There are few places in the world that are as mystical and rich in history as Greece. While most thoughts of the island country evoke images of idyllic beaches in Paxos and sweeping views of white houses in Santorini, there’s a lot of culture that lays the foundation of this travel hotspot and in some of the most famous Greek landmarks.
Visiting the top Greek landmarks and attractions is a great way to experience this culture first-hand.
If you’re planning a trip to the ancient islands, make sure that you add as many of these famous Greek landmarks to your Greece itinerary as possible.
There’s a beautiful mix of history, the influence of mythology and natural beauty just waiting to be explored.
38 Monumental Greek Landmarks
Table of Contents
- 38 Monumental Greek Landmarks
- 1. Athens Acropolis
- 2. Mount Lycabettus
- 3. Parthenon
- 4. Mystras
- 5. Nafplio
- 6. Monasteries of Meteora
- 7. Vikos Gorge
- 8. White Tower of Thessaloniki
- 9. Temple of Olympian Zeus
- 10. Delphi
- 11. Spinalonga
- 12. Syntagma Square
- 13. Mycenae
- 14. Minoan Palace of Knossos
- 15. Caldera of Santorini
- 16. Mount Olympus
- 17. Blue Caves of Zakynthos
- 18. The Terrace of the Lions
- 19. Samaria Gorge
- 20. M Panagiotis Shipwreck
- 21. Mykonos Windmills
- 22. Melissani Cave
- 23. Leonidas
- 24. Corinth Canal
- 25. Royal Tombs at Vergina
- 26. Academy of Athens
- 27. Elafonissi Beach
- 28. Harbour of Chania
- 29. Epidaurus Theatre
- 30. Mount Athos Monasteries
- 31. Medieval Town of Rhodes
- 32. Temple of Poseidon
- 33. Panathenaic Stadium
- 34. Sarakiniko Beach
- 35. Temple of Apollo
- 36. Hagia Sophia of Thessalonica Church
- 37. Archeological Site of Philippi
- 38. Agios Dimitrios Church
- 39. The Birthplace of Aristotle
- Explore the Best Greek Landmarks and Attractions
1. Athens Acropolis
At the centre of this history and allure is the vibrant city of Athens. The Acropolis, one of the most famous landmarks in Europe, shines like a beacon atop a rocky outcrop above the city.
The Acropolis Greece was built in the second half of the 5th-century B.C as a home for Athena, the patron goddess of the city. Today, it is a reminder of a rich cultural heritage and is a major attraction.
If you want to avoid the crowds then it’s better to arrive at the Acropolis in Athens early (the site opens to the public at 8 am in both summer and winter).
The Meditteranean sun can also reach uncomfortable temperatures so make sure that you pack water, sunscreen and a hat.
⇒ Book your Acropolis skip-the-line entry ticket and explore the landmark of western civilization.
2. Mount Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus stands proudly as the tallest of seven hills in Athens. It’s a prominent feature of the Athens skyline and the views from the top include the entire city, the sea and the mountains of the Peloponnese.
Climbing Mount Lycabettus in Greece is a perfect activity for nature-lovers who enjoy breaking a sweat while touring a new country. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views and the tiny Agios Georgios (Chapel of St. George).
There are several routes to choose from and the walk along the steep path to Mount Lycabettus can take between 30 to 90 minutes (depending on fitness). Or do what I did and just hop on the cable car which takes up and down the mountain!
Anyone who visits the Acropolis will also have access to the adjacent Parthenon in Athens with a combination ticket. The archaeological site was originally at the heart of religion while Greece was a powerful empire.
Although the Parthenon is in ruins, it was a large and lavish building that told of Greek wealth.
The temple was built between 447 and 432 B.C when the Greek Empire was at its height of influence. Over the years, the bold structure stood against earthquakes, wars, looting and fire.
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While it no longer stands complete, the Parthenon is a powerful symbol of ancient Greek culture.
⇒ Book your private Athens full-day sightseeing tour.
It’s not only Athens that is home to the most famous landmarks and attractions in Greece. The archaeological site of Mystras is located southeast of the Peloponnese and consists of a town developed down the hillside from an ancient fortress.
While the ancient town is enough to attract and history-enthusiast, the surrounding nature is a wonder in its own right. The wildflowers, cypresses and pine trees frame the ruins and old churches of Mystras Greece.
Mystras used to be a bustling Byzantine town but today is the home to a few nuns in the Monastery of Pantanassa.
