Forbes — Greece may still be fiscally flabby but it’s shaping up to be one of the world’s hottest destinations this summer. In recent years Athens has emerged as a great city break destination and the country as a whole still offers better value for your money than other Mediterranean hot spots like Spain and Italy. And Greece has literally hundreds of small islands ripe for discovery. Here are ten top spots you’ll want to scoop up on your next trip to Greece.
Crete (north side)
Long a popular destination for Europeans seeking beach weather for six months out of the year or more, Crete is not only the largest of the Greek islands but in many respects the most spectacular. Its mountainous terrain makes it a bit of a tough cookie to navigate on a short time frame, but if you think of it in terms of northern and southern sections it becomes easier. The north is where you’ll find some of the most interesting cities, such as Heraklion and the nearby Minoan ruins of Knossos as well as Rethymno and Chania. The latter two have retained many fine architectural details from Crete’s Venetian era.
Crete (south side)
The south side of Crete is far less developed than the north, which is good news for those who appreciate dramatic landscapes and beaches. I recommend starting out in Heraklion, the Cretan capital. Have an authentic lunch at Peskesi and then rent a car from a solid local company like Auto Candia. Then take Route 97 due south, stopping to see the impressive Minoan ruins at Phaistos along the way. Follow the signs to Matala, once a hippie colony but nowadays a very lively beach town.
Other top places are Attica – Athens – Lake Vouliagmeni – Cape Sounion, Thessaloniki, Milos, Paros, Karpathos and Corfu.