The cradle of Western civilization, Greece offers an abundance of experience and sights, from the pulsating streets of Athens to the thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas.
Named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage, the proud marble columns of Athens – once the most powerful city in ancient Greece – mirror the fortitude of the goddess herself. Athens was the birthplace of democracy, theater, and Western civilization, and the city’s cultural richness and history is evident in its architecture. Travel to Athens is a must for history and archeology buffs, but the city’s hillsides and picturesque vistas will be equally appreciated by nature lovers. Be sure to see:
• The Acropolis • The Parthenon • The Temple of Hephaestus • The National Archeological Museum • The Ancient Agora • Mount Lycabettus
The Greek Islands are so abundant, it’s really quite impossible to group them the way people describe as a collective. Once a visitor gets to know the country that the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes clear. The truth is that there are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece—and over 6,000 isles of varying sizes all together. Of the islands with residents, each has its own character, from the whitewashed cave homes of the Cyclades to the lush, green Italianate Ionians, to the Dodecanese capped with Crusader castles. For the most part, the islands are divided into six main island groups, plus a significant stand-alone, Crete. It’s easier to travel between islands within one group than to archipelago-hop, although that can be done. (For example, if you want to go between Mykonos and Santorini in the Cyclades, there are multiple ferry and hydrofoil options in high season, but to get from Santorini to Corfu, in the Ionian, you’ll need to fly or sail into Athens, then fly to Corfu.)
You can travel by Air (Twenty-five islands have their own airports, all served from Athens by Olympic Airways and Aegean Airways), by Sea (All large islands, and many small ones, are served by ferries, both of the slow and fast variety, from multiple lines included Blue Star, Aegean Speed Lines and Minoan), by Car: The major car agencies operate out of Eleftherios Venizelos in Athens and most island airports. It is possible to “drive” to an island by taking a car ferry