There are many amazing things to do in Greece.
This is a fascinating country, and one of the best places to travel alone. With a history that stretches back millennia (the earliest evidence of humans dates back to 270,000 BCE!), there is no shortage of archaeological sites, cultural influences, and heritages. Combined with an absolutely gorgeous landscape, from the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches of the thousands of islands to the mysterious towers of Meteora to the stark mountains of the Peloponnese, there’s a richness of things to enjoy.
Some of the best things in Greece are on the mainland, though the islands certainly draw millions of visitors. Continue reading to discover the ones you should not miss.
20 Incredible Things To Do In Greece
Visit the Acropolis
Visiting the Acropolis is definitely the highlight when in Athens. That plateau overlooking the Greek capital is quite simply a must-see. While there were early buildings and an early Mycenaean palace on this sacred site, as well as an archaic wall, most of what we can see today is from the Periclean period, or the Classical Golden Age of Greece, in and around approximately 430 BCE.
The best way to see and understand the Acropolis is with a guide who can bring the ancient ruins to life. These are the best options:
- Acropolis: Guided Walking Tour with Entrance Ticket – this 1.5 hour guided tour with a local guide will provide you great insights into Athens’ most important site.
- Small group guided tour with entry ticket – a GetYourGuide Originals tour, which means excellent value for money. You get a local guide and a small group.
- Pre-booked ticket with audio-tour – this self-guided tour is the most budget friendly option at just €20.
Should you just wish to buy a ticket, this one gives you the pickup option at less than 500 meters from the site.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Acropolis is open daily from either 8:00 or 9:00 am. Closing time changes depending on the day and the season, but it’s usually between 4:00 and 10:00 pm. Make sure to double check before visiting.
Learn about Greek wines
While Greek wines don’t typically make the list of most well-known wines in the world, they are among the world’s oldest. Wine production in Greece (and her neighboring modern-day countries) dates back to 2,000 BCE but picked up significant fans in the 1980s. Today, lively whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino are sold globally.
Wine grapes are grown, more or less, all over Greece, but the most popular regions include Santorini, the Peloponnese peninsula, particularly Neméa, and Náoussa in Macedonia, the heart of Xinomavro. The best way to learn more about Greek wines is by visiting a winery and doing some wine tasting, though maybe you can find a local wine bar in Plaka or Monastiraki and chat with the bartender as a cheaper alternative.
These are some wine tours you may want to consider:
- Santorini wine tour with sunset in Oia – wine tasting in one of the most popular places to visit in Greece. The finale of the tour is at a local bar for more wine with the awe-inspiring sunset of Santorini.
- Athens wine tasting experience in the old city – a good, budget friendly wine tasting tour of Athens that allows you to sightsee the city at the same time.
- Thessaloniki wine tasting and vineyard tour – a very well recommended tour in one of Greece’s most fun destinations.
Have ouzo with meze by the sea
Ouzo is an anise-flavored spirit that is made from the remnants of wine grapes. It is made only in Greece and Cyprus but is similar to other anise liqueurs like raki, pastis, and sambuca. Ouzo is clear, but when water is added, it becomes a milky opal white. Most Greeks drink it slightly diluted, alongside a selection of meze, or appetizers – these can be small salads, grilled octopus, kalamata olives, eggplant salad (melitzanosalata), and fried cheeses.
Marvel at the monoliths of Meteora
Meteora is a dramatic mainland region of Greece, where monoliths tower above the lush ground below. Atop these monoliths are Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second only in importance to Mount Athos in the north.
Meteora was inhabited by hermit monks as early as the 9th century CE (AD), but the monasteries were not built until the 14th century. Access is deliberately difficult, though today visitors can climb a series of rock-cut steps – in the past, access was by ladders that could be raised and lowered as needed. This is easily one of the best places to visit in Greece.
These are the best guided tours of Meteora:
- Full-day tour of Meteora from Athens – you travel to the region by train and bus, and get a guide on the site.
- Majestic Sunset on Meteora Rocks Tour from Kalampaka – a very budget friendly option for memorable sunset views.
- From Kalampaka: 5-Hour Hiking Tour of Meteora – a more active tour to explore one of the most beautiful places to visit in Greece.
Visit the naval of the earth at Delphi
Delphi, located a few hours north of Athens, is an ancient sanctuary famous for its oracle. The Ancient Greeks considered Delphi to be the center of the world, which was marked with a stone monument known as an omphalos (navel). It hosted the Pythian Games, second in importance to the Olympic Games, but it was also widely known for its sanctuary and its priestesses. You can visit Delphi on guided day trips from Athens. You may want to consider this one or this one.
