In the UK, we like to think that we have a long and illustrious history, stretching all the way back to the semi-mythical character of King Arthur and Camelot. But what we have here is nothing compared to Greece. In that country, the culture stretches back nearly a thousand years before the birth of Christ, making it one of the cradles of modern civilisation.
Greece isn’t really like any other European country. On the mainland, you’ll find places like Thessaloniki and Corinth. But the country is also a series of islands too, each of which has a fantastic history of its own. They’re all unique too. The type of experience you’ll have on Kos is entirely different from Santorini.
Getting around Greece is a lot of fun and usually requires a lot of travelling by sea. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick with convention. Why not go on a self-guided motorcycle tour of the country? The option is available if you want it.
Greece is the home of western philosophy. It’s the main reason we have freedom, justice and democracy today. If the Greeks hadn’t introduced these progressive ideas, we might still be stuck in the Roman world – a culture that didn’t have the same level of intellectual flourishing.
If you want to explore the beginnings of Western philosophy, Athens is arguably the first place to start. Usually, you’ll begin at the Acropolis where both Plato and Socrates are known to have visited.
After that you’ll want to head over to the Ancient Agora – an ancient cultural landmark.
Still in Athens, you’ll want to check out the Erechtheion – an old temple dedicated to Poseidon and Athena, and the temple of Athena Nike, meaning “victory and wisdom.”
Tours will also take you to the Parthenon which is an ancient archaeological site to the north of the Acropolis.
Tours will then usually proceed to the famed city of Corinth, known best for the letters than Paul sent to the early Christian church there.
Corinth is home to some UNESCO world heritage sites, including the Asklepieion, the birthplace of modern medicine, and Epidaurus the Theatre where you can listen to live shows with beautiful acoustics.
Tours also pay a visit to Mycenae and Tiryns. Mycenae is the birthplace of the Mycenaens – an ancient civilisation who appeared to have provided the intellectual stimulation that gave the ancient Greeks their profound wisdom. Here you will find the remains of beautiful cities and temples, complete with stunning murals from as far back as 1,200 BC.
Greece is also a stunning location for the adventurous at heart. Thanks to the weather and landscape, there are so many opportunities to have fun here it can sometimes make your head spin!
If hiking is your thing, you’ll want to pay a visit to Krikelopotamos in Evritania. Here you’ll find multi-coloured rocks and a giant gorge the locals call Panta Vrechei. Along the length of the landscape feature, you’ll find a strange waterfall that seems to crash from the rock above like a curtain down to the valley below. The area is so beautiful, many companies provide guided tours, including a 4×4 taxi service to bring you to and from the destination.
If you’re looking for something a little less conventional, you might want to try your hand at truffle hunting in an area of Greece called Kalambaka. Here you’ll find a Natural History Museum that organises truffle-hunting tours for keen tourists looking to bag themselves a delicacy. More than 300 different truffle species grow in the region, providing ample opportunities to unearth something uniquely delicious.
If you like spectacular landscapes, you might want to check out Mount Dirfys. This peak is quite high by Greek standards – at more than 1,000 metres in elevation – and provides opportunities for all types of outdoor pursuits. Mountain biking and rock climbing are big activities here. Then, when you’re done, you can go for a walk in the forests around the mountain or have a picnic by the river below.
Wine lovers will want to check out the Jeep safaris up Mount OIympus. This area of Greece is famous for its special grape varieties that only seem to grow on the slopes of the peak between 200 and 800 metres above sea level. Nearby to the wine tasting areas is the famous church of Agioi Theodoroi close to the Museum of Wine and Vine.
When it comes to cultural sites in Greece, the country spoils you for choice. You could spend months here exploring everything that it has to offer. We’ve already mentioned some of the sites in the country, but there are so many others. To keep the discussion short, we will limit the discussion to UNESCO World Heritage sites only (though there are many others).
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi is perhaps the most famous of all of the Greek landmarks, aside from the Acropolis of Athens, designated world heritage status in 1987. According to legend, people came to see the oracle at the temple from all across the eastern Mediterranean, seeking light and justice.
If you head on over to Epidaurus in eastern Peloponnese, you’ll find the Sanctuary of Asclepius, a critical place of healing in the ancient world. If you had something wrong with you, you’d go there for treatment. Sometimes, the owners of the site would run spiritual events, attracting families from many miles around.
If you like going to historic cities, you’ll want to check out medieval Rhodes – one of the most beautiful cities in the region.
Rhodes isn’t as old as many people imagine. It’s not an ancient city by any stretch. In fact, the Knight Order of Saint John set it up between the fourteen and sixteen centuries. It was later occupied by the Italians and then the Ottomans. Many parts of the city are now World Heritage Sites, including the baths, mosquest and Great Hospital.
In short, Greece is a fantastic place to visit on vacation and somewhere you’ll want to put on your bucket list.