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215 215 9814

Tips for planning a trip to Greece: Islands and archaeological sites of interest

February 07, 2022 6 min read.

Greece attracts visitors from all over the world ready to recognize landscapes, read and recreated before in their imagination, with heavenly beaches and dreamy islands.

But a trip to Greece has a lot to offer. Cradle of history and mythology, the Hellenic country offers endless options of beautiful islands with their respective archaeological sites, mostly UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here we detail some of them.

The Acropolis of Athens

Those who have never traveled to the Hellenic country cannot escape the magic of Athens, the land where western civilization was born. The Acropolis was inhabited since the end of the Neolithic era (2800 B.C. - 2500 B.C.), as evidenced by the ceramic remains found in the area, and for a long time it was used as a refuge for the inhabitants of its surroundings. The oldest buildings date back to the 14th century B.C. The Acropolis is a genuine testament to the golden age of Greece, between 461 and 429 B.C., the magical period displaying the height of Pericles' influence, in which the intellectual and artistic life of Athens flourished. It is believed to have been inhabited without interruption throughout the Bronze Age and the following times.

There is the temple of Athena Nike, built between 488 and 427 B.C. The Parthenon is a masterpiece of architecture conceived by Pericles and executed between 447 and 438 B.C. by the brilliant sculptor Phidias, who was also responsible for building the Erechtheum, located on top of the Acropolis (famous for the six maiden-shaped columns that support one of the doors: the caryatids), another masterpiece that you will find there.

The Acropolis is open every day from 08:00 to 17:00, and in spring and summer, it remains open until 19:00. The closing days of the archaeological site are January 1, March 25, May 1, Easter Sunday and December 25 and 26. Tickets can be purchased directly at the ticket offices located at the entrance of the venue, and you can also buy your tickets online without lines. Both are valid to visit the entire archaeological site.

Minoan ruins on the island of Crete

Crete's appearance in history is linked to the development of the Minoan civilization. When the first Achaean invaders (Indo-European Bronze Age people) arrived on the Cretan coast, during the 15th-13th century BC, the island had long enjoyed an advanced civilization: Homer called it "the island of one hundred cities”. Excavations begun in the 19th century have brought to light the impressive remains of one of the brightest civilizations of all time: in 1878, Minos Kalokairinos carried out the excavations of Knossos and its palace, belonging to King Minos. The hill of Knossos had been inhabited since the Neolithic, and the population spread over the surrounding terrain. Around 1900 BC, the top was leveled and the first palace was built; two centuries later, after an earthquake, the new palace was erected.

Knossos is 5 km from Heraklion, the capital of Crete, a hectic city with a lot of movement, typical of coastal cities. We recommend a walk through the Venetian port area and the streets of the center that will make you discover several interesting monuments, as well as being ideal for those who want to shop.

Delphi Ruins

On a trip to the city Delphi, you can visit The Temple of Apollo. The temple visible today (there were six others successively built on the site) dates back to the 4th century BC Above the temple is the theater, very well preserved, where 5,000 spectators could sit; the works, which started in the 3rd century BC, were not completed until 160 BC, and it was later restored by the Romans. The view from the theater is worth the climb, as is the view from the stadium, which is up the mountain, and represents the highest point of the old city. Embraced by a pine forest, this is a quiet refuge with the resounding majesty of the mountain as the background.

The Archaeological site of Olympia

Olympia is the ancient sanctuary of Zeus, one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece. Located on the Peloponnese peninsula in mainland Greece, this is the place where the original Olympic Games were held in ancient times. Its extensive ruins encompass sports training areas, a stadium and temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus. Although the first Olympiad is believed to have taken place in 776 B.C., the bronze figures from the geometric period (10th-8th centuries) reveal that the sanctuary was already in use before then.

Although the visit could last a day, since there are many places to see in Olympia, a tourist visit will take approximately two and a half or three hours to see everything with ease and taking photographs. As in the rest of the archaeological sites of Greece, as in most places to visit in Olympia there is not much shade, so it is advisable to come with sunscreen, hat and water. (See packages to Olympia in Travel to Greece).

Delos Archaeological Site

Although Delos is a small islet, with hardly any natural resources, it was able to become the religious and political center of the Aegean. In 1000 BC, the Ionians, who inhabited the Cyclades, had made Delos their religious capital and introduced the cult of Apollo. Delos was excavated in 1873 by the French school of archeology in Athens and its main buildings are: The agora of the Competaliasts, a market next to the sacred port, built in the 2nd century BC. The temple of Delos or great temple, one of the three dedicated to Apollo, built from 478 BC, but whose works stopped in the middle of the century and were not restarted until the 3rd century BC.; the fountain of Minos, the terrace of the lions, the theater of the 3rd century BC, initially of marble and later of wood.

But this island is not only focused on its history and we must focus on the typical food of this island, which is one of the so-called Cyclades. The special geomorphology of these islands, together with the sea, the wind and the sun, determine the special characteristics and quality of the products produced on their land. Grapes, olives, legumes and vegetables that do not need too much water, tomato varieties, wild vegetables, wild artichokes, wild asparagus, capers, kritamo, among others, are the main raw materials of the islands in terms of food . Fishing, of course, is also an important element, while meat is scarcer and mainly used for celebrations. The Cycladic cheese is an incredible synthesis of flavors and aromas. (See Delos packages in Trips to Greece).

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