25 Famous Landmarks of Greece With Tips to Visit and Explore From Home

Greek Landmarks the Acropolis of Athens

25 Famous Landmarks of Greece With Tips to Visit and Explore From Home

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Many of the landmarks in Greece have had a profound impact on human history and are integral to legends, literature, and countless pieces of artwork. You have likely been encountering these landmarks of Greece in your studies and and through popular culture throughout your life. Imagine visiting them in person!

Landmarks in Greece connect us to the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. They inspire curiosity and spark our travel dreams. Discover the most famous landmarks of Greece and learn more about them.

This collection of landmarks is especially for curious travelers, and we have added ideas about how to travel from home related to each destination. You will find entertaining and educational resources so that you can extend the wonder of your trip to the months and years before and after you visit.

I’ve asked professional travel writers to share their favorite resources related to Greek landmarks so you can better appreciate and understand these fascinating places.

Famous Landmarks of Greece

Table of Contents

Achilleion Palace in Corfu

Landmark in Greece Achilleion Palace
Achilleion Palace, photo by Corina Preda

One of the most beautiful landmarks in Greece is the Achilleion Palace, also known as the Palace of Princess Elizabeth of Austria. Corfu Island is known for its beautiful beaches, but visitors will also want to visit the palace. 

The Empress of Austria, Elizabeth (Sissi), fell in love with Corfu and Greek culture, so she decided to build a palace here. Depressed after her son’s suicide, she bought the land on which Achilleion Palace was built, in Gastouri, 10 km from Corfu town. The palace was her place of refuge, so she left her mark on its decoration. During the world wars, the palace was a war hospital, after that a kindergarten, and later, a casino. Now the palace has become a museum and can be visited both inside and outside. You can reach the gate by car and, after paying the entrance fee, you will receive an audio guide in various languages.

The palace is impressive! It is decorated with motifs from Greek mythology and is dedicated to the Greek hero Achilles (hence the name). You can walk through its rooms to admire the works of art, the objects of the royal families that lived here and elements of Greek culture. The high position offers visitors beautiful views of the Ionian Sea and the green island. 

On hot summer afternoons,  a visit to Achilleion Palace in Corfu is a perfect choice.

Contributed by Corina Preda at Another Milestone

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A scene from the James Bond movie, "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) was filmed here. Watch it before you visit the palace. 

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The Acropolis

Landmark in Greece The Acropolis
The Parthenon on the Acropolis, photo by Trip Scholars

The Acropolis of Athens is arguably the most iconic landmark of Western Civilization. Most of the monuments we can now visit on the Acropolis were built during the height of Classical Greek Civilization around the fifth century BCE. After winning the war against the Persians, the great Athenian statesman Pericles (495-429 BCE) initiated much of the construction of the Acropolis. Democratic institutions, art, and philosophical thought all flourished during the Golden Age of Athens. Exceptional artists and architects helped to transform the rocky outcrop into the UNESCO site we cherish today.

The most important monuments on the Acropolis are the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. South of the top platform are the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theater of Dionysus. The term acropolis is generic and comes from the Greek akron (highest point) and polis (city). There were many acropolies throughout the Greek world, but it is the Acropolis of Athens that has become a symbol of classical civilization. The extraordinary architectural and artistic monuments that surpassed those of neighboring cities survived for modern visitors to enjoy today.

To avoid the very long lines, get the Combo Ticket in advance, use the south east side entrance, and arrive before the gates open or late in the afternoon. Wear good walking shoes, you’ll be walking on marble; and bring water and a hat since there are very few trees offering shade.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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To learn more about the Acropolis from home, watch, "The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul." The second episode is all about the history of the Acropolis with tips on how to make the most of your visit. Enjoy the 14 day free trial to the Great Courses/Wondruim.

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Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus

Landmark in Greece The Agora
The Ancient Agora, House of Simon where Socrates reputedly taught, photo by Trip Scholars

The Ancient Agora lies just beneath the Acropolis and was the center of Athenian life during the Classical Age. The Acropolis was only visited on special occasions, but the Agora was where Athenian citizens (free men only) met daily. It was where commercial, social, cultural, political, administrative, and religious activities took place.  

There are many important sites to see within the ancient city center. The Temple of Hephaestus is recognized as the most well preserved ancient Greek temple in the world. It survived in large part because it was used as a Christian church starting in the 7th century. The Museum of the Agora is within the Stoa Attalos and includes exhibitions about life in Ancient Athens. 

Erica at Trip Scholars

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For an in-depth exploration of the Ancient Agora from home, check out, "The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations" created by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. It is authored by John McK Camp, the current director of the excavation of the entire Agora. It offers details about each of the archeological sites you will visit as well as a broader understanding of the successive cultures that influenced the Agora.

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Ancient Akrotiri

Landmark in Greece Ancient Akrotiri
Ancient Akrotiri, photo by Monique Skidmore

The eruption of the Theran volcano 3,500 years ago brought an end to the Minoan civilization of Greece and blew up the island of Thera into five separate islands. The most well-known of these is beautiful Santorini.

At the southern tip of this small island, adjacent to the little fishing town of Akrotiri, is an ancient Minoan city that was buried in lava. Ancient Akrotiri has been called the ‘Pompeii of Greece’ but not many travelers have discovered it yet.

The site is covered by a tall roof to protect the site and walkways take you through what has been excavated so far of the city. Akrotiri was a wealthy city, and its residents were able to sail away and take all their valuable goods with them before the lava reached them.

The houses and buildings of this wealthy ancient city were three stories high and are being reconstructed. You can walk along some of these ancient streets and peer through windows into the homes that were so hastily abandoned.

Don’t miss this incredible ancient Greek ruin when you visit Santorini. Of all the locations for the mythical Lost City of Atlantis, this is the most credible place for the myth to have begun.

Contributed by Monique at Trip Anthropologist

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Kids and adults will love the Akrotiri Board Game by Z-Man Games where players are ancient Greek explorers finding and excavating lost Minoan temples on the island of Thera. Just like modern travelers, Akrotiri board game players have to do a lot of Greek island hopping!

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Ancient Messene

Landmark in Greece Ancient Messene
Ancient Messene, photo by Elena Sergeeva

Ancient Messene is one of the most spectacularly preserved archaeological sites of Greece. This UNESCO monument is located in the Peloponnese, built on the slopes of Mount Ithome. Those planning to spend some days in the area around Kalamata, should definitely add a visit to their itinerary. This archaeological site is not as famous as some other landmarks of Greece, yet those who do decide to visit this lesser-known jewel will be truly amazed. Ancient Messene is an entire city that was built according to the Hippodameian system. With every passing year, modern-day archeologists bring more discoveries to light from the continuous findings of the excavations. 

The site was built in 369 BC and the city was named after the mythical Doric queen, the daughter of king Triopas of Argos. 

The city was first founded in the 4th century B.C. by Epaminondas, a general from Thebes and soon became the capital of the Messenian state. The is plenty to see here from the theater to the Agora, the Vouleuterion, and one of the most impressive and exceptionally preserved ancient stadiums that have been discovered. Be prepared for plenty of walking. 

Contributed by Elena at Travel Greece Travel Europe

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For those who might enjoy some extra reading, there is a book by Petros Themelis called Ancient Messene which offers a concise presentation of the archaeological site of Messene by its excavator and head of the restoration program. 

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A link to the official site with current admission information.

Ancient Theatre and Sanctuary of the Asklepieion at Epidaurus

Landmark in Greece Ancient Theatre and Sanctuary of the Asklepieion at Epidaurus
Ancient Theatre at Epidaurus, photo by Trip Scholars

The Asklepion at Epidaurus was the most important healing center of the Classical world and served patients for over a thousand years from about the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

Epidaurus/Epidavros was thought to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asclepius, the healer. Today, the Rod of Asclepius has become the most prominent symbol for healthcare in the world.  Ill people traveled great distances to the sanctuary with the hope of being cured. 

The healing center included surgery rooms, a restaurant, dormitories, healing baths, temples, gardens, a stadium, and a theater. When supplicants arrived, they were brought to the most sacred part of the sanctuary to sleep, and their dreams or visions were interpreted to help plan their therapy. 

Visitors today can explore the archaeological sites and visit the small but fascinating museum with artifacts from the site, including many ancient medical devices. 

The highlight of the sanctuary is the Ancient Theater. Today it is recognized as the most perfect ancient Greek theater because of its remarkable acoustics and outstanding preservation. Visitors can speak softly from the circular slab that was once the altar and be heard by their companions on the top tier of the amphitheater. 

If you are traveling to Greece, consider visiting during the Athens Epidaurus Festival in the summer when live performances, often of ancient Greek plays, are performed. It is living history at its best! Plan to arrive and explore the sanctuary for the afternoon, stay for dinner on site, and then enjoy the performance.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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To learn more about the scientific sophistication behind the theater’s acoustics, check out this article in, "Nature."

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Aristotle’s Lyceum

Landmark in Greece Aristotle’s Lyceum
Aristotle’s Lyceum, photo by Konstantinos Livadas

Plato, Socrates, and of course, Aristotle all taught here. The space served many purposes long before it became Aristotle’s school. It was initially a sanctuary and eventually a public meeting place, military training ground, gymnasium, and more. 

After Plato’s death, Aristotle left Athens but he returned in  335 BCE  and began teaching at the Lyceum regularly. This is where he wrote most of his books and also collected books for the first European library. Alexander the Great, his former pupil, sent him books and plant and animal specimens that he used to create a museum/zoo/botanical garden for students and scholars to use in conjunction with the library. His focus on direct observation of nature was pivotal in the history of scientific inquiry. The surviving works from Aristotle’s library provide the foundation for much of our understanding of Classical thought.

Visitors today will find the site inspiring. While it is true that the physical ruins are not nearly as impressive as many of the other landmarks in Greece, the historical significance of the place is overwhelming. It has been enhanced by surrounding the excavations with a verdant peaceful garden and shady benches inviting quiet reflection. Located in the center of the city, it is a wonderful respite from the crowds and heat. It is easy to get to and the admission is included in your combo ticket.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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Some historical background will greatly enhance your appreciation of the ruins. Reading any of Aristotle’s works beforehand will dramatically improve your visit.

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Chania Old Town

Landmark in Greece Old Town Chania
Old Town Chania, photo by Exit 45 Travels

You will be captivated from the moment you step foot in the old town of Chania on the island of Crete in Greece. A stroll through the picturesque pedestrian only streets will show the unique blending of historical buildings with traditional and modern architecture.

The town of Chania, first inhabited in the Neolithic period, has had a tormented past with numerous invaders. As a result, the Venetian and Ottoman influence can clearly be seen throughout the town in various buildings and monuments.

The old town of Chania is easy to explore on foot and offers so many things to see, do and experience for travelers visiting Crete. The old Venetian Harbour area is the most popular spot for tourists due to the abundance of history, beauty and amazing cafes, restaurants and Greek tavernas specializing in Cretan food.

A stroll along Kondylaki Street in the Jewish Quarter will showcase the history of Chania. Here you will find Etz Hayyim Synagogue, the only Jewish synagogue left on the island, the Archaeological Museum of Chania, and the famous Leather Street, otherwise known as Stivanadika Street.

Contributed by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels

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If you are looking for Greek travel inspiration, ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’ has a great series on the Greek Islands. In this episode, he visits Chania town and raves about the flaky rich pastry dish called bougatsa which is an amazing cheese filled filo covered with sugar and cinnamon. To taste this delicious Greek pastry, head to the restaurant 'Bougatsa Chania' which is also a very popular breakfast spot!

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Corinth Canal

Landmark in Greece The Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal, photo by pavlemarjanovic at Canva

Another important Greek landmark is the Corinth Canal, a man-made canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.

The origins of this man-made waterway are old, the first attempts to make the canal through the Corinth Isthmus were attempted in the first century, but they were unsuccessful. The project was considered for centuries but did not actually begin until 1881. It took eleven years to cut through the sheer rock, and the canal was finally completed in 1893.

The canal is 21 meters wide and runs for 6 kilometers. It is important for transporting goods and passenger ships. It shortened the trip around Greece by approximately 350 km.

The canal is used by cargo and cruise vessels, as well as tourist boats. Containers are rarely transported through the canal due to its tight corners.

The Corinth Canal is a place of great significance for the economy as well as for the social life around it because it is an important trade route between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean Sea. In addition, it is a place one admires as industrial heritage and a gift from the past.

There are seven bridges crossing over the canal, from which you can admire the view. The most intriguing bridge is the entry to the canal, which goes down underwater every time ship is crossing the canal.

Contributed by Ania James of The Traveling Twins

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If you want to see how Greece and Corinth Canal looked in 1950, I recommend the YouTube video, "Corinth Canal, 1951."

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Delos

Landmark in Greece Delos
Delos, photo by Zoe Elliot

For a famous UNESCO site in Greece, the island of Delos is not to be missed. Located just a short boat trip away from Mykonos, it’s easily visitable for a day trip from the harbour. This important landmark location is a well-known archaeological site, being the mythological birthplace of Apollo.

Once you arrive on the island, there are multiple walking routes available. Choose yours based on the highlights and the length of the route. Also visit the two museums situated on the island: The Archaeological Museum of Delos and The National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Both are accessible for you to enter as they are included in your ticket to Delos.

Contributed by Zoe at Together in Transit

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Read the book, "Delos-Mykonos: A Guide to the History and Archeology," which is perfect for learning about history of Delos. It's an advantage to understand the past and present of the island.

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Delphi

Landmark in Greece Delphi
Temple of Apollo, Delphi, photo by Trip Scholars

One of the greatest landmarks in Greece is the UNESCO site, Delphi. It was recognized as the center of the world by early Greeks and some of their Greek influenced neighbors. The stone monument here, known as the omphalos, was thought to be the bellybutton of the world.

The sanctuary grew around a chasm in the rock that was thought of as the womb of the world and was earlier a place of Gaia worship. In one myth, Apollo slew the snake-child of Gaia who guarded the area, and thus replaced the mother goddess with himself. It became a place of pilgrimage and divination. For hundreds of years, major undertakings and decisions were only made after consulting the oracle at Delphi.

Within the Temple of Apollo, the priestess, also known as the Pythia or sybil, sat in a trance atop a stool and channeled divine thought. The priest interpreted her ecstatic speech into allegorical prophecies that he offered to the supplicants asking their questions. It was then up to the inquirer to decipher the riddles of the oracle and decide how to proceed. It is now thought that the Pythia sat over a crack in the ground that emitted vapors altering her consciousness, although some scholars think the priestesses smoked or chewed hallucinogenic plants.

A large complex grew around Delphi. Greek city-states built treasuries to hold their offerings to Apollo: their tithes, or tenths of the spoils from their war victories. It was also one of the four locations of the early Greek games. The complex includes a stadium, hippodrome, gymnasium and numerous monuments.

Visitors today can walk up the Sacred Way and see these important sites. Get the combo ticket and visit the Delphi Archeological Museum, home to fascinating objects found on the site.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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For a much richer understanding of Delphi, invest an hour watching the documentary, “Delphi, Bellybutton of the World.” It is by Michael Scott, a classical scholar and documentarian who is fascinating and entertaining.

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Knossos

Landmark in Greece, Knossos, photo by Trip Scholars
Knossos, photo by Trip Scholars

Knossos is often recognized as the first European city, and it is a fascinating Greek landmark to visit on the island of Crete. The site was originally a Neolithic settlement with artifacts that have been found dating back to 7000 BCE. Unlike the Neolithic village cultures that predated them throughout Europe, the Minoans had a cities and palaces. Minoan civilization existed from about 3500 BCE to 1100 BCE and reached its peak around 1700 BCE. Knossos was the largest and most influential palace complex of them all.

The complex includes over 1300 rooms, sophisticated plumbing, a theater, and elaborate, unique artwork. The Minoans were literate, traded widely, and brought order to the region.

The civilization was named by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who derived it from the legend of King Minos. He identified Knossos with the myth of the labyrinth, Ariadne, and the Minotaur because of the elaborate underground passageways and buildings at Knossos as well as the prevalent depictions of bull worship and bull jumping throughout the complex.