Watch the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio
Head south from Athens to Sounio, which takes about an hour and a half by the coastal highway. Sounio is another popular day trip from Athens for locals and tourists who come to watch the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon, which sits atop a promontory above the town and is surrounded on three sides by the sea.
This sunset tour is a great option – you only have to worry about bringing your camera along!
Visit the active volcano of Santorini
Santorini is a Cycladic island located southeast of Athens. It’s accessible by ferry or flight and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. Considered incredibly romantic with its whitewashed buildings and iconic blue roofs, the dramatic setting for the sunset, and the many luxury hotels that dot the island, the island is also home to an active volcano that you can visit by boat.
The actual volcano is located at Nea Kameni, which is within the caldera that was formed in the major eruption 3,600 years ago. The best way to enjoy it is on a sailing trip around it. These are some good options:
- The Santorini catamaran red cruise – the most popular tour in the area, it comes highly recommended.
- Santorini morning or sunset cruise – needless to say, the volcano is the highlight of the tour.
- Volcanic islands cruise with hot springs visit – a very budget friendly tour for a younger crowd.
Party like a Millionaire in Mykonos…
Mykonos is Greece’s most cosmopolitan island, with many luxury hotels and top-shelf clubs with celebrity DJs. The main town, Hora, is a sprawling port with narrow lanes at its heart and a series of windmills above it. But while Mykonos does have the history and culture you can expect from Greece, it’s mostly known for its clubs and nightlife, and fabulous accommodation. Some of the most popular include Cavo Paradiso and Paradise Beach Club, for both of which advanced reservations are recommended.
…And get in touch with your Spiritual Site on the sacred island of Delos
Delos, which is located near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in all of Greece. It is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, but it had a place as a holy sanctuary for a millennia before that. Some of the most spiritual sites include Temple of the Delians and Terrace of the Lions, the Minoan Fountain, and the Delos Synagogue. You can visit it on a day trip from Mykonos such as this one.
Hike Vikos Gorge in Epirus
One of the coolest things to do in Greece if you like nature is hiking the Vikos Gorge, which is located in the Pindus mountains of Epirus, near the stony fairytale villages of Zagorohoria, and is considered the world’s deepest canyon at 900m deep.
There are some excellent viewpoints along the trail, including a stop at the Petrodasos, or pancake rocks, the villages of Zagori, and the Vradeto stairs, which zigzag up the hillside between Vradeto and Kapesovo. There is also a monastery and the stone bridges that link the villages which are worth seeing while you are in the national park.
You can sign up for a full day guided hike such as this one.
Go island hopping in the Small Cyclades.
One of the greatest things to do in Greece is visiting the islands. The Cyclades are one of the most prolific island chains in the Aegean and includes the famous islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Island hopping here is a great way to see a variety of islands in a short period, especially if you plan it right.
From Piraeus, the closest islands are only four or five hours by ferry; the distant islands are eight to ten hours. The time is almost cut in half by high-speed ferry, which costs twice as much.
You can include the major islands on an island hopping tour, but the Small Cyclades are just as gorgeous and less crowded. Schinoussa is one of the smallest – it is just south of Naxos and accessible by ferry from Piraeus and by Skopelitis from Naxos and Amorgos. Donousa, Iraklia, and Koufonisia round out the Small Cyclades. Koufonisia has more resorts than the others, but it still has that small island feel.
Check the amazing beaches of Milos Island
Milos is yet another underrated island, skipped in favor of Mykonos, Santorini, and Ios. While Milos does attract enough visitors to have a robust hotel and dining scene, most people go for the secluded beaches and hidden coves. Spend your time exploring this small island by car or scooter to get to the fantastic beaches.
See the shipwreck in Zakynthos
The famous shipwreck beach, Navagio, on Zakynthos, draws thousands of people each year. Its crystal blue waters are perfect for snorkeling and swimming, while the cliffs are the best backdrop for this sandy beach only accessible by boat. Back in town, Zakynthos is famous for its party scene.
To make the most of your time, you may want to take a guided tour to Navagio. These are some good options:
- Navagio Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves Full-Day Tour – this full day guided tour allows you to see the most important landmarks on the island.
- Zakynthos Island: Navagio Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves Tour – another excellent option for a very similar itinerary, in case the first one is sold out.
- Navagio Shipwreck: Private Tour with Sunset Viewing Point – one of the best value for money tours, and it’s for very small groups.
See an Ancient Greek Drama or Comedy in Epidaurus
Epidaurus is an ancient sacred site in the eastern Peloponnese, known primarily for its connection with Asclepios, the god of medicine. Due to its association with healing powers, Epidaurus attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and soon gained enough importance and prosperity that the complex grew to include baths, an athletic venue, temples, and a theatre.
