Greece is known as the cradle of the modern world. Did you know its islands are just as culturally rich as the mainland? Large parts of our lives are still influenced by Ancient Grecian theatre, philosophy, mythology and maths. It’s not just about living in the past though – music, art and film are also a big part of the cultural scene. All this coupled with white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and laid-back holiday vibes makes it easy to soak up the culture while you soak up the sun. Here are our top 3 Greek islands for culture…
Take a journey into history with a stay on Samos. First stop: marvel at the Eupalinian aqueduct. This is an incredible feat of ancient engineering that created perfectly connecting tunnels using geometry. The village of Pythagorian will also hit all the right angles with maths nerds. It’s named after Pythagoras – the man who calculated the length of the sides in a right-angled triangle. If mythology is more your thing, head to Heraion, the ruins of the largest temple in Ancient Greece. Dedicated to the goddess Hera, this stunning shrine is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Celebrate both the traditions and the modern culture of Samos by seeking out a local panigirgia festival. These events combine dancing, music and food to honour a patron saint. Visit Pyrgos or Kedros around 26th July and Ambelos or Karlovassi around 6th August to get involved with these vibrant celebrations.
Strictly speaking, Halkidiki isn’t an island. We just love it so much that we’ve quietly slipped it into our picks for the top 3 Greek islands for culture. Transport yourself back in time as you wander through Parthanonas’ cobbled streets. Visit the art exhibition hosted in the old school. Or, in the summer, watch a cinema screening in the village square as part of the Parthenon Film Festival. Halkidiki also hosts food festivals and international music acts throughout the year.
Halkidiki’s traditional villages have graced postcards throughout the years. They are now Instagram hot-spots for the same reasons. The quaint alleys, colourful walls and traditional stone buildings are well worth sharing online. Arnaia is a great example of a small Greek island village – check out the Weaving Museum if you like offbeat attractions. There’s also the Folklore Museum in Nikiti to inspire some bedtime stories.
The last of our top 3 Greek islands for culture is a beloved beach holiday destination. Corfu is also the go-to Greek island for architecture. Look out for classical, Byzantine, Roman and even British influences on the buildings and ruins. Discover the Spianada, one of the largest village squares in Europe, where locals and tourists alike have been known to play cricket. Explore the gardens of Achilleion Palace to see the famous Dying Achilles statue for yourself.
Corfu is also known for its honey and olive farms – why not sample some home-grown produce while you’re there? Learn more about the history of the olive trade at the Olive Museum in Kynopiastes. This unusual attraction is housed in an old olive oil mill, and celebrates the agricultural roots of the island. Corfu is also home to 18 marching bands, so get your feet moving at one of the many carnivals and music festivals they perform at.
Fancy a trip to one of our top 3 Greek islands for culture? Have a look at our Greece holidays here