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A stunning view in Santorini, Greece
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The 11 best places to visit in Greece

These are the best places to visit in Greece, spanning cities, beach resorts, marine parks and – of course – islands.

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver
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Where to begin? Maybe it is best to start with the famous cities, the origin of modern civilisation and all that jazz, iconic centres of culture that still thrill all these centuries later. Athens is the place to start, but you can’t go wrong with any of the major Greek population centres. You’re going to find history, culture, excitement, and some of the best food on the planet.

Away from all the people, Greece is blessed with more than 6,000 islands and almost as much diversity when it comes to landscape, all sprawling hills and forests bleeding into stunningly clear waters. In Greece, you can dip your toes into the sea, or you can dip your toes into the long and storied history of Western culture. The choice is yours. These are the best places to visit in Greece right now.

 

Discover Greece:

πŸ‡¬πŸ‡· The best things to do in Greece
🏨 Amazing hotels in Greece
🏝️ The most beautiful Greek islands

Best places to visit in Greece

Athens
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Athens

In higgledy-piggledy Athens – where ancient and modern, nature and civilisation, tradition and trends mingle – there really are surprises hidden around every corner. Traffic-filled roads mask cobbled alleys with bougainvillaea-drenched cafés and restaurants. Inside neoclassical buildings, cutting-edge galleries are thriving. The plainest of entranceways can lead to an outdoor cinema serving ouzo under the starry night sky. And then you turn one way, and chances are the twinkling Parthenon’s staring right back at you. Athens is the cosmopolitan heart of Greece and indeed all of Western culture – you must go at least once in your life.

Discover Athens:

πŸ“ The best things to do in Athens
πŸ₯™ Really good restaurants in Athens
😎 Explore Kypseli, Athens’s coolest neighbourhood

 

Thessaloniki
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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 whole 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.

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Santorini
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Santorini

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, of course, brilliant wine and food. And trust us: this place is even more beautiful IRL than it looks on the ’gram.

Discover Santorini:

πŸ“ The best things to do in Santorini
🏨 Amazing hotels in Santorini
πŸ–οΈ Where to stay in Santorini 

Zakynthos
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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.

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Rhodes
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Rhodes

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 largely 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:

πŸ“ The best things to do in Rhodes
🏨 Amazing hotels in Rhodes

 

Crete
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Crete

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.

Discover Crete:

πŸ“ The best things to do in Crete

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Corfu
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Corfu

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 in the Ionian Sea – never not a stunning shade of turquoise-blue.

Discover Corfu:

πŸ“ The best things to do on Corfu

Kalamata
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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.

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Tinos
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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 particularly recommend the traditional Greek menu at Thalassaki.

Naxos
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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 properly 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.

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Mykonos
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Mykonos

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:

πŸ“ The best things to do in Mykonos
🏨 Amazing hotels in Mykonos

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