20 things to see and do in Greece

Beaches, bars, history and cuisine. There’s so much that Greece does – and does well. You might know it as your favourite holiday destination, as the birthplace of Western civilisation, as the cradle of philosophy and mathematics, or as the ultimate party paradise.

Whatever your perspective, Greece delivers in spades, and our 20 favourite things about this stunning destination only scratch the surface of what you could see and do here.

Visit relics of ancient empires

Greece wasn’t always Greek, and its medieval monuments stand as proof of that.

You can see how other empires made themselves at home here in years gone by, from Byzantine castles to the Ottomans’ mighty White Tower. Some of its cities are especially rich in history, such as island capitals Corfu Town and Rhodes Town.

Expand your palate

You’ve probably tried houmous, moussaka and mezzes, but Greek cuisine is so much more. Tuck into fakes for a Mediterranean twist on lentil soup, or sample the distinctive flavour of melitinia cheese cookies. Seafood is a massive part of meals here too, from swordfish steaks to octopus bites.

Soak in some sunshine

This one’s a given. Temperatures in this Mediterranean country rarely dip below 20°C at the best of times, and during summer you’ll be seeing more along the lines of 35°C, so remember to pack that suncream.

Get wet and wild on the waves

The sea has played a central role in Greek society since its historic foundation, but nowadays it means a whole host of watersports on offer. Whether you’re windsurfing the Mediterranean, jet-skiing the Ionian or paragliding over the Aegean, those deep blue waves are rich with adventure. And below the waves you’ll find treasures of the deep – Greece is rich in diving spots to explore.

Visit a vineyard

Greek wine is among the best that the Mediterranean can offer. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to take part in taster sessions, or take a vineyard tour for a look at how it’s made.

Sightsee in Santorini

Santorini’s unique blue-domed white-walled houses and stark hills make it a world apart from anywhere else in Greece. Lose yourself in those winding streets and feel the serenity of this island washing over you.

Spend the day by the sea

Both mainland Greece and its islands are host to beaches that are loved by tourists from all over the world. Some, like Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, are held as some of the most beautiful coastlines on Earth.

Barter in old town's markets

It doesn’t matter where in Greece you go. The city you’re in will have an old-town district, and chances are there’ll be a market there, which is a fantastic chance for you to show off your haggling skills in an epic bargain-hunt.

Go island hopping

There’s no need to stick to one destination when you can take in a few dozen. Greece consists of thousands of islands beyond its mainland, 227 of which are inhabited. And you can hop aboard a boat and cruise between several of them during your adventures, seeing each one’s distinctive landscape and trying their unique cuisine.

Get lost in the nightlife

Greece might seem laid-back in the daytime, but at night its venues blaze into life with live music and dance. If you’re staying in one of the party capitals, such as Mykonos, then there’ll be plenty of bars and clubs worth your time.

Take in some Greek spirit

By which we mean liqueurs, which you’re sure to be offered when you’re indulging in some nightlife. Ask the locals for some advice on this front, but we recommend metaxa, which tastes like a brandy with a smooth wine-like finish. Or there’s aniseed-flavoured ouzo if you prefer something stronger.

Visit a family-run taverna

Keep it authentic and seek out the closest family-run taverna to where you’re staying. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll learn for yourself why Greek hospitality is so famous.

Seek out the smuggler's cove

Every corner of Greece tells a story, and on the island of Zante is Navagio Beach. It’s a gorgeous cove of creamy sand and inviting blue sea, yet it’s also home to the rusted husk of a smuggler’s ship. Find out for yourself what stories it holds.

Visit Rhodes' Valley of the Butterflies

This gorgeous nature reserve on the island of Rhodes has become home to thousands of beautiful butterflies, which breed and make their homes in the unspoilt territory. Visitors are welcome to this magical part of the island, which is nestled between two mighty cliff faces.

Take the Samaria Trek in Crete

At 16 kilometres, this is a three-hour journey on foot through Crete‘s rugged canyons and rolling fields that could prove demanding for the unprepared. Make a day of it though, and you’ll discover some of the best vistas and walking trails in Greece.

Visit the petrified forest of Lesvos

It’s incredibly rare to find petrified forests, which are areas of woodland sealed in time by volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. In Lesvos, a special park has been built to preserve just such a place, where you can walk among the eerie remnants of a forest locked in volcanic rock and ash.

Taste Greek coffee

Although coffee is the lifeblood of the Mediterranean, Greek coffee is a little different. It packs quite a wallop, so espresso lovers will be happy, and you can try it in its raw bitter form or sweetened with sugar.

Savour a sunset

From the hills of Santorini to the coast of Crete, there are hundreds of spots in Greece where you can watch the sun sink away below the horizon. The warm nights – plus the landscape and clear water – only improve the stunning experience.

See a movie under the sun in Santorini

The climate of Greece is famously hot, so open-air cinemas like the ones in scenic Santorini definitely draw in the crowds. From old classics to indie favourites, outdoor-cinema evenings will expand your cultural horizons.

Most of all, make memories

You’re here in Greece to have fun, eat good food and make great memories. Make sure you get some snaps and souvenirs, and experience as much as you can, and you’ll be talking of this trip with friends and family for years to come.