Ancient Greece developed many of the Western world's culturalbuilding blocks, as the Olympic Games, democracy, mathematics andphilosophy all began there. Today the country is known as a greatholiday destination rather than a centre of culture and learning,and attracts visitors by the thousands. Most of them come for thesimple pleasures of its delicious food, wine, beautiful beaches,sunshine and quaint villages, with beach lovers in particularrelishing the seemingly endless lacework of coastline and smallislands stocked with ancient sites and scenic surprises.
Greece exudes traditional charm, especially on its ever-popularislands, which cling to their traditional ways despite the influxof tourists. Black-clad women still deliver vegetables to islandtavernas on panniered donkeys, while bronzed, weather-beatenfishermen sit in the sun, drink thick coffee and play dominoes orbackgammon. The tourist infrastructure has intruded in manyrespects, but the timeless aspect of whitewashed buildingsclustered on hillsides has been retained. The myriad islands in theAegean Sea are easily accessible from Piraeus, Athens' historicharbour, and many of the larger ones have airports with connectionsto Athens or major European cities.
On the mainland, the capital Athens is sprawling, polluted andovercrowded, but nevertheless enthralls visitors. It's dominated byits major landmark, the Parthenon, though the remains of otherClassical Greek wonders are found mainly on the PeloponnesePeninsula. Thessaloniki lies in the north and is modern and vibrantwith a Byzantine flavour.
Visitors are sure to love this ancient and sun-filledcountry.
Greece is easily one of the world's best destinations. Fromhistoric sightseeing to glorious beaches, visitors truly are in fora treat.
Most visitors begin their trip in Athens, where Classical Greececolours the modern capital through famous structures like theParthenon and the Acropolis. Visitors will also find many wonderfulmuseums. Syntagma Square is the city's social, political andcommercial hub.
From Athens, most tourists venture out to the islands.Mountainous Crete is the most popular and features sparklingbeaches, spectacular green outcroppings, ancient Minoan sites, andthe famous Samaria Gorge Trail. Other popular island destinationsinclude Corfu, for its mythic significance, Santorini, for itsvolcanic history and vibrant nightlife, and Rhodes, which is aWorld Heritage Site.
Many history buffs head to the Peloponnese Peninsula for theregion's ancient ruins and battlefields.
Displaying mainly Hellenistic and Roman treasures found in andaround Kos Town and dating from as far back as the 3rd century BC,the Archaeological Museum allows visitors a glimpse into the formerglory enjoyed by this quaint port town. The museum is inEleutherias Square and is housed in a two-storey neoclassicalbuilding which is itself a monument, dating back to 1935 and theItalian occupation. The museum's collection includes artefacts andarchaeological findings from Kos and surrounds and even Rhodes andthere are pieces on display from sites like ancient Asklepeion, theAltar of Dionysus, the Odeon and the Roman Residence. From originalmosaics of Hippocrates, who taught here, to statues of Asklepieion,Artemis and Hygeia found north of Decumanus Maximus, a trip to theArchaeological Museum provides a good foundation of knowledge forvisitors who plan to explore the surrounding sites. Many remarkableand valuable sculptures, mosaics and coins, among other things, areon display and the museum is well arranged and labelled.
Regrettably, this wonderful museum has been closed recently forrenovation and it is unclear when it is due to reopen. To avoiddisappointment, check beforehand whether visitors are beingadmitted.
In Athens, first-time visitors generally flock to the Acropolis.Perched on a steep, flat-topped rock above the sprawling city, thecitadel is a striking image of the ancient world. Essentially, itis a timeless collection of magnificent temples, most of whichhonour Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
The Athenian statesman, Pericles, erected most of thepresent-day ruins after Persians destroyed the original buildings.Visitors enter through the Propylaea: the monumental entranceway.The tiny, restored temple of Athena Nike is to the entrance'sright.
All things considered, the Parthenon may be the Acropolis'biggest drawcard. Built of Pentelic marble quarried from thedistant mountains, it's the greatest surviving monument of Doricarchitecture, and the backdrop to a magnificent view of Athens.
The Erechtheion temple sits alongside the Parthenon. Accordingto mythology, it is the site where Poseidon and Athena contestedthe right to be Athens' deity. Athena won after gifting Athens theolive tree.
Lastly, the Acropolis' museum is located by the citadel'ssouthern slope. It displays some of the carvings and friezesrecovered from the temples.
The remains of the Agora lie clustered below the Acropolis. AsAncient Athens' commercial and civic centre, it's where the greatphilosophers Socrates and Plato once walked and talked. In fact,the disgraced Socrates committed suicide in the Agora's southwestcorner.
Today, the area is littered with ancient ruins, including theDionysos Theatre, where Classical Athens' great tragedians put ontheir work.
Visitors can also see the restored Stoa of Attalos, which servedas a law court, municipal office and shopping arcade in 200 BC. Themuseum on the building's ground floor contains artefacts covering5,000 years of Athenian history.
This is the largest and most popular of Athens' many museums,and is usually very crowded. Its vast collection includes treasuresunearthed from Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann; a staggering arrayof sculpture including the earliest known Greek figurines datingfrom around 2000 BC; frescoes from the volcanic island ofSantorini; and so much more that it is recommended visitors makeseveral visits to absorb it all. One of the most popular displaysis the Mycenae gold, collected from ancient tombs, includingAgamemnon's death mask. The museum is world-class and well-arrangedand it hosts regular temporary exhibitions and educationalprogrammes (lectures and workshops) for those interested. There isa gift shop and cafe for visitors to relax in if they get tired,which is often necessary as the museum can occupy one for hours andthere is not much seating in the exhibition rooms. Photography isallowed in the museum and the glass display cases have beendesigned to make photography possible. There is a disabled entrancearound the side of the building. By all accounts this is one of themost captivating and impressive museums in the world and it is amust on any visit to Athens.
The port of Piraeus is the chief port in Greece, the largestpassenger port in Europe, and the third largest in the world,servicing about 20 million passengers annually. Although not reallyattractive to tourists, the confusing, bustling port of Athens isthe departure point for hundreds of island ferries and cruiseships, so most tourists will pass through it while visiting Greece.Piraeus has been Athens' port since ancient times and was for manyyears the chief harbour of Ancient Greece. Piraeus was a city, notmerely a port, and was once separated from the mainland, occupyingits own rocky island. Today it is part of Athens and the portactually consists of three harbours, with most of the tourist boatsusing the Zea Limani section. There are several good fishrestaurants in the harbour precincts, and a sprawling streetmarket. Visitors with time on their hands while waiting for ferriescan also explore the Maritime Museum at Akti Themistokleous,alongside the pier used by the island hydrofoils, which featuresmodels of ancient and modern ships. There are also archaeologicalsites at the port, including the remains of some of the ancientfortifications of the harbours.
Plaka is the old historical neighbourhood of Athens, clusteredaround the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, andincorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture.Modern Plaka has been built on top of the residential areas of theancient town of Athens and it is known as the 'Neighbourhood of theGods' because of its proximity to the Acropolis and its manyarchaeological sites. The old town is a very popular gatheringplace for travellers and tourists, particularly in the warm Athensevenings. Strolling the narrow streets of the Plaka flanked byancient monuments, Byzantine churches and mosques, statelymansions, and inviting tavernas with vine-covered courtyards, makesa pleasant diversion. The Ancient Agora is a central feature ofthis area and the modern Plaka was built around it. Archaeologicalexcavations have been taking place here continuously for decadesand new ruins and artefacts are still being found. No cars areallowed in Plaka, which is completely pedestrianised. There is somegreat shopping to be done in the area but on busy days beware ofpick-pockets who target market places and tourists. A visit toAthens is not complete without a long supper beneath the stars inPlaka.
Lykavittos Hill juts a steep 984 feet (300m) right up from thecentre of the city of Athens, and is a great vantage point fromwhich to take in the scope of the city and its beautiful views. Infact, this is the best spot from which to view the city, in everydirection, and a dreamy place to explore and take photographs. Itis said that wolves once inhabited the hill, in explanation of howit got its name, because 'lykos' means wolf in Greek. Anotherpopular myth explains that the hill was formed when Athena, thepatron of Athens, dropped a rock she was planning to use for theAcropolis. The St. George Chapel and Lykavittos Theatre perch atopthe hill, which can be reached by car, cable car or a healthy hike.There is a restaurant and cafe on the summit to refresh exhaustedhikers or provide a romantic location for a dinner. The cable cardeparts every 30 minutes, from the corners of Aristippou andPloutarchou Streets in Kolonaki. Those who plan to walk up - whichis a really wonderful way to experience the hill - should begintheir hike on Ploutarchou Street. After walking about half way upthe hill hikers will come upon some steps that take them the restof the way to the top.
Syntagma Square, or Constitution Square in English, is named forthe Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant to the peopleof Greece after a popular military uprising in September 1843. Thesquare forms the heart of modern Athens and is home to theParliament Building, built in 1840 as a royal palace. Touristsflock to photograph the unusually clad guards at the palace; theskirted and pom-pommed guard is changed ceremonially, every hour,in front of the memorial to the Unknown Soldier. There are twogreen areas planted with lots of trees in the north and south ofthe square which provide some welcome coolness on hot days. TheNational Gardens are around the Parliament Building and they are adelight in the heat. The square is a central point of access to allthe major attractions of Athens, particularly 'museum mile' alongVassilissis Sophias Avenue, which runs from Syntagma Square. Heremost of Athens' museums are clustered, including the Benaki Museum,Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum. Syntagma Square isalso a transport hub with a metro station.
Recently, the square has been the gathering place for massprotests against austerity and during these demonstrations it isbest avoided by tourists.
Among shady pine, olive and oak trees, in a valley between MountKronos and the Alfios River on the Peloponnese Peninsula, lies oneof the most famous historical and archaeological sites in Greece.Olympia includes the remains of two ancient temples and the stadiumwhere the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. Since themodern Olympics were inaugurated in 1896 torchbearers have set outfrom Olympia to carry the Olympic flame in relays across the worldto wherever the games are held every four years. The site alsoboasts one of the finest archaeological museums in Greece. Theruins themselves are fascinating, being the remnants of an ancientOlympic village including a gymnasium, baths, the Prytaneion -where winners were honoured - and a Doric Temple dedicated to Hera.In the nearby modern village of Olympia there is another museumthat is often sadly overlooked: the Museum of the Olympic Gamescontains some interesting memorabilia from games past and givesthose interested in the event a fantastic overview of its historyand significance.
Ancient Corinth is rests around the base of Acrocorinth.Originally a Greek acropolis, this lofty fortress hill has been aRoman citadel, a Byzantine castle and more over the course of itshistory.
Most of the city's surviving buildings are Roman, though. Caesarbuilt them after his armies sacked much of the original settlement.Since then, recurring earthquakes have toppled large parts ofancient Corinth. Still, enough of it remains to fire up theimagination. The 6th-century BC Temple of Apollo is particularlybeautiful. It sits on a hill overlooking the marketplace'sremains.
