Travel Coach Certification

The Travel Coach Certification Program

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Are you interested in becoming an internationally certified travel coach yourself?  I highly recommend The Travel Coach Certification Program! 

Do you want to:

  • Inspire and educate people on how to travel with intent and purpose
  • Help others transform their life in a profound way through the power of travel 
  • Reshape a certain area of the industry such as remote work, business travel, corporate wellness, black women travel, family travel, eco-tourism, voluntourism, student travel, or more
  • Empower others to achieve their dreams or travel goals
  • Guide others to their own internal clarity, happiness, and peace so they can connect with themselves, others, and the world around them
  • Guide others on travel-related topics to ease their travel journeys and help them realize that having meaningful and transformative experiences is possible
  • Empower others to use travel as a tool for self-growth, wellbeing, healing, relationship growth, internal balance, self-development, work-related goals, and more
  • Have the freedom to work for yourself, live, and travel anywhere in the world
  • Inspire others to live more mindfully and purposefully
  • Combine your love of helping, inspiring, and empowering others with what you know and are most passionate about travel
  • Turn your love of travel into a meaningful career as a travel coach

Then The Travel Coach Certification Program is for you!

The TCCP is the first and only International Coach Federation accredited program that certifies you as a Travel Coach, no matter what niche you specialize in: wellness, transformative travel, sustainability, solo female travel, black women travel, and more.

This well-rounded program doesn’t just focus on sculpting you into the coach that your clients need but it also turns you into the entrepreneur that you’re destined to become.  The Travel Coach Certification Program helps you build your travel-related business from start to scale all while making the impact in the tourism industry that is most authentic and aligned with you.

Learn more about becoming a travel coach !

Here is the link to learn more about becoming a travel coach yourself.

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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.

Wanderful

Wanderful

 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!

Hello, I’m glad so glad you are here! As part of my efforts to help people experience more meaningful travel, I am grateful to serve as the Seattle, Washington Chapter Director of Wanderful.

Wanderful is a global organization that specializes in helping all women travel the world. Reaching over 100 million women worldwide each year, Wanderful connects travelers through a thriving membership community, meetups in 50 global cities, group trips, global events like WITS Travel Creator + Brand Summit, and the first major outdoor travel festival for women, Wanderfest.

Whether you are an aspiring or experienced traveler, a travel content creator,  or a small business owner of a travel company, Wanderful has loads of inspiring and useful resources for you! 

Learn More About Wanderful

Ready to learn more about the travel community, Wanderful? Visit the website here! 

A Lifetime Wanderful Discount

I am excited to offer this generous lifetime discount for your Wanderful membership! Just click on the image below and type SEATTLE in the coupon code field.

Upcoming Events in the Seattle Wanderful Chapter!

Here are the upcoming events for members of Wanderful, we would love to see you there!

Interested in trying it out? Sign up for a two week trial membership and join us at our next event! Use this link and the code SEATTLE– if you decide to join, you will get 50% off!

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.

The Best Books of Hawaii: What to Read for an Excellent Trip to the Islands

The Best Books of Hawaii: What to Read for an Excellent Trip to the Islands

Are you traveling to the Aloha State and looking for the best books of Hawaii?  Discover what to read to ensure an excellent trip to the islands. You will find the top travel guides to plan an amazing vacation. Curl up with some of the best fiction– either at home or relaxing on the beach while you are there. Discover more about Hawaii’s rich history so that you can appreciate its complexity while you are there. Then enjoy some classics with your keiki, we have choices for preschoolers through teens.

Our family lived in Hawaii and I have some favorite books I always recommend to friends and family when they visit. I have also asked other travel writers to share their top picks. Whatever your interests, if you take the time to learn more about the islands before you arrive, you are guaranteed to have a better 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!

Travel Books on Hawaii

Maui Revealed, The Big Island Revealed, Oahu Revealed & The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Andrew Doughty

The books in this series are my top picks for books about Hawaii travel. When we lived there, we eventually wore ours out with almost weekly use, planning our adventures and learning more about the islands. In fact, we often give friends a copy for the island they plan to visit because we know it will improve their trip considerably. These highly informative books are by Hawaiian local, Andrew Doughty, who writes in a very personal style with an entertaining, easy going humor.  

Because there is a book for each of the four most visited islands, you have comprehensive information about any of the sites you want to visit. You will find highly detailed maps, inspiring photos, countless tips, multiple insets with factual information about Hawaii, and lots of honest reviews that have all been done anonymously. 

The books have grown in popularity, which means many of the hidden gems are no longer hidden and have become popular sites. There is also an app available (free with in-app purchases) that offers up-to-date weather, surf and snorkel conditions, and much more. These books make a great choice for first time visitors and kamaaina alike.

Lonely Planet's Best of Hawaii by Adam Karlin, Kevin Raub & Luci Yamamoto

Lonely Planet Best Of Hawaii is a guidebook that gives a great overview of the whole state and would make an ideal first book to read in the early stages of your travel planning. It will continue to be helpful through the trip itself, with included tips that save you both time and money. 

You will find out the best  time of the year to visit Hawaii, the weather, packing list ideas, the top places to visit, accommodation choices, transportation, and a lot more– all in one book. You also have the times of operation and contact information, all updated since the Covid crisis began. 

Another reason why this book can make your travel experience exceptional is by educating you about your destination. You can read it beforehand to learn more about Hawaii’s rich history and traditions. It is a great tool to help you navigate the state like a local and avoid getting into difficult situations based on misunderstanding cultural cues by being knowledgeable about them. 

Contributed by Ossama Alnuwaiser at Awesome Traveler Blog

Fiction Books About Hawaii

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

Written by a Native Hawaiian author, Shark Dialogues is an epic and sweeping story that spans multiple generations and touches on many aspects of Hawaii’s complex history, from the exploitative sugar industry to whaling, leper colonies, and the annexation by the United States. The book is largely set on the Big Island, but also offers vignettes from Maui, Oahu, and Molokai.

At the heart of the novel is Pono, a Native Hawaiian matriarch and prophet with magical powers (she can turn into a sea creature!)  and her four estranged granddaughters, who married non-Hawaiians and are seeking to come to terms with their heritage and with Pono herself.

The story is interwoven with flashbacks, ancient myths, and the Hawaiian language, providing educational touchpoints along with the immersive and luscious narrative. Additionally, the book highlights tourism’s negative impact on the islands and its incredible culture- while it may be a tough pill to swallow, understanding this perspective will hopefully make you a more respectful and responsible visitor.

