With more evenings spent at home, swap your usual bedtime stories with the legends of Zeus, Hera, and Hades. Having brushed up on the basics of Greek mythology, you’ll be better equipped to plan your own odyssey. These stories gave rise to otherworldly temples, altars, and palaces –– many uncovered in modern-day Greece. Mere mortals can connect to the world of gods and heroes in these 5 locations.
Hike the homes of the 12 Greek gods
Mount Olympus was like the Hollywood Hills of Greek mythology. The 12 Olympians including Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, and Artemis lived among its peaks. The deities held a council over the fate of man, while Hades, based in The Underworld, dialed in once in a while. Located between Thessaly and Macedonia, the real Mount Olympus is a national park renowned for its diverse range of endemic flora and fauna.
While you won’t be able to see the king of the gods himself, you can hike to “Zeus’ Throne,” the highest peak of the mountain. Keep an eye out for a near-mythical creature, the endangered Balkan chamois, a rare goat-antelope.
Pay homage to Athena at the Acropolis
Built in the 5th century BC, the Acropolis, a hilltop archaeological site, still crowns the skyline of modern Athens. On this rocky citadel, you can crane your neck at mysterious monuments reminiscent of the golden age of Athens. Among them are the Temple of Athena Nike and the Parthenon.
These lavish white marble structures were dedicated to the patron and protector of the city, Athena, goddess of wisdom. The story of Athena’s birth was depicted in sculptures discovered at Parthenon. Before heading to the ruins, gather your bearings at the Acropolis Museum, one of the best museums in the world.
Wind through a labyrinth of ruins in Knossos
Built for King Minos of Crete, the Palace of Knossos was a sprawling complex with more than 1500 interlocking rooms. He constructed a labyrinth to house a Minotaur, half-man, half-bull. The king banished prisoners to the maze, and well, you can imagine their fate. Minos kept the monster alive because –– plot twist –– the Minotaur was the son of Minos and his wife, Pasiphae.
You can still visit the labyrinthian ruins of the Palace at Knossos. Wander the luxurious living quarters of the royal family and see the original throne of the king. Keep an eye out for paintings of bulls on the pottery and wall paintings, a nod to the former inhabitant.
Explore the nursery of baby Zeus
Before the king of the sky was throwing down thunderbolts, Zeus was a baby hidden in the mythical Dikteon Cave. Zeus’ father Cronus heard a prophecy that his sons would overthrow him, so he managed to swallow — yes, really! — all but one. His wife, Rhea hid Zeus in a cave where he was raised. Known today as Psychro cave in the modern-day village of Psychro in Crete, the former hideout is located 1000 meters (3280 feet) above sea level. Wear comfortable shoes as it’s a steep walk to the cave entrance. Upon entering, the unique rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites transcend you into another universe.
Wish yourself a safe journey home at the Temple of Poseidon
Lovers of the open sea can visit the Temple of Poseidon, dedicated to the god and protector of the sea. Here you can catch the sunset over the Aegean and stroll along the promenade past waterfront cafes. Located at the Cape of Sounion, the 60 meters (200 feet) high marble monument stands at the southernmost point of Attica (a region in the south of Greece). Sailors built the temple for Poseidon to guarantee themselves a safe passage home. It was the last site on land Athenians would see before sailing out to war, and the first thing that greeted them upon return.
Watch an introduction into Greek mythology right now
Want to learn more about the Greek gods, monsters, and notable mortals? Take a virtual Greek mythology tour with tour guide Aristotelis Koskinas. The archeologist leads walking tours in Athens. Get to know the range of personalities, characteristics, and individual powers of the prominent heroes in Greek mythology. On your next Zoom call, drop some knowledge about the origins of expressions like, “Pandora’s box” and “body of Greek god.”
For our world at home initiative, we’re bringing some of our best-loved tours and experiences to you. It’s our way of injecting a little of the joy of travel into your living room and of celebrating the fantastic guides who make our trips incredible. Now that you’ve flexed your muscles in the humanities, strengthen your artistic talents and take a fun online street art workshop or a leisurely virtual Balinese water color painting workshop. We’re adding new content every week.