Visitors will find an archaeological museum in the site'ssouthwest corner. It contains some worthwhile collections of mosaicfloors, pottery and works of art.
This ancient site, 31 miles (50km) south of Corinth, bears theremains of the ancient palace and citadel of Mycenae, a place ofarchaeological controversy but fascinating for the lay visitor.Homer's fabulous story has it that the kingdom of Mycenae wasdripping in gold and revelling in riches before King Agamemnondecided to lead an assault on Troy, back in about 1,250 BC. Theking started a war that lasted a decade, battling to win theimpossibly beautiful Helen of Troy back from Prince Paris. Germanarchaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered Mycenae, which hebelieved gave credence to Homer's tale, in 1874 after he hadexcavated the remains of Troy itself. There is no doubt thatMycenae was a city of power and prosperity and the ruins, from theLion Gate (oldest example of monumental sculpture in Europe) to thepalace complex, houses and beehive tomb of Agamemnon, are wellworth exploring. Most of the more exceptional finds from the siteare on exhibit in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.These include frescoes, gold jewellery, and the gold mask said tohave belonged to Agamemnon, among other priceless pieces.
A definite must on a tour of the Peloponnese is the famedancient theatre of Epidaurus, built in the 3rd century BC and sowell preserved that with little or no restoration it is still inuse today for regular summer dramatic performances, which are lenta mystical aura by the beautiful and ancient setting. The theatrehas perfect acoustics, allowing even a whisper on stage to be heardin the back row of the limestone amphitheatre, which can seat14,000. North of the theatre are the ruins of the healing Sanctuaryof Asklepios, which has a museum explaining how the original templecomplex would have looked and functioned. This was once the mostfamous healing centre of the Greek and Roman world, and some arguethat it is the birthplace of modern medicine. It is veryinteresting to learn about the evolution of medical treatment inthis place and to explore the ruins and remains of the sanctuary,which once spawned 200 dependent spas throughout the Mediterranean.Where the ancient town of Epidaurus once stood there is now themodern day village of Palia Epidaurus. This is a popular seasideresort with scenic beaches, a small harbour and severaltavernas.
The Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum is regarded as one of thefinest museums in Europe; it is near the famous White Tower andopposite the city's international fairgrounds. The museum houses ahuge collection including the incredible treasures from the tomb ofAlexander the Great's father, Phillip of Macedon, which wasdiscovered at Vergina in 1977. Another treasured artefact is the3rd century BC Derveni papyrus, the only intact ancient papyrusfound in Greece, which was discovered in the tombs of Derveni.Other rooms in the museum contain exhibits depicting the history ofthe city from prehistoric days through to the Roman period,including spectacular mosaics and some exquisite, delicateHellenistic glass. The museum will occupy visitors for a few hoursif they are interested in history and archaeology and it is awell-organised and impressively laid out collection. Thessalonikihas a captivating history and it rewards investigation.
Close to one of the city's main bus terminals in DikasterionSquare lies the archaeological site of the ancient Greek agora ormarketplace, which was later expanded to become a Roman Forum ontwo levels. The Roman Forum was constructed in the late 2nd centuryAD and it constituted the administrative centre of the town tillabout the 5th century. The forum was the heart of the ancient city,and was discovered by workmen in the 1960s. The best-preservedcomponent of the forum is the large theatre, which is still usedfor occasional summer concerts. On the southwest corner of thesquare is the magnificent church of Panagia Chalkeon. TheArchaeological Museum built beneath the ruins houses some of theartefacts discovered in excavations on the site and a visit to themuseum gives great context for exploring the site. It is small butcaptivating. Entry to the ruins is free but there are no writtenexplanations, making the museum a necessary stop. The site isclosed on Mondays. The area around the excavations is full ofartists, shops and taverns and there are some wonderful littleplaces to buy traditional wares and souvenirs.
The city of Thessaloniki's most famous landmark, the WhiteTower, was originally built as part of the city walls to fortifythe coast during Ottoman rule. It now stands, no longer quite whitebut still very imposing, on the seaside promenade south of theArchaeological Museum, having been restored and offering panoramicviews of the city and harbour from its rooftop café. Although now aproud landmark of the city, and the chosen symbol of its residents,the tower has a bloody history. It was used by the Ottomans as aprison, infamous for its brutality, and was the site for publicexecutions; on the way up the winding staircase to the cafevisitors can peep into the dim rooms that were once used as cells.As a result of this notoriety as a brutal place it was known as the'Tower of Blood' or the 'Red Tower' to local Greeks up until theend of the 19th century. When Thessaloniki was reclaimed by theGreeks the tower was whitewashed as a gesture of symbolic cleansingand it has since been re-imagined in the collective imagination asa positive symbol of freedom and pride. The tower contains a museumhousing some Byzantine art and historical artefacts fromThessaloniki's history between 300 and 1,500 AD.
Most of Thessaloniki's beautiful churches are situated along thequaint, narrow-cobbled streets of the Upper City area. They datefrom various eras, including Byzantine.
In particular, visitors should look out for the domed Church ofSaint George. Its history goes back to the 4th century, when it wasRoman Emperor Galerius' mausoleum. Agia Sofia is Thessaloniki'slargest and most famous Byzantine church. The Agii Apostoli and thebeautifully frescoed Agios Nikolaos Orfanos are also must-sees.
Thessaloniki's churches are open to visitors, but often closeduring the afternoon. For this reason, visitors should try to tourthem in the morning. Also, sightseers should follow local customwhen entering. Essentially, this means to dress appropriately andto act respectfully in these sacred places. Visitors should askpermission before taking photographs. Some churches will not admitsightseers during services but tourists are always welcome toattend.
Corfu Town has its own Archaeological Museum. Though small andordinary-looking from the outside, it's definitely worth a visitfor anyone interested in archaeology or the area's ancienthistory.
Built between 1962 and 1965, the museum was initially meant tohouse important artefacts from Corfu's sixth century BC Temple ofArtemis. Indeed, its greatest treasure is the temple's Gorgonpediment, which is Greece's oldest surviving stone pediment. Tomany, it is a fine example of archaic sculpture.
Visitors will find some other interesting sculptures too, suchas the Lion of Menecrates. A famous Corinthian sculptor carved itin the late 7th century BC. The 500 BC pediment of Dionysus isanother fascinating artefact. The museum's collection also featuressome interesting coins, vases and armour.
Although it may seem strange to visit a museum dedicated toEastern art and antiquity while on holiday in Greece, this museumis very interesting and the only one of its kind in the country.Gregorios Manos, the founder of the museum, was a Greek ambassadorto Austria who was passionate about the East and purchased at artauctions about 9,500 authentic Chinese, Korean and Japaneseartefacts which formed the basis of the museum collection when itwas opened in 1928. The permanent collection includes arms andarmour, bronze, ceramics, paintings, sculptures and textiles fromChina, Japan, Korea, India and a few other Asian countries. Thethree-storey building housing this collection of art is a beautifulneoclassical structure built by the British in 1820 when the IonianIslands were ruled by Britain. The building itself justifiesvisiting the museum for those with an interest in architecture. Themuseum is a peaceful oasis which immerses the visitor in anotherworld and culture. It is situated at the north end of the Esplanadein Corfu Town.
Empress Elizabeth of Austria built the Achilleion in 1890.Standing just south of Corfu, the palace was intended as a memorialto her son, Rudolf, following his death by apparent suicide oneyear earlier.
Neoclassical in style, the palace takes the mythical figure,Achilles, as its central theme, and features numerous statues andmotifs associated with him. The gardens are also set with a numberof statues commissioned by the Empress, including German sculptor,Herter's, 'Dying Achilles'.
After Elisabeth's assassination, the German Kaiser Wilhelm IIpurchased the Achilleion property and used it as a summer home.During his time, the palace hosted many notable guests and became ahub of European diplomacy. The Kaiser added some artwork of hisown.
The palace transitioned to a new purpose when it served as amilitary hospital during World War One, and as a militaryheadquarters in World War Two. Later, a brief spell under privateownership saw it house a casino in the upper storey. It has sincebeen reclaimed as a museum, and as a venue for state events.
All told, the Achilleion houses many valuable artworks and iswell worth a visit. Its sprawling gardens are also a joy toexplore.
The Minoan palace at Knossos, covering an area of 215,278 squarefeet (20,000 sq metres), is one of the world's greatest sightseeingexperiences and a must for visitors in the area. It consists offour wings, arranged around a rectangular, central court. Thepalace originally had many storeys, was built of ashlar blocks, andhad walls decorated with splendid frescoes. British archaeologist,Arthur Evans, who excavated most of the labyrinthine Knossos site,has painstakingly restored some sections of the palace. The remainsnow visible are actually not those of the original palace, whichwas built around 2,000 BC and destroyed by an earthquake about1,700 BC. A subsequent, more complex, palace was then constructedand it is these ruins which can still be seen and parts of whichhave been restored. The palace was first unearthed in 1878 by aCretan merchant and antiquarian, but was not systematicallyexcavated until 1900. The Knossos site is about three miles (5km)south of Heraklion.
A visit to the Minoan palace at Knossos should be complementedwith a visit to the wonderful Archaeological Museum in Heraklion.This is one of the largest and most renowned museums in Greece, andeven in Europe, and the Minoan collection is the best of its kindin the world. The museum features artefacts spanning 5,500 years ofCretan history and prehistory from the Neolithic (5000 BC) to theLate Roman Period (late 4th century AD). Thousands of artefactsdepicting the intriguing Minoan culture are on display, frommagnificent bull-headed drinking vessels to the mysterious Phaistosdisk inscribed with undeciphered symbols. The exhibition takes up20 rooms and is arranged chronologically. There is a museum shopwhere visitors can buy copies, books, postcards and the like, and amuseum cafe for refreshments.
This museum deals with Crete's more modern history andhighlights the islanders' long battle for independence from earlyChristian times to the present day. The museum is housed in atwo-storey neoclassical building constructed in 1903 on the site ofan earlier mansion. The Historical Museum has impressivecollections of ceramics, sculptures, coins, jewellery, Byzantineart, Ottoman artefacts, and ethnographic displays, and the historyof Crete is thoroughly and well laid out. The medieval andRenaissance collection contains the only painting on Crete by theisland's famous painter El Greco, The Landscape of God-troddenMount Sinai, which is one of the museum's treasures. Anotherworld-renowned Cretan, Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba theGreek, is also remembered in the museum, which houses a recreationof his study. There are frequent temporary exhibitions to beenjoyed and a library containing some interesting documents andrare editions which is open to the public.
Situated about 14 miles (23km) south of Rethymnon, the Monasteryof Arkádhi is something of a national Cretan shrine. During the1866 rebellion against the Turks the monastery became a refuge forCretan insurgents and their families (it was the Cretan Christianswho revolted against Turkish rule in the rebellion). They weresurrounded by the Turks and after two days of fighting, ignited thegunpowder storeroom, which killed hundreds of both Turks andCretans. The tragedy brought international recognition to the causefor Cretan independence and those who died in the blast have becomecelebrated martyr figures. An ossuary displays the skulls of manyof the victims and it is possible to see the roofless room wherethe explosion took place, as well as the surviving 16th-centurychurch that is one of the loveliest Venetian buildings on theisland. There is also a small museum which details the history ofthe monastery and the battle for independence. It is a veryinteresting, and rather sad, place to explore and gives visitorssome valuable insight into Cretan nationalism and history.
