If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Greece, then look no further!
From stunning Santorini and its iconic whitewashed buildings perched atop a volcanic caldera to Meteora’s breathtaking monasteries built on top of immense pillars of rock, there is something here for everyone.
Of course, don’t forget about the vibrant nightlife of Mykonos or the tranquil beaches of Zakynthos – all perfect destinations for first-timers!
With so much to explore and experience in this beautiful Mediterranean country, it can be hard to decide where to go.
But fear not – we have compiled an amazing list of some of the best places in Greece for a first trip!
7 Best Places To Visit In Greece For First-Timers
Greece is a country with an ancient, rich history and culture that has been around for thousands of years.
It’s a place full of breathtaking views, amazing Greek cuisine, local wine, and friendly locals.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore some of the country’s most iconic landmarks, here are seven places in Greece that are great for first-timers!
Looking for flights to Greece? Check out this post on the best flights to Greece before booking!
1. Santorini (To be Mesmerized by Sunsets)
Santorini, the stunning island in the Cyclades archipelago of Greece, is known for its whitewashed villages cascading down red and black cliffs to a deep blue sea.
This mesmerizing place is one of the most popular destinations in Greece and is packed with endless activities and attractions for first-time visitors.
I often hear travelers that are disappointed with Santroni but we fell in love with it and I believe that’s because we visited Santorini in September.
Santorini is one of the most popular places in Greece and it can get super busy.
So my best tip is to avoid the peak season and visit during the off-season when there are fewer tourists.
– How to Get to Santorini
Santorini can be accessed by plane or ferry from many cities in Greece, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Crete.
Once you’re there, you can easily get around by bus or boat to the many different beaches, villages, and attractions.
– What to do in Santorini for First-Timers
- Santorini is known for its dramatic sunsets so make sure you catch one at least once during your stay! The best place to watch the sunset is from Oia – a village at the top of the island with stunning views.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, take a boat tour to explore some of Santorini’s volcanic islands and some of its beaches. This Volcanic Islands Cruise with a Hot Springs visit tour is incredible!
- For history enthusiasts, make sure to visit Akrotiri archaeological sites – an ancient Minoan city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption (it is easy to do via this popular 7-hour tour)
- Don’t miss strolling around Fira, the main city of Santorini with its great restaurants, cafes, and shops.
- You can also rent a car (I use Discover Cars) and do a round trip on the island to discover its hidden gems, picturesque villages, and churches.
- Finally, make sure to experience some of Santorini’s local wines – a must-do when in Greece! (Click to see my favorite wine-tasting tour in Santorini)
– How Long To Stay In Santorini
For a first-time visit, I recommend staying at least 2 nights to get a good taste of what the island has to offer.
However, if you have more time, 3-4 days would be ideal to really explore everything Santorini has to offer!
– Best Places to Stay in Santorini
There is a nice variety of accommodation options in Santorini, from luxury to Santorini hotels with private pools and views, to budget.
- Luxury: We recommend the 5-star Athina Luxury Suites, which offers luxurious accommodation in traditional cave rooms.
- Mid-Range: We recommend the 3-star Kamari Beach Hotel, where you can enjoy views of Kamari beach while enjoying modern amenities and facilities.
- Budget: We recommend Oias Sunset, which offers budget 2-star accommodation in the charming village of Oia.
2. Mykonos (The Party Island)
Mykonos, the party island of Greece, is renowned for its never-ending nightlife and pristine beaches.
However, if you are not into parties don’t let that put you off going. We visited with our 5-year-old daughter and had a wonderful time – it doesn’t have to be just about raving!
This cosmopolitan paradise is a great place to visit for first-timers looking for a unique vacation experience.
Again the best tip I have is to avoid traveling there during the high season. Crowds have a way of destroying the magic of a place. Mykonos in September was perfect!
– How to Get to Mykonos
Mykonos can be easily accessed by plane or ferry from many cities in Greece, including Athens and Santorini.
Once you’re there, getting around the island is simple with regular public buses, taxis, and private car hire.
– What to do in Mykonos for First-Timers
- Mykonos offers a variety of activities for those who want to party the night away or relax on a picturesque beach.
- Partygoers can head to one of the many clubs in town, while those looking for more cultural experiences can visit some of the historical sites and monuments, such as the Windmills of Mykonos.
