The Ultimate Greek Odyssey: Explore The Seven Wonders of The Ancient World
Offering an incredible lesson in Greek history, these top seven wonders make for some of the most fabulous attractions of the Ancient World.
As one of the oldest civilisations in the world, Greece’s epic history can first be traced back to 12,000 B.C. It’s no surprise that Greece is one of the top destinations for history lovers, who revel in myths, legends and crystal-clear cerulean seas. From the classical rising columns of the Parthenon, to the immense palace of Knossos, there are plenty of awe-inspiring destinations to fill your cameras with visual gold, so be sure to add these seven wonders to your Ancient Greek itinerary.
Perhaps most notable of all great wonders of Ancient Greece, the Acropolis in Athens is home to numerous iconic ruins of ancient civilisation preserved as columned edifices, stone statues and temple monuments made from white Pentelic marble that gleams in the warm Greek sun. A World Heritage-listed site, it’s visible from almost anywhere in the city, and is where you can explore the world-renowned Parthenon – but more on that later. A site not to be missed, the views from the top of the hill are arguably the best in the city, but be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds. Better yet, take a bottle of wine and head up at night for a romantic (and wallet-friendly) date night. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes for the climb.
"Athens' ancient Acropolis is the perfect spot to take in breathtaking views of the city, and is visible from almost every part of Athens."
Seeing the Parthenon up close and personal is a moment you will never forget. Designed by Iktinos and Kallicrates as the pre-eminent monument of the Acropolis, this incredible temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena, epitomises the glory of Ancient Greece. So much so that today it has become a symbol of Ancient Greek civilisation and is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Western world. There are plenty of great walking tours on offer that allow you to fully explore this ancient wonder, and once inside be sure to look up – painted blue and gilded with stars, the ceiling is truly breathtaking.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus
Boasting prime position in central Athens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is a must-see site on any tour of Ancient Greece. Begun by Peisistratos in the 6th century but abandoned due to lack of funds, this marvellous temple was completed by Hadrian in AD131, albeit more than 700 years later. Today only 15 of its 104 original Corinthian columns remain. It was more than worth the wait, though, and tourists descend in their droves to marvel at this age-old sanctuary while enjoying one of the area’s most inspiring views of the temple-topped Acropolis. We suggest basing yourself at the lavish Hotel Grande Bretagne, which is just a short 10 minute stroll away.
The Theatre of Epidaurus
Heading north into central Greece, this late 4th century BC theatre is one of the best preserved Ancient Greek structures in existence today – an incredible feat given that it’s made out of limestone. Designed by an architect from Argos, Polykleitos the Younger, the theatre is renowned for its amazing acoustics – a coin dropped in its centre can be heard from the highest seat – and it has been revived thanks to the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival which has been held there since 1955 to familiarise audiences with Ancient Greek thought while celebrating the works of Ancient Greek playwrights. The festival takes place during June and August, making this a great time to visit.
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A sprawling complex in central Greece that was once home to the Oracle of Delphi, who delivered prophecies to the people from Apollo himself, Delphi is considered the most important site of Ancient Greece, after the Acropolis. Nestled high on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, here you’ll find the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo as well as monuments constructed by visiting pilgrims and the stadium and theatre where the Pythian Games were once held. Visit via a private day Ancient Greece tour which also takes in the Byzantine monastery of Hosios Loukas.
It was back in the 14th century when Eastern Orthodox monks constructed 24 monasteries atop stone pinnacles above the town of Kalambáka in central Greece, otherwise known as the cliff top monasteries of Meteora. Now only six remain, which are home to a small number of monks and nuns. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient Greek wonder is accessible via carved stone steps or a more comfortable cable car, with the sheer spectacle of the monasteries making this one of the most visited attractions in all of the country.
The Palace of Knossos
Head to the popular island of Crete and you’ll find the remains of the Minoan Palace of Knossos which, first built in 1900 BC, is the largest archaeological site in Crete. According to legend, it’s also the place where King Minos built an elaborate labyrinth to keep away the Minotaur, and its evocative setting is home to an immense palace, courtyards, baths, picturesque frescoes and so much more. While there’s no prescribed route for exploring the palace, we suggest entering through the West Court and making your way through the Piano Nobile, Fresco Gallery, Throne Room and King and Queen’s quarters before ending at the north side for a good view of the easily recognisable Charging Bull fresco.
When to Visit Greece
With the exception of a few months of rain from January - March each year, Greece is an ideal getaway with a warm, temperate climate.
June to August is high season, with temperatures and visitor numbers at their peak. The months before and after: April, May and September are ideal for your own Greek odyssey.
If you are feeling inspired to plan a trip, there’s plenty of accommodation on offer at Hotels.com.