Historical Places in Greece
Time in Greece – Places to Visit
If you are looking at historical places in Greece to visit for a family vacation, you are in for a big treat. After planning many, many travels my trip to Greece was the hardest one ever to plan because….there was just SOO much to choose from! Narrowing it down was so hard because we wanted to see it all!
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Time in Greece – Places to Visit – Part ONE – What we saw on our family adventure in Greece.
Time in Greece – Athens
In the list of amazing places to visit in Greece, Athens is one at the top of the list. Athens is full of historical places in Greece. The history the city offers is incredible and when you combine that with great food, great sites, and great people – what’s not to love?
Athens is where I wanted to be on my BIG 50th birthday! Two days later we were celebrating our 17th anniversary and the Kifissia neighborhood was the perfect spot which was am example of gorgeous historical places in Greece!
Of course, you’ll visit Athens on your trip to Greece! Read up on all you need to know!
Time in Greece – Meteora
Of all the historical places in Greece, these amazing and magical rocks in Meteora were my favorite. The geologic features that the Meteora monasteries sit upon are something right out of a dream. After looking online at these amazing spots we just had to put it on our list of places to visit.
Time in Greece – Delphi
Delphi was, according to Zeus, the center of the universe and it is an amazing place to visit. We took a private car from Kalambaka – through Delphi, and on to Athens in one long day. It was a GREAT way to see the gorgeous scenery, take all the time we needed, stay as long as we liked – completely free of details to have the fantastic family adventure. Certainly Delphis one of the most beautiful historical places in Greece.
Delphi has both ruins and a museum and both are deserving of your time. Wear your sturdy shoes to see the ruins because they involve quite a hike. The view from the top is worth every single step!
In ancient mythology, Zeus wanted to locate the center of the earth. He set two eagles into flight starting from the same point but flying in opposite directions to see where they crossed. At this point, he threw a stone from the sky down onto the Earth and it fell at Delphi. Voila! The center of the universe. This omphalos (navel of the Earth) marks the spot.
Delphi was also home to the ancient oracle. Back in 1400 BC, Pythia was the priestess of Apollo and the oracle of Delphi. People from all over the world would come to ask the oracle questions. She gave mysterious and cryptic answers. No one made a move without her OK.
Time in Greece – Santorini Island
Santorini is one of the most famous islands out of the more than 6,000 Greek islands and between 116 – 277 are inhabited (according to who you ask). With soooo many to choose from it is really tough to decide which one(s) to see. We were choosing between Santorini and Mykonos and chose Santorini because it is more ‘family friendly’. I’m told that Mykonos has young people dancing on the table in places at all hours of the day.
Santorini Island is SOOO much more than the famous sunset in Oia, Santorini.
We loved our 3 days on Santorini Island and it was not too long! We saw the ancient ruins of Akrotiri and the wonderful frescoes taken from there in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira. I especially love the fisherman.
If Santorini is a destination on your family adventure you need to read these related posts:
Time in Greece – Ancient Corinth
We had just one day to step our toe onto the peninsula of the Peloponnese and it is one of Greece’s beautiful places to visit. We took a day tour from Athens to Ancient Corinth with the tour group – and had a wonderful time.
We passed over the Corinth Canal and then headed to the site of Ancient Corinth.
The museum was full of interesting artifacts and our guide was full of stories. We learned that the statues were recycled. When a new general came to power, for example, the head of the previous general was removed from the statue and then was replaced with the head of the new general. This could lead to some seemingly unlikely matches if the body was young and fit and the head was older and wiser.
A highlight of the visit to Ancient Corinth was the Temple of Apollo. Built-in the Doric Style with 6 columns at one end and 15 along each side is the earliest known spot where the floor was built with a convex curve so it appears to be level. This optical illusion was later used at the Parthenon in Athens.
Time in Greece – Places to Visit – Part TWO – What we want to see on our NEXT adventure in Greece.
Time in Greece – Thessaloniki
The second largest city in Greece is also one of the best places to visit in Greece. Named after the sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki is culturally rich.
Feel cultured with one of these events:
International Trade Fair (1st week in September each year – be aware the hotels may be full during this time)
Greek Song Festival – This is a song contest which has been on again off again over the years. I think the last time was in 2008, but there is the talk of reviving it so check to see if it is back on during your visit.
