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Our top ten things to do in Greece

I am often asked how I have chosen the top 10 list, that I put up on my blog.  While in college I found it much easier to create a list when I started studying for a test or writing a term paper. Knowing that it is easy to understand why I create a top ten list, now as to how do I decide what goes on the list, simply put it is things I would like to do or have done in Greece.  I have chosen things on this list either because I have come across them while studying for certifications, personal experience, research, or client recommendations. Each of the item on the top 10 has a link, which will open a new window for more information.

 Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below the list. 

Santorini

“Santorini is a gorgeous Cycladic island that sure knows how to stop you on your tracks with its mesmerizing beauty. From its glorious sunsets and staggering multicolored cliffs to whitewashed buildings and ash-laden calderas, Santorini is definitely blessed with a unique landscape. Its beauty makes it one of the top spots to visit in all of Greece, but so does its delicious Greek food restaurants!”

Acropolis

“Visiting the Acropolis is one of the highlights of your visit to Athens, a must-see site that epitomises Ancient Greece. This rocky hill is topped by the Parthenon temple dedicated to Athena, Goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens. On a visit in late February, we experienced warm and sunny weather, making Spring the ideal time to visit he Acropolis before the scorching heat and crowds of summer descend on Athens.”

 Knossos

“If you have an interest in Greek mythology and archaeology, then the ruins of Knossos Palace make for an interesting stop during a visit to the island of Crete.”

National Archaeological Museum 

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens, is not just the best museum in Athens. It is also the best museum in Greece, and dare I say, one of the best in the world. 

 Mountain of the Gods

“Being the largest mountain in Greece and the second highest in the Balkans, Mount Olympus understandably created awe to the ancient Greeks that believed that that was the place where their gods lived. The origin of its name is disputable since there are plenty of theories surrounding it. The most prominent is that “Olympus” meant sky”

 Cruise the Islands

“Cruise journeys keep you in rejuvenated mood in the midst of sea waters. In fact, such journeys make for an amazing family tour. Here, we have enlisted 11 best Greek island cruises you mustn’t miss out during your European vacation plan.”

 Rhodes

“Rhodes itself has a pretty long (sometimes turbulent) history, incredible natural beauty, stunning architecture, and of course lip-smacking food that I’m almost certain you’ll devour as soon as you touch down.”

 Greece’s beaches 

“Paradise Beach on the island of Mykonos attracts thousands of party lovers from across the globe every Summer. The golden sands and clear waters makes Paradise Beach Greece’s number one open-aired seafront clubbing destination – giving Ibiza a run for its money!”

 Patmos 

“The history of the Greek holy island of Patmos is fascinating. Initially, it was known as Letois after goddess Artemis, the daughter of Leto. Patmos is also referred to as Jerusalem of the Aegean and is popular among Greek orthodox people.”

 Delphi 

“As we walked to each section of Delphi, we were greeted with more and more ruins, as well as spectacular mountain views. “

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Get off the mainland!

When you go to Greece, it’s really a must to hit the Greek islands. Not only is it what the country is famous for. Each of the Greek islands has something unique, and each of them has its own, good reason to go to it. 

Let’s start with a half dozen:

 Milos: Have you ever been to a beach with sand that’s so white it looks like snow? That’s Milos – an unreal, un-crowded Greek island that’s like something out of a movie – or maybe an alien planet. From beach relaxation to cliff jumping for the adrenaline junkies, Milos has it all! 

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Mykonos: Here’s the classic Greek party island. Overrun and overcrowded? Maybe. But there’s a reason. Mykonos is the place to be in the Aegean. Nightlife galore. Food to die for. Pristine white buildings that feel like a movie set. This island has it all, and well earns its crowds! However, unlike some of the smaller, laid-back Greek islands, you can’t just show up here and expect to find a decent accomodation. For the best hotels, book with 3-6 months of anticipation.

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Naxos: This is one of the more picturesque islands in the Aegean. Here you can drive (or hike!) up into the hills and catch a spectacular view of a delightful, quaint town across the valley. Perfect for families, this is an island where you can bring your kids to relax – or run all around, if that’s what the kids prefer doing! 