Gortyna is both a municipality in Greece and an archaeologicalsite on Crete which was once the Roman capital of the island. Thetwo are unrelated. The remains of the ancient city of Gortyna, tothe south of Heraklion, tell a later tale than that of the otherarchaeological sites in Crete, despite the fact that there isevidence of human settlement in the area dating back to theNeolithic era. The greatest treasure of the site is the Gortyn LawCode, recorded on important inscribed stones which date back to the5th century BC. These remarkable stones are a complete code of lawbased on Minoan tradition. The Code stones are still preserved andexhibited in the north round wall of the Roman Odeon at the Gortynasite (although of course the theatre was built much later, in the1st century). Other highlights at Gortyna include the Church of StTitus, where Christianity was first introduced to the island, andthe Temple of Apollo Pythios, which dates from 700 BC. The city wasthriving before Roman invasion but its early alliance with theRomans meant that it was not invaded and became even more powerfulin the region. The site is often called Gortyn, rather thanGortyna.
South of Heraklion lies Crete's second most important Minoanarchaeological site, the Palace complex of Phaistos, considered bymany to be a finer example of Minoan architecture than Knossos. Thewest propylon, the monumental entranceway to the palace, isparticularly impressive, and the ceremonial staircase and greatcourt are breathtaking. Like Knossos the site has actually beenbuilt on twice, with the original palace, built about 2000 BC,having been destroyed by fire and replaced with a new palace around300 years later. A number of valuable artefacts have been found onthe site including the Phaistos disc which was discovered in 1908in the basements of the northern complex of the palace. Thisartefact is a clay disk, dated to between 1950 BC and 1400 BC andimpressed with a unique and sophisticated hieroglyphic script. Anumber of tombs were also found, a short distance from the ruins ofthe palace complex, and these are thought to belong to the one-timerulers of Phaistos. The city of Phaistos is associated with themythical king of Crete, Rhadamanthys, and the city is mentioned inmany old texts including Homer, who detailed the city's involvementin the siege of Troy. For anybody with an interest in archaeologyPhaistos is a must.
The Samaria Gorge National Park, in the White Mountains ofwestern Crete, is said to be one of the most splendid scenic parksin Europe and the hike through the gorge is breathtaking. It is anarduous trip but well worth it to see one of the great naturalwonders of Europe and most people will be able to handle the walkalthough they may find it strenuous. From the top of the gorge itis a 10 mile (16km) hike through the dramatic geological formationsand wildflower-strewn cliff sides of the National Park. There arelots of awe-inspiring views and natural features along the way andit is a dream for photographers. Once inside the gorge hikers tendto follow the water, which helps keep one cool but hikers must notethat they will be in direct sun at least part of the time so it isimportant to come prepared with hats, sunscreen and water. Hikersare always delighted to see that there are restaurants and bars atthe end of the walk to provide well-earned refreshment. From thevillage of Agia Roumeli at the end of the gorge hikers board boatsto sail to Khora Sfakion or Paleohora where there are buses back toHaniá, Rethymnon or Heraklion. Nature-lovers will find the gorgeone of the absolute highlights of a visit to Crete.
The ancient Acropolis of Rhodes sits high on a hill overlookingthe city's west. In the past, it featured sanctuaries, largetemples and public buildings, all set on stepped terracesinterspersed with gardens. Today's remains date back to the 2ndcentury BC, though excavations continue at the site.
The Stadium, however, has been fully excavated and restored, ashas the Temple of Athena Polias on the site's northern edge.Visitors can also see the Nymphaia, a marble Odeon, the Temple ofPythian Apollo and the remains of the Gymnasium. In their day,these sites were used for recreation, worship, lectures and musicalevents.
All in all, the acropolis is hugely atmospheric and worthvisiting. Views from the top are tremendous.
From Rhodes it is a short ferry crossing to the hospitableisland of Karpathos where the clock has stood still in thedelightful village of Olymbos in the south. Here the locals goabout their business much as they did in Homer's time, wearingtheir traditional costumes and preserving their language andculture, partly with the aim of attracting tourists but alsobecause they are proud of their heritage and want to preserve localcustoms. They are particularly proud of their unique houses, builtof carved stone and decorated inside with gorgeous embroidery andother colourful folk art décor. The island has great beaches andunspoilt villages and is a pleasure to explore, with a picturesquebay and a monastery at Kyra Panagia, the Diafani village on apromontory to the north, and forested mountains. Karpathos is alsorenowned for its feast days and weddings. Visitors who happen tocatch one in progress will usually receive a warm invitation tojoin the festivities. Just four nautical miles from Karpathos isthe smaller island of Kassos, linked by ferry, which has a tinycommunity of fishermen still living the way they have forcenturies.
This island, sometimes called the 'Jerusalem of the Aegean', isan official pilgrimage site for members of the Catholic religion,because it is home to the sacred cavern where the exiled St Johnthe Evangelist was inspired to write the Biblical Book ofRevelations. Cruise ships and ferries keep the small port veryactive, disgorging visitors who wish to visit the holy cave andwitness the cracks in the wall, said to have appeared when St Johnheard the voice of the Lord. The small Monastery of the Apocalypseis very close to the cave and both are worth exploring. The smalland lovely Chapel of St Anne encloses the cave and was built in the11th century. Crowning the island is the immense Monastery of StJohn, with its buttressed walls and, inside, frescoes, icons,tapestries and pendants made of precious stones. The monastery wascompleted in the 11th century and it is a richly decorated fortresswith spectacular views, that would be fascinating to explore nomatter what your religious beliefs. The historical centre ofPatmos, including the monastery and the sacred cave, are a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. Visitors can walk up to the monastery fromSkala along the Byzantine path.
The Benaki is one of Greece's most famous museums, wherevisitors can explore Greek culture through artefacts dating fromantiquity to present times.
Paleolithic and Neolithic relics, items from the late RomanEmpire, and pieces left after centuries of Frankish and Ottomanoccupation are all on display. Greece's struggle for independencein 1821, and the formation of the modern Greek state feature in themore recent content. Visitors should look out for the Museum ofIslamic art, temporary exhibitions, as well as restoration andconservation workshops.
The museum's library holds a very valuable and extensivecollection on topics relating to its exhibitions. Visitors can'tborrow books, though the library is open to the public for onsiteuse.
Attica Zoo is unique in Greece. Featuring exotic animals such aslynxes, Angolan lions, and Persian leopards, plus more than 30 birdspecies, it's a must for animal lovers of all ages.
Striving to combine education with entertainment, the zoo takesvisitors on a journey through a number of themed sections,showcasing more than 2 000 animals from 350 species. Visitors canexplore a reptile house, a children's farm, a monkey jungle andother walk-through enclosures.
Picnicking with the children at the National Gardens on aSaturday has become a common pastime for local Athenian familiesand is a great way to spend a sunny summer's day when the days arelong. The gardens used to be called the Royal Gardens because theywere the gardens of the king and the locals are very proud of thislovely green space in a city which doesn't actually have manyparks. The gardens have a collection of plants and trees from allover the world and plenty of water features which add coolness inthe heat. The Gardens feature a small zoo, duck ponds, residentcats, a Botanical Museum, a playground and lots of wide-open spacefor children to play in. For children who love books, the gardensare also home to a Children's Library. There are many beautifulareas to relax in the shade and get some respite from the busy cityof Athens, and the gardens are also wonderful for walking orrunning. Locals enjoy playing games together at makeshift tablesand often they don't mind if you want to join them. The gardens arelocated just behind the Greek parliament building, next to SyntagmaSquare, and are easy to locate.
Allou! Fun Park has rides to suit every age group and thrillthreshold. Visitors soon realise why it's the city's most populartheme park.
Access is technically free, meaning anyone can enter and soak upthe festive atmosphere. Otherwise, all rides and activities accepta variety of payment options. Visitors planning to spend a fewhours enjoying themselves should purchase an Allou! Day Pass. Itallows limitless access to almost all of the rides and games onoffer.
The Hellenic Children's Museum is a non-profit educational andcultural organisation that was established in Athens in 1987 andaims to encourage children to explore, learn, discover and questionall around them. The museum is located in two houses which havebeen specifically designed for use by children, and kids will beexcited to find a museum dedicated to their amusement rather thanthe more traditional ones they get dragged to. The space is full ofgames and interactive exhibits and a variety of activities areorganised for visitors. An activity might be something likelearning how chocolate is made, helping to make it, and thengetting to eat it! The Hellenic Children's Museum is botheducational and extremely entertaining and it is frequented bylocals as much as by tourists. The staff are very friendly andcapable and know just how to entertain their little visitors. Themuseum is best for children under 10.
Aqualand Water Park is the perfect place to cool off whileholidaying on Corfu. With its wide variety of slides, rides andpools, it's understandably one of the island's most popularattractions for kids and adults alike.
Children aged four to eight can enjoy water games, slides,jumping castles, playgrounds and more in a fun-filled kid's area.Thrill seekers will find steep, scary slides. Visitors looking torelax should head for Jacuzzis, gentle pools, the Lazy River andsun loungers.
Parking, sunbeds, umbrellas, as well as access to showerfacilities and changing areas are all free. Dining options includea bar, a restaurant and various fast-food kiosks. Visitors shouldpack plenty of sunscreen as the park is very much exposed to theglorious Greek sun.
The Aegean Maritime Museum is a non-profit institution. Locatedon the island of Mykonos, it collects, studies and promotes Greekmaritime history and tradition. Visitors can enjoy wonderful modelsof pre-Minoan ships, a superb collection of old maps and documents,navigational instruments, as well as rare coins and engravings.
The museum is also proud of its three 'living' historicalexhibits, namely the 'Armenistis' lighthouse, the Perama-typesailing boat 'Evangelistria', and the cable-laying steamship,'Thalis o Milissios'. Along with these treasures, visitors canstroll through a picturesque garden courtyard and admire anchors,the top of the old Mykonos lighthouse, and replicas of drownedsailors' gravestones.
All in all, the museum gives fascinating insight into theisland's history, and is a good stop for the entire family.
The island of Delos is a must for history buffs and lovers ofGreek mythology. In fact, the UNESCO World Heritage site one ofGreece's most important mythological, historical and archaeologicallocations.
People have lived on Delos since the 3rd millennium BC, with theisland serving as a sacred site for multiple religions, cults andsects over the centuries. It has also played a role in numeroushistorical events and been the subject of myths and prophecies.
Archaeological excavations on Delos are extensive and ongoing,uncovering many valuable buildings and artefacts. Some of these areon display in the Archaeological Museum of Delos.
