Traveling to Greece means discovering remnants of ancient civilizations by day and unwinding in lively beach clubs by night. It means picking fresh figs along the roadside on your way to an elegant restaurant with al fresco dining. It means staying in an exclusive resort and still having the option to wander down the road to a humble, family-owned vineyard. Greece is a country that doesn’t require a compromise; it appeals to the discerning traveler just as much as it does to the history buff and sun-loving beach bum.
On a trip to Greece, you’ll indulge in food tours and wine tastings, explore renowned historical sites, and hop from one exquisite island to the next. Check out the highlights of my latest trip, learn about the best things to do in Greece, and find out why it’s one of the most breathtaking and versatile destinations in Europe.
Often called the Mediterranean diet, Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world. Staples include olive oil, grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, cheese, and wine. Food is a pillar of Greek culture, and it’s closely intertwined with another fundamental value – family. Taking a food tour is one of the top things to do in Greece and the perfect way to learn how these two important cultural aspects are integrated into everyday life.
In Greek culture, it’s common for multiple generations to reside in the same home, and for children to remain at home well into their adult years. Women traditionally take on the very important role of cooking for the family, and ultimately are responsible for bringing the household together through shared meals and food. While on a food tour, you’ll learn more about the culture behind the food, sample traditional Greek food, and taste the local wines and spirits.
The 227 islands scattered across the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea are responsible for the iconic images of whitewashed dwellings and azure seas that have become synonymous with Greece. Featuring soaring bluffs and breathtaking landscapes, an island-hopping excursion is an essential part of any Greece vacation. Due to the popularity and the proximity of the Greek islands, it’s possible to ferry from island to island without returning to the mainland between destinations—a true island-hopping experience! But with dozens of options, how do you choose which Greek islands are the best to visit? While you won’t be disappointed with any island destination, Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos are among the must-visit isles (all of which are conveniently located 2-3 hours apart).
Crete is a large island built for tourism and is revered for its stunning beachside resorts and world-class hospitality. The island’s ancient city of Chania boasts a 14th-century Venetian harbor, 16th-century lighthouse, and a labyrinth of narrow streets to explore.
Santorini is a famed honeymoon destination with dreamy coastal landscapes, famous red and black sand beaches, and wine-tasting opportunities.
Mykonos—with its renowned nightlife and beach bars—is where visitors go to let loose.
Ancient historical sites
Whether you’re on the mainland or touring the islands, Greek travel ensures that an antique town, ancient temple, or centuries-old civilization are never far away. Often referred to as the Cradle of Western Civilization, Greece is one of the world’s earliest settlements that contributed significantly to human advancement.
One of the top things to do in Greece is to discover some of the country’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, none of which is more famous than the Acropolis of Athens. Built in the 5th century BC, the ancient citadel sits high on a hill and houses the country’s most significant historical sites. The Parthenon—the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena—is the most recognizable structure in the complex.
Santorini is known for its aesthetics, but the island is more than just a pretty face. A walk through the 13th-century marble-paved town of Oia yields breathtaking views of the sprawling caldera. With its characteristic cave dwellings stacked high above the Aegean, punctuated with splashes of cobalt blue and rusty red, it’s easy to see why Oia is the most photographed place in Greece. Also on Santorini, the archeological site of Akrotiri is the best-preserved town from the Minoan period and will whet any history buff’s appetite.
And much more…
And if all that isn’t enough, there’s always Olympia, the site of the very firth Olympics Games; the Sanctuary of Dion, dedicated to Zeus; and Delphi, the most significant pilgrimage site in the country, dedicated to the god Apollo.
Imagine…white-sand beaches perfectly complimented by sapphire seas; beach bars framed by soaring coastal cliffs; beach-goers stretched out on lounge chairs, snacking on meze (like olives, cheese, and seafood) and sip Ouzo. Some people plan a Greece vacation specifically for the beaches—and it’s easy to see why.
Elafonisi Beach, Crete
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and boasts miles of beaches. The rose-hued sand of Elafonisi Beach makes it Crete’s most picturesque stretch of sand, but don’t leave the island without visiting Malata, a famous beach known for its hippie-inhabited caves in the 60s.
Red Sand Beach, Santorini
Red Sand Beach (Kokkini Beach) on Santorini draws crowds with vibrant, rust-colored sand and matching bluffs that rise steeply behind the shore. This is a must-visit beach on your trip to Greece.
Paradise Beach, Mykonos
Paradise Beach offers the best of Mykonos’ nightlife. Earning a reputation in the 70s as a party haven, Paradise Beach—complete with beach clubs, international DJs, and non-stop bottle service—continues to throw parties that last well into the early hours of the morning.
Viticulture has flourished in Greece since the Neolithic era thanks to the favorable grape-growing climate and soil of the Mediterranean. Greek wine has been perfected over the centuries, and some of the most famous white varieties hail from the Greek islands.
Santorini is famed for its Assyrtiko (a crisp and citrus-y white) and Vinsanto (an intense yet delicate dessert wine).
Samos—the Greek isle a mile off the coast of western Turkey—produces Muscat, a sweet white that’s gained international recognition.
If you’re a red wine-drinker, the fruity, full-bodied Agiorgitiko (hailing from Nemea) and the dry yet delightfully smooth Limniona (natively produced in the Thessaly region) from are must-tries.
Wine tours are available everywhere in Greece. Between island hops and history lessons, save an afternoon to tour a few vineyards and taste the local wines. As the country’s capital, Athens is prime place to book a wine tour if you’re looking to sample a variety of Greek wines.
West Curated Travel offers custom Greece travel packages and personalized trip planning. Contact us to book your trip to Greece and ensure your Greek vacation is everything you envision.