The Best Hidden Gems in Greece
Greece is made up of over 6,000 islands (227 inhibited). No matter what your travel style there really is something for everyone!
If: You want to walk around a city and not feel like a tourist…
Visit: Town of Nafplion
The coastal town of Nafplion resides south of Athens in the southern mainland of Greece. The historic and picturesque Nafplion is a hidden gem that has even been recognized by the Greeks as one of the most beautiful of all mainland towns. The architecture is largely due to the Venetians and Turkish, who occupied large parts of Greece from the 1300s until Greece’s independence in 1821. The atmosphere of such a place is very much removed from the tourism found in many well-known and popular Greek destinations.
If: You want to take that stunning panoramic…
Visit: Palamidi Fortress
A must-visit sight within Nafplion is the Palamidi fortress. The old structure, built by the Venetians during the 1300s, sits high atop the mountains and presents an incredible view of the entire region and ocean. Palamidi fortress is accessible by car but the real challenge comes from walking the 999 steps needed to reach the top.
If: You are a theater geek…
Visit: The Epidaurus Theater
Less than 45 minutes from Nafplion is the home of the Epidaurus Theater, which is the best-preserved ancient Greek theater. The theater still operates today and offers audience members an authentic Greek theater experience. The acoustics are so phenomenal that you can drop a coin from the very top of the theater down to the dirt floor bottom and actually hear the coin hit the ground. In addition to the regular performances, the theater holds tours and even an annual festival showcasing different shows.
If: You spend your Friday nights curled up with a good book…
Visit: The island of Ithaca
This little island is home of the mythological epic poem, The Odyssey. The famous tale details the hero Odysseus’s fight for the glory of Greece and his subsequent journey back to Ithaca. On the island of Ithaca, there are opportunities to visit the school where Homer taught people all about writing and scholarly matters. For those who don’t want to spend all their time reveling in famous literature, the beautiful village of Frikes is surrounded by sailboats and the sea. The old flavor of the town and the lack of readily available hotels makes this destination as local as it gets.
If: You’re an adrenaline junkie…
Visit: Cape Lefkas of Lefkada
Lefkada, one of the seven Ionian Islands, is known for having amazing conditions for wind and kite surfing. However, what is most unique about this island is its white limestone cliffs that are known as Cape Lefkas. Cape Lefkas is located on the southernmost tip of the island in an area that formerly held a shrine for the Greek god Apollo. Historically, the famous cliffs were used for human sacrifice and “lover’s leaps” (which were known to occur following rejection from one’s beloved). Today, the cape’s purpose is less tragic and more adrenaline pumping. Cape Lefkas is often used as a launching pad by hang gliders as it is 230 feet high and offers an all-encompassing view of Lefkas.
If: You want to discover the next big thing…
Visit: The island of Naxos
If you’re looking for beaches where you won’t have to fight for a spot or wonder if the number of Americans actually outnumbers the locals, try the island of Naxos. This island blends culture and history with a gorgeous beach town. Naxos offers an incredibly comprehensive experience that can be hard to find amidst the tourism in other towns and islands. One sight to check out is the Portara monument (also known as Ariadne’s Arch). This is the most famous monument on the island and exists as part of the unfinished Temple of Apollo. The Portara is situated at the top of a small island that has been connected to Naxos by a man-made causeway. The panoramic view of the ocean along with the famous monument is a must-see for anyone who visits the island.
If: You can hold your liquor…
Visit: Plomari on the island of Lesbos
Ouzo is the famous, strong, staple liquor of Greece. The city of Plomari on the island of Lesbos happens to be the ouzo capital of the world. The city is known for its fun, party atmosphere and ocean views. Plomari, built on the edge of the ocean, also has a lovely harbor and main square. The bars and clubs are staples in their own right and offer many of the different brands of ouzo assembled on the island.
If: You want a spiritual awakening…
Visit: Meteora monasteries
A few hours north of Athens is a complex of Greek Orthodox monasteries and convents perched on what is known as the grand canyon of Greece. Beautiful mountains surround the centuries-old Greek Orthodox churches and many Greeks treat the journey as a spiritual pilgrimage. The area itself is breathtaking with mountains that seem to rise out of nowhere. Six of the original 24 monasteries and convents are open to visitors and offer tours of the sites. The beautiful churches were built by monks between the 14th and 16th centuries and now house the 2,000-year-old Orthodox creed. Even for the non-religious, the Meteora monasteries are recognized as a World Heritage Site and offer an unmatched spiritual experience.
These are just a sampling of all the incredible places on the mainland and islands of Greece.