The Wanderlust guide to the best of Greece

Greece is where classical civilisation meets sunloungers – where the myth-shrouded landscapes of Mount Olympus and the Peloponnese compete with equally legendary beaches and turquoise seas...

7 mins

Consisting of a rugged, history-rich peninsula and nearly 1,400 islands, Greece is one of the world’s oldest and most popular travel destinations.

Capital Athens is an essential stop for the culturally curious, home to the world-famous rock-top ruins of the Acropolis, perhaps the most significant ancient monument in Europe. Once derided for its smog-laden gridlock, Athens has spruced itself up in recent years and (despite economic woes) retains a real metropolitan buzz.

Staying on the mainland, highlights to the north include the walker-friendly Pindos mountains; the extraordinary rock monasteries of Meteora; the home of the gods, Mount Olympus; and the cosmopolitan second city of Thessaloniki.

To the west, the Peloponnese peninsula is a wildly scenic region drenched in myth – here you’ll find Olympia, spiritual home of the Games; the ancient citadel of Mycenae; and the Mani, the rugged promontory extolled by travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Starting just a short ferry-ride from Athens’s Piraeus harbour, the islands beckon – and hopping between them is one of travel’s classic journeys. They are divided into six groups, plus two larger islands: Crete and Evia.

Closest to Athens are the Saronic Gulf islands, including Aegina and Hydra. To the east, in the Aegean Sea, you will find the Sporades, North Aegean Islands, Dodecanese (including Rhodes) and Cyclades (including Mykonos and Santorini).

West of the mainland lie the Ionian Islands, which include bustling Corfu and the quieter island of Kefalonia.

Every visitor has their favourite spot, and despite decades of mass tourism, there are still areas of Greece that are almost unknown to tourists. Get off the beach and explore.

Mountain Monastery of the Holy Trinity ( Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

Greece is a land of legends – quite literally. After watching Jason and the Argonauts, William Gray spent two weeks scouring the ancient ruins of Greece, discovering a land where history sits comfortably amongst stunning landscapes and a culture built around hospitality.

It's not all retsina and olives, of course. There are adventures to be had in Greece, and blogger Mythical Peloponnese lists his five favourites in the Peloponnese. Local Andy Sotiropoulou wades in too, revealing Northern Greece's best-kept secrets.

Walking Greece's notorious 'tooth' railway is not for the faint-hearted, says Helen Moat, but the rewards are immense. Just make sure you are well over the wooden bridge before the next train is due.

Surprisingly, Greece is also a great place to see wildlife. From dolphin spotting to bear watching, the country's national parks offer a host of close-encounter wildlife experiences.

More information

Discover Greece's ancient ruins – William Gray

5 fantastic adventures in the Peloponnese – Mythical Peloponnese

Northern Greece's best-kept secrets – Andy Sotiropoulou

Walking Greece's notorious 'tooth' railway – Helen Moat

Wildlife watching in Greece – Visit Greece

Octopus drying on Nisyros ( drying on Nisyros (Shutterstock)

Time to get (island) hopping

The Greek Islands are stunning. Each has its own personality and a picture-perfect vista is never more than a few steps away.

Sadly, neither are the tourists. Unless, of course, you take Morwenna Evans' advice and visit these five Greek Islands without the crowds. Or go trekking. Dana Facaros had most of Evia to herself after discovering that most visitors never leave the coast.

Hayley Lawrence, too, has advice on the best way to hop around the islands and retain a sense of adventure and solitude.

A little local knowledge helps too. Since moving to the Greek Islands, Jennifer Barclay has immersed herself in island life and lists five reasons to love Greek Island life as well as four historic hideaways you must check out in Rhodes.

More information

5 Greek islands to avoid the crowds – Morwenna Evans

A trek with the Gods in Evia – Dana Facaros

The splash of the Titans – Hayley Lawrence

5 reasons to love Greek island life – Jennifer Barclay

Rhodes' Top 4 historic hideaways – Jennifer Barclay

Acropolis at sunset ( at sunset (Shutterstock)

Short break in Greece

Well served by budget airlines, Greece makes a perfect short break destination for those looking for sunshine, good food and a large dose of culture.

Sarah Baxter recommends Greece's second city, Thessaloniki. It's full of hidden secrets, exceptional food, thriving bars and a laid back spirit, she says.

Mark Everleigh, on the other hand, sings the praises of Athens. With over 2,000 years of history complemented by a vibrant contemporary scene, he reckons the Greek capital is one of Europe’s top budget city break spots.

If you're only going to Athens, it's possible to have a Greek Island experience too. Chloe Lloyd reveals the quintessential Greek island that is only a fifty-minute ferry ride away from the capital.

More information

Short break in Thessaloniki, Greece – Sarah Baxter

A short break in Athens, Greece – Mark Everleigh

Island hopping in Greece: 50 minutes to paradise – Chloe Lloyd

Feta Salad (Greek Tourist Board)
Feta Salad (Greek Tourist Board)

Food fit for the Gods

There's more to Greek cuisine than moussaka, and with the help of the Greek Tourist board we reveal Greece's finest foodie experiences – and where to find them. The trigona panoramotos are to die for.

The Peloponnese has it's own cuisine – a little more earthy and authentic. It's not a foodie hotspot yet, but author Marjory McGinn reckons it won't be long before it is. Get to Mani and try these five dishes before the hordes arrive.

If it's natural produce you're after, Helen Moat says you can't go past a Greek melon, straight from the back of a truck. Jennifer Barclay, on the other hand, sings the praises of the temptation laid out before you at Rhodes' Saturday Market.

More information

Greek flavours: the 7 dishes you have to try – Greece National Tourist Office

In praise of Greek melons – Helen Moat

Top 5 bites in Mani, Greece – Marjory McGinn

The temptations of Rhodes' Saturday Market – Jennifer Barclay

Evzoni guard, Athens ( guard, Athens (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

Greece is travel brochure perfect. Indeed, you've probably seen the whitewashed buildings, the tavernas, the ancient ruins on posters in the windows of travel agents on every high street across the land. Hence the dilemma: how do you capture Greece is a new and interesting way?

It's all about perspectives, says Steve Davey. Abandon the stereotypes and think past the predictable angles and compositions to get shot of the cliches.

If it's inspiration you're after, check out the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Greece.

More information

Get shot of cliches: photographing travel icons – Steve Davey

Readers' photos from Greece

Santorini by night ( by night (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Greece Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Greece Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Greece too.

If you have a particular question about Greece, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Greece. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Greece Travel GuideWanderlust Team

Greece Essential InfoWanderlust Team

Latest travel news from Greece

Forum posts about Greece

Community content about Greece

Boat in Parga ( in Parga (Shutterstock)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From sailing trips through the islands to mountain trekking adventures, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Greece


Main image: Chairs outside a taverna (Shutterstock)

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