Der Blick auf den Ort Monemvasia
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Things to do in Greece: 12 breathtaking places you must see [with map]

Greece is one of the favorite destinations of the Germans - no wonder with the variety of sights in Greece . In this article, I will show you that Greece is more than just sun, sea, and ouzo.

I will take you on a journey through a country whose culture, nature, and mentality I have fallen in love with and which will also enchant you. On top of that, there are more insider tips , secret places , and interesting facts .

Together we will visit the Vikos gorge , the Metéora monasteries , my favorite city Athens , Santorini , Rhodes , and many other sights.

Created on26.02.2023
Phototravellers-Autorin Nathalie

The top sights at a glance

We tell you the top attractions in Greece. You want to know what you can do in the beautiful Mediterranean country? Then come with us to one of the most exciting countries in Europe. Here you will find our top sights to see at a glance.

These picturesque places of longing should definitely be on your bucket list.

The view of Monemvasia
We now tell you the most beautiful sights in Greece. Places you have to see
  1. Athens with the Acropolis
  2. Metéora monasteries
  3. Navagio Bay on Zakynthos
  4. Ruins of Delphi
  5. Santorini
  6. Olympia
  7. Vikos gorge
  8. Monemvasia
  9. Olympus
  10. Corinth Canal
  11. Rhodes
  12. Palace of Knossos on Crete

Map: The most beautiful things to see in Greece

On our interactive map, you will find the top sights in Greece at a glance. Have fun discovering the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean country.

[mapsmarker map=”150″]

1. Athens with the Acropolis

Of course, a trip to Greece should not be without a detour to the capital. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and will captivate you with its ancient flair.

The landmark of the Greek metropolis is the Acropolis. The famous castle mountain looks back on 2500 years of history and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The main attraction is the Parthenon, a marble temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.

Der Blick auf die Akropolis in Athen am MorgenThe Acropolis is one of the top things to do in Athens – and in all of Greece. Especially beautiful is the view of the imposing structure in the morning- it’s definitely one of the best things to see there!
Die Akropolis in Athen im AbendlichtAlso in the evening light, the Acropolis can inspire

Also very worth seeing is the modern Acropolis Museum at the foot of the Acropolis, which houses many exciting exhibits from the Persian period and antiquity.

Nearby is also the Old Agora, where the entire political, economic and social life of the Athenians once took place. Accordingly, the 2500-year-old marketplace served as a gathering place for discussions and elections, a trading place, and a social meeting place.

Of the former 30 buildings, you can still admire two: the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved temples in Greece, and the Stoa of Attalos, which impresses with its 116-meter-long porticoes.

From the Agora, it’s only a stone’s throw to the lively shopping district of Monastiraki, which resembles one big flea market. The old town district of Plaka is quieter, where you can stroll through the picturesque alleys and fortify yourself in one of the small tavernas.

A particularly beautiful view of Athens and the Acropolis can be enjoyed from Athens’ local mountain, the 277-meter-high Lycabettus (Lykavittós), on whose summit the chapel of Ágios Geórgios is enthroned. There is also a restaurant up here with a magnificent view. There are several hiking trails and a funicular leading to the summit.

The view of Lykavittós with the chapel Ágios Geórgios
The Lykavittós is almost something like an insider tip and is a really cool place to go. Despite the great view, it’s comparatively quiet at the summit

Well, is the flight to Athens already booked? Another tip: book a guided Urban street art tour on-site*. You will be thrilled.

2. Metéora Monasteries

Near the town of Kalambaka in the heart of Greece, you’ll find the Metéora Monasteries, one of the most enchanting things to do in all of Europe. They perch majestically on high sandstone cliffs and seem to float in the mist – hence the name Metéora, which means “to lift up into the air.”

The Metamórphosis Monastery and the Varlaám Monastery in Meteora from the air
The monasteries of Metéora are absolutely impressive and are definitely among the most beautiful places to visit in all of Greece

The first Metéora monastery was built as early as the 13th century, but the monasteries’ heyday did not begin until 1334 when the monk Athanasios fled to Metéora from the

monastic republic of Athos. In the course of the 14th century, he founded the monastery of Metamórphosis, the largest floating monastery to this day, and determined the rules of monastic life that would apply from then on.

