36 Most Famous Landmarks in Greece
Greece is an epic country with exceptional natural beauty and rich history and culture. Here are the 36 most famous landmarks in Greece to get you inspired to travel to this extraordinary European country.
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Most Famous Landmarks in Greece – Map
#1 Oia, Santorini
If you’re looking for the most famous landmarks in Europe, you should definitely include Santorini! White houses with blue roofs perched on rusty-coloured post volcanic cliffs – this is how Oia looks like. Oia was part of a prosperous ancient settlement that was involved in trade between Alexandria and Russia.
Today, Santorini is one of the most famous Greece tourist spots. The best way to experience Oia, one of the most beautiful places in Greece, is to take a stroll in the late afternoon and watch the magical sunset from the ruins of Oia Castle. This is also the best time to take some epic shots as the golden light reflects beautifully in the white buildings of Oia.
Don’t miss out on a visit to one of Santorini’s wineries for a wine tasting coupled with tasty bites of olives, cheese and Greek bread. Outdoor lovers can do some serious hiking in this gorgeous area! Climb the Santorini Volcano situated on Nea Kameni island. Another option is to hike the Caldera trail between Oia and the capital city of Santorini – Fira. And, if you rather relax, that’s okay too. Take one of the boats and sail around the island for some great views and a chilled day.
If you want to take a break from the crowds of Oia, visit smaller villages such as the village of Pyrgos for an ultimate Greek island charm. Don’t forget your camera as the town is insanely pretty!
#2 The Acropolis of Athens
The symbol of civilisation, the Acropolis of Athens, is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. It dates back to the 5th century BC, the time when Athens were the most remarkable civilisation dominating other Greek city-states. The term ‘acropolis’ means an upper city, defensively orientated and containing all the important buildings such as religious places of worship, trade and governmental institutions. Every Greek city-state had an acropolis, but the Athenian Acropolis was the most significant where many modern concepts of the world have been invented, such as democracy, modern philosophy, cartography and the earliest practice of medicine.
Today, the Acropolis stands proudly perched on a hill and is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Athens and one of the most prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most significant monuments that you can see in the Acropolis include the Parthenon – the temple dedicated to goddess Athena, the temple of Erechtheion, the Ionic temple of Athena Nike and the majestic theatre able to accommodate up to 5,000 people – Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Most treasures and artefacts discovered at the Acropolis have been moved to either the Acropolis Museum situated nearby or the British Museum in London.
The best time to visit this Greek landmark is off-season when tickets are half price, the weather is cool, and the crowds are smaller.
#3 Mykonos windmills
The Cycladic island of Mykonos is one of the most desirable places to visit in Greece for its boutique hotels, lively nightlife and picturesque white-washed houses.
But, the most famous Greece landmark of Mykonos is the iconic Kato Myli grain windmills overlooking the Little Venice. The windmills date back to the 6th century. They are large white buildings with thatched roofs. Most of the windmills can be seen from anywhere in the old town of Mykonos. If you want to learn more about the function of the windmills, head to Boni Windmill that is open to tourists and houses a museum with some interesting information about the island. And, for the best experience of these stunning greek landmarks, climb the top of the hill they are situated on during the golden hour. The hill is notorious for the strong wind, but I promise the view will be worth the climb!
Mykonos is also one of the best places in Greece for meze dining; try Kastro’s Restaurant with the Instagram-famous seating area overlooking the sea. Other awesome things to do in Mykonos include exploring the white-washed alleys of the Mykonos old town Chora, Panagia Paraportiani Church and window shopping in Matogianni.
#4 Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
Probably the most beautiful beach in Greece – Navagio or Shipreweck Beach is one of the best places to visit in Greece for beachgoers and Instagrammers! It is situated on the stunning island of Zakynthos of the western coast of Greece, a third-largest greek island on the Ionian Sea.
Some believe that Shipwreck Beach is the most photographed landmark in Greece, ahead of even the Acropolis! And, if you look at it, you will understand why straight away. Sandwiched between imposing white-coloured cliffs with pristine sand contrasting with azure water, Navagio Beach is a must-visit natural Greece landmark. In the middle of the beach, a fallen ship is rusting on the sand. One of the stories explaining the presence of the shipwreck is that it was a smuggler ship transporting illegal contraband cornered into the cove by the Greek Navy. Some call the beach the smuggler’s cove because of that. The less exciting explanation is that the vessel experienced some mechanical failure.
Today, the beach is one of the most popular points of interest in Greece. For the best view of the beach and the shipwreck, head to a viewpoint a few kilometres north from the beach, along the coast.
#5 Sarakiniko Beach, Milos
The Cycladic Islands situated off the south-eastern coast of Greece, are hands down the most sought-after areas in Greece by holidaymakers. Milos is definitely lesser-known than its bigger sisters and famous tourist spots in Greece, such as Santorini and Mykonos. If you want to explore this gorgeous island that is quickly gaining popularity, make your trip fast before it becomes another crowded and super touristy Greece tourist destination.
