What’s not to love about Greece? I went for a visit and ended up staying for years. There are so many layers to this incredible country!
Greece is the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western civilization. It’s a treasure chest of ancient ruins and magnificent edifices. It’s an island-hopping heaven and a foodie paradise.
But what else is Greece known for? Having lived there for many years, I learned the ins and outs of where to go in Greece. Read on to delve deeper into what the Mediterranean country is best known for before you start planning for a trip of a lifetime!
What is Greece Known for? 10 Unique Features that Makes Greece, Greece!
We can thank Greece for the right to vote! Democracy as a system of governance was invented in the capital city of Athens. The word means ‘the people rule’ from the Greek words demos, for people, and kratos, for power.
Athens was the heart of Ancient Greece, and magnificent 5th-century BC landmarks still dominate the city. Above the city skyline, the Acropolis is a hilltop citadel crowned by three glittering marble temples: the Propylaea, the Parthenon, and the Erechtheion.
Once the site of the famous statue of Athena, the goddess of Athens, the temples are believed to be the jewels of Western civilization. The best way to explore this ancient wonder is a guided walking tour. A knowledgeable local guide will delve into the rich and storied history of the Acropolis and the city of Athens.
9. The Olympic Games
One of the best sporting events in the world was brought to us by Greece. The first Olympic Games took place in Ancient Olympia in 776 BC, and they were held in honor of the god Zeus, the father of the classic 12 gods of Olympus.
The Games happened every four years, and all Greek males could participate. They stopped during Byzantine times but revived again in Athens in 1896.
Visit the ancient site of Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula on a private guided tour. You’ll see a 200m running track, athletic training areas, and the Olympic Torch, which still burns in the Temple of Hera.
Explore fascinating artifact exhibits found at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.
8. The Greek Pantheon
Greece is also known for its rich mythology, myths, and legends. With its 12 deities, the Greek Pantheon is one of the world’s most famous and influential mythologies. The Greek gods of Olympus inspired the later Roman gods.
Each god had human qualities, faults, vices, and a specific role. The myths of the gods dealing with mortals still influence art, culture, and philosophy today.
Mount Olympus is the perfect place to experience the awe and grandeur of ancient Greek mythology, home of the 12 gods and goddesses. If you’re an avid hiker like me, climbing Mount Olympus is a must!
Head to the charming village of Litochoro at the base of the mountain for the most accessible access to the mountain and its many hiking trails.
7. Philosophy, Science, Math, and Medicine
Philosophy, science, math, and medicine have shaped the modern world. These were largely influenced by Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Thales, and Pythagoras.
Travel to the International Hippocratic Foundation on the island of Kos. Here, you can delve deeper into Hippocrates’s role in developing the Western world.
6. The Greek Islands
Greece is famous for its idyllic islands. Over 4,000 islands are sprinkled around the Aegean Sea, but only around 200 are inhabited. Discover the whitewashed gems of the Cyclades and the lush, forest-clad Ionian archipelago.
Each island is an oasis of culture, nature, architecture, and cuisine. Of all the islands I’ve visited, I have a few favorites that shouldn’t be missed!
The crescent-shaped island of Santorini in the Cyclades is nothing less than spectacular. It’s made of quaint whitewashed villages with traditional Cycladic domed architecture. These teeter precariously over the towering cliffs of the Caldera.
Santorini’s unique black volcanic-sand beaches are ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Explore this beautiful island with a cruise and walking tour of Santorini and its sister island, Thirasia.
Koufonisia is another Cycladic gem. Surreal turquoise blue waters, golden beaches, and beautiful whitewashed buildings fill this island. Adrenaline junkies can head to the high cliffs on Ano Koufonisi for cliff-jumping into the crystal-clear waters below.
Hailed as one of the most picturesque islands of the Dodecanese Islands, Symi is nothing short of breathtaking. The island is fringed with small beaches and pristine waters. The town boasts crayon-colored houses and winding cobblestone streets lined with bright bougainvillea.
Soak up the romantic, fairytale-like charm of the little port over ouzo at one of the sidewalk cafés at sunset.
If you’re looking to party, Mykonos is the place to be. This paradise in the heart of the Cyclades is a glittering island destination with plenty of things you can’t miss.
Mykonos is recognized by the iconic 16th-century windmills that overlook Mykonos Town. This pretty island is a summer playground for the glamorous.
5. The Souvlaki and Gyro
When it comes to food, Greece takes the cake! One of the country’s most famous dishes is souvlaki. Meaning ‘small spit,’ souvlaki is a delicious meat dish, either chicken, pork, or lamb, slow-roasted over a fire. It can be eaten straight off the stick or served in a fresh pita with tomato, onions, and other condiments.
The gyro is another mouthwatering dish of meat wrapped around a large spit. Meat is shaved off the spit in paper-thin slices and served in a warm pita.
4. Olives and Olive oil
The olive is to Greece like the moon is to the stars. Greece undoubtedly produces the best olive oil in the world. Olives are a core part of Greek culture, dating back to the times of the gods. The goddess Athena gifted the city of Athens with an olive tree. The rest, they say, is history!
Discover the story of the humble olive and how it became one of the most vital ingredients in Greek life. The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta dives into this piece of Greek history. The small shop has some fantastic olive-based gifts and souvenirs to take home.
3. Feta Cheese
Another culinary delight that Greece is known for is feta cheese. The soft, salty white cheese is made of goat’s or sheep’s milk and is a Protected Designation of Origin. There are loads of feta cheese, and it’s used in everything in Greece, from salads to spanakopita.
Yamas! Greece is well known for ouzo, an eye-watering strong, clear drink with an anise flavor and fragrance. Drinking ouzo in Greece is a ritual and is always accompanied by mezedes, small bites of delicious cheesy treats to offset the flavor. They also help to keep drunkenness at bay!
You’ll be welcomed with open arms on your arrival and leave with friends for life. With warm and friendly locals, Greece is famous for its fantastic hospitality. Greeks are proud of their land and culture and are eager to share the love of their country with everyone.
They also love to party! Dancing is a form of expression in Greek culture, so evenings usually end up on the dance floor!
Visit Greece With Pilot!
The list of things Greece is known for is endless. This list should give you a better idea of the rich culture of this amazing country before you visit. Ready to explore the Mediterranean? Start planning your trip to Greece with Pilot!