Visit one of the many museums in Thessaloniki:
Museum of Attaturk (The house where the founder of Turkey was born.)
Go to church:
Religion is a very important part of life in Greece and you’ll find churches everywhere! But, it is still a surprise to me to find a network of Baptist Churches from the International Baptist Convention right here in Thessaloniki.
Relax on Greece Beaches –
With so much coastline in Greece (Greece is #11 on the list of countries with the most coastline) it is not surprising to find glorious beaches here in Thessaloniki.
Time in Greece – Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece (9, 570 feet) and, according to Greek mythology, was home to the Greek gods. It was the first national park created in Greece and is a World Biosphere Reserve (protected UNESCO site). Kids who enjoy the Percy Jackson series of books will be over the moon thrilled to visit!
To visit the mountain, you’ll want to head to the town of Litochoro. From there you can visit Olympus’, National Park.
This national park preserves the important natural flora and fauna of the area and Over 1,700 species of plants have been recorded here – which represent 25% of all Greek flora.
- NO children under 14 without a guide
- Park only in designated parking areas
- Do NOT remove or damage soil or plants.
- NO fires or outdoor camping
- NO disturbing of animals
- NO damage to geological formations
- NO unleashed pets
Time in Greece – Best of Crete
Crete is Greece’s largest island and the birthplace of Zeus! Everyone we spoke to told us that you could spend two weeks in Crete! This seemed like a lot of time for an island – while bigger than the others, it is still small, but after researching I see what they mean!! Crete has so much to offer – it is easy to see why people insist you spend a lot of time here. Each region has so much to offer with unique experiences.
This town has a Venetian feel and the harbor is surrounded by pastel buildings. Doesn’t that sound just beautiful? In this town, there are lovely examples of Turkish and Venetian design. Wander the narrow alleyways to explore and feel like you have entered a pastel painting.
This area has a sandy beach and a castle which are both places the kid will love! The Turks and Greeks coexisted for here 250 years and the “best-preserved example of Renaissance domestic architecture found outside of Italy”.
Heraklion Crete –
The capital city of Crete, Heraklion is also known as Iraklio. Since Greece uses a different alphabet than we do for English I found that lots of names could be spelled in English more than one way. This made looking at a map tough sometimes! I finally made a list of options for spelling for each place to help with research.
Do not miss the main attraction in Heraklion which is the Palace of Knossos. This incredible place is now an important archaeological site built by the Minoans and called ‘Europe’s Oldest City’. The original palace was built in 1900 BC.
Mythology: King Minos lived in a palace at Knossos where he built a large maze. This maze was to imprison his son, the Minotaur, who had the body of a man and the head of a bull.
This is your chance to get away from it all. You’ll find traditional villages, lovely beaches and the least amount of tourists on the island! Here you can take a vacation from your vacation!
Samaria Gorge and White Mountains’ National Park of Greece
This world-class tourist attraction is a part of the National Park of Greece and a part of the UNESCO’s World’s Biosphere Reserve list. This is the longest gorge in Europe. You can hike here but be aware it is a LONG and difficult hike. Wear good shoes and takes between 6-8 hours.
It is hard to predict the weather as globally weather is changing but in short….
*December – February – Winter in Crete. You might see rain so bring warm and waterproof clothing. This is the quiet time of year for tourists so you will have more of the place to yourself.
*March, April, October, and early November – These are the best times to visit! It is warm but not hot and rain is at a minimum. ALWAYS windy so keep that in mind.
*July and August are the HOTTEST months.
Crete airport – Know WHICH airport you are using.
***Note there are THREE international airports in Crete: Heraklion/Kazantzakis, Chania/Daskalogiannis and Sitia
Heraklion/Kazantzakis Crete airport information:
*HER airport code
*regular buses between airport and Eleftherias square (10-15 min away)
*Money information – Cash machines and currency exchange is available
*Food – coffee, snacks, and restaurant
Chania/Daskalogiannis Crete airport information:
*CHQ airport code
*Buses are NOT common so plan on renting a car or hiring a taxi to get to town. (20 min away)
*Money – Cash machines – NO currency exchange
*Food – coffee and snacks only
Sitia Crete airport information:
*JSH airport code
*NO buses. Rent a car or hire a taxi to get to town. (5 – 10 min away)
*NO services at all – food, money or otherwise.
