• The Acropolis (Athens): No matter how many photographs you've seen, nothing can prepare you for watching the light change the colors of the marble buildings, still standing after thousands of years, from honey to rose to deep red to stark white. If the crowds get you down, think about how crowded the Acropolis was during religious festivals in antiquity.

  • The Acrocorinth (Corinth): Atop one of the world’s most remarkable fortresses, high above the isthmus and the Corinth Plain, you seem to be sharing time and space with the Greek and Roman inhabitants of one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the ancient world. In those less polluted days, they had an even more far-reaching view—all the way to the gleaming columns of the Acropolis in Athens.

  • The Agora (Athens): Athens has no shortage of ancient ruins, but those of the Agora, the marketplace and social center of the ancient city, might be the most evocative. Even though most of the shops and stoas have been reduced to rubble, just enough remains (including the best-preserved Greek temple in the world and an ancient clock tower and weather station) to give you an idea of what the place must have been like when Socrates sat with his students on shady porticos and vendors hawked spices and oils.

  • Great Theatre of Epidaurus (Epidaurus): Even the inevitable crop of stage-struck wannabes belting out show tunes doesn’t detract from the thrill of standing on the spot where ancient actors performed the Greek classics when they were new. The 55 tiers of limestone seats remain much as they were, and acoustics are so sharp that a stage whisper can be heard at the top of the house.

  • Nemea (Peloponnese): This gem of a site has it all: a beautifully restored stadium, a handsome museum, even picnic tables with a view of the romantic Doric temple. Look for the three long-standing columns—and several newly restored and re-erected ones. If you're lucky, you may see Nemea's archaeologists at work reconstructing and re-erecting more columns from the temple's north facade in their ambitious restoration project.

  • Olympia (Peloponnese): The superheroes who bring most visitors to Olympia are not gods and artists but ancient athletes. Remnants of the city’s games, inaugurated in 776 B.C., are copious; the stadium, gymnasium, training hall, and dormitories are scattered around the foot of the Kronion Hill. So vivid is the experience that you wouldn’t be completely shocked to come upon a naked pankration competitor rubbing himself down with olive oil.

  • Paros (Cyclades): Parian marble has a way of catching your gaze and not letting go. After all, the most famous statue in the world, the Venus de Milo, is sculpted from the translucently white and luminescent stone quarried on this island in the Cyclades. On the back lanes of Parikia, you may also be intrigued by a much less formal display: Bits and pieces of columns and pediments, debris from ancient temples, are wedged willy-nilly into the walls of the 13th-century Venetian kastro, a head-spinning glimpse into civilizations past.

  • Delphi (Central Greece): No other ancient site is quite as mysterious and alluring as this sanctuary to Apollo, nestled amid olive groves high above the Gulf of Corinth on the flanks of Mount Parnassus. It’s easy to see why the spot was so transporting for the ancients, who flocked here to seek the enigmatic counsel of Apollo.

  • Palace of Knossos (Crete): A seemingly unending maze of rooms and levels, stairways and corridors, in addition to frescoed walls—this is the Minoan Palace of Knossos. It can be packed at peak hours, but it still exerts its power if you enter in the spirit of the labyrinth. King Minos ruled over the richest and most powerful of Minoan cities and, according to legend, his daughter Ariadne helped Theseus kill the Minotaur in the labyrinth and escape.

  • Delos (Cyclades): This tiny isle, just 3.2km (2 miles) offshore of Mykonos, was considered by the ancient Greeks to be both the geographical and the spiritual center of the Cyclades; many considered this the holiest sanctuary in all of Greece. The extensive remains here testify to the island's former splendor. The 3 hours allotted by excursion boats from Mykonos or Tinos are hardly sufficient to explore this vast archaeological treasure. This sacred place still inspires, even in jumbled ruin. As you walk among temples and skirt the shores of the sacred lake, you’ll get a sense of what a trip to this island—the central point of the Cyclades—might have meant to a pilgrim of long ago.

  • Temple of Poseidon (Cape Sounion): You only have to make the pleasant trip down the Attic coast to Sounion to appreciate how ancient Greeks understood the concept that location is everything. It’s easy to imagine how the sight of the majestic temple warmed the hearts of sailors returning to Athens after months at sea; you can even recreate the experience with a swim from the rocks below the site.

  • Vergina (Northern Greece): In the brilliantly designed museum here, you can peek into what may have been the tomb of Alexander the Great's father, Philip of Macedon. Nearby, more than 300 burial mounds stretch for miles across the Macedonian plain.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.