The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Greece, your essential guide for visiting Greece.
If there are 1000 bucket list travel experiences, having a sundowner overlooking the crater of Santorini would near the top of the list. Most places facing the crater are great, but Ouia at the western tip is especially popular. While you are on the island, check out the best beaches on Santorini, and great alternative things to do on this sometimes crowded island.
Check out our list of tips for your future trip to Greece
Visit Santorini island with our tailor-made 10-day tour to Mythological Cyclades islands.
Situated in Oia, 1.1 km from Katharos Beach and 11 km from Archaeological Museum of Thera, The Sunset Windmill features air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi. It is located 21 km from Santorini Port and provides a tour desk.
Lie back and enjoy the unforgettable scenery of one of Greece’s poster beaches on Zakynthos.
Zakynthos, southernmost of the six core Ionian islands, is divided between relative wilderness and indiscriminate commercialization. However, much of the island is still green and unspoilt, with only token pockets of tourism, and the main resorts seem to be reaching maximum growth without encroaching too much on the quieter parts.
The island still produces fine wines, such as the white Popolaro, as well as sugarshock-inducing mandoláto nougat, whose honey-sweetened form is best.
You will find even more attractive Greek island destinations in our guide to the best Greek Islands for all types of travellers.
Enjoy a guided tour to the north of Zakynthos with numerous photo stops. Board a glass-bottom speedboat and visit the famous Navagio Shipwreck beach, Blue Caves, and Navagio viewpoint.
Conveniently located in a quiet spot near the centre of Zakynthos town, Palatino offers elegant rooms with Ionian Sea or mountain views. It has a restaurant and a cocktail bar.
Rising like ecclesiastical eagles’ nests, the monasteries at Meteora are among the most awe-inspiring religious sites on earth. The six Orthodox monasteries of this UNESCO world heritage site in central Greece are built on natural rock pillars. Make sure to take a full day to explore different viewpoints as well as the interior.
These extraordinary buildings, perched on seemingly inaccessible rock pinnacles, occupy a valley just north of Kalambáka; metéora means “suspended in mid-air”, while kalabak is an Ottoman Turkish word meaning cliff or pinnacle. Arriving at the town, you glimpse the closest of the monasteries, Ayíou Stefánou, firmly ensconced on a massive pedestal.
Our tailor-made trip to classical Greece will take you to Athens, the city of legends and some of the most fascinating classical sites, such as Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi and the man-made marvels of the Corinth Canal and Byzantine monasteries of Meteora.
Set in Kalabaka, 5.3 km from Meteora and 4.7 km from Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Meteora best view villa offers a garden and air conditioning. Monastery of Agios Stefanos is 5.5 km from the accommodation, while Roussanou Monastery is 6.3 km from the property.
The bare granite cliffs of Ýdhra (aka Hydra) soon part to reveal the fabulous horseshoe of its harbour, perhaps the most scenic in Greece.
The island of Ýdhra is one of the most atmospheric destinations in Greece. With its harbour and main town preserved as a national monument, it feels like a Greek island should, entirely traffic-free (even bicycles are banned) with a bustling harbour and narrow stone streets climbing steeply above it.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Athens on a tour around the islands of Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.
Gorgeous nineteenth-century building in the heart of Hydra Town where you have a choice of tastefully renovated private apartments or a double room. Excellent location and a home away from home fee.
There’s much more to Greek wine than dodgy retsina and you should visit at least one vineyard while you’re here. And since wine is best enjoyed with good food as company, don't miss our guide to the best greek food you need to try.
All tavernas will offer you a choice of bottled wines, and most have their own house variety: kept in barrels, sold in bulk (varelísio or hýma) by the quarter-, half- or full litre, and served in glass flagons or brightly coloured tin “monkey-cups”.
An increasing number of Greek wineries open their doors to visitors for tastings and tours, which are usually free or make a nominal charge. There are a number of wine routes on the mainland and individual wineries dotted around the wine-producing islands such as Límnos, Lésvos, Santoríni, Kefaloniá, Náxos, Ikaría, Rhodes and Crete.