Milos has some unworldly landscapes and incredible beaches. One of the most unique ones is Serakiniko, situated in the northern part of the island. Serakiniko is famous for its distinct white rock formation and azure water. When visiting Serakiniko, you feel like being on the Moon thanks to its unworldly scenery resembling Moon craters. It is a true paradise for the avid Instagrammers! If you’re hunting for some awesome pics, make sure to arrive super early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Although Serakinino is called a beach, the sandy part is very small. Most of the area is covered by various volcanic rocks. Serakiniko beach is a fantastic spot to explore; there is even a shipwreck sunk in the turquoise sea right by the shore and some cliff jumping sites for the adrenaline junkies! If you have a drone, make sure you have the batteries charged, as Serakiniko ‘moonscape’ is the perfect place for some aerial shots.
Read Also: Where to stay in Milos – Ultimate Guide to Best Areas & Hotels
#6 Monastiraki Square, Athens
Situated in the heart of the capital city of Greece, Monastiraki Square is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Athens after the Acropolis. Monastiraki Square has a long history and is where different religions and civilisations of different areas rhyme together.
On the corner of the square stands a small church – the monastery of Pontanassa dedicated to Virgin Mary Pontannasa. The monastery was erected in the 10th century, and it used to take up the entire square, hence the name – Monastiraki. The ancient Library of Hadrian, one of the most prominent ancient Greek landmarks in Athens, is located across the square. It dates back to 132 AD and was the most extensive library in Athens, featuring lavish ornaments. There is also Tzistarakis Mosque dating back to the 18th century, a heritage from the Ottoman rule over the city of Athens.
Today, Monastiraki Square is a lively area visited by tourists, jammed packed with fruit stands, souvenir shops and a place of social meetups for the local people. Monastiraki is also an excellent area for nightlife and dining, with the Acropolis hill standing over the area beautifully lit up. Get lost amongst the many local vendors selling anything from clothing to decorative items along Ifestou Street to get the real taste of the Monastiraki neighbourhood.
Read also: 30 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe You’ll Love
#7 Meteora Monasteries
Meteora Monastries are hands down one of the most impressive Greece landmarks! Meteora in Greek means ‘suspended in the air’, and there is no better way of describing those fascinating structures. Meteora is a cluster of monasteries perched on imposing rocks reaching heights of over 600 meters. They are situated a few kilometres from Kalabaka in the central part of the country.
Meteora monasteries were erected in the 13th century, and today they are UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only 6 out of the original 24 are still activate and open to visitors. These are Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron – most prominent and most visited monastery, Holy Monastery of Varlaam, Holy Monastery of Rousanou, Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas, Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and Holy Monastery of Holy Trinity. The latter has the most scenic location and was a filming location for the James Bond movie ‘For your eyes only’. Being visited by over 2 million vis
The best way to fully experience this famous landmark in Greece is to hike from monastery to monastery with a tour. A great place to base yourself in the town of Kalambaka with a good range of hotels and guest houses. If you would rather prefer a more quaint place, stay in Kastraki, built into a hillside home to 19th-century cottages, 2 km away from Meteora.
#8 Balos Beach, Crete
Balos Beach, situated on the largest Greek island – Crete, is one of the most beautiful places in Greece. Moreover, Crete is one of the best places to go in Greece for a holiday. Whatever your travel style, you’ll find something you love in Crete, from ancient ruins, excellent hiking spots to the most stunning beaches that will blow your mind!
Balos Beach is famous for its turquoise water gently washing over the rusty-coloured shore. To find this peaceful blue lagoon, drive 56 km northwest from Chania or 17 km from Kissamos. Visiting places in Greece often means having to cope with large crowds, which is also the case with Balos. Thousands of people arrive at Balos lagoon daily by ferries from Kissamos. If you rather avoid the hectic ferry crowd, arrive at the beach early in the morning and enjoy this famous tourist spot in Greece all to yourself. The road leading to the beach is mostly a dirt track up the hill, so it is recommended to hire a four by four car to avoid getting stuck somewhere. On top of the hill, there is a designated car park from where it takes 15-20 minutes to hike down to the beach.
#9 The Ancient Theatre of Delphi
The Ancient Theatre of Delphi, part of the sacred Delphi Sanctuary, is one of the most important ancient Greek landmarks. Delphi was a significant place for ancient people. It was home to god’s Apollo Oracle ( priestess) – Pythia that people from all over the region visited seeking advice on different matters.
Delphi was also a place in Greece mythology where two eagles released by god Zeus in two opposite directions met. After the event, the sanctuary was known as the ‘Naval of the World’.