Contributed by Jessica Schmit of Uprooted Traveler

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Honolulu is a historical fiction novel that follows Jin, a young “picture bride” who is brought to Hawaii from Korea to be a wife to a pineapple plantation worker. Set in 1914, Honolulu is in many ways a classic coming to America story told by a lesser-heard voice. 

Born a girl named “Regret” in Korea, the novel accompanies Jin as she navigates her new life and new relationships in early 1900s Honolulu with unrelenting determination.

Honolulu weaves together reality and fiction as you follow Jin through many of the formative events of the 20th century, including both World Wars and the Spanish Flu outbreak. 

Anyone traveling to the Aloha State should read Honolulu to get a unique perspective from the immigrants that built modern Hawaii. Another book by by the same author that readers will likely enjoy is Moloka’i.

Contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Books About Hawaii History

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson

Polynesia is one of the most intriguing destinations in the world. The vast triangle that stretches from Hawaii to Easter Island to New Zealand is home to epic voyagers. Until European explorers arrived in the 1500s these explorers were the only people to have ever lived there. That leaves the question – where did these people come from? How did they get there? And why? All of these questions are explored in depth in this book.

While the book is non-fiction, it doesn’t read like a traditional historical book. The author reveals bit by bit what has been discovered about Polynesia in chronological order. Over time, as scientific knowledge progresses and our sociological studies improve, we learn more and more about the people of Polynesia. It’s a captivating journey through time.

Not only do we learn the history of Polynesia, but about the traditions and cultures of the “sea people.”  It was interesting to learn about the different types of canoes used on different islands for different purposes. If you’re unaware of the history of Hawaii, and Polynesia overall, then this book is perfect to read before your trip to Hawaii! 

Contributed by Pamela at The Directionally ChallengedTraveler 

Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, Queen Liliuokalani

One of the best books about Hawaiian history was written by Queen Liliuokalani. It’s a first-hand account of what happened during Hawaii’s illegal overthrow and annexation from Hawaii’s last reigning monarch. 

Most people on the mainland never learned about this in school, but it’s an enormously important part of Hawaii’s history. Visitors to Hawaii benefit from reading books about this complicated time in American history. You may see protests and signage around the islands talking about this issue. You’ll also get a deeper understanding of some of the conversations about tourism in Hawaii. 

After reading this book, you will be inspired to visit Iolani Palace in Honolulu. This is the only royal palace in the United States, and you can take a tour to see exactly where Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned.

Contributed by Marcie Cheung of Hawaii Travel with Kids

Kids Books About Hawaii

Kaiulani: The People's Princess, Hawaii, 1889 by Ellen Emerson White

Written diary-style, Kaiulani: The People’s Princess, is an installation of the very popular Royal Diaries children’s literature series. 

Following the life of young Princess Kaiulani, the last heir to the Hawaiian Kingdom, 13-year-old Kaiulani navigates the recent annexation of Hawaii by the United States of America. 

A fantastic historical-fiction read, this book is perfect for anyone with children or young teens planning to visit Hawaii because it shows an important part of Hawaii’s history from a first-person perspective, which is easier and more enjoyable for young readers than learning from a history book. 

Kaiulani’s Diary also covers what it was like to be a Hawaiin royal during that time. Even though it is a Children’s book, Kaiulani’s Diary is an enriching read for anyone who wants to learn more about the annexation of Hawaii and the Hawaiian royal family. 

Contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale

Ho’onani is a children’s book that has been widely regarded as a celebration of identity and gender equality. It follows the story of a young girl, Ho’onani, who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe in a performance at her school. Ho’onani doesn’t define herself by gender, she sees herself as mahu, neither kane (boy) nor wahine (girl). 

What makes Ho’onani special is that it’s based on a true story of one young person’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment, who earns the respect of the people around them.

Hawaiians are very proud of their culture and heritage and it is important to read stories that speak of their culture before visiting. The author has done a great job of highlighting some key elements of Hawaii’s culture in the story in a way that is approachable for children. It also includes some words in Hawaiian, so kids can learn a few words while still at home.

Contributed by Louisa Smith of Epic Book Society 

Too Many Mangos by Tammy Paikai

Too Many Mangos is a sweet story of two Hawaiian children who help their grandfather harvest the mangoes off his very full mango tree. The result is way too many mangos for the small family to use on their own, so the children set off on an adventure to share the mangoes with their neighbors. Each neighbor shares something in return leaving them with a wonderful variety of treats to enjoy when they return home.

This hardcover book is perfect for young children and its colorful illustrations are engaging and thoughtful. Teaching lessons in sharing, thankfulness and generosity, this picture book also gives children a peek into Hawaiian culture as the author shares real-life experiences from his childhood.

Reading this book before a trip to Hawaii will leave children inspired to soak up the beautiful Hawaiian culture as they vacation. It will also leave them with a curiosity for tasting tropical fruits and other foods on the island such as banana macadamia nut muffins, papayas, and mangoes sprinkled with li hing powder. Too Many Mangoes is sure to be a favorite on your child’s bookshelf long after you return from your Hawaiian adventure.

Contributed by Sierra Schmidt at Free to Travel Mama 

Geckos Make a Rainbow by Jane Gillespie

Geckos Make a Rainbow is an adorable board book perfect for the youngest travelers to Hawaii. With simple rhyming lyrics and colorful illustrations, this book tells the story of geckos stuck in the house while the rain pours down. They decide to make a rainbow to hang in the sky to help the sun come out. They build each color with items such as blue surf shirts and red lehua flowers. The final color of the rainbow is green for the geckos themselves.

The sweet book for toddlers and young children will teach colors, introduce Hawaiian words and nature, as well as entertain all ages. The silly illustrations and geckos’ facial expressions are illustrated by Hawaiian cartoonist, Jon J. Murakami and are quite comical. Part of a series, fans of this book can continue their collection with Geckos Surf and Geckos Up Geckos Down.

Reading this book before a trip to Hawaii, will leave children prepared for the fruits to try at the Farmers Market, the flowers to discover in the beautiful gardens, the geckos sure to be spotted on the walls of buildings, and the beautiful rainbows that frequently fill the Hawaiian sky after a refreshing rain. 

Contributed by Sierra Schmidt at Free to Travel Mama

Best Books of Hawaii

I hope you have found a few books here that you can enjoy, both before and during your trip to Hawaii. Let me know what you favorite it in the comments or tell me what book you recomend to others before they visit. I’d love to hear!

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Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Isaac Hale Beach, Big Island, Hawai’i

 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!

