Greece has a bit of everything for everyone — from coastlines and beaches to ancient historical sites, traditional Greek taverns, and shopping avenues, there’s no shortage of wonders to explore. If you are yearning for an exotic trip to southern Europe, read on to discover the top 10 must-visit cities in Greece.
No trip to Greece would be complete without a visit to its capital. History buffs will love the many archaeological sites Athens has to offer.
But we recommend visiting in the evening when the crowds are few and the golden hour makes it perfect for picture-taking! Later on, cool off in the Acropolis Museum where you can learn more about the historical site and visit an ancient Athenian neighborhood that had been excavated beneath the museum.
For shopaholics, visit the Monastiraki and explore its many lanes and squares. Here, you can find shops selling art, jewelry, souvenirs, and antiques, as well as traditional taverns and cafes where you can relax and grab a bite to eat. For the ultimate experience, head to the Monastiraki Flea Market and bargain your way through a haven of vintage clothes and items, secondhand books, and other novelties.
Athens is also the perfect air hub that can transport you to the various cities in Greece. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air are the two major domestic carriers that have frequent flights to the major cities that are mostly an hour or two away!
Thessaloniki is a city that juxtaposes history and contemporary life with its churches and monuments alongside its modern offerings and nightlife. Perhaps this is the main reason why it is often regarded as the cultural and entertainment capital in northern Greece.
On its waterfront stands the White Tower, a symbol of Thessaloniki built in the 15th Century.
It used to be an infamous fort and prison but today, it is open to visitors, and the museum within highlights everything you need to know about the past and present of Thessaloniki. After the history lesson, head to the top of the tower to enjoy breathtaking views of the city below!
For something a little more fast-paced and lively, make your way over to the district of Valaoritou, one of the hottest spots in the city. During the day, pop into any one of the many cafes for a cuppa and watch the crowds pass by. If you are looking to taste authentic Greek food, there are numerous restaurants in the area, but the most highly recommended is Dia Xoiros. At night, watch the place come alive as the many bars and clubs open for business, and the streets become packed with people!
Known as the main port city of Greece, Piraeus has many beautiful harbors to explore, and if you want to visit the surrounding Greek islands, you can catch ferries for transportation here.
For some of the best seafood in Greece, there is no shortage of seafood restaurants along the harbor of Mikrolimano. If you’ve ever wanted to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant, head on over to Varoulko Seaside Restaurant. Grab a seat on the wooden deck outside to enjoy the picturesque views while sampling elevated seafood dishes. For something a little less upscale but still authentic, visit Jimmy’s Fish, an establishment that has been serving the freshest locally caught seafood with a view since 1996. Go for freshly shucked oysters, grilled octopus, and the grilled catch-of-the-day.
After your meal, why not go wandering around the streets of Kastella? A neighborhood located on a hill filled with neoclassical houses, every spot in this area is picture-perfect. Once you reach the top of the hill, you’ll see Veakeio Theater, an open-air theater for concerts and shows. Make your way there for amazing sunset views of the harbor and the city below.
If you want to be transported back to times of elegance and romance, book a stay at Casa Delfino, a 17th-century Venetian luxury mansion that has been passed down through six generations. The roof garden, open from mid-April to the end of October, provides a view of the twinkling lights of the harbor. There is no better way to enjoy a sunset up here than with a drink in hand.
Take a walk along the harbor and dockyards till you set your eyes on the Venetian Lighthouse of Chania — also considered as the symbol of the city.
For a change of scenery, consider taking a hike through Samaria Gorge located in Samaria Gorge National Park, the only national park in Crete. The hike is about 16 kilometers, and along the way, you’ll be treated to rare species of flora and fauna, clear streams as well as remnants of a village and small churches. You may even spot a kri-kri, an endangered Cretan wild goat species that can only be found in this national park!
Just a short two-hour drive from Athens, Náfplio is the perfect destination for a day trip. A must-do when in Náfplio is to visit Palamidi, a fortress built in 1714 by the Venetians. Walk through the archways and take in the views around you. Soon enough, you’ll have conquered the 900 steps (or so) and be rewarded with a view of Náfplio and the Argolic Gulf.
After breaking a sweat, head to Antica Gelateria di Roma to beat the heat with a scoop or two of old-school gelato, and all of the flavors are all made in-house using only natural and local ingredients.
Once you’ve rested and cooled off, go and visit the Komboloi Museum, the only one of its kind in the world. Kombolois are “worry beads” which Greeks usually fiddle with to ease worry or anxiety. The first floor of the two-story neoclassical building features a workshop where kombolois are made and sold to tourists. The museum itself is located on the second floor. Aside from its vast array of “worry beads”, the place also boasts of a unique collection of prayer beads from around the world.
