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Aegina, Greece
Photograph: Demetrios Ioannou

The 13 best places to visit in Greece

From sprawling cosmopolitan cities to breathtaking beaches, here's where to add to your Greece bucket list

Demetrios Ioannou
Written by
Demetrios Ioannou

There are many beautiful countries in Europe, but there is nowhere like Greece. The white and blue houses. The mountain views. The glistening blue waters and the secret hidden coves. It’s sometimes barely believable that Greece exists, but it does! And the best part? It’s absolutely massive, and there’s so much to explore. 

Different Greek islands do different things, so if you’re making the trip, you should first figure out what kind of holiday you’re after. Are you looking for something beachy, nature-y or a bit more cosmopolitan? Lemon trees, sunset cocktails or pure, unadulterated clubbing? Whatever you're looking for, our local writer has picked the best islands, cities and towns to visit. 

🏝️ The most beautiful Greek islands
🏨 The best hotels in Greece
🏛 The best things to do in Athens
🧿 The best things to do in Mykonos

Demetrios Ioannou is a writer and photographer from Athens. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelinesThis guide includes affiliate links, which have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines

Where to visit in Greece

Obviously, if you’ve heard anything about Greece, you know about its beautiful capital Athens. Athens is that perfect mix of traditional but trendy, ancient but modern, full of nature but cosmopolitan at the very same time. Here you’ll find huge, open roads covered in restaurants and bars, but coming off them are tiny little cobbled side streets to explore. Old buildings give way to fascinating galleries. You can grab an ouzo and pitch up at a beautiful outdoor cinema, looking up at the stars. Plus you’ve simply got to see the Parthenon at least once in your life. Athens is a sprawling, incomparable beauty that is like no other. Add it to your bucket list. 

Why go? Europe’s oldest capital and the birthplace of democracy, Athens is crammed with several thousands of years of history and is as unmissable as any great Euro city. 

Discover Athens:
🧿 How to spend a weekend in Athens
📍 The best things to do in Athens
🥙 Really good restaurants in Athens
😎 Explore Kypseli, Athens’s coolest neighbourhood

Photograph: Demetrios Ioannou

2. Aegina

A little over an hour away from the port of Piraeus, the island of Aegina is the closest to the Greek capital and a popular destination for tourists and locals. In 1827, after the Greek Independence War had ended, it served as the first capital of the newly founded Greek state for a while. Today, the island is mostly famous for pistachios, chock-a-block full of pistachio trees, and thought to be the best in the world for the stuff. It’s worth visiting the famous Aphea Temple, dedicated to goddess Athena, the Saint Nektarios Monastery and the nearby uninhabited Islet of Moni, where wild peacocks and deer stroll uninterrupted. 


You’ll need a car to explore Greece’s biggest island, but if you’re after golden beaches, crumbly old towns, world-class museums and UNESCO Heritage sites, Crete ticks every box. Chania in the west is the liveliest part of the island, while Sitia in the east is famed for its pristine coves and sandy beaches – a perfect rural and picturesque escape. Nature seekers could hike Samaria, Europe’s longest gorge, culture hunters should track down the Minoan palaces, and kids are guaranteed a good time at the island’s countless waterparks.

Why go? Much more than just an all-inclusive beach holiday hotspot, Crete is a mish-mash of fabulous stuff to see, do, eat and drink. 

Discover Crete:

📍 The best things to do in Crete

The scenery in Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, seems crafted by the Greek gods: whitewashed villages crown the island with views over its majestic coastlines, rural vineyards span huge stretches inland and the beaches are black, red, and out of this world. There’s a ridiculous amount for explorers, foodies and culture vultures to discover, from archaeological sites to swimming spots and brilliant wine and food. And trust us: this place is even more beautiful IRL than it looks on the ’gram.

Discover Santorini:

📍 The best things to do in Santorini
🏨 Amazing hotels in Santorini
🏖️ Where to stay in Santorini 

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Zakynthos

Better known as Zante, Zakynthos draws a party-ready crowd to its notorious Laganas nightlife strip, but this sunstruck Ionian isle – known by the Venetians as ‘the flower of the East’ – is also blessed with some of the Med’s most beautiful scenery. This includes the spectacular Shipwreck Beach, whose bright-blue waters hemmed in by sheer white cliffs can only be reached by boat, and Zakynthos Marine Park, home to slippery seals and savvy turtles. It’s truly wild – in multiple senses of the word.

Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Tinos

Famous for its carved marble-fronted buildings – and, increasingly, its burgeoning food scene – Tinos is yet another jewel in the Cyclades archipelago. To get there, you’ll need to fly to Mykonos and catch a ferry. It’s worth the journey: some of the best Greek wines are produced here, and chefs from all over Europe have opened restaurants among its sage-scented hills. Most are situated in the main town of Chora – we recommend the traditional Greek menu at Thalassaki.

Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Naxos

The largest of the Cyclades islands, Naxos is also one of the least explored – which means you can expect secluded sandy beaches and a low-key, laidback atmosphere that’ll make the pressures of everyday life feel worlds away. Packing an incredible amount of variety into an incredibly small space, this is a place where you can venture up into tiny high-flung mountain villages or laze on an endless chain of silky sand beaches away from the madding tourist crowds.

Italianate villages, ornate palaces and romantic beaches are on the cards if you visit the lush island where the Durrell family once lived. With its sundry influences left by past invaders, Corfu is a place where you can drink ginger ale with your Greek salad, stroll streets packed with Byzantine and Venetian architecture and meet modern-day monks in Paleokastritsa’s spectacular medieval monastery. And after a hard day’s sightseeing and stuffing your face, you’ll obviously want to jump straight into the Ionian Sea – never not a stunning shade of turquoise blue.

Discover Corfu:

📍 The best things to do on Corfu


Way back when – and we’re talking way, way back – Rhodes was home to the Colossus, one of the world’s Seven Wonders. An earthquake may have destroyed that ol’ thing in 226BBC, but the island’s Unesco world heritage-classed old town is still steeped in charm and history – thanks to a series of dazzling topsy-turvy medieval inns and fourteenth-century knight’s houses that stand to this day. Head outside the city, and the mountain villages and cliff-top towns you’ll come across are just as magical as any fairytale location. And with plenty of chic shops, decent restaurants and lively bars, you’re guaranteed some modern magic, too.

Discover Rhodes:

📍 The best things to do in Rhodes
🏨 Amazing hotels in Rhodes


Photograph: Demetrios Ioannou

10. Kastellorizo

At the edge of Greece, right opposite the Turkish coastal town of Kaş, you'll find Kastellorizo (aka Megisti), the island furthest from the Greek capital. It's a flight or a boat ride away from the island of Rhodes in Dodecanese, and though it's a bit of a journey to the island, it's absolutely worth it. This is a remote paradise with colourful buildings, seafood for days and seriously chilled out vibes. Plus, it has a fascinating history – make sure to visit the castle of the Knights Hospitaller overlooking the Aegean Sea, and the glorious 4th century BC Lycian tomb below it. The fort-monastery of Agios Georgios of the Mountain also boasts one of the best views on the island (you just need to get up 315 steps first).

Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Thessaloniki

Once the second city of the Byzantine Empire – and later a thriving Ottoman port city connecting east and west – Thessaloniki has only been part of Greece since 1912. And that really shows. This place doesn’t feel like Greece you see in tourist brochures: its central market, Kapani, has all the colour and chaos of an Istanbul bazaar, and much Ottoman architecture remains throughout the city centre – you can even visit the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey, was born. The harbourside Ladadika area hums with some of the wildest, most fun nightlife in the Balkan peninsula, with most bars and clubs open until 6am and beyond. The old town is perfect for the aimless morning-after mooch – and the ouzo and bougatsa breakfast pastries in these parts are unrivalled.


Photograph: Pit Stock /

12. Kalamata

The city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese is home to the ancient ruins of Messenia, the picturesque Navarino Lagoon beach, and also those very famous olives you may recognise the name from. Few tourists venture to these parts, which is great news for you. To explore the wider region, base yourself at the Ant Farm – a beautiful farmhouse just outside the city, where you can stay in one of ten treehouses nestled within the olive trees.


Dubbed the ‘Greek Ibiza’, Mykonos is where you’ll find world-famous DJs headlining superclubs while a jet-set crowd mingle on yachts and private jets. But this Cyclades island is not just for the uber-privileged: there are plenty of cute hotels, affordable gourmet restaurants and quiet corners still relatively untouched by the tourism industry. So when you’re done hanging out at the beach clubs and traditional tavernas, just follow the tangled web of dirt-smattered backroads – chances are, there’ll be a heavenly beach waiting at the end.

Discover Mykonos:

📍 The best things to do in Mykonos
🏨 Amazing hotels in Mykonos

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