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November 28, 2021

The Famous Landmarks in Greece You Need to Know

Enjoy learning about these famous landmarks in Greece and start planning your own trip to the land of blue skies, blue waters and a teardrop necklace of islands...

Check out our packing list for Greece here.

The Most Famous Landmarks in Greece

What are the most famous landmarks in Greece? Ethereally, I'd suggest the sky and the sea of that deep, deep blue. But today, we're talking about the more classical and traditional famous Greek landmarks. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the places you'd want to be sure about if you were back in school sitting a geography exam. 

Sure, I've been sneaky and added in a few more intangible candidates. But mostly, this is a straight down the line guide to the must-see attractions in Greece. 

Are you ready? Then let's go!

Greece - Driving the Peloponnese

Planning Your Trip to Greece

Luckily, the chances are that you're not about to take a geography exam and so you can actually plan a trip to Greece. Hooray!

You have two main options. You can plan your trip yourself, using tools like our driving itinerary to the Peloponnese or Athens food guide.

Or, you can let someone else do it, like Unforgettable Greece, who organise small luxury cruises and tours.

Street sign in Athens

Top Landmarks in Athens

Almost all trips to Greece start in Athens - and with good reason. It's not known as the home of democracy for nothing. Almost every other street has links back to ancient Greece and the days of Plato and Socrates.  Relish your time in this complicated, unvarnished city by exploring hidden gems in Athens, making the most of the food scene in Athens and even taking an Athens philosophy tour.

Greece - Athens - Acropolis - Columns

The Acropolis & The Parthenon

If we're talking about landmarks in Greece, we have to talk about the Acropolis.

The Acropolis is one of the most popular icons of Greece, if not the whole of the ancient world, and it symbolises the glory of ancient Greek architecture.

Built over 2000 years ago, the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis hill is an architectural masterpiece, one which has influenced architects around the world.

The name Acropolis literally means "the high city" and, as you might expect, you can see this beacon from several viewpoints across the city.

The best view in Athens from the St George Lycabettus

The best view in Athens - a brief pit stop before driving the Peloponnese

Mount Lycabettus

Mount Lycabettus is a mountain located in central Athens, Greece. It is part of the tallest peak found within the boundaries of the city, with its highest point at 297 metres (974 ft). It also serves a good brunch to well heeled visitors.

Named after the mythical Lycaon, who was turned into a savage wolf by Zeus and driven into the wilderness, today's Lycabettus neighbourhood is distinctly more civilised. 

Syntagma Square

Syntagma square is the historical centre of Athens and arguably one of the most famous squares in the world. 

The word “syntagma” comes from Ancient Greek and means “arrangement” or “series,” which, let's face it, is a little cryptic. 

Most people know Syntagma Square as a popular meeting point due to its central location and other, easy to spot landmarks, such as Parliament House, the Presidential Palace, the Bank of Greece and Athens University.

What about gay travel in Greece?

Greece is one of the most welcoming countries in southern Europe for LGBT travel, with a thriving gay culture scene in Athens in particular. You'll also find Greece as one of the most popular travel destinations on OutofOffice.com, a luxury tour operator with a focus on LGBTQ friendly travel.

Woman staring at the road in the Mani Greece

The Best Landmarks on the Mainland

Of course, Greece isn't all about Athens, you know. The ancient gods roamed all across the land, inspiring architecture that lives on to this day. And beyond ancient Greek landmarks, you can check out these unusual things to see and do in Greece.

Pella

Perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of Alexander the Great, Pella is another city with firm footprints in ancient Greece. Sacked by the Romans in 168 BC, Pella's archaeological site today reveals beautiful mosaics amid the crumbling columns and ruins in Central Macedonia.

The Temple of Zeus in Olympia

Have you ever read a set of words that sounded so powerful and majestic when put together? The Temple of Olympian Zeus was the temple when it came to Doric temples in ancient Greece. Zeus was the boss of gods, the god of the sky, the man (god.)

