Greece is a country in south-eastern Europe with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. Influential in ancient times, it’s often called the “Cradle of Western civilization”. Athens, its capital, retains landmarks including the 5th-century B.C. Acropolis citadel with the Parthenon temple. Greece is also known for its beaches, from the black sands of Santorini to the party resorts of Mykonos.
Considered the symbol of Athens and Greece, and indeed of Western civilization, the Acropolis is a rocky mound rising in the heart of modern Athens and crowned by three magnificent temples dating from the 5th century BC. The best known and most distinctive is the Parthenon, originally made up of 58 columns supporting a roof and decorated by ornate pediments and a frieze.
Acropolis Museum, Athens:
Opened in 2009, the Acropolis Museum is now one of Athens’ most-visited tourist attractions. Designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, it’s an ultra-modern glass and steel structure with light and airy exhibition spaces, built specifically to display ancient finds from the Acropolis. Top things to see here include the 6th-century-BC Moschophoros (statue of a young man carrying a calf on his shoulders), the Caryatids (sculptures of female figures that held up the Erechtheion) and the highly controversial Parthenon Marbles.
Greece’s most glamorous island destination is Mykonos. After-dark activities center on Mykonos Town is noted for its chic boutique hotels, classy seafood restaurants, and live music venues. Other attractions include Paraportiani (a whitewashed church in Mykonos Town) and numerous sandy beaches along the island’s south coast (served both by bus and taxi-boat from Mykonos Town). The island is particularly popular with international celebrities.
The most dramatic of all the Greek islands, Santorini is best known for the cliff-top towns of Fira and Oia, which lie on the west coast, overlooking the deep, blue sea-filled caldera. Made up of typical Cycladic whitewashed cubic buildings, many of which have been converted into boutique hotels with infinity pools, both Fira and Oia are considered romantic destinations, popular for weddings and honeymoons.
Things to do include sunbathing and swimming at the black volcanic sand beaches on the south and east coasts and visiting the archaeological sites.