⇒ Another fantastic place to visit in Europe is Greece. Read all about Paxos Greece as well as the best Paxos restaurants and Paxos beaches. Or find out how to get from Santorini to Ios, the best things to do in Ios and a complete guide to Mylopotas Beach. And don’t miss my 10 Days in Greece Itinerary.
The Greek islands are known to be endearing seaport communities that are surrounded by beautiful hills and ancient homes. Nafplio was the first capital of Greece and is a small historic town with a beautiful castle, making it a popular attraction to visit.
In the evenings, the castle of Nafplio Greece is lit up to highlight its beauty and watches over the bustling square which comes alive with tavernas and people strolling the cobblestone streets. When a culture is as ancient and intricately detailed as Greece, entire towns become historical attractions.
⇒ Book your walking city tour of Nafplio.
⇒ Lanzarote is in Spain’s Canary Islands. Read about the 14 Things to do on Lanzarote you must not miss and the Best Place to Stay in Lanzarote – and don’t miss my post on 12 Beautiful Spain Famous Landmarks.
6. Monasteries of Meteora
There are six operating monasteries in Meteora, a place where time and culture seem frozen in time. Made up of a striking rock formation, Meteora is located in central Greece and is home to a beautifully located group of monasteries.
The sight of clustered religious homes on top of the steep rocks is spellbinding. Although the Monasteries of Meteora Greece look tricky to get to, it is surprisingly accessible. It requires visitors to drive to a parking lot and then hike the trail to the monastery that they wish to visit.
Take the time to soak up the incredible panoramic views from the top and bask in the ambient energy of the spiritual sites.
To enjoy this Greek tourist attraction at your own pace, try to plan your route in advance to avoid the crowds and reduce the amount of energy you expend.
7. Vikos Gorge
The Vikos Gorge, a nature reserve located in the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece, is a bold and beautiful natural attraction. The area surrounding the gorge is home to the crystal clear waters of the Voidomatis Springs and abundant fauna.
At its deepest point, the depth of the Vikos Gorge in Greece reaches 82% of its width, leading the Guinness Book of Records to list the gorge as the world’s “deepest relative to its width”.
The best entrance to the deep canyon is just north of Ioannina. The Aspergilli Information Centre will provide all the maps and information that you’ll need for the park.
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8. White Tower of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki’s most famous site, the White Tower of Thessaloniki was actually a prison. It was built by Ottoman Turks in the late 15th century. The tower has been known by many names over the centuries including the Lion’s Tower, the Blood Tower and the Janissary Tower.
The White Tower took its current name in the late 19th century after one of its prisoners painted it white in exchange for freedom.
Today, the tower consists of six floors. Each floor covers an element of the history of the tower and Thessaloniki. The top of the tower contains a small restaurant and a fantastic view.
⇒ Book a tour of Thessaloniki and the White Tower.
9. Temple of Olympian Zeus
Some people visit Greece for its island paradise attributes. Others visit for the delectable cuisine. And then there are those that visit Greece for its close connection with ancient culture and mythology.
No matter what reason you decided to book your ticket to this fascinating country, a visit to the Temple of Olympian Zeus is a must-do activity. The half-ruined temple is close enough to the Parthenon and Acropolis to view all three in one go and the experience completes the historical perspective.
Construction of this temple took almost 650 years between the beginning of the 6th century BC and the 2nd century AD. The temple was made up of 104 columns of marble which stand over 56 feet but today there are only 15 left. it is believed that many of the columns were destroyed in an earthquake in the middle ages.
As you can probably guess, the temple is dedicated to Zeus, the leader of the Olympian gods. The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Greece has endured much damage due to human and natural disasters, with its remains telling the intriguing story of a time gone by.
⇒ Book a guided Athens mythological tour.
Delphi is a legendary religious sanctuary that was developed in dedication to the Greek god Apollo. Main attractions within the sanctuary include the Oracle of Delphi and the priestess Pythia.
These were revered during the ancient world for playing a role in prophesying the future.
For many reasons, Delphi is considered to be the heart of classical Greek civilization and a main attraction to visit. Once arriving, you’ll be able to explore the hilltop museum and ruins, as well as the amphitheatre and the Temple of Apollo.
If you have time, then Delphi Greece is worth the trip. Not only is it rich in historical value, but it also gives a little break from Athens and an opportunity to explore the countryside.
⇒ Book a day trip to Delphi from Athens.
Spinalonga Island is famously known for having been a leper colony after Crete became a part of Greece. Anyone with the disease was sent to Spinalonga where they were isolated yet never received treatment.
Today, the little island is easily accessible with tour boats leaving the towns of Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos on a regular basis. You can walk around this Greek island attraction and explore the erringly arid and barren island.
