Sporting some of the world’s greatest ancient sites, Greece offers much more than beautiful beaches and natural beauty. With Europe’s second largest coastline Greece has over 379 beaches and great swimming and diving. And those warm waters invite wonderful sea life such as turtles and dolphins that kids will love to spot while their parents read on the beach or try something more exciting such as paragliding.
The Greeks are welcoming and hospitable people who won’t let you leave without a full stomach and a smile on your face. And that Greek cuisine – crumbling feta cheese combined with sharp olives, roasting lamb and aubergines – is a perfect accompaniment to a warm summer night in a backstreet tavern.
But behind all the natural beauty of this nation, sits a history that has given the world some of its greatest stories and myths – not to mention philosophy, democracy and architecture. You can explore all these through archaeological sites, museums of antiquities and proud local guides who won’t tire of telling you how much the world owes their ancestors.
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The undoubted jewel in the crown of Greece’s ancient sites is the Acropolis in Athens. Its main building, the Parthenon, is little more than spooky broken columns and the remains of a roof, but it was here that it all began for European democracy. The site also holds evocative buildings such as the temple to Athena Nike, the goddess of victory who protects the city; and the modern Acropolis museum, which shows off a number of interesting artefacts.
Santorini is one of the most spectacular islands. Famous for its blue-roofed, white houses set on a fine hillside, it’s a places to marvel at how pretty a town can be as well as the natural landscape around it. In the evening, half the island sits on the hillsides to watch the sunset – you can join them.
There are so many islands that it’s impossible to visit them all without a year in your diary. But you can hop between three or four Greek islands and sample the different flavours and cultures around.
If you’re into sport and history, why not combine them at the site of ancient Olympia, where the Games were originally held every four years under the eyes of Zeus. They continued for a thousand years until emperor Theodoseus I abolished them. You can explore the remains of the temples and buildings and run a lap or two if the mood takes you.