Rich in ancient history, breathtaking beaches, awe-inspiring scenery, and Greek mythology, Greece is teeming with unique tourist destinations.
Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, theatre, democracy, and famed philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle. Greece consists of thousands of islands, some of the more well-known vacation spots including Santorini and Mykonos. The country’s cuisine is vibrant and rich. Olives are a popular ingredient in many Greek dishes, which makes sense why Greece is the third-largest producer of olives.
Between history, culture, cuisine, and nature, Greece is an undeniably attractive tourist destination you should not miss out on. It’s one of the sunniest places in the world, with plenty of rays for exploring ancient archaeological sites, tanning on white-pebbled beaches, and adventuring to your heart’s content.
To discover the best things to do in this Mediterranean country, use this list of the top tourist attractions in Greece and create your dream itinerary.
In this post, we'll cover:
26. Balos Lagoon, Crete
Northwest of Kissamos and Chania, Balos Lagoon is well-known for its stunning natural beauty and perfect photo opportunities. The lagoon is located in Crete, the largest island in Greece, loved for its pristine beaches and ancient ruins.
Balos Lagoon twines between Cape Gramvousa and Cape Tigani. It exudes an unmistakable tranquility, attracting hundreds and thousands of people throughout the year. The white-sugared sands and shallow turquoise waters are ideal for inexperienced swimmers. Near the boundaries of the lagoon are deeper sections of water perfect for snorkeling.
The lagoon is protected under the Natura 2000 program, with rare species of plants and animals inhabiting the area. The monk seal and loggerhead sea turtle are examples of protected species in Balos Lagoon.
25. Naoussa, Paros
A fishing village in the Cyclades on the northeastern section of Paros Island, Naoussa attracts people from all over the world. They came here to admire its white washed buildings and enjoy its beaches for summer vacation.
Naoussa’s dazzling golden beaches, like Kolymbithres Beach and Monastiri, stretch along the natural bay. Many of these beaches, which vary from secluded to crowded, can be accessed on foot. However, some require trips by caiques, small fishing boats, that launch from the local port.
Naoussa is well-known as a summer hotspot but is also famous for its local wine production. It also features impactful historical sites like the Venetian Castle. The castle dates back to the 15th century. It was used to protect the island from pirates and later on as a defensive tower for the Ottomans.
A coastal city in the eastern Peloponnese, Nafplio is one of the most romantic cities in Greece. Its historic charm and classic architecture set the scene with flowing Turkish fountains, Byzantine churches, and medieval castles.
Only two hours from Athens, a trip to Nafplio opens up a world of local history to learn more about. The beautiful town was the first capital of the new Greek state until 1834 before the title was passed on to Athens. Walk down cobblestone alleys of medieval Old Town. Head to the Italianate Syntagma Square at the heart of the city. Here you will find two Turkish mosques and the Archaeological Museum, preserving historical artifacts dating back to the Prehistoric period.
Enjoy a stroll through Arvanitia Promenade, a scenic route with viewpoints of Akronafplia, the oldest of three Nafplio castles.
23. White Tower of Thessaloniki
Located in northern Greece in Macedonia, the White Tower of Thessaloniki is an iconic historic landmark.
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city. The ancient city is full of history, having played a vital role in the Byzantine period. The White Tower of Thessaloniki was around during a majority of the city’s historical turning points. It was termed “the Red Tower” and “the Tower of Blood” throughout Ottoman history. This was because of the tower’s role as a prison where brutal torture was enforced.
The monument houses a museum depicting the city’s history. At the top of the White Tower are awe-inspiring viewpoints of the Thermaic Gulf and the city. Outside the tower is the promenade, the popular seaside pedestrian street that routes past the White Tower.
22. Old Town of Rhodes
Encircled by medieval walls, the Old Town of Rhodes has been inhabited since medieval times. Along the walls are seven gates, said to enter another world, and walking through them, visitors will find one of the best-preserved fortified cities in Europe.