Whether you are planning a trip or dreaming of the islands, enjoy this collection of the best movies about Hawaii! The Aloha state is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world, in fact over 100 feature films have been shot here. It is also one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, allowing directors to utilize an extraordinary range of dramatic natural scenery. Grab your popcorn and expect a visual delight!

Our family lived in Hawaii, and we love to bring the beauty, culture, and history of the islands into our lives on the mainland, often through film. I’ve also asked travel writers to share the Hawaii movies they recommend to people planning their own trips.

We start with some fantastic films made by Hawaiians and other residents of the Hawaii. They will help you gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the islands, inspiring you be a more thoughtful traveler. You will also appreciate the exquisite natural beauty of the islands and find inspiration for caring for it while you visit.

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 learning about Hawaii. At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding your travel destinations before you arrive. 

Jump to Your Favorites!

Table of Contents

Movies in the Hawaiian Language

Kapaemahu

2020 | NR

This evocative and memorable animated film is one you will want to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It tells the legend of the mahu deities (deities of the third gender, embodying both male and female) who came from Tahiti to Hawaii to share their healing powers. Their healing gifts remain in four Stones of Life, or Nā Pōhaku Ola, on the beach in Waikiki today. 

The eight minute short has won numerous international awards and is narrated completely in Hawaiian with English subtitles. You will be captivated by the animation style and transported with the soundtrack. The story is a haunting reminder of the suppressed history of Native Hawaiians and encourages us to learn more. This same interpretation is also available as a book.

Both adults and children can enjoy this film from home and then visit the stones in Waikiki. You can find the location here to add a visit to the Stones of Life to your itinerary. 

Movies About Hawaiian Culture

The Haumana

2013 | NR

This multi award winning film was written and produced by the Hawaiian actor, director, and hula master Keo Woolford. It is a top movie recommendation because of the realistic portrayal of local Hawaiian culture, engaging acting, and captivating hula scenes.

Haumana is Hawaiian for disciple or student, and this highly enjoyable film allows us to learn and be inspired alongside the main character, Johnny Kealoha. Kealoha hosts a highly commercialized Polynesian show for tourists in Waikiki but is asked by his Kumu Hulu (master hula teacher) to teach the high school boys hula class. As he grows as their instructor, he also expands his own understanding of hula, his culture, and ultimately himself. 

The movie is filmed on Oahu and the cast has many local Hawaiians. We are given an intimate window into learning traditional hula, with a gorgeous soundtrack including contributions from top Hawaiian musicians like Robert Cazimero. The characters navigate blending ancient Hawaiian traditions with being teenagers on modern day Oahu. Add it to your queue today, you will be glad you did!

Documentaries on Hawaii: Culture

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

2012 |NR

Hawaiian music is certain to be a highlight of any trip to the islands and this documentary will give you a much deeper understanding of its influence and importance. Plus, it is an absolute joy to watch and listen to Jake Shimabukuro! The virtuoso is a world famous ukulele player who has shown global audiences what an exceptionally talented and creative player can do with this beautiful instrument. 

The documentary follows Shimabukuro through a season of performing, but also looks back on his childhood and forward to his future dreams. His humility, curiosity, and generous spirit are easily highlighted throughout the film. It is uplifting, not just because of his musical performances, but also because of his inspiring life story.

Start a playlist of Hawaiian music while still at home and include both Shimabukuro’s solo work and his recordings from his earlier band, Pure Heart.  While you are in the Islands, be sure to find some live local music! There are often free performances in shopping centers, parks, and local events.

If you are inspired, I also recommend trying the ukulele yourself. I love to play and have two ukuleles, this is my favorite. It is very forgiving and a great choice for beginners on a stringed instrument, so you can be playing a simple tune your first afternoon.  But, as you have seen in this documentary, the ukulele can play transformative music in the hands of a master.

The Endless Summer

1966 | 11+

Endless Summer is very much what the title says, a trip around the world by two surfers in search of the world’s best surfing and endless sun. Naturally, Hawaii fits them perfectly, being famous for its huge waves for surfing and sunny weather.

Although the movie is not entirely about Hawaii, the segment about it shows the surf scene in Hawaii during the 1960s, which was partially instrumental in the surge of tourism that followed afterwards. Indeed, much of the appeal of visiting Hawaii came about from the images of a relaxed beach vibe and epic waves that purveyed in the surf scene there.

The surfing culture in Hawaii is the most famous in the world due to its ancient surfing traditions among the inhabitants of the area that surfed the waves on longboards going back 1500 years, long before ‘westerners’ discovered it.

The Endless Summer is one of the best travel movies that you can watch, especially if you have an interest in surf, sun, and adventure. Great for watching before any trip to Hawaii.

Contributed by Johnny at Backpackingman

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odessey

1999 | NR

If you have always wondered how the early Polyneisians discovered Hawaii in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, this documentary is for you! It is a PBS special revealing the rare art of wayfinding, the art of navigating the sea using only nature as one’s guide: the stars, sun, weather, sea, and animals. Historically many anthropologists and historians did not think early Polyneisians could have intentionally navigated the massive Pacific to populate the many islands throughout the ocean. However, work by The Polynesian Voyaging Society, Maiden Voyage Productions (who created the film), and many others has proven that wayfinding was an important skill throughout ancient Polynesia.

In the film we are introduced to one of the few remaining wayfinders in the world, Mau Pialug from the island of Satawal. He teaches Nainoa Thompson, a Native Hawaiian navigator, and in turn, a whole new generation of nature based navigators. Herb Kane designed the famous Hawaian sailing vessel, Hokule’a, after a lifetime of studying ancient Hawaiian canoes. It was eventually built in a mostly traditional way, in large part by volunteers in Hawaii. 

We follow along as a new generation from many islands around Polynesia learn wayfinding skills and boat building techniques, while also coming to a greater understanding of their cultural heritage. Patrick Stewart narrates the role of Captain Cook, the famous British navigator and cartographer. The nearly extinct art of wayfinding is put to the test as these modern sailors set out on a 2000 mile journey, with nature, their knowledge, and their history to guide them.

Hawaiian Islands | Filmed in 1906

1906 | NR

This unique footage is a fascinating window into life in Hawaii in 1906. The inventor Thomas Edison also had a film studio and he sent Robert Bonine in the early 1900’s to gather footage of the islands. There are over 30 clips, all of them silent. A few of them include what is thought to be the oldest film clips of surfing in the world. 

This is not your typical documentary, but it is a rare and unique view of many places and cultural touchstones. The youtube description includes the titles of each clip so you can watch just the places you plan to visit– but you will likely be hooked and want to watch a lot more!

