Things to Do in Greece - page 2
Bridging the gap between the wild Gramvousa Peninsula and the idyllic Cape Tigani, Balos Beach is a startlingly blue lagoon, framed by jagged sea cliffs and pristine pink and white sand beaches. A pocket of paradise, Balos Beach is one of Crete’s most photographed natural beaches.
Athenian rulers began construction of the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Naós tou Olympíou Diós) in the sixth century BC. By the time Roman Emperor Hadrian completed it 600 years later, it was the largest temple in Greece, and its statue of Zeus—king of the gods of Mt. Olympus—was one of the largest in the world. The temple began to fall into ruin shortly after it was finished; today only 15 of its original 104 columns still stand and much of its marble has been recycled or stolen for other temples. Nonetheless, what remains is a truly impressive sight to see.
Santorini’s Red Beach is not your average white-sand beauty. Rather, it’s a narrow, pebbly stretch hemmed in by high scarlet cliffs and scattered with large volcanic rocks. Together with the sapphire blue waters of the Aegean Sea, these volcanic features create a striking natural color palette that draws photographers to its shores.
Originally built in the 1980s for the European Athletics Championships, the Olympic Stadium (officially the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens “Spiros Louis” or OAKA) was remodeled by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the 2004 Olympics. The largest stadium in Greece, with 70,000 seats, the Olympic Stadium hosts events and concerts by major international acts such as U2 and Lady Gaga.
An Athenian landmark and feat of contemporary architecture, the Acropolis Museum sits at the base of the Acropolis, with the ruins of an ancient settlement visible through its floor. The collection runs from pre-classical times to the Roman era, but fifth-century BC treasures are the focus, especially the Parthenon Frieze sculptures.
This 14th-century Venetian fortress is a striking sight in Corfu, sitting atop the promontory between the Gulf of Kerkyra and Garitsa Bay and separated from the mainland by the Contrafossa moat. Today, the Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio) is home to a Byzantine art collection, Church of St. George, and panoramic lighthouse.
Site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, the UNESCO-listed ruins of Ancient Olympia are one of the archaeological highlights of the Peloponnese. Explore the excellent museum and vast complex to admire the remains of temples and the stadium, hippodrome, wrestling school, and gymnasium where Olympic athletes trained.
Once the capital and heart of the Greek island of Corfu, Kanoni today is a quarter of Corfu Town, the island’s modern day capital. The name Kanoni is derived from the canons that protected the city near the entrance to the lagoon, which once featured the main port of Corfu. With a steep, rugged coastline covered in trees, Kanoni has just two beaches for visitors to enjoy, but there is plenty else worth seeing.
On a small island connected to Kanoni by a long causeway is the church of Panagia Vlaherna. Built in 17th century, the church with a red-tiled roof boasts an impressive wood-carved iconostasis and many beautiful frescoes. Fishing boats depart regularly from Vlaherna Island for Mouse Island, which is about a five minute boat ride away and home to the 13th century Byzantine church of Pantokrator. According to legend, Mouse Island was formed when the boat carrying Odysseus home to Ithaca was turned into stone and then into an island. Kanoni provides a great view of both Vlaherna and Mouse Islands and is also a good spot from which to watch the plans land at Corfu’s main airport.
Measuring just 4.35 miles (7 kilometers) long and 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) at its widest point, Chrissi Island, also known as Gaidouronisi, is small but undoubtedly lovely. This protected nature reserve off Crete’s south coast is blessed with pristine beaches, shallow snorkel-friendly waters, and swaths of old cedar forest.
Centered around a rugged volcanic crater, the small island of Nea Kameni offers a dramatic landscape, with dark cliffs sculpted from lava rock and orange-tinged natural thermal waters. The island’s striking landscape and natural hot springs make it a popular destination for day cruises from Santorini.
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Claiming the title of Rhodes’ longest stretch of sand is sun-soaked Afandou Beach, which stretches for 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) along the northeast coast. One of the island’s most popular beaches, the Blue Flag–awarded Afandou features a sand-and-pebble beach, calm shallow waters, and shaded alcoves lined with palm trees.
The star of Athens postcards and arguably the most impressive of all the city’s ancient ruins, the Parthenon stands proud atop the sacred rock of Acropolis, high above the modern city.
Built between 447 and 432 BC, the temple was dedicated to Greek goddess Athena and originally housed her cult image, a giant ivory and gold-plated statue by Fidias. The restored temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a striking reminder of the glory of Ancient Greece with its grand marble façade, classic Doric columns, and elaborate sculptural friezes. The site also serves as a fascinating chronicle of Athens’ history.
Hemmed in by a crescent of jagged rocks, golden sands, and crystalline waters, Tsambika Beach is one of Rhodes’ most beautiful beaches. A popular stop for boat cruises around the island, the beach is well-served by beach bars and food huts, but with no town nearby, the focus is firmly on the sun, sea, and sand.
Tsambika takes its name from the Monastery of the Virgin of Tsambika, perched on a 3,280-foot-tall (1,000 m) rock at the north end of the beach. The steep climb to the top, via 297 stone steps, affords spectacular views over Tsambika Bay. The south end of the beach is a designated nudist section.
