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Greece is the cradle of ancient civilization, liberally sprinkled with architectural gems – from Minoan palaces to bright blue-domed Greek Orthodox churches – and sacred sites dedicated to the Greek gods. It’s also crammed full of natural wonders, including remarkable volcanic landscapes, gorges and valleys and many kilometres of beautiful coastline.
How to choose which “brilliant little speck of an island”, as Lawrence Durrell once described Corfu, to visit, islands that speckle the turquoise seas surrounding the Greek mainland? It’s a tough decision, with so many offering spectacularly rugged mountains, dazzling whitewashed villages and isolated beaches. The largest island, Crete, is one of the best known, while the unassuming Syros is smaller but just as beautiful. Immortalised in the works of the Durrell brothers, verdant Corfu forms the backdrop to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, while Santorini is believed to be the legendary Lost City of Atlantis.
Follow in the footsteps of Greek gods and lose yourself in ancient history at the sacred site of the Acropolis in Athens or at Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Lesser-known but equally archaeologically important sites include the Minoan Akrotiri on Santorini, perfectly preserved due to the thick layer of volcanic ash covering it, following the catastrophic eruption of the Santorini in 1450 BC. Many of the artefacts from sites around Greece have been excavated and removed to museums. Athens is home to some of the world’s best museums for Greek antiquities, such as the National Archaeological Museum and the contemporary New Acropolis Museum.
Greece offers a vast choice of activities. You can hike the length of the longest gorge in Europe, the Samaria, in Crete, or take a more leisurely trip by boat to see the hissing sulphur vents of the volcanic Nea Kameni island off Santorini. Take a cooling dip in the Aegean or Ionian Sea, or grab a snorkel and experience crystal-clear underwater vision.
Greece is world-famous for its delicious olive oil and olives and also produces a great variety of tangy goat’s and sheep’s cheese, the most famous being feta. With a 13,000-km-long coastline, seafood is fresh and plentiful and features on restaurant menus throughout the country. Breakfast is often thick Greek yoghurt with locally produced honey and fruit such as fresh figs. Regional dishes are extremely diverse, but meze (a selection of small dishes) are ubiquitous, washed down with a glass of ouzo at a beachside taverna, or on a terrace of a cliff-top restaurant on Santorini.
Places of interest in Greece
The capital of Greece, Athens is seen as the birthplace of classical civilisation, epitomised by its iconic...
Immortalised in books by Gerald and Lawrence Durrell, most famously in My Family and Other Animals by naturalist...
If unspoilt beaches, picturesque fishing villages and an absence of tourism is your idea of a perfect Greek island,...
Activities in Greece
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