The ancient theatre of Delphi, dating back to the 4th century BC, was built on a hill with a panoramic view of the entire sanctuary. It could seat up to 5,000 spectators in 35 raws, and it was used for various seasonal festivals that included reading poetry, plays and playing music.
Today, the Delphi theatre is one of the most visited landmarks of Greece and a UNESCO Heritage Site. Its impressive settings overlooking a lush valley and many interesting artefacts from the Classic period of ancient Greece hold at the site museum makes it a worthwhile trip.
The best way to visit Delphi is to stay overnight in a small village called Delphi by the ruins or Arachova a few kilometres away. If you’re on a tight schedule, you can visit Delphi on a day trip from Athens.
#10 Chania’s Old Venetian Harbour
Chania is a picturesque coastal town situated in the northwest part of the Greek island Crete. As mentioned earlier, Crete is the best place to go in Greece for the diversity this relatively large island has to offer, from beautiful beaches, quaint towns to the most prominent ancient monuments in Greece.
Chania is best known for its charming Venetian harbour erected in the 14th century, built during the Venetian occupation, where Crete was a prominent trading centre on the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, the harbour is one of the main Greek attractions on the island, home to a range of excellent seafood restaurants with a gorgeous sea view best enjoyed at sunset. There is also a 16th-century lighthouse and the Nautical Museum for those looking to learn more about Chania’s heritage. And if you’re keen on learning even more history, head to the Archaeological Museum of Chania, housed by the former Venetian Monastery of Saint Francis.
Take a stroll through the colourful narrow alleys of Chania packed with exciting souvenir shops, little cafes and traditional tavernas. Have a drink and a snack such as Cretan Bruschetta called ‘dakos’ in one of the cafes’ outdoor seating, relax and people watch. This area of Crete is also an excellent base for exploring this part of the island and its fabulous beaches, such as Balos and Elafonissi beach.
#11 Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
One of the best Greece things to do is visiting different archaeological sites, and Epidaurus is one of the best and most exciting ones. Epidaurus theatre is part of the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios, located on the west side of Cynortion Mountain, 2 hours drive from Athens on the Peloponnese. The Sanctuary is devoted to the god of healing – Asklepios and it served as a religious and therapeutic centre.
The theatre of Epidaurus is an imposing structure, and it’s considered to be the best-preserved ancient theatre in Greece and one of the most prominent landmarks of ancient Greece. It was erected in the 4th century BC and fully completed in the 2nd AD. The theatre can accommodate up to a whopping number of 15,000 spectators, and it boasts the most impressive acoustics of all ancient theatres. Even the audience sat in the furthest raw could hear the actors whispering on the stage. This is so impressive, and the best part is that you can test it yourself when visiting the site! The theatre is not only praised for its remarkable acoustic but also for its symmetry and size.
Today, the theatre holds the yearly summer Athens Epidaurus Festival showcasing ancient dramas and modern plays by Greek and foreign artists.
#12 Elafonissi Beach, Crete
Elafonissi Beach is one of the most beautiful places Greece is known for and also one of the most visited Greek tourist destinations. Elafonisi or Elafonissos is a small islet of pristine white and pink coral sand washed over by crystal clear calm sea attached to Crete by a shallow reef.
The beach is located in the southwestern part of the island, 75 km away from Chania. The road to the beach takes you through the mountains and some windy roads, and it is an adventure in its own right! On your way there, stop in a sleepy little mountainous village called Elos, famous for the Chestnut Festival that takes place every October. There are a few traditional Greek tavernas and a quaint church. If you rather avoid driving, you can catch a daily bus from Chania. You can also get to Elafonisi by boat from Paleochora.
Elafonisi beach was undiscovered and completely deserted for a long time, but today it is one of the top attractions in Greece and can be a little crowded, especially when visiting during the high season between July and August.
#13 Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the most prominent peak in Greece and an important landmark Greece is famous for, situated 150 km south of Thessaloniki. Olympus is a part of the first-ever Greek national park – Olympus National Park. The highest peak of Mount Olympus is Mytikas ‘nose’ in Greek, rising to 2,918 meters and is the highest peak in the Balkans. Olympus also boast a status granted by UNESCO of ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for its rich biodiversity. It encompasses 52 peaks and many deep gorges and 108 species of birds, and 32 species of mammals.
Mount Olympus is also one of the most important places in Greece mythology, home to the Greek god Zeus and his godly entourage looking over the ordinary people from the peak.
Mount Olympus is one of the famous Greece tourist attractions for outdoor enthusiasts with many beautiful trails to hike. A full trek to the top of Mount Olympus takes two to three days and requires some good fitness stamina as well as overnight stays in the park’s refuges. If you’re not up for the full-blown hike, there are various shorter day hikes available. An excellent place to base yourself is the town of Pironia, where different tour operators offer hiking excursions.
