Located in Southeastern Europe and neighbored by islands dotted across the Aegean and Ionian seas, Greece is known for its pristine beaches, ancient history, and lively atmosphere. "Greece has such a wide range of activity options, so it has something for everyone—stunning beaches, charming towns, delicious food, fascinating history, wonderful people," says Tara Cappel, founder of the curated group travel company for young professionals For the Love of Travel.
She recommends getting off the beaten path and trading in tourist-ridden Athens and Mykonos for Antiparos and Milos if you're planning on traveling to Greece. From beaches to mountains to nightlife and local cuisine, Cappel has you covered. Click through the slideshow for everything to see and experience in Greece.
If you're planning on traveling to Greece this year, you'll want to book your trip soon. The best times to visit the country are in the spring (April to June) and in early fall (September to October), according to Cappel. This way, you'll enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean weather without the hassle of summer crowds.
"Greece has over 8000 miles of coastline, the most in the Mediterranean, so there is no shortage of beautiful beaches," says Cappel. If you're looking to sunbathe on sandy beaches, then check out Elafonissi on Crete, Plaka Beach on Naxos, or any spot on Antiparos. For a truly unique experience, Cappel recommends Sarakiniko Beach on Milos. "The coastline is made up of moon-like volcanic rock where you can lay out or rock jump into the turquoise waters below," she says.
If hiking in Greece is on your bucket list, venture to the hilltop monastery Meteora Rock in northern Greece. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an "absolute must-do for anyone," according to Cappel. Another hiking spot on the mainland is Delphi. There, you'll hike on an ancient footpath that leads to historic ruins. If you're island hopping, you can find beautiful hiking trails on Crete and Santorini. Cappel suggests Santorini's caldera hike for the best views.
What would traveling to Greece be without at least one day spent taking in the ancient historical sites? For the true tourist experience, visit the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon, the Plaka, and the Temple of Poseidon. Even if you avoid the tourist sites of Mykonos and Santorini, Cappel says you're sure to have an authentic cultural experience in this country. "Greece's culture is everywhere," she says, "just get there and start exploring."
After a long day spent sunbathing, hiking, or sightseeing, you'll want to enjoy an authentic Greek meal. "Each region and island in Greece has its own local cuisine," says Cappel. If you're on Milos, she recommends stopping in for dinner at Mikros Apoplous for fresh seafood with a view. In Athens, you'll want to try Strofi for classic Greek cuisine and a rooftop view of the Acropolis.
After dinner, it's time to experience the nightlife. While Mykonos is famous for its party scene, Cappel advises you skip the expected destination and check out Paros instead. She says that Paros has "a fun nightlife scene but feels more authentically Greek." She also suggests heading to Hydra or Sinfas for a chicer, trendy experience away from the crowds.