You may remember studying Greece in history and geography class, but if you’re anything like me, studying places in a classroom bored you to tears. That’s why I decided to travel to Greece myself and check it out on my own terms.
Now that I’m back, I’m ready to answer the question.
What is Greece famous for? Greece is famous for being the birthplace of democracy, the creation of the Olympic Games, and for its unique and historical architecture. Some examples include the Acropolis in Athens, the Sanctuary of Delphi, and the ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.
There is so much more to see and do in Greece, I could talk for days. But, I know you’re eager to get started, so read on to find out more about this beautiful country in these 21 fun facts about Greece.
Interesting Greek Places and Fun Facts About Greece
Officially called the Hellenic Republic, Greece is an absolutely stunning country. Whether you visit its diverse rural areas or its incredible bustling cities, you are sure to find interesting people, sights, and adventures. To get you started, here are 21 of my favorite fun facts about Greece.
There are many airports to choose from
Greece is home to more international airports than most other countries. This is because many travelers from all over the world want to visit this ancient place. There are over a dozen international airports to choose from, accommodating visitors from many different countries.
What that means for you is that no matter where you are located, there’s probably a flight to Greece waiting for you right now. All of these international airports don’t just go to one place though. There are 13 individual regions within Greece, many of which have their own airport.
The Parthenon Temple may be the most important Greek landmark
Greece has an incredible number of landmarks to visit, both ancient and modern. However, the Parthenon Temple of the Athens Acropolis is arguably the most important Greek landmark you should see.
It was built in the 5th century BC, about 2,500 years ago. The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, the goddess of inspiration, wisdom, courage, civilization, as well as law and justice. The Parthenon Temple is an astounding example of ancient Greek architecture. It was made of Pentelic marble, featured an impressive collection of colorful sculptures, and it took around 15 years to complete.
I suggest taking a walking tour of the Parthenon to fully appreciate this wonder of history. You can’t get much better than seeing this amazing structure on foot. Many tours also include nearby ruins and places of interest.
Greece produces 7% of the world’s marble
Even though ancient Greeks used wood, brick, and limestone for some of their architecture, Greece is mostly known for its beautiful marble. Because much of ancient Greece’s columns, sculptures, and temples are known for their copious use of marble, Greece is now responsible for providing 7% of the world’s marble.
Marble is a metamorphic rock made from limestone. It is created by intense heat and extreme pressure within the Earth’s crust.
You can still visit some of the ancient marble quarries today.
TIP: Hop on a bus and visit the Marathi Quarries for an awe-inspiring and unique peek into Greece’s history and one of their biggest current exports.
Greece knows olives
Did you know that Greece is one of the world’s leaders in olive production? Peloponnese is responsible for a whopping 65% of the olives grown there.
Some of the olive trees in Greece have been around since ancient times. Some of their oldest trees, planted in the 13th century, are still producing olives today. The Koroneiki olive is one of the most prized olives for oil.
While visiting Greece, you visit a variety of olive museums, orchards, and even some olive oil presses. I suggest finding a tour that offers olive oil tasting to get the full effect.
Athens is ancient
Athens, Greece has the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in Europe. Over thousands of years, Athens has been continuously inhabited by humans. The city and the people may have changed over time, but the spirit of Athens is fully intact.
Many of the things that you enjoy today were born in Athens. Athens is the birthplace of Western philosophy, political science, and democracy, just to name a few. Science, philosophy, and many forms of higher thinking got their start there.
Athens produced some of the world’s best writers, artists, and thinkers. Their writings still exist today, which gives modern man a valuable look at humanity’s past. Not surprisingly, Athens is also home to the most theatrical stages of any other country.
Athens is definitely worth a look when you visit Greece.
Athens’ modern sidewalks were because of a woman
Women have done countless incredible things all throughout history. The women of Athens are no exception. Up until the 1990s, downtown Athens’ sidewalks were made of marble.
As beautiful as marble is, it’s not a very good surface for travel. It became slippery in the rain, and over time, it was beginning to crumble.
In 2003, Dora Bakoyannis, the first female mayor of Athens, decided to update the slippery surfaces with more modern materials. There are still a few places where the sidewalks are made of marble, but most of it is now more accessible to more people.
Greece has a lot of islands
Greece isn’t just one big piece of land. There are thousands of islands in Greece. The exact number depends on the size definition you want to use.
Though there are so many islands to choose from, only about 170 of those islands are populated. The largest island is Crete, which is 3189 square miles. In 2017, the population of Crete was over 632,000 people.
The second largest island is Euboea. This island is only about 130 feet across at its narrowest point. There are an estimated 191,000 people living on Euboea.
Speaking of islands, did you know that geographically speaking, Tenerife belongs to Africa? Learn more about it on this article.
Greece’s national sport is football
Football is the national sport of Greece. It’s the same game that Americans call soccer. Though first introduced to Greece by British visitors and expatriates, the sport has taken a deep and meaningful hold in the country.