#14 Myrtos Beach
Myrtos beach is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks Greece has to offer to nature lovers and beachgoers! It is situated on Kefalonia island on the Ionian Sea off the west coast of mainland Greece. Myrtos beach, apart from being famous in Greece, is also regularly mentioned in various travel magazines as one of the best beaches in the world for its spectacular settings and exceptional cleanness. It is also the biggest drawcard for visitors to Kefalonia.
Myrtos beach has been described as the most dramatic beach in Greece due to its unique location surrounded by imposing white cliffs. When looking at the photos of Myrtos beach, you may think that the dazzling turquoise of the water has been enhanced. But you’ll be surprised to know that the water is really that colour in real life due to the white rock sediment!
The beach is easily accessible by car as well as public transport or a boat. Several sun loungers and umbrellas are available for day rent, and a few beach bars selling light snacks and cold drinks. The beach is definitely one of the more famous Greek tourists attractions, at the same time there is lots of space, so it never feels too crowded. Stay until the sunrise to witness the magical range of colours!
#15 Minoan Palace of Knossos
The ancient city of Knossos, located in Crete, is one of the most important and famous landmarks in Europe, being Europe’s oldest city. It is situated 20 minutes drive south of Heraklion. The area of the palace has a long history of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic. Many artefacts were excavated and provided the scientist with an in-depth insight into the Minoan Civilisation.
The palace was not only home to the king but also a religious, civic and economic centre of Knossos inhabited from around 2000 BC until a devasting earthquake destroyed it in 1700 BC.
The Knossos Palace is also believed to be the same palace as in the Minotaur story from Greek mythology. According to the legend, King Minos kept his son – Minotaur, half bull and half man in a labirynth in Knossos. When the
Athenian prince – Theseus visited Crete, the king sent him to the labyrinth to fight the beast. Luckily the king’s daughter who fell in love with the prince, gave him a ball of thread so that he could find his way out of the labyrinth. Theseus killed the Minotaur and fled Crete with the king’s daughter.
Today, the archaeological site of Knossos is one of the most famous Greece landmarks from ancient times. If you’re interested in Greek mythology, you should definitely add Knossos to your Greece itinerary.
#16 Temple of the Olympian Zeus
The Temple of the Olympian Zeus is one of the most famous temples in Greece and renowned tourist attractions in Greece.
The temple was dedicated to Zeus, the most prominent Olympian god. It is supposed to be the most extensive and most impressive temple in the entire Hellenic world. The works started in the 6th century BC but had to abruptly stop due to political unrest until the 2nd century BC when the Roman emperor Hadrian finally managed to complete it.
The temple featured 104 17 m high columns in its completed state and was built with high-quality Pantelic marble. Unfortunately, today the temple is mainly ruined partly by the Byzantine ruler that encouraged people to strip the expensive marble for use in building houses and churches, partly by the Turkish invasion and partly by the devastating force of nature.
Today, the temple of the Olympian Zeus is one of Athens famous landmarks situated in Syntagma, a short walk from the Acropolis. If you want to visit both, get a combined ticket to both of these ancient Greece points of interest.
#17 Samaria Gorge, Crete
Beaches are not the only tourist attractions Greece is famous for. There are also many great mountains and excellent hiking spots. Samaria Gorge, situated in the White Mountains of western Crete, is one of them.
Samaria Gorge is part of the Gorge National Park, and measuring 16 km in length, it is one of the longest gorges in Europe. But, don’t think it’s an easy hike. The hike is pretty challenging, especially in the middle of the summer when temperatures reach the high thirties. It can take anything between 5 and 7 hours.
The hike is pretty epic, though. Especially at the ‘gate’ to the gorge, when you can see it at its best mighty angle. On your way, you also pass an abandoned Samaria village and some interesting Greek churches. There are several endemic species in the park of plants and flowers. You may also find kri-kri, which is a Cretan goat that only inhabits this area. The hike starts in Xyloskalo at an altitude of 1,250 meters and goes all the way down to a coastal village of Agia Roumeli, where you can take a refreshing dip in the sea after the hike.
Samaria Gorge is one of the famous places in Greece for an outdoor adventure and one of the excellent Greece vacation spots!
#18 Medieval Town of Rhodes
The medieval city of Rhodes is the oldest inhabited city in Europe and, for that, one of the important historical landmarks in Greece. If you’re thinking – another boring site with ancient ruins, you are wrong. The old town of Rhodes is a lively place with colourful alleys, small shops and cafes, a place that is exciting to visit. And an unbelievable fact is that 6,000 residents of Rhodes town live in the same buildings occupied by king St Johns and his knights six centuries ago.