Accordingly, the monks and nuns here live cenobitically, that is, in close community, without possessions and shielded from the outside world. Since 1988, the Méteora monasteries, built on cliffs several hundred meters high, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Of the total of 24 monasteries, you can still visit six today, where monks and nuns continue to live. In the meantime, they can be reached via stairs; in the past, you still had to climb up a rope.

Speaking of climbing, the Metéora rocks are also a popular climbing destination for adrenaline junkies. In 2001, base jumper Felix Baumgartner – internationally known for his stratospheric jump – jumped off a 120-meter-high rock here.

In view of the breathtaking panorama, the floating monasteries of Metéora have also served as a film set for classics such as Tintin and the Secret of the Golden Fleece (1961) and James Bond 007 – On a Deadly Mission (1981).

An aerial view of the Metéora Monasteries
The Metéora Monasteries are an unusual thing to do in Greece and will enchant you – I promise!

See the magic of the place for yourself but be sure to wear appropriate clothing when exploring – wear long pants and cover your shoulders! There is a clothing check at the entrance. In case of emergency, if you are a woman, you can buy a scarf to cover your legs or shoulders. Women have to wear a (long) skirt or put a cloth around their waist.

And another exciting fact: in one of the rock caves, more precisely at the entrance of the Theopetra Cave, there is the oldest man-made structure in the world: a stone wall that is a whopping 23,000 years old. A visit to the Méteora Monasteries is truly a superlative excursion.

3. Navagio Bay on Zakynthos

Off the east coast of the Peloponnese lies the island of Zakynthos, where you can find probably the most beautiful and most photographed beach in all of Greece: Navagio Bay. The reason for this is not only the azure blue water and white sand surrounded by steep cliffs but also the rusty shipwreck on the beach.

The Navagio bay with the shipwreck on the beach on Zakynthos
Navagio Bay with the shipwreck is now one of the most famous things to do in Greece

In October 1980, the smuggler ship “Panagiotis” beached here after being pursued by the Coast Guard and shipwrecked due to the stormy waves. This is where the name “Navagio” comes from, which means “shipwreck”.

Since then, Smuggler’s Bay attracts many tourists every day – no wonder with this

enchanting panorama. However, you shouldn’t venture too close to the cliff, as there was a rock fall in September 2018.

The viewpoint above the bay offers the ultimate postcard motif. For the all-inclusive Pirates of the Caribbean experience, you’ll have to embark on a boat adventure, as the beach is only accessible from the sea.

Tip: Early morning or late afternoon is your best chance to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy the gorgeous scenery in peace.

Recommended travel guide for your trip to Greece

For even more inspiration and insider tips on the country and its people, I highly recommend this travel guide. It offers everything you need to go on your own personal journey of discovery in Greece. Have a look at the Lonely Planet Greece travel guide (get it here*) and also I recommend to you the Fodor’s Essential Greece: with the Best of the Islands (buy it here*).

4. Ruins of Delphi

Another famous mythical site is the ruins of Delphi. The excavation site is beautifully located on the slopes of the Parnassus Mountains and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

The theater in ancient Delphi
What else to do in Greece? Delphi is one of the most impressive ancient sites and one of the coolest things to do in Greece. No Greece fan should miss this highlight

Delphi was revered in ancient times as the center of the world. Of particular importance was the oracle, which was dedicated to Apollo and was consulted especially before important undertakings such as wars. The priestess Pythia, who was the only woman with access to the temple of Apollo, served as the god’s medium.

However, Delphi was not only a place of divination but also the site of the Pythian Games, which were considered the second most important Panhellenic Games of antiquity after the Olympic Games and were held every four years in honor of Apollo.

Disciplines included musical and athletic contests, with singing to the cithara in the theater, gymnastic competitions in the stadium at Delphi, and horse races on the plain at Krissa.

