Greece is a wonderful country full of ancient wonders, fabulous nature, excellent food, and some of Europe’s best beaches. The Greek Isles are world-famous; some for the legendary beach parties and others for their luxurious hotels with astounding views. Luckily we have visited Greece 6 times and explored its diverse landscapes on the mainland, its laid-back atmosphere on the islands, and dove deep into its history.
Whether you’re more interested in the culture and history of Greece or its best beaches, you’re in the right place. This guide to all the best things to do in Greece offers plenty of options for everyone and explores all the best places to visit in the Mediterranean.
I will help you plan your ideal Greece vacation by exploring the country’s popular destinations, attractions, and hidden gems. One day, you can traverse the sandy beaches of the west coast and then explore the archeological sites on the Dodecanese Islands. I’ve covered everything most travelers love to do in Greece, so there are plenty of fun activities for everyone.
Best of Greece Quick Guide
Must-see: Acropolis of Athens, Ruins of Delphi, Milos, Santorini, Shipwreck Beach, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Panathenaic Stadium, Olympia. Where To Stay: Astor Hotel, Lava Caves, Amira Luxury Resort & Spa Fun To Do: Pellion Steam Train, Yacht Getaway, Mount Olympus, Cave of the Lakes, Wintery tour, Day Trips: Mykonos, Zakynthos, Corfu, Patras Must-Try Foods: Gyros, Olives, Tzatziki, Dolmades, Loukoumades
Best Things to Do in Greece
A great thing about Greece is that anyone can have a good time there. It doesn’t matter if you’re into hiking, cycling, walking around cities, or just lounging on the beach – the country offers plenty of choices for fun and exciting adventures. And in most cases, you don’t even have to go to different destinations to try other things.
1. Yacht Getaway in the Ionian Islands
Sailing the Ionian Sea on a yacht is the best way to explore the Ionian Islands. Discover Corfu, Paxos, Ithaca, Lefkada, and more, while you travel to fishing villages and quaint towns on the shore. Yacht rental is reasonably priced in Greece, especially when you compare the costs to the country’s luxury resorts.
Also, you can choose between a wide variety of itineraries. Each yacht includes a skipper and a host, which will take you to all the best spots you want to see. The exact price of getaways depends on the route and the length of the cruise, which can be customized to your wishes.
2. Hike to the Top of Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and the home of the Greek gods in Greek Mythology. Mytikas is the tallest summit, rising to a height of 2,917 meters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try to hike to the top of this mythical summit for uninterrupted views of Greek landscapes.
Bear in mind that hiking to the top of such a tall mountain is an activity reserved for the most experienced mountaineers. Excursions to lower areas of the mountain are available for other people. It’s still a rewarding experience and you get to learn so much about the mountain’s background as the seat of the gods.
Book a guided excursion to Mount Olympus if you’re not familiar with the terrain.
3. Discover Remnants of Ancient Greece at The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum tells the story of Greek history and it’s one of the most important museums in the entire country. I love the contrast between the ancient monuments inside the museum and the ultra-modern building that houses the collection; all the exhibits stand out even more when juxtaposed with the sleek, contemporary interior of the museum.The archaeological museum houses all the important artifacts that were uncovered at the site of the Acropolis.
4. Sail to Magical Milos
Milos Island is sort of a hidden gem with increasing popularity, and I recommend you get there ASAP before it becomes trendier than Mykonos and Santorini. Set in the Aegean Sea, it is known for striking lunar-like landscapes on its beaches.
Sarakiniko Beach is by far the most popular on the island. The white rocks and caves feel like you’re standing on the moon, and it’s almost surreal that you’re actually on an island in Greece. The nearby Papafragas Caves are worth exploring, and venturing to other areas of the island is best if you want to avoid the crowds.What’s most special about this island is that it’s the place where Venus de Milo was discovered. Yes, Antioch’s iconic sculpture was found by a farmer on this magnificent Cyclades island.
Milos Island is accessible by ferries from Athens and other islands in the Aegean Sea. The ferry crossing from Athens takes approximately three and a half hours.
