Greece is multifaceted place, with regards to terrain, culture, and sights to behold—wherever you end up doing whatever you’ve set off to do, prepare to be amazed by the stark oldness of the country, and the ways in which this oldness is both preserved in its glory, as well as complemented by the aura of progression that radiates through Greece and its people. For a city break like no other, head to Athens for amazing cuisine, bustling streets and romantic alleys, and ancient sightseeing. On any of the Greek islands, while a way a day or five at the beach. The Peloponnese, Ancient Greece’s peninsula, will have you wandering along craggy coastlines past the memory of bygone eras. Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, is filled to the brim with ancient buildings and fascinating museums.
Walking through Athens is a destination in itself, past bustling food markets, through tiny alleys lined with doddering buildings, rooftop bars looking down from every corner, and of course, the imposing Acropolis and Parthenon in every view. Some sort of summer paradise, every apartment has a balcony and every restaurant patio seating, making for an atmosphere of perpetual action in constant harmony with a slow pace evocative to beach-town. This storied capital has much to offer in all categories, as well as a myriad surprises sure to delight—baklava ice cream being one of the most tasty. The Acropolis is, naturally, worth a visit for its sheer grandeur, uninterrupted and unrivaled. For more time with the extremely old, the Cycladic Museum of art is a fascinating and well-rounded museum with over 3,000 artifacts of Cycladic, ancient Greek, and Cypriot origin. As for the rest of your time in Athens, the neighborhood of Plaka is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited neighborhoods and is worth a wander for its suite of ancient sites and charming squares perfect for a pitstop for an afternoon Freddo (Greek iced coffee). A hotel in Kolonaki, Koukaki, or Syntagma will have you close to the action and set you up with all the amenities necessary for a refreshing stay in the City of Gods.
If you’ve ever dreamed about an island vacation, Greece’s collection of diverse and always beautiful islands have probably crossed your mind. Santorini, famous for hosting the world’s elite, and for its blue-capped sea of cliffs and charming whitewashed buildings, should be visited at least once in a lifetime. The hotels which speckle the multicolored coasts of the island promise ultimate luxury—fit even for a honeymoon. Mykonos, the kind of wild sister to Santorini, is all about reveling in the unparalleled blue beauty and bright white sun of Greece, feasting on the islands’ best Greek cuisine, and luxuriating in villa suites before hitting the town to discover that famous nightlife. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and boasts a wealth of breathtaking beaches, lovely old seaside towns, and historical sights reminding one its history as the once home to Europe’s oldest civilization. A hotel on Crete is a good option if you’re looking for a little more activity in your beach vacation—combine a island getaway with a city break in the coastal city of Heraklion and discover this modern metropolis, filled with all the sounds and sights and history of cosmopolitan Greece, while situated on the beautiful shore and home to the magical Venetian fortress of Koules. Finally, on Kos, you’ll get a more authentic, small-town experience, also with beautiful beaches and friendly locals.
Greece’s favorite peninsula is where legend was born; arising from a particular landscape that once kept invaders out, this same dramatic terrain is now what brings visitors to the Peloponnese: imposing mountain ranges, beautiful gorges, in addition to sandy beaches and all the glory of the Mediterranean. Gourmets will find some of the best Greek food imaginable, and even better wine. Stay in a historic, castle-like hotel deep inland for a truly immersive experience into the tragically long history of the area and its environs. Alternatively, opt to stay on the southern coast. Kalamata is the second-largest city in the Peloponnese and home to an extensive list of hotels brilliant in their attention to modern comforts as well as to the preservation of antiquity in all its charm. The ancient city of Epidaurus has a history spanning back to the 4th century BC, while the ancient city of Corinth has it beat with an 8th-century BC time card. The fissure Corinth Canal is a sight to behold for its 90-meter limestone walls cut through by a long, straight, and manmade canyon. The land of the Peloponnese also lends itself nicely to road-tripping—a wine-themed ride brings you to some of the world’s oldest vineyards.
Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, is a booming metropolis crisscrossed with ancient walls, bustling streets, and speckled with first-rate museums and ancient sightseeing destinations. Despite being quite densely populated, the city boasts an authentic, relaxed atmosphere. From the new waterfront area to the happening nightlife quarter of Ladadika to the iconic White Tower, Thessaloniki has something for all tastes. The hotels scattered around the city are often 5 star establishments with extensive spa centers, allowing for the utmost rejuvenation and relaxation on your trip to Greece. Stylish spots with bright lighting concepts and varied gastronomy options reflect the vibrant and manifold culture of the city. Lovers of the historical will get their fill at the Archaeological Museum, Museum of Byzantine Culture, and the Church of Agios Dimitrios. Alternatively, pop just west to find some great hotels in the not-oft-trod areas of Western Olympus for an experience unlike any other, tucked into the green world of mainland Greece. Or, opt for a road trip around the Gulf of Corinth for deluxe beach resorts and archeological sites like the ruined town of Delphi.
Food: Greek food is usually served lukewarm. If this isn’t how you like it, mention it at the time of ordering. Driving in Athens: If you’d like to spare your nerves on your trip to Athens, leave the driving to someone else. Traffic can be bad and general driving conditions can be extremely chaotic.