Today, the city is a UNESCO Heritage Site attracting many visitors yearly for its rich history, beautiful architecture and some of Greece’s most stunning beaches nearby, such as Prasonisi, Glystra and Traganou beach.
The top attractions in Greece Rhodes include the Palace of the Grand Master with an imposing entrance and well-preserved towers and battlements, the Great Hospital of the Knights home to the Archeological Museum, the medieval clocktower, the synagogue of the Suleyman and the mosque of the Recap Posha. These may not be the most famous landmarks of Greece, but they are undoubtedly important structures in Rhodes heritage.
#19 Mount Athos Monasteries
Far from being a tourist spot of Greece, Mount Athos is a fascinating place home to 20 monasteries inhabited by over 2,000 monks! Mount Athos is a separate self-govern entity administrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It is also an important spiritual hub for Orthodox Christianity.
The monasteries – famous greek landmarks are located in Halkidiki with some impressive views over the sea. The monks who inhabit the monasteries live a simple life filled with daily chores ranging from cleaning, renovating and making wine and raki and, of course, hours of prayers. Some of the monks never leave their monastery.
Also, women are not allowed within 500m from the monasteries. The monks believe that women would distract the monks from their prayers and draw them into sin. It is also believed that Virgin Mary prayed for Mount Athos to belong solely to her. An interesting fact is that even female animals are not allowed to wander near the monasteries.
Those monks who don’t want to be a part of a monastery, live in ‘sketes’, small communities living in isolation. In one of the most isolated skete communities, Karoulia, monk’s quarters are hanging precariously on the edge of the cliff high above the sea.
Even though Mount Athos is not really one of the Greece tourist destinations, it is a highly interesting place to know about.
#20 Bourtzi Castle, Nafplion
The fortress of Bourtzi is one of the popular attractions Greece has to offer, situated on a tiny islet in front of Port Nafplio. The city of Nafplio is located on the easter coast of Peloponnese in the Argolic Gulf.
The Castle Bourtzi, meaning ‘tower’ in Turkish, is one of Greece famous landmarks situated on the peninsula. The castle was specifically designed to fit the small area of the islet and was built by the Venetians in the 15th century. In the subsequent years, the castle and the entire city of Nafplion were fortified to protect against the pirates. Thick chains were attached between the islet and Nafplio port to prevent any enemy ship from docking.
In the 19th century, the fortress served as home to the executioner of convicts of the Palamadi castle. The remote location was perfect for that sort of profession because no one in the city wanted to be neighbours with someone that executes people for a living. In the 20th century, the place was transformed into a hotel. Today, Bourtzi castle is one of the famous Greek places hosting a Summer Music Festival. The castle is also open to visitors, and it’s accessible by a short boat ride.
#21 Archaeological Site of Olympia
The Archeological Site of Olympia is one of the most important landmarks in ancient Greece. Olympia is situated in the western Peloponnese and was the birthplace of the most important sporting event in the world – the Olympics.
Every four years since 776 BC, the finest athletes gathered in Olympia to compete in different sporting disciplines; 3,000 years later, the tradition continues. Olympia is a super important place, a huge part of the human heritage and a piece of the puzzle of understanding the world today. The Hellenic ideal of humanity is still vivid today – peaceful and fair competition amongst equal humans that compete for a symbolic reward and honour.
Olympia was also an important place of worship of the Greek god Zeus, and today you can see in Olympia some exquisite statues such as the famous statue in Greece – decoration of the temple of Zeus. Other famous sculptures in Greece situated in Olympia include the Hermes of Praxiteles and the statue of Nike of Paionios.
Today, Olympia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the main Greece attractions for ancient history buffs. The site includes the stadium, temples and various buildings where Olympians were getting ready for the competition.
#22 Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal is one of the interesting points of interest Greece is famous for. The canal is located in Peloponnese, and it links the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest with the Saronic Gulf in the southwest.
The canal was first crossed by boats as early as 600 BC when small boats were carried on wheeled cradles through a stone road. In the 19th century, the Greek dream of cutting through Peloponnese from the Aegean Sea to the Adriatic without having to go round the peninsula came true with the commencement of the construction. And, in 1893, the canal was crossed for the first time.
The existence of the Corinth Canal facilitated trade and brought substantial economic benefits to the ports of Isthmia and Posidonia.
Today, the canal measuring 6.3 km in length and 8 meters in depth is one of the famous landmarks Greece has to offer to visitors. It is a popular tour stop and one of the beautiful Greece sights to see. It is only 25m wide which makes it impossible for modern ships to pass. Therefore it lost its economic importance from the past. However, the canal today is one of the Greek tourist places with leisure cruises going through it on a regular basis.
#23 Fiscardo, Kefalonia
Kefalonia is hands down one of the most beautiful places of Greece. If you’re looking for a stunning island with exceptionally gorgeous beaches and rich heritage, Kefalonia is one of the best places to go in Greece.
