once attached to the rest of the land). Hikers will enjoy passing through the ancient city ruins of Argos on their way to spectacular views over the Aegean Sea.
Contributed by Kristin Henning from TravelPast50.com.
Nestled away in the Ionian Sea off the coast of mainland Greece, lies one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, and my personal favorite: Kefalonia. If you’re looking for somewhere to experience what Greece might have been like fifty years ago, before hordes of tourists took over, then this is the place! With breathtaking views of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and colorful houses, it’s hard to believe this island isn’t more popular.
Kefalonia has a little bit of everything: castles, historic sites, delicious food, and of course pristine beaches where you can relax and swim in the warm Ionian sea. Probably the most popular site on the island is the Mellisani Cave where you can tour an underground lake that shines the brightest blue at midday!
You can take a drive up into the mountains in the center of the island where you’ll be greeted by local farmers working farms for generations and hundreds of their goats who roam freely along the rocky mountain roads. From here you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire island. Kefalonia is large enough to keep you entertained for a few weeks, but not so big that it’s overwhelming.
Possibly the biggest draw for Kefalonia is its budget pricetag. You can catch a Ryanair flight from London for next to nothing and rent a house near the beach for a fraction of the price it would cost you on some of the more popular islands in Greece.
Contributed by Vanessa Hunt from Wanderlust Crew.
Lousios Gorge, in the Arkadia Region of Greece, is home to ancient Arcadian ruins and cliff-top monasteries. The scene is set with old woodlands, ancient bridges and incredible monasteries clinging precariously on the side of the ravines either side of the gorge.
According to Greek mythology, the Lousios River is where Zeus himself bathed – and who could blame him with such beautiful surroundings?
Just south of the nearby town Dimitsana, you’ll find the Ancient Gortys ruins, which are believed to be ancient healing grounds dating from the 4th century BC. From here, a hiking trail leads you through ancient woodlands along the Lousios gorge. After about 1.5 kilometers you’ll come to the Prodromou Monastery built into the rock high on the mountainside.
Further on, you’ll climb to the Philosophou Monastery ruins. This ancient holy place, founded in 963AD, is still accessible by steep steps. The passageways and rooms are extremely narrow and cut into the rock.
Just a little further along the path is the modern Philosophou Monastery, where you are likely to be welcomed by a cheery monk with an offering of Turkish Delight and a drink of water.
This area offers a wonderful combination of nature with a good dose of Greek history and fascinating sights along the way – all without the crowds. That’s our idea of a wonderful place to visit in Greece.
Contributed by Shelley of Lifejourney4two.
Mastic Villiage of Chios
Meteora in the center of the Greek mainland is a must to visit when you plan a trip to Greece. Most of the tourists head directly to the beautiful greek island and are not aware of what Meteora has to offer.
Meteora is a magnificent complex of enormous rock formations, not far the Kalambaka town. None knows how exactly these rocks were formed, but the age of the rocks is estimated more than 50 million years.
I feel so lucky that I had a chance to visit Meteora, one of the most incredible places on our planet. This unique place of natural and cultural is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to one the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built on the natural sandstone rock pillars in the 15th century. Some of them were bombed during World War II, but some are still working and are open to visitors and prayers.
One of the best ways to go to Meteora is by taking a train from Athens, but if you prefer flying, you can fly to Thessaloniki and rent a car and drive 200 km to Meteora.
Contributed by Mansoureh Farahani from Travels with Mansoureh.
Milos is one of the lesser-visited Greek Islands despite its fascinating landscapes, pristine bays and unmistakably delicious Greek cuisine, not to mention the fact that it was the location of the discovery of the world-famous Venus de Milo statue!
Located in the Cyclades chain, Milos is a charming island with a plethora of varied beaches that offer sand, stones, caves and cliff faces to prove that there really is something here to suit everyone. Not only that, but the water is a classic Aegean blue that will leave you longing to dive into the warm waters and photograph it to your heart’s content.
If you visit in the off-season, you’re sure to be able to find at least one of the 70 beaches sans people so you can lounge in peace and soak up the serenity of the island.
The capital, Plaka, is no less enchanting, with its narrow winding streets, quaint tavernas and interesting collection of museums covering everything from folklore and archaeology to maritime and military endeavors.
One of the many things that makes Milos special is its topography that was formed by nearby volcanoes erupting many centuries ago. These eruptions created lava flow coves with splashes of oxidized metal which makes it look like something from another planet!
While Milos doesn’t have an international airport, it is more than worth the effort it takes to get there via Athens and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Contributed by Chrysoula of Travel Passionate.