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Paros: This island is the ideal place to take a break from all the running around to ancient ruins. And just chill. Where else can you stand on a stone dock on the shores of the Mediterranean, and gaze at the pile of vibrant white houses on the hill beyond, topped by a two-spited white cathedral? A less touristy island than many, the locals here are fantastic. And the food – often straight from the sea – is, if possible, even better. A must-see in this stunning country. 

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Antiparos: Does this name resemble any other island we’ve talked about? Paros, maybe? Well, as you might suppose, Antiparos is located right next to Paros – a mere five minute ferry ride away. But in terms of tranquility, it’ll feel like you stepped into Heaven. Not that Paros is a bustling metropolis, but Antiparos is even more tranquil – and the water is, somehow, even more translucent and blue! 

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Sifnos: If you’ve never tried Greek cooking, you’re going to want to, on Sifnos. This island’s most famous inhabitant is Nicholas Tselementes, who – in 1910 – wrote the first Greek cookbook. And on this island, a feast is just a matter of course. It’s not just moussaka; it’s stewed capers and chickpea croquettes and stewed capers are taverna staples, and potteries that produce the casseroles used for revitháda (baked chickpeas) and mastello (lamb with red wine and dill).

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Greece has ancient history. But even Ancient Greece had ancient history!

The ruins of the city of Mycenae – located in the Peloponnese, in the south of the Greek mainland – represent an entire civilizations that flourished in the second millenium BCE (1000-2000 BCE). And dominated the Greek landscape in times that date back to the fall of Troy. Back to what was ancient history even as the Ancient Greeks, like Homer, were telling stories about it.

Have you heard of King Agamemnon? He was a mythical king – and the brother-in-law of the famous Helen of Troy. Who may not have been so Mythical. Mycenae is where he is purported to have ruled.

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The Mycenaean culture is sort of a pre-Greece to the Ancient Greeks. By the time of Herodotus, this was already long deserted and almost a thousand years old. But, for a long time – long before the dominance of Greek city-states like Athens and Sparta – the Mycenaean culture dominated the Greek mainland. 

The well-preserved city is, frankly, amazing. Even the Ancient Greeks marvelled at it, crediting the creation of the high stone walls to the Cyclops, because they couldn’t otherwise conceive of how it had been done. The architecture is quite different from that of other Greek ruins. There are no columns here! Rather, Mycenae is made up of huge blocks of stone, and – in ways – bears more resemblance to Machu Picchu than to the Acropolis.

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There are other benefits to visiting Mycenae, too. Mycenae lies away from the beaten tourist path, which means that visitors will glimpse a part of the country that’s not as familiar with tourists. It’s more authentic, and the people won’t be after getting the most euros out of your wallet; they’ll be genuinely friendly. You can dine out and taste the true flavours of southern Greece. You can buy souvenirs that are truly authentic. 

Many people come as a day trip from Athens, because the drive only is about an hour and a half. But if you don’t stay closer to this ancient stronghold, you’re really missing out on the experience. Mycenae is well worth at least a full day to visit – not just for the ruined city, but for the joy of exploring the Peloponnese. Stay somewhere closer, like the Apollon Hotel in Argos, a mere 11km south of the ruins.

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And as you’re coming here – or leaving back to Athens – the ruined city of Corinth is well worth a visit. Yes, it’s the place where Saint Paul was sending his many letters to the “Corinthians”. It’s definitely rich in history – and features prominently in the shared knowledge of Westerners.

A visit to Mycenae is truly special. It will be unlike anything else you do in Greece: ancient or modern. So give this ancient-ancient city a chance – and let it amaze you!

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Why not take a tour of Atlantis?

Whether or not “Atlantis” is a real place, the myth might have some basis in fact. Because there’s a Greek island, Santorini, that, due to a cataclysmic event around 1500 BCE, literally sunk – in a large part – into the sea. 

But there’s a lot of Santorini that’s still above water! And on this beautiful island, not only are you going to find charming whitewashed houses, and picturesque villages, but you’ll also experience hilltop views of unforgettable sunsets, crystal waters just begging you to jump into them, and delicious dining that won’t be outdone. 