Visitors should look out for the circular Sacred Lake, theMinoan Fountain, the Terrace of the Lions, and several impressiveancient buildings and temples. Travellers visiting Mykonos shoulddefinitely include a trip to Delos in their plans.
The white windmills are iconic on Mykonos island and are visiblefrom every part of Hora village. Those interested in the mechanicsof windmills - once such common and important technology and nowseldom seen - will be captivated by them and children also tend tobe enthralled. There is a reason for everybody to take a stroll tothe famous windmills though, and that is the spectacular views fromthe hill. The hill is best visited in the late afternoon, towardssunset, and overlooks the whole town of Hora and the harbour too.There are 16 windmills left on Mykonos and seven of these stand onthe hill at Hora (also often called Chora). Some of them were builtby the Venetians in the 16th century, but construction continuedinto the 20th century so they are not all that old, or have beenrenovated since then. They were once an important means of survivaland income for the inhabitants of the town and were used primarilyto mill wheat. They are white-walled, thatched-roofed windmills andare rather mesmerising, although they are now out of use. It is agreat spot for photographs and picnics and one of the mills hasbeen turned into a small museum. There is no need for directions asthe windmills are probably the first thing you see when you enterthe village or the port.
A must for all families on vacation in Kos, especially withyoung children, Lido Waterpark provides wonderful games,activities, sun, fun and more. It is one of the largest waterparksin Greece and features numerous slides (including Kamikaze, Multilane and Black Hole), pools (including a wave pool), jacuzzis,hydromassage facilities, tubing courses and even a fish spa wherethe little critters will massage and clean your feet. For those whoprefer land activities there is sunbathing, beach volleyball andeven trampolines for amusement. There's a special area for youngkids too little to enjoy the slides, where there is a kind ofwaterworld playground and shallow pools. There is also a bar andmultiple restaurants for food, drinks and snacks and even amini-market for shopping. The park is clean and safe, with thewater recycled and renewed on a daily basis and a team of qualifiedlifeguards permanently on duty. Remember to pack the sunscreenbecause the summer heat and all the water can mean serious sunexposure.
The Castle of the Knights of the Order of Saint John is situatedat the entrance of Kos harbour and is an amazing place to visit.The sprawling ruins, some of which are extremely well-preserved,are located on what used to be an island and the bridge which oncejoined it to the mainland is still usable. Parts of the castle dateback to the late 14th century but as it took over a hundred yearsto build there is evidence of more than one architectural style atthe site. The castle has two defensive precincts: the interior hasfour circular corner towers and the larger exterior precinct hasmassive bastions in its four corners, battlements and gun ports.The two precincts are separated by a moat and joined by adrawbridge. There is a Hellenistic frieze over the main gate. Amuseum on the site, which is housed in a reconstructed buildingthat was once the knights' warehouse, holds alters, sculptures andinscriptions from the site. The elevated sections of the castleafford visitors astounding views over the ocean. It is best to wearsensible walking shoes when visiting as exploring the castlethoroughly means traversing some steep steps and uneven ground.
Aquaworld Aquarium features a wonderful array marine creatures,plus reptiles such as loggerhead turtles, Balkan green lizards,skinks, geckos and snakes. All in all, it's guaranteed to keep thelittle ones captivated.
Aquaworld is, in fact, a rescue centre that has taken in orrehabilitated most of its population. The institution encourageshands-on interaction with many of its animals and offers fantasticphoto opportunities.
Although it specialises in local fauna, Aquaworld does collectreptiles and marine life from further afield as well.
A fantastic place to take the kids during the heat of summerwhile on holiday in Crete, the Limnoupolis Waterpark offersfantastic rides, slides and water fun. Limnoupolis is located in agreen, scenic area which sets it apart from many other parks of itskind which are often sadly devoid of vegetation. There should besomething for everyone at this park: for thrill seekers slides likeKamikaze and the Black Hole should summon up some adrenalin; formore mellow fun there are multiple water slides like the CrazyRiver, the Multiplista, the Giant Slide, and the Triple Twist; forthose who merely want to relax and unwind there is the Lazy River,where you float on tubes through waterfalls and caves, and thejacuzzi area; for kids there is a special pool and play area. Inthe unlikely event that children get bored there are also videogames to play. There is a nicely designed pool bar and ropesuspension bridge over the main pool as well as an artificialisland in the middle. There are restaurants and a mini-market forrefreshments. Lifeguards permanently on duty ensure that visitorsstay safe.
Not your average waterpark, Star Beach Water Park features allthe expected things, like various nice pools and four big waterslides ranging from the relaxing to the thrilling, but it alsooffers traditional beach watersports such as jet skiing, scubadiving, waterskiing and banana boat rides, and a kind of bungeejumping, to name a few. There are sun beds and umbrellas inrelaxation areas by the pools and tubing rivers for lazy sunworshippers and parents to float along while the kids let off somesteam. There is also a spa which offers various beauty treatments.For the really little kids there is Baby Star Beach, a children'swater playground with shallow pools. Star Beach has an amazingvariety of amenities and activities including free wifi and freefoam parties on a daily basis. There are lifeguards permanently onduty so the park is very safe. Needless to say there are alsorestaurants and a bar to replenish energy for more fun activities.This is a great trip for the whole family and a good combination ofwholesome beach fun and poolside relaxation.
A trip to the Eftalou Thermal Baths is a wonderful excursion foranyone on holiday in Lesvos. The hot, natural springs are locatednearly three miles (4km) outside of Molyvos on the northern coastof Lesvos. Highly popular with tourists, the Eftalou's Springs arelocated at the beach and are one of the few springs in Greece wheremen and women can bathe together. The temperature of the water isbetween 109 and 116°F (43 - 47°C), which is very hot. Bathing inthe water is recommended for a number of conditions and illnessesincluding blood pressure problems, rheumatism, gallstones, andneuralgia. It is also just extremely relaxing and therapeutic! Itis recommended, though, that visitors don't stay in the water forlonger than 20 minutes in each session due to the extreme heat.There is an old, domed bath house, which has a charming,old-fashioned atmosphere and is an experience in itself, and anewly renovated spa building next door to it which offers a varietyof treatments and facilities. The coastal setting is also prettyand enjoyable which adds to the experience. A novelty for children,this is an activity the whole family will enjoy.
One of the two largest petrified forests in the world, thePetrified Forest of Sigri on the western edge of the island, datesback 15 million years and is protected as a natural monument. Avisit to the Petrified Forest of Sigri is a fascinating outing forfamilies with children or for anybody interested in naturalphenomena. The Petrified Forest was the result of a volcaniceruption around 21 to 15 million years ago which buried the floraand trees of the region - including oaks and sequoias - beneathlayers of ash. Visitors can view 'the Pompeii of the plant world'which features some impressively well-preserved specimens; on someof the trees you can still see leaves and fruit preserved formillennia. Visitors can view the Petrified Forest along three mainmountain trails: Trail One is called 'Discovering the PetrifiedForest' and is a good introduction to the area; Trail Two, 'TheHistory of the Petrified Coniferous Forest', details the process bywhich the trees were preserved; and Trail Three, which is thelongest, takes people to the tallest standing trunks. In Sigrithere is an interesting museum dedicated to the forest whichdisplays some stunning examples of petrified wood and explains theprocess well.
Donkey trekking is a great activity for the whole family.Travellers can enjoy day-excursions through verdant green valleys,past olive groves and along mountain paths. Sunset-treks are alsowonderful, with tasty, beach barbeques waiting to reward riders atthe finish.
Along with being a terrific way to appreciate the island'sscenery, donkey treks allow visitors to discover its traditions.Indeed, Lesvos is self-sufficient and proud, with well-preservedlocal customs. It also has a refreshing lack of tourist trappings,despite its popularity with travellers.
Filerimos Hill used to be the citadel of the ancient town ofIalysos, and its large plateau is home to some intriguinghistorical attractions. On the eastern side of the hill, see thefoundations of the Athena Polias temple and an early Christianbasilica, dedicated to Virgin Mary, as well as a Byzantine church.The Monastery of Filerimos, which is thought to have been built byknights, and was later renovated by Italians, is an importantarchaeological site where Mycenaean pottery and a Doric foundationhave been unearthed. A lovely path to the west, lined with cypressand pine trees, leads to an impressive crucifix at the centre of asmall square. Apart from all the exciting archaeological ruins andartefacts, this is a pretty area which offers visitors lovely viewsfrom the vantage of the hill with some great photo opportunities.Despite its wealth of ancient artefacts and historical significanceFilerimos Hill is not as crowded with tourists as some of the othersites on Rhodes which is also a great advantage for those who liketo avoid crowds. Bring a picnic and stroll through the area soakingup the sun, the history and the beautiful views.
With buildings and monuments dating back hundreds of years, OldTown offers a wealth of historic attractions and has been declareda UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval streets feature Gothicwindows and paved courtyards lit by traditional street lamps. Themost famous of these is the Street of Knights (or Knights Avenue)which leads to the Palace of the Prince Grand Master. This palacedisplays several artefacts from as far back as the 13th century,when the crusades first came to Rhodes. The shops and stalls ofSocrates Street are worth browsing for local jewellery, pottery andclothes. Although there are many gates through which to enter theOld Town, one of the best starting points is Eleftheria (Liberty)Gate, where you'll come to Simi Square which contains the ruins ofthe Temple of Venus, thought to date from the 3rd century BC.Getting lost in the Rhodes Old Town is almost obligatory: there areabout 200 streets and they don't even have names so it can getconfusing. Getting lost here is rather wonderful but when you needto find yourself again ask for Socrates Street, which is the 'main'street of the area. The Old Town is completely pedestrianised.
The beaches on Rhodes Island are a great attraction forvisitors. There are about 45 attractive beaches on the island sothere is a lot for visitors to choose from! Afandou beach is quiteundeveloped and therefore good for those who don't like a crowd.Faliraki beach, on the other hand, is usually quite crowded and hasall the necessary amenities including sunbeds, umbrellas,watersport facilities, restaurants and beach bars to enjoy. Theshallow waters of Faliraki beach make it a popular holiday spot forfamilies with children, as do the great facilities. The FalirakiWaterpark and Luna Park distinguish this beach from others on theisland as they feature water slides, kamikaze slides and a giganticwave pool, as well as fully trained and certified lifeguards forsafety. Faliraki Beach is on the northeast of the island, just overseven miles (12km) from Rhodes town. Kalathos beach hascrystal-clear waters, wooden sunbeds and bamboo umbrellas (veryeco-friendly!) and Kallithea beach is renowned for its hotmedicinal springs and beautiful palm trees. Lindos beach is rightbeneath the castle of the same name and is a peaceful little cove,great for a quick dip after visiting the castle.
