7 of the Most Visited Places in Greece

For decades Greece has ranked very high among travelers from around the world. Since it’s impossible to visit the entire country during a single vacation, many travelers want to know which are the most visited places in Greece and therefore the most popular among tourists (and/or locals).

1. Athens

athensThe capital of Greece is not only the most visited place in the country but also one of the most visited places in the world. The magical city is the birthplace of civilization; the place where democracy was born.

The Acropolis of Athens is the most famous archeological edifice in the entire Europe. It dates back to the 5th century BC and although it’s been through rises and declines, the place still shines under the Athens’ sky.

A walk around the famous historic areas of Plaka, Thission and Psyri reveal the city’s long history; beautiful preserved old houses blend in with the shiny shops and traditional taverns. The heart of the city is, without a doubt, Syntagma Square. Just a few kilometers from the historical center, you’ll find excellent beaches to enjoy during the hot summers.

2. Tinos

tinosTinos, a large island just northwest of Mykonos, is the most visited Greek Island. However, you won’t bump into foreigners here, as 90% of the visitors are Greek. The island is definitely a tourist-oriented one, but the focus is not on Europeans or Americans; it’s on the Greeks. And since Greeks look for a real experience, even the most tourist friendly places retain a feeling of authenticity and visiting the island is a pleasant experience.

Panayia Evangelistria (or the Church of the Megalochari) stands on top of a small hill overlooking Tinos Town. Every year on August 15 (the Feast of the Assumption) there’s a spectacular fair taking place on the streets of the town and at the church.

3. Crete

creteCrete is not only the largest of the Greek islands, but also one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Overall, more than 2 million tourists visited Crete in 2008 (and more than half of them arrived via Heraklion, the island’s capital).

Crete is renowned for its diverse landscape and beauty, as well as for its remarkable history. The ruins of the Minoan palace of Knossos, the beautiful Venetian fortress of Rethymo, the old Venetian port of Hania, the old mosques, and the Byzantine monasteries are just some of the places Crete is proud to let the tourists discover. The rugged mountains spill out to the sea and the sights from its beaches are absolutely amazing.

If you want to experience the real Crete, avoid the north part of the island, which has been spoilt by mass tourism and cheap vacation packages. Venture away from those areas and you are guaranteed to love the island.

4. Santorini

Even the most skeptic tourist cannot help but be dazzled by the island’s dramatic beauty. What remains from the old volcano creates incredible scenery, best enjoyed from a slow ferry arriving in the port.

Santorini is famous for its sunsets and the village of Oia is a very popular sunset viewing site. Expect huge crowds but don’t be afraid to embrace the entire experience. Thanks to these stunning images, Santorini has always had a reputation as one of the most romantic places in the entire world.

5. Mykonos

Mykonos is mostly famous for its nightlife and cosmopolitan character. But the landmarks of Mykonos are the windmills and the beautiful “Little Venice” . The settlement of Aleukantras (Little Venice) is located to the east side of the harbor and is considered one of the hidden surprises of the island (although if you’ve seen a photo of Mykonos, it probably was of this place).

6. Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is the second largest Greek city. It once was the co-capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today is considered more lively and more cosmopolite than Athens. It’s the place where younger tourists prefer to come and where you’ll enjoy a more laid back atmosphere.

Aside from enjoying the nightlife and culinary delights of the city, don’t forget to sink your teeth in some history. There are plenty of museums to visit and a lot of preserved historical places to check out. The Upper Town offers spectacular views of the bay. Thanks to its tumultuous history, Thessaloniki blends remains of the past occupants. The Turkish baths and the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market) are just two of the most interesting places to visit.

7. Corfu

Located on the south-eastern extremity of Greece, Corfu is one of the most popular Greek islands and most visited by Europeans. It is one of the Ionian Islands and is absolutely stunning. The attractive landscapes, beautiful decorated monasteries and churches, narrow streets and historical monuments make Corfu an unforgettable experience.

Gouvia Bay, located north of Corfu Town on the eastern coast, is a beautiful place where you can enjoy many water sports, including diving. Paleokastritsa, considered the most beautiful Greek town, is also a paradise for swimming and diving.

Photo credits: Athens ; Tinos ; Crete ; Santorini ; Mykonos ; Thessaloniki ; Corfu

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