5. Stay in Athens for a While
Athens is the capital of Greece and a city with an immensely rich history. Whether you want to learn about ancient Greece, tour an art museum, hang out on a beach, or discover the country’s Mediterranean culinary delights, Athens is the place to be. Read more: Where To Stay In Athens – A Guide To The Best Neighborhoods
History is definitely the highlight of a visit to Athens, so you want to make sure you hit all the most important sights. Whether you choose to book a tour or want to explore the city on your own, be sure to see the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Acropolis of Athens, the Athens National Garden, and Areopagus Hill.I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all the wonderful attractions in Athens, so don’t be surprised if you see that some have earned their own spot on this list. Check out: 16 Best Day Trips from Athens
6. Tour the Ruins of Delphi
The Oracle of Delphi is one of the most famous tales from Greek Mythology and a trip to this tiny town is a must for anyone who is even a little bit interested in ancient history. The ruins of the Temple of Apollo are still there in Delphi and are one of the best-known landmarks in this ancient country.Here you can also see the Ancient Theater of Delphi, the Castalia Spring, the Delphi Archaeological Museum, and even visit the modern town of Delphi west of the archeological sites. The museum is fascinating because it has all the statues, art, and other items that were donated to the Oracle of Delphi over the years.
The Delphi Archeological Site is open from 8 AM to 7 PM. Tickets are 6-12€. Book this highly rated day trip to Delphi from Athens.
7. Wander Around the Alleys of Patras
Patras is the third-largest city in Greece, so it offers a wide variety of attractions. It’s a great place to visit if you want to experience the big-city vibe in Greece but without the hordes of tourists that are common in Athens.
The city has a rich history and there are plenty of ruins throughout to prove it. The Byzantine-style Orthodox church is one of Patras’ most famous landmarks, along with the 6th-century Patras Castle.The Archaeological Museum of Patras offers insight into the lives of locals centuries ago, with exhibits of local weaponry, jewelry, statuary, and more. Patras also has its fair share of excellent restaurants, fun bars, and Roman ruins throughout the city.
8. Discover the Viewpoints of Rhodes
Rhodes is the dominant one of the Dodecanese Islands, known for archeological sites, sandy beaches, and excellent resorts. It’s a top Greek island to visit whether you want to spend your time relaxing at a resort or exploring all the different historic sites.
This island is also a great destination for fun outdoor adventures. Rhodes’ numerous hiking trails will take you to all the best viewpoints on the island and allow you to discover its canyons, waterfalls, tall peaks, and so much more. The nature of Rhodes is gorgeous, and honestly even better than its lovely sandy beaches.Gadoura Dam, Jacob’s Canyon, and the Butterflies Valley are a few of the best natural landmarks on the island. There are also loads of museums, monasteries, churches, and other ancient sites that are worth checking out, in addition to all the beaches and fancy resorts.
Rhodes is serviced by an international airport and ferried from other Dodecanese islands, as well as ports in mainland Turkey.
9. Prehistoric Tour of Santorini
Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands, best known for the white and blue houses on the cliffs. It’s an idyllic destination for summer vacations in Greece, but the island has much more to offer in addition to its spectacular beaches.Prehistoric tours of Santorini are not as famous as the island’s wineries but are very much a thing. Visit Akotiri to see evidence of prehistoric settlement, which is believed to date from the Neolithic Period. Then hike to Ancient Thera, for mountaintop ruins and dramatic sea views.
The historic walk from Fira to Oia is another popular thing to do on the island, especially for adventurous travelers. The hike takes 3-5 hours and it’s mostly downhill if done in this direction, and offers stunning views along the way.
Insider Tip: The walk from Fira to Oia takes place over exposed terrain, so bring lots of sunscreen.
Santorini is accessible by ferries and planes.
10. Ride a Mythical Steam Train
Being aboard a mythical steam train sounds fun and exciting, doesn’t it? I love the idea, so I jumped at the opportunity to experience the ascent up Pellion on a historic train. Traveling on one of the world’s narrowest railways is exciting (60cm gauge), especially on a steam train that just huffs and puffs the entire way up the mountain.
