Greece is renowned for its great cities, loads of interesting history and beautiful islands. For those new to Greece and trying to find the perfect destination, here are three of the top locations for a vacation in Greece.
1. Athens, capital of Greece
When visiting Greece for the first time, the country’s capital, Athens, is an excellent choice. The city was at the heart of ancient Greece and is still dominated by iconic 5th-century BC ruins, including the Acropolis. This hilltop citadel is home to a number of ancient buildings, including the Parthenon temple.
A visit to the Acropolis Museum and National Archaeological Museum of Athens is a must. Here visitors can see beautiful sculptures, jewelry, vases and other artifacts dating back to ancient Greece. Also of interest is the Grand Promenade. This was created for the 2004 Olympics and is the perfect way to view the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora of Athens complex.
Besides its history, Athens also has a contemporary side. Dining can be enjoyed in the cafés, restaurants and traditional tavernas in the pedestrian-only Plaka neighborhood. Party the night away, experiencing the buzzing nightlife in areas of the city like Psiri, Gazi and Kolonaki.
Shop until you drop in the Ermou shopping boulevard, close to Syntagma Square, with its fashion boutiques and a variety of shops selling handmade art and silver items.
The city of Athens also offers some of the best hotels and resorts in Greece. These include everything from traditional Greek hotels to modern, luxurious resorts.
2. Santorini, Cyclades Islands
Santorini is a gorgeous island, nestled in the Aegean Sea of Greece. One of the Cyclades Islands, Santorini was devastated by a volcanic eruption during the 16th century BC. This shaped the island’s fascinating and rugged landscape.
Among the rocky scenery, Fira and Oia are the island’s principal towns. Both feature beautiful, whitewashed homes, perched on the cliffs, overlooking the sea. The island’s beaches are crafted from red, black and white lava pebbles, making them a beautiful sight to see and enjoy.
History lovers will appreciate a visit to Akrotiri, an ancient Bronze Age settlement that was preserved under the volcanic ash. Here visitors can experience a unique view of Minoan life on the island. Also of interest are the ancient Thera ruins, standing on a bluff overlooking the sea.
Fira is a worthwhile visit with its boutique shops to explore. The streets are also lined with traditional tavernas selling fresh, locally caught seafood, washed down with a dry white wine from the local Assyrtiko grape. The town is also home to the Archaeological Museum of Thera, with fascinating exhibits from days gone by.
3. Crete, Greece
Another ideal location for an island vacation is Crete, the largest island in Greece. The island’s beautiful terrain includes the White Mountains. The range is home to Mt. Ida, where the Ideon Cave can be visited. According to Greek mythology, this was the birthplace of Zeus.
Sun lovers can enjoy the fine-sand beaches in Elafonisi, overlooking the blue Aegean Sea. The beach at Vai is backed by a huge palm forest.
During a spring visit, the rugged landscape of the island is covered with colorful wildflowers. This is also a habitat for a number of rare wild birds. Those who enjoy hiking will appreciate the Samariá Gorge, a deep rift in the landscape around 10 mi (16 km) in length.
Crete’s capital is Heraklion, which offers a range of restaurants serving the local cuisine, mostly based on seafood, prepared with olive oil and fragrant herbs. The city also hosts the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, home to Knossos, a Bronze Age settlement, as well as exhibits of Minoan artifacts.
Other historical locations on the island include 18th-century Ottoman minarets and Venetian fortresses.
Make a plan to visit Greece this year. Experience its exciting cities, fascinating history, delicious local cuisine and friendly, welcoming people.