- Relaxation seekers can spend their days lounging on one of the island’s many beaches or enjoying some water sports in the crystal blue waters.
- I honestly spent most of my time in Mykonos town, just strolling around its picturesque streets, enjoying the Greek local food, sipping on cocktails at Little Venice, and shopping in the local stores.
- The most popular day trip is a tour to the ancient archeological site of Delos, where you can see sacred sites like the Temple of Apollo and the House of Dionysus. Click here to check prices for this tour.
– How Long To Stay In Mykonos
I recommend staying for at least 3 nights to get the most out of your experience.
This will give you enough time to explore all that Mykonos has to offer, from its nightlife and beaches to its cultural attractions.
– Best Places to Stay in Mykonos
- Luxury: We recommend the Myconian Imperial Hotel (one of the leading hotels of the world), which offers luxurious sea-view rooms with private pools and a spa center.
- Mid-Range: Petinos Hotel in Mykonos is a great choice for travelers looking for comfortable and stylish accommodation in the heart of the island.
- Budget: Navy Blue Suites is a stylish 3-star boutique hotel located in Mykonos town. With its sleek design and personalized service, the hotel offers guests an unforgettable experience.
3. Zakynthos (For a Relaxing Vacation)
Zakynthos, or ‘Zante’ as it is commonly referred to, is an island in the Ionian Sea renowned for its stunning beaches and crystal clear waters.
It’s the perfect place for those looking for a relaxing vacation filled with sunsets, swimming, and sightseeing.
– How to Get to Zakynthos
Zakynthos can be easily accessed by plane or ferry from many cities in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki.
Once you’re there, getting around the island is simple with regular public buses, taxis, car hire, and boat tours.
– What to do in Zakynthos for First-Timers
- Zakynthos offers a variety of activities, including exploring the many historical sites and monuments.
- But most travelers visit Zakynthos to visit the Shipwreck beach which is best experienced on a boat tour. Click here to see prices for the most popular Shipwreck Beach + Blue Caves tour, or book one of the tours, check out our boat tours in Zakynthos options.
- Don’t forget to include some lazy beach days, some of the best beaches include Porto Zoro, Banana, Plaka, Gerakas,, or Agio Nikolaos beach.
- Mizithres is a breathtaking sight on the Greek island of Zakynthos. It’s formed by two large rocks towering over the sea. To get the best views, head to Kiri Lighthouse restaurant – the food is pretty average, but the views are gorgeous!
- The beautiful island of Zakynthos is home to the endangered loggerhead sea turtles, which are protected in the region. You can take a glass bottom boat tour in the hopes to spot some of them in their natural habitat.
- We loved renting a boat and sailing to the different coves for a day of swimming and sunbathing, we even managed to swim with a turtle that another boat spotted out in the middle of the ocean.
– How Long To Stay In Zakynthos
I recommend staying for at least 5 nights to get the most out of your experience.
This will give you enough time to explore all that Zakynthos has to offer, from its stunning blue caves and beaches to its historical sites.
However, you could also see Zakynthos in 3 days if you are limited in time.
– Best Places to Stay in Zakynthos
- Luxury: We recommend the Porto Zante Villas & Spa, which offers luxurious accommodations and villas with private pools.
- Mid-Range: The Cavo Orient Beach Hotel & Suites is located right on the beach and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated.
- Budget: Rooms 48 by Zante Plaza is a highly recommended apartment rental in Zakynthos and offers guests a comfortable and enjoyable stay with its modern rooms & convenient location.
4. Meteora (For a Spiritual Journey)
Meteora is a region in Thessaly, Greece renowned for its incredible monasteries perched atop sheer rock formations.
This unique landscape offers an unforgettable experience for first-timers looking to explore the spiritual side of Greece.
– How to Get to Meteora
Meteora can be easily accessed by bus from most cities in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki. We found it much easier though to simply rent a car – we rented a car through Discover Cars.
Once you’re there, getting around the region is simple with regular public buses and taxis.
– What to do in Meteora for First-Timers
Meteora offers a variety of activities for those looking to experience its spiritual atmosphere.
These include visiting the monasteries and taking in the breathtaking views of the Meteora valley, trekking or mountain biking in the surrounding countryside, or exploring the many Byzantine churches.
