Greece has around 6,000 islands, each adorned with a range of pebbly and sandy beaches. And yet, despite being one of Europe’s best sun-and-sea destinations, Greece is also the continent’s superpower as far as history and culture goes. As one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, the Acropolis alone is worth the air miles. And with all this philosophy and these ancient traditions floating around, this kind of holiday makes for the perfect opportunity to research Greece's tourist attractions. Pretend you always knew that the Acropolis dates back to the 5th century B.C., and that the Delphi archaeological site was a pilgrimage for the Apollo deity. And hey, we here at Plum Guide won’t begrudge you the occasional day at the beach, relaxing on the strands of Corfu or Crete, between trips to the museums and crumbling landmarks. We love nothing more than our guests having incredible times, after all. Just be sure to exaggerate the amount of time you spent learning about culture and history when you talk about the holiday upon your return (just don't mention the tan).
The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
We’ve already written the word Acropolis a few times, so let’s get this big boy out the way first. If you’re not sure what it is, it’s that big thing in Athens with columns and a half-destroyed pediment. Perched atop a cliff in the heart of the city, this symbol of Western Civilisation is number one on every list of Greece's tourist attractions. Why is it so darn important? Well, this complex was a citadel that contained a range of temples and important buildings, including the famous Parthenon that was dedicated to the goddess Athena. It’s considered the hub of Ancient Greek civilisation, and was all things at once: a citadel, an ecclesiastical treasure and a home to kings. It's remarkably well-preserved, so it's like stepping back millennia. It's also lit up at night, making for quite the spectacle.
The Acropolis Museum
The entrance to the Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
No, this isn’t cheating. The Acropolis Museum is a totally separate tourist attraction in Greece, and its modern sheen is almost a protest against the crumbling ramparts of the Acropolis. A Swiss architect designed the museum with a swanky glass and steel structure, with wide, spacious exhibit halls within. Mosey through the halls and pick out some of the intriguing artefacts that once belonged to the Acropolis. The Moschophoros statue of a man carrying a calf on his shoulders is one of the highlights, dating back to the 6th century B.C. Rest those weary legs on the terrace of the café, which has perfect views of the citadel itself. Now that you’ve got your energy back, it’s time to explore more of the beautiful attractions that this ancient capital has to offer.
An aerial view of an ancient theatre in Delphi, Athens, Greece
When it comes to Greece's tourist attractions, Delphi is one of the most fascinating. It’s the centre of the world. Or, at least, that’s what the Ancient Greeks thought. You can even find the exact spot considered to be the core point, known as the Omphalos. This means navel in Greek, so you’ll be doing even more navel-gazing than usual on this trip. Make your way around the rickety ruins of an Athena temple complex, which makes for a spectacular foreground to the mountains of the Pleistos River Valley. The archaeological site is a UNESCO landmark, and was a place of pilgrimage for those worshipping the God Apollo. He was the God of light, prophecy, music and healing… but you already knew that, right? Just make sure to remember these titbits, so you can regale your partner or kids with such facts and stories. Point out with a knowing tone where the temples, theatre, and arena probably once stood.
The Metéora Monasteries
A building at the top of tall rocks at the Metéora Monasteries, Greece
Now, these are just ridiculous. These old-world monasteries are perched precariously atop narrow strips of rock that seem to have been suddenly propelled into the sky. It’s another UNESCO site, and you'll get the best views of your life from a climb of their stairs (we know, but you can do it… just this once, and then relax on a beach for the rest of the trip).
The various Greek islands
An aerial view of clear blue water at a beach in Crete, Greece
There are too many Greek islands to name - around 6,000, actually. But Crete and Corfu are two of the most iconic islets, draped in pebble and sand beaches. At the former, stay at Aegean Onyx among other beauties. Head to the latter’s Paleokastritsa beach area and check in at the Corfu Aquarium and the Monastery Paleokastritsa. Zákynthos is a bit of a party island with a stunning coastline, while Mykonos is a rank above, attracting top celebs. You’ll feel right at home. For something totally different and unforgettable, head to Santorini, which is pockmarked (but in a good way) with cliffs carrying rustic white homes. Its sand is black with volcanic powder, while the archaeological site of Akrotiri makes for a fascinating day trip once you’ve become a fully transformed lobster from days at the beach.
The Palace of Knossos
A low-angled view of the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, Crete, Greece
Speaking of Crete, you can’t explore this paradisiacal island without venturing up to the Palace of Knossos. With settlements believed to date back as far as 7000 B.C, this certainly isn’t your regular day out - unless your regular day out consists of travelling back in time, of course. In Greek mythology, this historic site was the home of a labyrinth which housed the Minotaur (half-man, half-bull, fully-terrifying). Legend has it that Minos (son of Zeus) would have King Aegeus select 14 children to be sent into the labyrinth in order to be eaten by the Minotaur- gory, we know. So a word of advice: try not to get lost. Admire the tall red pillars as you lose yourself to your imagination, and marvel at the paintings as you wander through the Throne Room.
A cafe seating area next to pebbles and the sea in Little Venice, Mykonos, Greece
We’ve already mentioned that Mykonos is a rank above, and that is absolutely true, but we didn’t give you a real explanation as to why. Well, the small town of Little Venice more than plays its part in making the island so attractive, with its charming character and remarkable aura. This neighbourhood is known as one of the most romantic places on the island, and it isn’t difficult to see why once you’ve set foot here - sun, sea, cafes, and small beaches make for an unforgettable day trip. Set up shop in the outdoor seating of a small local eatery, looking out to sea as the calming sound of rolling waves sets the perfect scene. And if you’re still here as the sun starts to drop behind the horizon, you’ll be faced with one of the most scenic sights in the whole of Greece - the glistening Aegean Sea never looked better. Prepare to discover the perfect photo opportunities here - forgetting your camera is a crime punishable by being sent home early. You’ve been warned.