Byron fell in love with the land and people, Lawrence Durell wrote in his lyrical best about the island life – Greece seems to inspire all who came here. With its blue seascapes, whitewashed villages, it’s not difficult to see why. Here’s how you can experience the best of the country, its rugged Balkan surroundings, stunning architecture that ranges from classical to modern periods, and islands dotted across three seas.
At the top of your list, when you’re visiting Greece, should be the imposing white columns of the Parthenon, which sits atop a hill that looks over Athens. Equally stunning are the spectacular sunstes that you can view from Oia village at the northern tip of Santorini. If you’re in the regions surrounding the plain of Thessaly, do stop by the monasteries of Meteora. The rocky pillars will make for travel memories that you’ll hold dear for a long long time. The Knights’ Quarter and Turkish relics of Rhodes’s walled old town must also feature on your must-see list when you’re in the country.
While Greece is home to some of the world’s most visually striking sights, there are also several experiences on offer that you’ll find no place else. Hop on a ferry in Piraeus and cruise between the countless Greek islands, each with their own distinct character and attractions. Stop by a village tavern or a harbourside restaurant as you indulge in what perhaps, is among the world’s most underrated cuisines. Then, go on a trek up Mt Olympus, and on the way, keep an eye out for centaurs, satyrs or stray Greek Gods – you’ll come across more than just a few. Spend a quiet afternoon wandering the mountain hamlets of the Zagorohoria, and trek the Vikos Gorge.
Before you set out on your Greek holiday, prep yourself a little. Listen to some melancholy and passionate rebetiko, sometimes called the Greek blues. Pick up a copy of The Hill of Kronos by Peter Levi and The Little Infamies by Panos Karnezis, which is a collection of tales from the Greek backwoods. And, when you’re finally in Greece, make sure you don’t miss out on some local food and drink. Eat saganaki (fried cheese) and soutzoukakia (meatball) and down a glass or two of ouzo (grape brandy with anise).