The theatre of Epidaurus is one of the best-preserved theaters in Greece and is still in use today, despite its abandonment in the 5th century. Epidaurus plays host to the annual Athens-Epidaurus Festival, during which Greek dramas and comedies are performed for sold-out crowds. The theater can seat up to 13,000 spectators, and the acoustics are exceptional.
Seeing a show at Epidaurus is one of the best things to do in Greece. Alternatively, you can just visit it on day trips from Athens such as this one or this one.
Live the Mamma Mia experience in Skopelos
Until Hollywood took over, Skopelos was a sleepy little island in the Sporades, home to small fishing villages and empty beaches, clifftop churches (over 300!), and apple orchards. The island is still hard to get to and boasts little in the way of accommodation, but its main draw is the landscape. There are Mamma Mia tours that showcase the filming locations, from the beaches and Cape Amarantos to the nearby harbor of Agnontas, and the church of Agios Ioannis. You can go for the day from Skiathos or spend several days on Skopelos.
Learn about the Minoan Civilization at Knossos in Crete
If you want to learn more about the Minoan Civilizations, visiting Knossos, in Creete, is a must. The Palace at Knossos was undeniably the center of the Minoan civilization. The first settlement was built in the 7th millennium BCE, while the eruption of Thira and the Mycenaean invasion led to the Minoan downfall in 1375 BCE.
At its peak, around 1,700 BCE, the palace and surrounding area of Knossos reached a population of 100,000 people. The Minoans are credited with two languages – Linear A and Linear B, many architectural achievements, and a well organized trade network.
The palace at Knossos was massive, covering over three acres in the main building and more than five when the outbuildings were considered. Most famous in Knossos and Crete are King Minos and his labyrinth and Minotaur, from the myth of Theseus, though the palace was also used by the invading Mycenaeans and even government headquarters during the world wars.
The best way to explore this palace is on a guided tour such as this one.
Crete is a great destination for winter sun too. Make sure to check out my post “21 Incredible Places For Winter Sun In Europe.”
Charter a boat and visit the blue caves of Paxos
Paxos (also known as Paxi) is a small island off the coast of Corfu. It’s entirely under the radar and abounds with beaches and caves only accessible by boat. Some of these caves are so big that boats can go inside them! One of the best ways to see these caves is to charter your boat and go out for the day; however, local operators also have organized boat trips. The most famous cluster of caves on the western coast is near Erimitis beach, where most boats will stop for some swimming. If you have your own boat, you can visit some of the other beaches and caves.
These are the best guided boat tours to Paxos:
- From Corfu Island: Antipaxos & Paxos Blue Caves Boat Cruise
- From Corfu: Day Cruise to Paxos, Antipaxos, & the Blue Caves
- From Corfu Island: Day Cruise to Paxi Islands & Blue Caves
Explore the medieval town of Rhodes
The island of Rhodes, located southeast of Athens and northeast of Crete, has always had an advantageous position on the trade routes. The Medieval Old City of Rhodes, also known as the citadel of Rhodes, is a World Heritage Site.
The fortifications were built by the Knights Hospitaller of St John in the early 14th century, on foundations of earlier Byzantine walls, and were frozen in 1522 so there is a clear distinction between the early medieval walls and the later Ottoman walls. Within the walls is the largest active medieval town in Europe which boasts a number of important sights, including the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes.
Soak up Greece’s Therapeutic Waters at a Thermal Spring
Greece is an ancient land and one that retains many of its legends and myths, beliefs, and superstitions. One is that of healing waters. There are thermal springs all over Greece where you can sink into the natural hot spring and let your body rejuvenate. Some of the most popular among the Greeks are Pozar, at Mount Voras in Pella near Thessaloniki, and Edipssos, in Euboea, Evia.
Make a Greek Pie like a Yia-Yia at a Local Cooking Class
There is no better way to get to know a country’s culture than by experiencing the food. And in Greece, one of the best ways to do this is by taking a cooking class with a yia-yia, or Greek grandmother! Spanakopita, of Spinach Pie, is the most famous of these pies you can try your hand at. It is a savory pie made with perfectly crisp layered phyllo dough and a filling of spinach and feta cheese. Some cooking classes include a local market trip with your hostess, others a full meal and wine or ouzo.
Final Thoughts On The Things To Do In Greece
There’s nothing better than experiencing the local culture through food, wine, history, and adventures. Greece has all of that and more. Whether it’s your first time or fifth trip, you’ll find many incredible things to see and do in Greece. On your next trip to my beautiful country, I hope you’ll try out some of my best things to do in Greece.
This was was written by Chrysoula, a travel blogger born and raised in Athens with a professional background in Tourism and Marketing. Through the pages of Athens and Beyond she wants to help visitors make the most of their trip to Athens and show them how to navigate the city like an insider.