Taste the wines produced on the island of Santorini on a tasting tour with a local wine expert. Visit the island's best wineries to explore the vineyards and hear about the different grape varieties.
A trek to Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods, is supremely atmospheric and among worthwhile thing to do in Greece for hikers.
The main trailhead for the ascent of Mount Olympus starts from Priónia – just under 18km up the mountain on the sealed road from Litóhoro. There is an information booth at km3, where (in high season) your nationality is recorded and you’re given some literature advising you of the park rules.
If you’re up for a real challenge and an early start, it’s possible to walk from Litóhoro to Priónia via the monastery of Ayíou Dhionysíou. It’s a delightful route (allow 4hrs) along the E4 overland trail, but you’ll need basic hiking skills, as there are some scrambles over steep terrain and a few water crossings.
Discover the archaeological park of Dion and Mount Olympus on this tour from Thessaloniki. Hike to the Enipeas gorge and enjoy lunch at a picturesque village nearby.
Situated in the mountain village of Litochoro, Hotel Mirto offers tastefully furnished rooms and suites with views of Mount Olympus. It has a stylish bar and provides free Wi-Fi throughout.
Billed as the Greek Tuscany, the Pelion region in the Greek mainland has it all: lush countryside, excellent beaches, character-packed villages and superb treks.
The hilly Pelion peninsula confounds every stereotypical image of Greece, with its abundant fruit trees and dense forests and water gurgling up from fountains or aqueducts. Summer temperatures here can be a good 5°C cooler than on the baking plains nearby. This finger of land is very popular with Greek tourists and more discerning foreign visitors drawn to its pretty villages, excellent beaches and hiking routes.
Hotel Aegli, conveniently situated near the port and centre of Volos, provides accommodation throughout the year, in the most privileged location, enjoying views of the port.
This restored mansion is one of the best places to stay on the whole peninsula. Its stylish rooms, professional service and central-square location make it a great deal even without the awardwinning breakfasts (included) – prepare for a feast.
This is also the best place to eat in the village, with a menu full of affordable dishes, including local specialities such as spetzofai (sausage and peppers in tomato sauce). There’s also a decent wine menu, and the water jugs are filled from a natural spring spouting from beneath a 900-year-old tree.
Experience the most frenetic nightlife east of Ibiza at Mykonos, the party capital of the Greek summer.
Mykonos has become the most popular, the most high-profile and the most expensive of the Cyclades. Boosted by direct air links with Europe, it sees several million tourists a year pass through, producing some spectacular August overcrowding on the island’s 85 square kilometres.
The sophisticated nightlife is hectic, amply stimulated by Mýkonos’s former reputation as the gay resort of the Mediterranean, although today gay tourists are well in the minority. While everywhere on the island is at least gay-friendly, gay tourists prefer to congregate in Mýkonos Town itself or the beaches of Super Paradise and Eliá.
The locals take it all in their stride, ever conscious of the important revenue generated by their laissez-faire attitude. When they first opened up to the hippy tourists who began appearing on Mýkonos in the 1960s, they assumed their eccentric visitors were sharing cigarettes due to lack of funds.
Since then, a lot of the innocence has evaporated, and you shouldn’t come for scenery, solitude or tradition, but Mýkonos offers lovely and lively beaches and a party lifestyle second to none.
Discover a more authentic side to Mykonos on a unique half-day island tour.
Living proof that it’s possible to stay in Mýkonos Town without mortgaging your home, this is a comfortable hotel with classically minimalist decor and as peaceful as can be in the buzz of the backstreets.
Providing a terrace, Sugar Blue is located between Mykonos Town and Tourlos, a 5-minute driving distance from Mykonos Town, stores and restaurants. Complimentary WiFi is featured.
Exploring a ghost town in the Sparta region of the Peloponnes peninsula is one of the best things to do in Greece. It's a time capsule for the modern tourist to step through to the Byzantine age.