The techniques used by Arthur Evans in the excavation and restoration of the site highlight the history of archeology and are today seen by many as irresponsible and damaging. He restored parts of the palace complex with brightly painted reinforced concrete, an approach that is shunned by modern archaeologists. Still, Evans enthusiastically devoted thirty years of his life to the site, and we owe much of our understanding to him and his team.

Today visitors can tour the palace complex grounds on their own or with a guide. Guides are available for hire outside of the entrance, but the quality varies. You can also reserve a tour in advance using the link below. Be sure to visit the nearby Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses extraordinary treasures from the site.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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Before your visit, watch the documentary “The Minoans, Ancient Worlds,” by the historian Bettany Hughes. She is an author, television personality, and has been a popular history professor at Cambridge and Oxford. Her contagious enthusiasm for the Knossos, and indeed all classical history, will inspire you to want to learn more and book your travels today!

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Medieval City of Rhodes

Landmark in Greece Medieval City of Rhodes
Medieval City of Rhodes from the port, photo by Roxanne de Bruyn

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Medieval City of Rhodes is probably the first place you’ll go when you arrive on the island. The medieval city makes up the majority of the Rhodes Old Town and its huge walls are still standing today.

The Medieval City of Rhodes was first built by the Knights of St John, who occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523, fortifying the capital of the island. Rhodes is situated in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, near the Turkish coastline and the city was finally conquered by Sultan Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire in 1522, after a six-month siege.

There are many medieval monuments in both the upper and lower towns and there are also some impressive Islamic landmarks in the city. One of the most significant is the Great Hospital, built by the knights in the 15th Century.

Contributed by Roxanne at Far Away Worlds

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If you are planning to visit the Medieval City of Rhodes, consider watching the Rhodes episode of Julia Bradbury's, "Greek Islands" to get some more insight into the site. It’s an easy and accessible way to learn more about the history of the city, while showcasing the gorgeous scenery and great food.

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Monasteries of Meteora

Landmark in Greece Meteora
Meteora, photo by Haley Blackall

Perched on the top of 600-metre-tall rocks are the picturesque monasteries of Meteora. Centrally located in mainland Greece, the small town of Kalambaka sits at the base of these mighty outcrops. A hike up to the top of these Greek Orthodox buildings gives spectacular panoramas and also makes for one of the best views in the world. 

Of the many Byzantine-designed monasteries, six are still active today and act as residences to a small number of monks and nuns. Amongst the natural beauty of this area, the monasteries are also home to many beautiful artifacts and wall paintings, that helped Meteora reach UNESCO world heritage status in 1988. 

To best experience the monasteries at Meteora, start at the base of the ascension to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Meteora and climb approximately 45 minutes with stops along the way to admire the view. If you have more time, continue the trail to other famous sites such as the Monastery of Varlaam and The Great Metoran Holy Monastery. 

By Haley of Haley Blackall Travels

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To inspire your trip to Meteora, check out the James Bond movie, "For Your Eyes Only," which first premiered in 1981, where the Meteora monasteries were the focus of the filming and plot. The movie showcases beautiful aerial shots, the dramatic tall rocky outcrops and the history of the monasteries themselves.

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The Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

We've got classics, comedies, dramas and children's films. We also have Greek Language movies films about Greek history and Greek mythology.

Mycenae

Landmark in Greece Mycenae, photo by Trip Scholars
Mycenae, photo by Trip Scholars

The Greek landmark Mycenae has given its name to the entire Mycenean Age, circa 1600 BCE -1100 BCE. The Myceneans were indigenous Greek people who were heavily influenced by the Minoans and other Mediterranean civilizations. They rose in power as Minoan influence receded. Located on the mainland in the region of Argolis, Mycenae was the central and most powerful town of the age.   

According to Homeric legend, Mycenae was the home to Agamemnon, the great Greek king of the Trojan War. It is from here that he planned his ten-year attack on Troy to reclaim Helen, his brother Menelaus’ wife. After his return, it is in Mycenae that he is killed by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover because he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia. Again, it is in Mycenae that Clytemnestra is then killed by her children for murdering their father. These stories have been retold in countless books, plays, and artwork—allowing the modern visitor to experience the site with broad and profound reference points.

The actual history of the site is laced with these legends and impacted the archeological discoveries. The archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann believed the Homeric legends were true. When he discovered a golden mask and other grave riches in a shaft grave, he declared he had found Agamemnon’s mask (now displayed prominently in the National Archeological Museum).

Visitors today can see the imposing Lion Gate entrance; the cistern that allowed the fortification to withstand a siege; Cyclopean Walls; burial tombs; the onsite museum; and rooms of the palace that, may indeed, be where Agamemnon and other legendary figures lived.

Erica of Trip Scholars

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Enjoying any interpretations of Homer’s stories will greatly enhance your time at the site. Start with the originals: The Iliad and The Odyssey as audio books.

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Mykonos Windmills

Landmark in Greece Mykonos Windmills
Mykonos Windmills, photo by Dymphe

One of the most famous landmarks in Greece is the collection of windmills on the island of Mykonos. They are at a higher elevation than much of Mykonos Town, so they are visible from many spots. Also, when you come into the city by boat, these windmills are something you’ll immediately see. You can find this hill next to a beautiful area in Mykonos Town known as Little Venice. 

The history of the windmills goes back to the 16th century, when the Venetians ruled the island of Mykonos. In the past, the people of Mykonos used the windmills to mill wheat, which made them very important to the citizens of the island. Nowadays, they aren’t in use anymore, and the only purpose they serve is as a tourist attraction.

The architecture of the windmills is beautiful! Each windmill is round, white, and has a pointy roof, which is very characteristic of the windmills on all the Cyclades islands. The architecture of the windmills makes the hill where you can see the windmills also one of the most Instagrammable places in Mykonos

Contributed by Dymphe of Dymabroad

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"Mykonos Muse" is a great book that will make you want to visit Mykonos for sure. This book is all about the history and culture of the last 100 years, and it includes the windmills of the island.

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Olympia

Greece Landmarks Olympia
Olympia, photo by Maggie McKneely

Every four years, the world celebrates one of ancient Greece’s most popular creations – the Olympic Games. At the archaeological site of Olympia, modern-day visitors can walk in the footsteps of those very first Olympic athletes who started it all.

Olympia was once the most important religious and athletic center in all of Greece. The area was first inhabited by a cult of Zeus as early as 1500 BC. The first Olympic games were held in 776 BC. Although very few original structures are still standing and it is mostly a collection of ruins, a visit to Olympia is still an awe-inspiring part of any Greece itinerary.

Today, visitors can wander through the areas where the athletes once trained. They can explore the foundations of the Temple of Zeus, which once housed a 42 foot-tall statue of the King of the Gods, one of the seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There’s also the Temple of Hera, where the Olympic Torch is still lit for every modern games before being taken to that year’s host country. The original stadium track, which once held up to 20,000 spectators, is also visible.

Contributed by Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

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Before visiting Olympia, one of the best books to read is, "A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics" by Neil Faulkner. It transports readers back in time to the 338 BC games and is a fascinating look at how things worked in Olympia.

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Panathenaic Stadium

Landmark in Greece Panathanaic Stadium
Panathanaic Stadium, photo by Helen on Her Holidays

The Panathenaic Stadium is a magnificent, horseshoe-shaped stadium in central Athens. The stadium is one of the most important historic attractions in Athens and is the world’s only stadium built entirely of marble. 

A stadium was first built on the site in around 330BC and was rebuilt in the 3rd century AD. 50,000 spectators could be packed into its marble seats to watch pagan celebrations, gladiatorial battles and contests with wild animals. As Christianity took hold and the events held in the Panathenaic Stadium fell out of favour, the stadium was abandoned.

The ruins were rediscovered and excavated in the 19th century, and the stadium saw its first events in centuries at the Zappas Olympics, an early attempt to restart the Olympic Games, before being used as a venue at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Panathenaic Stadium is still the location where the Olympic flame is handed over to the new host city.

Contributed by Helen on Her Holidays

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To understand the history of the modern Olympics and the role of the Panathenaic Stadium, consider reading, "The Games: A Global History of the Olympics" by David Goldblatt. The book tells the story of the Olympic Games from the 1896 Olympics at the Panathenaic Stadium to the games of modern times, explaining the origin of Olympic traditions like the flame, the torch relay, and winners’ medals.

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Panagia Ekatontapilliani, The Church of 100 Doors

Landmark in Greece Panagia Ekatondapiliani, Church of 100 Doors
Panagia Ekatondapiliani, Church of 100 Doors, photo by Andrey Khrobostov of Canva

The Church Of 100 Doors is also known as Panagia Ekatontapilliani. It is situated in the capital of Paros- Parikia. 

It is an important historic landmark and one of the best-preserved Christian churches in the country. The church was built in 326 CE. According legend, it was founded by Saint Helen, Constantine the Great’s mother after she found refuge on Paros in a storm on her way to the Holy Land.

It is an exceptional combination of different architectural styles. Some of the pillars are repurposed from earlier classical buildings. The church was renovated by Byzantine emperor Justinian, who added the dome. After that, the church went under various renovations by the rulers across the centuries. It is a prime example of a Greek Paleo Christian church with Byzantian and post Byzantian influences.

A common belief about the church is that it has 100 doors. There are not actually 100 doors, windows, gates, or openings of any kind. Legend has it that there are only 99 doors that are visible and the 100th door will open when Hagia Sofia in Constantinople becomes Orthodox again. 

Exploring the Church of 100 Doors is among the top things to do in Paros. 

Contributed by Paulina of Paulina on the Road

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Panagia Ekatontapilliani is one of many important landmarks included in, "Lonely Planet Greek Islands." This book is an essential addition to planning your trip and learning more about the country from home.

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A link to the official site with current entrance information. You may need to use your browser's translate feature.

Santorini Caldera

Landmark in Greece Santorini Caldera
Santorini Caldera, photo by Martha Knight

Santorini, one of the jewels of the Cyclades Islands, is the result of a massive volcanic eruption – and its caldera is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Greece.

This stunning island in the middle of the Aegean Sea is all that remains from a huge cataclysmic explosion around 1610 BC. This was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history and it created a vast caldera, which was then flooded by the ocean.  What is left today is a circular ring of islands, in the middle of which has since sprung new, much younger volcanic islands called Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni.

Overlooking the caldera and the new volcanoes are picturesque, white-washed towns, scattered precariously along the edge of the circular islands. It seems impossible that these towns have been built on such steep terrain, but when you get there, you’ll be glad they were. The main towns are Fira and Oia, and they’re delightful in and of themselves – but what most people come for is the breath-taking views of the caldera.

The views are wonderful all day, but they are spectacular when the sun sets. The west-facing towns have many restaurants and bars with terraces that allow you to marvel at the scenery – but be warned, they get booked up in advance, especially in peak season, so plan ahead!

Contributed by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

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If you want to learn more about the creation of Santorini's caldera, National Geographic made a documentary film called, "Doomsday Volcano." This film explores the geological clues that reveal how that devastating eruption unfolded.

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Syntagma Square

Landmark in Greece Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square, photo by milangonda on Canva

Syntagma means “constitution” in Greek. The square got its name in 1843 when Athenians demanded a constitution from King Otto. It is still the place where Greeks gather to protest social and political issues. 

Around the square are the Greek Parliament building and the National Gardens. Visitors can watch the hourly changing of the Presidential Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For book lovers, the Public Bookstore has a rooftop cafe with a great view of the square.

A unique experience in Athens is watching a movie in an open-air theater. One of the oldest theaters is Cine Aegli just steps from the square. It is quite a treat to watch a movie under the stars!

Contributed by Bernadette Young of Book Retreats

 

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Syntagma Square is the usual starting point for a tour of Athens since it is a central hub for public transportation. A great audio tour to download is Rick Steves' "Athens City Walk". Of course, the tour starts at Syntagma Square and will lead visitors to tourist hotspots like Monastiraki square for bargain shopping, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Plaka with its narrow cobblestone streets, and the Acropolis.

Travel in Greece

Temple of Apollo, Portara in Naxos

Landmark in Greece Temple of Apollo Portara, Naxos
Temple of Apollo, Portara, Naxos photo by BremecR of Canvas

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks in Greece on the gorgeous island of Naxos is the famous Temple of Apollo. It is also one of the first views as your ferry enters the port of this Greek island in the Cyclades.

This incredible 2500-year-old marble doorway, also known as the Portara in Naxos, is set on the small islet of Palatia at the tip of the Naxos Port and jutting out into the Aegean Sea. It is believed that Lygdamis, the ruler of Naxos around 530 B.C., wanted to construct the largest and most awe-inspiring temple in all of Greece. Sadly, Naxos soon went to war against Samos which resulted in Lygdamis being ousted around 506 B.C. and the work on the temple came to a grinding halt.

The temple ruin is named the Temple of Apollo as many scholars believed it was meant to honor Apollo. This is because it faces towards Delos, which according to legend was Apollo’s birthplace. Others believe it was built to honor the patron god of Naxos, Dionysus.

Today, all that the remains are the three columned marble archway that you can visit free of charge by walking across the walkway that connects the mainland with the small islet. This is also a wonderful spot to enjoy some incredible sunsets from too!

Contributed by Marco from The Avid Campers

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If you are interested in learning more about Naxos, as well as nearby Paros, then you may want to consider reading Denis Roubien's "Naxos - Paros - The Marble Greek Islands" that consists of travel stories, interesting imagery, and maps to depict the history of these beautiful islands. Not only will you learn about the Portara, but also a range of other fascinating landmarks and sights located on these beautiful Greek isles.

Travel in Greece

Temple of Poseidon

Landmark in Greece Temple of Poseidon
Temple of Poseidon, photo by Bernadette Young

For those that love amazing sunset views, the Temple of Poseidon will not disappoint. The centuries-old temple has guarded the Cape of Sounio since the middle of the 5th century BC.

It is a little over an hour away from Athens and a perfect day trip. The calm blue waters beckon visitors and various tavernas dot the shore. There is a parking lot with a small fee and the site has a cover charge. At the end of the day, the sunset bathes the marble temple in shades of orange and the sky slowly turns purple. It is really relaxing but there can be crowds, depending on the time of year. 

The temple is dedicated to the Greek God Poseidon, the brother of Zeus and God of the Sea. In ancient times, people believed storms were signs that Poseidon was angry, so they lay tributes at the temple to gain favor and to protect their sea journeys. 

The temple is also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as the place where King Menelaus buried a helmsman, the person who steered his ship. In Ancient Greek Mythology, the area is believed to be the site where Athenian King Aegeus jumped to his death. The sea was named the Aegean Sea after him. 

Contributed by Bernadette Young of Live a Relaxed Life

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To learn more about Greek mythology read Edith Hamilton's classic, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.

Travel in Greece

The White Tower of Thessaloniki

Landmark in Greece The White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki, photo by Nisha Dalal

The White Tower is Thessaloniki’s most iconic landmark, gracing postcards and magnets throughout the region. The tower was built in 1430 when the Ottoman Empire took control of Thessaloniki.

Like most historic towers, the White Tower served as a watchtower for guarding the city against enemy ships. Despite the beautiful views and perfect location we enjoy today, during the Ottoman Empire it was a prison and site of mass executions. It was even known as the Tower of Blood.

During the First World War, the tower served as a communication center for Allied Forces.

The White Tower also houses a museum depicting Thessaloniki through different periods. There are six floors in the tower and a rooftop that provides lush views of the sea and city.

The entrance ticket to the museum is a bit cheaper in the off-season. You can also buy a combined ticket that includes the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, and the monument of Rotunda. This ticket is valid for three days and hence perfect for two days in Thessaloniki.

Contributed by Nisha Dalal of Nerdy Footsteps

Travel From Home

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Thessaloniki is a delight for history enthusiasts. To read more about the marvelous architecture during the Byzantine era, check out, "Wandering in Byzantine Thessaloniki." It also includes sections on Roman and Ottoman buildings. Apart from the gorgeous images from monuments, it divides the historical attractions into small walking tours.

