Greece is just as majestic as myth and legend say. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular travel destinations globally, holding a steady spot on the travel bucket lists of solo backpackers, families, and couples alike. It has scenic views, offering both beaches and mountains and historical sites that allow tourists to immerse themselves in the country’s culture.
One could visit an ancient archaeological site, learn about Greek history, look out into the blue water, and relax under the Mediterranean sun. This beautiful country is difficult to experience in just a few days altogether, but there are several must-visit destinations. Here are the top 11 sights that one must see in Greece.
1. Delphi Theater
The Ancient Theater of Delphi brings one back to when Delphi was still regarded as the center of the world. The theater was created in the 4th century BC using limestone taken from Mount Parnassus. One can find the Delphi Theater just above the Temple of Apollo, giving visitors a beautiful view of the valley and sea.
The theater is composed of 35 rows, accommodating as many as 5000 people. The stage, orchestra, and seats remain the same despite being changed and repaired multiple times. Nowadays, it remains functional, even allowing the performance of plays.
Delphi was once considered the most important religious sanctuary, home to the Oracle of Delphi, Pythia, known as the High Priestess of the Temple of Apollo. Pythia would supposedly consume a substance that would allow her to enter a trance-like state, and then priests would interpret what she would say as prophecy.
Today, there are many activities to try in Delphi, including shopping in little stores, walking around town, visiting archeological sites, and taking a Delphi Archaeological Museum tour.
2. Meteora Monasteries
Situated in Thessaly, Greece is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though one would typically remember ancient ruins when talking about Greece, the monasteries on sandstone peaks that make up Meteora are hard to forget. Monks settled on the region’s rock formations in the 11th century, building 24 monasteries, yet only six still function today.
The site was called Meteora because the Greek word means “suspended in the air.” The monasteries, which seem like they are floating, not only serve as proof of the architectural marvels of the past, they also show how architecture could serve religion and provide a peaceful place of honor and prayer for monasteries.
The site stands roughly 400 meters above the valley and the plain. Scientists believe the pinnacles were formed tens of millions of years ago.
The monasteries’ building on the sandstone towers helped the monks hide from and survive the region’s Turkish attacks. Back then, the monasteries would have been inaccessible, but tourists can now visit the monasteries by stairs.
3. Ancient Ruin: Parthenon
The Parthenon is a ruin that is automatically associated with Greece. Published on postcards and sold on magnets, this marble temple was once considered the center of Athens’ religious life. Between 447 and 432 BC, it was built as a tribute to Athena, Zeus’s daughter. Locals viewed it in high regard because it was the grandest temple on the mainland.
While the Parthenon is a sight to behold, it wasn’t the first temple dedicated to Athena constructed on the same grounds. Some historians believe that the Pre-Parthenon, also referred to as the Older Parthenon, was built in 480 BC. The Greek statesman Pericles then ordered the later Parthenon building on top of the limestone base of the Pre-Parthenon, with construction lasting a little less than forty years.
The wooden statue Athena covered in ivory and gold is no longer there, despite the temple being built for her. The Parthenon’s base measures at 23,000 square feet. It also features Doric columns and low steps on every side. Tourists usually head to the museum before visiting the Parthenon, so they understand the ruins’ history before seeing them.
4. Santorini Island
Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands sitting in the Aegean Sea, is the perfect Instagrammable getaway. Located southeast of mainland Greece, the Santorini islands were formed after volcanic activity, so they are technically considered an active volcano. However, the last great eruption happened thousands of years ago.
One reason Santorini is so well-loved by the world is that it is romantic. It’s not every day that lovers can go on a swim in clear waters while watching the sunset in an active volcano. There’s also much to see in the Santorini capital Fira, which offers paths to small villages with restaurants and hotels.
Most tourists get sucked into the appeal of the island’s west coast. Though the east coast is more affordable, that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less beautiful. There are beaches one can sunbathe in, bars to drink at, and water sports to try with the family. There are even black and multicolored beaches on the east coast. On the other hand, in between the east and west coast, one would find more than just villages. Vineyards offer exquisite dry white wines that are not to be missed.
Mykonos is famous among tourists, who flock to its beaches to drink and party most nights. However, the island is also steeped in history—so much so that it’s even appeared in the country’s ancient mythology. The fact that it was a maritime trading post made it an enduring power over the years, with various empires taking over Mykonos at separate times.
Its history is evident in the island’s structures, especially those of its churches and streetscapes. There are also different types of beaches, from wide, white sand ones to hidden coves. Tourists looking for nightlife can visit Paradise, Super Paradise, Psarou, and Paraga, but there are family-friendly spots on the island as well.