A wonderful place to take the kids while on Rhodes isPetaloudes, the Valley of the Butterflies, although anynature-lover will enjoy this unique experience. This attractionsees a myriad of beautiful butterflies colouring its skies and kidscan follow them along the narrow streams, and over the rusticlittle bridges. The shaded walkways lead to rock pools andwaterfalls, and carry a vanilla scent emanating from the localstorax trees. The best time to visit the valley is after the rainyseason (which ends in late May) when the high humidity in the areasees thousands of Jersey Tiger Moths, which are in fact butterfliesdespite their name, cover the landscape. They are attracted by theOriental Sweet Gum trees in the area and can be found in the valleythroughout the summer. The Valley of Butterflies is a natural parkand a protected conservation area which is lovely to visit evenwhen the butterflies are not around. There is a small NaturalHistory Museum at the entry to the valley where visitors can learnmore about this unique ecosystem.
Children love the Marine Aquarium on Rhodes Island, enamoured byits diverse range of live Eastern Mediterranean specimens includingsea flowers, turtles, octopuses and strange-looking decapods(crustaceans with 10 limbs). This venue has been used as anaquarium-museum and research station since 1963 and as such itdisplays an interesting collection of preserved and mounted marinespecimens, as well as numerous scientific instruments. The aquariumis housed in an interesting Art Deco building which was designed byan Italian architect when the island was under Italian rule. It isofficially known as the Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes and isfar more than a museum; the station is a research centre and arescue and rehabilitation centre for aquatic animals which works tore-release animals back into the wild once they have beensufficiently cared for and rested. The Marine Aquarium is a verywell-respected institution, although it is not as big as manymodern aquariums. The aquarium creates an underwater atmospherewhich captivates visitors of all ages and the air conditioningensures that it is a cool and refreshing place to be, especially ona hot summer day.
The coast of Samos has many beautiful beaches to enjoy as it isa large, lush island. There are at least 20 beaches which touristsand locals recommend. Mykali beach, south of Samos town, is coveredin white pebbles and lapped by emerald waters and is one of themost popular beaches on the island. On the mountainous northwestcoast of Samos, visitors will find the secluded Megalo Seitanibeach which can only be reached on foot and richly rewards thosewho make the extra effort. There are a few other beaches on theisland which are inaccessible to cars and these tend to be the mostprivate and secluded. The Vlendza beach, just outside the town ofAvlakia, has good amenities including sunbeds and umbrellas, aswell as a small tavern. Tsamadou beach lies just outside of KokkariTown and is the only official nudist beach on the island.
The best beach on Samos for children is Psili Ammos beach askids love to play in its warm, shallow waters and build sandcastles on the shore. It is a very safe beach with calm waters.This long sandy strip also attracts migrant flamingos each year inDecember and the pink flocks are a delightful sight. There are alsoa couple of taverns nearby to enjoy. Psili Ammos beach is 35 miles(56km) southwest of Vathy.
The largest Greek temple ever built, the Temple of Hera was oneof the essential sanctuaries of ancient Greece, and is now a greatsightseeing attraction. It was built near the mouth of the Imvrasosriver for worship of the goddess who, according to myth, was bornand lived there. Only half of one of its 115 columns stands today,but the bases of the columns and other temple foundations are stillvisible so it is possible to imagine what the giant temple lookedlike. The Temple of Hera was constructed over a long period of time- or rather, it was added to, renovated or completely rebuilt anumber of times over the centuries when it was destroyed byearthquakes or other means. The oldest building phase identified byarchaeologists is the 8th century BC. The very large temple, theruins of which we can see today, was known as the 'PolycratesTemple'. One of the giant statues from this site can still be seenin the Samos Archaeological Museum, which is a good complement to atrip to the temple ruins as it provides context and information.Unlike many other archaeological sites in Greece, however, there issome information given at the temple and visitors receive a freeguide leaflet upon entry.
This temple is not to be confused with the Temple of Hera atOlympus where the Olympic Flame is lit for each Olympic Games.
One of the great attractions on Samos is the cave wherePythagoras lived and worked as a philosopher, mathematician,astrologer, doctor and musician. Very little is actually known forsure about Pythagoras but legend has it that he used the caves as arefuge from the tyranny of Polycrates. We know his teachings weremystical as well as mathematical as he was the founder of anesoteric religious movement known as Pythagoreanism. Although sometenets of this religious and philosophical movement are known, forthe most part it too is somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Most of thecaves are now open to the public. The site is made up of two cavesand two chapels, with 'holy water' dripping from their stalactites,and was used for prayer and teaching as well as shelter. The caveis located on Mount Kerkis, an extinct volcano that forms thesecond-highest peak in the East Aegean, and although it is locatednear the base the climb may still be a bit difficult for some. Theviews from the cave are beautiful and there are some great photoopportunities. It is advisable to bring a bottle of water andsensible shoes for the rather steep walk.
The Ancient Theatre of Pythagorion sits just below PanagiaSpiliani monastery's ruins. Its stage and some seats are all thatremains. Still, these remnants hint at how grand the venue musthave been in its time.
Today, performers use the site for plays, as well as concertsand modern recitals. Historians and culture buffs should check thecalendar for events.
Otherwise, Pythagorion is the perfect Mediterranean escape. Apretty harbour, gorgeous beaches, and the Mediterranean's oldestmanmade port are among the town's highlights. Attractions in andaround the port include the statue of Pythagoras, the Castle ofLykourgos, the Church of Metamorphosis, the Ephpalinos Tunnel andRoman Baths. Visitors who wish to explore a bit further can enjoysailing excursions to other cities, villages, beaches and ancientsites.
The town also has a vibrant nightlife.
Children love to visit these beautiful waterfalls on thenortheast coast of Samos Island, although it is certainly notnecessary to have children along to enjoy this scenic islandattraction. Visitors should follow the road west from Karlovassithat leads towards the harbour, which will bring them to thepristine Potami Beach; just over a mile (2km) further visitors willreach a forest and lake, beyond which there is a series ofwaterfalls. The rambling walk along the river soon becomes anadventure through the forest leading to the waterfall. Swimming inthe small lake is a great way for kids to cool off and there arelovely spots for the folks to sit and relax, or perhaps enjoy apicnic lunch. There are rock valleys and several lovely littlepools and waterfalls to explore. There are some beautiful oldtrees, interesting rock formations and small bridges and visitorsmay even be lucky enough to spot some turtles or other animals. Forthe snap happy, this enchanting little forest provides many photoopportunities as well as fun for the whole family. There is noentry fee; visitors simply ramble into the forest from the beachand enjoy the waterfalls.
The castle of Lykourgos Logothetis is a magnificent example ofdefensive architecture. It is situated to the southwest of the portof Pythagorio, and was built at the beginning of the 19th century,playing a vital role in the Greek Revolution against Turkish rule.The castle was built, with the help of many locals, out of theremains of ancient buildings and monuments, to help repel theinvaders and it became the headquarters of the revolutionarymovement in Samos and the main asset in their defence against theOttoman navy. It is named after the local leader of the revolution.There is a temple next door to the castle which commemorates thevictory of 6 August 1824 when Samos successfully resisted an attackby the Turks - the anniversary is still celebrated at the churchannually. Lykourgos has wonderful views and many interestingarchitectural features. The hill on which the castle is located maybe the oldest acropolis in Samos as a number of prehistoricartefacts have been discovered there, making the whole areacaptivating and rather mysterious. Kids will probably enjoyexploring the castle as much as adults so it makes a good excursionfor the whole family.
The beaches of Santorini are unlike other Greek beaches and havespecial and dramatic geological features like black shining pebblesand unique land formations, coloured by black, white and red sands.The beaches tend to be coves surrounded by steep cliffs which addto their beauty. The waters are deep though, so be cautious. TheRed beach is possibly the most famous and is located near thevillage and ancient site of Akrotiri. It is popular because of thestunning volcanic slabs and colour of its sand, although the sandis not comfortable to sit on so the sun loungers on the beach arenecessary.
Perissa beach, just southeast of Fira, is another favourite andhas an impressively long, black sandy beach with an enormous rockrising out of the sea. For those who prefer a quiet and unspoiltbeach environment, Cape Columbo is one of Santorini's mostbeautiful and most isolated beaches. The waves here are rougherthough so beware of a more dangerous sea. The southeastern beachesof Monolithos, Avis and Kamari are family favourites. At Monolithosbeach kids love the football pitch, basketball court and play area.Trees at the back of the beach provide shaded respite from the sun,and there are also snacks available on the beach.
The island of Skopelos has plenty of beautiful beaches forvisitors to enjoy; in fact, it boasts some of the most beautifulbeaches in Greece. Some of them may be recognisable from the filmMamma Mia which was shot on the island. Most are shingle beacheslapped by clear blue waters, great for snorkelling, fishing andswimming. There are usually sunbeds and umbrellas available at thebeach, and waterfront taverns nearby. It is ideal to hire a boat tosail to private, secluded coves at one's leisure, but by car oreven bus one can still reach lots of great beaches.
Favourite Skopelos beaches include Stafilos, which is just justunder three miles (4km) from Skopelos town, and is a very prettybeach with a bar and a lifeguard. There is parking for cars and thebus does stop at this beach. Panormos is another favourite; the bayboasts one of the most beautiful, natural ports in the world and itis celebrated for its sunsets. Beware that the water on Panormosgets deep quite fast. Milia is considered by many to be the mostattractive beach on the island - it is long and white and has pineforests descending all the way to the beach. The Amarandos covesare also a popular attraction.
The Folklore Museum of Skopelos is housed in a traditionalbuilding, its interior reminiscent of Skopelitian homes of thepast. The museum exhibits local 19th and 20th-century artefactsfocusing on three areas of handiwork practiced traditionally inSkopelos: embroidery, weaving, and handicraft work includingceramics, woodcarving, the making of knives, tools and agriculturalimplements, and folk art paintings. There are also nauticalexhibits and model ships on display, illustrating the proudnautical history of the area. The museum has recreated rooms andoutfits to give visitors an idea of how locals lived and looked incenturies past. It is a small but charming museum and should'nttake much time to explore; it is interesting to walk into this oldhouse and become immersed in the belongings and skilled produce ofpast inhabitants. For those passionate about arts and crafts thisis a must. As the collection is modern and not ancient, thosetourists who wish to explore ancient Greece need not visit.
The National Marine Park of North Sporades is a great attractionfor visitors to Skopelos. The park was the first designated MarinePark in the country and is currently the largest marine protectedarea in Europe. Besides the open ocean, the park includesAlonnisos, six smaller islands (Peristera, Kyra Panagia, Gioura,Psathura, Piperi and Skantzoura), and 22 uninhabited islets androcky outcrops. The waters are a conservation area as they are thebreeding grounds for endangered Mediterranean monk seals. There arealso a number of dolphin and whale species in the area, includingthe striped dolphin and the long-finned pilot whale. The park isvery beautiful and there is lots to explore. One of the mostpopular and beautiful beaches is Agios Dimitrios, a pebble beachwith stunning turquoise water, which has been voted several timesas one of the most lovely beaches in the world. There are manywonderful beaches to explore in the park and several great walkingpaths. On Alonnisos you will find Patitiri port, from where manyboats depart to all the beaches of the island as well as the restof the islands of the Marine Park, where access is permitted. Someareas are kept completely free from human influence.
