An article about the 5 best off the beaten path places to visit in Greece including Thessaloniki, Corfu, the Peloponesse Mountains, and much more.
Greece is high on any traveler’s list of countries to visit. The country is home to thousands of islands, ancient sites like the Acropolis, and world-famous for its cuisine.
If you’re thinking about going to Greece but are not sure what to do here are the top five places to visit in Greece. These may not be the places that you see on every list of this nature, but as someone who has been living in Greece for seven years, I feel that they give you the best possible overview of what Greece is really like.
Of course, a major destination like Athens has to be included on this list, but some of the others may not be what you expect. Overall, this is a good mix of places that are interesting both to foreign visitors but are also top choices for local tourists.
The 5 Best Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in Greece
Experience the Best of Modern Greece in Thessaloniki
Greece’s second-largest city may not be on every foreign visitor’s radar yet, but Greeks have long had an appreciation for Thessaloniki. The city is known for being a student city, and this is where you really get a feel for the young generation of Greeks.
Thessaloniki is also a popular foodie destination, and even vegans won’t have to miss out if they simply keep in mind this vegan guide to Greece. People-watch on Aristotelous Square where people eat, shop, and drink, and go to be seen.
Explore Thessaloniki’s history at the Byzantine walls, Roman Forum, and Agios Dimitrios Church before visiting any of the interesting museums the city is home to.
The White Tower of Thessaloniki is the city’s landmark and is located on the sea promenade. During Ottoman times it served as a prison. After you make it past the lower six floors to the viewing platform you will be rewarded with a great view of the port and the promenade.
The promenade along the sea is perfect for long evening strolls and a rare find in Greece where pedestrians can’t often find a place to escape cars and scooters.
For the most picturesque neighborhoods in Thessaloniki make your way to the Ottoman Old Town and Ladadika. Finally, try to find the traces of the city’s Jewish population (Thessaloniki used to be a majority Jewish city) and learn about why Thessaloniki is also known as the “mother of Israel” in the Jewish Museum.
Explore Ancient History in Athens
Athens is a city known all over the world for its history dating back several millennia. The Greek capital is named for the ancient Greek goddess Athina who is the patron saint of the city.
There is an incredible amount of ancient sights to be visited in Athens, but don’t forget to check out the city’s modern side as well. Top sights include the Acropolis, both the Ancient as well as the Roman Agora, the ancient cemetery at Kerameikos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian’s Library.
The best museums to visit are the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. They’re a must even if you’re not usually into archaeology.
The Plaka and Anafiotika neighborhoods located just below the Acropolis are by far the prettiest area of Athens and great for taking photos. Plaka is also home to tons of souvenir shops where you cannot only find cheap imported souvenirs but actual local products such as olive wood items.
Relax on the Beaches of Corfu
Tourism in Greece is heavily concentrated on the many islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
Some islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete are extremely popular with international tourists while others are local treasures. Then there are those islands with a reasonably well-established international reputation that is still not too crowded to be enjoyed even during high season.
Corfu is one such island. Although it’s been popular with British tourists for decades it never feels like tourists completely outnumber locals. The Old Town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and absolutely wonderful for a leisurely stroll.
For the best local sweets head to Rosy’s Bakery in the old Jewish neighborhood not far from the synagogue which is still used on high holidays by the shrinking Jewish community.
Just a few minutes outside of the capital Corfu you can visit the Achilleion, a palace built for the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sisi.
But trust me, you don’t have to come to Corfu only to sightsee. Corfu is home to some of the best beaches in Greece. Palaiokastritsa beach is surrounded by lush greenery and has the most amazing green and blue waters.
If you are flying into Corfu Airport, make sure to book an airport transfer ahead of time to make the most of this idyllic island.
Enjoy the Pretty Sceneries of the Peloponnese Region
In some ways, the Peloponnese region encompasses all of Greece in one area. The peninsula has ancient sites, picturesque villages, stunning beaches, and beautiful nature.
The first Greek capital Nafplio is a good place to learn about the Greek independence struggle. From here you can also visit the ancient sites of Mycenae and the Epidaurus theater.
In the Western part of the Peloponnese, there’s Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. This sacred site was an important place of worship from many different Greek states.
The coastline is home to exquisite views and beaches. Whether it’s the medieval fortification at Monemvassia or the magical villages of Mani, a road trip along the Peloponnese coast is absolutely enchanting. One of the top beaches in Greece is Voidokilia beach, not far from Kalamata, the city which is known all over the world for its olives.
If you make your way into or out of the region from Athens you’ll drive past the Corinth canal. Ancient Corinth is another stop well worth visiting for the Temple of Apollo as well as Acrocorinth (the city’s Acropolis).
Lose Yourself in the Natural Beauty of Epirus
The Epirus region is another part of mainland Greece that is too often overlooked by international tourists. The beautiful landscapes and picturesque villages are unlike any other in the country.
Visiting the city of Ioannina located at a gorgeous lake with an almost enchanting islet in its middle is the perfect way to start exploring Epirus.
But it’s really the magical Zagorohoria mountain villages that will mesmerize you the most which are why they’re one of the favorite destinations for Greek tourists. they are located near the impressive Vikos gorge and the Vikos National Park, both excellent destinations for hikers.
On the other side of the magnificent Pindos mountain range, you can visit the village of Metsovo which is very popular among Greek tourists as a base for hikes into Pindos as well as skiing in the winter.
Other places worth visiting in the Epirus region are the city of Preveza and the small coastal town Sivota with its breathtaking blue lagoon. As you can see, Epirus is a very diverse region and offers things to see and do for just about any type of traveler.
Hopefully, this post has inspired you to visit Greece and see more than what the average foreign tourist visits. There are of course plenty more places to visit in Greece, but I’m sure after visiting Athens, Thessaloniki, Corfu, the Peloponnese, and Epirus you will want to come back for more.
Nina Ahmedow is a travel content creator who was born and raised in Germany but currently lives in Greece. She is the voice behind Lemons and Luggage, a travel blog dedicated to vegan and responsible travel. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.