Top 15 Amazing Things to Do in Greece for First Time Visitors

Greece is one of the largest open-air museums in the world with its rich history, archeology, art, and philosophy, displayed everywhere throughout the country.

The well-preserved ancient ruins amidst the jet blue sea never fail to enchant the locals and visitors. From vibrant cities to serene islands the diverse landscapes in this country have got something in store for every traveler.

Best Things to Do in Greece

There’s so much to discover in this multi-faceted country that it might get overwhelming for you to sort your traveling plans and decide on what you must do to make the most out of your trip. To ease your dilemma, we are here with the top suggestions of things you must do in Greece. 

1. Explore the Acropolis

Acropolis is probably one of the topmost tourist attractions (a 5th Century BC complex). The historic landmark is made of shiny marble which used to be the site of the magnificent statue of Athena, the goddess of Athens. The site of Acropolis has several ancient structures including Erechtheion, Parthenon, Propylaia, the Old Temple of Athena, and the Temple of Athena Nike.  

The visiting hours are from 8 am to 5 pm every day. The entry to the site has a fee of 20 euros, with a reduction to 10 euros during the off-season (from the beginning of November to the end of March). If you would like to have access to six other archaeological sites, you’d have to pay 30 euros (with a reduction to 15 euros during off-season).

There’s so much to admire in these various monuments that the ticket is worth it. Also, you get to witness breathtaking views of the city below. 

Explore the Acropolis
Source: Shutterstock

2. Watch the Sunset in Santorini

Also known as the Island of Thira, Santorini is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world especially popular among newlyweds. Although picture-perfect Island is the result of extreme volcanic activities during ancient times, the breathtaking views of the rocky caldera (located 335 meters above sea level) and the Aegean Sea have made it renowned in the world.

The Cycladic homes shine bright under the hot sun that leads to multi-colored skies during the sunset. The most popular sites for spectacular sunset watching are the towns of Fira and La that are situated on the top of the island. To avoid crowds, we’d suggest you go there during the following months – April, May, September, and October.  

If you are planning to stay in Santorini for just a few days, the best way to get there would be by flight since the ferry takes 5 to 8 hours (depending on the one you choose) and that would cut down your stay time significantly. 

Santorini
Source: Andrew Mayovskyy / Shuttershock

3. Tour the Monasteries of Meteora

Listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, Meteora is packed with ancient rock formations constructed with boulders and monolithic pillars. The formation of Meteora is a result of the erosion caused by the inland sea. 

Six spectacular monasteries were built on top of some of these rock formations. Until the 1920s, the only way you could reach the monasteries is by using cables and pulleys. But since then, stairs have been carefully carved into the stone for visitors to enjoy the out of the world views. The entry ticket for each of these monasteries costs 3 euros.

Each monastery is more beautiful than the other that will leave you awestruck with its structures. The largest one out of the six is the Monastery of the Great Meteoron, seated on a 2000 feet high hill. If not all the six, this one is a must-visit out of the monasteries in Meteora. 

Monasteries of Meteora
Source: Shuttershock

4. Visit the Sanctuaries in Delphi 

History buffs should check out the archaeological site, Delphi, which has gained its fame as a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. Delphi was considered as the center of the world in ancient Greece thereby, holding a lot of importance for the Greeks. 

The sanctuaries in Delphi have one of the most concentrated ancient ruins in the whole world. About 2.5 hours away from Athens, this incredible natural beauty is worth a visit.

The two places you must visit here are the theatre and the stadium where the Pythic games took place and the gorgeous Temple of Apollo. With an entrance fee, you will also have access to the Delphi Museum where you can see the most treasurable collections of ancient Greek art. Also, if you have time, check out the picturesque village of Aráchova.

Sanctuaries in Delphi
Source: Shuttershock

5. Sunbathe at the Psarou Beach 

Famous for its signature blue lounge chairs, the Psarou beach at Mykonos is one of the most popular beaches in Greece. Favored by party goers, the beach is lined with an array of bars and restaurants which you can enjoy throughout the night too.  

During the day, you must sunbathe under the bright blue sky with a view of crystal clear water upfront, but it comes at a cost. The sunbeds are usually 25 euros, depending on how close they are positioned to the sea. However, the water isn’t too deep, so it is ideal for a swim. 

