- 17 February 2022
Where to go on vacation in Greece: tips on how to make the best choice
If it is the first time, but not only, you have decided to go on a holiday to Greece, I will give you some useful suggestions to be able to better navigate through the choices available. There are many people who ask me “This summer I want to go on vacation to Greece, where can I go?” but it is not an easy question to answer, because everyone has different tastes and Greece has many different places to visit.
There are those who want to stay on the beach for hours on holiday, those who want to visit archaeological sites, those who want to be “on the road” and those looking for nightlife. So, with what criteria should one choose the most suitable destination for you in Greece? What are the most famous places to see? Here are some travel ideas in Greece.
Mainland Greece, if you are a lover of history and culture (but not only)
If you are looking for Greek history and mythology, the starting point is undoubtedly the capital of Athens. Here you will find everything and more. Athens is famous for the Acropolis, but offers quality museums and unique archaeological sites second to none in the whole world. Here is the cradle of Greek civilization.
Mainland Greece offers many other historical places such as Delphi, where the famous oracle resided, Mycenae with its famous lion gate and the theater of Epidaurus.
You can continue your historical journey by moving north to Dion or visit the archaeological site of Vergina perhaps combining Mount Olympus, the sacred mountain of the Gods, or end up at the region of Pindos to visit the stone-built villages of Metsovo and Zagorohoria.
In addition to culture, alternatively you can combine a few days at the seaside resorts of the Peloponnese (such as Nafplio, Monemvasia, Costa Navarino to name a few) or the small islands not far from Athens, such as Hydra, Aegina and Spetses.
The Ionian Islands: breathtaking views and picturesque villages for a pleasant and relaxing holiday
It is a clash of titans when it comes to choosing a holiday between the Cyclades and the Ionian islands. On one hand, the Cyclades with their characteristic barren environment and their traditional white houses, on the other the Ionian Islands with their rich vegetation, a different historical past and an equally spectacular sea.
I can’t help but mention the four most famous islands. Corfu, where history and sea are integrated (during the Greek Easter it is full of traditions); Lefkada where you cannot fail to admire the most famous beach of Porto Katsiki from above; Kefalonia so pretty and welcoming with its Myrtos beach among the most beautiful in Greece; Zakynthos, famous above all for the Navagio beach, but offers much more (including nightlife).
If you have more than a week, you could combine a couple on the same trip.
Do you want to have fun and dance until dawn? Do you want a VIP destination? Then Mykonos is for you!
Mykonos is the Greek luxurious party island. Thinking of Mykonos as the typical Greek island is misleading. Mykonos is something different from all the other islands and the key word is “party”. Yes, the island of nightlife, the island of parties until dawn and incredible animated beaches. If you are traveling with a group of friends, Mykonos could be a first approach to Greece in the name of unlimited fun.
Mykonos has also quiet areas and super luxurious resorts. It is the summer vacation destination of many VIPs. This means that the average prices are much higher than other Greek islands which offer better beaches and the same views, but Mykonos has a party heart that beats day and night. The walk to Little Venice and the mills in the background will be impressed in your heart. Seeing is believing.
The big island of Crete: the excellent compromise between history, dream beaches and nature
Crete is a more than valid choice for your first holiday in Greece and it remains a top destination even you have been to Greece several times, because Crete is a world on its own.
Crete is the largest island. To visit all its areas, you need several days. You can concentrate on the most touristic part, which is that of Chania and stay there as a logistical point to access the two most famous beaches (I would say worldwide): the Balos Lagoon and Elafonissi.
Crete has its own unique cuisine, so Mediterranean and tasty, which differs from other Greek regions. Crete is history, one of the oldest civilizations in the Mediterranean. You can visit the palace of Knossos in Heraklion, linked to the legend of the Minotaur or the Minoan palace of Phaistos. Crete is also nature thanks to the presence of gorges carved into the rocks (the most famous Samaria Gorge) and rivers.
If you are looking for a mix of sea, nature, history and good food, Crete is the right choice.
Santorini, if you want to spend a perfect romantic holiday with unique sunsets
If you’re venturing out to Greece for the first time, you can start in style. (Almost) impossible not to fall in love with the impenetrable charm of Santorini. It is the most famous Greek island in the world and there is a reason for it. It is the island that must be visited sooner or later. Sunset at the Caldera is something inexplicable. The white cubical houses overlooking the sea, the volcano positioned in front or the comings and goings of boats that make Santorini unique and romantic.
Santorini has strangely colored beaches (such as red and black volcanic beaches), luxurious hotels and quality restaurants. Unfortunately, during high season it is often overcrowded with tourists and it is a true challenge finding a front row seat to admire the sunset in certain strategic points, such as Oia. In any case, Santorini remains magical.
Most islands of the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Sporades and the other Aegean have an airport
Many times, the choice of an island instead of another is linked to the availability of flights. If you have limited days, arriving on an island with a direct flight or via a stopover in Athens can be easy to save travel time.
Here are some islands with an airport and at the same time very interesting to spend a week, even as a “first time” in Greece, that is if you are looking for convenience in reaching them (obviously it depends on which location or country you are departing from):
- Skiathos: cute and full of green island part of the Sporades with amazing beaches.
- Rhodes: it is a “colossal” island, with a historical medieval city center and villages with great views and castles like Lindos.
- Naxos: sandy beaches ideal for families with young children and the famous “Portara” to photograph.
- Karpathos: you can visit the colorful village of Olympos or take a dip at the famous Apella Beach.
- Lesvos: homeland of ouzo and of Sapfo, it is an alternative and charming of the other Aegean.
- Milos: an island that is winning more fame by the day thanks to its charm and its crystal waters.
The Halkidiki peninsulas, if you want to experience a holiday dedicated to the sea (and what a sea!)
It is a completely unusual choice, if you are visiting Greece for the first time. I would say that it is among the less known areas by the Italians in relation to the most famous Greek islands. Yet, the Halkidiki peninsulas offer sandy beaches, both organized and free, with a sea of crystalline and sometimes Caribbean colors. It is in fact the Greek region with the highest number of blue flag beaches.
If you are looking for a holiday dedicated to the sea and relaxation, it is a perfect destination, combining the city of Thessaloniki as a logistical point of arrival. I recommend renting a car directly from Thessaloniki airport to reach the less accessible beaches. Halkidiki is also fun thanks to the presence of numerous modern beach bars and party-goers.
If you are looking for religious tourism, Greece offers also this possibility
The two most famous religious spots are Meteora and Mount Athos. Meteora is a group of monasteries perched on large rocks that make them seem suspended between the earth and the sky. It is one of the most evocative and photographed places in the Greek hinterland that is worth seeing.
Mount Athos, on the other hand, is a protected area (corresponding to part of the third peninsula of the Halkidiki peninsula) where you can experience being a guest of the monks in monasteries overlooking the sea and reachable by boat. Only men (with visas) can access Mount Athos.
You can follow the path in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, who through Greece spread the faith of Christianity in Europe. You can stop in some cities from north to south reliving his itinerary. In Thessaloniki Apostle Paul founded a community where he wrote letters to the Thessalonians.
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