Located in the southern Aegean, the largest of all Greek islands, Crete, was once home to the Bronze Age Minoan civilization. In addition to its many beach resorts, Crete has plenty to offer independent travelers, such as the picturesque cities of Chania and Rethymno in the West. As well as its stunning beaches like Balos (pictured), dramatic mountains and gorges offer plenty for hiking fans.
Popular with package tourists from northern Europe, Rhodes is often accused of being overdeveloped, yet as the largest in the Dodecanese island group, it still has plenty of places to explore. The town of Lindos (pictured) with its white-washed buildings also has the stunning Agios Pavlos beach and a large Acropolis. Rhodes' old town is the largest preserved medieval old town in Europe.
Perched on this volcanic island a one-hour flight from Athens, the town of Oia (pictured) is one of the world's most famous sunset photo spots. Although the island saw fewer tourists during the pandemic, it's popularity has not waned. Hotel prices in Fira and Oia are high, yet the island has plenty of charming villages that offer a more authentic experience. The island also produces local wines.
It's Greece's answer to Ibiza: The Cycladic island of Mykonos has become the go-to Greek party island for the wealthy. Yet, beyond its yacht-filled harbors, the island has shining examples of white, Cycladic architecture and a host of truly breathtaking beaches. From Mykonos, one can visit the uninhabited island of Delos, one of the most important mythological and archaeological sites in Greece.
Located across from Italy, the Ionian island of Corfu boasts sparkling blue waters and lots of foliage. Italian influence is present here through the many Venetian-style buildings, particularly in charming Corfu Town. There's no lack of impressive beaches, including Glyfada and Porto Timoni (pictured). Corfu is rich in natural wonders — in the canal d'amore, one can swim through tunnels and caves.
One of the most iconic Greek island photos involves Navagio beach on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, aka Zante — it has a shipwreck from the 1980s and can only be reached by boat due to its high cliffs. Parts of the island are popular with young partygoers, especially in the area of Laganos. Yet, there is also an abundance of wildlife and quieter villages such as Agalas, Gyri and Maries.
This northern Greek region with its jutting peninsulas is famed for its azure water and fine sands. On the second peninsula, pine trees give way to the sandy beach of Kavourtoripes, while the third peninsula, Kassandra, is most popular and has plenty of options for nightlife and resorts. For a history oriented outing, head to the ancient site of Stageira, the birthplace of philosopher Aristotle.
Now, to the mainland! Millions of tourists visit the Greek capital each year — and no trip is complete without a trip to the ancient citadel known as the Acropolis. In it lies the Parthenon, which was built in the 5th century BC, and was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. Athens is also home to a number of world-class museums, restaurants and charming neighbourhoods, such as Plaka.
About a two hour drive from Athens, these ancient ruins on the side of Mount Parnassus above the Gulf of Corinth are a popular stop on the tourist trail. In Greek mythology, the site was home to the Oracle of Delphi and was considered the naval of the earth as proclaimed by Zeus. Today, visitors can tour the ruins of the temple of Apollo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The largest archaeological site in Greece in terms of area covered, the monasteries of Meteora are perched dramatically on rock pillars. Orthodox Christian hermit monks were the first to settle the area in the 9th century, living in caves before starting to build the monasteries. Today, several of them are open to the public and accessible via steps carved into the rock.
Author Sarah Hucal
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