Greece has many leagues, but Superleague Greece is considered the best. There are 16 clubs within the league, making for a great number of matches to watch.
TIP: If you are a sports fan, make sure to catch a football game when in Greece. Highly recommended!
Did you know that England invented football? Learn more interesting -and fun- facts on this post. Be ready for some surprises!
Feta is an important cheese in Greece
I love to sprinkle feta cheese on my salads and in soups, but I had no idea it was such an important part of Greek history.
Did you know that feta cheese is Greece’s national cheese? It’s made of goat’s milk and dates all the way back to the Homeric ages, which are between 1100 and 800 BC. That’s some old cheese!
Don’t forget to stop into any restaurant while visiting Greece and taste their amazing feta cheese. I promise it’s nothing like you can find anywhere else in the world.
Greece has an incredible amount of birds to see
One of the coolest facts about Greece’s natural history is that birds from all over will travel to Greece in the winter. Greece’s wetlands can house as many as 100,000 birds at a time, all hailing from northern Europe and Asia.
It’s quite a sight to behold, huge clouds of migrating birds moving across the sky. Try to schedule in some time to visit some of Greece’s wetlands, and you might get to see this incredible natural occurrence for yourself.
The Colossus of Rhodes is still popular
You may not know this, but the English word “colossal” is derived from one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes was a massive statue depicting the god Helios. The statue was so large that its legs straddled the harbor.
Unfortunately, a huge earthquake in 226 BC destroyed the statue. People still visit the island of Rhodes to get a glimpse at the harbor where the giant statue once stood.
Tons of wildlife live in Greece
Greece has 18 species of amphibians, 240 species of birds, over a hundred types of fish, 59 species of reptiles, and 116 species of mammals. Even though Greece has an incredible variety of wildlife, one of the richest in Europe, about half of the mammal species are in danger of extinction.
An old language with a rich history
Greek is one of the oldest European languages. It has been spoken for more than 3,000 years. Many modern English words are derived from Greek words.
English-speaking tourists may recognize some words spoken by native Greek speakers while they visit Greece.
Visit Greece for many sunny days
As if Greece wasn’t beautiful enough on its own, it gets over 250 days of sunshine every year on average. For tourists, that means more bright and sunny days to visit more parts of this amazing country.
You can find out a little more about Greece’s climate right here.
Don’t wave with an open hand
When visiting foreign countries, it is very important to learn the local customs. For example, it’s considered rude to wave with an open palm in Greece.
QUICK TIP: To avoid insulting the Greek people, make sure to wave with your palm closed!
More miles of shoreline than you can explore in a day
Greece has an astounding 9,000 miles of coastline to explore. That is the 10th longest coastline in the world. In fact, there is no place in Greece that is more than 85 miles away from the water.
Revolutionary Greek sculptures
Long ago, sculptors only sculpted things holding still. That included living things like people and animals. It made them seem lifeless and dull.
The Greeks, however, took a different approach to sculpting life. Greek artists revolutionized carvings and sculptures of people. These incredible artists showed emotions, expressions, and movements.
You can still find incredible examples of ancient Greek sculptures all around Greece.
The home of Zeus and the other gods
The highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus stands at 9,573 feet high. Greek mythology states that Mount Olympus was the home of all the mighty gods.
Mount Olympus has been a national park since 1938. It was also the first national park in Greece.
MUST SEE: Be sure to visit Mount Olympus and get some great pictures of the gorges, the massive peaks, and the incredible flora and fauna that live there.
The windmills of Cyclades will blow you away (not literally)
The islands of Cyclades are famous for their traditional windmills. They aren’t just for decoration, however. These beautiful windmills where once used to mill wheat. Many have fallen to the ravages of time, but some of them have been restored.
While visiting Greece make sure to stop into the islands of Cyclades and check out the windmills.
Spiritual awakening at the sanctuary of Delphi
Another of the most famous landmarks from ancient Greek times is the sanctuary of Delphi. It is a breathtaking sight all year round, but you get the best bang for your buck if you can visit in spring.
The sanctuary was once the seat of Pythia, the oracle. Pythia was consulted on all important matters. The sanctuary overlooks a coastal plain on one side, and the valley of Phocis is on the other.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes the sanctuary as a World Heritage Site.
The astounding ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is still standing today
It’s unfortunate that so many ancient wonders have been lost to time. But the ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is somehow still standing, and I’m so thankful for that.
This theatre is located near the sanctuary of Asklepios, and it was the location of many religious performances. These festivities would take place to honor Asklepios.
Today, you can still attend a variety of performances in the summer. Thousands of people flock here every year to feel the majesty of this ancient location.
What is ancient Greece most known for? Ancient Greece is most known for being the birthplace of democracy, its artists, famous philosophers, and scientists.
What products is Greece known for? Greece is known for its production of marble, olives and olive oil, feta cheese, honey, and red saffron.