Mykonos is perhaps the best-known island in Greece, and one of the most famous in the world due to practically being synonymous with epic clubs, beach parties, and Insta-perfect cobblestone streets.
There’s much more to Mykonos than what it’s best known for, but there is a reason why millions of travelers from all over the world flock here every season to experience the best it has to offer.
One of the most picturesque spots on the island is its capital, Chora, also known as Mykonos Town or “Hora”. The traditional Cycladic village is home to whitewashed houses, narrow streets, colorful doors, quaint restaurants, and picturesque boutiques. Get intentionally lost and explore its nooks and crannies – every corner you turn, you’ll find a gem!
Mykonos sunsets are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Catch them during dinner from Nice ‘n’ Easy or have drinks at one of the bars in Little Venice, along the waterfront. Alternatively, head to 180º Sunset Bar for unbeatable views over the entire Chora.
At night, Chora and Little Venice transform into a party haven. Skandinavian Bar is perhaps the best known in the area, but you’re better off club-hopping and getting a sense of the scene.
The Mykonos LGBTQ+ scene is known as one of the best in the world, and you can club-hop all night long between epic spots.
For the best beach parties, head to Paradise beach, Super Paradise beach, or Paraga. Mykonos attracts the best DJs from all over the world – book ahead if there’s someone you want to see as the events can sell out quickly once the announcements are made at the beginning of the season.
While Greece, in general, has a very laid back vibe, Nafplio takes this to an extreme. Once you get there you’ll immediately just want to slow down and take it all in. The town is very picturesque and you’ll want to make sure to detour into the side streets for some absolutely lovely photo opportunities and make sure not to miss strolling along the palm-lined harbor front. Once you pick somewhere to eat make sure to grab a seat outside no matter where you choose to eat because you’ll want to keep taking the sights in and enjoying the people watching.
There are a number of things to do in Nafplio but the charm of the town is that you don’t actually have to do anything to have a great time. If you’re interested in filling your itinerary you’ll certainly have many options. You can take your pick between multiple beaches, forts, shopping, and restaurants to experience the town.”
My favorite place in Greece is the island of Naxos. Naxos is the largest island in the Cycladic island group, which is the same group that Santorini is in. It is my favorite for a variety of reasons, and one is the beautiful Naxos beaches! The beaches are plentiful and have great sand and water for swimming.
The other thing I love about Naxos is the Old Town area. The Old Town is right next to the port of Naxos. It has terrific shopping with many stores that have handmade Greek items and food. Old Town is also a great place to eat dinner with plenty of restaurants in the area.
Above Old Town is the Kastro, which is the castle built in the 11th century by Venetian Marco Sanudo. It is a great place to get lost in. You can admire the ancient part of town and see a Catholic Church here. There is also an archaeological museum worth visiting here.
As you can see there is plenty of things to keep you busy in Naxos for your entire Greek holiday and why it is my favorite place in Greece.
We travel to Greece each year and have visited many islands and parts of the mainland but the one island that we always return to time and time again is Paros, in the Cyclades. We love to stay in the cosmopolitan town of Naoussa in the north, which is still a working fishing village and has a vibrant bar and dining scene.
Larger than Santorini but without the crowds Paros is home to similar sugar cube style villages and towns and has stylish pockets of shops and restaurants that would not be out of place in Mykonos.
Small enough to drive a full loop in a day the beaches are some of the best in Greece and it is also possible to do day trips to neighboring Antiparos, Naxos and the Small Cyclades, in fact even Santorini is viable. It is the first major port for many of the ferries from Athens and there is also a small but modern airport, making the island very accessible.
There are wineries, ancient ruins, sweeping vistas and the famous Church of a Hundred Doors, one of the most historically significant churches in all of Greece.
It really is the perfect Greek Island that ticks all the boxes and offers something for everyone.
Contributed by Sandra at Greece Travel Secrets.
The island of Rhodes has a reputation in the UK for being a bit of a party island thanks to Faliraki, a village and seaside resort on the east coast. Faliraki is famous for attracting 18-30s looking for a cheap holiday and plenty of party nights. But get past that and away from the city center, and you will find plenty of quiet spots worth exploring, amongst which is an impressive 5km-long golden sand beach ideal for a bit of relaxation.
If culture is more your thing, the city of Rhodes itself has a beautiful old town. In fact, within the city walls, you will find Europe’s oldest inhabited medieval town. The Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where ancient Greeks, Byzantines, Ottomans, Jews, and Italians left their mark throughout the times. One of the highlights is the cobblestoned Street of the Knights, named after the Knights Hospitaller of St John, who captured the city in the 14th century. The buildings, which have remained unchanged over the centuries, were once inns named according to the tongues the Knights staying there spoke.