During a visit to the excavation site, you can admire, among other things, the ruins of the sanctuary of Apollo with its temple and treasure houses. In addition, there is the picturesque mountain panorama in which the holy place is located.

In the neighboring Delphi Archaeological Museum, you will also find the most important excavation pieces such as the statue of the charioteer of Delphi and the omphalos, which marked the “navel of the world” at the temple of Apollo.

As you can see, a trip to Delphi is not only worthwhile for history buffs. With a good chance, you might even get a glimpse of the future.

Tip: On March 6, April 18, May 18, the last weekend in September, October 28, and every first Sunday from November 1 to March 1, you get free admission to the excavation site and the museum.

5. Santorini

White houses, blue domes, beautiful sunsets: Santorini (Santorini) is considered the Greek island paradise par excellence. The volcanic island belongs to the Cyclades and offers breathtaking sights. A visit here is a wonderful thing to do in Greece!

Blue and white church in Santorini
What’s to see in Santorini? Typical for the Cyclades: Churches with blue domes

What’s in Santorini to do? Probably the most popular attraction on Santorini is the village of Oia, where you can admire the famous blue and white architecture and take the typical Instagram photo. Also located on the cliff is the main town of Fira, which will delight you with its great views of the sea and the caldera – the volcanic crater.

At least as picturesque but less touristy are the small villages of Imerovigli and Pygros, which enchant with their winding alleys and the blue-white townscape.

Archaeology fans should not miss a visit to the excavation site of the ancient city of Old Thera on the mountain Mesa Vouno, which was inhabited from the 9th century BC to 726 AD. In that year it was buried with pumice during a volcanic eruption and abandoned a little later.

Speaking of volcanoes, the two volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, which lie in the caldera and can be easily reached by excursion boat, are also a highlight. On Nea Kameni, you can climb the almost 130-meter-high volcanic crater, which still emits sulfurous smoke. In front of both islands, there are warm underground springs that invite you to a relaxing swim.

A detour to Santorini’s beaches is also worthwhile: these offer not only cooling off in the clear water but also black and, in the case of the Red Beach, even red pebble sand made of lava rock. What else can you say except “wow, let’s go”?

Church of Blessed Virgin Mary in Firostefani on Santorini
Where to visit this postcard motive? In Santorini! This sight is called: Assumption of the blessed virgin Mary

6. Olympia

Continue to the Peloponnese peninsula, where you should not miss the ancient city of Olympia. The sanctuary was built around the middle of the 11th century BC in honor of Zeus, the father of the gods, and served as an oracle and venue for the ancient Olympic Games.

The stone gate to the ancient stadium in Olympia
Athletes entered the ancient Olympic stadium through this stone gate. Simply incredible!

However, in order to combat paganism, the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II had the

games and dedication ceremonies banned in 426 AD. Presumably, the games nevertheless continued in secret until an earthquake in 551 destroyed most of the sacred site.

In the course of the following two centuries, Olympia was covered by a layer of sand up to five meters high and was only rediscovered in 1766 and excavated in 1874. In the meantime, the sanctuary has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nowadays you can visit the ancient cult site and explore the ruins of the buildings. Among the most important monuments is the Temple of Zeus, which was the largest temple in the Peloponnese in its time. Inside was once the statue of Zeus by Phidias, over 12 meters high, made of gold and ivory, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Other sights include the workshop of Phidias, who made the statue of Zeus there, and the Temple of Hera, the oldest temple in the sanctuary. At the altar of Hera, since 1936, the Olympic flame is lit for the Olympic Games of the modern era and then brought to the respective venue by torch relay.

When you’re out and about in Olympia, be sure to check out the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games. Here you can learn a lot of interesting facts about the Olympic Games and also admire impressive statues.

Statues in the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games
The Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games with its impressive statues is an amazing thing to do in Greece!

If you also feel like doing some sports, a picturesque hike in the hilly surroundings of Olympia is worthwhile.

Tip: As with the ruins of Delphi, admission is free on the following days: March 6, April 18, May 18, the last weekend in September, October 28, and every first Sunday from November 1 to March 1.

