Which places (famous and not so famous) do you recommend to visit in Greece to experience what is the Greek culture
Hello, friend! The answer is easy in theory but hard to execute: pretty much everywhere! You might be downsizing Greece in your mind, especially if you ask non famous places too. First of all, it depends on what you mean by Greek culture: some regions had glorious days in antiquity, some reached power in the Byzantine and medieval times and others played a key role in Modern Greek history (i.e Greek revolution). Many of them have many attractions that cover several eras.
I got a tag mention from @greek-mythologies and I am almost certain you are that Anon (epic facepalm if I am wrong) but I think you are most interested in Greek mythology, right? Taking this risk, I will give you some options based on locations having some significance in the Greek mythology and the ancient epics, in an attempt to narrow it down. Because in truth, Greece has more than 100 archaeological museums - I can’t really narrow it down much! So I’ll go very specific and there’s no chance I will say all of them:
On the steps of myths and legends
Options in Sterea Hellas
You’ll go to Parthenon. Correct, Athens is a good choice. You can also see there the temple of Hephaestus, the temple of the Olympian Zeus, the Athens Academy, the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and a load more if you also want ancient historical sites. A little out of Athens, you can visit the temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion.
In the region of Phocis, you can visit the Oracle of Delphi in Mount Parnassus. It has many ancient sites, most are dedicated to Apollo. 2h 40m W of Athens.
The region of Boeotia is associated with many ancient legends and literary works, such as that of Oedipus. It saw power throughout Mycaenaean and classical times. That’s where Thebes is. Nice museum and other stuff i.e the Lion of Chaeronea. 1,5 hour W of Athens.
In Aegina island you can see the temple of Aphaea and the ruins of the temple of Zeus. Touristic place, also has medieval and modern attractions. 1,5 hour E of Athens by ship.
Options in the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese is full of history but I will only mention the more mythological ones.
Corinthia is a living museum. You probably have heard of the name. A highlight will be the Temple of Apollo in the mountains. Many museums, many sites i.e Ancient Corinth. Nemea where Hercules fought the lion is there. Visiting the Corinth Canal is a must. 1h 45m S of Athens.
Lake Stymphalia, Northern Arcadia. That’s where Hercules shot down the stymphalian birds. Other than that, Arcadia is mountainous and very beautiful and has HUGE significance for Modern Greek history, because many heroes of the Greek Revolution were from there. Has lots of folk and modern history attractions. 2h 20m S of Athens.
Ancient Olympia in Elis. The location where the ancient Olympic Games took place, many monuments (i.e the ancient wrestling school) and sanctuaries to Gods there. 2h 50m SW of Athens.
Options in Thessaly
The region of Magnesia has a lot of mythological significance. Its capital city Volos is technically the expansion of the ancient city of Iolcus and that’s where Jason and the Argonauts began their journey. The symbol of the city and an attraction in its waterfront is Argo, his ship. Volos is built on the foot of Mount Pelion, which is where the Centaurs originate from. Pelion took its name from King Peleus, father of Achilles who was born there. It is also renowned for its beauty, combining forests with beaches and traditional architecture. Magnesia also has two of the most ancient settlements in Greece (from 6000 BCE), a nice archaeological museum, ancient tombs etc. Lake Karla in the lowlands is mentioned by Homer with its old name Boibeis. 4 hours N of Athens.
Just north of Magnesia, there is the region of Larisa, half of Achilles’ kingdom. The capital city has both ancient and medieval sites but the most important site is in the borders of Larisa with Pieria, where Thessaly and Macedonia meet: Mount Olympus. On the foot of Mount Olympus there is the archaeological site of Dion. Summer hiking in Olympus is stunning and you can easily reach the peak of Skolio. The two biggest peaks Mytikas (Pantheon) and Stefani (Throne of Zeus) need expertise, light equipment, summer conditions and please don’t do it unless you are an experienced climber. Climbing Olympus takes about two days in a normal pace. 6 hours N of Athens.
Options in other regions
In Epirus: the Necromanteion of Acheron. Acheron was the river where Charon took the souls of the dead and led them to Hades. The Necromanteion, the Oracle of the Dead, is located close to the mouth of the river in the region of Preveza. The whole of Epirus has breathtaking scenery. 5 hours NW of Athens.
On Crete island: The Palace of Knossos and all associated ancient sites in Heraklion. Sites of the Minoan civilization and connected to myths such as that of Theseus and the Minotaur and Daedalus and Icarus. All of Crete is stunning but there are too many things to see in just one trip. 9 hours S of Athens by ship but you can go by airplane.
In the Cyclades islands: Delos is the most important island from an archaeological and mythological standpoint, the whole island is an archaeological site and is uninhabited. Usually people visit it from the famous island of Mykonos. Naxos island has the Gate of Apollo. Milos is where Venus de Milo was created. Milos has outstanding landscapes. 5 - 6 hours E of Athens by ship. You can take the airplane for Mykonos.
In the Dodecanese islands: Rhodes and Kos islands have ancient and medieval sites of major importance like the temple of Athena Lindia in Rhodes. They are also very beautiful and big. 10 - 14 hours SE of Athens by ship. Both have airports.
In the Islands of Northeastern Aegean: Samos island with its very important sanctuary of Hera. Icaria island nearby is close to where Icarus fell when his wax wings melted from the sun. Both very beautiful and verdant, Icaria is also known for the longevity and lifestyle of its people. 9 - 10 hours E of Athens by ship.
In the Heptanese islands: Ithaca island, the birthplace and kingdom of Odysseus. Very beautiful and ideal for seclusion and peaceful vacation. Ruins of an ancient palace are being unearthed. Imagine if........! 6 hours W of Athens, with a combo of car and ship.
In Thrace: Samothrace island, far from everything and everyone, ideal for seclusion and great scenery. That’s where you can see the Sanctuary of the Great Gods and where Nike, the Winged Victory of Samothrace was sculpted. More than 11 hours NE of Athens, needs a combo of car and ship and you would probably need to throw an airplane connection with Thessaloniki in there to make it more doable.
I give you all these ideas to check photos of them and decide. You can see many in my blog too. I take Athens for granted for you and I recommend two - three of these destinations MAX. If you choose a place far away then just do Athens and that place. Don’t overdo it, it will be exhausting and you won’t get to enjoy the places and experience them properly. Good luck and happy travels x
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