Rhodes was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Unfortunately, the Colossus of Rhodes was disassembled and sold in AD 654 when the Arabs invaded Rhodes.
The main square, right inside Marina Gate, features a central fountain, cafes, and shops to explore. One of the prominent shopping streets, Sokratous Street, heads off from the square. Next, stroll down the Street of the Knights, a cobblestoned street lamp-lit route outstandingly preserved to relieve the days of medieval knights. Finally, visit Our Lady of the Castle, a Byzantine-style church estimated to have been built in the 11th century.
21. Acropolis Museum, Athens
Considered one of the most significant museums on earth, the Acropolis Museum homes the findings and replicas from the Acropolis of Athens.
The museum is only a short drive from the Acropolis archaeological site, where the famous tourist attraction, the Pantheon, sits. The museum features miniature replicas of the Acropolis after each major invasion in Athens, including Roman, Ottoman, and Persian. Continuing on through the Acropolis Museum is the display of the ancient Athenian neighborhood, which was discovered while building the museum.
One of the favorite attractions of the museum is findings from the Parthenon, the historic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and one of the biggest attractions of Greece. The museum’s third-floor houses artifacts and sculptures from the Parthenon, including original marble inscriptions.
One of the Saronic Islands in the Aegean Sea, Hydra, is about a two-hour ferry trip from Athens.
As one of the most popular islands near Athens, the car-free island attracts visitors of all kinds, including famous ones like painters Henry Miller and Leonard Cohen. The island is known for its elegance, history, and it’s main port, surrounded by old churches and 18th-century mansions. Old canon bastions used to defend the island in the Greek War of Independence decorate the port.
The busy harbor is frequented by fishermen heading off to catch a hefty bounty. Some fishermen will use their boats to sell fresh catches after their return. Cats are a standard part of life in Hydra, many of which come to get their morning meal at the harbor.
Just wandering the streets of this enchanting town is one of the most rewarding things to do in Greece. First, have dinner at one of the restaurants for a fresh seafood dish caught locally. Then, stop at a cafe for a quick dessert or refreshing drink.
19. Mount Athos
Found on the edge of the Athos peninsula in Macedonia, Mount Athos is a holy mountain that has served as an Orthodox spiritual center since 1054. Women and children are forbidden to visit Mount Athos.
Twenty monasteries, including subsidiary establishments, decorate the slopes of Mount Athos. Since Byzantine times, Mount Athos has maintained a self-administered status, with its first constitution signed in 972.
To visit Mount Athos, a permit must be issued. Only ten non-orthodox and 100 Greeks and orthodox visitors are given permits daily, valid for four days. Mount Athos is a well-loved spiritual place where many men come to prioritize spirituality. Arriving at Mount Athos on a permitted visit, one will be overcome by structures that date back centuries on a thousand-year-old site.
Near Mykonos in the Aegean Sea’s Cyclades archipelago, Delos is the mythological birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.
The island is an archaeological site featuring ruins of Doric temples, mosaics, and the famous Terrace of the Lions statue. The only inhabitants of the islands are archaeologists and caretakers of the island. There are no hotels or other stays to spend overnight on Delos. Once a religious center and commercial port, the island was quickly abandoned after several attacks and has stayed that way since 7 BC.
Excavations of Delos began in 1872, some of which continues to this day. A trip to Delos is one of the most popular things to do in Mykonos and offers a leap back in time. The island is an archaeological site dating back to the Archaic and Hellenistic periods.
17. Cape Sounion
At the southern point of Attica and the end of the Sounio Peninsula stands the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion.
Built in 5 BC to honor Poseidon, the structure was constructed entirely of white marble. The Temple of Poseidon is a renowned monument of the Golden Age of Athens. The Aegean Sea stretches out on three sides of the temple, and the scenery of the sunset descending into the sea is mesmerizing from this viewpoint.
