Greece is an extensive country with a main landmass and including numerous islands (see our Greece map). Geographically it falls between Italy to the west across the Ionian Sea and Turkey to the east across the Aegean Sea. The northern, mainland, border is with Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Greece is perhaps best seen as falling into five main regions:

Northern Greece

photo of Thessaloniki

This is the part of the European mainland that includes Macedonia and Thrace. Thessaloniki falls centrally within this region, and Mount Athos on the coast, with Chalkidiki also in this part of mainland Greece.


Central Greece

photo of Meteora

Still connected to the mainland but now forming a large promontory into the Aegean Sea. The transition netween the north and the centre includes the Meteora region, with the monasteries perched high on rocky outposts. the important historical site of Delphi is also in this part of Greece, and the city of Volos is near the eastern coast.



photo of Athens

Athens and the immediate area around the city, are found at the south-eastern end of this central promontory



photo of Olympia

The Peloponnese region of Greece is almost an island - but not quite, since it is connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land to the west of Athens. There are many highlights to discover, including ancient Olympia, the ruins at Epidaurus,  Patras and the attractive houses of the Mani peninsula.

There are several medieval towns to explore but the top two are byzantine Mystras and fortified Monemvasia.

Nafplio is a beautiful seaside town overlooked by a Venetian castle. It is one of the best places to stay when exploring the Peloponnese Peninsula.


Greek islands

photo of Skopelos

The fifth region comprises the Greek islands that are found off much of the Greek coastline into the Aegean and Ionian Seas. These fall into several natural geographical groups:

Ionian islands: found in the Ionian Sea to the west of mainland Greece eg Corfu, then further south to Kefalonia, Zakynthos, also Lefkada and Ithaca

Sporades islands: just east off the mainland eg Skopelos and Skiathos

Cyclades islands: these are some of the best known and most popular islands and are found to the south-east of Athens e.g. Mykonos, also Paros, Naxos, Ios and Milos and Santorini

photo of Zakynthos

Islands of south-east Greece: These islands are off the south-west coast of Turkey and include the Dodecanese Archipelago eg Kos and Rhodes

Crete: the large island of Crete is to the the south of the Peloponnese, including the town of Heraklion.

Chios: to the east of Greece and just off the coast of Turkey is the island of Chios