Because Greece is so much more than a glorious island vacation.
Santorini, Mykonos, Crete – these are some of the first words that come to mind when daydreaming about Greece. These islands are absolutely breathtaking. But have you ventured into mainland Greece? In addition to its unparalleled islands, Greece is beautifully mountainous within the mainland. When booking your Grecian getaway, be sure to include time for these mainland hot spots.
Oh. My. Poseodon.
The Temple of Poseidon sits a top a glorious cliff overlooking the sea. The views are so unparalleled local Greeks themselves come here to recharge and find peace.
As the myth goes, Aegeus, the king of Athens fell into the sea at this spot due to a misunderstanding. First built in the archaic period, the temple was destroyed by Persians around 480 BC and rebuilt near 440 BC.
I would highly suggest coming back to the temple for sunset, especially if you are unable to experience a Santorini sunset during your visit. The Temple of Poseidon's end of day views are a close second.
In addition to the brilliant views and cultural significance, the temple is near wonderful beach spots. On my visit, I climbed down the steep stairs to reach the luxurious, crystal clear waters of Cape Sounion's pebble beach. When in Athens, this 45 minute drive is so worth it.
Meteora is a jaw-dropping rock formation located in central Greece. These incredible rocks serve as a home t o six Eastern Orthodox monasteries.
Way back when, the monks used to put themselves up to the top of the rock formations by placing themselves in baskets and pulley their way up.
Not to worry – modern Greece has since created accessible pathways to visit the monasteries without the basket ride.
The Rousanou Nunnery is also located on a rock formation. I paid a quick visit to the nunnery and received a small painting on a local rock of Meteora to take home with me.
It's about a 4.5 hour drive to reach these majestic monasteries, but every second spent there is worth it. Additionally, the drive through Greece is actually breathtaking with mountain views you don't normally associate with Greece!
If you're a theatre kid – you best prepare that solo. The Ancient Theater In Epidaurus , built in the late 4th century, has incomparable acoustics to any theatre in the entire world. Legend has it that a performer can stand center stage and their whisper will clearly reach all 15,000 spectators. One of my fellow travelers tried this out from center stage and I did indeed hear their whisper all the way at the top of this theatre (where this photo was taken!).
Mythical gods, oracles, and the center of the ancient classical world was here at Delphi.
Delphi was originally the seat of the most well-known oracle, Pythia, in the ancient world. Long before Greece as we know it was formed, the ancient Greeks believed Delphi to be the center of the world. The ancient Greeks believed that the kind of the gods, Zeus, released two eagles at Delphi. One to the east and one to the west, and they would meet again in the center: Delphi.
Originally, Delphi was known as Pytho. It was believed that the god Apollo had killed a deadly snake here, and thus the city was named.
In addition to oracle seats and ruins, remains of the Pan-Hellenic games can be seen here. The Pan-Hellenic games were, essentially, the original Olympics. At first, only musical competitions were held every eight years, but as time progressed athletic events were added, and the competition began to take place every four years. Leading us to what we know as the Olympics.
Now aside from all this history, Delphi is an absolutely beautiful place to visit. As you walk around the steep mountain, you'll see the oracles seat and ancient stadiums. The Delphi Archaeological Museum is also well worth the visit on your visit.
The official Olympic games began here along the western Peloponnese in Olympia. Greek city-states would send their best representatives to Olympia until the suspension of the games in 394 AD by the Byzantine empire.
The beautiful competition grounds include ruins of ancient hotels, competition sites, and remains of large temples dedicated to Zeus and Hera in honor of the games.
Today, visitor can enjoy the grounds, visit the Archaeological museum, and find plenty of Greek φιλοξενiα (hospitality) in the surrounding neighborhoods.
We stayed for two nights at the wonderful family-owned Neda hotel. A fantastic experience for your overnight visit. Oh – be sure to try the orange juice! Nothing is fresher!
For those that only have a Sunday to explore the whole of Athens and want to get the Athenian local feeling, this tour is for you! In just a few hours you will not only have the opportunity to check out the sights of the capital, but you will also get to taste the full spectrum of the Greek cuisine!