The Temple of Poseidon had 34 columns. Only fifteen are left standing. If you look closely at one of the columns, you’ll find the name, Lord Byron. The famous poet inscribed his name during a visit to the historic site in 1810.
Once a small city of ancient Greece, Epidaurus is a famous archaeological site found on the northeastern Peloponnese in Argolis.
One of the biggest tourist attractions of Epidaurus is the Ancient Theatre. The theatre was established in 4 BC to host religious ceremonies honoring the god Asclepius. It was also used to host plays and symposia and as a wrestling arena. This is because of the theatre’s outstanding acoustics and symmetry, which are used to host ancient Greek drama performances in the present day.
Epidaurus acted as a health center in ancient times, referred to as “The Asclepion.” Myths accumulated between the ill that stayed in the Asclepion. That the god Asclepius appeared in dreams and cured their ailments.
15. Portara, Naxos
The Portara is an iconic landmark on the largest Cyclades islands on the islet of Naxos.
A colossal marble doorway acts as the favored jewel and landmark of Naxos. The construction of the Portara began in 6 BC under the decree of tyrant Lygdamis. However, construction ceased when Lydgamis was overthrown, resulting in only the Portara, or “door,” being built. It was believed that the structure was meant to be a temple dedicated to Apollo, but there is some controversy over its original purpose.
The photogenic marble gateway of the Portara illuminates stunningly, whether it be sunset, sunrise, or at night. Stroll up the cobbled pathway to the Portara and explore the ruins and encompassing sights beheld there.
14. Corfu Old Town
The northernmost of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is found in the Adriatic sea near the western coasts of Albania.
Corfu is loved for its captivating architecture and history, with some buildings dating back to the Venetian period. Within Corfu’s Old Town are cobbled streets, old churches, charming shops, and adorable cafes.
For one-of-a-kind local finds, explore the local shops for clothes, sandals, trinkets, and fun souvenirs to take home. Many churches in Corfu’s Old Town are open to visitors looking to take a peek at the intricate design and architecture or simply to light a candle and say a prayer. Listen to live music as performers show off their talent to the crowds. Finally, get a taste of the local cuisine that fuses Greek and Venetian cuisine with an eastern twist.
13. Knossos Palace
The largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, the Palace of Knossos, is the residence of the mythical King Minos, the son of Europa and Zeus.
Southeast of Heraklion in Crete, the palace symbolized the Minoan civilization. It was used as a political and ceremonial center for the Minoans. The palace was inhabited for a few thousand years until its destruction and the end of the Minoan civilization in 1375 BC.
The original Palace of Knossos, not the reconstructed one after its devastation, was four wings of four-story houses centered around a courtyard. A maze, or labyrinth, connected to the courtyard. In Greek mythology, the maze, or “Labyrinth,” was the home of the Minotaur that battled Athenian hero Theseus.
Combine a palace tour with a trip to the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. Visit the museum first for a deeper understanding of the Palace of Knossos.
12. Ancient Mycenae
One of the major centers of Greek civilization, Ancient Mycenae is an ancient city and archaeological site and was a military stronghold that strong-armed the Cyclades, Crete, and southern Greece. The old archaeological site is southwest of Athens and north of Argos in the Peloponnese.
The first to speak the Greek language, the Mycenaens thrived until their eventual downfall around 1200 BC. After that, the Bronze-age acropolis was one of the greats, heavily impacting Greek culture and mythology.
Ancient Mycenae was also King Agamemnon’s home, who played a vital role in the Trojan War. Throughout the archaeological site are preserved finds like King Agamemnon’s palace, cisterns, Cyclopean architecture, and tombs. Some other noteworthy points of interest include the Tomb of Clytemnestra (the wife of King Agamemnon), the Museum of Mycenae, the Treasury of Atreus, and the Lion Gate.
11. Vikos Gorge
On the southern slopes of Mount Tymphe in the Pindus Mountains, Víkos Gorge is a favored hiking spot with numerous awe-inspiring viewpoints. It is documented in the Guinness book of records as the world’s deepest canyon in proportion to its width.