Video: Our highlights in the Peloponnese

7. Vikos Gorge

Our journey now takes us to the northwest of Greece, more precisely to the picturesque Pindos Mountains, home to one of the most beautiful natural highlights of the entire country. We are talking about the Vikos Gorge, which stretches over a length of ten kilometers between the villages of Monodendri and Vikos and whose rugged limestone walls drop almost vertically down to a depth of 1000 meters. It’s definitely a fun thing to do in Greece!

Already the approach to the viewpoint Oxya (Google Maps) is an experience. The winding road (which is never very narrow and offers enough space for two cars) leads you through a breathtaking landscape. By the way, there are some very good and popular restaurants along the way. From the parking lot, it’s only a few minutes walk to the spectacular viewpoint.

The view of the Vikos gorge
The Vikos Gorge is considered the deepest gorge in the world and is a top highlight on a sightseeing tour in Greece

According to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the deepest gorge in the world – measured by the ratio of the biggest depth to the smallest width. Vikos Gorge is part of the Vikos Aoos National Park, which is the purest paradise for nature lovers. During an adventurous hike through the spectacular gorge, you can enjoy the untouched landscape and with a little luck even observe vultures and eagles.

A hiking destination worth seeing in the area is the Paraskevi Monastery, which was founded in the 15th century and inspires by a breathtaking view of the gorge. A very special thrill is offered by the Veli rock near Vradeto, where you can look down on two gorges at once. Do you dare to go to the edge of the rock?

8. Monemvasia

The medieval town of Monemvasia is a must-do in Greece. Located off the coast of Laconia in the southeast of the Peloponnese peninsula, Monemvasia is one of the most beautiful places in Greece.

The place Monemvasia from the air
Monemvasia is spectacularly situated on the flank of this mighty rocky island and is a cool thing to do in Greece!

The town was an important base in the Byzantine Empire. Monemvasia has completely preserved its medieval charm. Within the old city walls, you feel transported back to a bygone era.

It’s simply fun to stroll through the narrow streets (cars must be parked outside the city walls). Around every corner, there is something new to discover.

Also worthwhile is a detour to the upper town, from which you have a great view down to Monemvasia.

The view from the upper town to Monemvasia
A hiking trail leads to the dilapidated upper town. From here you have a great view of Monemvasia- a great activity to do in Greece!

9. Olympus

If you are into mythology and nature, Olympus should be at the top of your list. The legendary seat of the Greek gods is also Greece’s highest mountain and is located on the east coast of the country.

Mount Olympus in Greece
Mount Olympus in Greece- a wonderful thing to do in Greece! – Photo: Depositphotos by Panos_Karas

For hikers and mountaineers, Mount Olympus is heaven on earth. What to see at Mount Olympus? On the various routes through the limestone massif, you can not only follow in the footsteps of the gods but also admire its unique flora and fauna.

These include about 30 species of orchids and many rare species of mammals and birds such as chamois, wild cats, and birds of prey. Due to its rich flora and fauna, Mount Olympus has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981.

Good starting points for a mountain tour are the picturesque mountain village Litochoro and the village Dion, where you can visit the excavations of an ancient city. If you decide to walk from Litochoro to Prionia, you will pass the important monastery of Agios Dionysios.

If you are planning a longer hike, an overnight stay in one of the mountain huts is a good option. However, you should always bring the right equipment and not overestimate your fitness. Thus, the ascent of Mytikas, which at 2918 meters is the highest peak of Mount Olympus, is only something for experienced climbers.

10. Corinth Canal

Our next stop is the Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese peninsula from the Greek mainland. It was built between 1881 and 1893 and since then it connects the Saronic Gulf with the Corinthian Gulf. Thanks to the 6.3-kilometer-long canal, the sea route for ships is shortened by up to 325 kilometers. It’s a really cool thing to do in Greece!

The view of the Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal is a technical masterpiece. Those who have not seen this highlight with their own eyes, will not believe it. It’s one of the best places to see in Greece!