But perhaps my favorite place on the island is Lindos, a fishing village with traditional whitewashed buildings and an Acropolis on top of the cliff. If you are a history buff, a visit to the Acropolis is a must, but even if you are not, the views over the bay and the village are truly spectacular, so don’t miss these. Lindos is also a bit of a foodie destination, with a great selection of quality bars and restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to try all those delicious traditional Greek dishes that everyone should try.
Contributed by Teresa Gomez from Brogan Abroad.
Read Next: 8 Exciting Things to Do in Rhodes
Santorini is one of my favorite places to visit in Greece because of its stunning white-washed cliff views! If you have seen it in a photo, the view is similar if not even better! Santorini is a honeymooners paradise with small boutique hotels and dozens of small restaurants, perfect for couples.
There are lavish rooms with plunge pools offering views of the cliffs and the water below. They look like something right out of a magazine, but be warned, they offer little privacy as the paths between hotels pass above, below and around these private balconies!
Although a couple’s paradise, is not to say that families should not visit, I have taken my children there and they had a great time, we explored the beaches, rode ATV’s and hiked along the cliffside!
Santorini is the perfect place to spend 2 days. It gives you time to watch the sunsets, explore the small villages on the island, soak up the sun at the beach and enjoy a few meals. Then it is an easy ferry hop over to another Greek island! They are all so different, so come to Santorini for the Caldera views and then continue on to other places in Greece, there is so much to explore!
Contributed by Lindsay Nieminen from Carpe Diem OUR Way.
Perhaps my favorite place in all of Greece, Seitan Limania is one of Crete’s most beautiful beaches. It’s a bit difficult to get here since you’ll need a car or a taxi, plus there is a steep decline to get to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs. However, it’s so worth it.
There are curious and entitled goats living nearby who may pay you a visit during your time here. You can also enjoy jumping off the cliffs into the cool water below.
Make sure to bring your own food and drinks for your visit since there aren’t any businesses here.
The picturesque peninsula of Sithonia is one of the three “fingers” of Halkidiki on the Greek mainland. It’s my favorite place to visit in Greece due to its breathtaking beaches and friendly fishing villages.
Mainland Greece feels quieter and somehow more authentic than some of the more popular Islands. Sithonia is a perfect example of this. The peninsula is home to several fishing villages, try Porto Koufo or Neos Marmaras, where you can watch fishermen head out in their tiny boats to secure the catch of the day. Visit one of the many seafront restaurants to taste the fruits of their labor. You don’t get fresher fish than that!
Most beaches are open to the public with white sand and crystal clear waters. My favorite is Kalamitsi on the South East of the peninsula. The sand is some of the softest I’ve felt. We sat at the beachside restaurant watching dolphins play in the bay. Heaven.
The middle of the peninsula is mountainous and covered in forests. It’s here you’ll find almost unpassable roads, rows of beehives and practically deserted old towns. The protected village of Parthenonas on the slopes of Mount Itamos offers amazing views across the Aegean Sea and uninhabited, overgrown buildings ripe for exploring.
Sithonia in Halkidiki is easily accessible from Thessaloniki airport with low-cost flights arriving daily. Read all the best things to do in Halkidiki and discover more about this beautiful part of Greece.
Contributed by Karen Quinn from Are We There Yet Kids
Perhaps most famous for being one of the islands used for the filming of Mama Mia! (along with neighboring Skopelos), Skiathos is as picture-perfect as the movie suggests.
Spend time exploring Skiathos town, with its beautiful nineteenth-century architecture. Another highlight on the island is the absolutely stunning Lalaria Beach – though you won’t run out of fabulous beaches to explore here.
One interesting historical note: Evangelistria Monastery served as a hideout for rebels during the Greek War for Independence, and this was the site where the famous blue-and-white Greek flag was created and first flown in 1807.
Located in the Northern Sporades like its neighbor Skiathos, Skopelos lies off the coast of the Pelion peninsula. The Greeks claim Skopelos was founded by one of the sons of the ancient Greek god Dionysus. Historically the island was first colonized by Cretans coming up from the Mediterranean.
Because of the island’s mountainous terrain, there are fewer beaches here than on other islands, but the ones that are here are spectacular. Make sure to set aside time to relax on Staphylos, Agnondas, or Limnonari. More adventurous travelers can head to Velanio, Skopelos’s main nude beach.