The experience of visiting Spinalonga in Greece is quite different from the rest of the idyllic and mythical culture, telling a story of pain and isolation. In the end, it offers a very interesting tale of Greek history.
⇒ Book a day tour of Spinalonga (as well as Agios Nikolaos and Elounda Plaka).
12. Syntagma Square
This square in Athens is perhaps the most famous square in Greece. It is home to a daily changing of the guard which is definitely worth watching. This takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The changing of the guard is hourly from October to the end of March and every 30 minutes from April to the end of September. Sunday is the biggest show of the week.
The ruins of Mycenae are located in the North of Greece. The lost Mycenean civilisation ruled Greece in the Bronze Age. The town was built in this location to take advantage of the fantastic views across the nearby countryside.
14. Minoan Palace of Knossos
The Minoan Palace of Knossos is one of Crete’s best-known tourist attractions. The palace was built during the Neolithic Period by the Minoan people. The palace and city fell into disrepair and were discovered by archeologists early in the 20th century. Today the ruins of the palace and the city can be visited and feature informative signs.
15. Caldera of Santorini
The Volcano at Thira experienced one of the largest eruptions ever experienced which created the islands of Santorini. A caldera is a big depression that is created after a volcano erupts and then collapses. Today the caldera’s rim is a cliff on the west side of Thira in the town of Firastefani. The Santorini volcano last erupted in 1950.
16. Mount Olympus
In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was the site of Zeus’ throne and known as the home of all 12 Greek gods. It is also the highest mountain in Greece and has a mix of 52 peaks and gorges.
There are several different options when it comes to hiking trails. One of the easiest is the route from Prionia to Agios Dionysios Monastery. The Prionia trail is also very nice and its 6 kilometres takes a couple of hours to walk.
17. Blue Caves of Zakynthos
These amazing limestone caves were discovered in 1897. They have been shaped by the tides over the centuries and today have white arches and a blue tinge from the reflection of the water. A truly beautiful place to visit.
18. The Terrace of the Lions
The Terrace of the Lions is located on the Greek island of Delos near Mykonos. This island is home to some of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. The most popular of the island’s historic sites is the Terrace of Lions. The people of Naxos dedicated the lions to Apollo around 600 BC. There were originally nine lines but only seven remain.
19. Samaria Gorge
This national park in Crete was opened in 1962. The hike along the gorge is just under 10 miles and is one of the most popular hiking trails in Greece. The trail ends at the small village of Aghia Roumeli.
20. M Panagiotis Shipwreck
Navagio beach in the northern of Zakynthos can only be reached by sea. This beach is called Shipwreck beach as the M Panagiotis shipwreck still sits in its white sands. It takes 20 minutes to reach the beach from Volimes or Port Vromi.
21. Mykonos Windmills
Windmills and Mykonos are synonymous. There are seven windmills on this greek island that are painted white. The windmills were built between the 16th and 20th centuries and most face north.
Windmills are not used for their original purpose on Mykonos today. However, some are now home to museums, hotels and restaurants. The most famous windmills are the Kato Myloi windmills which sit on a hill overlooking the old town of Mykonos and the bay.
22. Melissani Cave
This cave in Kefalonia is one of the most popular landmarks in Greece. The cave is shaped like a capital B and has two chambers with an island in its middle. The roof of one of the caves collapsed centuries ago and now lets in light. The best time to visit Melissani Cave is at midday. When the sun is directly overhead it hits the turquoise waters and bathe the entire cave in light.
This bronze statue at Thermopylae commemorates Leonidas, the King of Sparta until he died in 480 BC. He is famous for having been the leader of 300 Spartans and he died in battle during the Second Persian War. The phrase he used in battle is under the statue “Come and take them”.
24. Corinth Canal
This canal connects the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea with the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea. The Corinth Canal was constructed in 1881 and cuts through the Ishtmus of Corinth and separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese.
The distance between the walls of the canal is only 25 metres and the walls are 76 metres high. This limits the types of ships that can move through the canal. Finally, seven different bridges cross the Corinth Canal.
25. Royal Tombs at Vergina
About an hour southwest of Thessaloniki is the Museum of the Royal Tombs in Vergina. Vergina was the capital of prehistoric Macedonia. As recently as 1977, the burial sites of several Macedonian Kings including Philip II were found and several had not been disturbed. The artifacts that have been discovered at the site can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Vergina.
26. Academy of Athens
This beautiful building is in the middle of Athens and is actually quite new. The building has been styled in the classic Greek manner but was only opened in 1926. It is one of the top research centres in Greece.
