With famed historical and cultural landmarks and more gorgeous islands than you can count, Greece is the ideal destination for a Mediterranean getaway. From exploring well-known ancient ruins on the mainland to discovering volcanic landscapes and natural Greek landmarks on the islands, Greece is overflowing with storied sites to experience.
These are some of the best Greece landmarks to visit on your next European vacation.
The Acropolis, Athens
Dive into history with a visit to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel with impressive ruins located right in the capital city of Athens. Wander the temple complex, which dates all the way back to the 5th century. Marvel at the archeological ruins as you explore the high city perched upon a hill, called Attica Plateau, that overlooks the city of Athens.
View some of the most popular monuments like the Parthenon, built for the goddess Athena, regarded as the patron of the city. A gold and ivory statue of the goddess stretches 40 feet tall amongst the ruins of the Acropolis’s star attraction.
Stroll the 5th-century Theater of Dionysus, another highlight of this landmark site that used to seat 17,000 people. Imagine the classical Greek plays written by famed poets like Euripides and Sophocles that were performed in this outdoor amphitheater. This ancient site is one of the most famous landmarks in Greece and shouldn’t be missed.
Drogarati Cave, Argostoli
In the Ionian Sea, the stunning island of Kefalonia is known for its mystical caves. One of the most popular to explore is the Drogarati Cave, located on the eastern region of this Greek Isle approximately half an hour from the seaside village of Argostoli.
Stare in wonder at the stalactites and stalagmites within this limestone cave formed over 150 million years ago. Learn about how the cave was discovered about 300 years ago after an earthquake, and observe the varying colors of bedrock caused by the minerals found within this natural space.
Venture to the Royal Balcony, where you’ll have the chance to see the natural upper area where the light reflections put on a mesmerizing show. Try out the acoustics in the well-known Chamber of Exaltation, an incredible event space where special performances are held for up to 500 people.
Also referred to as Europe’s oldest city, Knossos is an archeological site dating back to the Bronze Age located on the island of Crete. Explore the existing ruins of the palace, which served as the political center, marketplace, and ceremonial event space during this period of time. Get a glimpse into the Minoan Civilization that once inhabited this complex structure as you tour the grounds of this open-air museum.
View artifacts and ruins such as regal columns, courtyards, a grand staircase, royal apartments, giant clay jars, and decorative frescoes, like the famous Prince of the Lilies work. Venture up to the balcony, where you’ll be presented with sprawling views of the Central Court and the surrounding area.
Canal d’Amour, Corfu
Swoon over one of the most famous natural landmarks in Corfu, the Channel of Love, just outside the village of Sidari on the northwestern coast of the isle. Rock formations and pristine, blue waters create an idyllic spot to embrace the island’s beauty.
Legend has it that couples who swim through the channel together would be getting married in the near future, or stay together forever. Venture through the paths and steps to reach hidden coves and narrow canals.
Relax on the tiny but beautiful beach, where azure waters lap the sand. Take a dip in the sparkling sea or sunbathe on the rock cliffs that line the cove. A cafe is just steps from this paradise that provides refreshments after a fun day in the sun.
Little Venice, Mykonos
On the lively island of Mykonos, you’ll find the romantic Little Venice. Perched on the edge of the Aegean Sea, this waterside neighborhood is filled with cafes, watering holes, art galleries, and charming Greek fishing houses with balconies that date back to the 18th century.
Historically, the island was a major stop for trading with Italy, with Venetian cultural and architectural influences still lingering today. Discover the beauty of this place, hailed as one of the most photographed spots in Europe and one of the most famous landmarks in Greece.
During the day, browse local shops, snap pictures of the town, and explore narrow alleyways while breathing in the sea air. At night, embark on a sunset stroll, enjoy a happy hour drink on a restaurant patio, or listen to the live music that pours out of the bars.
Palamidi Castle, Nafplio
Constructed by the Venetians in the early 18th century, the Palamidi Fortress sits at the top of a hill overlooking the city of Nafplio in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Make the trek up the 900-plus steps (or drive) to reach the awe-inspiring views of the city and surrounding gulf landscape.
Explore the numerous defensive bastions, including the well-known Agios Andreas Bastion, where you’ll also find the courtyard church, Saint Andrews. Visit the prison cell where Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero in the Greek revolution, was held. To bring the experience full circle, make sure to venture down to Arvanitia Beach, which is located just below the castle grounds.