Hawaii Documentaries: Nature

Hawaii's Mauna Loa: The World's Largest Volcano

Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano

When we are on the islands we are constantly aware that we are actually on volcanoes: active, dormant, or extinct. Each island arose from the bottom of the ocean floor as it was formed over the hotspot that is currently under the Big Island. Weather erodes them and plate tectonics carry the volcanoes northwest. These exposed peaks form the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain, the youngest of which are the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Curious travelers can experience the vastness of geologic forces in real time by visiting an older island, like Kawaii, and comparing the island to what they see on the youngest, the Big Island. 

The Big Island is a dream destination for anyone fascinated by volcanoes and geology. If you are unfamiliar with the subject, a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will likely make you a lifelong admirer. Much of the park, and over half of the island, is on the volcano Mauna Loa. The rest of HVNP includes the youngest above-water Hawaiian volcano, Kilauea. 

These two documentaries bring the viewer up close to learn about the incredible power and beauty of the volcanoes and they are valuable viewing before a trip to the islands. Even if you are not planning to visit the Big Island on your next trip, understanding more about how the islands are formed will enhance your time anywhere in the state. They were both made before the most recent eruptions so that information isn’t included. The films incorporate a lot of interviews with, and footage of, scientists at work in the park. They also include a strong focus on learning from Native Hawaiians about the geologic history held in songs and legends.

Another fascinating Hawaii documentary is Sharks of Hawaii.

Hawaiian History Movies

Princess Kaiulani

2009 | PG

The drama-based movie Princess Kaiulani documents the events that led up to the dissolution of the Hawaiian monarchy. It’s a history lesson for some, a painful event for others. While the movie gained mixed reviews because of its original title of ‘Barbarian Princess,’ it adds excellent incite into the Hawaiian royal family.

Iolani Palace in Oahu sets the stage for the opening of the film. Electricity has arrived in Hawaii, but the upheaval from the King’s advisors has overshadowed the momentous event. With uncertainty in the homeland, Princess Kaiulani, who’s in line for the throne, travels to Scotland for an education and to avoid the tensions.

During her absence, the King’s death and Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment bring her back to her homeland to fight for the monarchy. ‘Princess Kaiulani’ allows the watcher to delve into the lives of the people that made Hawaii so special. While the film may be part fiction, it embodies the spirit of her Polynesian heritage. Before traveling to Hawaii, visitors will better understand the history of royal residences such as Iolani Palace and Queen Emma Summer Palace on Oahu, and Hulihe’e Palace on Hawaii.

Contributed by Karen of Forever Karen

Pearl Harbor

2001 | PG-13

Pearl Harbor is a great movie because it takes a moment in American history and brings it to life with intense dramatic performances.  

 Directed by Michael Bay, and starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsdale, Pearl Harbor is a beautiful love story set during World War II. 

 Pearl Harbor is a fantastic movie to watch before your first trip to Hawaii beause it humanizes an important moment in Hawaii’s history. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, has been immortalized by the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Oahu. Watching this movie, in addition to visiting the famous memorial, will add a level of relatability for the real people who died and fought on that day for anyone visiting Hawaii. 

Submitted by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com

Hawaiian history movies about the missionary moment to add to your queue are Hawaii and Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

Hawaii Family Movies

Finding Ohana

2021 | PG

One of the newest kids movies filmed in Hawaii is Netflix’s Finding Ohana. It’s filmed on Oahu with a lot of the adventurous scenes at Kualoa Ranch. The story is all about a mom moving back home to Hawaii from Brooklyn with her teenage kids. The main character is a girl named Pili (played by Kea Peahu) who finds an old journal that takes her on a real-life treasure hunt. 

The movie has a lot of the same vibes as the kids adventure movies from the 90s, so both parents and kids will enjoy watching it. Plus, the soundtrack is pretty fabulous.

What sets this movie apart from other kids movies filmed in Hawaii is that they focus a lot on Hawaiian culture, especially the elusive Night Marchers. This is a really cool part of Hawaiian culture that most people don’t know about before their trip. Finally, you can even do a Hawaii movie tour to see exactly where they filmed at Kualoa Ranch!

Contributed by Marcie Cheung of Hawaii Travel with Kids

Hook

1991 | PG

Peter Pan is a classic movie and often a childhood favorite. Hook is what happens after the story of Peter Pan when Peter grows up. It is fun to learn more of the Peter Pan story, and an important lesson about growing up and changing.

Hook doesn’t take place entirely in Hawaii, but the Neverland scenes were filmed in Kuaui, Hawaii. Neverland is a magical place, and of course, Hawaii is a perfect choice for imagining Neverland. We know that Neverland is close to the ocean, as that is where Captain Hook lives. Peter lives on land but visits the mermaids under the sea and flies onto Hook’s pirate ship.

Directed by Steven Speilberg, Hook is filled with well-known actors. Robin Williams played the grown-up version Peter and his sidekick Tinkerbell is played by Julia Roberts. Dustin Hoffman played the role of Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook.

Hook is a great opportunity to discover that there is always more to the story. Plus, it’s fun to learn more about the characters we know and love. Hook is a kid’s movie that adults might enjoy even more than kids.

Who doesn’t want to go to Neverland, at least for a while? If we can’t get to Neverland, at least for now, we can imagine Neverland from the beautiful Kuaui, Hawaii.

Contributed by Lanie van der Horst at Make More Adventures

Hawaii Disney Movies

Lilo & Stitch

2002 | PG

Lilo & Stitch is a funny & unique Disney animated film based in Hawaii. The story is about a young girl who picks up a “dog” at a local pound – only to find out the animal is actually a scientific experiment called 626. Follow along as the girl learns the truth about 626 (Stitch), forms a friendship with him, and works together to avoid his capture by the Galactic Federation.  

The film itself is based in Hawaii. You’ll notice many iconic themes from Hawaiian tradition included in the movie like surfing, hula dancing, ukeles, and more! Writers used the town of Hanapee on the island of Kauai as inspiration. This town is often referred to as “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town” as it is truly only made up of a few streets!

You’ll recognize scenes from the animated movie that mimic the town’s vibe with charming plantation-style buildings. You can walk in and out of many stores and restaurants here in town along the main street. You’ll even find a few murals that locals have painted in honor of the adorable animated film! Missing this small town would be one of the biggest mistakes to make when visiting Hawaii as it truly transports you into the movie Lilo & Stitch! 

