Greece boasts incredible up to four millennia old historic sites, superb beaches scattered around the coastline, numerous islands which are yet perhaps its greatest treasure and mountains that urge you to put on your hiking boots and explore. It is a country of culture, which inspires with stories of Minoans, Romans, Arabs, Latin Crusaders, Venetians, Slavs, Albanians and Turks, and the country of hedonism, where one can experience typical Greek holiday. Another asset is Greek food, which is fresh, abundant and uncomplicated, best to taste at the simplest taverna. Greece is the country of surprises, where even the most demanding travellers can feel a true sense of discovery.
Boasting a great number of archaeological sites, Greece is a paradise for all the history and archaeology buffs. From the famous Parthenon in Athens, Olympia – the cradle of the Olympic games – located on the Peloponnese peninsula, to Delphi with the famous Apollo’s Temple…
The best archaeological museums in Greece are the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion on the island of Crete.
Greece encompasses nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, over 2,000 islands of which 227 are inhabited. While some islands became so popular that their entire economies are now centred on the tourist trade, others have only been ‘discovered’ as holiday destinations - even by the Greeks - in recent years. An important asset of the Greek islands is their diversity: some are rocky, others green. Some are mountainous, others flat. Many are infamous for their nightlife, while others are renowned for their tranquility and relaxed lifestyle. Quite a few cater to high-end tourism and exclusive crowds, while there are islands that attract young and alternative types.
Greece is the world's largest exporter of extra-virgin olive oil. A visit to Greece also affords cheese connoisseurs the opportunity to sample local varieties. These include feta, and the less common mizithra, kefalotyri and graviera. Wine lovers enjoy red wines from Naoussa and Nemea. The white wines from Santorini are considered the best in the country. The spiciest cuisine in Greece is found in Thessaloniki, where mussels with pilaf are popular dish among locals. The island of Sifnos is known for its chickpea soup. The most exquisite eggplant dishes in the country are served in Leonidio.
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city and the capital of the Macedonian region of Northern Greece. It boasts excellent restaurants, museums and sights, plus an increasingly hip nightlife scene. It seems that travellers return to Thessaloniki, especially thanks to its glorious historical sights: these include the White Tower, Ottoman structures, lengthy Byzantine walls at the Ano Poli (Upper Town), an neighbourhood of colourful old houses, with Byzantine churches peeking from winding alleyways. Grand structures include the 5th-century Church of Agios Dimitrios, the enormous Roman Rotunda and Roman Emperor Galerius’ 3rd-century palace ruins.
The capital of Greece, Athens, is the oldest city in Europe. It boasts the magnificent Acropolis, crowned by the iconic Parthenon temple rising above the city and historic centre including significant ancient sites along the longest and arguably most stunning pedestrian promenade. Athens is also one of Europe’s safest and liveliest cities, which leaves the visitors impressed with its vibrant street life and relaxed lifestyle, where people take time out for endless coffees and evening strolls, dine out until late and enjoy the city’s nightlife, long after the rest of Europe has gone to bed.
Delphi, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town, is home to the Temple of Apollo and renowned Delphi Archeological Museum, housing artifacts and intriguing relics, which will guide you through rich Greek history. Ancient Greece is the civilization that existed roughly between the 8th century BC and 600 AD, and Delphi was said to represent the centre of it. Reputedly built on the spot where Zeus’ eagles collided when they were released from opposite ends of the earth, the ancient town is littered with intriguing monuments from this fascinating period of history.
Meteora, listed as one the World Heritage sites, is one of the greatest sights in all of Greece. The seemingly inaccessible ancient rock pinnacles with a number of monasteries occupy a valley just north of Kalambaka. Each monastery is built around a central courtyard surrounded by monks’ cells, chapels and a refectory. In the centre of each courtyard is the katholikon. Upon arriving to the town, you will glimpse the closest of the monasteries; Ayíou Stefánou perched on a massive pedestal with a forest of greyish pinnacles, cones and stubbier, rounded cliffs in the background. These are remnants of river sediment, which flowed into a prehistoric sea that covered the plain of Thessaly around 25 million years ago.
The last comer on the tourism stage Albania is rapidly catching up with its neighbours but still offering a very distinctive look and feel to it with the most preserved mediterranean coastline and a rich cultural heritage of its inlands.
From its mountain chains to the Black Sea Coast, from the rose valley and the vineyards to the monasteries and the old cities, Bulgaria is a very diverse country in the heart of the Balkan peninsula well-worth visiting.