Unfortunately, a few thousand years have taken the edge off things. But the tall columns in the centre of Olympia remain one of the most famous landmarks in Greece. And, yes, Olympia was home to the ancient Olympic games, which began in 776 BC. Mount Olympus itself lives close to the border between Greece and Macedonia. 

Greece - landmarks - Delphi ruins

Delphi

Situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, about 20 kilometres from the modern day city of Delphi, the ruins of Delphi tell great stories from the past. 

The site has been sacred to the Greeks since prehistoric times, with artefacts dating back to the Neolithic Era (approximately 5000 BC).

The ruins were excavated between 1829-1851 by French archaeologist Charles Texier then follow up work continued from 1912 to 1935 by Italian archaeologist Paolo Orsi.

Delphi had functioned as a religious sanctuary for supporters of the god Apollo. Thee high priestess Pythia worked as the Oracle, a kind of Mystic Meg, forecasting the future and providing advice to kings. 

The Waterfalls of Edessa

The waterfalls of Edessa splash their way along the Pindus mountain range in Epirus, drawing visitors from Thessaloniki. They are famous for their beauty and as the source of mineral waters for healing.

You can easily reach them by car via the GR-3 route or on foot from Livadia or Korinthos. Visitors often stop for lunch at the edge of the hills, where you'll find a restaurant with its own pool filled with trout and carp.

The White Tower of Thessaloniki

The White Tower of Thessaloniki was built in the 14th century and is the only remaining monument from Thessaloniki’s glory days. When it was first constructed, it had a square base with round towers at each corner, but its base has been gradually expanded. It now appears as a square tower with rectangular additions on all sides.

The tower served as a prison for the Ottoman Empire until 1912. Since then, it has been used as a museum containing items from ancient Greece and Asia Minor, including some mummified animals and artefacts from Alexander the Great’s time.

Greece - Mykonos Windmills

Famous greek landmarks on the islands

The Flour Mills of Mykonos

Mykonos may attract a celebrity crowd, from Elizabeth Taylor to Marlon Brando, but in architectural terms, it's the windmills that nab the star status. Alongside the beautiful beaches, coves and sunsets, the flour mills of Mykonos pierce the skyline across the island.

Santorini

The city of Santorini is arguably one of the most famous in the world. White, round buildings are scattered all around the edge of a deep blue bay.

Sunset seems mythical here, as the reds, plums, peaches and golden hues spill across the steep and stippled range of white houses and onto the sea.

The Minotaur

OK, so you can't meet the real minotaur but you can travel to Knossos Palace on Crete, the place where the legend began. 

The legend of the minotaur is one of the most famous in Greek mythology and that's no easy feat.

Minotaurs are half man and half bull, with the head of a bull on top of a human body. They are strong and vicious creatures that live in caves or tombs. At Knossos Palace, King Minos had the Minotaur live in a labyrinth and demanded a human sacrifice from Athens every few years to, erm, keep the peace.

Thankfully, while you can still visit Knossos, you're unlikely to find a minotaur...

Shipwreck beach in the Peloponnese

Shipwreck beach in the Peloponnese

What about the rest?

Sure, all these ancient Greek landmarks are impressive. But what about famous natural landmarks? Like Vikos Gorge in northwest Greece or the beaches and towns that lie scattered across the south? The haunting splendour of Navagio Beach or Shipwreck beach, "Smuggler's Cove" on the Ionian islands.

And the stunning ruined cities across the Peloponnese?

Landmarks for another day, I suppose. We couldn't fit everything in to one single article. And it's always good to have an excuse to keep on talking about Greece.

More on Travel in Greece

Start with our collection of beautiful and unusual things to do in Greece and then delve deeper into the Greek archives.

In particular, look for the Peloponnese road trip itinerary and guide to things to do in Kalamata.

And don't forget Athens (as if you could!) Find unusual things to do in Athens, retrace the steps of Plato with a philosophy tour and indulge with our Athens Food Guide.

Enjoy!


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