Travel in Greece

The Trip Scholars website is dedicated to helping curious travelers find the best in trip research. Entertain and educate yourself from home to better appreciate and understand your destinations. If you are interested in Greek Landmarks, you will love our articles How to Create Your Own Archaeological Tour and  Your Guide to Visiting the World’s Most Valuable Places.  If you are traveling with kids or teens, enjoy Travel Education: 11 Inspiring Ways to Plan a Trip With Your Kids.

I hope this collection of landmarks in Greece has sparked your curiosity, both to visit, and to learn more from home! Have you visited any of these landmarks or do you plan to go? What resources do you recommend to other travelers to help them enhance their trips? Have you used any of the resources we’ve shared? Please tell me about it in the comments so we can learn from you!

Plan a Trip to Greece: The Guide for Curious Travelers

This is a supplemental article, discover more you can enjoy before your trip to Greece!
Erica

Erica

Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am an expert in travel education and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my About Us page!
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The 35 Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

Movies in Greece, Beach in Greece

The 35 Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

We have gathered the best movies in Greece to watch before your trip. I have asked a group of experienced travel writers to share their top recommendations of films in Greece to enhance trip planning and enrich your trip to Greece. 

You can extend the joy of your travels and understand the country much more deeply by spending the months (or years!) preceding your trip by watching and reading about Greece. 

At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding your travel destinations before you arrive. This is a supplemental article to our series of articles about all you can do before your trip to Greece. 

Queue these up and let your Greek adventure begin today!

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Table of Contents

The Best Movies in Greece: The Classics

Boy on a Dolphin

Language: English (1957) NR

Boy on a Dolphin was the first major American film shot in Greece and was Sophia Lauren’s breakout role. It set the stage for many films that followed, but is also worth watching because of the scenery, story, music, and history. Most of the scenes were shot on location in Greece in the 1950’s which shows us the country and many of the important landmarks almost sixty years ago. 

The story begins on the island of Hydra with Phaedra (Sophia Lauren) as a strong, stunning, and poor sponge diver. In a beautifully shot underwater scene (that must have amazed viewers in 1957) she discovers an ancient gold and bronze statue of a boy on a dolphin. Working with her lazy boyfriend, Rhif (Jorge Mistral) and the town’s English drunkard doctor, Dr. Hawkins (Laurence Naismith) the three hatch a plan to find a wealthy partner to retrieve the statue.

Phadra travels to Athens and meets both Dr. James Calder (Alan Ladd) and Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb). Dr. Calder is an American archeologist trying to ensure that archeological treasures are kept in the countries where they are found. Victor, on the other hand, is an unscrupulous wealthy art collector who wants to keep priceless treasures for himself. An engaging story unfolds as the characters struggle between the security of wealth offered by Parmalee and the desire to have it recognized as a treasure of both Hydra and Greece. You’ll see some early inspiration for later Indiana Jones films as the plot unfolds.

As with all classics, this film can be tough to watch through a modern lens. The Greeks are portrayed as uneducated and sharply contrasted against most of the refined British and Americans. The relationships between men and women are jarring to watch for the modern viewer. But, if we can see the film in the historical context it was made within, it provides plenty to think about. Also notable is the lack of Greek actors in the film, which has been a welcome change in more recent cinema.

Boy on a Dolphin is a great film to watch before traveling to Greece. One of the highlights is the authentic traditional Greek music and dancing. There are also many archeological sites featured that will inspire you to add them to your itinerary. It may also spark an interest in watching other American classics shot in Greece.

Zorba the Greek

Language: English (1964) NR

If you haven’t already seen Zorba the Greek, add it to your watch list today! It is based on the best-selling novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, who is arguably the greatest Greek writer of the modern age. Anthony Quinn dazzles us as Zorba, a quintessential Free Man. He vibrantly seizes existence, laughing and dancing in the face of life’s suffering. He expresses freedom (both the best and the worst of it!) more robustly than most characters throughout the history of literature and film. 

Zorba befriends Basil (Alan Bates), a reserved English-Greek writer who is going to Crete to resurrect the family mine. When they arrive, they stay at the hotel of aging Madame Hortense, played by Lila Kedrova, who won an academy award for her role. Most of the villagers serve as a sort of Greek chorus, without much individuation. A stunning exception is the widow, played by Irene Papas, and the mentally disabled character, whose reaction to tragedy in the film sets him far apart from the other main characters.

Although much of it is a comedy, you will also be unsettled and least one disturbing scene will likely stay with you forever. The film depicts life in a small, poor, rural town in Crete around 1930. The women are, for the most part, treated deplorably. Some claim that the film is misogynistic because of this but shining a light on such inequalities instead gives viewers plenty to think and talk about after watching. Kazantzakis frequently brings us to uncomfortable places in his stories, and we are often better because of it.

Zorba the Greek is an excellent movie to watch before visiting Greece. It is set in Crete, one of the most beautiful places in the country. If you are going to Crete on your trip, you will find the scenery especially inspiring. The soundtrack by Mikis Theodorakis is also exceptional, and you will likely want to add it to your music playlist. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a window into Greek culture of almost a hundred years ago– written by the great Cretan writer, Nikos Kazantzakis.

More classic movies in Greece you might like are Never on a Sunday, The Guns of Navarone, and Stella.

The Best Movies About Greece: Comedies

Mama Mia

Language: English (2008) PG-13

Mamma Mia is one the of the best movies in Greece and one of the best musical movies of all time! The movie is a musical that follows the story of a young adult woman (Amanda Seyfried) who is on a mission to find out who her father is before her wedding. She flies from the United States to Greece where her wedding and her mom are located. Problems arise when her mom (Meryl Streep) admits to her that there are three possible men who could be her father. Because of this, Amanda Seyfried secretly invites all three men to her wedding, and her mom is shocked to see her old lovers. 

This movie uses the songs of ABBA and a star-studded cast to showcase the beautiful islands in Greece. Most of the film is filmed on the small island of Skopelos in Greece where you get to see some of the local architecture that is highlighted in the film. Watching this film will get you excited for your trip to Greece as it showcases the beautiful scenery, lovely architecture, and the sailing culture of the country. I highly recommend watching this movie before heading out on your vacation to Greece!

Contributed by Shannon Lee at Adventuring with Shannon

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Language: English (2002) PG

For someone who plans on visiting Greece, this movie is a great pick. It’s light and funny, and gives a comic, yet accurate, insight of what it’s like to be a part of a big, loud Greek family. The hilarious contrast between traditional Greek upbringing and a quiet, conservative North American family is simple, yet captivating.

The story follows a thirty-year-old Toula Portokalos who works in her family’s restaurant. While her family wants her to find herself a nice Greek boy to settle down with, she believes there is more to life than this. So, she takes computer classes and starts work at her aunt’s travel agency. Eventually she meets Ian Miller who she tries to date secretly until her family finds out. They then must learn to accept the unacceptable – a Greek woman marrying a “foreigner”.

Featuring lots of loveable characters, “My big fat Greek wedding” will have everyone of Greek descent appreciate and relate to its jokes and idiosyncrasies. While not shot in Greece, the movie portrays what the life of many Greek families is, their relationships, values, and traditions. A great way to get to know a country is by getting to know its people. And what better way to start than over popcorn and a romantic comedy?

Contributed by Nora at Go Frame the World

Shirley Valentine

Language: English (1989) R

Shirley Valentine, the 1989 double Oscar-winning film directed by Lewis Gilbert and written by Willy Russell, is the ultimate feel-good romantic comedy movie with lashings of glorious Greek scenery and sunshine to enjoy. 

Shirley (played by Pauline Collins) is a funny, charming, and unpredictable 45-ish housewife from Liverpool, desperate to prove to herself that it’s never too late to try to make your dreams come true. After her friend Jane wins a paid trip to Greece for two, Shirley joins her, only to be dumped at the airport when Jane disappears with a man she has met. Alone in a new country, Shirley meets handsome Costa (Tom Conti), who likes her despite her extra pounds and stretch marks. As she says yes to romance, she begins to like herself too. 

This clever, witty, funny, and thought-provoking movie was filmed in several locations on the beautiful island of Mykonos. Agios Ioannis beach, where Shirley sat at the end of the movie, awaiting the arrival of her husband, has become so popular with fans of the film looking for things to do in Mykonos that it’s become known as Shirley Valentine beach. You can also visit the Sunset Taverna restaurant where Shirley met Costa. In real life, it’s the sophisticated and vibrant Hippie Fish restaurant.

Contributed by Coralie at Grey Globetrotters

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Language: English (2005) PG

The fantastical premise of a pair of jeans that fits perfectly on four teenage girls (with drastically different body types) may lead viewers to think that this movie is all about fluff. But it is the total opposite! Based on a beloved young adult book series, the movie is full of great performances by actors who are still stars today – Blake Lively, American Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel. 

The group of four childhood friends is spending their first summer apart – Carmen heads to South Carolina to see her father, Tibby stays in town for a summer job, Bridget has a soccer camp in Mexico, and Lena visits Greece to see her grandparents. The magical pair of jeans spends a week with each of the girls and leads them into adventures and plenty of drama. 

Greece is the stunning backdrop for Lena who visits Santorini and its hills covered in whitewashed homes with blue windows, doors, and rooftops. The beautiful southern Aegean Sea provides a scenic backdrop for Lena who spends her time drawing and eventually finds love. It is Greece, so tempers and emotions run high when Lena finds herself in a Romeo and Juliet situation with her boyfriend Kostas. 

The parts of the movie in Greece will make you want to visit and draw whatever you see. Even a fish market is worthy of your time to sit down, take in, and sketch in a journal or drawing book. 

I recently re-watched the film and I still enjoyed it because it is rooted in great storytelling and the struggles and friendships that we experience. 

Contributed by Bernadette Young of BookRetreats 

If you are looking for more movies in Greece that are comedies, you may also like My Life in Ruins. It’s a light romantic comedy where you’ll see many of the main archeological sites in the country. The sites are presented without respect to actual geography and it’s a corny film– but the scenery is excellent!

The Best Movies in Greece: Dramas

Before Midnight

Language: English (2013) R

For a charming romantic drama directed by Richard Linklater and starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, you must watch “Before Midnight.” The third installment of the Before trilogy (following “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”), “Before Midnight” takes place on the Peloponnese Coast in Southern Greece.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Before trilogy, all films have a minimal plot, and instead follow a couple, Jesse and Céline, as they discuss life, love, and philosophy while wandering around an enchanting European location. While the first two films took place in Vienna and Paris respectively, the third film opted for a location with more stunning landscapes: Southern Greece.

Plot wise, “Before Midnight” follows Jesse and Céline as they take a summer vacation in Greece with family and friends. While the film begins with them cheerfully interacting with each other, their children, and their friends, they then engage in a fierce argument.

Regardless of the conflicts taking place, “Before Midnight” is an amazing film to watch before traveling to Greece, as you get to admire the breathtaking scenery of Southern Greece, with its sparkling blue ocean, delightful architecture, and enchanting small towns. It is impossible not to want to visit the Peloponnese Coast after watching!

Contributed by Mia from Walk a While with Me

The Big Blue/Le Grand Bleu

Language: French, English, Italian (1988) PG

The Big Blue is one of my favourite movies ever. If you are drawn to the deep blue sea and diving, it may become your favourite movie as well. The movie was written and directed by the famous director, Luc Besson. It mostly takes place on Greek islands, where we see two friends Enzo and Jack, growing up together. They both love the Mediterranean Sea and diving.

The story is built around a friendly competition between two freedivers who break deep-diving records without breathing equipment. Enzo (Jean Reno) is confident and surrounded by a wreath of admirers, and Jacques (Jean-Marc Barr) is a secretive loner. It is a strange rivalry. They are both lovable, quirky people who find peace only deep below the surface of the water.  

Their relationship is built primarily on the need for supremacy. Enzo, who subconsciously feels that he may be inferior, is constantly striving to confront himself in order to free himself from unbearable doubts. This complicated feeling is at the same time a source of tragedy and comedy, pushing the men more and more into their embrace and deeper and deeper under the water’s surface. 

The third character of the film is the sea. You cannot watch this movie without wanting to go to Greece to dive in the deep blue water. It will make you want to include plenty of time swimming and diving in the Mediterranean on your trip!

Contributed by Ania James from The Traveling Twins 

Another movie in Greece that is a modern drama to watch is The Two Faces of January.

Greek Language Movies

Kazantzakis

Language: Greek (2017) NR

If you have been moved by Zorba the Greek, or any of Nikos Kazantzakis’s other works, check out the biopic of his life, Kazantzakis. The film highlights major events of his life and how they inspired or influenced his writing. 

Many will be inspired by the film and the portrayal of the brilliant author’s struggles to understand human existence, his powerful religious journey, his evolving political philosophy, and his pride in his Cretan past. However, biopics are challenging, and this film condenses his rich life into two hours. So, it creates a shallower overview than admirers of Kazantzakis will want.

Travelers to Greece will benefit from watching this film for many reasons. You can admire the beautiful scenery of Crete. If you are traveling to the island, Kazantzakis is buried at the highest point in the walls of Heraklion, and you can visit to pay homage. You may be inspired to read more of Kazantzakis’ works or those of the Greek poet and playwright, Angelos Sikelianos, who is featured prominently in the film. You will also get an overview of Greek history that serves as a backdrop to the author’s life 1883-1957.

Xenia

Language: Greek (also Albanian and Italian) (2014) NR

Add Xenia to your watchlist if you are looking for a memorable unique film created by a Greek director, writers, and cast. It is a coming-of-age story with unexpected twists, surrealism laced into the story, a fast pace, and an upbeat soundtrack. Teenage brothers Danny and Odysseus go on an odyssey of their own. After their mother dies, they set out across Greece to find their biological father. 

“Xenia” is Greek for, “hospitality,” and is the name of real-life state sponsored hotels that were created to promote tourism in the 1950-1970’s. A run-down and abandoned Xenia hotel is the location of some of the scenes in the film and provides a poignant backdrop as the film grapples with immigration, xenophobia, homophobia, and the economic crisis. Despite these heavy topics, the film is also filled with hope, creativity, and imagination. Plus, there is plenty of singing and dancing!

Xenia was well loved at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and won multiple awards at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. Although it is tagged as an LGBTQ+ film, that isn’t the primary focus of Xenia. The film is somewhat erratic in quality, with certain scenes much stronger than others. This film isn’t for everyone, but I recommend it to anyone looking for something fresh. It is both campy and serious, jumping around quite a bit, and you can expect to be surprised. Give the film a few minutes to warm up, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a movie you will long remember. 

 Unlike some other movies about Greece, this is not a romantic view of the stunning beauty of the country. Instead, watching Xenia will give you insight into some of the current challenges in Greece. It will give depth and characters to the articles you read in the news. It also gives a realistic view of Piraeus, Athens, and other locations. There are some scenes that showcase the natural beauty of Greece, but there is plenty of grit too. Finally, if you are learning to speak Greek before your trip, there are scenes with slow enough dialogue that you can follow along.

Other Greek language films you might enjoy are A Touch of Spice, Brides, Little England, and Worlds Apart.

The Best Movies About France to Watch Before Your Trip

Looking for more great films? We've got you covered!

The Best Greek History Movies

Mediterraneo

Mediterraneo is one of the best Greek history movies and in 1992, it won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. It is set during WWII on the easternmost Greek island Kastellórizo, one of the Dodecanese islands. It is directed by Gabriele Salvatores, written by Enzo Monteleone, and the main stars are Diego Abatantuono, Claudio Bigagli and Giuseppe Cederna.

In this war comedy/drama Italian soldiers are deployed to Kastellórizo. In the beginning the locals hide from the soldiers. But when the Italian ship is destroyed by allies, the soldiers become stuck on the island. They soon realize that they are abandoned so they start mingling with the local population. Locals see these soldiers are goofy, harmless men trying to survive the war. In the end, even love starts to develop between members of both sides. Adventures ensue and make this an interesting and entertaining movie. There are complexities as well as the director tries to label war as totally unnecessary.

In this film, one can admire the beauty of the Dodecanese islands, coast, and sea. You will also see that hospitality is a thing one should expect from locals in Greece.

Contributed by Džangir at DrJamTravels

Captain Correlli's Mandolin

Language: English (2001) R

Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is a great movie to watch because the setting in the Greek Ionian Isles is purely idyllic. Regardless of whether one enjoys romances or war movies, the cinematography is captivating.

