Greece offers sunshine, whitewashed houses with bright-blue shutters, delicious food, and a relaxed lifestyle. And, as the cradle of Western civilization, it has some of the world's greatest ancient monuments. While it's a late bloomer in the modern age and retains echoes of a simpler, time-passed world, contemporary Greece has one of Europe's fastest-changing cultural landscapes. With its classical past, hang-loose present, and edgy future, Greece offers something for every traveler.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Athens Greece's capital, featuring the ancient world's most magnificent sight — the Parthenon atop the Acropolis hill — plus excellent museums, an atmospheric old town, the lively Central Market, and funky neighborhoods bursting with avant-garde nightlife.
▲▲▲ Nafplio Greece's first capital is a cozy port with an elegant old town, energetic street life, and a cliff-topping fortress offering dramatic sea-and-mountain views; handy to nearby ancient sites (Mycenae and Epidavros).
▲▲▲ Hydra Idyllic island getaway, convenient to Athens and the Peloponnese, with picturesque harbor, casual beaches, enticing coastal hikes, and no cars (but plenty of donkeys).
▲▲ Olympia Birthplace of the Olympic Games, this famous site has evocative temple ruins, a still-functional stadium (and original starting line), an intimate museum of ancient masterpieces, and a town nearby.
▲▲ Delphi These dramatic mountainside ruins, near the town of Delphi, are draped with the Sanctuary of Apollo, where ancients came to consult the oracle; a great museum displays statues and treasures found on-site.
▲▲ Mykonos This quintessential, popular island island has a postcard-perfect whitewashed village, old-fashioned windmills, and pulsating nightlife; ruins on nearby Delos mark the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
▲▲ Santorini This stunningly situated, romantic island — actually the lip of a volcano's flooded crater — is renowned for the cliff-clinging white villages, blue-domed churches, volcanic-sand beaches, and spectacular sunsets.
▲ Epidavros Best-preserved theater of the ancient world, with unbelievable acoustics.
▲ Mycenae Legendary mountaintop palace/fortress with iconic Lion Gate, massive beehive tomb, and mythic links to the Trojan War.
▲ Kardamyli Cozy, unspoiled beach town, providing a handy jumping-off point for the Mani Peninsula.
▲ Mani Peninsula Easiest for drivers, this remote, rustic region has seaside villages, eerie ghost towns, Byzantine churches, spectacular caves (Pyrgos Dirou), stark ridges, and jagged coastlines.
▲ Monemvasia An old fortress town, dating from Venetian and Byzantine times, caps a gigantic rock peninsula jutting out into the sea.