Time in Greece – Nafplio Greece
Just a 2-hour drive from Athens, Nafplio was once the capital of Greece. This lovely spot has the flavor of the islands. Be sure to check out the fare made from the oranges that grow here. Do not despair when you have to travel through a congested and modern city to get to the real treat – the old part of the city. The charm is like walking back in time.
Athens to Nafplio
Rent a car and head for the Peloponnese! You’ll cross over the Corinth Canal which is an amazing site. Be sure to stop and appreciate the engineering involved! It takes about 2 1/2 hours to get to Nafplio from the Athens airport.
Take a taxi! Be sure to negotiate the cost up front. We loved George and highly recommend him. He is friendly, knowledgeable and makes trips really comfortable.
Another option for hiring a taxi driver is…another George. George is a popular name in Greece. 🙂
Time in Greece – Greek Islands
Which are the best Greek islands to visit? Best Greek islands for couples?
Time in Greece – Hydra Island
This very small island is quite near the Peloponnese and a short ferry ride from Athens. No vehicles are allowed here except trash trucks and you get around by walking or by donkey! How fun to be met at the port and see your luggage loaded onto a donkey to be taken to your hotel.
National Geographic, in 2017, rated Hydra as the best to visit on any Greek island.
Time in Greece – Monemvasia
Time in Greece – Dirou Caves
Time in Greece – Rhodes
Rhodes was high on my list of things I really wanted to see because of the butterflies! The photos from the Valley of the Butterflies/Petaloudes reminds me of the monarch butterfly migration to Mexico. I can only imagine the experience of a tree actually vibrating under the wings of hundreds and thousands of butterflies. But, sadly we didn’t make it this trip and we have saved it for next time!
Rhodes Greece is one of the many, many things to see when you spend time in Greece:
Things to Do in Rhodes
Acropolis of Lindos
Petaloudes – Valley of the Butterflies
Tiger moths in June, July, August
Street of Knights
Ipporton, in the 14th century, was home to the Knights Hospitaller who ruled Rhodes island.
Palace of the Grand Master
Roloi Clock Tower
7th-century clock tower
Acropolis of Rhodes
Mosque of Suleyman
Inn of the Order of the Tongue Italy
Time in Greece – Corfu Island
Things to do in Corfu –
The old town of Corfu has a variety of styles of structure from the influence of French, Norman, British, and Venetian. Enjoy the shaded alleyways as you explore. In Corfu town, you’ll find the old fortress, the Esplanade, the new fortress, Church of St. Spyridon, Mon Repos, Church of Saints Jason and Sosipater, Museum of Asian Art and the Corfu Archaeological Museum.
There are soooo many glorious beaches in Greece and some are in Corfu! Here are a few to choose from Lakkiess, Barbati Village, Agios Georgios, and Paleokastritsa.
This man-made lake is a welcoming spot for birds and thus, birdwatchers.
Built by the Venetians in 1546, this fortress, which sits on a peninsula just east of the old town, can be visited by walking across a bridge over a moat.
Flights to Corfu
It is easy to find flights to Corfu as the Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport (airport code: CFU) is a hub for Aegean Airlines, Ellianair and Ryanair (BEWARE: Ryanair has recently canceled thousands of flights in Europe. I wouldn’t fly them right now.)
Time in Greece – Delos Greece
Delos is an island near Mykonos (just 6 miles away) with one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. It has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BCE.
Take a cruise for the day as a guided tour of Delos. Swim, visit the UNESCO site at Delos and spend the day soaking up the warm weather and beautiful sun-soaked area.
****I have NOT taken any of these tours….yet!****
Delos has a history of promoting health in an interesting way. Since it was the birthplace of the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis then no mortal was allowed to be born here AND no mortal was allowed to die here. SOOOO… women who were about to give birth and those near the end of life would be sent to the nearby island of Rineia.
Now there are only 14 inhabitants on the island, I suspect that there are still very few births and deaths. You can still benefit from the healthy history of Delos by visiting the health spas on the very nearby Greek island of Mykonos.
Greece has so much to offer for family vacations. The list of historical places in Greece is long and I just want to see them all! If you visit Greece on your family adventure, you’ll enjoy these related posts:
Natalie, The Educational Tourist