Here are just some of the things you have to do there: 

Get lost in the quaint town of Oia. The northern edge of the caldera contains a town carved into the rock. Santorini’s most picturesque town, Oia’s narrow, spectacular streets will have you constantly pulling out your camera. Spend a good chunk of your day wandering the alleys here. Or stay overnight – somewhere like the Canaves Oia luxury boutique hotel, where you can swim in a beautiful pool while staring out across the Aegean Sea.

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Take a winery tour. Santorini produces some of Greece’s best wines, such as Assyrtiko, Nykteri, and Vinsanto. The volcanic soil gives the grapes a special flavour, added to the skill of the viticulture, developed over millennia. Explore a place like Santo Wines Winery, near Pyrgos Village, which offers tours as well as tastings, with breathtaking views to the caldera. Or join a small group tour that brings you to many of the island’s wineries – with a tasting at each! 

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Swim at a red sand beach. Maybe you’ve heard of black sand beaches, but did you know that you can also find red? On Santorini, that’s a possibility. The best red sand beach on the island is at Akrotiri, accessible either by boat, or via an easy footpath. Where the sand – as well as the rock of the cliffs – is a dazzling red. Whether you want to jump into the water, or just sunbathe on the red beach, this is definitely a special experience. 

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Take a cruise of the caldera at sunset. The island of Santorini is circular, roughly, with a large bay – or “caldera” – inside. This is due to the cataclysm that happened some 3500 years ago, and may have sunk “Atlantis”. But, these days, the volcano is quiet, and the ocean has rushed in to claim the abandoned land. Taking a cruise here is incredible – and taking a cruise here at sunset will leave vivid memories etched into your soul. It’s absolutely one of the must-do things on Santorini! 

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Take a tour of the volcano itself. Obviously, the island’s volcanic. Which means it must have a volcano! Well, it does – but due to the past eruption, it’s actually on its own island in the caldera’s centre! Still, it’s possible to take a tour. And well worth it. Boats leave from Athinios Port (Santorini’s main port), the Old Port in Fira, and Ammoudi Bay in Oia, and tours take you to several stops on the central island. Yes, it will involve hiking in the heat. But, yes, it will be worth it!

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UNESCO tour, anyone?

Greece has a lot of UNESCO world heritage sites – far more than you might expect for a nation of only 130,000 square kilometres. Touring the country, one is never far from a site of world heritage – and truly world heritage, because the ideas that came out of Greece have expanded into something that’s truly global. 

Greece has 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with 14 more awaiting official nomination. In other words, if you want to know the history of the whole world – particularly, the civilisation that’s enveloped it – start here. 

Every Greek tourist knows about the Acropolis in Athens. Many may have heard of Delphi, or the ancient-ancient city of Mycenae. We’re going to take an up-close look into some of the less-known ones: 

Sanctuary of Asklepius at Epidaurus: this site was famous throughout ancient times as a healing centre. It was believed that a god had been born here. Patients would sleep in a special dormitory, and then recount their dreams to a priest, who would suggest a method of healing. Epidaurus is also home to an ancient theatre – the best preserved in modern Greece – with such good acoustics that, if you stand in the centre and speak, people sitting anywhere in the stands can clearly hear you.

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Meteora: on sheer rocks that seem to rise from the forest below, seemingly built, or placed there by God, monks in the 13th century constructed a whole host of monasteries. Today, six of the original twenty-four are still open, and provide a breathtaking introduction to medieval Greek culture. 

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Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki: Located in the far north of Greece, the city of Thessaloniki was the second-most-important centre of the Byzantine empire. Immerse yourself in the history here, and discover a period when this part of Greece was very connected to Eastern Europe and Turkey, all joined under one of the most powerful empires of the modern age. 

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Old Town of Corfu: the most recently-added Greek UNESCO site (in 2007), The old town of Corfu blends the architectural style of the Greek islands with that of Venice. It has large two- or three-storey buildings, and the second largest square in Europe (after Venice’s Piazza San Marco) – Spianada Square. 

