A Question I Get Asked Every Summer – What Are the Best Places to Visit in Greece and Why?

The Greek Islands have a reputation as some of the most beautiful places on earth. But there’s more to Greece than islands, and much more than simple beauty. You’ll find ancient historical sites and a culture that values good food and drink, music and dance as much as literature and art. You’ll also find modern conveniences and thoroughly charming people everywhere. 

The Short List for Visiting Greece

It’s understandable that tourists from all over the world want to see Greece for themselves. But where to go? There’s no way to see all of Greece, even on a vacation of several weeks’ duration. Athens is a destination in and of itself, and each island has a unique character. If you’re planning a vacation in Greece, here are some tips from a native:


No visitor to Greece should miss this island. Fly to Heraklion from almost any place in the world to begin your adventure. Situated less than 100 miles from the mainland, Crete is the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean, occupies a strategic position at the southern end of the Aegean Sea, and serves as a gateway to other Greek islands. Known as the birthplace of Olympian gods and also as the spawning ground of European civilization, you can see the highlights in a day but stay longer if you can and be sure to sample Cretan salads and cheeses. 


The most southern island of the Cyclades, located north of Crete, Milos is a small, volcanic island, historically known both for its obsidian deposits and for its pure white marble. The Venus de Milo, today housed in The Louvre in Paris, was found in pieces on the island in 1850, but its arms were never recovered.

Athens and the Acropolis

The modern coexists with the ancient in Athens. No visitor should miss the Acropolis, which stands majestically as the crown of the ancient city. Spend enough time in Athens to experience modern Greek culture, food, shopping, and entertainment as well. It’s a very cosmopolitan city, with a population of more than three million.


Third-largest of the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean, Kos is known for its beaches and lush vegetation as well as for its history. It was the home of Hippocrates, and today it has a welcoming, relaxed vibe.


The island’s nickname is “City of Winds,” and Mykonos is known for the line of windmills that dots its bluffs. It is also known for its nightlife, and for its whitewashed buildings, with doors and trim limited only to vibrant blue, red or green. 


Excavations at ancient Minoan sites on this island, also known as Thera, began in 1967 and continue to this day. It is charming, known for its black-sand beaches, blue-painted domes and buildings carved into the steep hillsides.


The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It no longer stands to guard the harbor, but the island offers plenty of other wonders, including ancient hilltop ruins, a medieval citadel, a mosque that dates to the Ottoman conquest, quiet coves, stunning beaches and wonderful food. As many other Greek locations, it’s a  UNESCO Heritage site.


Pale sand beaches and the clear waters of the Aegean characterize Paros, known also for the distinctive villages that dot its hillsides and for exuberant nightlife, traditional taverns and fine nightlife in the two main cities of Parikia and Naoussa. Windsurfing and watersports attract a young crowd, but there are plenty of private coves and historical sites to explore if you’re looking for a calmer vacation. Its location makes it easy to get to Athens or from the surrounding islands.


Although the island is a very real place, the mythical importance of this largest island of the Cyclades group cannot be overstated. Many of the most important Greek gods play a role in island history. Today, however, with adequate water, fertile fields, and diverse agricultural crops, as well as cattle, it is the most self-sufficient island in the chain. With its beaches and ruins, it is a prime tourist destination and more than worth a visit.


Kosta Kritikos,


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