The movie, directed by John Madden, is based on the 1994 novel about Greece during World War II. Captain Correlli (played by Nicholas Cage) is stationed on the island of Cephalonia and teaches his infantrymen to sing while he plays his mandolin. He initially annoys the locals but eventually they warm to his personality. A love triangle with the local doctor (played by Penelope Cruz) ensues when her fiancé (played by Christian Bale) leaves for the mainland to fight in the war. 

Although the movie received mixed reviews from critics for not closely adhering to the book’s plot, it is still worth watching for anyone planning to visit Greece. There are several key scenes in Captain Correlli’s Mandolin that are filmed on various beaches in the Ionian Islands. These scenes will make any watcher understand why Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is one of the best movies in Greece. From the lovely small towns to the unspoiled beaches, Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is sure to make Cephalonia round out any Greek travel itinerary.

Contributed by Brodi Cole at Our Offbeat Life

More movies about Greek history you might like are Alexander, Agora, The Traveling Players, Rembetiko, and El Greco.

Best Greek Mythology Movies

The Trojan Women

Language: English (1971) PG

The Trojan Women is one of the best films you can watch to prepare for a trip to Greece. It rests on the works of history’s greats:  Euripides wrote the play based on Homer’s epics and it was translated by Edith Hamilton. It is directed by Michael Cacoyannis (Zorba the Greek), and stars Irene Papas as Helen, Katherine Hepburn as Hecuba, and Vanessa Redgrave as Andromache. It is timeless and is my favorite movie rendition of a Greek tragedy. Even though it was filmed in Spain, watching it will certainly enhance your trip to Greece.

The story unfolds in decimated Troy right after the war. The noble women are enduring enormous suffering, including the loss of their husbands and children as they prepare to be taken as slaves by the Greeks. The film is based on an ancient Greek play, so viewers can expect  a significant departure from modern movie storytelling. Yet, it is creatively portrayed and captivates the modern viewer. It is a powerful indictment against war regardless of time. Although gods and goddesses aren’t characters in the film, their influence permeates the story since the Trojan War plays such a prominent role in Greek mythology. 

You will want to be familiar with the story of the Trojan War and with the ancient playwrights before you travel to Greece since the stories are infused into so much Greek history. Along with the other major playwrights of ancient Greece, Euripides competed in the annual Athenian dramatic festivals which were held to honor the god Dionysus. When you visit the ancient theaters on your trip, you can imagine this play being performed which will help bring ancient  Greek history to life. 

More Greek mythology movies you might enjoy are Troy, The Trojan Women, Iphigenia, The Odyssey Mini-series, and Jason and the Argonauts.

The Best Greek Movies for Kids

Hercules

Language: English (1997) G

Hercules is a wonderful children’s movie to help build children’s anticipation about a trip to Greece and familiarize them with the bright colors and some of the most important names of the Greek gods that they will see all over Greece.

Disney’s Hercules is loosely based upon the ancient Greek myth of the 12 Labors of Hercules (very loosely indeed!). It is an animated musical fantasy where Hercules is living on earth and becomes an awkward teenager trying to have a relationship with his dad, Zeus. It’s essentially a coming-of-age movie. Kids will learn about places central to Greek mythology such as the Underworld, Mount Olympus, and Thebes. They meet Hades and many of the Greek mythological creatures through catchy musical numbers and vibrant animated scenes.

The movie is very inaccurate about its Greek mythology and mixes Roman and Greek names for gods. In the 12 Labors of Hercules and its associated myths, the gods are not moral and what they really get up to would not be appropriate to teach children. Disney has taken names and some locations and made a story that is appropriate for children and made an adventure story that keeps alive Greek mythological figures and places.

Children’s imaginations will be fueled by finally seeing the real places they first saw in Hercules. They will have a basic sense of what to expect and excitement at being in a place where so many heroic deeds occurred. Children will also be able to find, in the most incredible ancient Greek ruins, images of the mythical creatures they see in the film, such as Centaurs.

Contributed by Monique at Trip Anthropologist

Traveling to Greece as a Family?

Check out our article, Joyful and Educational Trip Planning for Families to make the very most of it!

Jim Henson's The Storyteller - Greek Myths

Language: English (1990) PG

Jim Henson applies his masterful storytelling to Greek myths in this four-part miniseries. If you are looking for a way to watch Greek myths that will hold the attention of kids, this is a great choice.  A storyteller in a labyrinth (what could be more perfect?)  tells his dog the stories of Perseus and Medusa, Icarus and Daedalus, Theseus and the Minotaur, and Orpheus and Euridyce.

Fans of Henson’s Muppets and his movie Labyrinth will appreciate the fantastical creatures that bring the stories to life on the screen. The series is rated PG since it might be too intense for younger children. If you are traveling to Greece as a family, learning about Greek myths beforehand will deeply enrich your travels. You kids will appreciate and better understand the archeological sites and museum treasures you will see when they know the myths behind them. If you are traveling to Crete, you’ll likely be visiting Knossos, which inspired the labyrinth the story takes place in.

Many of the other movies about Greece in this list are great family films depending on the ages and interests of your kids. Although not set in Greece,  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters are Greek mythology movies are sure to be a hit with most kids. They will likely open the door for a deeper dive into Greek mythology.

Enjoy Movies About Greece Before Your Trip

Hopefully you have found some excellent films to add to your watchlist before your trip to Greece!Have you enjoyed any of these films or do you have others you recommend to travelers? Please tell me in the comments so we can learn from you.

This is a supplemental article to our series of articles about all you can do before your trip to Greece.   Let your adventure begin today!

DO YOU WISH YOU COULD TRAVEL MORE?
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Travel Planning Deals

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Trip Scholars is a website dedicated to helping travelers learn more about the nature, history, and cultures of their destinations. 

We are committed to making trip research resources more universally available. Everyone who has done serious trip planning knows that it can take a lot of time and money to find quality resources! But it is worth it because investing in trip research allows us a much richer appreciation of our destinations and brings deeper value to our lives.

Which is why we try to share many ways to help you save money while planning your trips. This page is where we highlight our free suggestions and discount codes that are available to the readers of Trip Scholars. Use them to travel the world from home– for free or on the cheap!

For more fantastic free travel education resources, visit the free section of our resource library!  You will find games, apps, movies, websites, activities and more– and they are all free! Your own public library is another great choice for free books and movies. Visit the websites of your destinations, many of them have virtual tours, videos, and curriculum or activity ideas to enjoy from home. 

Trip Scholars also strives to make it easy for busy people to quickly discover the best ways to learn about  their travel destinations. If you have suggestions to help other travelers, please remember that you can share them here.

Kanopy

Travel planning deals woman watching show on computer

Kanopy is a free movie watching site with an outstanding selection of films. You connect your library card from your public or university library to Kanopy and then you can stream a limited number of films. It is especially useful for finding foreign, independent, and older films. This is where we go when we can’t find a movie on more popular streaming services– and its free!

Wondrium

Wondrium used to be the Great Courses Plus, and it is one of my favorite trip planning resources. They offer online and audio courses taught by knowledgeable and enthusiastic professors. They have many history, art, cooking, architecture, and language courses that curious travelers will enjoy.  They also offer courses courses specific to travel. You will find Wondrium highlighted throughout this site because, nerd-alert, I’m kind of a groupie! I have been recommending it for years, long before launching this website.  You can take advantage of their free trial and dive deep with classes about your next destiation. 

Three Months Free of Audible and Amazon Music

Travel planning deals, man listening to headphones
You know Trip Scholars is full of fantastic book and music recommendations related to your travel dreams. We’re excited that now we have a special offer to share you can cozy up and enjoy them for FREE!
 
You can get three months free of Audible Premium Plus (normally $14.95/month), and three months free of Amazon Music Unlimited (normally $7.99/month). After three months, you will be billed at full price and you can cancel at any time. 

Finders Seekers

Finders Seekers is a travel related escape room game that we love! Each month you receive a new box where you set out on an adventure in a different locale. Solve immersive puzzles by following cryptic clues as you explore different travel destinations. We play as a family and I love to see how each person brings unique skills and approaches to the puzzles. You can read more about it in our article, The Best Video, Card, and Board Games- Travel the World from Home. 

Trip Scholars is happy to share this 50% off code so you can try it out.

Babble

Just about everyone has heard of Babble– and with good reason! It is a highly rated language learning app that we have had a lot of success with. The focus is on learning language for real life scenarios. Trip Scholars is glad to be able to offer an extra discount if you follow this link. 

Erica

Erica

Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am an expert in travel education and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my About Us page!
DO YOU WISH YOU COULD TRAVEL MORE?
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Plan a Trip to Greece: The Guide for Curious Travelers

Plan a Trip to Greece

 

Plan a Trip to Greece

The Guide for Curious Travelers

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

It is always the right time to plan a trip to Greece! As the cradle of Western Civilization, home to some of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, endless dreamy beaches circling over 200 islands and the mainland, and the inviting warm Mediterranean Sea encompassing all of it– Greece has a rightful place near the top of many dream travel lists. In this post we will offer you a step-by-step guide for planning your trip to Greece with lots of helpful tips to save you money and make the most of your time in the country.

This Greece travel planner is a little different, it is especially for curious travelers. At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding before you arrive at your travel destinations. 

In the first part of this post, we offer the best ways to learn about Greece while you are planning your trip. In the second half of this article, you will find lots of useful tips to plan a trip to Greece.

How to Plan a Trip to Greece

      Step 1. Learn about Greece 

      Step 2. Create a Budget

      Step 3. Decide when to travel 

      Step 4. Check your visa/passport

      Step 5. Book transportation to Greece

      Step 6. Plan your itinerary

      Step 7. Book your accommodations

      Step 8. Plan transportation around Greece

      Step 9. Pack for your trip to Greece

      Step 10. Enjoy your trip to Greece!

Learn and be inspired!

What sparks your interest in traveling to Greece? Before you get into the logistics of planning a trip to Greece, enjoy the inspiration and excitement you find as you nourish your dreams of your Greek travel. Invest weeks, months, or years cultivating a deeper knowledge so that when you arrive, you will be an intentional and appreciative traveler. 

Dive into the archeological past, Greek gods and goddesses, Greek literature, movies in Greece, Greek history– both ancient and modern, the Greek language, Greek cuisine– the possibilities are exciting and varied.    

By the end of this post, you will have activities to help you start your trip to Greece– today!

Top Recommendation for Planning a Trip to Greece

If you only have time for one activity, my top recommendation is The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul. This is one of the first of the tour series created by Wondrium (formerly the Great Courses). It is presented by Professor Hale, an archaeologist with an absolutely contagious enthusiasm for the region. He entices us with beautiful shots from both countries, mostly focused on archeological and historic sites, but there are plenty of food, drink, and off the beaten path locations added to keep it engaging for everyone. I’ve watched countless Great Courses and Dr. Hale is my favorite lecturer. He highlights myths, geography, and history as an extremely knowledgeable, funny, and personable tour guide.

Fun fact: my desire to share this particular course with other curious travelers was the original impetus for building this website. I tried to share it as a recommendation to others who were planning a trip to Greece on the internet’s most popular crowd sourced travel site. It was not allowed, but I knew it would greatly enhance the travels of others so, I tried to come up with another way to share it. Now, we have Trip Scholars, a whole site dedicated to crowd sourcing and sharing the best travel education resources! I am sincere in this recommendation.

If you sign up for Wondrium, they have many academic courses that will enrich your understanding of Greece’s profound role in history. They all go much deeper into the subject matter than most documentaries can because they are lecture series that are usually at least ten hours long. They are taught by professors who are passionate and very knowledgeable about their subject matter. 

A few of my favorite courses about Greece are Understanding Greek and Roman Technology and The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture. There are also fantastic sections of these courses focused on Greece: The Other Side of History, The World’s Greatest Structures, and Decisive Battles of History. You will likely find something that overlaps your greatest interests with Greece. 

Click below for a free trial of Wondrium

Kalimera! Good morning in Greek

The Greek language is worth your time to study from home before you leave. Greek people are very friendly, and you can connect better if you learn a little in advance. Greek is a fascinating language and very beautiful.  I’ve been studying it for a few years myself and encourage you to jump in. If you have an interest in etymology, every day will bring a new delight. For me it is very challenging so I can almost feel my neurons trying to connect! But eventually, they do, and it is enormously gratifying.  

It is true that most people in major tourist areas speak English, but I promise, learning a little Greek will go a long way. It is always worth it to learn a few phrases before international travel so that you can be a respectful traveler. Even in Athens, locals repeatedly let me know they appreciated my efforts to communicate in Greek. 

If you are going to non-touristy areas, I especially encourage learning more. When we traveled to Crete, we stayed in one of my very favorite homes. It was in a small local town and right on a quiet beach. We were greeted with incredible warmth by the owner’s mom and her friends when we arrived. They had made us this beautiful vegetarian feast, including homemade raki and wine, and filled the refrigerator with homegrown veggies. We were incredibly moved! They spoke Greek, not English and I was so grateful that I had spent the year before traveling studying Greek. I was able to thank them and enjoy a good visit in Greek! It was wonderful!

Top recommendations for learning Greek

Duolingo Greek

Duolingo is a great app to become familiar with Greek letters, sounds, and sentence structure for free. It has improved quite a lot over the last few years and there is more included to help early learners. A good option for more advanced learners is to try talking with others in the online groups that are offered. 

Greek Pod 101

I’ve watched many Greek language learning videos and they often list a lot of words quickly, but don’t go deep enough or encourage enough practice. Greek Pod 101, by contrast, is excellent! They have a comprehensive program for early beginners through to advanced speakers. Join Chrissi in this intro video to see if it is for you. You can sign up for the full program here if you like it. 

Other top Greek language learning videos

Greek tutors online: Preply

Once you have become familiar with the language, you might want to work directly with a language tutor. I found an experienced teacher to work with for a few months before our trip to Greece on the tutoring site, Preply. Because of differences in the cost of living, her rates were very affordable, and I learned more about life in Greece from a Greek citizen. With Preply you can compare experience, rates, availability, and interests to find the best tutor for many subjects, including language learning. Eleni had degrees in history and archeology and had studied English extensively so she was super interesting to learn from! In fact, she and her partner flew to the mainland to join us for the play Agamemnon at Epidaurus when we were there! It was priceless. 

Because language learning before travel is so valuable, our website has a strong collection of resources to choose from. Check out our article about how to learn a language before traveling from a guest author who was a language teacher. We all learn differently, and we benefit from using varied approaches to learning. To find more options, visit our language learning section of our resource library.

The Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

We've got classics, comedies, dramas and children's films. We also have Greek Language movies films about Greek history and Greek mythology.
Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, Greece
Agamemnon at the Ancinet Theater of Epidavros

Resources on Trip Scholars

This website is dedicated to helping travelers find the best travel education resources to enjoy from home. 

Check out our expansive post on movies to watch before your trip to Greece. We’ve got classics, comedies, dramas and children’s films. We also have Greek Language movies and films about Greek history and Greek mythology.

If you are traveling to Greece with kids or teens, check out Joyful and Educational Trip Planning For Families to create an entire year of activities that will enrich your trip. Learners of all ages will also enjoy History Travel: How to Use Timelines to Organize Your Travel Studies to get the most out of any trip to Greece. We also have games related to Greece and Greek history in the article Games for Globetrotters: The 20 Best Games for People Who Love to Travel. A couple of favorites are Assassins Creed, Origins and Seven Wonders. 

We have some excellent guest posts you will enjoy too. How to Create Your Own Archaeological Tour, written by a travel writer with her degree in archeology and Your Guide to Visiting the World’s Most Valuable Places: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, written by a travel writer and videographer visiting all of the UNESCO sites, are both fantastic places to start.

This article is the first in a series for curious travelers to plan their trips to Greece. We have more supplemental articles with resources about Greece that will be published Fall 2021, so sign up for our newsletter to catch them all. 

We will be sharing the best books to read and movies to watch before visiting. We will also be posting a collection of the top historic sites in Greece and how to learn more about them before you arrive.  

We encourage you to utilize all these resources throughout the time you are planning a trip to Greece. You can extend your brief time in the country into many months or years of discovery!

