Touring the biggest landmarks in Greece is an adventure that won’t only take you back to times of ancient civilizations and mythical heroes but will also let you enjoy some of the best beaches on the planet.
Culture, history, natural beauty, and Mediterranean charm are blended so well that it’s inevitable; no matter which island or city you pick, it’ll capture your heart and blow your mind.
To help you find the destination that fits you best, I’ll show you the most famous Greek landmarks today. From the mythical Mount Olympus to the fairytale Santorini, you better buckle up because we’re about to go back to a time of witty philosophers, great minds, and horny Gods with the 20 most famous landmarks in Greece.
Undoubtedly the most significant of all Greek landmarks and also one of the top monuments in Europe, the Acropolis is the symbol of the country and the ancient world. The antique citadel, located in the middle of Athens, is an architectural triumph that dates thousands of years. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (of course it is) since 1987.
The ancient marvel has plenty to offer its visitors. With nearly 20 vintage sites located on its premises, you need to dedicate a whole day to explore everything in detail. The most prominent constructions inside the Acropolis are the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora of Athens, The Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion (Old Temple of Athena).
After you visit the Acropolis, you should complete the experience with the nearby Parthenon Museum. The modern museum is one of the biggest landmarks in Greece and displays some of the most notable parts of the Parthenon. It’s beautifully curated to show you in detail how the ancient wonder used to look like when it was still new and shiny.
The current Pantheon museum opened in 2009, replacing the old one that was erected in 1874 but eventually became too small to display the fresh artifacts discovered around the Acropolis.
Academy of Athens
The Academy of Athens is a beautiful building built in the classical Greek style and situated in the middle of the country’s capital. Although the exterior may suggest it’s as old as Archimedes himself, the building is relatively new, only erected in 1926.
Being one of the top research establishments in Greece, the academy may not allure history enthusiasts but certainly looks great on photos.
See Also: The Biggest Landmarks in Europe
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Our journey around the top Greek landmarks continues with another ancient wonder, yet again in Athens. Located approximately 500 m (0.31 mi) southeast of the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus has some of the largest ancient columns still standing, rivaling even the ones in Luxor’s Karnak Temple.
Built in dedication to the King of the ancient Greek gods, the temple is nearly 2500 years old and remains as impressive as it once was (ok, maybe not that impressive, but still impressive!).
If you ever found yourself in Athens, make sure to check it after dark too. It’s illuminated with a plethora of lights, making it look even more awesome!
Temple of Poseidon
It’s time to get out of Athens and drive around 70 km (43 mi) southeast to our next destination – Cape Sounion and its picturesque Temple of Poseidon.
This ancient shrine was constructed in 444 – 460 BC and is considered one of the most prominent monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. It may not be as impressive as the Parthenon, but the sea in the background (completely in line with the temple’s name) makes it extra charming and worth seeing.
In ancient times, every four years, there was a grand festival where a city official was allowed to circle the temple via a sacred ship. Today anyone can make the holy voyage, although it is a bit pricy.
Out of all Greek landmarks, Mount Olympus is probably the most well-known one. And it’s not because it’s the highest mountain in the country (which it is) or because its 52 peaks and gorges are breathtaking (which they are) but because it’s the home of the twelve main Olympian Gods.
If you’re into hiking, you may dedicate a few days to explore the landscape and search for god or two, but I have to warn you, the only things you’ll (probably) find are beautiful sights and fresh mountain air (and if you’ve read some ancient Greek myths, you already know you don’t really want to meet the Olympians anyway).
psst: Did you know Greece is 80% mountains? Neither did I. See more fun facts about Greece.
No, ancient Olympia and Mount Olympus are not the same thing. Although they’re both among the biggest landmarks in Greece, Mount Olympia (as already mentioned) is a mythological mountain where Gods used to live, while Ancient Olympia is the place where the first Olympic Games were held.
Established around the 6th century BC, the ancient site is located on the western side of Peloponnese and still offers a glimpse of the once-great constructions. If you decide to visit, you can explore not only the first Olympic stadium but also the ruins of the temples of Zeus and Hera and the lovely Olympic Games Museum.
See Also: The Most Awesome Landmarks in Spain
Sanctuary of Delphi
Located in the center of mainland Greece, the Sanctuary of Delphi used to be the home of the God Apollo and his high priestess, the Pythia. It was one of the most important Greek sites, and people from all around the world flock there to seek advice and guidance.
Today the spiritual site is nowhere near as important or glorious as before but can still give you the chills. It’s tucked away amid spectacular mountain slopes and consists of a few notable constructions, including the Temple of Athena Pronea, an ancient theatre, and, of course, the Temple of Apollo.
According to the legend, Zeus released two eagles from Mount Olympus – both in opposite directions of each other. The place where they met (Delphi) was proclaimed to be the navel (omphalos) of the Earth.
Have you heard the story about the Minotaur and the Labyrinth? Well, Knossos is the palace where the King of that story lived in. Unfortunately, today, there are no signs of any labyrinths or half-human half-bull creatures. There are plenty of colorful Minoan ruins and artifacts, though, so make sure, if you visit Crete, Knossos is on your itinerary.
The famous Minoan civilization flourished from about 3,000 BC to 1,100 BC and left plenty of wonders behind. Being the heart of power for the entire island, there’s no better place to learn more about the ancient Minoans than the palace of King Minos himself.
I know as of now, all I’ve shown you are ancient wonders and mythical places. But don’t think even for a minute that there are no natural landmarks in Greece. I mean, for a country with more than 6,000 islands, there got to be a beach or two worthy of being called a landmark, right?
Of course, there are!
In fact, most of the country’s beaches are such high quality you need something extra special to consider them a national landmark.