Fiscardo is the only traditional fishing village remaining on the island that has survived the devastating earthquake of 1953. Fiscardo is located 50 km from Kefalonia’s capital Argostoli. The village is true eye candy for those that can appreciate Venetian architecture. Narrow alleys are filled with traditional colourful houses decorated with blossoming flower bushes. The main road along the coast is home to many picturesque cafes, restaurants and small shops. You can enjoy the view from one of the cocktail bars over the charming marina with yachts and fishing boats docked nearby and the view of Ithaca island.
Kefalonia island is also a true beach paradise! I mentioned Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia earlier on in this post as a separate natural landmark in Greece. Another famous beach in Kefalonia not to be missed is Antisamos with white pebbles, emerald water and is surrounded by the lush Avgo mountains. Kefalonia is also home to the endangered species of sea turtles called Caretta-caretta.
#24 Mount Lycabettus, Athens
Standing 277m above sea level, Mount Lycabettus is the highest point of Athens and one of the most prominent natural landmarks in Athens Greece.
The hill is an excellent viewpoint, and the best time to enjoy it is at sunset. At dusk, the lights at the Acropoli get turned on, making the panoramic view of the Greek capital even more appealing. You’ll also be able to see the Panathenaic Stadium, the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Olympic Zeus.
Mount Lycabettus is also one of the famous places in Athens for dining. A few restaurants located at the top offer breath-taking panoramic views of Athens, making outdoor dining that little bit more special. There is also a viewing platform and a whitewashed church of Agios Georgios to check out.
Lycabettus Hill is located in Kolonaki. You can get to the top on a funicular that leaves from the corner of Ploutarhou and Aristippou Streets every 30 minutes or hike to the top, which should take around 30 minutes. When it’s not too hot, walking to the top is great for the fantastic views on the way. The path starts on Aristippou Street, and you can either take a taxi there or come by Metro or a city bus.
#25 The island of Spinalonga, Crete
Although Spinalonga is a tiny island off the northeastern coast of Crete, it is a famous place of Greece filled with mystery and betrayal, the island with a dark past that contrasts with its dazzling natural beauty.
In the early 1900s, after defeating Turks and regaining control over the island, the Greeks turned Spinalonga into a leper colony. Leprosy was a horrific disease that was causing skin sores and body deformation. At first, there was no cure to it, and whoever got infected was hugely stigmatised by society. In Greece, people suffering from leprosy were stripped of all their possessions and even their citizenship and identity and sent to a leprosy colony on the island of Spinalonga. Even their families would turn against them. The colony kept operating years after the cure was found. Only after a British expert visited the island and denounced the medical practices of the island’s doctor, the government listened, shut the island and offered the treatments to the remaining patients.
Today, the island is one of the more interesting tourist spots Greece offers for those interested in learning about history. To get to Spinalonga Island, take a bus from Heraklion to either Plaka or Elounda, where you can get a boat across to the island. You can also visit the island on a tour or by boat from Agios Nikolas.
#26 Parthenon, Athens
Perched on the Acropolis hill with the most central position, Parthenon is undeniably one of the most famous buildings in Greece and one of the most famous landmarks in Athens!
Built around the 5th century BC, during the golden age when the Greek empire stretched from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the Black Sea and democracy, arts and philosophy were flourishing. The construction of the Parthenon was a part of the largest public buildings project masterminded by Perikles.
The temple was devoted to the goddess Athena – the patron of the city. There used to be a giant statue representing Athena made of gold and ivory, which unfortunately doesn’t exist today. Until the 17th century, the temple was largely intact until the Christians defaced most statues and turned it into a church. After the Christians, during the Ottoman conquest, the Parthenon was turned into a mosque until the Venetian raid. The Turks stored the gunpowder in the temple, and you can imagine what the Venetians did to it. They ignited the gunpowder, which caused a massive explosion and significant damage to the structure.
Today, the Parthenon is the finest example of Classical architecture and one of the most significant treasures from ancient times. A visit to the Greek capital would not be complete without paying a visit to Parthenon and the Acropolis, which are the most significant tourists spots in Greece. If you’re an avid history enthusiast, don’t miss the Acropolis Museum, home to the greatest Acropolis treasures.
#27 Vikos Gorge
The Gorge of Vikos, rising to 1,040 meters, is the second deepest gorge in the world, after the Grand Canyon and one of the famous landmarks of world and most beautiful places Greece is renowned for! Vikos Gorge is located in the northern part of the country, not far from the border with Albania, in the monotonous area of Epirus in Zagoria. It is a part of Vikos-Aoos National Park, founded in the 1980s with rich flora and fauna, including bears, deers and foxes!