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Monastery of Saint John and Cave of Apocalypse in Patmos: this is where – according to tradition – Saint John the Theologian was inspired to write the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible). It remains an important Christian pilgrimage site, as does the entire island of Patmos. The main city, Chora, is extremely picturesque and home to this 10th century monastery, which stands on a hill in the middle of the city. 

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Delos: the island where the god Apollo was born, according to mythology. It was long a pilgrimage centre of the ancients. Close to Mykonos (and easy to get to from there), the entire island is uninhabited and has become an open-air museum.

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Top ten

Greece Top 10

I am often asked how I have chosen the top 10 list, that I put up on my blog.  While in college I found it much easier to create a list when I started studying for a test or writing a term paper. Knowing that it is easy to understand why I create a top ten list, now as to how do I decide what goes on the list, simply put it is things I would like to do or have done in Greece.  I have chosen things on this list either because I have come across them while studying for certifications, personal experience, research, or client recommendations. Each of the item on the top 10 has a link, which will open a new window for more information.

 Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below the list. 

  1. Santorini
  2. Acropolis
  3.  Knossos
  4. National Archaeological Museum 
  5.  Mountain of the Gods
  6.  Cruise the Islands
  7.  Rhodes
  8.  Greece’s beaches 
  9.  Patmos 
  10.  Delphi 
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History buff? You’ve come to the right place!

Greece is a country that’s truly rich in history. The birthplace of Western
civilisation, it has long been known for its ancient philosophers, doctors, and artists.
But did you know that there were civilisations that rose and fell in the area long
before the “Ancient” Greeks trod here. Or that the history of Greece didn’t stop
when Socrates died, but continued on, uninterrupted, to the contemporary age,
through a blend of religious and political upheavals. This rocky coast and these
stoic, tough islands have long withstood the test of time.

Here’s a brief guide to the history of this incredible country:

2700-1500 BCE: The Minoan civilisation. This is Greece’s oldest civilisation, and it
flourished on the island of Crete. This island is still one of the country’s most
important spots – for tourism now! – and it’s as good for exploring the ruins as for
sunbathing on the beach.

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1600-1100 BCE: The Mycenaean civilisation. Before you think that it’s short-lived,
realise that the USA has been around for less time. And this civilisation’s influence
may have been as great as the USA’s is today! The highlight here is a visit to the
ruins of the capital, Mycenae – which are remarkably well preserved.

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776 BCE (the first Olympic games) to 323 BCE (the death of Alexander the Great):
Ancient Greece. From Homer to Plato and Socrates to Alexander the Great, a lot of
Greece’s most well-known history occurred in the millenium before the birth of
Jesus. Relics from this period abound. From the Acropolis to the temples at Delphi,
this was Greece’s golden age – and a main draw for many visitors.

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276-146 BCE: The Hellenistic period. A dark age for this mighty power. The global
influence of Greece declined, until…

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126 BCE – 393 CE: Roman Greece. This was a resurgence of Greece, under Roman
rule. Much of the Romans’ most famous attributes were copied from the Greeks,
from their artwork to their religion. Despite occupation, this was a high point for
Greece, and many Roman monuments remain.

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4th – 15th century: Byzantine Greece. From the fall of the Western Roman Empire, to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greece was a part of Byzantine Empire, one of the most powerful empires in history. Greek Orthodoxy developed, and many monasteries and churches were built.

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15th century – 1821: Ottoman Greece. After the fall of the Byzantines, Greece fell
(like most of Eastern Europe) under Ottoman rule. This was a very important period
of the country’s history of which many artifacts remain, such as the ones in
Thessaloniki.

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1821 onward: Modern Greece. The re-emergence of Greece into the global sphere was a rocky one. The country had a revolution in 1821, followed by a kingdom, a dictatorship, occupation by the Axis forces, and finally the “Third Hellenic Republic”, which continues to this day. As you can see, Greece has a long and varied history. But, fortunately, relics from every moment in this country’s past are still observable today. If you truly love history, you could spend decades coming back here.

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