Mystra is one of the most exciting and dramatic sites in the Peloponnese – a glorious, airy place, hugging a very steep, 280m foothill of Taïyetos. Winding up the lushly vegetated hillside is a remarkably intact Byzantine town that once sheltered a population of some twenty thousand, and through which you can now wander.
Snaking alleys lead through monumental gates, past medieval houses and palaces, and above all into the churches, several of which yield superb if faded frescoes. The overall effect is of straying into a massive unearthing of architecture, painting and sculpture – and into a diff erent age with a dramatically different mentality.
A delightful guesthouse with 14 rooms in the square of this traditional town, décor harmonized with the environment using local stone and wood, giving it a warm, rustic feel.
If you’re looking to really treat yourself, then this spa retreat is right up your street. Just relax in their facilities with pool and massage treatments, or take up one of their specially planned packages to help you de-stress. It’s expensive, but completely worth it.
The 18km hike down the spectacular Samaria gorge, which some claim to be Europe’s longest, is one of the most popular day-trips on the island; still better if you make it part of a longer excursion to the south. Although often crowded it’s not a walk to be undertaken lightly, particularly in the heat of summer. It’s strenuous – you’ll know all about it next day – the path is rough, and walking boots or sturdy trainers are vital, as is plenty of water.
While in Crete, don't miss out on the best Cretan beaches.
Explore Crete with our tailor-made trip along the coast of Crete: from Herkalion to Platanias.
Impressive looking, stone-built hotel with comfortable balcony rooms with TV and a decent restaurant; breakfast is included
Perhaps the pick of the hotels in Omalós, and certainly with the busiest taverna, this has pleasant balcony rooms with central heating and satellite
For a true taste of Greek food, tuck into a mezédhes (meze) platter of starters and dips accompanied by a glass of ouzo.
The most common mezédhes are:
Also check our list of the best Greek delicious dishes you need to try.
Discover Greek food culture and taste superb Greek pastries, wine, cheese and salamis with this gourmet food tour in Athens.
The imposing relief of lions guarding the main entrance to the Citadel of Mycenae is, incredibly, thirty-odd centuries old.
The Citadel of Mycenae is entered through the famous Lion Gate, whose huge sloping gateposts bolster walls dubbed “Cyclopean” by later Greeks, in bewildered attribution to the only beings deemed capable of their construction. Above them, a graceful carved relief stands out in confident assertion.
At its height, Mycenae led a confederation of Argolid towns (Tiryns, Árgos, Assine, Hermione – present-day Ermióni), dominated the Peloponnese and exerted influence throughout the Aegean. The motif seen here of a pillar supported by two muscular lions was probably the symbol of the Mycenaean royal house – a seal found on the site bears a similar device. There’s also a small but interesting site museum.
At the top end of the village, this recently refurbished hotel is the nearest to the site, with a/c rooms, great views and a swimming pool. Dinner, which features organic produce, is available at the on-site restaurant. Breakfast included.
Famous as the setting for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Kefalonia remains a firm favourite despite the crowds.
Kefalonia (also known in English as Cephalonia) is the largest of the Ionian islands, a place that has real towns as well as resorts. Until the late 1980s, the island paid scant regard to tourism; perhaps this was partly due to a feeling that Kefaloniá could not be easily marketed.
A more likely explanation, however, for the island’s late emergence on the Greek tourist scene is the Kefalonians’ legendary reputation for insular pride and stubbornness, plus a good measure of eccentricity. There are, however, definite attractions here, with some beaches as good as any in Greece and the fine local wines of Robola.
Moreover, the island seems able to soak up a lot of people without feeling at all crowded, and the magnificent scenery speaks for itself.
Visit the most impressive sights of Kefalonia island on this guided island bus tour. Immerse yourself in an island paradise as you explore the whole island and taste local wine.
To find more ideas for your Kefalonia holiday, explore our list of best things to do in Kefalonia.
One of the ritziest hotels on the island, with designer decor throughout, from the lobby up to the chic bathroom fixtures.
Find more accommodation options at Kefalonia island
Located in an unbeatable natural setting, the ancient site of Delphi has retained its inscrutable mystique through the centuries.