Often called the Grand Canyon of Greece, the gorge offers breathtaking views of nature’s wondrous capabilities. One of Greece’s most naturally stunning sights, this gem is a sight to behold.
The most frequently used starting point for trekking the Víkos Gorge is Monodendri, a village in Zagori. Take your time indulging your curiosity with a tour through Monodendri’s snaking alleyways and delectable food options. For a more appealingly gentle descent from hiking Víkos Gorge, take the trailhead at Dilofo, a scenic mountain village.
10. Navagio Beach
Commonly called Smugglers Cove or Shipwreck Beach, Navagio Beach is a famous pebble beach on the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands.
Surrounded by shimmering turquoise water and towering cliffs, the beach is only reachable by boat. The second most photographed site and one of the most popular beaches in Greece, Navagio Beach lives up to its reputation with spectacular scenery that exudes paradise.
On its shores lies a shipwrecked boat, “Panagiotis”. The ship attempted to transport cigarettes in 1983 illegally but washed ashore during a massive storm. Nevertheless, it has become one of the biggest reasons why millions visit Navagio Beach every year.
9 Lindos, Rhodes
A town on the island of Rhodes, Lindos preserves Greece’s second most visited archaeological site.
The legend goes that Danaus, the son of the King of Egypt, founded Lindos. Greek mythology believes that when Danaus fled his brother and Hera, he resided on the island before moving to Greece’s mainland.
The Acropolis of Lindos can be seen from every viewpoint in the town. On the first level of the acropolis is a Byzantine church of St. John established around the 13th century. There is also a big Hellenistic stoa and the remains of a temple. On the top of the stairs are the ruins of the Temple of Athena Lindia, a 4 BC sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Visit the ancient theatre of Lindos, dating back to 4 BC. The historic amphitheater was used for festivals, plays, and athletic competitions. Admire the Church of Panagia, an elaborately designed chapel with a Rhodian campanile tower and hanging chandeliers.
An ancient town in Phocis, Delphi rests between the Phaidriades Rocks of Mount Parnassus.
A major religious center in the 6th century BC, the Panhellenic sanctuary of the god Apollo lies in Delphi. It was the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, translating to “Athena who is before the temple (of Apollo).” Visitors would first see the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, then reach the sanctuary of Apollo.
Archaeological finds discovered Mycenaean remains, showing the area was inhabited in 2 BC. The sanctuary was established in 8 BC, its influence extending over Greece. Pilgrims came to Delphi to meet the priestess of Pythia and the Oracle of Delphi, which was widely known for divining the future. Delphi was once home to the Pythian Games, second to the Olympics for Greeks, to honor Apollo.
Now, visitors to Delphi can tour the archaeological sites of these historic religious sanctuaries. Other noteworthy artifacts and educational information can be found at the nearby museum.
Referred to as Myzithras in the Chronicle of the Morea, Mystras is a historic town in the southeast of Peloponnese near ancient Sparta.
The settlement of Mystras began in 1249 with the construction of an amphitheater surrounding a fortress overlooking Sparta. However, after multiple attacks and occupations, by the Byzantines, Turks, then Venetians, Mystras was soon abandoned in 1832 with only ruins left behind.
The well-preserved archaeological sites feature Byzantine churches, fortress walls, and palace remains to peer over. The site is split between three sections—the fortress on the summit, the upper town, and the lower town.
Built by the Franks and preserved by the Turks, the fortress is historically outstanding, with stunning scenic opportunities from atop the hill. Within the upper and lower town sections are cobblestone streets worn down after centuries of use and numerous structures dating back to the 12th century.
6. Samaria Gorge
A part of the White Mountains National Park on the island of Crete, the Samaria Gorge is the longest in Europe.