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Your Free How-To Checklist: Extend Your Vacation Into a Year of Discovery!

Creating your Greece travel budget

Once you have discovered some of the places you most want to explore, the next step in planning your trip to Greece is to create a realistic travel budget. Travelers with a wide range of travel funds can all enjoy traveling here. It is much less expensive than some of the other top European destinations but there are ample opportunities for extravagance if that is your style. 

If you travel in the off season, stay in hostels, eat street food, avoid much island hopping, and limit your activities, you can enjoy Greece for as little as 50€ /day. If you desire and can afford it, you can spend as much more than that as you want to. 

Money in Greece

Euros are the currency used in Greece. Here is a currency converter so you can see what to expect.  You will want to have cash on you when traveling in Greece. Credit cards can be used extensively throughout most major cities, but in more rural areas, you will want cash. If driving on toll roads, you will also want coins for faster passage.

Before leaving home, check your bank cards to find those that don’t charge fees for international withdrawals or charges. Let your credit card companies know in advance that you will be traveling to avoid any unexpected blocks on any foreign transactions. We try to always leave Europe with plenty of Euros for next time, which allows us to skip withdrawing money at the often-overpriced ATMs in the airports.

Planning a trip to Greece Minoan Ladies In Blue, Knossos Palace, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece
Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece

When is the best time to visit Greece?

As with most travel destinations, the best times to visit Greece are the shoulder seasons. May – mid-June and mid-September – October are the best times to visit Greece. The weather is nice, and often much better than the oppressive summer heat. Room rates are dramatically reduced from summer prices, especially in the popular destinations. And the crowds have gone down, allowing a much more intimate experience. 

 Most people visit in the summer months. You can expect crowds, higher temperatures, and elevated prices. Don’t let this stop you though, you can have a fantastic time in Greece in the summer too.

Winter travel is the most affordable, but you might not have many warm sunny days. Many places will be closed in more rural areas and on smaller islands.

Average highs, lows, and days of rain in Athens, Greece

January 56° / 44° 5 days

February 57° / 44° 5 days

March 61° / 47° 4 days

April 68° / 53° 3 days

May 76° / 60° 2 days

June 85° / 68° 1 day

July 90° / 73° 0 days

August 90° / 73° 0 days

September 83° / 67° 1 day

October 74° / 60° 3 days

November 65° / 53° 4 days

December 59° / 47° 6 days

Greece tourist visa and Greece passport requirements

Checking your tourist visa and passport requirements is one of the first steps in planning any international travel. If you are a citizen of the US, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., or many other countries, you only need your passport, not a visa to visit Greece. You can check your country here.

Your passport needs to be valid for at least three months after the date you plan to return to your home country. Check your home country’s passport requirements too. If you need to get a new passport or renew yours, get started now.

Plan trip to Greece passport and Greek map

Tips for booking your flight to Greece

The largest expense for most travelers from outside of the region is airfare. We have saved thousands of dollars by carefully using our credit cards to amass as many airline points as possible. The best resource for learning about maximizing the value of your points is The Points Guy. Learning to navigate points can be a part time job, but it is worth it when it lets you travel more. The savings are significant enough to warrant the time investment.

Many of the flights to the islands are on economy airlines with strict baggage allowances. Check out our suggested travel gear for ideas about how to travel light.

Road Il Meteora

Plan transportation around Greece

Top Transportation Tip

One of my top pieces of advice for anyone traveling to a new international destination is to figure out your transportation to your first night’s lodging in advance. Even when I don’t want to follow much of an itinerary on a trip, it is much easier to know what we are doing when we get off the plane, especially when we  speak another language. It can be worth spending more on this leg of your journey if it quickly and safely gets jet-lagged you to your accommodations.

Ferries in Greece

Traveling by ferry in Greece can be an interesting and beautiful way to get around. The best site for getting tickets is Ferry Hopper.  It helps you compare ticket options between the almost 50 different ferry companies that operate in Greece. There is nothing like seeing the country from the water and ferries are an economical way to do it. If you are traveling to smaller islands, confirm that there are ferries available on the days you want to travel BEFORE you book your lodgings.

Driving in Greece

Driving in Greece isn’t for everyone, but if you are comfortable driving a manual transmission and driving in challenging situations, consider renting a car. We drove in both downtown Athens and Heraklion and there were some VERY tight squeezes I’d rather forget! We also drove on the highway in Crete where we had to get used to sharing the middle of the highway with oncoming traffic! 

But learning to drive in another country is always interesting. Having a rental car gives you a lot more autonomy in planning your itinerary and staying at each site as long/or as little as you like. For adventurous groups and families, it is much more affordable than multiple tickets for group tours to your destinations. We also found the road conditions to be much better than our roads back home in Seattle, Washington. In fact, they were in better condition than many roads state-side! You don’t need a car in major cities, in fact it is very challenging to drive in them, so plan to get one for day trips at the beginning or end of your stay in the city.

Guided tours in Greece

For the most relaxing trip to Greece, guided tours can be the best option. It is easy to see all of the major sites without ever renting a car. Here are the best tours that leave from Athens to visit Delphi, Meteora, Mycenae, and Epidaurus. This combination makes a perfect itinerary. 

Plan a Trip to Greece

Plan your Greek itinerary

If you prefer to travel without much of an itinerary, learning about Greece in advance will still enhance your visit, but you can skip this section!

Once you have been able to really dive into understanding Greece and all that it has to offer to the thoughtful traveler, you can begin to craft your dream itinerary.  What are the main sites you want to see and what natural wonders do you most want to visit? Greece is brimming with beautiful islands, which of them will you include? As your itinerary becomes more solidified, you can dive even deeper into the places you add to your itinerary. 

Top tips to help you craft your itinerary

Be sure to confirm the opening hours of sites you want to visit; we’ve missed out on some gems by skipping this step. Also check to see if there are discounted ticket times. 

Group your activities together by area and be sure to add travel times in, they can dramatically affect your plans. Often, deciding on lodging comes down to deciding how much time you’ll want to spend on transportation in relation to how much you can spend on lodging.

If you are going to many of the archeological sites in Athens, get the skip-the-line Combo Ticket. Whenever getting a skip-the-line City pass/combo ticket, I always recommend purchasing it at one of the least busy sites you plan to visit so your time in line is the shortest.

Save yourself even more time purchase your combo ticket now.

Top tips for visiting the Acropolis

  • To skip the line, be sure to get the Combo Ticket in advance  online or at a less busy site. 
  • Arrive 10 minutes before opening or late in the day to try and beat the crowds and the heat.
  • Use the southeast side entrance near the Museum of the Acropolis. You avoid a lot of the crowds, have an easier climb, and you get to see more sites.
  • Plan to see the sights from the SE entrance because they include the Athenian Dionysus Theater (which is a must-see site) and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
  • Bring your water bottle and refill it at one of the water stations on the top.
  • Wear good walking shoes– you’ll be walking on uneven, foot-polished marble.

Track your itinerary

As you firm up your plans you will want a place to record your itinerary. I love to plan trips and prefer to have invested my time figuring out logistics at home rather than on the road. I still like spontaneity, so I find it useful to have info on hours and transportation so we can make quick choices on the go. If you are over-the-top like me, you will likely use word documents, spreadsheets, and an app to keep track of everything related to a big trip like Greece.

My very favorite itinerary app (by a longshot!) is TripIt. As you get each ticket and reservation, you email it to yourself at TripIt and the app puts your itinerary and tickets all together for you in one place. The app is free and easy to use.

Here is a sample dream itinerary. It is close to the one we followed, and that trip was AMAZING!

10 Days in Greece Itinerary for Archaeology Lovers

     Day 1: Fly into Crete, get over jet lag on the beach imagining all the people who have been before you in Greece! 

     Day 2: Knossos, Minoan Palace of Phaistos, and/or the Roman city of Gortyn

     Day 3: Heraklion Archeological Museum and the Minoan Palace of Malia

     Day 4: Fly to Athens, Plato’s Academy, National Archeological Museum

     Day 5: Acropolis and Museum of the Acropolis

     Day 6: Aristotle’s Lyceum,  Temple of Olympian Zeus,  Agora, Roman Agora, and Plaka

     Day 7: Delphi

     Day 8: Mycenae and Ancient Corinth 

     Day 9: Epidaurus: snorkel the Sunken City and watch a performance at the Ancient Theatre of Asklepieion 

     Day 10: Olympia and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia

Top Itinerary Tip

A performance at the Ancient Theater of Asklepieion at Epidaurus or the Odeon Herodes in Athens will be a highlight of your trip! These shows are only offered on limited weekend evenings in the summer, so get your tickets early and plan the rest of your Greek itinerary around them.

The Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

We've got classics, comedies, dramas and children's films. We also have Greek Language movies films about Greek history and Greek mythology.

Plan your trip to Greece

We hope you have found some inspirational and useful resources to use before your trip to Greece to help you understand and appreciate this astounding country. We also hope that you have discovered useful tips for planning your dream trip to Greece. Have you been to Greece, or do you plan to travel there some day? Do you have recommendations for other travelers who want to learn more before their trip? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Let's Connect

DO YOU WISH YOU COULD TRAVEL MORE?
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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The Best Movies About France to Watch Before Your Trip

Movies about France

The Best Movies About France to Watch Before Your Trip

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

It is always the right time to be planning a trip to France! We have gathered the best movies about France to watch before your trip. One of the most enjoyable ways to prepare for your French adventures is to explore the country through films. French cinema is world renowned and we’ve included some of the best in this collection, all with English subtitles. We have rounded out our list with some fantastic movies in English that were filmed in France. They will all help enhance your future trips and keep you entertained from home while you craft your itinerary. 

I have asked fellow travel writers to share the films they most recommend to friends who are preparing for trips to France. All of these films are available to stream on Amazon Prime and many are also available on Netflix, Kanopy, and other streaming services.  Queue up your top picks and enjoy your French travels from home!

Jump to Your Favorties

Table of Contents

The Best Movies Set In France

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Language: French (2007) PG-13

This mesmerizing drama was directed by famed American painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. Based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s bestselling memoir, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly received four Oscar nominations and ranks in the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.

At 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby has it all: wealth, health, and a glamorous life as the Parisian editor of Elle magazine when he is suddenly paralyzed by a massive stroke. He wakes up after weeks in a coma in a hospital in the northern French seaside town of Berck. 

Bauby can hear and see perfectly but cannot move or speak, a condition known as locked-in syndrome. The only thing Bauby can do is blink his left eyelid. With great effort, he learns to blink in an alphabet code and thus dictate his extraordinary memoir.

Rather than being depressing, the film is joyful and inspiring. It takes us through a moving tour of Bauby’s memories and imagination. The settings include Paris and Lourdes and the windswept dunes and wide sandy beaches of France’s northern coast.

Internationally known actor Mathieu Almaric plays Bauby. Max Von Sydow delivers a riveting performance as his frail, heartbroken father.

Watch this poignant and fascinating film for beautiful visuals not just of Paris, but of Lourdes and France’s northern beaches. It is also a favorite among French learners.

 Contributed by Ingrid at Second-Half Travels.

Les Choristes

Language: French (2004) PG- 13

Les Choristes is a heart-warming film set in France about the healing power of music and the change a teacher can bring to the lives of their students. The film has even been nominated as the French entry in the Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film. 

Les Choristes (also known as The Chorus) is a French film about a kind and gifted music teacher who brings a change in the students at a severely administered boys’ boarding school. He works positively with the effect of music on the lives of students. The film was set at the Chateau de Ravel in Puy-de-Dome, France. 

The film is directed by Christophe Bartatier and it stars Gerard Jugnot as Clement Mathieu and Francois Berleand as Rachin. This beautifully directed movie shows that music can bring a great change in people’s lives. Since the film is surrounded by music and the relationship between teacher and students, the music lovers and teachers will especially enjoy it.

Les Choristes reflects the French melancholie and gives you a better understanding of what France looked like 40 years ago. Indeed, the country has changed a lot over the last decades and Les Choristes will be a sentimental journey back to France’s past. It is a must-watch movie before visiting France on a vacation.  

Contributed by Paulina at Paulina on the Road

French Kiss

Language: English (1995) PG-13

French Kiss is the perfect rainy Sunday afternoon 90’s rom-com. Set in stunning and uber-romantic Paris and the South of France, we follow neurotic Kate (Meg Ryan) whose fiancé has just declared that he has fallen in love with another woman. Kate journeys to France in an effort to win him back, meeting Luc (Kevin Kline) a wily rogue who agrees to help her win Kate’s fiancé back. Of course, Luc has an ulterior motive, but will his heart win over his dastardly plans?

Whilst the story is wonderful and whimsical, the real showstopper is the scenery. With locations in Paris and Provence, viewers can enjoy lush scenes in vineyards and rustic French country homes. Provence is known for its fields of purple lavender and superb Rosé wines that are produced in the region. The film concludes in Cannes, a city mostly known for its very famous film festival. Cannes sits on the Mediterranean Sea and has a wonderful promenade lined with opulent hotels and restaurants.

French Kiss treats viewers to a journey from Paris to the South of France and, of course, to two strangers who fall in love. If you love 90’s rom-coms and France, I can’t think of a more perfect movie than French Kiss.

Contributed by Missy at Travels with Missy 

Mr and Mme Adelman

Language: French (2017) R

Mr and Mme Adelman is a clever, witty, and complex film about a captivating couple. We journey with them from their first meeting until a death 45 years later. It is daring in that it tells a story of over four decades with plenty of unexpected twists, laugh-out-loud scenes, and fascinating character development. 

The film was written by co-stars and real-life couple Doria Tillier and Nicolas Bedos, so there is an authenticity and connection that brings the film to life. Bedos also directs the film, and his character might strike some as too like the real-life director.

Spanning 45 years, we see the drama of the couple’s relationship unfold against the backdrop of French news and culture from 1971 through to the present. There is chemistry, beauty, and excitement in their early years; drugs, children, and confusion as the years go on; and a much more mature and tender love by the end of the film.  All of this is intertwined with the life of a famous writer– their inspirations and how they are received by the mercurial public. Expect to be surprised and moved as you watch. 

If you are traveling to France, you will enjoy seeing the modern history that is laced throughout the film and it may inspire you to learn about major events and people. You will also enjoy scenes in Paris and Étretat that will inspire you to want to visit. 

Erica at Trip Scholars

The Best Movies Set In Paris

Les Misérables

Language: English (2012) PG-13

Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable is one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, some may have read the book in school but most probably know the story about human struggle because of the West End musical and the 2012 movie starring Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway, who won a Best Supporting Oscar for her portrayal of Fantine. 

The story starts when Jean Valjean is released from prison and skips parole. Valjean is a kind man who has rotten luck and is relentlessly pursued by Javert, a policeman who is determined to bring him back to prison. Even though Valjean is able to reinvent himself time and time again, he is not safe from Valjean. Intertwined in the plot is Fantine, a factory worker who eventually resorts to prostitution to support her daughter, Cosette, who is being cared for by the Thenadier family. Eventually, Fantine dies and Valjean buys Cosette’s freedom before they run to Paris to get away from Javert. Fast forward a couple of years to the time of the June Rebellion of 1832 where the plot intensifies and takes unexpected turns. 

Les Misérables talks about a point in French history where Parisians rose up against the monarchy. In Paris, visitors can go to the Musée des Égouts de Paris (Paris Sewer Museum) to imagine where Valjean hid from Javert during the revolution or visit the Luxembourg Gardens, where Cosette met Marius whom she marries, or sit on one of the benches in the Champ de Mars like Valjean and take in the scenery. 

Contributed by Bernadette at Explorer Chick

Ameli​​e

Language: French (2001) R

Amelie is the kind of movie that will make you want to travel to Paris as soon as you watch it. The movie tells the story of Amelie (actress Audrey Tatou), a 20-something girl who lives and works in Montmartre. She spends her days on a mission to make the lives of those surrounding her better – from her father, who she pushes to be more adventurous; to her co-worker, who she manages to match with a client of the café where she works. She also goes on a mission to play tricks and pranks to people who misbehave in the neighborhood – such as the greengrocer who regularly humiliates his disabled employee. 

