Visiting some of the unique towns you must visit in Greece will give you a true taste of Greek life. From traditional stone villages to cosmopolitan centers, from mountain tops to dreamy seaside coves, this selection of towns of character will offer you a rich and more intimate introduction to the varied culture and landscape of Greece.
Even the more popular of these towns will be much less traveled. Athens, Thessaloniki, and some of the most famous islands get the majority of travelers to Greece. That means that in Greece’s smaller towns you can have a more authentic travel experience, meaningful encounters, and of course local cuisine.
Our selection of six unique towns in Greece takes us all over the country.
Starting in the north of Greece, just two hours from Thessaloniki is the beautiful port town of Kavala, one of the towns you must visit in Greece. It has a touch of glamor- in fact, the locals call it the Cote d’Azur of Greece. They’re not wrong – with a deep cove and a high peninsula overlooking two bays, Kavala has some of the most stunning geography of any Greek town.
This was a major center for the Ottoman, and the monuments of this time – including the grand restored Imaret – give the town an eastern fragrance. This was also a very prosperous tobacco town, so the center is truly lovely and genteel, with grand mansions and manicured squares.
Time seems to stand still here, as locals dress up a little for their evening promenade, a prelude to a classic Greek night out – ouzo and seafood in the harbor.
Kavala is one of many popular day trips from Thessaloniki. It’s very near the fascinating ancient city of Philippi, with ruins from the 4th century BC through the Byzantine era.
This is an important area for religious tourism, for it’s where St. Paul first stepped on European soil. Very nearby, he baptised Europe’s first Christian, Lydia of Thyatria, who lived in Philippi.
Greece has majestic mountains. The central region of Epirus has one of the most famous – the Pindus mountain range, filled with gorges and waterfalls and steep hikes. The mountains are dotted with monasteries and villages and some larger towns. Of these, Metsovo is the star – all traditional stone architecture and intricate woodwork, surrounded by snowy peaks and fragrant with pine.
Skilled merchants and learned patriots, the people of the mountains of Epirus have contributed much to Greek culture – including some of Greece’s most prominent statesmen and benefactors.
Two such families – the Tositsa family and the Averoff family – have ties to Metsovo, making this enchanting mountain town a significant cultural destination. The beauty of folk culture can be explored at one of Greece’s finest Folk Art museums, housed in a 17th-century mansion.
The intricate woven textiles in particular are magnificent. There is also a fine collection of 20th century Greek Art. And there’s a good winery. But you can come to Metsovo and do none of these things and still have a wonderful holiday – hiking, gazing at the mountains, and eating local delicacies, like their rustic flaky pies and their smoked cheese – famous all over Greece.
In the northeastern Peloponnese, this port town is all charm and all history. Starting at the top, literally, there is the Palamidi fortress. The fortress climbs a peak 216m high and is one of Greece’s most impressive and intact. From here, the Venetians could monitor the strategic Argolic Gulf.
This was always a coveted seaport, attracting a succession of Royal houses in the middle ages, including the de la Roche family, who founded the Duchy of Athens in the 13th century. The Venetians held the city in various periods, and Nafplio has kept much of its Venetian character. Besides the fortress there is also the Bourtzi – a small island fortress directly across from the city.
Nafplion is awash in color, with charming pedestrian streets and bougainvillea climbing the walls of traditional buildings. The central plaza is surrounded by history including the first capital of the modern Greek state, until it moved to Athens in 1934.
Nafplio is near some of Greece’s most significant sites, including Mycenae, the theatre of Epidaurus, and the Asklepion at Epidaurus.
This is not just one of the towns you must visit in Greece but also one of the most magical places in Europe. And it’s also a surprise: carved into a sea rock and invisible from the mainland, originally to keep the inhabitants safe from invaders.
In the middle ages, it was only accessible by boat initially, then a path was constructed to access it from the mainland – hence the name, which means single path.
Monemvasia is a completely intact, beautifully preserved Medieval castle town in the southern Peloponnese. The Venetians called it “the Gibraltar of the East” for its dramatic topography. You can visit the highlights, such as the Byzantine churches of Elkomenos Christos and Agia Sophia.
There is also a museum, in a former mosque (the Ottomans were a centuries’ long presence in Greece). But the whole of Monemvasia is actually like a museum, an authentic experience of the past.
Many of the old mansions are boutique hotels. Tables from restaurants are set out in the narrow paths between buildings, and cafe tables line the edges of cliffs.
This is a beautiful part of the Peloponnese to explore, with excellent hikes and secluded beaches.
You know that feeling like you want to be somewhere so remote it feels like the edge of the earth? Well, Loutro is not the edge of the earth, but it is very nearly the edge of Europe, on the south coast of Crete on the shores of the Libyan sea. The drive through the mountains down to the south coast is one of the most exciting and scenic drives in Crete.
This tiny town is a single row of cheerful white buildings, curved around their own pristine turquoise bay. And as for remote, it’s not only at Europe’s edge; it’s also accessible only by boat or by hike. This means it’s car free and incredibly peaceful. To get here, you drive to the south coast of Crete to Chora Sfakion and take a boat along the south coast for about 15 minutes.
Or, there’s an even more rugged way to get to Loutro: hike the epic Samaria gorge. Then catch that same boat at its last stop in Agia Roumeli and take it to Loutro – which is between Agia Roumeli and Chora Sfakion.
You’ll be hungry from the hike. Choose from the freshest catch on ice, and have the chef make you a traditional Cretan fish soup.
With so few towns nearby, the stars from Loutro shine particularly bright.
On the big island of Evia and not far from Athens, there is a classic spa town, one of Greece’s most famous from the Belle Epoque. Some of Edipsos is now abandoned. But the grand dame of Spa Hotels – the glorious Thermae Sylla Spa and Wellness Hotel – stands at the water’s edge, commanding the gulf.
Come here for a classic spa holiday, with elegant accommodations and state of the art spa facilities, overseen by a medical staff. The waters here are rated some of the best in all of Europe.
Besides the excellent pools – including a glamorous and huge outdoor pool – there are also therapeutic springs flowing directly into the sea. They are dangerously hot close to their source, but as they mix with the sea they become more tempered. This spa town offers a marvelous experience of nature in Greece, wild and healing at once.
This amazing blog post was written by Amber from Thessaloniki Local! All lovely photos were also taken by her.