This topic always pops up in conversations I have with friends who plan a visit to Greece: "What places should I include in my two-week long itinerary"? I often pondered with the question myself, and knowing that no matter where I go there will always be another place I wish I had visited, I return to Greece with my family year after year just to find out that the best we have not seen yet. Every year's visit packs a few surprises that make it even better that the previous trips.
I grew up in Greece, and I have traveled extensively around the country and the rest of the world before I moved to the USA, and even now I make sure to visit Greece at least once per year. So I will include here my own personal favorite Greek destinations in brief, while in the other pages of this site I get to elaborate a little on each place.
The best vacations are often measured not by where one wanders, but by the friendships, the relationships, and the family bonds that one forges once there. The landscapes then act as mere vehicles for delightful moments.
A place is not enough. An open mind is also required to absorb the new social, cultural and visual signals that surround a traveler. Once this is understood, then it does not hurt to be absorbed by a unique topography, an ancient landscape, to be touched by a cool meltemi breeze, or to be lost in the azure ocean.
So then, where is the best place to visit in Greece? What is the absolute must-see locale? To answer the question one must define one's own interests first. Greece can offer an incredible gamut of activities.
The cultural and historical background of Greece has sprinkled the landscapes with ruins that span six thousand years. The alternating invaders, the peacefull settlers, and the country's position at the crossroads between east and west, have all left their mark on the Greek cultural landscape. Archaeological sites abound in the country side, and museums in cities protect priceless artifacts from antiquity. It would be an omission to visit Greece and leave without experiencing the ancient Greek culture; the culture that is credited with the birth of western civilization.
In reality, there is no such thing as "best Greek islands". One would definitely find a paradise among the 3000 islands of Greece. Searching is most of the fun of course, but here is a list to start with.
The combination of breathtaking topography and culture automatically elevate Santorini to a favorite destination. The island's popularity is probably its only flaw. Visiting in May or early June is better to avoid the crowds. Staying at a hotel in Ia, or in Fira atop the volcanic caldera is also imperative. The views are unforgettable. Good beaches (Perissa, and Red beach), a great museum of prehistoric art, a unique excavation site at Akrotiri, and the legend of Atlantis (a little far fetched in my opinion) would keep any visitor happy. If one were to visit only one island in Greece, I would recommend Thera with some close seconds below:
More information on the Greek Islands.
If you are going to visit only one castle in Greece, Rhodes must be it. Almost perfectly preserved, it encloses the oldest continously inhabited Medieval town of Europe.