Most importantly, Amelie is on a mission to find who the mystery man who abandoned a book of passport-size photos by a photo booth is. Finding him marks the beginning of romance, with motorbike rides around the city. 

Amelie is a great, feel-good movie and the soundtrack is fabulous. Watching it, you will be able to admire some of the most iconic places in Montmartre, which you will be able to visit, too!

Contributed by Claudia Tavani at My Adventures Across The World

Julie and Julia

Language: English (2009) PG-13

Julie and Julia highlights beautiful and tasty food from France. French cuisine combines unique techniques with the fresh ingredients that come from local farms and markets. The movie shows the joy of cooking and eating delicious French food.

In the film, Julie Powell decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year. While Julie learns how to make French dishes with the help and guidance from Julia Child’s book, we learn about both Julias’ lives. 

The movie beautifully presents Julia Child’s love and admiration for French food. Together with the Julias, we learn about Paris in the fifties and how to cook 365 dishes in 365 days.

This movie can teach you about French culture and give you some pointers on what to order at restaurants or dishes to try at home. It will also tell you the secret of delicious French dishes… butter!

Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins

Breathless

Language: French (1960) NR 

No collection of French films would be complete without including Breathless. It is often recognized as one of the top twenty films ever made and was powerfully influential. It is the first feature length film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard; it was the breakthrough film for Jean-Paul Belmondo, who stars as Michel; and it co-stars Jean Seberg in one of her most appreciated roles as Patricia. Breathless is one of the early and influential French New Wave films and helped to change the industry.

Michel is a thief who flees from Marseilles to Paris and kills a police officer on his way. He hides out with Patricia, who is an aspiring American journalist. The story takes them around quintessentially hip 1960 Paris with a standout beatnik jazz soundtrack. Breathless broke all of the rules when it was released and made way for the cinema we are all familiar with today. To fully appreciate the film, we need to see it within historical context. The jump cuts, the lingering scenes that don’t drive the plot, the filming with hand-held cameras– they were all revolutionary. 

It is a great film to watch before your trip to France because it highlights the powerful French influence on cinematography. It will also leave you longing to wander down the Champs-Élysées and the other Parisian landmarks that fill the scenes. 

Erica at Trip Scholars

La Haine

Language: French (1995) NR

La Haine is a must watch film for everyone who wants to see beyond sentimentalized and romantic views of Paris. The title is taken from a line of one of the main characters, Hubert, “la haine attire la haine!”, “hatred breeds hatred!” We follow three friends in the 24 hours after the police have severely wounded a young Arab man from the projects of Paris and the city erupts in riots.

La Haine was written, co-edited, and directed by 28 year old Mathieu Kassovitz, who won the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival for the movie. It was shot in stark black and white with superb direction and an excellent soundtrack. The talented young director and cast bring a vitality and clarity to the film that makes it unforgettable. The three friends are Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a Jewish young man bursting with frustration; Hubert (Hubert Kounde), a reflective Black boxer; and Said (Said Taghmaoui), a street-smart younger Arab– all trying to find their way in a decaying society.

The film grapples with racism, poverty, police brutality, and immigration in a realistic way. It highlights the underbelly of Paris in 1995 and the underserved people living in the projects. It is also thought provoking in light of modern challenges around the world. Watching it before your trip to Paris will give you a deeper understanding of the real struggles of many Parisians.

The Intouchables

Language: French (2011) R

The Intouchables is a heartwarming and, in some instances, funny movie about a unique friendship. The movie is set in Paris and follows the story of Philippe, a wealthy man who had a terrible accident and is now bound to a wheelchair. He is looking for a new personal carer to help him with daily tasks. 

The other main character is Driss, a young man who just got out of prison after six months and must look for a job. He is not motivated to work but must apply, so he picks the carer job, thinking he won’t be accepted. However, Philippe is intrigued by Driss and decides to give him a chance and hire him. 

He appreciates that Driss doesn’t pity him but rather treats him like a real person. Although there are some initial difficulties the two soon become close friends and manage to learn a lot from each other. The Intouchables is inspired by a true story and is the perfect comedy that can also be a little bit sad. 

It is worth watching before your trip because it looks critically at Paris’s different social classes and many problems that the city faces.

Contributed by Victoria at Guide your Travel

The Best Romantic Movies Set in Paris

Hunting and Gathering

Language: French (2007) NR

Hunting & Gathering is the adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by award winning French writer, Anna Gavalda. It is a one of the great romantic French movies to watch for everyone traveling to Paris who wants to get a glimpse of its people.

The film is telling the story of four Parisians: Franck, an overworked cook; his grandmother, Paulette; Camille, an anorexic artist working in a cleaning crew; and Philibert, a socially awkward offspring of an impoverished noble family. 

The bunch, who couldn’t be more different, end up as roommates in the worn-out apartment of Philibert. Each of the group is deeply troubled by their own struggles, and their initial hostility slowly evolves into a remedy against their personal loneliness. 

Everyone who is visiting Paris for the first time and who wants to draw more out of France’s capital than just visiting the sights should watch this movie. It has a wonderful cast including Audrey Tautou, who you probably know from the iconic French movie Amélie, in the role of Camille. Even though the film is set in Paris, it is not a film about Paris. It’s a film about four Parisians, each representing a very different lifestyle that shows a piece of the Parisian reality. 

Contributed by Lena at Salut From Paris

Midnight in Paris

For a romantic and charming film directed by Woody Allen set in Paris, France, I recommend Midnight in Paris. Not only is it a lighthearted and endearing film, but it’s also educational, exploring Paris’s artistic history.

It follows Gil, played by Owen Wilson, on a small trip to Paris with his fiancée, played by Rachel McAdams. Gil is utterly enamored with Paris, and dreams of escaping his life in America to live in a tiny Paris attic with a skylight, like his literary and artistic heroes did in the 1920s.

One night, while he wanders around Paris at midnight, he discovers that he’s able to travel back in time to the 20s. He proceeds to meet renowned artists and his literary idols, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Cole Porter, and Man Ray.

This film is what inspired me to start my 1-month Europe itinerary in Paris. Not only does the cinematography cast Paris in a dreamy and enchanting light, but it also showcases some great places to check out, including Sacré-Coeur, the Seine riverside walk, Restaurant Polidor, and the Palace of Versailles.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend “Midnight in Paris” for those interested in visiting France, as it will both educate you on Paris’s history and inspire you to visit some great sightseeing spots around the city!

Contributed by Mia at Walk a While with Me

Moulin Rouge

“So exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer,” the song ‘Spectacular, Spectacular’ in Moulin Rouge promises, and this 2001 Baz Luhrmann extravaganza definitely delivers. The movie follows young Christian, who moves to Montmartre in turn-of-the-century Paris in search of freedom, beauty, truth and love. He falls in love with Satine, a performer and courtesan from the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub. Filled with reimagined pop music, this tragic musical dramedy is a love poem dedicated to Paris and the romantics who made the city what it is today.

Travelers to France can follow in Christian’s footsteps and take the train from London to Paris as he did in the beginning of the film. Once in Paris, head to one of the most beloved neighborhoods in Paris, Montmartre. Aside from being the picturesque backdrop for Moulin Rouge, this artistic village was once home to such giants as Picasso, Matisse, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (an artist featured as a character in the movie). 

Stop by the film’s namesake, the Moulin Rouge, a real-life cabaret which opened in 1889 and is known for the can-can dance style it introduced to the world. Performances are available daily, so you can immerse yourself in the Belle Époque cabaret world of Moulin Rouge. And if the romance of the film inspired you, don’t miss Le Mur des Je t’Aime (the I Love You Wall) for a sappy photo opp in front of the tiled wall splayed with “I love you” written in over 250 languages.

Contributed by Mary at Wanderu

The Best Movies About Versailles

Marie Antoinette

Language: English (2006) PG-13

The film Marie Antoinette captures the essence and opulence of 18th century France, particularly in the royal courts. A light lesson on politics during this period is balanced with fantastical dresses, luxurious living, lavish architecture and drama.

Marie Antoinette is played by sweet and innocent Kirsten Dunst, while Louis XVI is portrayed by Jason Schwartzman. All together with the edgy and alternative direction of Sophia Copolla, the film has an addictive plot, start to finish. Great for teenagers and young adults looking for a dramatic and catchy retelling of historic events.

The film follows the naive and young Marie Antoinette at the age of 15-19 as she navigates politics in the 18th century. Marie is married off to Louis XVI of France and lives out her days at the opulent Versailles Palace. Scandal, gossip and intrigue ensue as Marie finds her place amongst royalty.

The Marie Antoinette movie is based at Versailles Palace, one of the most famous landmarks in France. Built by Louis XIV, the Sun God, in 1661, Versailles was the seat of power and money for over a century.

If you plan on visiting the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris proper, the film does a great job of portraying the decadence of the halls and galleries of Versailles and showcasing many parts of the grounds and interiors.

Haley of Haley Blackall Travel

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The Best Films Set in the French Countryside

Back to Burgundy (Ce Qui Nous Lie)

Language: French (2017) NR

Have you ever wanted to become a winemaker in France? Or thought about getting into business with your family? Back to Burgundy gives you a realistic, yet somehow still appealing, account of the struggles of running a vineyard with your siblings. 

In the film, oldest son Jean returns to his childhood home in Burgundy when his father falls ill. After a conflict with his father years back, he moved to Australia to start a vineyard there. He’s estranged from his brother and sister, who have remained in their little town. When their father dies, they must decide to continue with the business or sell. All have their own demons to battle as they try to figure out how to revive the vineyard and pay their massive debt.  

Against the backdrop of Burgundy and the changing seasons, the siblings find a way to trust each other again and work together. Despite their struggles with money, romantic partners, in-laws, competitors, and each other, they manage to produce a great wine.  

This French family drama shows that you can always come home again. It’s a heartwarming story, stacked with a great cast, gorgeous views of the French countryside, and copious amounts of red wine. If you love wine and want to be transported to France, this is a great movie to watch. 

Contributed by Sophie at Just Heading Out

A Year in Burgundy (2013), A Year in Champagne (2015), A Year in Port (2016)

Languages: English and French, 13+

Pour yourself a glass and join renowned wine importer Martine Saunier as she visits with her favorite wine-making families from France. Each of the three films spans a year in Burgundy, Champagne, or Port.  We get to know the families, their struggles, and their successes through the seasons. You will appreciate wine more after watching any of these films and will be well prepared to enjoy local wines on your trip to France.

The three documentaries follow mostly small vintners as we gain understanding of the terroir and personal history of families who make each wine. We also appreciate the amazing amount of tenacity and creativity that goes into every bottle. We learn about the ancient methods of growing grapes and making wine in each region. 

The cinematography is beautiful and will make you want to travel to the French countryside to see the vineyards in person. If you are moved to want to work on a French vineyard, consider adding volunteering or working for a season into your travel plans!

Erica at Trip Scholars

The Best Movies Set in Provence

A Good Year

Language: English (2006) PG-13

A Good Year is a gentle, feel-good film with a hint of romance, a large helping of nostalgia, and some gorgeous scenery from around Provence and the South of France.

The main character of the film is Max (Russell Crowe), a British man who works in the soulless and harsh London financial world.  His Uncle dies and leaves his vineyard and house in Provence to him and so he travels there to sell the property.  What begins as another financial transaction turns into a trip down memory lane as he remembers his childhood and becomes attached to the area and the inhabitants.  There are some hiccups in the sale as an intriguing woman turns up claiming to be his uncle’s daughter and Max’s interest in another woman makes him begin to wonder whether he wants to sell the property at all.

If you’re thinking about a trip to the French countryside and exploring vineyards, whether that’s in Burgundy, Champagne, or Provence, you probably have images of traditional villages, romantic atmosphere and hazy sunlight flooding the area.  This film will show you all that, get you excited for it and make you wonder whether you might actually like to buy a French property and live a life with good wine, food and weather!  If you’re just planning to visit the coastline of the Cote D’Azur or even Monaco then it will inspire you to travel inland to the villages to explore more.

Contributed by Kristy at Lost in Landmarks

My Father’s Glory

Language: French (1990) G

My Father’s Glory is a great film to watch for people dreaming of visiting Provence, in Southern France. This is the first of a series of two films based on Marcel Pagnol’s childhood in Marseille. Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. Regarded as an auteur, Marcel Pagnol became in 1946 the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française. 

The film is set in Marseille and the surrounding countryside in the 1900’s and it is based on Pagnol’s autobiography of the same name. Young Marcel grows up in the big city, under the strict rules of his father. In summertime, the family moves to the countryside and there Marcel meets a boy of his same age named Lili. The two boys soon become good friends. Lili shares with Marcel – a city boy – all the secrets of the countryside.

The film stars Philippe Caubière, Nathalie Roussel, and Didier Pain, three popular French actors of that time. It is a lovely, easy-going film perfect to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon as you dream of your trip to the south of France. It is also a trip back in time to beautiful Marseille after the First World War.

Contributed by Elisa from France Bucket List

For more great films set in Provence try Manon des Sources, Jean de Florette, and Marius Et Jeannette.

The Best Movies Set in the French Riviera

Renoir

Language: French (2012) R 

Renoir is a biopic inspired by the artist himself, impressionistic in lighting, characters, and plot. Many scenes feel like sumptuous film versions of his paintings, with the gorgeous lighting of the French Riviera taking center stage. 

The story centers around Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet) at the end of his life as he paints his final model, free spirited Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret). It takes place in 1915 at his idyllic country estate along the Cote D’Azur which serves as a backdrop for many paintings and scenes in the film. His middle son Jean (Vincent Ruttiers) returns home to recover from injuries as a soldier in WWI. Both father and son become enchanted with the strong and beautiful Andree. 

Inspired by real life events, the film captures Jean and Andree early in their lives, before Andree becomes a film actress and Jean becomes one of the greatest directors of all time. Tip: Add Jean Renoir’s classics La Grande Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939) to your watch list. 

If you appreciate a strong plot and riveting action, find another movie. This storyline dapples in scenes the way Renoir dappled light across his canvas. The not-fully developed characters in the film mirror the soft impressions and dramatic brushstrokes of the people in his paintings. This is a film to watch on the largest screen you have, the beauty of the film is what makes it a standout. 

This is a great movie to add to your playlist before your trip to France. If you are traveling to the French Riviera, you will delight in the stunning scenes of the area. When you are on your trip, be sure to visit the Musee Renoir to see the actual estate he lived in. If you are traveling to Paris, this film will help you appreciate his significant collection at Musée d’Orsay even more. 

Erica at Trip Scholars

For more great films set the French Riviera try To Catch a Thief, And God Created Woman, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

The Best Movies Set in the Dordogne

Chocolat

Language: English (2000) PG-13

Grab a box of chocolates to enjoy while you are charmed by the lovely Dordogne, where much of this film is set. The scenes with the traditional Gaberes boats were filmed in Beynac. The boats have been decked out for Johnny Depp and his companions, but long ago they were used to ship goods from the region to the port in Bordeaux. Plan to ride on one (or maybe kayak) when you visit!

Erica at Trip Scholars

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The Best French Kids Movies

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Language: English (1996) G

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is perhaps one of the best animated Disney movies set in a real place. The majority of the film takes place at the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. 

Based on the classic novel by the same name, the movie, produced and released by Walt Disney, follows the story of Quasimodo, a bellringer with a disability, who spends much of his life locked away in the bell tower at the church. Out of fear of ridicule and rejection, Quasimodo avoids going out in public, making friends with the gargoyles that adorn the church.

The animated musical drama is one of the more serious and darker Disney cartoons ever released. It addresses some very tough issues like loneliness, rejection, bullying, unacceptance based on appearance, and even persecution, lust, and murder.  While the movie may be G-rated, it is perhaps best suited for older children rather than toddlers or kids under the age of 6 due to the difficult nature of some of the topics. However, the film teaches an important lesson on acceptance and can serve as a great conversation starter with children. 

In the end, Quasimodo gains acceptance and is hailed a hero in Paris and after saving the life of an immigrant woman who had befriended him.

The animation captures Notre Dame and Paris beautifully and is a great way to introduce children to Paris prior to a trip to France.

Contributed by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

Ratatouille

Language: English (2007) G 

One of the best movies about France to watch before going to France is Ratatouille. This is a comedy animation film that is suitable for all ages. What makes this a great movie is that it is a lot of fun and is set in Paris. 

