Greece is typically split into eight main regions. If you’re looking for where to go in Greece, the following should assist in narrowing down certain regions of note. These range from the incredibly popular to the rarely traveled. These eight regions are:
- The Saronic Gulf Islands
- The Sporades
- The Cyclades
- Rhodes and the Dodecanese
- Northern Aegean Islands
Where to Go in Greece: The 8 Regions
More modern than in the past, Athens now boasts a sleek new subway system and a new culture center funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, complete with some very welcome green space, thriving art scenes, and happening club scenes and nightlife.
However, for the five million Athenians who call this area home, it is still the tried but true pleasures that really put a wonderful spin on the urban life here in Athens. If you’re looking for where to go in Greece, look no further than the endless array of cafes, the quaint Plaka district, and of course the remnants of one of the strongest and most powerful civilizations in history. These remnants include the Agora, the Acropolis, and the Theater of Herodes Atticus, among other mystical ruins.
The Saronic Gulf Islands
When the people of Athens are looking for a break from the city life, often times they will cross over into the beautiful islands of the Saronic gulf. You would be well advised to follow their lead. The most popular of the islands on the Saronic gulf are Hydra, Aegina and Spetses.
- Hydra provides houses of stone perched above a festive harbor area, and a complete lack of vehicles, which makes for a quiet and serene landscape.
- Aegina is quite noteworthy, mainly for its medieval old town area, called the Palaiachora. However, there is also a yearly pistachio crop, which is called the best in all of Greece.
- Spetses provides visitors with a town burnished by the sands of time, itself containing some surprising hidden treasures and natural beauty.
The northern Sporades island chain provides some of the quintessential Greek expectations and pleasures. If you’re looking for where to go in Greece, and don’t want to travel too far from Athens, the Sporades are your perfect spot.
With villages that spill down the sides of hills, monasteries from the Byzantine empire, and paths that are thousands of years old, there is no lack of substance here. With serenity and quiet, you may only hear the tinkling of a goat’s bell when stepping out of your lodging in the morning.
Those who travel to the Sporades on the weekend from Athens are fans of the island of Skiathos. However, Skopelos also has beautiful and calm beaches. Skyros, one of the most popular island outside of Crete and the Cyclades, is bathed in some of the clearest waters available in Greece.
Corfu is multi-hued and temperate, a land of turquoise waters that lap against rocky coves. Here, you will also find shimmering olive leaves in vibrant silver, pink and ocher facades, and even deep scarlet jacaranda plants spread out over old but well-maintained cottages. This area could easily have been the inspiration for the art form known as impressionism.
If you’re looking for where to go in Greece, and history is of importance, look no further than Corfu. With a history that is as colorful as the landscape, you will dive into a world inspired by Venetia, England and France, while maintaining Greek charm and being right on the border of Albania.
The first stop on a trip to Corfu should be the main part of the island: Corfu Town. Here, the town is laid out like the set of a Verdi opera, beautiful and magnificent. Rarely traveled by standard tourists, be sure to make this a stop on your next Greek travel itinerary.
This island chain is the ultimate travel destination in Greece. The beautiful Mediterranean archipelago is the epitome of Greek islands, and is likely the first thing thought of when mentioned. Easily responsible for the majority of tourism in Greece, the Cyclades consists of mountainous and beautiful islands with incredible architecture and stunning landscapes.
There is Santorini with its incredible caldera and beautiful blue and white domed buildings. Mykonos is the party island, known for nightlife globally and the jet-set lifestyle of the rich and famous. These being the two most popular, those with shorter itineraries often find themselves needing to choose between Santorini or Mykonos.
The mountains of Folegandros. Verdant natural wonders of Naxos. Pure, unadulterated beauty in Paxi, Sifnos with its idyllic nature. Tinos with its church-studded landscape. The unique Antiparos. Each of these islands have their own culture and distinctive charm. All of these islands also center on the ancient Delos, known as the birthplace of Apollo.
Crete stands as the southernmost and largest island in all of Greece. For those traveling to Crete and wanting to get the full effect, it’s recommended to budget at least a week for this island alone. The claims for Crete don’t stop at just “southernmost” and “largest” though.
In Crete are some of the tallest mountains in Greece, as well as the deepest gorge, quite a few of the best beaches in Greece, and a stunning amount of ancient treasure of the Byzantine and Venetian empires. Crete is unique and one of the most underrated tourist destinations in the globe. The ultimate treasure here is the Palace of Knossos, known as the pinnacle of the Minoan civilization.
If you’re not a nature or history lover, and instead are looking to relax, Crete has you covered there, too. The island boasts ample remote hamlets on the seaside, as well as beautiful and quiet mountain villages further inland. There is something for everyone in Crete, only a short ferry ride from Santorini.
Rhodes and the Dodecanese
Rhodes and the Dodecanese are wrapped close to the Turkish shores. The Dodecanese (known as the “Twelve Islands”) have attracted some notable historical visitors over the millenia. St. John the Divine received the Revelation on the island of Patmos. Hippocrates established his own healing center on the Kos island. St. John’s crusading knights lavished wealth on palaces dotting Rhodes, also home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Colossus of Rhodes.
The Northern Aegean Islands
The Northern Aegean Islands are some of the least visited in our list of the eight areas of where to visit in Greece. However, these islands, tossed like puzzle pieces in the Aegean Sea, are incredibly underrated. Each of these islands, bathed in gold and green, has its own distinct benefits and beautiful areas. There are three main islands in the Northern Aegean: Chios, Lesvos, and Samos.
- Chios retains eerie beauty amidst Byzantine monasteries and fortified villages.
- Lesvos is a getaway that is popular with artists and writers. It has a warm history, known for its assistance to refugees in the war-torn Middle east over centuries.
- Samos is mountainous and lush, with whisperings of classical antique wonders.
Where to Go in Greece? Why Not Everywhere!
To properly see enough of Greece to get an all-encompassing viewpoint, you may be taking ferries from island to island for six months. However, with the summaries of the eight main area of Greece above, you should start to get some bearing onto which you prefer to see with a limited budget and timeline. Happy travels! If you’ve got more questions on where to go in Greece, feel free to drop us a line.