They say Greece is like a little piece of heaven on Earth, and truth be told, it really is. Home to a rich history and the birthplace of mythology, travelling to this country should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Greece — where historic remains mesh with the blue waters of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Ionian Seas – is the land of mythical gods and goddesses, Zeus, Apollo, Hermes, Hades, Athena, Aphrodite, etc.
Greek Islands are famous for their idyllic sandy beaches, picture-perfect coastline, festive nightlife, strong cultural heritage, delicious cuisines and breath-taking sunsets.
Greek culture and heritage spans back four-and-a-half thousand years. Greece’s archaeological remains attract thousands of visitors from around the world each year — a journey through centuries of time — and are included in the World Cultural Heritage Sites list of UNESCO. These archaeological remains are home to some of the most important iconic civilizations; such as the Acropolis of Athens and the archaeological sites of Olympia and Delphi.
If you start your journey in Athens, stay close to Syntagma Square, a central square near Athens' main historical sights, and you easily can walk to most tourist attractions. However, be warned, if you are travelling with young children, it’s not a very stroller friendly city, as the pathways are narrow and often uneven.
One of the key attractions in Athens is the Acropolis, an ancient citadel that sits atop a hill above Athens. It is a fifteen-minute walk from Syntagma and an uphill climb; but once there, the views are magnificent as the whole of Athens can be seen. You can either roam around the ruins yourself or choose to get a guide, who can then share the significance of the architecture. Once done, you can head down to the picturesque Plaka, a shopping and dining area that is nestled in the Acropolis' shadow and has a village-like feel. As you meander through the narrow cobbled ways, you can buy yourself some souvenirs from the many shops. If you are really into Greek history, you can also visit the Acropolis Museum that houses all the artefacts found in the Acropolis. When you are done, head to their roof-top cafeteria where you can enjoy some hot chocolate while admiring the view of the Acropolis.
There are many day trips possible from Athens, but Aegina, an island just an hour away by ferry, is one of the best. You can spend your time roaming around the lovely island, where you can visit the Temple of Aphaia and a monastery. One could later on rest by the marina, have lunch and do the ritual of feeding the seagulls. It is a great day trip away from the hustle and bustle of Athens.
You could wax lyrical about Santorini and that would still not be enough to describe the postcard perfection – seeing is believing! The Aegean island is a stunning canvas of white buildings and blue domes under a seemingly endless sky. You can take a flight to Santorini (ferry is an option also) and stay in a cave house on the caldera, which is a must experience. There are many areas that one can stay, from Fira, Oia to Imerovigli, depending on what one wants. It is highly recommended to hire a car, as the flexibility of one’s own transport makes it easy and a lot of fun to explore the whole island.
A major highlight of Santorini, are the legendary sunsets as it sinks into the Aegan Sea, setting the skies ablaze with colors. There are many vantage points across the island, and if you go off-season, the crowds are negligible, allowing you great seats to nature’s theatrical show. Santorini is even less stroller friendly than Athens, as there are lots of uphill and downhill walks, so plan accordingly if you’re taking along kids.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for what Greece has to offer, as there are so many other beautiful islands, waiting to be explored. If you are not fond of summer’s sweltering heat, making your trip in winters is recommended. Going off-season can turn out to be a great decision: there are no crowds at the main attractions, accommodations that are otherwise pricey, are available at reasonably cheap rates and the weather is very pleasant.
But if you do go in summers, especially to the islands, be prepared for huge crowds, traffic jams and exorbitant prices for wherever you choose to stay, especially the cave houses. But at least once in your life, visit this stunning country steeped in culture and breath-taking natural beauty.HH
The writer is a marketing professional, blogger and a traveller.
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