If you’re an avid hiker and outdoor lover, the Zagoria area is one of the best tourist places in Greece for hiking, climbing and mountain biking. The gorge area has outstanding natural beauty, and on your hike, you will also go past some quaint villages of Zagoria, Byzantine monasteries and picturesque stone bridges.
The Ancient City of Mycenae was an important ancient civilisation, and today it is one of the most famous monuments in Greece.
Mycenae is situated on a small hill on the fertile Argolid Plain, 42 km south of Corinth, on the Peloponnese. Together with another ancient city – Tiryns, Mycenae was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ancient City of Mycenae is perhaps best known from Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. The Iliad tells the story of Mycenae, ruled by King Agamemnon and his son Atreus – both famous people in Greece mythology. It was Agamemnon that led the expedition against Troy. You probably recall how he tricked the enemies with the Troyan horse.
Mycenaean Civilisation was known as rich in gold. The elite lived in luxury, and the feudal system was highly organised. They were also known to engage in piracy and looting of the coastal town in Egypt. It is unclear what caused this highly intelligent and organised civilisation to fall. Some theories talk about political unrest or foreign raids, and others attribute the fall of Mycenae to a natural disaster.
If you want to learn more about this ancient civilisation, many of its artefacts are housed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and a smaller Mycenae Museum.
#29 Monemvasia Castle
If you’re looking for ideas on what to do in Greece beyond relaxing on a beautiful beach, you’ll be pleased to know that Greece is so much more than just pretty beaches. By this point in the post, you probably already got inspired by all the exciting and famous landmarks in Greece, but in case you’re still craving more, here it is.
Monemvasia Castle is located in the southeastern part of the beautiful Peloponnese and is one of the many famous Greek buildings from Medieval times. Monemvasia was strategically built on top of the tall rock with only one narrow road connecting the fortress to the mainland. That is how the fortress’ name Monemvasia which means ‘single passage’ came out –
This secluded setting is supposed to protect the castle against the raids of the barbarians during the 6th century. Thanks to its location, the fortress managed to withstand many foreign invasions. Today, many buildings still stand in good shape thanks to the sturdy construction and materials such as mortar and masonry.
If you’re someone that enjoys history and exploring quaint towns, you’ll love Monemvasia. And for an authentic experience of the place, stay in the fortress overnight. When all tourists finish their tours, you will have the place to yourself!
#30 Mystras, Peloponnese
The Archaeological Site of Mystras is one of the famous Greek structures from medieval times and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is situated in Laconia near Sparta, in the southern part of Peloponnese. Mystras was a critical castle town in Byzantine times, and in its last decades before the fall, it was the second most important city after Constantinople. It is also famous for being home to a military governor – the Despotate of Morea in the 14th century. In the 19th century, the inhabitants of Mystras gradually started to move out from the city to the more modern Sparta, leaving Mystras completely abandoned.
Mystras today is one of Greece tourist places; a few villages have been built at the bottom of the fortress with some unique and traditional accommodation options for those visitors wanting to stay overnight. The site is divided into two sections: the Lower Town and the Upper Town. The climb to the upper section takes roughly 15 minutes, and the view from the top is to die for! You’ll also notice many quaint Byzantine churches with interesting architecture and intricate frescoes during your visit.
#31 Thassos Island
Thassos is the most northern Greek island situated on the Aegean Sea, situated just 14 km from the port of Keramoti. Due to its remote location, Thassos is one of the unspoiled by tourism places to see Greece is renowned for. If you’re looking for an off-beaten track destination to spend some quality quiet time, look no further.
Thassos is a relatively small and very green island thanks to the large amount of rainfall it receives. The island has some incredible beaches that will take your breath away. Krisi Ammos, also called Golden Beach, entices visitors with the wide stretch of golden coloured soft sand and colourful beach umbrellas and loungers, perfect for a relaxing beach day. Another stunning beach is Marble Beach, situated in the northern part of the island. The water at Marble Beach is crystal clear with a lovely turquoise colour, while the sand is pristine white. It is a true slice of paradise!
For adventure seekers, there is Giola Pool from where you can cliff jump into the azure water. For history buffs, there is an archaeological site of Alyki and an ancient agora and an archaeological museum in the island’s capital city Limenas.
#32 Lake Kerkini
Lake Kerkini is an artificial lake that, by chance, produced one of the most diverse biospheres in Europe! It is situated 97 km north of Thessaloniki next to the Greek-Bulgarian border.
The lake was originally constructed to control floods on the River Struma
and get rid of the malarian marshes. Today, the lake is a part of the Special Protection Area with over 300 different species of birds, 1,300 plant species, 4,300 insect species and more.
