1. Delphi: Give yourself at least one full day and night, to see the ‘sacred’ Oracle of Delphi location.
There is a fine museum which closes one hour ‘later’ than the outside excavation site. (I know because I was locked out of the archaeological site the first time I went!) Definitely include a drive to Delphi, which is a lovely countryside 2 1/2 hour drive from Athens along the pretty Mount Parnassus slopes. (yes it snows and there are ski resorts in the winter) Delphi is second only to the Parthenon as the most sought after popular tourist destination in Greece. ts’pretty impressive to stand in what the ancients called ‘the navel of the earth’. Delphi was home to the Temple of Apollo, the famed Delphi Oracle and the precursor of the Olympics. Royalty and regular people would come and ask questions of the Oracle. Guess right answers were given and the monetary gratitude was increasing so many Treasury buildings were built. You can witness many of the existing ruins today. There is a couple of lovely small towns for your dining/shopping and entertainment for the night close by..
2. Hydra, Poros and Aegina: These three Greek islands, all close enough to experience in a one day boating outing from Athens, are great fun and you will get a sense of Greece plus ‘what a difference an island makes’. If you are in Athens, then this is a perfect way to see a bit of Greece and leave the driving/boating to the professionals.
Enjoy an all day cruise, be entertained, and hop on and off the ferry boat at the 3 ports. The longest cruise is to the farthest island Hydra where you will be enchanted by the ‘donkeys only’ policy. That’s right, nary a car is seen. Then Poros for lunch and shopping and finalizing with Aegina which has a side tour to the Temple/Sanctuary of Aphaia 500 B.C. and to top it off a pistachio ice cream treat which is the island’s ‘signature piece’. This ferry boat has a guide that organizes the lunch, tour of Aegina’s temple and will tell you some tips and hints along the way. Also, on board is a piano player that keeps everyone entertained with his ‘music of the world’ on the way back.
3. Athens: Probably everyone reading this will be landing in Athens, so let me tell you that the must sees in Athens are: the iconic Parthenon 250′ up on the Acropolis plateau. Whether you are into museums or not, you must spend ‘at least’ 1 1/2 hours at the National Archaeological Museum. Stupendous displays of human creativity and the best of the enlightened years. For those interested in the Biblical history, then follow the footsteps of St Paul and visit the Ancient Agora and Mars Hill where he spoke.
4. Naxos: First time I went to Naxos I laid with my fresh baked bread and jar of honey and took in the temple ruins at the tip of the island. Naxos is easy to get to as all the main ferries leaving Piraeus go past the large island with its 40+ distinct villages. You an use the ‘monopathia’ (foot paths) to walk to the island center or drive up to the hillside villages. (Look up a sweet Taverna known as Matina, after the Greek owner and let her feed you like you were her own with fresh from the garden foods. This will be a true Greek experience of being with locals and not so many tourists (and that ‘is’ why you went to Greece right?). Or stay in the port city and shop for the famed local Kitron liquer, ceramics and local crafts available. You can even take a cooking class with Ioannis Margaritis and his wife. Talk about a ‘great’ souvenir that lasts! If it’s a taste of real Greece you want, enjoy Naxos.
the epic Knossos Palace, snow skiing in winter, warmest weather in Greece, modern yet traditional villages in the hills, seemingly miles of orange and olive groves and the popular Samaria Gorge, a 10 mile 4-7 hour hike through forests of ancient cypresses and pines.