Hora, the small capital of Mykonos, boasts charming streets and several shops as well as museums.
6. The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens will always be an important part of Greece’s heritage because it was the heart and soul of the nation. It’s where its citizens went to worship, socialize, and do business.
As the epicenter of Athenian society over millennia, built over a peak called the Acropolis Hill, this stone structure is made of limestone. One of the most symbolic features of Athens, it stands atop a rocky hill that was once surrounded by water. The five-story monument is composed of different elements, including columns and gateways. Aside from its historical value to Greek society, this place also has natural intrigue with the Pnyx Plateau, Lycabettus Hill, and Ardettos Hill in its vicinity.
Tourists start their journey here when they walk around the well-preserved ruins of Athens. The acropolis is also famous for having hosted concerts in the past, like when Ibrahim Maalouf performed his Symphony No. 1 in C major, which was composed during the Beruit Civil War.
7. The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
Sounion’s Temple of Poseidon is most recognized for the incredible view it offers to visitors and tourists. For example, if they hike up to the temple and climb its stairs, they would see a scenic vista of Greece’s coastline along with the island Spetses.
Because the temple’s location has grown in popularity, many travelers have stopped by Sounion to see if they can find any evidence of Poseidon. Indeed, archaeologists have uncovered ruins that may have something to do with the ancient god.
The view is not the only thing that attracts people to this site—it’s also known for its history. It is believed it was destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the 2nd century BC and reconstructed during the same period.
This wonderful sight in Greece is a fantastic half-day excursion from Athens.
8. Mount Olympus National Park
Mount Olympus is known today as a national park and an important historical site in Greece. The mountain has been the birthplace of many deities in Greek mythology, but its history dates back even longer than that—at least 11 million years ago.
The Mount Olympus National Park contains various types of flora and fauna such as deer, wild boars, wolves, bears, and eagles. There are also several species of flowers that grow here.
Mount Olympus has breathtaking mountain ranges one can traverse with the use of hiking trails. These hikes aren’t for the faint-hearted, though; visitors must be physically fit to climb this mountain. Tourists can take in all its glory while admiring the clouds from above.
9. The Acropolis of Rhodes
If you love the architectural style in Athens, chances are, you’d appreciate Rhodes’ Acropolis just as much. It is an ancient citadel that combines traditional Hellenistic architecture with its own unique touches to create a truly remarkable building. Aside from being a major tourist attraction in Europe, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rhodes’ Acropolis has even been used in the filming of various popular movies, like Clash of the Titans and Troy. It is one of the most well-preserved landmarks dating back to around 300 BC and was erected in honor of the sun god Apollo.
The best way to experience Rhodes’ Acropolis is to visit it in the early morning or late evening. Tourists and passersby can walk through its well-preserved ruins while admiring its beautiful columns and reliefs.
10. The Temple of Aphaea
While visiting Greece, you should also consider making a short stop at the Temple of Aphaea near Aegina Island. This temple was erected in honor of the goddess Aphaea, who is believed to be Persephone’s pre-Hellenic mother.
The Temple of Aphaea has been around for over 2,000 years and continues to amaze archaeologists and visitors alike with its well-preserved columns and stylistic reliefs. The temple itself was built in such a way that it blended in with the surrounding mountains.
The Temple of Aphaea is part of the larger complex on the island of Aegina. You can also find other structures such as an altar and three shrines that were built for worship purposes, just like the temple itself.
This ancient site in Greece is set amidst stunning natural scenery. If you bring your camera with you on this trip, you will not be disappointed.
11. The Cave of Cyclops in Gerolimenas
If one were to ask if there was a real “Giant’s Cave,” the answer would be yes! This awesome cave is actually located in Greece. It is named after the mythical cyclops, simply because it is shaped like an eye.
The cave itself is known for its unique geological formation. It was once used by shepherds as a shelter, but it has since become one of the top tourist attractions in Greece. The Greeks themselves believe that this cave has some sort of mystic power to heal people with visual problems.
This giant hole in the ground has been around for thousands of years and was originally used as a shelter. It has since become a popular tourist destination, where people can experience its majestic beauty.
If you are looking for an incredible country to explore, Greece is the perfect destination. With so much diversity in culture and geography, there’s something for everyone here! You can experience ancient ruins from different periods of time or enjoy the beauty of natural wonders like mountains and caves. The 11 sights we’ve provided should give you a great place to start planning your trip today.