And here comes Elafonissi.
Located on the island of Crete, Elafonissi is one of the few beaches in the world that greet its visitors not with golden or white sands but with pink ones! This rare phenomenon is caused by pink corals that, over time, turn into sand, making Elafonissi Greece’s most peculiar spot for a beach vacation.
psst: There are also black and red beaches in Greece. Find out where they are.
The Old Venician Harbor of Chania
Chania is the second-largest city on Crete and probably the Greek town with the most colorful history. Located on the west end of the island, the small settlement was ruled by plenty of empires over the years.
Rebuilt during the second Byzantine period between 961 to 1204 AD, Chania was taken by the Venetians during the 14th century, who built its most prominent feature today – the Venetian Harbor.
A coastal line of colorful Venetian houses, an old fortification wall, and a giant lighthouse compose a beautiful display considered to be the most well-preserved Venetian harbor in the world.
Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea and is pure magic. No, really, I don’t know how to describe it better. Santorini is just pure magic. The blinding white houses, the signature blue domes, the spectacular sea views, the countless sunset spots, do I need to say more?
The island is one of the very best in the entire world for a picturesque luxurious vacation. There are two downsides though, it’s expensive, and it’s often overcrowded. If budget is not that big of a concern for you and you visit outside the tourist season, though, there are very few places that can rival the vibe of this fairytale island.
See Also: The Best Landmarks in Portugal
Another Venetian-left heritage, the windmills of Mykonos, are among the most picturesque spots in the country. Built between the 16th and the 20th centuries, most of the windmills face north to catch the strongest wind.
The most famous Mykonos windmills are the Kato Myloi ones. Situated on a hill overlooking the old town and its bay, the five windmills are the symbol of the popular island. One of them, Bonis Windmill, is also home to a lovely museum that will teach you more about the history of Mykonos and its mills.
Blue Caves of Zakynthos
The Blue Caves of Zakynthos offer one of the most awe-inspiring sea views you can find anywhere. Yup, no just Greece, anywhere!
The stunning natural limestone formations were discovered in 1897, and ever since then, act as a magnet for all Zakynthos visitors. And no wonder, who can resist the urge to hire a boat and go under those stunning white arches. Not me, at least.
Out of all incredible landmarks in Greece, Navagio Beach is the most picturesque one. No, seriously, just look at the photo! The deep blue waters surrounded by gigantic white cliffs with a tiny white beach tucked in between. And if that’s not picture-perfect enough, there’s a shipwreck on the beach. Just. Too. Perfect!
Also known as the Shipwreck Beach (for obvious reasons), Navagio is the eternal home of a smuggler’s ship (MV Panagiotis) who angered Posseidon in 1983 and shipwrecked on the magical beach.
Epidaurus Ancient Thaeatre
Next on the list, we have one of the most prominent archeological sites in the country – the ancient theatre in Epidaurus. Built around the fourth century BC, the theatre is incredibly impressive due to its size and symmetry.
Even today, the limestone auditorium is big enough to host 14,000 people with no problems at all. Its acoustics are tuned so well that every visitor, even the ones on row Z, can hear what’s going on the stage. Simply amazing.
Mount Athos Monasteries
Located in Chalkidiki (a couple of hours southeast of Thessaloniki), the sacred mount Athon is one of the most mysterious landmarks in Greece. Surrounded by a rocky mountain terrain and deep forests, the secluded area is home to 20 unique Orthodox monasteries, 17 greek ones, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian.
What so special about Athos and its monasteries is that the whole area is an autonomous region with special regulations. And their most famous rule is – no women allowed! Yes, the monasteries of Athos are a strictly boys-only club.
If you are a male and you wish to visit, you’ll find a plethora of exciting artifacts, artworks, and manuscripts. Keep in mind, however, you need to request special permission from the Permit Office in Thessaloniki around six months before your trip to Athos.
Next, we have another group of churches, this time available for both men and women. While there are plenty of picturesque and unique temples worldwide, the Meteora monasteries are certainly a one-of-a-kind sight, as picture-perfect as possible.
Situated on top of natural rock pillars (some of them 300 m/ 985 ft high), the peculiar monasteries date back to the 13th century and today are among the most famous attractions in Greece, welcoming more than 2.5mln tourists per year.
From the 24 original monasteries, only six survived to this day, and if you want to visit, you should know they have a strict dress code ( covered shoulders and knees) and a separate entrance fee.
The six remaining monasteries are Great Meteoron Monastery, Varlaam Monastery, Roussanou Monastery, Agios Nikolaos Anapaphsas, Agios Stefanos, and Holy Trinity Monastery (Agia Triada).
Medieval Town of Rhodes
A town full of castles and cobbled streets, Rhodes feels more like a medieval festival than a contemporary Greek town. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, for 200 years, Rhodes used to be occupied by the Order of St John of Jerusalem, that transformed the city into a medieval stronghold.
Being later occupied by the Italians and the Turks, Rhodes inherited a few spectacular constructions such as the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, the Great Hospital, and the Street of the Knights. In its lower part, Rhodes is a spectacular blend of Italian Gothic architecture and Ottoman Mosques/ public baths.
We finish our trip around the best landmarks in Greece with a fairytale beach. Myrtos Beach is located on Kefalonia island (one of the stunning Ionian Islands) and is considered one of the very best beaches in the country, which is quite impressive when there are more than 6,000 islands there.
Dramatically positioned between the feet of two mountains, Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros, the white Myrtos beach is a bucket list material spot that is guaranteed to make your summer vacation a memorable one.
That’s all from me, I hope these 20 Greek landmarks managed to inspire you. If not, take a look at my wanderlusty travel quotes or the daring adventure ones. Inspiration is guaranteed!
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