The movie is about a rat named Remy who has a dream of becoming a chef, as opposed to the other rats that appear in this movie. He ends up at the kitchen of a restaurant in Paris where he sees the garbage boy of the restaurant trying to fix a soup. Remy secretly fixes the soup instead, but the garbage boy spots him. The owner of the restaurant wants to fire the garbage boy for altering the soup, but the soup turns out to be a success. The garbage boy may keep his job if he can make the soup again. 

 Remy and the garbage boy decide to work together in secret. This collaboration was a success, and Remy starts working together with the garbage boy from now on, and through this Remy can fulfill his dream of being a chef. 

Through this movie you get a good impression of the food of Paris and the atmosphere of the city, which makes you want to visit Paris even more! It is a great kid’s movie set in Paris but also enjoyable for adults.

Contributed by Dymphe at Dymabroad

For more great kids films set in France try The Red Balloon,  Hugo, and The Painter.

Going to France with kids or teens?

Use travel planning to inspire connection and low stress learning. We have lots of exciting and fun projects and activities!

The Best Movies About France

We hope you have found some films to inspire your travels to France!  What are your favorite film recommendations for people traveling to France? Leave your suggestions in the comments to help other readers. Or tell me what you thought of any of the films in the article. 

The Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

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The Best Stargazing Tents with Reviews, Comparisons & Tips for Camping Under the Stars

Stargazing Tents

The Best Stargazing Tents with Reviews, Comparisons, and Tips for Camping Under the Stars

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Do you love staring at the night sky when you are out in nature? Of course you do! If you are a camper who loves being able to see the stars and planets from your campsite, we want to help you enjoy stargazing even more.  We are here to help you get the perfect stargazing tent so you can enjoy that stellar view all night long! 

In this buying guide we have gathered the top stargazing tents for a variety of different budgets and camping needs so that you can find the one that is best for you and your camping companions. You will discover key features to look for, how to find ideal dark sky locations for using your stargazing tent, tips for using your tent, and advice for how to create amazing stargazing trips for years to come!

What is a stargazing tent?

First let’s explore what a stargazing tent is. The best stargazing tents are double layered. This means that your tent will have tent body with a no-see-um mesh roof and a separate rainfly. Examples of single layered tents are many  mountaineering tents and the canvas and festival types that you may have grown up with. They will not let you view the heavens once you have gone to bed and are not included in this guide.

The best stargazing tents offer a mesh roof and upper tent walls so you can easily see the stars, planets, and moon from the comfort and warmth of your cozy camp bed. When you aren’t stargazing, you can attach the rainfly over the tent for privacy and to protect you from the elements. 

Why do you need a stargazing tent?

If you have an interest in both astronomy and camping, a stargazing tent is the perfect choice. You will always have the option of taking off the rainfly and camping with the stars when the weather and light conditions allow. But you will have a traditional tent to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable for all of your other camping adventures.

The best tent for stargzing-- our top pick!

Don’t have time to read the whole article? The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 is our top pick, although we recommend you read the article and find what best meets your needs.

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King

Best overall stargazing tent
Comes in models that sleep 2 or 3 people
  • Fast & easy set up
  • Full mesh except for bathtub style floor
  • Two large doors and vestibules
  • Outside's 2020 Tent of the Year
Multi USe
4.5/5

Camping with the stars: jump to your favorites!

Table of Contents

Stargazing tent comparison chart

TentCost per personWeightSquare footageCapacity
Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3$$$7 lbs 1.2 oz42.5 square feet3
Kelty Late Start 1$$3 lbs 12 oz20. 6 square feet1
Kelty Dirt Motel 3$$4 lbs 13 oz 39. 6 square feet3
Nemo Aurora 2$$$5 lbs 7 oz31.8 square feet2
TETON Sports Quick Tent$4 lbs 3 oz22.2 square feet1
Coleman Sundome 2$7 lbs 8 oz35 square feet2
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent$30 lbs 8 oz126 square feet9
Ozark Trail 10-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent$20 lbs137.5 square feet10

What to look for when choosing tents for stargazing

Here are the most important features to consider whey deciding on the stargazing camping tent that is just right for you. 

Ability to see the stars

The distinguishing trait of a stargazing tent is that you can see the night sky from inside the tent. When choosing the tent that is right for you, consider the placement of the mesh. If you often camp in places with unobstructed views like the desert or the beach, mesh walls will let you see more of the sky. However if you mostly camp in forests or valleys, a mesh roof is likely enough to see your window into the sky.

For your night under the stars, also consider the color and weave of the mesh. The poles and fabric of the tent will be obstructions to your view, so keep them in mind when making your choice. In some cases clips offer more visibility than poles in sleeves. The Ozark Trail  offers clear waterproof windows in the rainfly. This doesn’t allow for perfect viewing, but it does allow you to retain more heat in the tent on cold nights while still getting in some stargazing. 

Cost

Stargazing camping tents vary widely in cost, generally ranging from $50 – $700.  The range is related to the features discussed in this section: design, quality of materials used, size, weight, season rating, and brands. We will discuss most of these in greater detail in the subsections below. 

Regarding brands, in general, reputable brands are going to cost more and provide higher quality and reliability. Premium brands can command top dollar because we are paying for that reliable reputation and quality materials. High end tents do not always mean they are the best choice for your needs, so don’t get too attached to the name. 

You can always end up with a lemon, so check the return policy, set it up at home before you head out,  and consider camp with a tent repair kit. Many mid to high end tents come with their own repair kit.

We do not recommend any of the least expensive, off brand tents. You are better off borrowing a tent than purchasing one that won’t last long. 

Protection from the elements

We use tents to protect us from the elements while we sleep outside. You want to be sure the mesh weave is fine enough to protect you from insects. (All of the tents in this guide include this feature.) You also want a sturdy enough floor to your tent that it doesn’t rip when placed over objects on the ground. (See the durability section below.) When stargazing, your tent won’t provide you with protection from rain or trap much heat inside.

Instead, most of the protections offered by your stargazing tent will be available when you aren’t stargazing, but instead when you are using the rainfly. The quality and design of your rainfly will determine much of your comfort. 

Full Rainfly | Photo by Jesse Gardner
Stargazing Tent with Partial Rainfly
Partial Rainfly | Photo by Shaurya Khera on Unsplash

Rainfly design

Tent rainflies can be full or partial. Full rainflies reach almost to the ground surrounding the tent with a waterproof shell that protects you in heavy rain. These are preferred if you will be camping in a lot of wet weather. 

Partial rainflies only cover the top and upper part of the tent. They provide more ventilation and are lighter in weight, which is important for backpackers.  But, with only partial coverage, the tent can leak more easily in a heavy downpour or windy rain that comes at an angle. If your tent has a partial rainfly the only way to ensure the tent is waterproof is if the walls of the tent are coated with at least a 3000mm hydrostatic head, which is the way of measuring how waterproof a fabric is. 

Tent design

There are some key design features to consider when choosing your stargazing tent. Two doors allow people to leave the tent in the middle of the night without waking up their campmates. Ample windows and vents allow you to control condensation and temperature. Some tents include zip-up window coverings with or without a tie for the coverings. 

Built-in loops and pockets allow easy organization, storage, and a place to hang a lantern, but pay close attention to where they are located in a stargazing tent since they can obstruct your view. Gear lofts, for example, are not useable when stargazing. 

Vestibules are the porch-like overhang created by the rainfly (or sometimes added separately). They are very useful outdoor storage areas on tents. They also keep rain from getting in the tent when you open doors during a rainstorm.  Those that offer two vestibules, one for each door, are especially useful.  

Some of the larger tents offer room dividers which can provide a little privacy, but again, can obstruct your view when camping with the stars.

Durability

The tent durability, combined with how you use and store your tent, will determine how many nights of camping you will get from it.  

You will see tent material evaluated in a few ways. Denier refers to the thickness of the fabric fibers and often (but not always) corresponds to the strength of the fabric. Generally, higher denier fabrics are used on the floors of tents than the walls and roofs. Thread count refers to the number of threads, both vertical and horizontal, in a square inch of fabric. Again, a lot depends on the material of the fabric so a higher thread count does not guarantee a stronger fabric. Finally, tent fabrics are evaluated by how waterproof or water repellent they are. The hydrostatic head of the fabric measures how much water can be sustained on top of the fabric before it leaks through. All of these variables are considered when manufactures choose tent fabrics and help to make the best tents for different purposes.

Ideally, you want a bathtub designed floor, which means there is not a stitched seam at the floor to wall junction of the tent. Instead, the floor fabric continues up the walls of the tent for a few inches. This helps to prevent leaks of the tent floor. 

Quality zippers are an important feature of good stargazing tents. The best thing you can do to ensure the longevity of your zippers is use them gently. If they get stuck, carefully and gently remove the fabric or realign them, don’t pull roughly.

Ease of set up

Tent set up has come a long way– those of us who have camped a lot with old designs know just how valuable this is! If you have ever tried to pitch your tent in the rain or after nightfall, you will especially love this feature. Most of the tents in this guide include innovative design features that drastically reduce the time it takes to set them up. Because they utilize new techniques, watch videos and set them up at home in a low stress environment before you leave. 

There are a few tips that can help ease tent set up. If your tent comes with traditional poles, consider color coding them to help with efficient set up.  If you are short and adding a rainfly to a tall tent, see if you can attach it, or at least lay it on top, before extending the legs of the tent itself.

Size

Tent sleeping capacity assumes a cozy fit and doesn’t include extra room for gear, young children, or dogs. When deciding on the size of your stargazing tent keep in mind the number of people in your group, the size of campers, and just how close people want to sleep next to each other. For comfort, especially if you are car camping,  consider adding at least one person to the capacity of your desired tent. 

Bigger tents can be more challenging to find space for at some campgrounds. They also don’t retain heat as well and some tall ones have difficulty withstanding strong winds. If you are looking at a bigger tent because your family has grown, weigh the benefits and disadvantages of getting older kids and teenagers their own stargazing tents instead. Still, big tents can be a fantastic choice and are great for glamping and enjoying plenty of comfort in your tent.

Weight

Weight is one of the key features that determines the price and useability of a tent. When you are car camping, weight is almost irrelevant. But if you are backpacking, it makes all the difference! To decrease the weight of backpacking tents, new, innovative materials are used and these drive up the cost.  

If weight is a consideration, there are three different weights to be aware of. Consider how you will be using your backpacking tent when comparing weights.

Packaged weight – the weight of everything included with the tent: tent, footprint, rainfly, guylines,  and stuff sack

Trail weight – the weight of a light setup: tent, fly and poles

Fast pitch —  the weight of the most minimal setup: fly, footprint, and poles

Reviews of the Best Tents for Stargazing

Here are our favorite stargazing tents. Think about the features that are most important to you and the way you will be using your stargazing tent. One size does not fit all!

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3

Best overall stargazing tent
Comes in models that sleep 2 or 3 people
  • Fast & easy set up
  • Full mesh except for bathtub style floor
  • Two large doors and vestibules
  • Outside's 2020 Tent of the Year
Multi USe
4.5/5

The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King was Outdoor’s Tent of the Year in 2020. Not as a stargazing tent, but as an overall tent! It is easy to see why. We love it for these same features, but also for its excellent stargazing possibilities.  

It has many features that make it the best stargazing tent. It has a super fast and easy set up as well as a quality build that can withstand heavy weather. It is all mesh except for the bathtub style floor so your stargazing views are excellent. The two doors are extra spacious which means that getting gear in and out is easy. The rainfly offers two fair sized vestibules and can also be rolled back to half so you can stargaze while it is still attached. There are multiple interior pockets and it comes standard with a durable footprint. 

The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King is a great multi use tent. You will be comfortable car camping since it is spacious with plenty of headroom and space to store your gear. The 3 person model is a little heavy for a 2 person backpacking trip, but it is manageable. Keep in mind that this tent is not treated with fire retardant.

Kelty Late Start

Best for affordable single person backpacking
Comes in models that sleep 1, 2, or 4 people
  • Fast & easy set up
  • Full mesh top and sides
  • No vent in rainfly
  • Larger models still only have one door
Backpacking
4.8/5

The Kelty Late Start is a great one person backpacking tent. It has a mesh ceiling and walls with a quality bathtub floor. The Late Start gets its name from its super fast set up– you can sleep in and get a late start to your camping day because it is so fast and easy to set up.

It is 3 lbs 12 oz making it a little heavy for a backpacking tent. But it is manageable and saves the extra hundreds you might have to invest to get a good ultralight tent.

The rainfly on the Late Start is pretty solid but doesn’t allow for prime ventilation. This means it can keep you warmer on a cold night than many of these other mesh tents, but condensation can build up inside the tent making it damp and uncomfortable.

Kelty Dirt Motel

Best for changing weather
Comes in models that sleep 2 or 3 people
  • Stargazing fly
  • Full mesh top and sides
  • Two doors & vestibules
  • Often out of stock
Backpacking
4.8/5

The coolest feature of the Kelty Dirt Motel is that it is that the rainfly is made for stargazing! You can go to bed with it rolled up for looking at the night sky, and then if you feel any rain or get too cold in the middle of the night, you can close it from inside while still warm and cozy in your sleeping bag. 

It has all mesh sides and top and two big zippered doors with two way zippers. There is a vestibule outside of each door and ample headroom. The Dirt Motel is also easy to pack into its stuff sack. Best of all, it is made by Kelty, so it is made with quality materials and design features.

The downsides to this stargazing tent are that it is a pricer tent and it is often out of stock. 

Nemo Aurora 2

Best for camping with your dog
Comes in models that sleep 2 or 3 people
  • Fast and easy set up
  • Full mesh top and sides
  • Two doors & vestibules
  • Single zipper
Backpacking
4.8/5

It is in the name!  The Arora offers stellar views of the sky, whether you are viewing an aurora, the stars, or the dawn. The mesh ceiling and upper walls make it a great stargazing tent. It has two large doors and vertical walls making it spacious and comfortable for a backpacking tent. It comes standard with its footprint and boasts a fast and easy set up. It is longer than many backpacking tents, making it a good choice for tall folks.

This is our top pick for camping with your pooch too. It comes with built-in snaps to attach the NEMO pawprint that you can purchase separately. This floor liner protects the floor from your pup’s claws.

This is a multi use tent, spacious enough for car camping, but light enough for backpacking. It is on the heavier side for multi night backpacking trips, but can easily be split into two packs. The biggest downside is that it only has single zippers in the doors. This can make it challenging to get in and out, especially with the rainfly on. Keep in mind that this tent is not treated with fire retardant.

TETON Sports Quick Tent

Attached cot option and storage system
Comes in models that sleep 1 or 2 people
  • Two doors on two person tent
  • Full mesh top
  • Uprgrade the rainfly
  • Heavy for backpacking
Multi Use
4.5/5

The TETON Sports Quick Tent is a very affordable option for stargazing. It has an awesome full mesh top that gives you a great view.  It also has a unique popup structure that allows for setting up and taking down in a couple of minutes.

TETON offers some unique upgrades to this tent too. It can be placed on top of a TETON cot, or two cots for the two person model. They also offer attachable storage organizers for the cots. The two person model offers two doors, which is always a plus when sharing the tent in the middle of the night. 

This is advertised as a backpacking tent, but if you are putting in a lot of miles, it is really too heavy at 4.2 pounds for one person. It slopes down so much at top and bottom that tall people might find their feet against the tent itself and this tent doesn’t come with a bathtub floor.

The other challenge with this tent is the rainfly. If you will be camping in much rain, you will want to upgrade to the Elite Rainfly, which is an extra expense. The included fly doesn’t go down far enough, which is an even bigger problem if you pitch it on top of the cot. You’ll be stuck with an extra rainfly, but you can use it over your outdoor gear. 

Coleman Sundome 2

Most affordable quality 2 person tent
Comes in models that sleep 2,3,4, and 6 people
  • Affordable
  • Keeps you dry
  • Limited visibility
  • Upgrade accessories
Car Camping
4.5/5

If you want to get into a quality stargazing tent at one of the lowest price points, the two person Coleman Sundome Tent is the top pick. Coleman is all about affordable quality. Even though we have upgraded a lot of our camp gear, it is our trusty Coleman camp stove that still cooks us perfect car camping meals after 30 years!