Located on the northwest coast of Thassos is the major port ofSkala Prinos. Each Monday morning, you'll find locals and touristswandering through the Prinos Sreet Market. The market offers aselection of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a goodassortment of nuts. Leather goods are also available from themarket, as well as shoes and clothes. As with most markets of thiskind there are seldom changing rooms to use for trying on clothesso shoppers have to try on what they can at the stall, or guesstheir size. The market is small enough to feel quaint and friendlybut large enough to have a good bustle and selection of goods.Skala Prinos also has some really lovely sandy beaches withshallow, clear, calm waters which are perfect for children and havegreat views of the mainland. It is wonderful to pop to one of thebeaches after a quick exploration of the market for a refreshingswim.
The history of Thassos is uncovered at the Museum Theologos, setin an old mansion that was the home of the mountain village'sformer mayor, Mr Chatzigeorgiou. The mayor played an essential rolein the revolution against the Turks that took place on the islandin 1821. Exhibits include displays of olive presses, flour mills,tools, looms and chests from the 18th century, as well as somewonderful pictures.
The museum is only one interesting aspect of this fascinatingold town, situated up in the mountains. It is worth visiting justto stroll through the picturesque streets and stumble over all theevidence of antiquity. Theologos used to be the most importantvillage on the island and was both the political and economiccentre of Thassos, which is why the museum is situated here.Theologos was declared a cultural capital by the Greek governmentin 1979, which means that construction or alteration to existingbuildings is limited to preserve the authentic old architecture.The village has also preserved many folk traditions and stillproduces its own olives, vegetables, alcohol and lamb, so that whenyou have a meal at the local taverna you will almost certainly beeating local produce.
Most visitors to Thassos are drawn by the stunning white sandybeaches on the east cost of this island. The more popular beacheshave all the required tourist amenities, but despite this thebeaches have retained their natural beauty and have not been ruinedby crowds or infrastructure. The largest and most popular beach isChrissi Ammoudia (Golden Beach), a sweeping strech of white sandthat is set against the towering slopes of Mount Ipsario, whichrises to 1,200m (4,000 ft). Tripiti Beach, on the south of theisland, is known for its natural bathtub and a cave leading to theAegean Sea. It is a big beach, quite far from the main town, andboasts rich marine life in its waters. Livadi is popular withcampers and backpackers and is a protected cove. Makriammos is abeautiful, long, sandy beach and is a favourite for many - it isalso home to some great mussels. Pefkari has bars, taverns and asmall kiosk, and watersports include banana boat rides, jet-skiingand paragliding. The nudist beach of Paradise is one of the mostbeautiful on the island, as the name suggests. It is notexclusively a nudist beach but nudity is tolerated. The easternbeaches are the calmest and Scala Potamia and Golden Beach are twoof the best for small kids as they are sandy with shallow, calmwaters.
Zante is renowned for unspoilt beaches and rich marine life andit is a great island for nature-lovers. The beaches on the islandare also known for their beautiful emerald green water. The regionof Vassilikos has some of the best beaches on the island and afavourite is St Nicholas, which has great watersports facilities.Gerakas is also very popular, voted one of Greece's best beaches.Gerakas is a long, sandy beach with lovely and unusual rockformations. Many of the holiday resorts have their own beaches forvisitors to enjoy, and these are the Zante beaches with the bestamenities; generally the beaches do not have restaurants and barsbecause their lack of development is their greatest attraction. TheKalamaki, Porto Zoro and Laganas beaches are all beautiful.Loggerhead sea turtles can be seen at Laganas Bay, home to theNational Marine Park. Navagio beach is also a great favourite,famous for its shipwreck: the 'Panagiotis' was wrecked in 1982while smuggling a large cargo of cigarettes and trying to evade acustoms patrol in stormy weather. There is a view point (ofsomewhat dubious stability) from which the wreck can be seen, andthere are also boat trips available to the beach where the shiplies.
Located near a picturesque village called Volimes, the BlueCaves are one of Zakynthos Island's best-loved attractions. Onlyaccessible by boat, these striking rock formations put on anunforgettable show.
Essentially, the caves capture and reflect light in a marvellousvariety of blues. Visitors will enjoy the best displays at sunrise,sunset, or from under water while scuba diving.
Oftentimes, visitors can enjoy round-island boat trips thatinclude the caves and Navagio Beach, with its famous shipwreck.Small, 25-passenger boats are generally more pleasant than300-seaters. As a selling point, they can sail into the caves,which is a magical experience.
Marathonisi is a small island in Laganas Bay, completelyunspoilt by human inhabitants. There are two main beaches on thisisland: the white sands of the larger beach are the nesting area ofthe endangered Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) sea turtle; and thesmaller pebble beach is home to a couple of interesting sea caves.You can swim into these caves, or paddle a boat around them, andthey create a snorkeller's paradise. The Monachus sea seal, also anendangered species, also visits the island to reproduce andvisitors may even be lucky enough to see some of these rareanimals. The natural pine, olive and green oak forests on theisland are another beautiful attraction. There is no development onthe island, which is part of the National Marine Park, and visitorsare advised to take water and supplies for the day. There is alittle picnic snack boat which circles the island and providesrefreshments to visitors but it is best to assume you'll be fendingfor yourself so long as you are on the deserted island. TheNational Park ensures that the beach is empty of people by sunsetso that the turtles, who come ashore at night, are notdisturbed.
Nymphes is a big village with a unique and colourful history.Legend has it that the mythical nymphs would come to bathe in thevillage's waterfalls, giving lucky humans a chance to catch aglimpse. Nymphs were nature spirits in Greek mythology and wereusually portrayed as beautiful, female guardians of nature. Therewere different kinds and the ones at Nymphes would have beenNaiads, guardians of springs and rivers. Nowadays you can stillwalk to and enjoy the scenic waterfalls and wells in this lushsetting; it is easy to imagine the nymphs in this magicallandscape. Other attractions in Nymphes include the nearbymonastery of Askitario, where, according to local tradition, themonk Artemios Paissios lived in the 5th century and worked manymiracles. The Agriculture Co-operative is also interesting and itproduces fruit, and liqueurs and sweets made mostly from thekum-kuat fruit. They will allow you to sample their wares free ofcharge and if you find something you like you can buy it; theselocal treats make for good souvenirs. Other lovely villages tovisit on Corfu include Kynopiastes, Lakones and Roda.
Made popular again by the 2006 film 300, the ancient city ofSparta sits in the middle of the Plains of Laconia in thePeloponnese, which is one of the most historic regions in theworld. Sparta emerged as a political entity around the 10th centuryBC and by 650 BC was rising to be a dominant military power inancient Greece. It was recognised as the leader of the Greek forcesin the Greco-Persian Wars, from which Greece eventually emergedvictorious but at great cost to Sparta, and many other city-states.By 146 BC Sparta had lost its independence to Roman conquest. TheSpartans were fiercely militaristic and their whole way of life wascentred around military training and prowess. The Spartans were alegendary military force, and are still referenced in militarystrategy. At the archaeological site visitors can view theexcavations and ruins and visit the tomb of King Leonidas, thesanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and the Sparta Archaeological Museumin town, as well as view a number of ruins and ancient churches innearby Mystras. The famous battlefield of Thermopylae can alsostill be visited and there are several monuments there to theSpartan force that was wiped out after extreme feats of prowess andbravery, including a monument to King Leonidas.
Santorini is a large wine-producing region, which was helpedalong by a volcanic explosion in 1650 BC. The vines on the islandare very old, and are trained into a distinctive basket shape toprotect them from the elements. Wine has been grown in the regionsince ancient times and has been renowned since as early as theMiddle Ages, when the Venetians made it famous - the Italianinfluence is still detectable in the wine tradition of Santorinitoday. One of the grapes that the region is known for is the sweetVin Santo (or vinsanto) which is dried in the sun before use. Theblended rosé from white grapes likes Athiri, Aidini and Assyrtiko,and red grapes like Mandelaria, is also highly acclaimed.
There are a number of great wineries on the island. Antoniou isvery popular, particularly for weddings, and Boutari is the largestvineyard in the region. Sigalas, which has spectacular views fromtheir patio, is a lovely place to while away a day, and Volcan hasa Wine Museum which will interest fanatics interested in theproduction process and history of the area.
The Museum of Pre-Historic Thera has displays of manyarchaeological finds from the excavations at Akrotiri, includingNeolithic pottery from as far back as 3300 BC. The exhibits attemptto show life in prehistoric times, with tools, metalworkings,pottery, furniture, and other artefacts on display. The exhibitionis laid out in four parts: the history of research at Thera; thegeology of Thera; the island's history from the Late Neolithic tothe Late Cycladic I period (early 17th century BC); and the heydayof the city at Akrotiri (mature Late Cycladic 1 period, 17thcentury BC). Look out for the gold ibex figurine and themagnificent wall paintings, or frescoes, of Ladies and Papyri andof the Blue Monkeys. A visit to this small but interesting museumis a great complement to exploring the archaeological site ofAkrotiri as it provides context and displays the impressiveartefacts discovered at the site. Often tour guides will combinethe site and the museum. The museum is well-organised andinformative and offers a lot of good background information; itconsistently rates well with tourists in reviews.
Voted one of Europe's most beautiful beaches, and voted 12 timesas the most beautiful beach in Greece, Myrtos is one ofCephalonia's most popular attractions. The pebble beach is set afull kilometre below the road, in a dramatic vista of whitelimestone, turquoise sea, and green trees. The beach was used asthe setting for scenes out of the movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin.Just north of Argostoli, the beach is well-maintained and offers asnack bar and sunbed and umbrella rentals. A steep, winding road -with stunning lookout spots and views along the way - leads down tothe beach from the village of Divarata and during peak season thereis a public bus service which runs to the beach from the AgiaEfimia harbour. Because of the pebbles, visitors are advised towear some kind of beach shoes. It's best to get to the beach earlyif you are driving yourself as it is very popular and parking canbecome scarce later in the day. Thankfully, the beach itself seldomfeels too crowded because of its length. It is not the best beachfor young children because the waves can get rather rough andlittle ones are sometimes frustrated by the pebbles.
Cephalonia's caves are popular attractions, each offering aunique experience. In Melissani, visitors are taken in boatsthrough a small channel into a brilliant turquoise subterraneanlake. In Greek mythology caves have always been associated with thedivine and many religious ceremonies were held in caves. It istherefore not surprising that several ancient artefacts have beenfound in the Melissani cave. Melissani is said to be the placewhere the nymph of the same name committed suicide because the godPan would not reciprocate her love. The stalactites within the cavethat look like dolphins are said to be her frozen messengers. It isa beautiful and mysterious place to visit.
Drogarati Cave is much larger and has tours 200 feet (60m) belowthe ground, with lights highlighting spectacular displays oflimestone stalagmites and stalactites. The Drogarati Cave isthought to be about 150 million years old and was traditionallysaid to be the home of a dragon. Drogarati is known for its goodacoustics, and has hosted many concerts from international artistsincluding Maria Callas. The caves are usually both open betweenEaster and the end of October, although Drogarati may be openduring the winter months as well. Both are very well known and easyto find.