– How Long To Stay In Meteora
I recommend staying for at least 2 days to get the most out of your experience.
This will give you enough time to explore all that Meteora has to offer, from its breathtaking views and monasteries to its outdoor activities.
– Best Places to Stay in Meteora
- Luxury: Grand Forest Metsovo is a luxury 5-star hotel located in the picturesque town of Metsovo, near the stunning Meteora rock formations. The hotel also has a spa, indoor pool, and fitness center, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
- Mid-Range: Divani Meteora Hotel is a modern 4-star hotel located near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa facilities, including a sauna and massage treatments.
- Budget: Hotel Doupiani House is a cozy and charming 3-star hotel located in the village of Kastraki, near the impressive Meteora rocks. The hotel offers stunning views of the mountains and is within walking distance of several monasteries.
5. Corfu (For a Relaxing Vacation)
Corfu is an island off the northwest coast of Greece known for its breathtaking beaches, beautiful villages, and vibrant nightlife.
It’s the perfect destination for those looking to relax with some sunbathing and explore some of Corfu’s hidden gems.
– How to Get to Corfu
Corfu can be easily accessed by plane or ferry from many cities in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki.
Once you’re there, getting around the island is simple with regular public buses, taxis, and car hire.
– What to do in Corfu for First-Timers
- Corfu offers a variety of activities including lounging on some of its beautiful beaches such as Barbati Beach, Bataria Beach, Paleokastritsa Beach, or Canal d’Amour beach, or taking a boat ride around the island’s coastline.
- Corfu Old Town is a charming and historic area located on the island of Corfu, Greece. Visitors to Corfu’s Old Town can explore its many sites such as the 17th century Old Fortress, the Palace of St. Michael and George, and Liston Square.
- Another popular thing is to take a tour to visit Antipaxos and Paxos, two stunningly beautiful small islands off the coast of Corfu. This is the most popular and best-rated tour to Antipaxos and Paxos.
- Here is our post with a list of 10 things to do in Corfu.
– How Long To Stay In Corfu
I recommend staying for at least 5 nights to get the most out of your experience.
This will give you enough time to explore all that Corfu has to offer, from its stunning beaches and historical sites to its vibrant nightlife.
– Best Places to Stay in Corfu
- Luxury: We recommend the Corfu Imperial, which offers luxurious accommodations and breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.
- Mid-Range: The Ray Hotel Corfu Perama is a great choice for those seeking a peaceful and scenic vacation in Corfu. The 4-star hotel boasts stunning views of the Ionian Sea and is conveniently located just a short drive from Corfu Town.
- Budget: The Oasis Hotel is a charming 3-star hotel that has a swimming pool and private beach area.
6. Crete (For Adventure Seekers)
Crete is the largest island in Greece and offers a variety of activities for the adventurous traveler.
From exploring its stunning beaches, hiking in its rugged mountains, or taking a boat ride around its coastline, Crete has something to offer everyone.
It is also a fantastic destination for families (here is a list of the best places to visit in Crete with family) because of its plethora of activities, from water parks to aquariums.
– How to Get to Crete
Crete can be easily accessed by plane or ferry from many cities in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki.
You can also take direct flights to one of the island’s three international airports located at Heraklion, Chania, and Sitia.
Once you’re there, getting around the island is simple with regular public buses, taxis, and car hire.
The island is really big, so I highly recommend you rent a car, we rented ours through Discover Cars.
– What to do in Crete for First-Timers
- Crete offers a variety of activities including exploring its many historical sites such as the Palace of Knossos and Gortys. Click here to check prices for the Skip-the-Line Guided Tour of Knossos.
- One of the most stunning places is the Samaria Gorge! The best way to experience the gorge is on a guided Samaria Gorge trek tour.
- Relax on some of its breathtaking beaches such as Elafonisi Beach, Balos Beach, and Vai Beach. You have to visit Elafonisi by boat, here is the best Elafonisi boat trip tour to book.
- You can also take a day trip to visit the nearby islands of Santorini or Milos. This tour is the best tour to visit Santorini from Crete.
- Most people underestimate the size of Crete and don’t get to explore the entire island, so it might be worth renting a car (we rented our car through Discover Cars) to make sure you see all that Crete has to offer.
– How Long To Stay In Crete
I recommend staying for at least 7 nights to get the most out of your experience.