Contributed by Lisa Shehan at wanderlustwithlisa

Moana

2016 | PG

Moana is set on a fictional island in Ancient Polynesia. The fictional story is based loosely on several stories from Polynesian mythology. The catchy music and powerful female lead in Moana make it a favorite. It comes complete with funny characters and jokes that Disney animated films are known for. In the movie, Moana is the daughter of the chief on a Polynesian island. Her people are struggling and she learns that Maui the demi-god has stolen the heart of Te Fiti. She takes off on open water to find Maui, restore the ocean, and heal her island. 

Moana is a great movie to watch with kids to kick start a conversation about Polynesian culture and history before your trip. Hawai’i marks one corner of the Polynesian triangle and the story of Maui is a common one in all of the Polynesian Islands. The demi-god is known for being mischievous and for using his powers to help humans. As in Moana, Maui is known for his magic fish hook in Hawaii but in other parts of Polynesia, he is known differently. The story in the movie is fictional but with some quick research you can find the different cultures associated with each story about Maui mentioned in the song “You’re Welcome”.  The Polynesian Islands share many parts of their culture but are each unique as well. Watching the fictional story in Moana can open a conversation about Polynesia. The Hawaiians make a great effort to revive, maintain, and showcase their culture; Use Moana to start the conversation before you leave. 

Contributed by Jami at Celiac Travel Pack

Adventure Movies in Hawaii

Kong: Skull Island

2017 | PG:13 

The movie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a fun action / monster movie in the newly rebooted King Kong series, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and others. In the movie, a group of soldiers and explorers has to go on an expedition to Skull Island to find the giant King Kong and other mysterious creatures.

The movie was filmed in Vietnam and Hawaii, and places where they did filming in Oahu include Kualoa Ranch, Honolulu’s Chinatown, and the Waikane Valley. A visit to Kualoa Ranch in particular is one of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii since so many movies have been filmed there — more than 80 movies in total!

Even though the plot of Kong may not win any big awards, it’s still a great movie to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It’s loaded with nice tropical scenery and intense action sequences to pump you up for your travels, and if you’re lucky you may get to visit some of the filming locations while you’re in Oahu!

 Contributed by David & Intan at The World Travel Guy

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2017 | PG-13

For an exciting adventure film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, watch “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” A sequel to the 1995 film “Jumanji,” this reboot is a great comedy-action film that showcases some stunning Hawaiian scenery.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tells the story of four high school students getting sucked into a video game set in the jungle. To return home, they have to beat the video game by returning a magical jewel to its shrine.

This is a great family-friendly film with tons of action, humor, and character-growth. A lot of the movie scenes were shot on the island of Oahu, and in particular, the Kualoa Ranch. And while there are many incredible Oahu waterfalls, the set of falls shown in the film are located in Papaikou on the Big Island.

Needless to say, watching “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” before a trip to Hawai’i would greatly enhance your vacation! Filled with spectacular tropical landscapes, lush jungles, and soaring hills, watching the film will truly get you pumped to visit Hawai’i. It’ll also provide you with some incredible ideas on what to do in Hawai’i, from touring the Kualoa Ranch to admiring Kawainui Falls.

Contributed by Mia at Walk a While with Me

Another classic Adventure movie to include in your watchlist is Jurassic Park.

Comedy Movies About Hawaii

The Descendants

2011 | R

Starring George Clooney, The Descendants follows Matt King, whose life is turned upside down when his wife is left in a coma after a tragic accident. Not only is Matt struggling with the consequences of the accident, but he’s also been named the trustee of an enormous plot of untouched land in Kauai and is being pressured by his family to sell this incredibly valuable asset to developers. While grappling with these issues, Matt, a busy attorney in Honolulu, attempts to figure out how to be more present for his two daughters while they navigate their mom’s possible death. 

The film is visually stunning and highlights some of Hawaii’s most beautiful landscapes, from the beaches of Oahu to the lush greenery of Kauai. But visitors should watch The Descendants for more than just its imagery- the film highlights the commoditization of Hawaiian land and the pressures locals face to exploit its natural beauty for tourism and other development. The United States’ complex- and often problematic- treatment of Hawaiian land and resources is important context for any visitor to the islands to understand and perhaps Matt’s struggles relating to his duty to protect his ancestors’ land will offer you a unique perspective before your trip.

Contributed by Jessica Schmit of Uprooted Traveler

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

2008 | R

One of the funniest comedies of the 2000s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie to watch before a trip to Oahu, especially if your trip involves the North Shore! 

The movie features Jason Segel as the forlorn, newly-dumped boyfriend of a famous TV actress, Sarah Marshall. He goes to Oahu to try to find himself and relax — but ends up finding out that she and her new boyfriend, played by Russell Brand, are staying at the same resort he is! Luckily, he unexpectedly makes friends with a bunch of workers at the resort, and they help to save his trip.

The movie is filmed mostly at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, and it has scenes from different places along the North Shore, including the famous ‘cliff jumping’ scene which takes place at Laie Point, and the surfing scenes filmed on the beaches near Haleiwa. The beautiful shots of these North Shore locales will have you adding it to your Oahu itinerary!

This funny movie is also poignant, and it’ll be especially resonant for solo travelers or people who are taking a trip in order to forget or get over a recent bad event like a breakup or loss. The movie addresses how we can feel lost and look to travel to try to save us, but ultimately, our connections with the people we meet while traveling are what impact our experience the most. For travelers feeling a bit lost, this is a really powerful message to take with you both on your travels to Hawaii and when you return home. 

Contributed by Allison Green of Eternal Arrival

50 First Dates

2004 | PG13

The film, 50 First Dates takes place on the mesmerizing island of Oahu and is charming because of it’s message of true love despite the odds. The movie follows the daily interactions between the main character, Henry who is set on winning over Lucy, a joyful woman who unfortunately forgets what happens every day due to short-term memory loss. 

Fifty First Dates follows the interactions and budding love Henry develops for Lucy as he continues his battle every day to win her over, while also trying to convince her close friends and family that he can make her happy. In the movie, you taste Hawaiian culture in the attire as well as the cuisine, like at Hukilau cafe, where Lucy eats every morning. 

You also get to see some popular historic locations in the movie, like where Lucy and Henry kiss at the famous Makapuu lighthouse, which is a popular hiking destination in Oahu. Lucy lives on the ranch at Kualoa Ranch, a substantial 4000-acre private nature reserve. Another famous Hawaiian location, as seen in the movie, is where Henry works, the real-life Sea Life Park. This renowned park allows visitors to meet the animals up close but still works towards preserving nature and conserving wildlife. The concept of the preservation and conservation of nature is an important focus in Hawaii. All in all, 50 First Dates is not only a cute and funny movie but shows us a glimpse of Hawaii and it’s culture. 