The tiny island of Ithaca has a rich history, acting as thescenic backdrop for mythological epics like Homer's Odyssey. Ithacahas been inhabited since the second millennium BC and has beenoccupied or ruled by the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Normans,the Turks, the Venetians and the French, as well as briefly being aBritish protectorate, so the island has a rich and rathertumultuous history. But you would not think so when exploring thelovely countryside: the mountainous interior hides pockets ofcypresses, pines, and olive trees and some of these are ancient;one of the olive trees is thought to be at least 1,500 years old.There are also some Neolithic and Early Hellenic ruins on theisland. Nowadays, Ithaca is home to a number of traditionalvillages, with a few museums and beaches. The best beach isarguably Filiatro, which has olive trees growing all the way downto the shoreline and a peaceful bay which is lovely for swimming.Vathy, also known as Ithaki Town, is the largest town, where manyof the island's roughly 3,000 inhabitants live. The town is apopular port for yachts and other small pleasure cruises in theIonian Islands, and has some good restaurants and shops. In fact,Vathy has one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Ithacais near enough to Cephalonia to make for a fun and interestingexcursion or weekend away.
Aegina is the closest Saronic Gulf Island to Athens. As such,it's almost one of the city's suburbs, offering cosmopolitan shops,restaurants and accommodation.
Formed largely from an extinct volcano, the island was once thetraining place of Achilles' elite fighting unit, the Myrmidons.Today, it boasts a buffet of cultural attractions. Thewell-preserved Temple of Aphaia and the monastery at AgiosNektarios are time-honoured favourites. Visitors also enjoy thepretty town of Perdika, though it's likely to be busy during peakseason.
By ferry, the rugged island is around 40 minutes away fromPiraeus port, and is a wonderful setting for seaside holidays.
Considered the most beautiful island in the Saronic Gulf, Hydrahas a number of pretty towns with not a high-rise building or noisycar in sight thanks to zealous development restrictions. The islandis not named for the mythical beast, the Hydra, but comes from theGreek word for water and pays tribute to the natural springs on theisland. Hydra port is the main village and the pretty,crescent-shaped harbour has some great restaurants, shops andgalleries to entertain visitors. Steep and quaint stone streetslead upwards from the port, pebbled beaches ring Hydra's impressivemansions of wealthy Athenians, and there are worthwhile culturalattractions like the Cathedral of Hydra and the Hydra Museum. Othervillages and hamlets on the island include Mandraki, Kamini,Vlychos, Palamidas, Episkopi and Molos but as no cars are allowedthe only methods of transport are donkeys, bicycles and your owntwo feet. This adds to the charm of the place and it is wonderfulto walk or ride around the island. Though the island is verybeautiful, its longstanding reputation as a weekend getaway spothas obliterated most traditional ways of life in favour of cateringto tourists.
The ancient name of Poros was Pogon and it is actually anisland-pair inclusive of Sphairia, the southern, volcanic islandwhere the modern city is located, and Kalaureia, the larger,northern island. A bridge connects the two islands. Poros,separated from the Peloponnase by only a few hundred metres, is aquiet, wooded island with scenic pine, olive and lemon groves and apretty monastery, as well as two good beaches at Askeli and Neorio.It is lush and mountainous and a popular weekend getaway for localsand tourists. Graves on Poros have been dated to the Mycenaeanperiod and evidence suggests that the island-pair have beeninhabited since the Bronze Age. The Archaeological Museum is wortha visit and houses findings from the Sanctuary of Poseidon andother nearby ancient sites. The city's main landmark is the clocktower built in 1927 and other attractions include Bourtzi Castle,built around 1828, and the original site of the Sanctuary ofPoseidon which dates to roughly 520 BC. The presence of a navaltraining base means that Poros Town's waterfront area is oftenlively and crowded at night. However, many visit Poros simply torelax and enjoy the lovely scenery and beaches.
Spetses is a popular weekend destination in the Saronic Gulf,with towns full of white-washed mansions and fragrant pine forests.Catering more for wealthy travellers than package tourists, theisland's gently rolling hills are good for hiking, and intrepidexplorers will find good swimming holes and beaches. The island'slittle port of Dapia, the first impression visitors get of Spetses,is surrounded by whitewashed, Neoclassical houses and ringed bysmart cafés and stylish boutiques. The highlight of the season inSpetses is the celebration of the Panaghia Armata, which re-enactsan 1822 naval battle between the Greek forces and the TurkishArmada. Although the island is now as peaceful as they come,cannons still line the promenade as testament to its proudmilitaristic past. Part of Spetses's appeal is that the islandremains comparatively undiscovered and travellers still get thefeeling of being somewhere authentic, instead of touristy. Cars arebanned from the central town area so locals still use horse-drawncarriages and bicycles to get around which adds to the charm.Spetses is quite a pricey island, thanks to the upper-classAthenians who retreat here for holidays, but it is a very rewardingone.
Paleokastritsa is one of the most beautiful villages on thebeautiful Corfu and it is frequently included in tours of theisland. This resort area is on the west coast of Corfu island about16 miles (26km) from Corfu Town and consists of six lovely coveswith sandy beaches, surrounded by green forests and olive trees.There is a variety of accommodation here for those who choose tostay. The local tavernas, clustered around the waterfront, arerenowned for serving up the town's delicious lobster catches, andthere are a few bars and clubs that provide after hoursentertainment.
There is a monastery, dating from 1228, on the promontory abouta mile from the beach with a surprisingly nice selection of giftsand handcrafted souvenirs. In one of the cells of the monastery asmall museum has been founded which exhibits the holy relics of themonastery. Magnificent views are obtained from the monasterycomplex and the hills above, particularly from the village ofLakones. A medieval castle, Angelokastro, overlooks the area,sitting on a hilltop which can be reached by a very scenic drivevia the village of Lakones, or on foot, though the walk is arduous.There are several nearby villages worth visiting, andPaleokastritsa is a good base from which to explore Corfu.
Greek Phrase Book
|Me lene�||My name is...||meh leh-nee|
|Poso kani...||How much is...?||poh-soh kah-nee|
|Pou ine?||Where is...?||poo ee-neh|
|Milas Anglika?||Do you speak English?||mee-lahs Ang-lee-kah?|
|Den Katalaveno�||I don�t understand�||then kah-tah-lag-veh-no|
|Ena, dio, tria, tessera, pende||One, two, three, four, five||eea, theeow, treeah, tesserah,pen-de|
|Thelo Yiatros||I need a doctor||Thelo Yia-tros|
Greece's Mediterranean climate gives it long, hot, dry summersand mild, wet winters. Summer temperatures are tempered by breezescalled 'Meltemia', and the Etesian wind which blows north acrossthe Aegean Sea. Rainfall is generally low in most of the countryand heaviest in the mountainous regions, where snow is likely andtemperatures can get severe. Mercury on the mainland regularly hitsthe high spots.
Summer (between June and August) is Greece's peak holiday seasonand draws millions of beach lovers to its gorgeous coastline.Autumn is pleasant for travellers who prefer smaller crowds andmilder conditions, while winter (December to February) sees thecoldest, most variable weather and is the least popular time tovisit. Travellers looking to explore Greece's cultural andhistorical attractions should not be put off by the wintermonths.
Daphne's is one of the most exclusive restaurants in Athens.Generally on the calendar for visiting celebrities and dignitaries,the establishment serves classic and traditional meals in anidyllic setting of tables positioned around a converted mansionhome and a pleasant courtyard.
Tucked neatly into a cosy and intimate corner of Athens, thisFrench bistro delights palates with a small list of French staples.Customers are expected to share benches with others during busyhour, making for a fun way to meet locals.
Voted Greece's best restaurant by the 'Athinorama' Golden Chef'sHat Award on multiple occassions, Spondi will drain wallets butfill stomachs and leave guests wanting more. Operating from acharming 19th-century townhouse with an open courtyard, the venuehas a sense of grandeur tempered by friendly service.
Taverna Tou Psiri is delightfully un-touristy and a favouriteamong locals. Travellers can expect decent, no-frills traditionalfood.
Situated in the Plaka area, Giouvetsakia offers authentic,pocket-friendly Greek cuisine. The small family-run restaurant isknown for its specialty, Giouvetsi, which is a hearty lamb stewdone with orzo in a red sauce. Guests receive a complimentary fruitdish after any meal.
Vlassis is extremely popular among locals. The restaurant relieson traditional recipes from northern Greece and the islands, plusgourmet Mediterranean creations. Pricing is reasonable.
Offering seafood with a uniquely Greek twist, Chef LefterisLazaro creatively combines various Greek wines and olive oil in hisexquisite creations. Situated in the city centre with a strikingview of the Acropolis, this is affluent dining at its best.
Located in Athens, Oroscopo wins over tourists with its range oftraditional and international dishes. All food is prepared withpure Greek ingredients.
The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into100 cents. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs arewidespread.
Greek is the national language, but English is widelyspoken.
Electrical current is 230 volts and 50Hz. A variety ofplugs are in use, including the European-style two-pin and theround three-pin.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for atouristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
British passports endorsed 'British Citizen','British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to theRight of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British OverseasTerritories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid forperiod of intended stay in Greece. All other endorsements requireat least three months validity beyond the period of intended stayin Greece.
A visa is not required for passports endorsed'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate ofEntitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom),and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period forholders of passports with any other endorsement.
Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltarauthorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes underthe authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa tovisit Greece.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. Novisa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180day period.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. Novisa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180day period.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast three months beyond the period of intended stay, and a validSchengen visa, to enter Greece.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival inGreece. No visa is required.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for atouristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast three months beyond the period of intended stay in Greece. Novisa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180day period.
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes thefollowing countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy,Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway,Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, andSwitzerland. All of these countries issue a standard Schengen visathat has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder totravel freely within the borders of all the aforementionedcountries.
Non-EEA travellers to Greece must hold visible means offinancial support to cover their stay in the country - entry may berefused if proof of sufficient funds (at least EUR 50/day) cannotbe shown. It is also recommended that non-EEA members holdreturn/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation fortheir next destination. Passengers not holding onward tickets maybe asked for proof of sufficient funds for their return/onwardjourney. Visitors requiring a visa are also required to havemedical insurance, covering them for their full period of stay inGreece. Note that the admission of visa-free nationals into Greeceis considered upon their arrival in the country. Visitors wishingto extend their stay in the country must register at the AliensPolice Department or at the Security Police Department BEFORE (i)the expiry date of their visa, or (ii) the end of the period ofvisa-free stay. NOTE: It is highly recommended that passports haveat least six months' validity remaining after the intended date ofdeparture from the travel destination. Immigration officials oftenapply different rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.
Travellers don't need to worry about specific health risks whenvisiting Greece. Most health problems come from too much sun andtoo much food or alcohol, though there's also the risk ofencountering sea urchins, jellyfish and mosquitoes.