Kerkini is not the most famous place Greece is renowned for, but this place is for you if you’re an off-beaten track adventure enthusiast. The best areas to explore are Lithotopos or Kerkini. Catch a sunset boat ride from one of these places or go canoeing on the lake to enjoy its beauty fully. You will be able to spot many beautiful and rare birds on the lake, including flamingos, pelicans, eagles, cormorants, spoonbills and egrets and also water buffalos. The best time to visit the lake for bird watching is during the migration season. There are a few cafes nearby where you can enjoy a drink with the view over the lake and some accommodation options if you are interested in staying in the area overnight.
#33 Hagia Sofia, Thessaloniki
The Byzantine Basilica of Hagia Sofia (meaning ‘holy wisdom’) of Thassoliniki is one of the most important historical and religious landmarks in Greece. The first church in this location was constructed as early as the 3rd century AD.
But the present church was constructed in the 8th century AD, following the architecture design of Hagia Sofia in Constantinople (today Istanbul).
Until the Cathedral in Seville, Spain, was built, Hagia Sofia in Thessaloniki was the largest church in the world. During the Ottoman invasion, the basilica served as a mosque until the city liberation in 1912. In the subsequent years, a great fire damaged one-third of the city, followed by an earthquake. Both of these events caused some severe damages to Hagia Sofia Basilica.
Today, Hagia Sofia has been fully restored and is the oldest church in Thessaloniki and one of the oldest in the world, and it’s been awarded the status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site to recognise its heritage and importance. Hagia Sofia has a large dome in the centre of the structure, beautiful mosaics on the ceiling and walls and intricate carvings. The entrance to the church is free, and anyone is welcomed to take a look.
#34 Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon, situated at the end of the Attica Peninsula 62 km southeast of Athens, is one of the ancient Greece famous places to visit for those interested in history.
Cape Sounion has a special meaning to the Athenians. It was the first piece of homeland that they could see when sailing back from wars. That is why they built a temple there dedicated to the god of the sea – Poseidon. There used to be a giant statue of Poseidon inside and a frieze made of marble depicting the legends of Theseus.
Cape Sounion, where the temple stands, is also a famous place of Greece mythology. It is where Aegeus – king of Athens, fell into the sea as a result of a misunderstanding. His son Theseus is the one that travelled to Crete to kill the Minotaur to release Athens from an obligation to the Cretan king to send seven boys and seven girls for the Minotaur to eat every year. Theseus killed the Minotaur but, on the way back to Athens, forgot to send the agreed signal to his dad – hoist a white sail. When Aegeus saw the black sail, he assumed his son is dead and jumped off the cliff in despair. To commemorate the king’s death, the Athenians name the sea after the king – the Aegean Sea.
Today the Temple of Poseidon and its epic settings is one of the famous landmarks in Greece that is not only renowned for the legend and temple but also the stunning sunset views over the Aegean Sea.
#35 Parikia, Paros
The town of Parikia, also called Paros or Hora, is the capital of the island Paros, its historical, cultural hub and one of the best places to stay in Paros. Parikia is built amphitheatrically around the port. It is a prime example of the beautiful Cycladic architecture with two-storey whitewashed houses with colourful wooden windows and door frames and narrow whitewashed alleys between them, a perfect place for getting lost.
At the very top of this typical Cycladic settlement stands Kastro (castle) on the hill dating back to the 13th century. The castle was built in a Venetian style with the use of the remains of an ancient temple that stands in its place in the past. Unfortunately, today Kastro is mostly a ruin. When visiting Parikia in Paros, don’t miss the glorious Byzantine church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundred Gates), which is considered one of Greece’s most important Byzantine landmarks.
Today, the town of Paros is a lively tourist hub with a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars and an excellent place for a Greek holiday. Paros is also renowned for some fantastic beaches such as Chrissi Akti, Kologeros or Kolymbithres beach.
#36 Apollo Temple, Naxos
Naxos Portata, also called the Great Door, is what’s remained from the Temple of Appolo – the marble doorway. The Portara is the prominent landmark of Naxos standing on the islet of Palatia, which was connected by land to the main part of the island in ancient times.
In Greek mythology, the islet of Palatia was where Theseus abandoned Ariadne – the daughter of the Cretan king, after killing Minotaur and feeling with her from Crete.
The temple construction started in the 6th century BC when Naxos was at the peak of its glory. Unfortunately, a war broke between Naxos and Samos, and the temple that was supposed to be at least a hundred feet tall was never completed. It is believed that the temple was supposed to be dedicated to the Greek god of poetry and music – Apollo. Another version says the temple was supposed to be devoted to Dionysus – the god of wine and patron of Naxos.
During the medieval ages, there was a church built by the Portara subsequently dismantled during the Venetian occupation to build a fortress. Luckily, the Portara was too heavy to be dismantled, so it remains standing proudly today over the Cycladic island of Naxos.
I hope this list of the 36 most famous landmarks in Greece gave you some true wanderlust and inspiration to travel to this beautiful country!
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