Visit Tsambika Beach on a day cruise exploring Rhodes' east coast beach spots and scenery. To really leave your worries behind, consider choosing a tour that includes buffet lunch and round trip transportation, or a stop at Kalithea Spa.
An important site in ancient Greece, the Acropolis of Lindos is one of the most important historical monuments on the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese Islands. Parts of the site were built more than 2,500 years ago, and this remarkably well-preserved ruin draws tourists from all over the world.
The cruise port of Mykonos offers easy access to both the town itself, called Chora, as well as the rest of the island and its sun-drenched beaches. Take time to get a little lost in the town’s maze of charming streets and traditional buildings full of shops, cafés, and restaurants before heading back to the ship or hotel.
Built around the ruins of the ancient agora, Plaka is among the oldest residential areas in Athens and was considered the Turkish quarter during Ottoman rule. Much of it burned down during a fire in 1884, exposing many ancient sites below the neighborhood, and archaeological research has been carried out in the area ever since.
Imbros Gorge is located in the countryside of western Crete. It is one of the most popular gorges for hikers on the island. It's popular for many reasons including its beauty. The hike is also easier than some others in the area, making it a good choice for almost anyone who wants to spend a few hours exploring nature. The trail is about five miles long with a descent of less than 2,000 feet and usually takes two to three hours. There are some spectacular sections along the trail, including some narrow passageways. Along the hike, you will pass several small villages.
The gorge also holds historical significance. In May 1941 during World War II, Allied troops walked through the gorge while trying to escape Crete and get to Egypt. Many people whose parents or grandparents were there visit the gorge today as a kind of pilgrimage.
Second in size and importance to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses the most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world. The museum's exhibition contains more than 15,000 artifacts from all periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,000 years, from the Neolithic era to Roman times.
As the Museum is still under renovation, its temporary exhibition is a curation of the most famous and representative items of the collection. Notable items include: the Prince of the Lilies' fresco, the Phaistos Disc, the snake goddesses from Knossos, the black stone bull’s head, the "Bull Leaping" and "La Parisienne" frescoes.
The various artifacts form a valuable record of the artistic, social and economic life of the island during the ancient period. You’ll find examples of pottery, jewelry, goldwork and metalwork (household utensils and weapons), and seal engraving - a miniature art where the Minoans excelled.
The lovely Neoclassical Academy of Athens (Akadimía Athinón)was built in the mid 19th century during the post-independence re-flowering of Greek culture and is home to the national institutes for sciences, philosophy, fine arts and humanities, following in a tradition first established by Plato in around 387 BC. It is part of a triumvirate of neighboring buildings known as the ‘Neoclassical Trilogy’ designed by Danish architects Theophil and Christian Hansen and encompassing the National Library and the University of Athens. With a marble façade, the main entrance is through an ornamental colonnaded portico topped with sculptures on the carved pediment representing the birth of Athena and flanked by statues of Athena and Apollo standing on slender columns – all are the work of sculptor Leonidas Drossis in the 1870s and are guarded by two philosophical-looking sculptures of Plato and Socrates.
The Academy’s imposing marble assembly hall is decorated with murals of the Prometheus legend, painted by German artist Christian Griepenkerl. Alongside its 23 research departments, it also houses the Ioannis Sykoutris Library, where rare editions and manuscripts are preserved. Members of the Academy are elected for life and part of its work is to award intellectual works as well as publishing books and journals. It is not open to the public.
Situated in a valley surrounded by dramatic mountains, Lake Kournas offers a picturesque alternative to Crete’s many beaches. It’s the only freshwater lake on the island, and its warm, turquoise, spring-fed waters reflect the rocky peaks above like a mirror. Summertime visitors come to swim, boat, or just loll on the beach.
The whitewashed windmills lined up on a hill overlooking Mykonos Town are a signature island sight. Capped with wood and straw, the 3-story conical windmills were built in the 16th century to mill flour. Out of the 16 preserved windmills on the island, seven are found in the area of Kato Mili overlooking the Chora Mykonos harbor.
Built as a summer residence by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890, Achilleion Palace in the village of Gastouri is among the top attractions on the island of Corfu. Visit the palace designed by Italian architect Raffaello Caritto in a Pompeian style to see paintings and sculptures of mythical gods, including art dedicated to Achilles.
Tucked away on the south coast of Santorini, White Beach (Aspri Paralia) is sheltered by chalk-grey cliffs. This minuscule strand is actually composed of coarse black—not white—sand, and liberally peppered with grey and white pebbles as well as massive white volcanic boulders.
Also known as Constitution Square, Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos) is a huge public plaza stretching out in front of Athens’ parliament building. Gleaming with white marble and beautiful statues, it’s a great place for people watching. Many of the city's most important streets begin here, including Ermou Street and Vassilissis Sofias Avenue.
- Things to do in Athens
- Things to do in Santorini
- Things to do in Rhodes
- Things to do in Mykonos
- Things to do in Heraklion
- Things to do in Katakolo
- Things to do in Kos
- Things to do in Thessaloniki
- Things to do in Olympia
- Things to do in Chania
- Things to do in Albania
- Things to do in Macedonia
- Things to do in Peloponnese
- Things to do in Cyclades Islands
- Things to do in Macedonia