It’s easy to understand why the ancients considered Delphi the centre of the earth, especially given their penchant for awe-inspiring sacred spots. Framed on all sides by the soaring crags of Parnassós, the site truly captures the imagination, especially in spring, when wild flowers cloak the precipitous valley.
But more than a stunning setting was needed to confirm the divine presence: sanctity, according to Plutarch, was confirmed through the discovery of a rock chasm that exuded strange vapours and reduced supplicants to incoherent – and undoubtedly prophetic – mutterings.
On the quietest, lowest street of the village, this hotel’s rooms feature wooden furniture and marble dresser tops, and there are three attic rooms with fireplaces: some rooms have unbeatable views over the Plistós Gorge.
Come here for clean, bright, small-to-medium-sized rooms; there are fans rather than a/c, but some balconies overlook the gorge, all the way down to the gulf.
If you visit in spring, ensure to time your visit on the Easter weekend. The biggest festival in Greece, Easter combines devout Orthodox belief with joyful spring celebrations.
Easter is by far the most important festival of the Greek year. It is an excellent time to be in Greece, both for the beautiful and moving religious ceremonies and for the days of feasting and celebration which follow. If you make for a smallish village, you may well find yourself an honorary member for the period of the festival.
The Acropolis is small rock in the middle of Athens. With its spectacular ruins visiting this cultural icon and a symbol of the birth of Western civilization is sure a thing you should do in Greece.
The rock of the Acropolis, crowned by the dramatic ruins of the Parthenon, is one of the archetypal images of Western culture. The first time you see it, rising above the traffic or from a distant hill, is extraordinary: foreign, and yet utterly familiar.
You can walk an entire circuit of the Acropolis and ancient Agora on pedestrianized streets which allow the monuments to be appreciated from almost every angle: in particular, the pedestrianization has provided spectacular terraces for cafés to the west, in Thissío. On the other side, in Pláka, you may get a little lost among the jumble of alleys, but the rock itself is always there to guide you
Visit the Athens Acropolis and explore the fascinating world of Ancient Greece on a 1.5-hour walking tour. Also read our guide to the best things to do in Athens and find some ideas for your future holiday here.
Shaped like a triangle around a gorgeous courtyard with a lemon tree at its centre, this boutique hotel has 22 suites with quirky furnishings such as off-cuts of marble for tables and sink backsplashes. Although in a relatively busy neighbourhood, it’s a quiet oasis after a day’s sightseeing.
A rambling, slightly dilapidated, family-run 150-year-old mansion, much loved by its regulars, most of whom are academics who often leave behind books for guests to read. The furnishings are individual, and some of its 20 rooms have (sole use) bathrooms across the hall; there’s a/c throughout.
Find more accommodation options in Athens
There are very few places on the islands where you can’t turn a windy day to your advantage, especially off Lefkadha in the Ionians or Naxos, Paros and Andhros in the Cyclades.
Windsurfing and kitesurfing are very popular around Greece: the country’s bays and coves are ideal for beginners, with a few spectacularly windy spots for experts. Board rental rates are reasonable and instruction is generally also available.
Waterski boats spend most of their time towing people around on bananas or other inflatables, though usually you can waterski or wakeboard aswell, while parasailing (parapént) is also on offer at all the big resorts. Jet skis can be rented in many resorts, too, for a fifteen-minute burst of fuel-guzzling thrills.
Once home to the ancient Colossus and the medieval Knights of St John, Rhodes is one of the most captivating islands in Greece.
Rhodes (Ródhos) is deservedly among the most visited of all Greek islands. Its star attraction is the beautiful medieval Old Town that lies at the heart of its capital, Rhodes Town – a legacy of the crusading Knights of St John, who used the island as their main base from 1309 until 1522.
Elsewhere, the ravishing hillside village of Líndhos, topped by an ancient acropolis, should not be missed. It marks the midpoint of the island’s long eastern shoreline, adorned with numerous sandy beaches that have attracted considerable resort development. At the southern cape, Prassoníssi is one of the best windsurfi ng spots in Europe.
