Athens! What a city. The Greek capital is home to more culture and history than you can imagine so our Athens travel guide is designed to give you the tools to unlock Athens on your own terms. Athens transport, Greek food, and tips to stay safe are all included.
Athens is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.
In the shadow of the Acropolis and its ancient temples, hillside Plaka has a village feel, with narrow cobblestone streets lined with tiny shops selling jewelry, clothes and local ceramics. Sidewalk cafes and family-run tavernas stay open until late, and Cine Paris shows classic movies al fresco. Nearby, the whitewashed homes of the Anafiotika neighborhood give the small enclave a Greek-island vibe.
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. Crete rests approximately 160 km south of the Greek mainland. It has an area of 8,336 km2 and a coastline of 1,046 km .
It bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea, with the Sea of Crete (or North Cretan Sea) to the north and the Libyan Sea (or South Cretan Sea) to the south. Its capital and largest city is Heraklion, on the north shore of the island. As of 2020, the region had a population of 636,504.
Humans have inhabited the island since at least 130,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic age. Crete was the centre of Europe’s first advanced civilization, the Minoans, from 2700 to 1420 BC. The Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenaean civilization from mainland Greece.
Crete was later ruled by Rome, then successively by the Byzantine Empire, Andalusian Arabs, the Venetian Republic, and the Ottoman Empire. In 1898 Crete, whose people had for some time wanted to join the Greek state, achieved independence from the Ottomans, formally becoming the Cretan State. Crete became part of Greece in December 1913. The island is mostly mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east.
It includes Crete’s highest point, Mount Ida, and the range of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) with 30 summits above 2000 metres in altitude and the Samaria Gorge, a World Biosphere Reserve. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry and music). The Nikos Kazantzakis airport at Heraklion and the Daskalogiannis airport at Chania serve international travelers. The palace of Knossos, a Bronze Age settlement and ancient Minoan city, is also located in Heraklion.
The Messinia in the Peloponnese, Greece, produces what is considered the finest olive oil in the world. It’s made from the Koroneiki olive, a small but rich and aromatic olive. Together with a cold extraction and a slow fermentation process, Koroneiki olive oil tastes like no other — a true nectar of the gods. We follow olive-oil taster Dimitra Mathiopoulou at her family’s olive groves and mill to find out how Koroneiki olive oil is harvested and extracted.
With a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea, Asprolithos Villa was designed to reflect the simplicity and aesthetic of traditional Greek design. Constructed of locally sourced stone, each of the three villas has been whitewashed to maximise the reflection of light and heat. Each of the villas is connected to the other by large outdoor communal areas, surrounded by a contrasting raw stone wall. Inside, the 40 square metre spaces have been divided into zones by raising the living area, and recessing parts of the kitchen. The villa’s built-in sofa allows the area around it to function as additional storage, while also doubling as a small desk. Throughout the villa, the focus is always looking out towards the sea. Creating a calm relaxing environment as you move from zone to zone.
Heraklion, also known as Iraklio, is a port city and the capital of the Greek island of Crete. It’s known for the Palace of Knossos, just outside the city. The huge archaeological site dates back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization, and includes frescoes and baths. Guarding the city’s Venetian port is the 16th-century Koules fortress. Heraklion Archaeological Museum has a large collection of Minoan art.
The Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area.
The word “meteora,” means “hovering in the air” which, whist a literal description of the famous monasteries, also shows just how otherworldly they seem.
The complex is made up of twenty-four Eastern Orthodox monasteries that were built on giant sandstone rock pillars between the 14th and 16th centuries.