Hidden Gems of Greece

Greece is such a fabulous destination with so many bucket-list places to see and things to experience, that it may take several trips to get the real flavor of this idyllic vacation destination. That being said, here are a few of the places that, while not really being off the beaten path, are often missed by those who go on their first, second, or even third visit. Making time for these special spots is well worth it and will have you returning with a better than average experience of this historic country.


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In Athens

The Museum of Cycladic Art

There are a lot of great museums in Athens, the Acropolis museum being arguable the most famous. But the Museum of Cycladic Art is a truly unique experience. The iconic flat-faced statues and sculptures that were created in 300 to 200 BC are hauntingly modern in look and feel. And the shop has a large collection of replicas which make for outstanding souvenirs.


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Ano Petralona

Not far from the Acropolis but far from the well-worn tourist traps, this charming, old-world neighborhood features less expensive tavernas, bars, and restaurants. This is where local Athenians go for an affordable, authentic meal in trendy and quirky surroundings.


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The Magic Sphere of Helios

A large marble orb that is covered with carvings of mystical symbols (including a representation of the sun god Helios sitting on his throne) was found buried near the Dionysus theater at the foot of the Acropolis. Believed to date from the second century, it’s thought to have been used in magic rituals.


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Beyond Athens

Poseidon’s Temple

Pristine beaches, gorgeous coves, and quaint little towns are on the road to this amazing and, often missed, temple in Cape Sounion. A perfect day trip from Athens. The drive is about an hour. Twice as long if you take the scenic route.


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Pelion

Halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki, Pelion sits in lush quiet mountains that lead to a pristine shore. In antiquity, it was known as the “summer home of the gods”. The top is a ski area in winter. There is a lazy steam train you can take to give you a leisurely way to take in the local beauty.


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The Athens Riviera

Situated in the Saronic gulf, Glyfada a suburb south of Athens is easily reached by tram or bus. There you will find upscale restaurants, nightclubs, and shops. You’ll spot some of Europe’s most opulent seafront residences, gardens, and a marina filled with yachts. It’s also home to the largest stretch of public beach in all of Athens.


In the Islands

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Paros

Not as crowded or crazy as Mykonos, or stair step filled as Santorini, it is a mix of traditional Cycladic architecture, vivid nightlife, magical Paros beaches, enchanting rural villages, and historical monuments. It’s two main villages of Parikia and Naoussa, sport traditional tavernas, sophisticated restaurants, and intriguing bars. If you prefer a tranquil traditional experience, the villages of Lefkes and Marpissa are where you can wander, relax and enjoy the amazing Greek island sunshine.


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Heraklion, Crete

While cruising tourists are all on their way to the Knossos ruins (which you really must not miss), you should also visit the old town. 16th century Venetian architecture buts up against the harbor walkway where fishing boats gently tap against the piers. Take in the archeological museum and make sure you sample the special Cretan cuisine in restaurants tucked into hidden patios not far from the pedestrian 1866 street that is piled high with vendors wars.


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The Black Beaches of Santorini

While everyone heads to the town of Oia to take that classic sunset picture, you should make sure you take the time to visit the black sand beaches of Perissa and Pervivlos. Santorini is a volcano, and ancient eruptions of lava have become rich black sand that borders crystal clear Aegean water. Watch the daring cliff jumping off the Mesa Vouno Mountain that separates Perissa and Kamari. These are blue flag beaches , receiving international recognition for their cleanliness and water quality.


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