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Things to Do in Greece - page 4

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Delos (Dilos)
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31 Tours and Activities

Archaeological buffs and lovers of legends mustn’t miss the trip to the sacred island of Delos. On Delos, the archaeological jewel of the Cyclades, you can see firsthand where the ancients lived and clamber over the ruins they left behind. Held sacred as the mythological birthplace of Apollo, Delos was at the heart of the ancient world as an important religious and commercial center, reaching its zenith in the Hellenic period around the 5th century BC.

The huge site sprawls along the island’s west coast, from the stadium in the north to the old trading warehouses to the south. Standouts include the Sanctuary of Apollo temples and the Terrace of the Lions. The remains of private houses surround the semicircular Theatre, and the site includes several agoras, monuments, sanctuaries and temples. You can see finds from the excavations at the site museum, including the original lions from the much-photographed Terrace of the Lions.

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Akrotiri
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In 1967, archaeologists uncovered the spectacularly well-preserved remains of an ancient Bronze Age Minoan village at Ancient Akrotiri, destroyed by a mighty volcanic eruption in around 1650 BC.

The most famous Minoan site outside Crete, the sandstone remains of Akrotiri’s buildings reach several stories. Their door and window lintels are spookily intact, along with stone walls and porticoes, courtyards and rooms. As at Pompeii, the buildings were preserved by the volcanic ash. Fortunately, unlike Pompeii, it appears that the villagers were safely evacuated, as no skeletons have been unearthed during the excavation. The excavation site has been closed for several years, though restoration is continuing. To get an idea of what lies beneath, visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, where gorgeous frescos of boats, fishers, wildlife and everyday people from several millennia ago are displayed. You can also see personal artifacts like pottery and furniture.

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Temple of Poseidon
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Follow the road to Cape Sounion, circling the idyllic Saronic Gulf, and you come to one of the most iconic sights in Greece: the columns of the Temple of Poseidon, framing the blue sea backdrop since 44 BC. One of the temple’s remaining Doric columns is inscribed by none other than Lord Byron, who visited the temple in the early 19th century. The ancient Greeks certainly knew how to choose a temple location, as Cape Sounion is a remarkable site. The Temple of Poseidon is perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the sea, a gleaming white beacon for ancient (as well as modern) travelers along this dangerous stretch of coast.
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Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Moni Profitou Iliou)
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The monastery of Mount Profitis Ilias is perched on the mountain of the same name, the highest point on Santorini at 1,853 ft (565 m) above the Aegean Sea in the south of the island. Built in the early 18th century out of sizeable stone and resembling a fortress, the monastery was dedicated to the prophet Elijah and initially enjoyed great wealth. It once also functioned as a secret school of Greek culture during the dark days of Turkish occupation of the country, but its power began to decline in 1860 and it was badly damaged by the earthquake in 1956. Today Profitis Ilias is successful once more; its three domed church has become a museum hosting an exceptional and significant collection of Greek Orthodox icons, early, hand printed books and bibles, wrought-iron artwork, wooden carvings and elaborately embroidered clerics’ robes. The resident monks put on displays of traditional carpentry, shoemaking, local cooking and wine making as well.

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Theatre of Epidaurus
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The Epidaurus Theater is a stunningly well-preserved ancient theater constructed in the 4th century BC. It was built by the architect Polykleitos on the side of a mountain and merges perfectly into the surrounding landscape of undulating hills, overlooking the Sanctuary of Asklepius. For centuries, Epidaurus Theater remained covered by trees, until excavations revealed the ancient monument towards the end of the 19th century. Despite repairs and restorations over the years, particularly to the seats, the stage itself has been retained as it was since ancient times. Today, the theater is a popular venue for the annual Athens Festival productions, which are held here every summer.

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Mycenae
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Squeezed between two hills on the arid plains of the northeastern Peloponnese, fortified Mycenae was the major settlement in the powerful Mycenaean civilization that held political and cultural sway over the Eastern Mediterranean from the 15th to the 12th century BC. The Bronze Age city is regarded as the home of the legendary Agamemnon and is UNESCO World Heritage-listed for its profound cultural influence upon later Greek civilizations.

Covering around 32 hectares and at its peak with a population of around 30,000, the ruins at Mycenae were excavated in 1874 by Heinrich Schliemann, who also worked at Troy. Highlights include the Lion Gate, the main entrance into the citadel carved with figures of mythical lions; the Treasury of Atreus – also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon; the scant remains of the Royal Palace; and the Cyclopean Walls, whose massive stone blocks are all that remain of the original fortifications.
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Vouliagmeni Lake (Limni Vouliagmenis)
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Vouliagmeni Lake is located approximately 15 miles outside of Athens, Greece. It is an oval-shaped lake with brackish water that is fed by both the sea and underground springs. The lake is only 20 inches above sea level, so it often overflows and is replenished by the underground springs. At the bottom of the lake is a labyrinth of underwater caves with 14 tunnels. The composition of the lake's water consists of various elements and is used as a mineral spa famous for its healing properties. Many people come here to treat various physical ailments such as skin conditions, arthritis, headaches and more.

Aside from therapy reasons, the lake is also popular for leisure and recreational activities. The water temperature is consistently between 71 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit which makes for pleasant swimming. There are beach chairs and umbrellas near the shores of the lake, and a nearby restaurant serves traditional Greek food.

