Along with being one of our favorite countries to visit, Greece is also a thoroughly fascinating place to learn about. With a long and rich history, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of interesting facts about Greece!
Cool. Strange. Insightful. These 100+ fun facts about Greece are thought-provoking and spell-binding to read – whether you’re planning a trip to Greece or just want to learn more Greek facts.
Fun facts about Greece
Fun facts about Athens
1) The Acropolis almost became one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World”
Like Chichen Itza (the most famous ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula), the Acropolis was a leading contender in the 2007 “New 7 Wonders of the World” contest. But while Chichen Itza made the list, the Acropolis didn’t.
Still the Acropolis is fabulous to roam around when you’re in Athens – which is worth visiting. Don’t just dash in and out of Athens on your way to the Greek Islands!
2) Athens is the oldest capital in Europe
It dates back to about 3,400 years ago.
3) It’s illegal to wear high heels
Who knew! You can’t wear high heels in Greece when touring ancient historic sites like the Acropolis because you could “wound” the monuments. One of the quirkiest facts about Athens, don’t your think?
Do yourself and the monuments a favor, and wear proper travel sandals or shoes.
4) The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was in Athens
The temperature in Athens soared to a record-breaking 118.4 F (48 C) on July 10, 1977 – the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe. (Reminder: Spring and fall are more pleasant times for visiting Greece.)
5) Athens was the first European Capital of Culture
6) One famous modern-day Athenian is Arianna Huffington
The co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post was born in Athens.
7) The presidential guards wear pom-poms on their shoes
Called “Evzones,” these elite ceremonial guards wear a distinctive uniform, which includes a kilt, red cap and black pom-poms on their shoes. The best time to watch the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square in Athens is on Sundays at 11:00 am, when there’s a “grand change.”
Cool facts about Santorini
8) Santorini is the only inhabited caldera in the world
Created after an explosive volcanic eruption in 1660 BC, the sickle-shaped island of Santorini is what’s left of the volcanic caldera. Today, it’s the only volcano cauldron in the world where people live.
9) Santorini is an active volcano
Don’t worry (too much) though. Santorini is dormant (for now).
10) Santorini is the world’s most beautiful island
At least, that’s what many people think. Especially honeymooners – Santorini is one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations. (We love Santorini, but we also think the islands of Mallorca and Kauai are just as beautiful, but in different ways.)
11) Santorini has red beaches
It has black sand beaches too.
12) Santorini was the lost city of Atlantis
Or so the legend goes…
13) People go ga-ga over Santorini’s sunsets
The lovely white-washed village of Oia is famous for its blood-orange sunsets, drawing crowds of photographers and sunset worshippers.
14) There was no electricity on the island until 1960
15) Wine is more plentiful than water
Santorini gets so little rain that locals joke the island has more wine than water.
16) “Donkey taxis” are used to get to Fira
From the old port, there are 588 steps to get up to the capital of Fira. You can take the cable car up or ride a Santorini donkey. The donkey rides are controversial though, especially if you’re, ahem, overweight.
17) Santorini grows more than 100 varieties of grapes
18) The hike from Fira to Oia is one of the world’s most beautiful
The 6-mile hike winds along cobbled lanes on the cliffs of Fira and Imerovigli, then across the spine of the island (where you get amazing ocean views on both sides), finally ending in Oia. Avoid walking in the heat of the day; early morning or late afternoon are the best times to go.
19) Santorini wines are especially classy
The volcanic soil adds a classy, flinty flavor to Santorini wines.
20) Early Santorinians lived in cave houses
Today, some of the best boutique hotels in Santorini (like Ikies Traditional Houses) are cave hotels – but they’re much more luxurious digs than what the early residents carved out!
21) Santorini is full of stairs
Walking up and down in Santorini is like getting an outdoor stairmaster workout. It’s about 350 to 400 steps from Oia village to Amoudi Bay down below. The climb from Imerovigli to Skaros Rock is about 300 steps.
Interesting facts about Mykonos
22) Few people actually live on Mykonos
Just over 10,000 people actually live on the island full-time. But in summer, Mykonos reels in a whopping number of sun-seekers and holiday-goers. More than 50,000 visitors stay on the island at any one time then, and the island sees between 150,000 and 250,000 visitors a year.
23) Mykonos is miserable in winter
There’s a reason you don’t want to visit Mykonos in winter. Temps drop, and the island gets very windy from November to March – which makes it bone-chilling cold! In fact, Mykonos’ “nickname” is the “Island of the Winds.”
24) Mykonos’ windmills are centuries old
There used to be 28 windmills all over the island, originally built by the Venetians during the 16th century. The island’s gusty weather was perfect for operating windmills! They were mostly used to mill wheat for bread. Today, there are only 16 old windmills still standing. Five of these windmills are perched high above the crashing waves of Little Venice in Mykonos town.
