Surrounded by the stunning ruins of empires past, as well as the clear, blue water of the Aegean Sea, Greece is a country that never fails to fascinate and intrigue visitors from all over the world. From the rocky hills of Athens to the picturesque island of Mykonos, Greece is a wonderland of tastes, sights and sounds – a place for indulgence, as well as historic appreciation. Couples will savor the romantic Mediterranean sunsets, and families especially will love exploring the rugged landscapes and artifacts of civilizations long gone.
As the oldest city in Europe, Athens boasts both the remnants of legendary eras and the stylish attitude of an ever-evolving metropolis. Cars have been barred from the historic city center, so that pedestrians can enjoy the archaeological park at their own pace. Since the 2004 Olympics, the capital has also developed into a playground of more contemporary delights with plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels to satisfy both visitors and residents. As a mix of both old and new, ancient and cutting-edge, Athens will have your head constantly turning.
Above the hustle and bustle of every day Athenian life stands the awe-inspiring Acropolis, topped with the famous Parthenon temple. Often regarded as the pre-eminent monument of European cultural heritage, the Acropolis has survived the Middle Neolithic Era, the Hellenistic period and the Ottoman Empire, just to name a few. Today, several structures remain intact and are open for visitors to explore. And although the climb is rocky, it’s worth every step; once you reach the top, you’ll stand in historic ancient relics like the Temple of Athena, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Sanctuary of Zeus and more. Join a tour or investigate the carvings and sculptures on your own – just don’t forget to stop along one of the edges of the hilltop and check out the magnificent view of Athens!
Before you leave the capital, don’t forget to wander throughout the Byzantine Museum, National Archaeological Museum and the Greek Folk Art Museum. And of course, no trip to Greece would be complete without some authentic Athens souvlaki – meat (usually pork) seasoned with herbs, spices and oil served on skewers or in pita wraps and topped with delicious tzatziki sauce.
Although there is over 2,000 Greek islands, 227 of which are inhabited, a few territories stand out as favorites for those looking for some relaxation, as well as those seeking entertainment. The Cyclades Islands, for example, located off the mainland’s southeast shore, are among the most beloved. Ferry trips can take four to 10 hours, depending on which island you visit and if you are willing to pay a little extra for a high-speed boat. Mykonos, one of the most popular islands, is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan place with no shortage of restaurants and nightclubs. Sail to Santorini for the ultimate visual experience; with miles of white and blue waterfront homes, churches and resorts, Santorini will probably make you consider “forgetting” your ferry back to the mainland.
Enchanting for honeymooners, yet equally exciting for families, Greece promises to show you places and things you’ve only seen in history books and major motion pictures. Summers are hot on the mainland, but comfortable on the islands, while winters are relatively mild every year. Late April to mid-June, as well as September to mid-October, are usually the best times to visit Greece in order to avoid higher prices and crowds. Whenever you decide to go, you’ll be in for an experience unlike any other.
For more information on a Greek getaway, visit www.gnto.gr.