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes
Also referred to as “Knight’s Island,” Rhodes is a Greek Isle destination brimming with rich history and culture. One of the most important and well-known monuments is the Acropolis of Lindos, with interesting archeological ruins that stretch all the way into town.
Paths lead up to the summit, which requires a ten-minute walk uphill, or you can ride a donkey to the top. Either way, the climb will be well worth it when you arrive at this incredible Greece landmark. A visit to the main archeological site of Lindos feels like a portal to the ancient past.
Venture to the top of the Acropolis, where you’ll unearth temples dating back to the 4th century. Peruse ruins of the goddess Athena Lindia, Church of the Panayia, Hellenistic Stoa, the regal staircase, and marvel at the impressive fortress walls. Take a moment to absorb the expansive vista from the height of the Acropolis as well; it will take your breath away. Leave some time to explore the ancient, narrow streets of the modern city which hold their own storied past, too.
Blue Caves, Zakynthos
On the picturesque Ionian island of Zakynthos, you’ll uncover one of the most famous landmarks in Greece. Discovered in the late 1800s, the Blue Caves offer a mysterious adventure that will leave you awestruck by its beauty.
Admire the natural limestone rock arches created by erosion as you approach the cave entrance. As you venture through the cave opening by boat, you’ll experience an interesting trick of the light that adds a blue hue to anything it illuminates as the sun reflects off the impossibly clear, turquoise waters. Morning is a particularly good time to visit, with ample sunlight to create this amazing effect.
Akrotiri Ruins, Santorini
Located on the gorgeous Greek Island of Santorini, the Akrotiri Ruins are a well-preserved prehistoric site that offers a glimpse into the Minoan culture during the Bronze Age. The ancient fishing settlement itself was destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption, but archeological ruins, large clay pots, and frescoes remain after being excavated.
As you tour the portion of the site that has already been uncovered, you’ll discover a bit about what it was like to live during those times. View artifacts like recreated furniture, toilets, and stone building design as you learn about the people that inhabited this settlement long ago.
Arch of Galerius, Thessaloniki
In northern Greece, the port city of Thessaloniki is a mix of modern and ancient architecture. Intact ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods still exist, making this a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts.
One of the most famous Greece landmarks in this area is the Arch of Galerius, dating all the way back to the 4th century, located near Aristotle Square. It was constructed by the Roman Emperor Galerius in a victorious celebration against the Persians. Learn the stories of the battles through the carved scenes within the arch that depict important events from the time.
Panagia Paraportiani, Mykonos
Visit one of the most iconic and photographed churches on the Greek Islands. This world-famous church is perched next to the sea in the Kastros neighborhood, creating a stunning backdrop. This particular church is the most well known and celebrated of all 365 that reside on the island of Mykonos.
The contrast of the white-washed building with the striking blue ocean makes for amazing images. As you stroll this complex, you’ll notice that it’s more than one church. A series of five small churches sit next to or on top of one another, with Agio Efstathios at the center. They range in age, having been built anywhere between the 14th and 17th centuries.
If you can, time your visit for sunset, where you’ll be treated to a spectacular show with Paraportiani Church as the star attraction against the Mediterranean Sea and vibrantly colored sky.
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, Rhodes
Head back to Medieval times on the island of Rhodes with a trip to the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights. Located in the Old Town section of Rhodes, the palace was constructed on top of the Temple of the Sun God foundations. Historically, it served as an administrative center as well as the home of the governor and knights and had over 150 rooms.
Admire the arched gate, sprawling courtyard, soaring towers, and Greek and Roman statues. Make your way up the steps of a grand staircase. As you explore, you’ll come across beautiful mosaics, vases, and intricate handwoven textiles that date back centuries.
Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
The remote island of Zakynthos is famous for its stunning beaches. One of the most popular and picturesque is the remote Shipwreck Beach, located on the northwestern coast. Also referred to as Smuggler’s Cove, it’s the perfect place to relax, swim, and snorkel alongside the sea turtles that frequent these waters.
Once you arrive by boat, towering cliffs cradling the sand will have you feeling like you landed in another world. Make sure to stop at the overlook above for another vantage point of this gorgeous beach. This iconic stretch of sand is one of the most famous landmarks in Greece.
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