Medical facilities in major cities are excellent but some of thesmaller islands are a long way from a decent hospital. Larger townsand resorts have English-speaking private doctors and the highlyprofessional local pharmacies can usually deal with any minorcomplaint. Travellers should take along any necessary prescriptionmedication.
Food and water are safe, but those visiting for short periodsshould consider sticking to bottled water. UK nationals areentitled to a refund on emergency hospital treatment under areciprocal agreement between the UK and Greece, and a EuropeanHealth Insurance Card (EHIC) should be taken on holiday for thispurpose.
A service charge is automatically added to most restaurant billsand an additional tip it not expected -- though always welcome.Rounding up the bill is sufficient for drinks at cafes; taxis,porters and cloakroom attendants will expect a tip.
Though Greece is a safe destination, peak tourist season usuallysees a spike in petty theft cases, especially in crowded areas.Visitors should conceal valuables or store them in hotel safes andwatch out for pickpockets. Violent crime is rare but there havebeen incidents on some islands; visitors travelling alone shouldnot accept lifts from strangers.
Storms with gale force winds have struck Greece, causingflooding and landslides in various parts of the country. Affectedregions include Antirion, the Halkidiki peninsula, the island ofRhodes and Kinetta. Strong winds have also caused the cancellationof some ferry services linking the ports in Rafina and Lavrion tothe Cyclades islands.
Though more traditional than the British in some ways, mostGreeks are friendly and welcoming enough to seem intrusive toreserved British tourists. Greeks are also the heaviest smokers inEurope and will often ignore the smoking ban in public places.Swimwear is expected on the beach but tourists should dressproperly in bars and restaurants.
Greeks prefer to dress formally in dark-coloured suits for menand stylish outfits for women. Punctuality is important to themthough meetings may not start immediately. Visitors should offer afirm handshake and maintain eye contact when greeting Greek men andwomen for the first time, and print business cards in both Greekand English. There is no ritual surrounding the exchange ofbusiness cards.
As Greeks like getting to know their colleagues beforeconducting any serious business, it's unlikely a deal will takeshape at the first meeting. The local culture follows ahierarchical structure and visitors should show respect in the sameway. Gift giving is common in social settings but not necessarilyin business.
The international access code for Greece is +30 and the outgoingcode is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 forthe United Kingdom). The city code for Athens is 21; free wifi isavailable at cafes, hotels, restaurants and similar establishmentsthroughout Greece. Purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be acheaper option to paying high international roaming costs.
Travellers visiting from inside the EU can bring in 800cigarettes, or 200 cigars, or 400 cigarillos, or 1kg of tobacco, 10litres of spirits with an alcohol volume over 22 percent, 20 litresof spirits with an alcohol volume under 22 percent, 90 litres ofwine and 110 litres of beer - provided they are for personalconsumption.
Visitors arriving from outside the EU and are over the age of 17will not pay duty for 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 100cigarillos, or 250g of tobacco (if arriving by air), 1 litres ofspirits with an alcohol volume over 22 percent, 2 litres of spiritswith an alcohol volume under 22 percent, 4 litres of wine and 16litres of beer.
Greek National Tourism Organisation, Athens: +30 21 8707000.
Greek Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 9391300.
Greek Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7313 5600.
Greek Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 6271.
Greek Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 348 2352.
Greek Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6271 0100.
Greek Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 676 7254.
Greek Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 7775.
United States Embassy, Athens: +30 21 721 2951.
British Embassy, Athens: +30 21 727 2600.
Canadian Embassy, Athens: +30 21 727 3400.
South African Embassy, Athens: +30 21 617 8020.
Australian Embassy, Athens: +30 21 870 4000.
Irish Embassy, Athens: +30 21 723 2771.
New Zealand Consulate-General, Athens: +30 21 692 4136.
Locals and visitors love Cape Sounion. Around 43 miles (69km)east of Athens, the popular seaside resort is famous in GreekMythology.
Its best-known feature is the 5th-century BC Temple of Poseidon.Perched on the cliffs above the town, it's said to be where KingAegeus waited for his son, Theseus, who'd left to slay the Minotaurof Crete. The story goes that Theseus hoisted the wrong colour sailon his return, convincing his father he'd died fighting theMinotaur. In his grief, the king threw himself from the cliffs andgave the Aegean Sea its name.
Visitors can enjoy some beautiful views from the temple.Otherwise, the cape's coastline is worth exploring and itsrestaurants are good.
This great Byzantine architectural masterpiece dates from the11th century AD and has been called the most perfect monument ofthat century. The monastery was built on the site of an ancientTemple of Apollo and one surviving column can be seen near theentrance. It is situated about five and a half miles (9km) west ofAthens on the road to Corinth. The church and monastery havesuffered the ravages of invaders and earthquakes through thecenturies. During the Crusades Cistercian monks turned Daphni intoa Catholic monastery, but today it has been reclaimed by the GreekOrthodox Church and its beautiful mosaic work depicting Biblicalscenes has been restored. In between the monastery has had aneventful history - during the War of Independence it was officiallydeconsecrated and used as a barracks and even as a lunatic asylum.The monastery was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in1990.
Tragically, the monastery was heavily damaged by the 1999 Athensearthquake and is still not completely open to visitors asrestoration work continues with no set date of completion. However,you can still visit the monastery and see the mosaics through allthe scaffolding. It is best to phone ahead to see if they are opento visitors and when you arrive you will probably have to ring thebell and be buzzed in.
About 26 miles (42km) northeast of Athens, between the villagesof Nea Makri and Marathona, is the site of the great battle betweenthe small force of Athenians and the mighty Persian army in 490 BC.On the plain of Marathon today the burial mound of the 192Athenians who fell in the fight can be seen, along with a smallmuseum displaying archaeological relics from the battlefield. Thebattle is famed not only for the Athenian victory against hugeodds, but also for the fleetness of the Athenian runner,Pheidippides, who was dispatched to Athens with news of the victoryand fell dead from exhaustion after delivering the message to thecity; thus the name 'Marathon' was given to long-distance runningraces. The marathon race in the 2004 Olympics started here, andfollowed the same route as that run by Pheidippedes in the legend,ending at the Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens, which was built forthe first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Marathon remains one of themost famous battlefields in the world and a visit to the site is amust for anybody with an interest in military history.
Situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was home toClassical Greece's most important oracle. The country's ancientpeople visited the site to worship the god Apollo.
Pilgrims came from all over the Classical Greek world to seekApollo's advice via his oracle. The area also hosted the PythianGames. Held every four years, they attracted famous athletes fromall over the Ancient Greek world. They were one of the fourPanhellenic games, which are considered precursors of the modernOlympics.
Today, travellers hike up the Sacred Way much as ancientpilgrims did, and marvel at the site's fantastic ruins. Theyinclude the marble Sanctuary of Apollo, the Castalian Spring andthe Sanctuary of Athena. Many visit the site's excellentmuseum.
Scenically, Delphi is spectacular and presents enviablephotographic opportunities. Given how extensive the site is, it'sideal to stay overnight.
The Saronic group of islands are all within an hour or two ofPiraeus by boat, making them ideal destinations for day trips fromthe city for those who want to experience a taste of Greek islandlife. Alternatively, visitors can use the islands as tranquil baseson which to stay while commuting to Athens to see the sights.Aegina is the closest island, sporting a sandy beach called AgiaMarina, and a quaint fishing village called Perdika. Hydra has nosandy beaches, but the town is picturesque and offers good seafoodrestaurants. Poros can be reached from Piraeus in little more thanan hour and sports beautiful forests that descend to the beach. Itoffers watersports opportunities and a lively café scene, as wellas being a ferry hub offering connections to all the popular Aegeanislands. Spetsi has an attractive old harbour and one of the oldestwooden boat-building yards in Greece. It is also renowned for itsbeaches and pine forests.
Piraeus port may be a little confusing or overwhelming at firstbut it is also exciting and the boat trips to the islands areusually wonderful experiences in themselves: most of the touristboats use the Zea Limani section of the port.
Only men are welcome to make a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, thesecretive 'Shangri-La' on a rugged promontory about 80 miles(129km) southeast of Thessaloniki. Here it is possible to step backin time and mingle with hundreds of monks, from more than 20monasteries, in one of the most scenic spots in Europe. Thisunique, mountainous enclave on the coast is sprinkled with hugemonasteries, most resembling castles, containing wonderfulfrescoes, mosaics and libraries. There are also smaller monasteriesknown as kelions attached to small churches, as well as caves onthe mountain slopes where monks retreat as hermits. There areforests and pristine seashore, and beautiful gardens cared for bythe monks. It is a truly astounding area to explore and there isnowhere quite like it in the world; unsurprisingly, it is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. Mount Athos is a self-governing area withinGreece, and to visit it is necessary to obtain a permit from theMinistry of Foreign Affairs in Athens, or from the Ministry ofNorthern Greece in Thessaloniki. Women will unfortunately be unableto obtain such a permit, and the amount of visitors allowed dailyis limited.
Vergina, known in ancient times as Aigai, is the most importantof a cluster of three archaeological sites in the area connectedwith Philip, father of Alexander the Great. Vergina is where Philipbuilt a massive palace and a theatre, and where he was assassinatedin 336 BC. The palace has been excavated, as has the theatre, andthe site also features hundreds of burial mounds, some dating fromthe Iron Age, across the plain. The tomb of Philip was found hereundisturbed in 1977, full of treasures that are now on display inThessaloniki's Archaeological Museum. The vast palace is full ofamazing mosaics and paintings and is really exciting to explore, asare the tombs, which are surrounded by a museum and can be seen inall their ancient splendour. The site of ancient Aigai has beendeclared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a privilege to explorefor those with an interest in ancient history and archaeology.Nearby is Pella, the remains of the former capital of Macedoniafrom the 5th century, where Alexander the Great was born; and Dion,an important religious sanctuary once frequented by Philip andAlexander.
Towering above ancient Dion, about 48 miles (77km) south ofThessaloniki, is Greece's highest mountain, Mount Olympus, home tosome of the famed Gods of Greek mythology. Olympus was theresidence of the divine family, the twelve most important rulinggods and goddesses of ancient Greece, who therefore were called theOlympians. Olympus was not heaven but a dwelling place of the gods.The mountain is rich in tree and plant life, supporting more than1,700 species, some very rare, and it is part of a National Parkand a World's Biosphere Reserve. The main village in the area isLitohoro, which is connected to Athens and Thessaloniki by bus andtrain, and has been nicknamed the 'City of Gods' due to itslocation beneath the mountain. It is possible to climb the highestpeak in about two days, and almost the whole hike is non-technicaland can be done without experience or special equipment, alongnumerous mountain trails. However, the final ascent to the summitof Mytikas, the highest of Mount Olympus's 52 peaks, is a class 3rock scramble and requires some skill and experience. About 10,000people climb the mountain every year but most only reach the Skoliosummit. Hikers generally set out from Litochoro.