Although the canal was built at the end of the 19th century, the idea goes back more than 2600 years. Already the Roman emperors Caligula and Nero tried to create an artificial shipping route. After the failed projects of antiquity, a successful breakthrough came only with industrialization.

Due to its narrowness, only narrow ships with a width of up to 17 meters can pass through it. Nevertheless, about 11,000 ships pass through the canal annually, many of which are excursion ships and ferries.

A beautiful view is offered to you not only from the water but also from the “Old Bridge over the Corinth Canal” (Google Maps). The pedestrian bridge (still marked on Google Maps) has long been closed. No need to drive there.

11. Rhodes

Sun worshippers beware: With over 3000 hours of sunshine annually, the following Greek island is one of the sunniest regions in all of Europe. We are talking about Rhodes. Apart from perfect beach weather, the largest of the Dodecanese islands has a whole range of historical sights and natural wonders to offer.

Fishing boats in a harbor on Rhodes
The island of Rhodes is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Greece and is a top thing to do there!

The old town of Rhodes Town is surrounded by a 4-kilometer-long city wall and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. The main attraction is the Grand Master’s Palace, which was once the headquarters of the Order of St. John.

However, the mighty 14th-century fortress was destroyed by an explosion in 1856 and is now reconstructed. Only the entrance area with its two imposing towers has been preserved.

The next tip should be of particular interest to all mythology fans: At the entrance to the Mandraki harbor of Rhodes Town, the Colossus of Rhodes is said to have once stood. This was a bronze statue of the sun and city god Helios, over 30 meters high, which collapsed due to an earthquake in about 227/226 BC.

The imposing colossus is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is a myth that still raises many questions today. At today’s harbor entrance there are two columns with a hissing cow and a stag, the heraldic animals of Rhodes.

A natural highlight of the island is the famous Valley of the Butterflies, where between June and September thousands of butterflies – mainly of the species of the Russian bear – can be found in the rock walls, but usually can be seen only at a second glance.

The reason for this natural spectacle is the resinous smell of the Oriental amber tree, which attracts the butterflies in whole swarms. On the five-kilometer-long path through the valley, you will also pass waterfalls and can hike up to the monastery of Kalopetra, from where you have a great view of the area.

12. Palace of Knossos in Crete

Last but not least, it’s time for a visit to the largest island in Greece: Crete. Apart from nature and hiking paradises like Samaria Gorge, you can look forward to historical sites like the Palace of Knossos.

Ruins at the Palace of Knossos
The Palace of Knossos is one of the most famous things to do in Crete today

It’s one of the largest Minoan palaces in Crete and was built as early as the second millennium BC in the ancient city of Knossos. After its destruction between 1750 and 1700 BC by a severe earthquake, the palace was rebuilt even more splendidly, and Knossos experienced its greatest political, economic, and cultural flowering at that time.

According to excavators, the magnificent building probably consisted of 1300 rooms with up to five floors. Today, you can explore the ruins of the various halls and rooms on the huge palace grounds and follow in the footsteps of the oldest advanced civilization in Europe.

As you can see, a visit to the Palace of Knossos is an absolute must, and not just for amateur archaeologists. Besides the palace, there are other beautiful sights on Crete that you should not miss!

Tips for island lovers

You already know Crete and Rhodes like the back of your hand and feel like discovering another Greek island? Good idea, then you might find your next vacation destination here:

Overview of beautiful beaches in Corfu
Corfu has beautiful beaches. We tell you which are the most beautiful
The Myrtos Beach is the top thing to do in Kefalonia
Myrtos Beach is a top thing to do in Kefalonia. But the beach is really very beautiful

An absolute insider tip is still the island Thassos. Thassos (also: Thasos) carries the epithet “the green one” and possesses is hereby already unique. A visit to the northernmost of all Greek islands makes you want more.

The old harbor in Limenas on Thassos
This is the old harbor in Limenas on Thassos. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Exciting Fun Facts about Greece

I hope you enjoyed my tour of the most amazing sights in Greece as much as I did. My absolute highlights are the hip city of Athens, the Metéora monasteries but also the coveted Greek islands like Santorini, Rhodes, and Zakynthos.

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