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12 Best Area of Greece to visit First Time

I must say that Greece is an incredible country with ancient history, rich culture, beautiful islands, and delicious cuisine. No matter where you choose to visit, there are countless stunning sights to see, making it hard to choose for first-timers. It is with this view in mind that we have highlighted 12 of the best areas to visit in Greece for the first-time traveler to plan from.

1. Athens

Being the capital and biggest city in Greece, Athens is on the list of places any first-time tourist should think about seeing. Apart from the Parthenon and the Acropolis, Athens has the finest Museums such as the Acropolis Museum and National Archaeological Museum where visitors may learn more about Ancient Greece. In the charming areas of Plaka and Monastiraki, full of classic Athenian buildings and cobblestone alleys, unwind and go shopping and eating.

2. Greek Islands - Santorini

Characterized by the white and blue buildings painted on the cliff face overlooking the Aegean Sea, Santorini stands as one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. Pamper your eyes through extended strolls from Fira to Oia enjoy the red and black sand beaches or sail to the center of the caldera which is a volcano. This island provides magnificent sunsets and offers good accommodation in numerous luxurious hotels, making it the perfect destination for a romantic vacation in Greece.

3. Greek Islands - Mykonos

The island attracts thousands of tourists every year, especially young people because Mykonos is famous for its glamorous scene and numerous clubs. Mykonos Town: The beauty of Mykonos goes beyond the beach and beer mug, with its network of streets with chic outlets, elegant churches, windmills, and colorful houses. If you prefer touring with fewer people, go to the less crowded places such as the beaches and villages on the island.

4. Greek Islands - Crete

Crete is the largest island in Greece and it offers a geographic variety including mountains, gorges, and sandy beaches with palm trees. Also, being the birthplace of Zeus, the major centralized mythology of Greece, Crete holds many historical sites such as the Palace of Knossos. Cultural attractions include the merchant city of Chania, an enchanting port city, of course, in Venice. However, both Rethymnon and Heraklion have well-preserved Venetian forts and the latter is home to one of the largest Cretan cities.

5. Meteora

The Meteora monasteries are built on two vast sandstone rocks that rise steeply from the middle of the Peneus River. Founded in the 14th century, it consists of six active monasteries creating a specific atmosphere in the central part of Greece. You could walk up for a better view and have a look at the Plain of Thessaly lying beneath. Meteora is best viewed in the early morning and evening when the light is very soft and creates a magical atmosphere.

6. Delphi

Being one of the oldest shrines in Greece or rather the world, Delphi — the actual center of the earth as the prehistoric Greeks believed — must be included in the list of places for first-time visitors. Visit ‘Sacred Way’ to have a view of the Temple of Apollo that used to house the delivering of prophecies. Look at the olive tree-filled mountains from the upper levels of the site with sea views below. Also close by, in Hosios Loukas monastery, even the floor is filled with extraordinary Byzantine mosaics.

7. Nafplio

This is a beautiful coastal town located on the Peloponnese Peninsula that is home to a picturesque Old Town district, ancient hilltop castles and fortresses, and beautiful beaches. Nafplio remains one of the most beloved honeymoon destinations in Greece, offering couples charming cobblestone streets, fish taverns, and mansions adapted into modern, minimalist hotels. Day trips from Nafplio to other interesting places such as Epidaurus Theater and ancient Mycenae are very special to keep in mind.

8. Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is one of the most recommended destinations for a city break in northern Greece which boasts Byzantine heritage, culinary culture, and the young nightlife atmosphere of the Ladadika neighborhood. Some of the places that tourists must visit include the White Tower, Byzantine churches and other monuments, and Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum respectively. The Thermaikos Gulf is also available close by to those who want to spend some time on the beach.

9. Rhodes

This one of the Dodecanese islands once hosted one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Colossus of Rhodes – and history still loves this island today. Visit some of the medieval buildings that include the old churches the palace of the grand masters and the famous street of the knights which is a World Heritage site. There is also an ancient acropolis in Lindos village on Rhodes Island to enjoy the marvelous Aegean Sea.

10. Corfu

Being one of the Greek Ionian islands, Corfu is also a true multiethnic place that boasts an amalgam of the Greek, Venetian, and British heritages. The capital of the island is Kerkyra or Corfu Town which boasts two 16th-century castles, small Renaissance streets, and French neoclassical buildings. Achillion Palace is a countryside muse that was supposedly built with references to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and offers beautiful gardens, as well as a view of the sea.

11. Zagori

This group of forty-six villages nestled in the Pindos Mountains of Epirus makes for a perfect pit stop on the most scenic route between Ioannina and Meteora. Look at the stone bridges and vantage points with Vikos Gorge. Cross from one village to another using the ancient mule tracks called old kalderimi. Accommodation: It is recommended to spend the night in traditional guesthouses to get even closer contact with the locals.

12. Hydra

Due to its geographical closeness to Athens and belonging to the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is best visited on a day or weekend basis. Hydra Town charms its guests with the atmosphere of the harbor filled with 18th-century buildings and mansions, stone-paved streets that are free from cars, and where donkeys are the main means of transport. To experience more isolated beaches one can walk away from the coast or rent a boat and go to some of the less crowded areas of the island.

From the mainland to the islands, first-timers could spend days on end exploring ancient ruins, island hopping, and sampling the seafood and all the other goodies that the Mediterranean has to offer. By beginning with these twelve most popular areas and locations, you will create an extraordinary beginning to your introduction to the enchantment of Greece on your initial cruise. One can only leave eager to come again, peel the onion further, and discover more of this culturally, historically, and naturally rich part of Europe.

FAQ

What are the best areas in Greece for first-time visitors?

The top 12 areas include Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Delphi, Meteora, Nafplio, Corfu, Thessaloniki, Peloponnese Peninsula, and Zakynthos. Each offers unique experiences ranging from historical sites to stunning beaches.

What makes Athens a must-visit destination in Greece?

Athens is renowned for its ancient history, including the Acropolis and Parthenon, as well as vibrant neighborhoods like Plaka and Monastiraki. It also serves as a gateway to exploring Greek culture and cuisine.

Why are Santorini and Mykonos popular choices for first-time travelers?

Santorini is famous for its breathtaking sunsets, white-washed buildings, and volcanic landscapes, while Mykonos attracts visitors with its lively nightlife, beautiful beaches, and charming Cycladic architecture.

What can travelers expect in Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu?

Crete offers a mix of ancient ruins, scenic gorges like Samaria, and picturesque towns like Chania and Rethymno. Rhodes boasts medieval architecture in Rhodes Town and beautiful beaches, while Corfu is known for its Venetian architecture, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture.

Are there cultural and historical sites to explore beyond Athens?

Yes, places like Delphi with its ancient oracle site, Meteora with its monasteries perched atop rock formations, and Nafplio with its Venetian fortress and charming old town offer rich cultural and historical experiences.