Contributed by Sierra and Yesenia, The Sisters Who Voyage

Hawaii Surfing Movies

Soul Surfer

2011 | PG

The movie Soul Surfer is set on the island of Kaui and follows the story of Bethany Hamilton, an upcoming teenage surfing star who was attacked by a shark one day on the water. The shark bit off her arm but luckily, Bethany survived the attack. The movie focuses on her journey to figure out how to cope with the loss of her arm and also how she overcame that setback in her surfing career. 

It’s a heartwarming and incredibly inspiring film that is perfect for families and anyone who loves a movie about overcoming the odds. Sean McNamara was the director, and Anna Sophia Robb starred in the film. 

The movie showcases the beauty of Hawaiian water and beaches and the strength of the local communities. There are also many scenes of surfing competitions and surfing practice in Hawaii, which is an aspect of a Hawaiian vacation that many visitors are interested in. 

Contributed by Stephanie Rytting of The Unknown Enthusiast

Gidget Goes Hawaiian

1961 | NR

One of the cutest movies that is set in Hawaii is a 1960’s surfer chick-flick called Gidget Goes Hawaiian. The Gidget series follows the story of a small, teenage girl named Francine. Francine longs for a life that is more than just sitting at home, and finds her passion in the waves. In the first Gidget movie, Francine learns how to surf with the help of Moondoggie and his surfer bros. She receives the nickname “Gidget” from them – girl + midget. She falls in love with Moondoggie and surfing and the rest is history.

In Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Francine has the opportunity to go to Hawaii and surf some pretty big waves. Just before the adventure, she and Moondoggie break up, making her Hawaiian adventure now fueled with “post-breakup” vibes. This movie is super cute and shows off multiple Hawaiian hotels and beaches. It will make you want to go to Hawaii, learn to surf, and fall in love. From the beautiful beaches to the cute Luaus, Gidget Goes Hawaiian is the perfect movie to watch before going to Hawaii because it will inspire you to get out there and enjoy everything the Hawaiian islands have to offer.

Contributed by Shannon at Adventuring With Shannon

Other surfing movies to enjoy are the documentaries Endless Summer and Hawaii 1906 shared earlier in this article.

Films About Hawaii

Watching films from this collection is sure to give you a deeper understanding of Hawaii: it’s natural beauty, fascinating culture, and rich history. Hopefully you’ve found some great Hawaii movies to add to your queue!

What are your favorites? Did we miss anything you would recommend? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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 also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!
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The Best Books About Greece to Inspire Your Travels

The Best Books About Greece to Inspire Your Travels

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Be inspired by this engaging collection of books about Greece! Enhance both your trip to Greece and your time at home by extending your discovery and excitement for weeks, months, or years beyond your time in the country! Get started today and dramatically enrich your understanding of Greek history and culture, which will amplify your experience of the country. I have asked seasoned travel writers to share the books they most recommend to other travelers and hope you find a few books on Greece that are perfect for you!

Table of Contents

Books About Greek History

The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life by Bettany Hughes

The Hemlock Cup transports readers to Socrates’ Athens—the fifth century B.C.E. in the heart of ancient Greece’s Golden Age. The 528-page book is packed with historical information while remaining very entertaining and readable, which makes it one of the best books about Greek history.

Essentially a biography of the philosopher who left no writings yet is credited as the founder of Western philosophy, The Hemlock Cup recreates Athens as Socrates knew it during his 70-year lifetime.

The celebrated British historian and television presenter Bettany Hughes creates a vivid portrait of the ancient city devastated by war yet simultaneously giving birth to democracy.

First-time visitors to Athens will be struck by how many ancient structures still exist among the modern-day buildings. As Hughes muses, “Walking through the bleached bones of ancient sites, it is easy to forget how hectic they once were.”

But in The Hemlock Cup, she’s able to bring these remnants of ancient Greece back to life, enhancing your visit to Athens and encouraging you to seek out the streets that Socrates walked so many centuries ago.

Contributed by Carrie Ann at Should Be Cruising

The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone

The Greek Treasure is a historical novel about the German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann and is another of the best books on Greek history. Schliemann is still regarded as one of the most important and controversial archaeologists of all time, despite his lack of formal education in the field. Schliemann excavated the presumed site of Homeric Troy and the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His profound love for Greek antiquity led him to live the second part of his life in Athens with his Greek wife, Sophia.

The book follows each step of his improbable marriage with a very young Greek girl and their journeys to unearthing ancient treasures. It also tells the story of their life at home in Athens from the 1870s-to 1890. Those pages will take you back in time. You will hear the horseshoes on Athens’ streets, the voice of the yogurt seller in the morning, and you will smell the fresh coffee in the Plaka neighborhood. 

When you look for the non-touristy Athens, you can make your way to their mansion, now a numismatic museum, and learn more about the couple that dedicated a lot of their lives to Athens and Greek treasures. It will also enhance your visits to the archeological sites and to the National Archeological Museum where many think that the famous “Mask of Agamemnon” was altered to look like Heinrich Schliemann himself!

Contributed by Anda Bartos at Travel for a While

Books About Greek Mythology

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is the retelling of the life of the book’s namesake, Circe. Most of us only know her as the witch on the island that Odysseus visited who turned sailors into pigs. But Miller gives her a much larger role in Greek mythology than just that. As the daughter of Helios, the mightiest of the Titans, Circe is destined to live an extraordinary but difficult life. After Zeus banishes her to a remote island, Circe hones her skill in witchcraft and crosses paths with some of the most famous figures in Greek mythology – the Minotaur, Daedalus and his son Icarus, and, of course, Odysseus.

As a lone woman who stands against the wrath of the gods and refuses to conform to their will, Circe constantly finds herself having to make difficult choices to protect what she cares about. Madeline Miller’s story is beautiful, moving, and unlike any other retelling done before.

Circe is an excellent introduction to some of the most famous characters in Greek mythology, which makes it one of the best books to read before a trip to Greece!

Contributed by Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold and Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, Stephen Fry

Mythos and Heroes are modern retellings of classical Greek myths.  Accomplished actor and comedian Stephen Fry has performed extensive research in the field of mythology.  In these two books, he brings these stories to life with a modern, witty, and sometimes irreverent flair.

Mythos focuses on tales of the Greek gods and their ancestors, the Titans.  You’ll find stories ranging from Zeus overthrowing his father to become the king of the Olympians to Prometheus’ creation of mankind.