Head to the Ano Lechonia train station to board the steam train to Milies. The ride is about an hour and a half long, which is a bit slow for the actual length of the path, but this experience isn’t really about the speed.It’s more about the journey up the mountain, during which you get to see what it’s like to ride in a train that’s been operating for more than 100 years, as well as all the magical views you get to enjoy during the ride.
11. All You Can Eat Greek Food
A trip to Greece is the perfect opportunity to try some of the best Greek food. Tzaziki, Gyros, feta cheese, and copious amounts of olive oil are staples of Greek cuisine, and I’m getting serious nostalgia just thinking about all the delicious things I ate in Greece.
Greek food is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean, and fresh ingredients are key for the staple Greek flavors. What I like most about this cuisine is that it’s varied. While fish and seafood might be most popular in the south, especially on the islands, the northern regions are known for heartier dishes.Lamb is just as popular as fish, but vegetables are even more popular than meat. Greek food is vegetarian-friendly, but you might struggle with local vegan options since the Greeks like to add feta cheese to everything. And drizzle olive oil, but I’m honestly not complaining.
12. Party on Mykonos
The Island of Mykonos is legendary for its nightlife and daytime beach parties. Anyone looking to have the time of their life in Greece should head straight to Mykonos. With countless beautiful beaches tucked away in secluded bays, luxurious villas, and some of the best beach bars in Greece, Mykonos is a top destination for summer fun.
It’s a big island, and there are definitely other things to do there if you want to do more than just party. Waterfalls, ruins, and historic landmarks with stunning sights are all available in Mykonos as well. The Archaeological Site of Delos is a quick boat ride from Tourlos, and that’s one of the most important sacred islands of Ancient Greece.But in my experience, the history is more of an afterthought on Mykonos, so do consider other destinations (like Santorini or Naxos) if you’re more interested in exploring than dancing.
Mykonos is serviced by ferries and planes.
13. Go On a Winery Tour
Winery tours are available almost everywhere in Greece. They’re affordable, fun, and a must for all wine lovers traveling in the Mediterranean. Greece is in the top 20 wine-producing countries in the world and it has some of the oldest vineyards, so Greek wine is definitely special and worth trying.Tours with wine tastings offer insight into the wine production and history. Santorini is a really good destination for winery tours, as well as Achaia Clauss. It’s one of the country’s oldest wineries, situated in the Peloponnese.
The wineries of Santorini are some of the country’s best.
14. See The Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos
Shipwreck Beach is a legendary sight. It’s used in virtually all promotional material for Greece, and I doubt there’s a person who hasn’t seen the iconic image at least once. This famous beach is on the island of Zakynthos, and until 2023 you could reach it on boat tours and swim in the sea.That’s no longer the case because there is a danger of landslides, and it’s still unknown whether the beach will again open to the public. The good news is that you can still see the beach from a platform on the cliffs.The view is even more dramatic from above, and the only difference is that you can’t get close to the shipwreck. But that just gives you an excuse to return to Navagio Beach when it’s once again safe to visit.
Zakynthos is an Ionian Island, accessible by ferries from other islands and Kyllini on the mainland. It’s also serviced by an airport and reachable by flights.
15. Tour the Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the most famous historical landmark in Greece. It’s an attraction you must visit when traveling to Athens, as it really is the most iconic landmark in the entire city.Standing among the ancient ruins is an incredible feeling. It’s surreal to look at all those temple ruins and think that humans lived there more than a thousand years ago. Also, the Acropolis offers a wonderful view of downtown Athens. The historic site is on a higher elevation than the rest of the city and the vista of Athens’ rooftops stretches from the ruins.
Insider Tip: Wear sturdy shoes because the terrain at the Acropolis is very slippery even in dry weather.
16. Admire Greek Art at the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is one of the most important in Athens. It’s a delight to tour if you’re interested in ancient Greek art and archaeological findings. History enthusiasts tend to enjoy their time at this museum, and the art collection is stunning enough that you can admire it even without being a history buff.