This will give you enough time to explore all that Crete has to offer, from its gorgeous beaches and historical sites to its vibrant nightlife.
– Best Places to Stay in Crete
- Luxury: We recommend the Elounda Mare Hotel, which offers luxurious accommodations and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.
- Mid-Range: The 4-star Peninsula Resort & Spa has breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. The resort’s facilities are top-notch, with a beautiful infinity pool, a spa, a fitness center, and a variety of dining options serving delicious cuisine.
- Budget: Corinna Mare is a beautiful beachfront resort located in Chania. The resort’s facilities include a swimming pool, a bar, and a restaurant serving delicious food.
7. Athens (For Culture Vultures)
Athens is the capital of Greece and a must-visit destination for first-timers.
Known for its ancient history, rich Greek culture, and vibrant nightlife, Athens has something to offer everyone.
While in Athens, be sure to explore the Acropolis of Athens and visit sites such as the Temple of Athena Nike and the Parthenon.
You can also visit some of Athens’ many museums, such as the National Archaeological Museum or the Acropolis Museum.
– How to Get to Athens
Athens can be easily accessed by plane or train from many cities in Europe, including London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin.
You can also take a direct flight to the Athens international airport located at Eleftherios Venizelos.
Once you’re there, getting around the city is simple with regular public transport options (such as buses and taxis).
– What to do in Athens for First-Timers
- Athens offers a variety of activities for first-timers such as exploring its ancient history, tasting traditional Greek dishes (best done on a food tour – see the best food tour here), or browsing its many markets and shopping streets.
- Be sure to visit the Acropolis of Athens and take a tour of some of its many museums, such as the National Archaeological Museum or the Acropolis Museum. I particularly love this tour that combines the Acropolis with a museum.
- The most popular day trip from Athens is to visit Delphi where you can visit the hilltop ancient ruins, the Temple of Apollo, and more. Here is the most popular day tour from Athens to Delphi.
- Meteora is one of the most impressive unique places that I have ever visited and if you don’t have time to stay there for a few nights you can also visit Meteora on a day tour from Athens.
- You can also take a day trip outside of Athens to visit one of its nearby islands, such as Hydra and Paros. Check prices for this tour here or go directly to our blog with 14 Best Day Trips from Athens and choose the one best for you.
- For a luxurious day trip, why not take a private helicopter tour from Athens to Sifnos – it only takes 45 minutes each way?
– How Long To Stay In Athens
Truth be told we didn’t care much for Athens, however, if you do decide to check out the city, we advise that you stay for 2 days in Athens.
This will give you enough time to explore the city’s history-rich sites.
– Best Places to Stay in Athens
If you can afford it the best places to stay in Athens is a hotel with a rooftop pool that offers views of the Acropolis. Click here to browse the best Athens hotels with rooftop pools.
- Luxury: The Grand Hyatt Athens is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Athens, offering easy access to the city’s top attractions. The rooms and suites are spacious and elegantly decorated.
- Mid-Range: The Hotel Lozenge is a stylish and modern hotel located in the heart of Athens, offering easy access to the city’s top attractions. The rooms are chic and cozy, featuring modern amenities and elegant decor.
- Budget: We recommend the Hotel Hermes, which provides modern amenities and facilities at a budget price.
Greece First-Time Visitor FAQs
Here are some answers to questions you might have about visiting Greece:
The best time of year to visit Greece is between April and October.
Between these months, temperatures are generally warm and there are plenty of activities and festivals to check out.
It depends on your interests and what you’d like to see. Generally speaking, we recommend at least 7 days to get the most out of your experience in Greece.
For first-time visitors, we recommend Crete or Santorini as they offer a variety of activities and attractions suitable for all ages.
The answer to this question depends on your preferences.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, then Santorini may be the better option.
However, if you prefer a party vibe, then Mykonos is the way to go.
Final Thoughts On Where To Go In Greece For First-Timers
No matter which of these beautiful Greek islands you decide to visit, first-time visitors will find something for everyone.
From the bustling city life of Athens to the peaceful and tranquil beaches of Crete, there’s something for every type of traveler in Greece.
So pack your bags, grab your passport, and explore this stunning country! It won’t disappoint.
Ready to get stuck into more planning? Here are all our posts on our Greece travel blog.