in the middle
Thousands of years of history merge in Greece. Seafarers and phalanxes of Spartan troops, Athenian philosophers and heroic kings have all left their mark, and enduring monuments of old empires still crown the hillsides, from the magnificent Acropolis and the soaring citadel at Corinth to the crumbling megaliths of Mycenae and the mystical shrines at Delphi.
But it's not all history. Folk also flock to Greece for the shimmering beaches of the Aegean isles, to hike the rugged mountain ranges in the Ionian and to sample the famous laid-back Mediterranean way of life.
Greece's Aegean islands draw thousands of travellers every year. And why not? Santorini soars from the turquoise sea, villages like Oia and Thira cascading down its rugged volcanic cliffs like wisps of cloud. Mykonos parties hard, creaking windmills billowing close to its raucous bars. Rhodes has medieval castles and ancient temples, while Skiathos has colourful harbours where fishing boats bob.
The islands of the Ionian Sea are a little less explored, with rustic Kefalonia and Lefkada offering eucalyptus-studded mountains and relaxed fishing villages. Meanwhile, Zakynthos and Corfu are livelier affairs, complete with cliff-backed beaches and tales of ancient legends.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Set between the Libyan Sea and the Med, it's unlike any other destination here. Venetian streets in Chania burst with history and hearty tavernas, while places like Falasarna and Elafonisi come fringed with coral-hued pink sands.
Compare the top cheap hotels in Greece with dealchecker to find a bargain stay in Athens. This bustling city boasts the bucket-list Acropolis and Parthenon, the ancient Agora and the cobbled streets of the exciting little Plaka district.
Heraklion on Crete is perfect for striking a balance between culture and fun. You can explore the ruins of Minoan Knossos by morning and hit the bars of Malia by evening.
Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, is another great destination. A lively student town, its center is a patchwork of historical epochs, replete with soaring Byzantine forts and age-speckled Roman arches alike. There's also a sun-splashed promenade to stroll, oodles of café culture, a selection of great Greece hotels and the mysterious monastic settlements of Mount Athos nearby.