Don’t miss out on the museum garden either. The landscaping is gorgeous and there are loads of pretty trees and plants to see. Walk around the green space first, and then head up the stairs to see the exhibit in the best museum in Athens.
17. Visit The Meteora Monasteries
The Meteora monastery complex is one of the best places to visit in Mainland Greece. If you’re planning a road trip in the country or just a trip in the off-season, this is by far one of the best landmarks away from the islands.
Come here to see dramatic rock formations with monasteries atop. Six of the original 24 monasteries remain, and the incredible architecture of the place has rightfully earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.The monasteries were built in the 13th and 14th centuries, all atop the existing pillars. The place is absolutely brilliant, and for me, it’s one of the best places you can visit the entire country.
Entrance to individual monasteries is charged 3€, but the entrance to the complex is free of charge. Meteora is approximately 4 hours north of Athens and guided tours of the complex are available from the capital.
18. Explore Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and a great place to visit if you’ve already been to the capital. This has the vibe of Athens in the sense that you’re staying in a buzzing metropolis full of historic landmarks and ancient ruins. But the crowds are much smaller, so it’s generally a bit easier to enjoy your stay.Thessaloniki has its fair share of historic landmarks and cultural attractions that offer insight into the lives of the locals. And it’s much easier to discover those attractions when you don’t have to bump elbows with other tourists just to get to a ticket office.
But even more than history and culture, Thessaloniki is known for Greek food. Seafood, olives, and the delicious Bougatsa are all inviting you to get a taste of Thessaloniki and forget all about Athens for a day or two.
19. Hiking in Tzoumerka National Park
Greece has incredible nature, but it’s often overlooked in favor of its coast. It’s not that surprising considering the country has world-famous beaches on its countless islands. But if you want to explore more of mainland Greece’s forests, mountains, lakes, and other landscapes, a trip to Tzoumerka National Park is perfect for you.
Visit Tzoumerka to see rushing rivers, picturesque villages, and ancient houses built into the cliffs. Traverse the hiking trails, ride on the mountain biking paths, and climb to the top of every hill and mountain you want. It’s a great opportunity to discover some mesmerizing Greek landscapes that have nothing to do with sand or sea.
Tzoumerka National Park is accessible by road in the summer. No fees or permits are required for park entrance.
20. Try to Visit Mount Athos
Mount Athos is the single most important religious destination in Greece. The mountain is an important center for Eastern Orthodox monasticism, and most of the peninsula is an autonomous community governed by the Mount Athos monastic community.I say try to visit the place because there are many obstacles in place. First, women are not allowed to step foot on Mount Athos, and it’s been that way for thousands of years. I’m sorry ladies, but this is a place only men are able to visit. And that’s if they can manage to get their hands on one of the 10 daily permits that are issued to non-Orthodox visitors.
There are 100 permits every day for Greek and Orthodox visitors, so natives and religious people have better chances of visiting the monasteries. Go to Mount Athos if you are genuinely spiritual and interested in how the local monks live their lives, otherwise feel free to skip this landmark.
21. Watch Flamingoes at Nestos National Park
The region of mainland Greece that borders Turkey is often overlooked by tourists. Nestos National Park lies at the center of that region, and it’s the best place to come for an incredible variety of landscapes.The national park has it all – lagoons, gorges, floodplains, beaches, forests, and more. There are monasteries and traditional Greek villages that you can visit and feel rewarded afterward. Even the birds that roam the national park are unique, ranging from flamingos to pelicans.
If you’re looking for something different to do in Greece, this is it. And there are still plenty of sandy beaches nearby, just waiting for you to take a break. Oh, and they’re all way less crowded than the beaches on the islands.
Nestos National Park is accessible at any time, for free.
22. Visit the Birthplace of the Olympic Games
The Archaeological Site of Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula is where the ancient Olympic Games took place. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best remnants of ancient Greece.Tour the archeological site to see the ruins from several different periods in Olympia’s history. Walk around the former center for wrestling, see the ruins of ancient temples, statues of Greek gods, and much more. If you’re even a tiny bit interested in history, Olympia will be a fascinating place to tour.