The visibility in the Sundome isn’t as expansive as the other tents in this guide, but you will still be enjoying gorgeous views of the night sky. Coleman will keep you dry in heavy weather and they have the reputation to keep you confident.

This is a car camping tent and too heavy for backpacking. You will want to upgrade your stakes and consider getting a footprint.

If you are an REI member, your best budget stargazing tent is the Kelty Discovery. This is a newer Kelty design and is lightweight enough for backpacking if you split it between two people. It does not offer a full mesh top, but you will still get a good view of the night sky. Don’t expect to store your gear inside though since the footprint is small.

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

Best for Large Families
Comes in models that sleep 6/9/12
  • Easy set up and take down
  • Very large door
  • Partial rainfly
  • Mesh top, but not sides
Car Camping
4.5/5

The Core 9 person Instant Cabin Tent is one of the fantastic glamping tents for sale. It comes in models that sleep 6, 9, or 12 people with slightly different features.

Click here for prices and reviews of the 6 person tent

Click here for prices and reviews of the 12 person tent

Because of its expansive size this tent is ideal for large groups or comfortable glamping. One side of the tent completely opens up as a door allowing easy access for your big queen size inflatable mattress and other glamping accessories. It has lots of goodies like a room divider making it a multi room tent, storage pockets, and an electrical cord access port. It has good ventilation and the windows all around can be unzipped allowing even more stargazing from certain areas of the tent.  

With its pre-attached poles, it is an easy tent to set up and take down. If you clip the rainfly on before you extend the poles it will make attaching the rainfly easier. This tent fits easily in the storage bag.

We recommend purchasing better tent stakes. the floor fabric is not as strong so protect it with a tarp or footprint. Use the zippers carefully. Not all window covers have ties, some just hang down. Also, the air vents can’t be closed and can make  it hard to keep the tent warm so if it is going to be a cold night, put your duffles in front of the vents. 

Ozark Trail 10-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent

Best for Large Families and Tall People
Comes in models that sleep 6/10/12
  • Clear panels in rainfly
  • Sun blocking fabric
  • Partial rainfly
  • Upgrade accessories
Car Camping
4.5/5

The Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tents are a fun choice for stargazing. They come in sizes for 6, 10, and 12 people with slightly different features.

Click here for prices and reviews  of the 6 person tent.

Click here for prices and reviews of the 12 person Tent. 

The tent includes clear panels in the rainfly, so you can get in some stargazing between passing rain clouds.  The mesh skylights have covers like the windows that can be zipped closed. This is a blackout tent and features dark, sun blocking walls that keep the tent dark in the morning. After a late night of stargazing, those extra hours of shuteye will be appreciated. 

The poles are pre attached to the tent making this an easy tent to set up. It will be even faster if you watch the video beforehand. One person can set this up alone, but two people will make it easier, especially if you are putting up the rainfly.

This is a big heavy tent and good for comfortable car camping. It only has a partial rainfly so it is more prone to leaking in heavy rain. You will benefit from getting a larger bag to store it in and purchasing more heavy duty stakes. 

What about bubble tents for camping with the stars?

Sorry to pop your bubble! You might wonder why there are no bubble tents listed in this review when they seem like they would be ideal for stargazing. Bubble tents are very Instagrammable clear inflatable tents for ultimate glamping. The high quality bubble tents that you see at some glamping resorts are many thousands of dollars and require careful planning for set up. Most of the bubble tents advertised online are poor quality and do not work well in campgrounds. You are better off getting one of the stargazing tents in the guide and planning a trip to a glamping resort if you want to try one. 

Tents for stargazing camping under the stars

How to find the best locations for camping under the stars

Now that you have decided on your stargazing tent, here are some top tips to help you find the best time and place to see the most stars. 

Camp in a dark sky area

Light pollution makes stargazing very challenging in most urban areas. This is why we need to find remote areas for the best views. Thankfully, some municipalities have started to curb light pollution, so dark skies are not always related to population density.  Use Dark Site Finder to find the darkest locations near where you want to camp. The site superimposes a color coded map onto Google maps and shows how much light pollution there is in a given area. It offers worldwide coverage so you can use it on your travels. Another good site to visit is The International Dark Sky Association which will help you find dark sky locations for camping with the stars.

Find the best time for under the stars camping

Astronomical viewing is all about visibility so there are many factors to consider. The best time for stargazing is actually the winter. There is less moisture in the air and the air is clearer. Nights are longer allowing more hours for stargazing. Unfortunately, this also makes for colder camping so if you go for winter stargazing, pack the right gear to stay warm while enjoying the view from your stargazing tent.

Keep the moon’s phase in mind as you plan your trip. Unless you are going to enjoy a lunar eclipse from your tent, you will want to plan your trip around the new moon. You will be able to see many more stars without the moon’s light.

Stay abreast of the astronomical calendar. There is nothing like watching a meteor shower from a dark sky area! You will create memories that will last a lifetime. Watching planetary conjunctions, lunar eclipses, comets and more can all be fantastic events to plan your stargazing camping around. Use this astronomical calendar to get started!

Pitch your tent in the right place to see the sky

When camping with the stars, you may choose a site that is different where you will pitch your same tent for traditional camping. For the best view of the night sky, you don’t want any obstructions. When expecting rain, experienced campers often pitch their tent under a tree for a warmer microclimate with less condensation. However, you will want an exposed location for prime viewing.

Tips to use your stargazing tent for camping under the stars

To ensure you have a fantastic stargazing camping trip, use these tips.

Set it up at home before your trip

This is a low stress way to learn about your new tent and work out any kinks. You will also discover any missing parts. Most of the tents in this guide even have videos you can watch from home. 

Bring a footprint or tarp to protect your tent

Something you can do to protect the longevity of your tent is use a footprint. Many stargazing tents have their own footprint that either come with it, or that you can purchase separately. You can also use a tarp or buy Tyvek® material and cut it to size. Your footprint should be slightly smaller than the tent itself. This prevents water from pooling under the tent. If you bring a tarp, be sure to fold  and tuck it all underneath the tent floor. 

If you camp with your pup, a tarp or blanket on the interior floor can help protect it from your pooch’s claws.

Waterproof your seams if they do not come sealed

Not all tents come with properly sealed seams so read the manufacturer’s guidelines before you head out.  Take the time to seal your seams in advance when you do your practice pitching of your tent in the yard. Even if they do come sealed, plan to reseal them after a lot of use.

Invest in higher quality stakes/pegs if needed

Stakes are often the Achilles’ heel of otherwise good tents. Aluminum stakes are standard with affordable tents and they can easily be bent by the substrate when you pound them in. They also often pop out of the ground with too much tension or rain. If the stakes with your tent aren’t up to the job, spend a little more before you go out and get quality pegs like these. It is always useful to have a few extra stakes for your guy lines too.

Choose your tent location carefully

As with all tents, you want to find a flat area of your campsite and clear it of debris before laying out your footprint. Feeling a sharp rock under your ribs at 3:00 AM makes for a long night and a ripped floor! 

Store your tent well

The number one thing you can do to extend the life your tent is to store it clean and dry. Never store a damp tent. If you have to pack a damp tent at the campsite, just pitch it in your yard, garage, or nearby park on a sunny day to dry it out completely. Also be sure to sweep or shake any dirt and sand and clean up any spills.  Finally, store your stargazing tent in dry, rodent free conditions.

Camping stars camper with their telescope and the Milky Way

Have an astronomically better time camping! Stars, planets, comets: how to learn more

Once you have ordered your tent, get started learning more about astronomy to make the most of camping under the stars.  Celestial bodies are, by their very nature, otherworldly in their beauty! When we look at them after some research and with a deeper understanding, viewing them can be transcendent. Here are some of our favorite resources once you have your stargazing tent!

Stargazing apps for sleeping under the stars

There are wonderful stargazing apps that allow you to identify celestial bodies in real time while you are snuggled up camping with the stars. Be sure to download any apps from home when you still have a strong wifi connection. Don’t wait until you are at your campsite or you may not have a connection.

Star Tracker will reveal the wonders of the night sky for free. Simply point it towards the night sky and it will identify what you are looking at in real time.You can pay a few dollars to get the pro-version to avoid the ads.  It is available on both iOS and Android. Sky Map is only available for Android and is another fantastic choice.

Star map and a red light for camping with the stars

Camping is the perfect time to take a break from screens, so consider using a star finder or, when you are beyond the beginner stage, The Celestron Sky Maps.  Going old-school requires us to really try to understand how the celestial bodies are moving in relation to each other. These resources also don’t use up your phone battery while you’re camping.

Have you ever noticed how you see more stars the longer you stare up at the sky?  At first, your pupils are adjusting to the darkness and allowing you keener eyesight the longer you are in the dark. Eventually, the rods in your eyes become dark adapted and, if exposed to bright light, can take over 30 minutes to regain sensitivity. If you turn on your regular white light headlamp or flashlight, it will take a long time for your pupils to readjust. To solve this problem, get a red light below 650 nanometers to use while stargazing. Here is a good flashlight and this is a good headlamp.

Learn about astronomy from home

I am a former public highschool science teacher and have been privileged to have taught astronomy to many learners. From my experience, the more you understand about astronomy, the more you realize you don’t know!  The universe is vast and our scientific understanding is always improving. Cosmos is a perfect series to get started.  If you take the time to study from home, your stargazing will be even more amazing. 

In depth astronomy classes are available through Wondrium, formerly the Great Courses. Click the image above for a free trial.

Create your own stargazing tour

Excited about learning more? We have a whole article about how to create your own stargazing tours. Learn about how to plan your trip, telescopes, binoculars, astronomy clubs and more.

Camping with the stars in a stargazing tent

The best tent for camping with the stars

Did you find the stargazing tent that is just right for you? I hope you found the perfect tent that fits your budget, your camp-group size, and your dreams of watching the stars from bed!  Your stargazing tent will bring you years of comfort, delight, and deep wonder.

Have you found your perfect stargazing tent? What are some of your best memories camping with the stars?  Tell me about it in the comments. I would love to hear!

Erica is the founder of the travel education website, Trip Scholars. She has been camping for over 30 years in tiny backpacking tents, massive family tents, budget tents, high end tents, and everything in between. She has also been an astronomy teacher and volunteer naturalist. She loves to help people spend more time in nature under the stars.
Stargazing Tent Author Photo Erica Forrest
Erica Forrest
Trip Scholars Founder

Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

One of the great joys for many of us is experiencing national parks both as children and as adults with our families. It is remarkable to bring our kids to the same astounding places our parents shared with us when we were younger.  Or, maybe you are creating fresh new traditions for your family! Whether you are returning or visiting for the first time, your family vacation to Yellowstone will be one of your favorites!

The best way to plan Yellowstone vacations for families is to learn more about the park so you can enjoy it to its fullest. You can find all the best resources to learn more in our article, The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Yellowstone. This article adds a few more options specific to families.

To get everyone in on planning your family trip to Yellowstone, read our article, Joyful and Educational Trip Planning for Families.  It is a guide for how to follow your children’s interests to kindle their curiosity. For your trip to Yellowstone, they may be most interested in animals, geology, or history. Here are some other recommendations specific for kids.  

The best ways for kids to learn about Yellowstone National Park from home

Yellowstone National Park Website

The site is great for educational trip research. If you are traveling with a larger group of kids, consider Yellowstone Distance Learning. These need at least 10 young people for a live class.  

They also have about 25 recorded lessons available for everyone on a wide range of topics including history, microbes, the night sky, and bison. They are 20-minute recorded ranger lessons, similar to what you can enjoy in person.   

If you are looking for something more formal, there is a collection of about 25 lessons you can enjoy from home. Curriculum ranges from activities for pre-k through 12th grade. They include both science and history projects. These are perfect for homeschooling and world schooling families, but all curious travelers can enjoy them.

Whether you take a virtual tour from home to help better plan your trip, or you want to enjoy Yellowstone tours from your couch, the park’s website also offers some free virtual tours. In addition, you can also watch the webcams in Yellowstone. The Upper Geyser Basin is live-streamed, and the other webcams are static and cover the entrances and some major sites.  

What I saw in Yellowstone

This is an excellent choice for any budding naturalist. Get it before your trip so they can learn Yellowstone facts for kids, including more about the animals, geology and history of the park from home. Then bring it along so they can track what they see and take notes about details of their finds.  Let them teach the rest of the family what they have learned while you are walking the trails and boardwalks. It includes park activities for kids. When they return home, it serves as their personal journal of your trip. 

North American Forest Animal Figurines

There is nothing like open ended exploration in play and these animals invite curiosity and discovery. They are safe for ages three and up and are a wonderful addition to many of the documentaries, activities, and books shared on this site. Bring them outside, add them to your box of blocks, or take them into the bath to invite joy and natural conversations about the animals you will be seeing on your trip. Then be sure to pack them for the road trip to add some adventure to long stretches of the drive. 

Trekking the National Parks

Trekking the National Parks is a lively and engaging game for families who enjoy visiting the national parks in the United States. Players collect stones representing different national parks and learn a little about them in the process. It is intended for ages 10+ and games usually last less than one hour. For more ideas about games to inspire travel, including a few more specific to our national parks read, Games For Globetrotters: The Best Games for People Who Love to Travel. 

Yellowstone: kid friendly tips

Top things to do in Yellowstone with kids

  1. Watch the animals in Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley
  2. Visit the geyser basins
  3. Go for a hike
  4. Become a Yellowstone Junior Ranger
  5. Become a Yellowstone Young Scientist
  6. Take pictures of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  7. Eat ice cream in the historic Old Faithful Lodge
  8. Look elk for when you visit the travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs
  9. Stargaze in the park and look for planets and constellations
  10. Be the lookout for your family as you drive and try to spot animals in the distance

Is visiting Yellowstone with toddlers safe?

Many people ask if visiting Yellowstone with toddlers is safe and there isn’t a universal answer. We have visited with babies, toddlers, and young children (and they all survived just fine!), but it is more relaxing to visit with older kids. The boardwalks over geothermal features don’t have safety rails and the wildlife is, indeed, wild. If your little one is in an especially independent and defiant stage, you might want to wait for a different year. But if you are carrying them in a backpack or they old enough to comfortably understand and follow safety directions, you can have an amazing time enjoying the many family things to do in Yellowstone!

The best places to stay in Yellowstone for families

Depending on your preferences, budget, and when you make your reservations, family lodging in Yellowstone can be an integral part of the trip, or simply a place you sleep each night.  

If you hope to camp in the park, make your reservations as soon as possible through two different agencies depending on the campground: Recreation.gov and Yellowstone National Park Lodges.    

Yellowstone is also home to historic lodges and modern lodging managed through YNP Lodges.  If you are fortunate enough to stay in one of the historic lodges, your family will  enjoy reading the Yellowstone section of Great Lodges of the National Parks. 

Most in-park lodging fills many months in advance. If it is already full, or if you prefer access to more amenities, stay in one of the towns outside the park. If you are not sleeping in the park, I recommend West Yellowstone for your home base. It is a charming town with plenty of perks for families. You’ll have access to many lodging options, multiple restaurants, banks, stores, and tourist attractions. The biggest plus is the location. It is off the center of the Grand Loop Road, allowing multiple easy day trips without as much backtracking as the other towns right outside the park.  

Yellowstone family vacation tours

If you prefer not to drive and deal with parking in the park, these are some great educational tour options for ages 3 or 6 and up.

Yellowstone family vacation planning

We hope you have discovered some useful resources to help you plan your trip to  Yellowstone National Park with kids. Even though your time in the park will be brief, you can enjoy months of enjoyment before and after your trip. Be sure to read more in our full article, The Ultimate Guide to Planning  Your Trip to Yellowstone  where we have gathered the best documentaries, audio tours, games, books, websites and more to help you enjoy months of learning and entertainment before you leave.

Have you been to Yellowstone with kids or do you plan to visit in the future? What were your favorite activities that you enjoyed, both before you left and while you were in the park. Please let me know in the comments!

Erica

Erica

Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am an expert in travel education and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my About Us page!
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