The easiest way to go to the beach is by a bus that departs from the Fabrika terminal in Mykonos. You may check this out for further details. 

Psarou Beach
Source: MevZup / Shutterstock.com

6. Climb Mount Olympus 

Placed almost 2,918 meters high, Mount Olympus is the tallest mountain in Greece and one of the most famous ones in the whole world. If you are a fan of Greek mythology, you shouldn’t miss out experiencing the spot where two important events took place – Hades ruled the underworld, and Zeus occupied the throne. It is also a stage for the trials and hardships of 12 Olympian Gods. 

To climb Mount Olympus, you need to start your journey at Litochoro from where you can either choose to cover a part of the trek or climb up depending on your stamina.  

Your inspiration could be the five renowned trail runs that Mount Olympus hosts (ranging from 22 km to 100 km). The runners usually relax at the Litochoro beach after completing the races. 

Mount Olympus
Source: Shuttershock

7. Visit the Palace of Knossos

Located just outside Heraklion, the Palace of Knossos is the ideal place that portrays Crete’s ancient Minoan civilization. Around 5,000 years ago, this region was dominated by them. The Palace of Knossos was built around 3400 to 2100 BC to match the wealth and glory of the Minoan people. They were known for trading well-crafted and unique ceramics with Egypt and Asia Minor. 

Around 1700 BC, the palace was ruined by an earthquake which was converted into a more exquisite complex later. However, that did not last as around1400 BC, it was destroyed by fire. The everyday rituals and unique artistic abilities of the Minoan civilization are displayed in the form of jewelry, frescos, and pottery, at the archaeological museum in Heraklion. 

So if you’re in the area, make sure you visit the remains of the Palace of Knossos, as well as the museum to fully grasp the mystery of the Minoan Civilization. It’s advisable to take a 55-minute flight from Athens to Crete over the ferry which would take more than 8 hours. 

Knossos
Source: Banepetkovic/ Dreamstime.com

8. Explore the Modern City of Athens

A trip to Greece will not suffice unless you tour the city of the capital, Athens. Although it is one of the oldest cities, it seems quite the opposite. The modern city is crowded with ancient monuments so any type of traveler will enjoy their time there, be it urban environment lovers, or history buffs. 

There’s so much to do in this all-around city. But few places you must check out include the National Garden which is the biggest public park in Athens, National Archeological Museum that has a huge collection of Greek antics, and the Syntagma Square where you can witness the changing of guard ceremony (every hour. 

Also, shopping lovers must check out the variety of options in Ermou Street, and if you’re looking for souvenirs, go to the Sunday flea market at Monastiraki neighborhood. 

Modern City of Athens
Source: independent.co.uk

9. Explore the Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese Islands have a strong influence by the Ottoman and are quite close to the Turkish coast. They are an accumulation of 160 islands out of which only a few are inhabited including Leros, Symi, Patmos, Lipsi, Tilos, Rhodes, and more. 

Rhodes is the oldest populated medieval town and the largest among the Dodecanese Islands. The town is designed with cobbled streets, fortified walls, and beautifully restored ancient buildings. The must-visit places in Rhodes are the Street of Knights and the Palace of the Grandmaster. It’ll all seem like a “real life” movie set! 

You can take an hour’s flight from Athens to Rhodes. After exploring Rhodes you can hop onto the ferry to Symi which is another coastal town worth checking out! The Rhodes-Symi ferry should take you about an hour and 15 minutes and operates twice daily. 

Dodecanese Islands
Source: Ianswool/ Dreamstime.com

10. Fall in Love with Mystras

Mystras, being one of the former capitals of the Byzantine Empire, has a profound history that has left it in an advanced state of decay for quite a long time now. Situated on the Taygetus mountain it is one of the most incredible archaeological sites of the Peloponnese and it has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The city is divided into two parts, the upper and the lower part thereby, allowing two entries. Mystras is about 10 km away from Sparta so it’s advisable to stay there. You can start early so that you can get the most out of Mystras throughout the day, but make sure to carry a pair of sneakers or hiking shoes to grasp the full potential of the site by climbing the mountain.

Apart from that, you can also enjoy the beauty of the fortress and the castle as well as monasteries and churches with intricate architecture. 