The Archaeological Site of Olympia is open from 8 AM to 3/7 PM. Tickets are 6-12€.
23. Feel the (Pink) Sand Between Your Toes at Elafonissi Beach
Elafonissi Beach is on the southwestern edge of Crete. It’s famous for pink sand, turquoise water, and enchanting surroundings. The beach is part of a nature preserve, and it is accessible only in good weather.Come here if you want to see one of the country’s prettiest beaches and relax on a lounger for a few hours. Although Elafonissi Beach is mesmerizing, there’s not much else to do here other than sunbathing. The sea is very shallow and you have to walk for ages to reach knee-deep water, so it’s not a good beach for swimming.
Elafonissi Beach is most easily accessible on tours from Chania.
24. Tombs and Palace Ruins at the Archaeological Site of Mycenae
The Archaeological site of Mycenae is one of the most important in mainland Greece. It features palace ruins, grave circles, an ancient palace, and the Archeological Museum of Mycenae, which exhibits all the important objects uncovered at this site.Mycenae was so crucial for the development of the country that an entire period of Greek history is named after it. From 1600 BC to 1100 BC, Mycenae was one of the most important centers of Greek civilization.
25. Explore Chania’s Venetian Architecture
Chania is a port city on the island of Crete. It’s best known for the Venetian architecture that adorns much of the city, the best example of which is the Venetian Port of Chania. Old city walls, ruins of a Byzantine castle, and the Lighthouse of Chania are a few other notable landmarks in the town.
Come to this wonderful city for the perfect balance of ancient history and beautiful sandy beaches. Crete is home to some of the best beaches in Greece, and many are easily accessible from Chania.
Chania is serviced by planes and ferries, and flying to the island is the best option.
26. See the Legendary Panathenaic Stadium
The first modern Olympic Games took place at Panathenaic Stadium back in 1896, cementing the venue’s place in recent history. Also, it’s the only stadium in the world made entirely of marble, making it one of the top three landmarks in Athens.I recommend getting the audio guide for the stadium tour because it provides so much context about the place. Without it, you’re just staring at rows of marble seats and statues.
Panathenaic Stadium is open from 8 AM to 7 PM. General admission is 10€.
27. Walk Around the Ruins of Asclepieion of Epidaurus
If you can’t get enough Greek history and ancient ruins, go to Asclepieion of Epidaurus. It’s in mainland Greece, just a two-hour drive from Athens. And it’s the perfect excuse to rent a car and go on a road trip to Greece.The Ancient Theater is the most notable landmark at the archeological site. Known for superb acoustics, the theater was constructed in 340 BC and served as a venue for plays and concerts. Other important landmarks at this archeological site are the stadium, temples, and Archaeological Museum.
Asclepieion of Epidaurus is accessible from 8 AM to 3/7 PM. Entrance to the Ancient Theater is 6-12€.
28. Admire Minoan Art in Heraklion
Heraklion is the capital of Crete and one of the best cities on the island. Just like Chania, it is famous for its beautiful Venetian architecture. Byzantine churches, monasteries, and countless other landmarks are scattered throughout this ancient city.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is an absolute must if you find yourself in Heraklion on Crete. The museum boasts a collection of many fascinating items, by far the best of which is its collection of Minoan Art. It’s the largest collection of its kind in the world, with statues, jewelry, furniture, and much more.
Heraklion is serviced by a port and airport. Ferries depart from Athens and travel for approximately 9 hours.
29. Discover an Ancient Cavern
Kastria Cave is one of the best-known natural landmarks in Greece. It’s known as the Cave of the Lakes because it houses 13 subterranean lakes. But they’re only visible in the summer. The rest of the year there’s an underground river in the cave.
In the other months, when there’s plenty of snowmelt and rainfall, the waters in the cave are transformed into a rushing river with cascades. Visitors can explore the cave in boats, and it’s one of the best things to do in all of Peloponnese.
