Located in south-eastern Europe and surrounded by thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas, Greece is famously known for its’ crystal blue waters, white-washed houses and cliff top villages. Influential in ancient times, it is often referred to as the cradle of Western civilization.
It is home to ancient temples along with the commencement of the Summer Olympic Games back in 1896, earning it a history seeped in myths and facts. It's no wonder the media constantly portrays Greece as a land of mystical beginnings and wonder. A very popular destination amongst couples and families wanting a more relaxed pace of travel, Greece remains at the top of the list for many travellers awaiting a post-Covid world. Us included.
As we patiently wait for the borders to reopen, we would like to highlight nine cities across Greece that should not be missed.
A city that requires minimal introduction - Athens, the capital city of Greece was well known as the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. Proven as Europe’s oldest capital dating back 3,400 years ago, Athens was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom and war. It was not until 1896 that the modern day Olympic Games was held in this iconic city. From a political standpoint, Athens was also the first democracy established around 500 B.C, allowing its people to vote on the law.
Olympia, located in the western Peloponnese is where the Olympic Games originated from. The ancient Olympic Games were held every 4 years and were dedicated to the Greek gods Zeus and Hera. The ancient stadium and training grounds of the Olympians are still visible to this day. Needless to say, this city is engraved in history and its evocation echoes on.
Situated along the slope of Mount Parnassus in upper central Greece is the historical place of Delphi. Here sits the sanctuary sacred to the Greek god Apollo. Apollo was known as the god of light, knowledge and harmony. The Temple of Apollo was used for cryptic predictions, guidance to city-states and individuals in the ancient times. One can visit the Delphi Archaeological Museum which was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1987.
In contrast to the other cities in Greece, Thessaloniki - a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, is renowned for its various festivals, events and sprightly culture. Home to stunning coastlines and historic sites with a modern twist, it comes as no surprise that The New York Times named Thessaloniki as one of their top destinations to visit in 2016. A visit to Thessaloniki would not be complete without visiting the ancient ruins situated in the middle of the city; the stunning church of Hagia Sophia, UNESCO sites like the Roman Agora, the Arch of Galerius, the Rotonda and the Byzantine Baths.
Just south of the city of Thessaloniki is the peninsula of Halkidiki which is divided into three “fingers”; Kassandra the first finger or leg is well-known for its tourist resorts and beaches, the second leg, Sithonia showcases hidden coves, mountainous villages, lush greenery, secluded beaches and has less visitors. Mount Athos which is also referred to as the third leg is a spiritual capital dedicated to the monastic community with over 20 monasteries and an estimated of 2,000 monks. It has been confirmed that women are not allowed within 500metres of the shore of Mount Athos.
Regarded as the port city of Athens in ancient times and in modern day, Piraeus is a limestone peninsula, a prime center of all sea communications between Athens and the Greek islands. It is also the main terminal station for all main Greek railways, linking the sea to Athens by electric railway and superhighway. It takes approximately 30-minutes to get to Piraeus from Athens.
One of the more unique mainland places to visit in Greece would have to be Meteora. Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking hanging monasteries, the sight from afar will leave one feeling astounded. Located in the central region of Greece, Meteora is proud of their six UNESCO Heritage Site monasteries precariously resting atop mighty rock pillars that give off an unreal image. The Meteora Monasteries are some of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites that hold a double status; one for art and one for nature.
Nafplio is said to be one of the most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis and molded by numerous cultures. Many may not know this but Nafplio was once considered the capital of Greece. You will find that the locals echo this sentiment. The town is known as the playground for Athens' elite; where the rich and famous go to escape from the monotonous city life. Stroll through the winding narrow streets and appreciate the architecture of one of the most romantic and appealing quaint towns in Greece.
Knossos is pronounced as how it is spelt (Kuh-nuh-sos) and is a city located in Crete. Labelled as oldest city in Europe, it houses the largest Bronze Age archaeological site in Greece and is renowned for the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Additionally it was once home to the mighty Minoan civilization which dominated the region over 5000 years ago. Definitely a must-visit for history buffs.
Greece has so much to offer as evident through these nine cities with its mesmerising sceneries and crucial historical landmarks that have withstood the test of time and men. To miss out on any one of these cities would be a loss. So be sure to craft out your itinerary to include one or two of these cities if not all.
If you're uncertain where to begin, let the experienced travel consultants at Sedunia Travel help you. To kick things off, you can always start with their Greece travel packages which often includes accommodations and on-ground transportation and customise your trip from there. For more information, head over to their website at www.seduniatravel.com/greece to find out more on the latest packages and promotions.