The biggest city of Crete, Heraklion is a mix of old and new – with its fortresses and old buildings found in the Old Town, while there are a bountiful of designer shops and cafes in the New Town.
For a bit of history, the Historical Museum of Crete showcases the cultural heritage of Crete from early Byzantine times to the present day. The Minoan Palace of Knossos is Crete’s biggest preserved Minoan site and is believed to be a labyrinth for King Minos where the Minotaur, the mystical half-bull, half-man creature, was kept.
Kids in tow? Make a trip to CretAquarium, a research center and aquarium that houses sixty tanks and more than 2000 marine creatures like sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish. Explore with audio guide devices or tag along on a guided tour for an in-depth experience of the aquarium, our underwater friends that live there, and what goes on behind-the-scenes! Admission fees apply but children who are 4 years old and below get free entry.
Navigate your way along over 200 alleys and lanes (many without any street names!) in Europe’s oldest inhabited medieval city. The city of Rhodes deservedly made it to UNESCO’s World Heritage List with its beautiful Gothic churches and street-side shops. Enjoy the slow pace of this sleepy town and bask in the beauty of medieval times and cobbled streets.
A worthy landmark to visit would be the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. Its citadel was built during the 7th century and was much later followed by the construction of the palace itself in the 14th century. Be greeted by a large arched doorway that leads out into a large courtyard and beyond. Explore stone stairways that lead to rooms holding beautiful statues, mosaics, and artwork. The palace is also home to two permanent archaeological exhibitions. Here, visitors can learn more about ancient Rhodes and life back then.
For some summer fun, hop on a free bus transfer from the city center to WaterPark. A sprawling water theme park, WaterPark has extreme slides, a lazy river, swimming pools with games, and more! The park also uses a convenient spending system where you load money into your waterproof wristbands. Simply scan it as a form of payment when buying snacks or souvenirs. Any leftover cash is refunded to you at the end of the day!
Kalamata is not only the capital and chief port of the Messenia regional unit but is also the birthplace of Kalamata olives, a variety of olives that are under Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. This ensures that the Kalamata olives you eat are indeed from Kalamata, Greece. Interested in olives? Take an olive farm tour and learn how this fruit is processed into olive oil.
At Ben Olive Mill, you can go on an award-winning tour that lasts about two hours. Enjoy the sights and smells these groves have to offer. At the mill, you’ll learn how freshly harvested olives get pressed into olive oil. Then, taste different varieties of olives and olive oil along with Greek bread! We advise you to wear comfortable shoes and use sun protection as it can get hot during the summer.
Just about an hour away from Kalamata is the resort destination of Costa Navarino. Treat yourself to a stay at one of the area’s five-star resorts such as The Westin Resort or The Romanos. With spas, signature golf courses, and prestigious dining venues, this is a one-stop luxury destination of your dreams. Spend a day at the Navarino Lagoon and enjoy its pristine waters or sunbathe to your heart’s content.
Surrounded by green valleys and imposing mountains, the city of Larissa enjoys a thriving agricultural and wildlife ecosystem. Cotton, melons, grain, and tobacco are just some of the crops that are grown here.
Just outside of town sits the Vale of Tempe which is located between the mountains of Ossa and Olympus, and through it flows the Pineios river that eventually leads to the Aegean Sea. Idyllic and tranquil, it’s a perfect place to take pictures. Soak in the beauty that has inspired many Greek poets.
A modern-looking building standing in contrast with its surrounding structures is the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa G.I. Katsigras Museum. The museum was named after G.I. Katsigras, a well-known collector who donated about 781 pieces of art by notable Greek artists from 1850 to 1950. Have fun viewing all the amazing art. And don’t worry, the descriptions for each artwork is written in English!
A university town, Patras is a vibrant city steeped in culture. The city is home to Greece’s largest church, the Agios Andreas Cathedral. Also a pilgrimage site for Christians, the church contains relics of Saint Andrew, one of the 12 Apostles.
For an experience you won’t forget, pay a visit to the Mycenaean cemetery of Voudeni which encompasses both the remains of the Mycenaean settlement and the Patras Mycenaean Park. Located on top of a hill, remnants of the cemetery dating back to 1500-1000 BC is open to visitors. Admission to the park is 2 euros for adults while kids can get in for free. Once inside, you will have the chance to enter many of the tombs in the cemetery. Various ancient items are shown on display for public viewing. You can even see the skeletons at their final resting place. After all that time underground, you can finally take a breath of fresh air further up the settlement. Here, you can enjoy views of Patras and the gulf below.
Now that we’ve covered the best cities to visit in Greece, which city is in your next itinerary?