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More Things to Do in Greece

Achilleion Palace

Achilleion Palace

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Located in the village of Gastouri on the island of Corfu, Achillion Palace was built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890. Designed by Italian architect Raffaello Caritto, the palace was built in a Pompeian architectural style and features paintings and sculptures of Achilles throughout. Among the sculptures is the famous Dying Achilles in the center of the palace gardens, sculpted by the Greek Ernst Herter.

After Empress Elisabeth was killed, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II bought the palace and used it as a summer residence. During World War I, it was used as a military hospital and during World War II, it was used by the axis powers as a military headquarters. Eventually, it was turned over to the control of the Hellenic Tourist Organization and today it is a museum with certain rooms and the gardens open to the public.

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Paleokastritsa

Paleokastritsa

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On the northwest coast of the island of Corfu, Paleokastritsa is often considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Greece. Surrounded by olive groves and cypress trees, it is set around three bays and boasts more than a dozen beaches. According to legend, Paleokastritsa is where Odysseus was shipwrecked and met Nausicaa. The village’s beaches offer great opportunities for swimming, diving and other water sports, and the Alipo port has speed boats and sailboats for hire. There are also caves around the bays that are worth exploring.

On the northern end of Paleokastritsa is the 12th-century monastery of Theotokos. The monastery is notable for its ceiling carving of the Tree of Life, as well as its museum showcasing the monastery’s holy relics. The nearby villages of Lakones and Krini provide nice day trip options; Lakones has several charming homes dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, while not far from Krini is the Angelokastro, a castle set on a steep hill.

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Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)

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Tucked into an isolated cove on the northern coast of Zakynthos (also called Zante) in the Ionian Islands, Navagio Beach is one of the biggest visitor attractions on the island. Already beautiful and shaded by dramatic marble-white cliffs, it acquired its notoriety in October 1980, when a freighter that was being chased by the Greek Navy ran aground there and was abandoned. Today the Panagiotis still languishes in the soft sandy bay, slowly sinking, rusting and gathering a coat of graffiti under the steep white limestone cliffs that protect the beach.

Thanks to its popularity and despite the fact that it can only be reached from the sea, Navagio Beach gets packed with day-trippers and tourist boats in high season; to escape the crowds try to visit early in the morning or in late afternoon. There are no facilities whatsoever at the beach, so at the height of summer take umbrellas for shade, water and sun cream as well as picnic supplies.

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Blue Caves

Blue Caves

23 Tours and Activities
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Acropolis of Lindos

Acropolis of Lindos

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One of Rhodes’ three most prominent ancient cities, the site of Ancient Lindos lies 45km south of modern day Rhodes city, making a popular attraction for those intrigued by the history of ancient Greece. Founded by the Dorians in 10th century BC, Lindos was once a major trading center connecting Greece to the Middle East, before falling into decline after the city of Rhodes was established in the fifth century.

Today, the modern town of Lindos has grown up in the shadow of the acropolis and a 14th century medieval castle surrounds the ruins of the ancient citadel, keeping watch over the town from its dramatic clifftop perch. Standing proud atop the 116-meter tall rock, the remains of the acropolis include the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, dating back to around 300BC; parts of the 20-columned Hellenistic stoa; and a 5th-century BC propylaeum (temple entrance).

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Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio)

Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio)

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Kanoni

Kanoni

25 Tours and Activities
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Mt. Parnassus (Parnassos)

Mt. Parnassus (Parnassos)

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Mt. Parnassus is one of the many places in Greece that occupies very real space on the landscape, and is also central to such a number of Greek myths that you might be surprised to learn that the mountain is not a myth of its own. The mountain is in central Greece, just north of Delphi. It is associated with several prominent figures in Greek mythology. Mt. Parnassus was said to be the home of the Muses, sacred to the god Dionysus, sacred also to the god Apollo, home to the winged horse Pegasus, and closely tied with poetry, learning, and music.

Today, Mt. Parnassus is a draw for visitors year-round. In the winter, there are two ski resorts on its slopes. In warmer weather, the mountain is an excellent location for hiking - views from the summit are spectacular.

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Mandraki Harbour

Mandraki Harbour

30 Tours and Activities
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Perivolos Beach

Perivolos Beach

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Little Venice

Little Venice

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Little Venice is a tiny quarter of trendy boutiques, churches and whitewashed fishermen’s houses lining the seafront in Mykonos’ Old Town. Flowering bougainvillea adds a touch of crimson to the bright white walls, and wooden balconies painted in trademark Grecian colors of blue and rust hang over the narrow streets.

Just south of the Old Jetty at the entrance to Little Venice, stands the rocklike Church of Panagia Paraportiani, while the town’s iconic row of hilltop windmills overlook the quarter. Come to Little Venice at dusk to capture postcard shots of a Mykonos sunset, and stay on into the evening at a waterfront taverna.

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Mykonos Windmills (Kato Mili)

Mykonos Windmills (Kato Mili)

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The whitewashed windmills lined up on a hill overlooking Mykonos Town are a signature island sight. Capped with wood and straw, the 3-story conical windmills were built in the 16th century to mill flour. Out of the 16 preserved windmills on the island, seven are found in the area of Kato Mili overlooking the Chora Mykonos harbor.
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Ornos Beach

Ornos Beach

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Tucked away from the buzzing nightlife of Mykonos Town, Ornos Beach is draped around a sheltered bay whose calm water makes it a popular family swimming spot. A generous selection of seafront restaurants, tavernas, and resorts offer plenty of amenities for a day in the sun or a longer stay on the island’s quieter side.
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