Come aboard a luxury catamaran and cruise around the east coast beaches of Rhodes. Discover Anthony Quinn Bay, Kalithea and Afandou beach, and enjoy a Mediteranean lunch.
This outstanding and lovingly converted old Turkish mansion has six large suites. Luxuries such as a pillow menu, antiques scattered throughout, a grand piano played by the owners’ classically trained son and a sun-dappled courtyard, where free drinks are served nightly, add to the overall ambience.
Attractive and welcoming little place that has four large studios with kitchens decorated in bright, Mediterranean colours. It has a lovely courtyard with an olive tree at its centre, and its location in a cul-de-sac – opposite the Áyios Yeóryios Bastion – is central, yet very quiet.
One of the most beautiful islands in Greece, Patmos is also home to the haunting Monastery of St John the Divine.
Arguably the most beautiful and certainly the best known of the smaller Dodecanese, Patmos has a distinctive, immediately palpable atmosphere. It was in a cave here that St John the Divine (known in Greek as O Theológos, “The Theologian”, and author of one of the four Gospels) set down the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament.
The huge fortified monastery that honours him remains the island’s dominant feature; its monks owned all of Pátmos until the eighteenth century, and their influence remains strong.
Set in Skala, Patmos Garden offers accommodation with a seasonal outdoor pool, free WiFi, free bikes and a garden.
Find more accommodation options in Patmos
Mamma Mia! What an island – you can see why Hollywood’s location scouts chose the island Skopelos as the ultimate sun-drenched Greek escape.
Skopelos concessions to tourism are lower-key and in better taste, despite a boom in recent years fuelled by the filming here of Mamma Mia!. Much of the countryside, especially the southwest coast, really is as spectacular as it appears in the movie, with a series of pretty cove beaches backed by extensive pine forests as well as olive groves and orchards of plums (prunes are a local speciality), apricots, pears and almonds.
Skópelos Town (Hóra) and Glóssa, the two main towns, are among the prettiest in the Sporades.
Visit the Chapel of St. John (Ioannis), also known as the Mamma Mia wedding church, and enjoy a day full of adventure on the tour to Skopelos.
Self-catering complex, 600m east around the bay, with luxurious studios and suites set among landscaped grounds plus two pools and a restaurant. The “Seabreeze” suites are worth the extra for their modern design and sleek bathrooms, though it’s only good value if you get an off-season deal.
Even with a bit of controversy, Knossos Palace remains simply the best restored, vividly coloured and ultimately most exciting of Crete’s Minoan palaces.
Knossos is the largest and most important of the Minoan palaces, and the most visited. The mythological home of King Minos and the Minotaur it dates from the second millennium BC, and its labyrinthine interconnected rooms and corridors provide a fi tting backdrop to the legend.
To avoid the hordes, try get to the site early, before the coach tours arrive, or in the evening when they’ve left. It’s well worth engaging a licensed guide; they hang around the ticket office.
Villa Panorama has sea views, free WiFi and free private parking, set in Iraklia, 1.9 km from Vorini Beach.
Find more accommodation options at Crete
With its elegant Venetian architecture, fine museums and, uniquely, a cricket pitch, Corfu’s capital is the heart of the Ionian islands. The capital, Corfu Town, has been one of the most elegant island capitals in the whole of Greece since it was spruced up for the EU summit in 1994.
The city comprises a number of distinct areas. The Historic Centre, the area enclosed by the Old Port and the two forts, consists of several smaller districts:
Get to know Corfu Town on a guided walking tour. Stroll charming alleyways, interact with the locals as you stop to taste their food and sit down to a lunch of 2 local dishes at a cozy restaurant.
Smart, yellow Neoclassical building which blends elegance with a cosy atmosphere. The sophisticated rooms are furnished and decorated in warm hues.
A classy hotel in the Old Port with tasteful decoration and comfortable rooms, most with fine harbour views. Good discounts out of high season.
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Ready for a trip to Greece? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to the Greek Islands or The Rough Guide to Greece. If you travel further in Greece, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in Greece. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Greece and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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