Home to 70 species endemic to Crete, the gorge is an enriching masterpiece of nature. Thousands of people hike Samaria Gorge every day during its peak month of August. But before beginning your hike of the gorge, take a quick trip to the Museum of Natural History of Samaria Gorge. The museum presents a deeper understanding of the gorge’s historical and natural wealth.
Hiking the gorge is one of the most popular things to do in Greece. Begin your hike at Xyloskalo, or “wooden stairs.” Locals constructed the wooden staircase as an entrance to the gorge.
5. Myrtos Beach
Myrtos Beach is a famous beach found in the northwest part of Kefalonia Island in Pylaros.
Featuring a picturesque position at the base of two mountains, Myrtos Beach is frequently publicized as one of the best beaches in the world. Its breathtaking blue waters and shocking white pebbled shore make it an easy favorite as one of the best tourist destinations in Greece.
Sink your toes in the sand. Go for a swim and suntan on the sand. And take plenty of pictures while relaxing in paradise at Myrtos Beach!
4. Mykonos Town
One of the most featured destinations in Greece, the island and town of Mykonos is part of the Cyclades between Naxo and Syros.
The islands of the winds, Mykonos, is a luxurious holiday destination for romantic getaways and group tropical vacations. The town of Mykonos satiates a range of interests, from history and culture to food and nature.
Shop designer clothes at local boutiques around Mykonos Town. Find local pieces at various art galleries. Unwind at the picturesque beaches to catch some sun. Tour the archaeological sites, like the Ancient Delos, scattered with historic structures and ruins. Stroll through the streets surrounded by Cycladic architecture that has made the town of Mykonos well-known and well-loved for its unique setting.
3. Acropolis of Athens
A historical landmark above the city of Athens, the Acropolis of Athens preserves the remains of ancient structures that hold historical and architectural value.
Now an archaeological site, the military fortress established during the Neolithic period became a religious center dedicated to the goddess Athena. During the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, parts of the Acropolis were damaged. However, the structure was recovered and rebuilt by Pericles, the founder of the Athenian democracy, into the Acropolis observed today.
See also: Where to Stay in Athens
On the grounds of the Acropolis of Athens are different historical structures, including the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion. These buildings are temples dedicated to different elements of the Goddess Athena, each holding its own enigmatic pull. To the northwest of the Acropolis is the Areopagus, which functioned as the high court of appeal for cases of the law, and is now admired for its outstanding viewpoints of Athens.
Near the town of Kalabaka in central Greece, the Meteora is a famed rock formation home to one of the largest Eastern Orthodox monasteries. It is only second to Mount Athos.
Six monasteries are stabilized on natural pillars and massive boulders on the rock formations for a truly unique and stunning attraction of Greece. The area of Meteora combines medieval history, impactful religion, and breathtaking nature, having sheltered the monasteries for nearly a thousand years.
Rock climbers crowd from all over the world to take on Meteora. But, if you’re afraid of heights, consider taking Meteora on from the comfort of the ground. There are numerous hiking trail options, including leisurely strolls or strenuous climbs that travel through the refreshing landscapes stacked with towering rock formations. End, or start, your trip at the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum. It is one of the few museums in the world dedicated to mushrooms.
1. Sunsets at Santorini
A famous tourist destination and island in the southern Aegean Sea, Santorini is adored for its unrivaled sunsets.
Created by volcanic eruptions, Santorini has impressively steep cliffs that offer some of the best sunset-viewing opportunities in the world. The two main towns, Fira (or Thira) and Oia have different rewarding perspectives for a romantic and unforgettable sight.
Book an evening cruise for views on the water to lose the bustling crowd and get the perfect spot for sunset viewing. Then, reserve a table at Ammoudi Fish Tavern in Ammoudi Bay for a romantic dinner while basking in bewitching pink and red hues. Atop Skaros is a historic Venetian fortress that avails clear views of the sea and sunsets at Santorini. Another ideal sunset viewing spot is at the 19th-century Akrotiri lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece.