Having exported chaos, drama, tragedy and democracy before most nations were staying up late enough to want souvlaki, Greece boasts an unrivalled legacy. But don't expect a visit there to be a sober study of the ancient world - despite economic instability, the Greeks still love to party.
From Athens to blindingly bright islands, ancient fragments abound - the navel of the cosmos at Delphi, fallen columns galore on the sacred island of Delos, frescoed Minoan palaces on Crete and even - as some might believe - the remnants of Atlantis at Santorini.
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Mystique, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Santorini offers a one-of-a-kind quintessential Cycladic experience on the iconic Greek island of Santorini.
The peninsula that constitutes mainland Greece is surrounded by more than 1400 islands, of which 169 are inhabited. The islands are divided into six groups: the Cyclades, the Ionians, the Dodecanese, the islands of the Northeastern Aegean, the Sporades and the Saronic Gulf islands. The two largest islands, Crete and Evia, do not belong to any group. Roughly four-fifths of Greece is mountainous, with most land lying over 1500m (4920ft) above sea level. Epiros and Macedonia, in northern Greece, still have extensive forests, but goat grazing, felling and forest fires have seriously denuded the rest of the country.
What To Do
Greece's mountainous terrain is perfect for trekking and when the snow falls, it's is one of the cheapest places in Europe to go skiing. The Aegean provides perfect conditions for windsurfing, which is the most popular watersport in Greece although snorkelling is encouraged and well worthwhile anywhere along the coast.
What To See
Follow the footsteps of the gods to divine beaches and ancient wonders.
Whether you come to Greece for history or hedonism - or both - will depend on your temperament. Its stunning ancient sites stand alongside the legacies of foreign occupiers: towering Venetian, Frankish and Turkish castles and crumbling mosques. Then there's 1400 islands to explore...
The Greek year is a succession of festivals and events, some of which are religious, some cultural, others an excuse for a good knees-up. Gynaikokratia on 8 January is a day of role reversal in villages in northern Greece. Women spend the day in kafeneia (cafes) and other social centres where men usually congregate, while the men stay at home to do housework. The Greek carnival season runs through February-March over the three weeks before the beginning of Lent, and features fancy dress, feasting, traditional dancing and general merrymaking. Easter is the most significant festival in Greece, with candle-lit processions, feasting and fireworks displays. Emphasis is placed on the Resurrection rather than on the Crucifixion, so it is a joyous occasion. There are numerous summer festivals across the country, the most famous being the Hellenic Festival (mid-June to late September), which hosts drama and music in ancient theatres.