Mystras
Source: www.greekboston.com

11. Ski or Hike at the Mount Parnassos National Park 

The Mount Parnassos National Park covers a vast area of 14,570 hectares, a home to a diverse range of plants and animals. Located near the former areas of Delphi, the site is mainly known for multiple ski resorts as well as hiking trails. 

The Parnassos Ski Center is the biggest ski resort in Greece with two areas that offers lifts, Kellaria and Fterolakas. The area covers a total of 34 km with 21 pistes, 7 ski routes, and 5 connective trails. You can also check out the Snow Fun parks at either of these locations. 

What’s amazing about skiing in Mount Parnassos National Park is that you can get a chance to ski with a view of the Gulf of Corinth or the Euboean Gulf. This will elevate your experience to a whole new level. 

For hike enthusiasts, a way to make it more interesting is by opting for the night hike under the full moon. You may contact parnassos@trekking.gr for further details.  

Mount Parnassos National Park
Source: onparnassos.gr

12. Enjoy the Best Nightlife in Thessaloniki

Located in the north of Greece, Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of the country with a variety of options to explore. It’s a lively city with a multicultural history and the best nightlife in the whole of Greece.

Make sure you try at least one of the following nightclubs – Club division (for electronic music), Matter Club (for easy accessibility through public transport), and La Rosa Negra (for Latin music). 

The contrasting day time can be utilized by exploring the Archaeological Museum, or taking a stroll at the promenade of Thermaikos. Shopping lovers should check out Vis Egnata or Modiano Market. Also, make sure you devour the delicious dishes based on daily formed menus at Negroponte and the oriental flavors at Molyvos. 

Nightlife in Thessaloniki
Source: Leonid Andronov / Shuttershock

13. Take in the Breathtaking View in Nafplio 

Nafplio is a picture-perfect coastal town overlooked by three fortresses in the Peloponnese. It was the first capital of the Modern Greek State, still retaining its picturesque character. Every street provides you a view of ancient fortification walls with bright flowers lining the perimeters. 

If you want to witness stunning views, you should climb up the 900 steps Palamidi Fortress which is open every day from 8:30 am to 3 pm. But make sure you stay hydrated and use your sunblock. When you’re tired of all the walking you can take a ride on the vibrant city tour train and enjoy the sunset at the seafront promenade. 

History lovers should explore the Komboloi Museum, the Archaeological Museum, and the War Museum. Also, do not miss out on trying traditional Greek meals in any restaurant in the town or by the sea. They are all great!

Nafplio
Source: Psychni / Dreamstime.com 

14. Explore the North Aegean Islands

The North Aegean Islands are a group of natural creations that cover the most beautiful villages and beaches. For an oriental influence visit Lesbos which is a picturesque village with paved alleys. Icaria has the most stunning beach out of the Aegean Islands. The inhabitants of this village host a traditional festival which involves dances and alcohol. 

The other islands are Lemnos which is a volcanic island with large sandy beaches, Chios, which is a medieval village with scenic beaches, and Samos which is famous for small coves. 

You can visit the North Aegean Islands easily from Athens by taking the subway or the bus which will take you a little over an hour. 

North Aegean Islands
Source: antelope-travel.com

15. Discover the Fortress Town of Monemvasia 

Do you want to travel to five centuries back? Monemvasia is the perfect place for you. This rock-island fortress town will provide you an experience like no other with it stunning views of the bay, the narrow alleyways, and the old ruins. 

You must walk through the paved alleys in the lower town which is filled with tiny shops and restaurants. For the scenic view of the cliffs, the city, and the sea, you must go up to the fortress. 

You can either go to Monemvasia by flight from Athens in 45 minutes or rent a car which would take you about 4 hours. If you’re choosing the second option, park your car in the parking lot that is just after the sea wall. You can take the shuttle bus from there to go to the citadel. So, select either the flight or car depending on how much time you have allocated for Monemvasia on your Greece trip.  

Monemvasia
Source: Milan Gonda / Shuttershock

Conclusion 

From the many possibilities of things to do in Greece, you can choose the ones that fit your travel duration. If you are there for less than a week, try covering the options that are at proximity.

However, if you have ample time in your hand, make sure to do all the things featured in this article because they all fall under dream vacation destinations.

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