25) Mykonos was a popular pirate’s den
When pirates commanded the seas, they loved to hang out and drink in Little Venice.
26) Mykonos has as many churches as families
There are between 600 and 800 churches and chapels on Mykonos – which is said to result in one church or chapel per local family. (Do the math, and “family” must include grandparents down to grandchildren. But whatever, this is still a lot of churches for an island only 33 square miles in size!)
27) “Petros the Pelican” is the island’s unique mascot
This is one of the cutest Greece facts: Mykonos’ town is home to the most famous pelican in the world, Petros, the island’s mascot.
The original Petros was a white pelican back in the 1950s, hurt and nursed back to health by a fisherman who found him. The pelican stayed on the island and was adopted by the locals.
Sadly, Petros was killed in a car accident in 1985. Jackie Kennedy Onassis later donated a pelican to the Mykonians who missed Petros. Two other pelicans apparently also found their way to the island.
So today, the “Petros” you see could be one of several Mykonos pelicans.
When looking for Petros on a visit to Mykonos, we overlooked a tethered goat nearby, which decided to suddenly head-butt George. Thwack – ouch! Happy memories…
28) Mykonos is gay friendly
Gay sun worshippers especially love Paradise and Super Paradise beaches.
29) There’s superb diving at the shipwreck of Anna II
In 1995, the 200-foot cargo ship Anna II sank off the coast of Mykonos near Lia Beach. Resting on the sea floor at a depth of 82 feet, the wreck is in excellent condition. The site has turned into a fantastic artificial reef, full of big colorful sponges – making it a great dive for scuba divers.
30) Cats are owned by everyone on Mykonos
Lots of cute kitties roam the streets of Mykonos town. They don’t have “owners” and are fed and cared for by everyone.
31) Topless swimming is allowed everywhere on Mykonos
32) Doors and windows are painted specific colors
They’re painted blue, red or green. In the past, the color depended on what you did for a living. Sailors painted their shutters and doors blue. Green was for farmers. Everyone else painted their doors and windows red.
Interesting facts about Crete
33) The air on Crete has healing powers
At least, this is what Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” preached. It’s believed he sent the sick to Crete to get better.
34) Crete has two pink sand beaches
Check out the beaches of Balos and Elafonissi – they have a pinkish color.
35) In Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of all Greek gods, was born on Crete
36) There are no harmful animals on Crete
You may see Kri Kri goats, rabbits and hedgehogs. But no dangerous animals.
37) Cretans fire guns during weddings and other celebrations
Only in the air!
38) The minotaur lived in a labyrinth underneath the Palace of Knossos
According to Greek myth, the creature (half-man and half-bull) was King Minos’ son. The king’s daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus, a prince from Athens, who killed the minotaur, after which the happy couple fled Crete.
39) Crete is the largest island in Greece
40) The island has some 50 gorges
Samaria Gorge – more than 10 miles long – is the longest gorge in Europe. Walking along the gorge is a beautiful hike.
41) Crete has heaps of “Blue Flag” beaches
A “Blue Flag” beach is one that’s extremely clean with clear water. Crete has 115 “Blue Flag” beaches. Little wonder that the island is a hot spot for European beachgoers!
Interesting Greek facts about other places in the country
42) The island of Chios is one of the best places for scuba diving in Greece
The underwater reef formations are especially fantastic! You can swim through sea caves, dive along fabulous rocky walls (like the Great Wall) and explore underwater ship wrecks.
43) The movie “Mama Mia” was filmed in Skiathos and Skopelos
The port where Sophie’s three fathers meet for the first time is the old port on Skiathos. Skopelos was used to film most of the outdoor beach and town scenes (Kastani Beach was the main beach location).
44) Greece has over 6,000 islands
Or 5,000. Or 1,200 islands. Depending on what source you look at. The number of inhabited islands is between 166 and 227, again, depending on the source.
45) Wild dolphins frolic around Alonissos
The island is part of the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades – the largest marine protected area in Europe.
46) Rhodes has millions of butterflies
The Valley of Butterflies on the island of Rhodes is home to the only natural forest of Oriental Sweetgum trees, which attracts breeding Jersey tiger moths. At the end of the wet season in May, you can see spectacular clouds of these moths and other butterflies.
47) The name “Rhodes” means “rose”
And, yes, Rhodes has a lot of roses!
48) Samothrace boasts stunning waterfalls
Had you heard of Samothrace before? No? Well, that’s because it’s one of the most non-touristy Greek islands. It’s a place for hikers and nature lovers.
49) Anthony Bourdain spent a lot of time on Naxos
Not a party island, Naxos is known for its delicious food.
50) You can hike mining caves on the island of Serifos
51) The famous statue of Aphrodite was discovered on Milos in 1820
The beautiful marble statue of “Aphrodite of Milos” (also known as “Venus de Milo”) can now be seen in the Louvre.