27. Elafonissi Beach
It takes something pretty impressive to stand out as a beach in Greece – and to make it onto a Greek landmarks list. This beach on Crete is known for its pink sands. The pink colour was created by coral. The combination of the pink sand and blue sea make this one of the most picturesque locations in Greece.
28. Harbour of Chania
Chania is on the west side of Crete and was taken by the Venetians in the 14th century. The Venetians built what it is best known for today – a beautiful harbour. Today the harbour consists of a lighthouse, colourful houses and an old wall and is very photogenic. It is the second-largest city in Crete and also home to some fantastic seafood restaurants.
29. Epidaurus Theatre
This ancient theatre was built from limestone around the 4th century BC by Polykleitos the Younger. Today this well-preserved theatre can seat 14,000 people and the acoustics mean that no matter where you sit you will be able to hear the actors clearly. Every year it is used in the annual Epidaurus Festival.
30. Mount Athos Monasteries
Chalkidiki is located a couple of hours southeast of Thessaloniki and is home to 40 monasteries in its rugged terrain. There are 20 Orthodox monasteries, 17 Greek monasteries and then one each for Russia, Serbia and Bulgaria.
The area of Athos is an autonomous region and has one very famous rule – no women are allowed to visit. Even if you meet the visitor criteria you will need to request permission six months before your trip.
31. Medieval Town of Rhodes
Rhodes is filled with cobblestone streets and castles and visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is like going back in time. Rhodes is filled with historical wonders including the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, the Great Hospital, the Street of the Knights and some amazing Ottoman-style public baths and mosques.
32. Temple of Poseidon
This greek landmark has a stunning location on Cape Sounion which is around 70 kilometres from Athens. The Temple of Poseidon was built between 444 and 460 BC using marble to honour the Greek god of the sea. For three centuries the temple was considered to be a sacred place. Its majestic location makes it well worth a visit.
33. Panathenaic Stadium
This Athens stadium was built in 4 BC for the Panathenaic Games which were held every four years. The stadium was made entirely with marble and it was reconstructed in 1896 for the Olympic Games.
34. Sarakiniko Beach
Located on the tiny Greek island of Milos, Sarakiniko is a series of coves, rocks and beach made out of lava. The sun has bleached the lava somewhat over the years and the water has softened its curves. Sarakiniko is a popular spot for cliff jumping and general admiration as the contrast of the blue water against the lava is stunning.
35. Temple of Apollo
This 4th century BC Temple is located in the excavated city of Ancient Corinth. It is possible to wander the streets of what was the largest and wealthiest of the ancient Greek city-states, Corinth. The site also has an archaeological museum and other ancient landmarks such as Agora and the Fountain of Peirene.
36. Hagia Sophia of Thessalonica Church
This is one of the oldest cathedrals in the world and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral Church of Hagia Sophia of Thessalonica was built in the 8th century AD and it was the largest church in the world until it was knocked off the position by Spain‘s Seville Cathedral.
37. Archeological Site of Philippi
A UNESCO World Heritage monument, the Archeological site of Philippi dates back to the early christian era. The city of Philippi was founded in 360 BC. The location was located near gold mines and had military advantages. The site is easy to visit from Thessaloniki and only 11km away from the major Greek seaport of Kavala Town.
38. Agios Dimitrios Church
Dimitrios is the patron saint of Thessaloniki and whilst this isn’t the church of the city it is the most visited church in town. The bottom level of this major landmark in Thessaloniki is from 5AD but everything above that is from the 20th century.
Dimitrios church was built on top of Roman baths. Don’t miss the mosaics inside that are from the 7th and the 9th centuries. Dimitrius is the one wearing the halo.
39. The Birthplace of Aristotle
Olympiada is home to the most important archaeological site in Halkidiki Greece, Stageira. Stageira is located over the two hills of the Liotopi peninsula. It is not just the birthplace of Aristotle, it is also said to be where his ashes were scattered (99% likely).
Stageira was only discovered in 1990 and it is has been slow going on the excavations due to budget restrictions but there is quite a bit to see here including Aristotle’s burial monument. The area also has some stunning views over the Liotopi Peninsula and directly below the site is beautiful Kefalas beach.
Explore the Best Greek Landmarks and Attractions
Greece is full of beautiful places and ancient buildings to explore. These 11 spots are just a few of the most prominent and will start you off on the right path. If you find yourself with more time in the stunning country then you can venture off to other spots and uncover more landmarks.
From uncovering the wealth of things to do in Ios to boating between the Aegean islands – just make sure that you have your camera fully charged and a waterproof bag on the ready!
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