Mama Mia! movie fans need to pay special attention. The wedding procession in the first movie was filmed at Skopelos’s Agios Ioannis Chapel.
Located in the Dodecanese, Symi is famous for its annual music festival held every July to September, when Greek musicians descend on the island to hold open-air performances. Of course, that’s not the only reason to visit this charming island.
While it once had a population of over twenty thousand people, there are now less than three thousand permanent residents. So if you arrive and the towns seem especially full and vibrant, you’re likely going to run into quite a few other tourists!
Make sure to spend an afternoon visiting the Monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis along with the towns’ many picture-perfect squares and churches.
It’s hard not to love Syros. It has all the same charm as many of the Greek Islands but without the overwhelming crowds. In fact, it may be even prettier. Its white walls, contrasted with a backdrop of blue skies and magenta flowers, make it just as beautiful in real life as it will be in the photos you take there.
Although small, Syros has no shortage of beautiful landscapes, cute cobbled streets, and postcard-perfect beaches. Incredible restaurants are easy to come by, too, with plenty of local takes on Greek favorites and freshly caught seafood as standard.
Getting to Syros isn’t as easy as other islands to get to, but it will be worth the extra effort. The small airport is served by two local airlines, but Syros is also served by ferries from the nearby islands several times a week.
For the small amount of time you’ll spend getting there, you’ll save a considerable amount of money compared to nearby Mykonos. Food, accommodation and other day-to-day expenses will cost around half the amount you’d spend on one of the more popular islands, meaning it’s a great way to get the Greek Island experience on a budget. And, if anything, you’ll have a much more authentic experience.
Contributed by Jodie from Alajode.
Located midway between Rhodes and Kos, the tiny seahorse-shaped island of Tilos is far from their madding crowds. This chilled-out Dodecanese island offers a slice of traditional Greek island life – with a few quirks and surprises!
Tilos packs fascinating biodiversity into a small space – it measures just nine miles long and less than five miles wide. An abundance of natural springs ensures a green landscape, while its craggy mountains and wide valleys are carpeted with wildflowers in spring.
Ramblers flock here to wander the island’s rugged paths, passing crusader castles, and an abandoned village before flopping on secluded beaches. Walks are accompanied by a soundtrack of goat bells and hum of bees – busy making honey – while oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil perfume the air.
The entire island and surrounding islets form a protected nature reserve, making Tilos a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers. Rare raptors soar over mountains, colorful bee-eaters and rollers nest in valleys, and endangered Mediterranean monk seals live offshore.
But this sleepy island isn’t always what it seems. Fossilized bones indicate that it was once home to dwarf elephants standing just over one meter high – the last elephants in Europe.
It’s also a forward-thinking island, location of Greece’s first gay wedding (despite still being illegal in the country) and the first Mediterranean island to be entirely powered by renewable energy.
And what of its people? Filoxenia (Greek hospitality) prevails, ensuring a welcome as warm as the Greek sunshine. Visit once, and I guarantee you’ll return…
Contributed by Joanne Amos at The Wandering Wordsmith
The spectacular Vikos Gorge is officially the deepest gorge in the world, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. And yet, amazingly, no one seems to have heard of it. It’s not the easiest place to get to in Greece, but if you make the effort you’re likely to have the gorge all to yourself!
To hike the gorge, you first need to get to the trailhead at a small village called Monodendri, in the Zagorohoria region of northwestern Greece. Since this is a linear rather than a circular hike, it probably makes sense to take public transport rather than driving your own car. Monodendri is about 40 kilometers from the small city of Ioannina, and local buses do run this mountain route.
They’re not all that frequent, though, so check the timetable carefully, and be sure the driver knows where you want to get off, as Monodendri is not a common request. Also, stock up on hiking snacks before you leave Ioannina. While you can get a hot meal at one of the local guesthouses in Monodendri, it’s slim pickings when it comes to grocery shopping.
The hike through the gorge takes about six or seven hours and finishes in Makro Papingo, a village of stone houses with slate roofs that is even more picturesque than Monodendri. If you’re not a hiker, there are various viewpoints in the area from which you can enjoy the view from above looking down into the gaping gorge. It’s a sight not to be missed!
5 Things to Bring with You to Greece
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in most of Greece is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places in Greece, especially on the island, where the water tastes like minerals.
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Greece is safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Allison or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a separate guide to tipping in Greece so you know what to give to different servers and staff while you’re here.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you know you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have a guide to the best things to do in Athens in winter.
We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!
Pin this Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Greece for Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.