Kastria Cave is accessible from 8 AM to 3/7 PM. Admission to the cave is 9€.
30. See the Landmarks of Nafplion
Nafplio briefly served as the capital of Greece and it’s got the ancient ruins to prove it. Come to this historic city to see some impressive landmarks, ranging from an ancient fortress to a sculpture of a sleeping lion carved into a cliff.This is an understated city that doesn’t get nearly as many visitors as Athens and the bigger centers, so it’s perfect for a summer visit. The crowds will be smaller, but you’ll get to take advantage of all the fabulous beaches and hiking trails.Nafplion Palamidi Fortress is the most popular attraction in town. A winding staircase with 857 steps leads to the top of the Venetian fortress ruins.
Nafplion Palamidi Fortress is open from 8 AM to 3/7 PM. Entrance to the site is 4-8€.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 7 Days Enough For Greece?
What is the Nicest Part of Greece to Visit?
The nicest part of Greece to visit is its islands, at least in terms of landscapes and weather. Santorini, Mykonos, Zakynthos, Milos, Rhodes, and many others all offer mild weather, sunny days, and many miles of sandy beaches.
Where Should I Go For My First Time in Greece?
Athens is perfect for first-time visitors, especially if you want to discover Greek history and culture. One of the countless islands is better if you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation destination.
What Is The Number One Attraction In Greece?
Where To Stay in Greece
Stay in Athens if you’re going to Greece for history and culture. The capital has by far the best landmarks and attractions, and it’s perfect for first-time visitors.For a more relaxed vacation, stay at Milos Island and wander around its mesmerizing beaches. And for the best balance of island fun and ancient Greek landmarks, choose Crete. Here are some of the best hotels in Greece for all budgets:
Tips and Information For Visiting Greece
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Greece is from April to October. Greece is a very popular destination in the summer thanks to the warm weather and countless miles of sandy beaches, so you might want to avoid traveling in July and August. If you don’t like crowds, early spring and late fall are excellent times to be in Greece.May, June, and September are still a good time to visit for smaller crowds and swimming in the sea. The weather is warm enough that you can comfortably go for a swim and lounge on the beach, but the rest of the world hasn’t entirely caught on, so they haven’t all arrived.Winters in Greece are dreary and wet. It’s not fun walking on slippery cobblestones, and I don’t recommend traveling to Greece from November to March.
Athens International Airport is the largest one in Greece, so there’s a good chance you’ll land at this airport. A train service is available to take you to downtown Athens, and it’s usually the fastest way of traveling.The roads leading into the city can get quite congested, so taxis and private transfers can sometimes take longer to get you to the city center. A one-way train ticket is just 9€.
Getting around Greece is tricky. It’s a big country but it doesn’t have the best public transport, so traveling between the towns on the mainland usually takes a while. Bus and ferry are the two main modes of public transport in Greece. Ferries allow travel between the mainland and all the different islands, while buses are best for traveling between towns on the mainland.
Ideally, you’d have access to a car to explore the mainland because it’s significantly quicker than the bus. But the Greek roads can pose a challenge to less experienced drivers, and if you’re not used to potholes and narrow, curvy roads, you might want to rethink car rental. For experienced and confident drivers, campervans and RVs are the best for exploring mainland Greece.Many Greek islands have airports and local flights are the quickest way of traveling to the more remote islands. Local plane tickets are inexpensive and are sometimes the only way of traveling, especially if you want to visit islands that are farthest away from mainland Greece.
How Much Time Do You Need
The amount of time you need for Greece really depends on how you want to experience the country. If you’re just staying in Athens, you need at least three days to explore the city, preferably five. But if you want to go island hopping on either coast, you’ll need at least seven days to be able to see a few different towns.Road trips on the mainland are also an option, and you need 7-10 days for those as well. Keep in mind that all the timeframes I’ve listed are the bare minimum; if you can spare two or three weeks for Greece and you’re not afraid of going out and exploring, your days will be filled with amazing adventures and gorgeous views.