Heroes spins tales of mythological mortal heroes and their quests.  Some are well known, like Heracles and his labors, or Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece.  Others may be lesser known, such as the tales of Atalanta or Bellepheron, but are no less entertaining.

Mythos and Heroes will paint vivid pictures in your mind of locations throughout Greece –from Crete, the island of Zeus’ birth, to the Minotaur’s labyrinth in Knossos.

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, these are self-narrated so you can enjoy Fry’s delightful British accent along with the myths!

Contributed by Lisa at Waves and Cobblestones

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

One of the most fascinating books about Greek mythology is this classic by Edith Hamilton. Interwoven into the best Greek vacations is an awareness of Greek mythology and how it permeates both ancient history and modern culture.

Taking a deep dive before your trip will reward you with a much more profound understanding of many Greek destinations ranging from archaeological sites, museums, and live performances to the constellations you’ll admire in the night sky (both in Greece and at home). Your study will enhance your understanding far beyond your Greek trip, giving you a greater appreciation of both historical and modern art, plays, operas, plays, movies and more.

Edith Hamilton’s interpretations of the myths brings them to life and make them memorable. She also includes Roman and Norse myths in this collection. They are all digestible and relatable to the modern reader, which connects us more intimately to the ancient Greeks.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel Books About Greece

Rick Steves Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese

A good travel guide is an inspiring early choice in planning many trips and Rick Steves Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese is one of the top books on Greece travel. Like all the guidebooks in the extensive series it is overflowing with tips, educational snippets, and helpful suggestions for what to see and how best to plan your trip. Even if you don’t like to have an itinerary, it is useful to know what sites are closed or have reduced rates on particular days and how to save money and time as you explore.

As one of the best Greece books, it provides plenty of ideas to kindle your excitement in the early stages of dreaming up your trip, as well as practical tips as you narrow in on your favorites. Just like most of the RS books, it is meant to be taken apart so you can bring smaller sections with you instead of lugging the whole book on each day’s adventures. The included walking tours are a highlight, although you might prefer his audio guides of the tours, which you can download for free before you leave. The downside to this guide is that the coverage of some of the Greek islands and the northern part of the country isn’t as extensive, and in many cases is lacking altogether. There are some color maps and photos, but most are black and white. If you are a visual learner and looking for eye-catching inspiration, consider watching his episodes on travel to Greece as a supplement.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars

 

Greek Philosophy Books

The Enchiridion by Epictetus

The Enchiridion by Epictetus is a book for those seeking to turn their chaotic life into a peaceful one. Enchiridion means “handbook” and is a compilation of the master’s teachings. Epictetus, a Greek born into slavery, is one of the most important teachers of Stoic philosophy.

This book is a simple guide for a great life. It is divided into short chapters, sometimes just a few sentences long. Each chapter focuses on a common human problem and provides simple yet effective and timeless advice to each. The first sentence of The Enchiridion encompasses Stoicism beautifully: “There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power.” In an oversimplified nutshell, Stoicism seeks to teach us how to distinguish between those two and what to do with that distinction. It is really that simple and yet so difficult for us humans. No wonder this philosophy became a go-to personal operating system to many people during the pandemic.

Greece is where Stoicism began around 300 BC in Athens. To pay tribute to this practical philosophy visit the ruins of the Stoa Poikile in Athens. But if you wish to see where Epictetus himself taught, go to Preveza and look for the ruins of the ancient city of Nicopolis where this Greek thinker founded his school of Stoicism.

Contributed by Bea Cińska from PackYourBags

Novels Set in Greece

Zorba the Greek

The masterpiece, Zorba the Greek is an excellent book about Greece to read before your trip. Nikos Kazantzakisis is thought by many to be the greatest Greek author of the modern age. Although he is most well-known for Zorba, he was a prolific and controversial writer. His book, The Last Temptation of Christ was banned but he was also nominated nine times for a Nobel Prize in literature.

It is one of the best Greece books in large part because of the memorable character Zorba himself. Zorba’s great zest for life and ability to laugh and dance despite, and alongside, his deep suffering is something most of us can reflect on at a very personal level. Zorba is sharply contrasted against the bookish and intellectual narrator. This difference invites exploration of the philosophical dichotomies of God and man, mind and body, and freedom and responsibility.

It is an excellent Greek book to read before a trip because it will provide a window into life in a small village in post WWII Crete (where the author grew up). It will also acquaint you with Kazantzakisis and his impact on Greece’s intellectual and literary history. If you visit Crete, you can stop to pay your respects at his tomb in Heraklion.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars

Read more about the film, Zorba the Greek and the biopic, Kazantzakis in our article Best Movies to Watch in Greece Before Your Trip.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Kefalonia in Greece became widely known after the moving novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. This beautiful Ionian island provides the perfect setting for battle and romance. When WWII struck, Kefalonia was under Italian rule. But when the Italians switched alliances and joined the Allies against the Axis, the Italian troops stationed on the islands refused to obey German orders to leave. As a result, the Germans slaughtered 5,000 Italian soldiers in retribution, an event that inspired this wonderful novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

While the love story within the book is fiction, the novel itself is based on true events. The peaceful and remote island of Kefalonia, famed for its incredible beauty and light, is shaken to its core when World War II rolls on to its shores.

This book completely brings out the atmosphere of the era, the Greek idiosyncrasies, and will evoke the smells of pine trees and the ease of island life. It is a story about love and survival, an intimate love story set within massive conflict. It captures the soul of Kefalonia and easily transports you to colourful fishing villages on the edge of turquoise waters like Assos Kefalonia. It is definitely a must read before your next Greek holiday.

Contributed by Nicola at All About RosaLilla

The Island, Victoria Hislop

One of the most poignant fiction books about Greece is The Island, based on the history of a leper settlement in eastern Crete. The book follows the lives of several generations of one family – jumping from the present to the past. The story focuses mostly on the village of Plaka and the nearby island of Spinalonga which was home to a community of lepers during the 20th century.

The Island paints a vivid picture of life in the leper colony as well as life on mainland Crete, covering major events over the last hundred years including the Second World War and the development of medicines to treat leprosy.

This is an excellent book for visitors to eastern Crete – the story depicts Cretan village life, the landscapes and seascapes of Greece in beautiful detail. It is possibly to visit the island of Spinalonga today – easily accessible from resort towns such as Agios Nikolaos and Elounda.

