Forming the southernmost part of the Balkan peninsula, Greece is a mountainous country with literally thousands of islands. In fact, the islands make up one-fifth of the country’s total land area – most lie in the Aegean Sea, between mainland Greece and Turkey, while the Ionian Islands are found in the Ionian Sea, between mainland Greece and Italy.
Greece Cities & Regions
Central Greece and AthensOn the mainland, central Greece is a mountainous region lying between the Peloponnese and Thessaly. It includes the prefecture of Attica, home to the Greek capital, Athens, plus the island of Evia, which is joined to the mainland by a bridge at Halkida.
PeloponneseIn the south of Greece, the Peloponnese is a peninsula separated from the rest of the mainland by the Corinth Canal. It is home to numerous archaeological sites including Mycenae, Olympia, and Corinth. The region’s biggest town is Patras, which is also the main ferry port for the Greek Ionian Islands and Italy.
ThessalyNorth of “Central Greece,” Thessaly is a vast fertile plain producing grain, cattle, and sheep. The region’s main attraction is the Meteora, a bizarre landscape of towering rocky pinnacles capped by centuries-old Orthodox monasteries. Thessaly’s biggest town is Larissa.
EpirusIn northwest Greece, separated from Thessaly and Macedonia by the rugged Pindus Mountains, Epirus’ main town is Ioannina, built on the shores of Lake Pamvotida. Nearby, the traditional stone villages of Zagorohoria thrive on up-market winter tourism, while the 6-mile-long Vikos Gorge attracts hikers.
MacedoniaIn northern Greece (and not to be confused with the country of the same name), Macedonia’s biggest city is Thessaloniki, known for its UNESCO-listed Byzantine churches. Nearby, Halkidiki peninsula is made up of three “legs,” the best known being the monks’ state of Mount Athos, which is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.
ThraceIn northeast Greece, Thrace is bordered by Turkey and Bulgaria. A mountainous region with harsh winters, its main towns are Alexandroupoli, Xanthi, and Komotini. The Evros Delta is popular for bird watching.
Greek IslandsGreece has some 6,000 islands and islets, of which 227 are inhabited. There are seven island groups: the Ionian, Argo-Saronic, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Sporades, and Evia, Northeast Aegean, plus Crete (see below). See our Greek Islands Travel Guide, Santorini Travel Guide, and Mykonos Travel Guide.
CreteGreece’s biggest island (approximately 160 miles from east to west) is gifted with long sandy beaches, impressive mountains, fertile soils, and a warm, sunny climate. It’s also a blissful holiday destination. Cretans are fiercely proud of their identity and renowned for their hospitality. See our Crete Travel Guide.
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