Contributed by Annabel Kirk at Smudged Postcard

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

If you’re taking a trip to Greece, you might hear a lot about Theseus on your travels. He was the mystical king and founder of Athens, as well as a hero in Greek mythology. Mary Renault released the historic fiction novel The King Must Die in 1958 and it was hailed as one of the best historical novels of its time by New York Times critic, Orville Prescott.

It tells the story of Theseus and his adventures, but without the mystical elements – no monsters, paranormal creatures or gods. It’s written in a fictional style, which makes it really easy to digest, but she uses real life events to tell her story. As well as learning about Theseus, you’ll take a literary journey through Athens, Crete and Naxos, as well as other Greek Islands. As you learn more about Theseus, you’ll also learn more about Greek culture and traditions from these tales set in Greece. 

If you find historic non-fiction really dry and hard to read, but you want to learn about one of the most important kings in Greek history, you’ll want to give one of the best books about ancient Greece a try.

Contributed by Louisa Smith of Epic Book Society

Nonfiction Books on Greece

My Ikaria by Spiri Tsintiziras

Did you know one of the many reasons to visit Greece is because it’s home to one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world? These zones have the highest concentration of centenarians and supercentenarians globally – people who are live to be over 100 and even 110, respectively. But what is the secret to their long and happy lives?

Melbourne-based Spiri, fed up with her lack of energy and her daily wife-and-mum routine, realised there had to be a solution for her feeling poorly. Intrigued by the people of Ikaria, a small Greek island considered one of the five Blue Zones, she takes it upon herself to start changing small daily habits and live more like the Ikarians.

Eventually, the chance arises for Spiri to actually head to Greece and visit the Ikarians for herself. She experiences first hand how much more connected people are to each other, their local cuisine and nature compared to her fast-paced lifestyle in Australia.

This is one of the best Greek travel books to help readers appreciate a different way of living, and to gain a better understanding of Greek culture and a new perspective on life. It also shares some delicious Yia-Yia (Greek grandmother) approved recipes and alternatives to modern nutrient-poor snacks!

Contributed by Alyse at The Invisible Tourist

Greek to Me by Marry Norris

Part travel memoir and part reference book, Greek To Me  describes Mary Norris’ love affair with Greece.  This book dives into all things Greek, its origins, words, gods, romances and more. It interestingly captures the beauty and complexity of Greece and its language.

Greek To Me is a brilliant book about the growing interest of the author in Ancient Greek, her travels, experiences with the Greek language and her reflections all described with great insight and humor.  The author also spends time discussing the history and mythology of Greece.

You should read this book before going to Greece if you want to learn interesting facts about the Greek language and how much our culture owes to the Ancient Greeks.  The more you known about Greece before you go, the more you’ll understand it when you’re there.

If you’re a fan of travel memoirs or a language geek, you’ll love this book. After reading Greek To Me, you’ll definitely want to book your flight ticket to Greece!

Camille from Everything Yoga Retreat

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

The Corfu Trilogy is a series of popular books set in Greece, the first of which is My Family and Other Animals. It is set in Corfu, one of the most beautiful island destinations in Greece.

Written in a memoir style, the book is a light-hearted account of the author’s childhood years spent on the island. Gerald Durrell, the author, beautifully weaves together the misadventures of his British family and the vivid details of the natural world. All through the humorous narration, you get a glimpse into the lives of the Durrell family and their interesting Greek friends.

The book also takes you through the spellbinding landscape of Corfu – its quaint villages, a scenery of olive trees, busy marketplaces, and dreamy beaches. Some of these you can visit with a private tour. The books were also turned into a tv show, which is quite enjoyable as well.

The story will certainly make you long for the idyllic life of Greek villages and inspire you to meet and learn the ways of the island’s locals.

– Contributed by Vidyut Rautela at triplyzer

 

Perspective: A Greek American Finding His Way in Greece by Peter Manouselis

This book is about a 31-year-old man named Peter who made good money as an investment banker on Wall Street and then unsuccessfully tried his luck as a screenwriter. He decides to leave America and move to his parents’ homeland, Greece, to live with his father on Crete. There he reconnects with his father and his other relatives.

On Crete he embarks on a personal journey, learning a new language and engaging with the new culture. He helps his father harvest grapes and olives, slaughters goats, and now lives a completely different life. The descriptions of the people, the food, and the stunning landscape of Greece are all really beautiful. His observations are often funny but also often emotional experiences, and there is so much adversity in his search for his identity as a Greek American.

The book reads smoothly and in a wonderful way it will show you to the island of Crete. A recommended read if you are looking to embark on a journey to Greece!

Contributed by Martina at PlacesofJuma

Bucket to Greece by V.D. Bucket

One of the best books about Greece to read before your trip is Bucket to Greece. It’s a fun way to learn more about Greek culture, language, and history through a travelogue that feels more like a comic.

Bucket to Greece is a non-fiction book about a British couple who moved to a small mountain village in Greece. They bought a house from someone who left out a few details about the house and the people around it as he sold it to the couple.

There are currently eleven books in this series. So if you liked the first one, there is plenty more to read. It’s best to read the books in chronological order. Though technically, you would also understand the story if you started with a different book.

Reading the books of Bucket to Greece before your trip will give you some firsthand experience before you’ve even arrived. You will feel like you’ve lived in Greece for months.

Contributed by Lara at The Best Travel Gifts

Greek Cookbooks

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook: Classic Mediterranean Soul Food Recipes, by Christos Sourligas, Evdokia Antginas, Angelo Tsarouchas

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook is a great book to read before setting off to Greece as it will not only whet your appetite for all of the delicious Greek dishes waiting for you when you get there, but also provide some insight into Greek food culture! This cookbook includes a variety of recipes for Greek appetizers, main courses, and plenty of desserts. As a vegetarian, my personal favorite is the walnut cake.

I highly recommend reading My Big Fat Greek Cookbook, or any authentic Greek cookbook, before your first trip to Greece – because it will enhance your appreciation for all of the yummy food you’ll get to enjoy! It will add context to which of your dishes traditional classics – engrained into the culture – and which are modernly influenced. It will also enable you to know ahead of time which meals you would like to seek out when choosing restaurants so that you don’t miss any classics! Kalí óreksi!

Contributed by Jill Mascioli at onedaytravelguides.com

 

I hope you have found a book about Greece you can enjoy today! Even if your trip is months or years away, you can enjoy the wonder of Greece right now. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? What are your top book recommendations for others who are visiting Greece. Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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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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

 

Travel From Home

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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 also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or 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

Travel Planning Deals woman reading in a hammock

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 also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or 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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