As the cradle of western civilization, many travelers come to Greece with the aim of discovering some of its exceptional cultural heritage. There are a myriad of incredible historic sites and museums to choose from, that said, many of these can be overrun in peak season. The crowds, coupled with the intense summer heat, can make you wish you had stay on the country’s equally spectacular beaches. However, there are places where you can experience the best of both worlds by visiting some lesser-known sites (perhaps in the company of an archaeologist?) then retreat to the peace of your private seaside villa. Our experts at White Key Villas and Five Star Greece reveal their favorite places to explore the secrets of the ancient world below.

Sanctuary of Apollo, Despotiko Island. Photo Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

The Sanctuary of Apollo, Despotiko

Located on the islet of Despotiko, a few minutes’ boat ride from the chic Cycladic island of Antiparos, is the site of the recently excavated Sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis, a hidden gem recommended by our local Greece experts. According to Ileana von Hirsch of Five Star Greece, Antiparos is the “insider Greek island where the likes of Tom Hanks and low-key jet-setters kick off their shoes and go barefoot here in the summer.” You too can add in some archaeological adventures to your relaxed glamour holiday.

Dating from the 6th century BCE, this sanctuary is the largest archaic cult site in the Cyclades, second only to Delos, which is itself the largest of its kind in the world. Starting in 1997, ongoing excavations have brought to light the remains of what was an important centre of worship. The site has more than 20 buildings, including a Doric temple, as well as hundreds of statues, clay vessels, figurines, ivory buckles, swords, vases— coming from across the Mediterranean.

“This fabulous excursion combines the joys of private boat ride with the unique opportunity to observe excavation and restoration work and meet the archaeologists responsible for the site,” explains Elena Fotiadi of White Key Villas. “You will have the rare chance to witness the discovery of ancient artefacts while experiencing a pristine Cycladic island with some great beaches, idyllic, bathed in warm sunlight, and surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Aegean Sea.”

Where to Stay in Antiparos

 Antiparos 13B

Designed by well-known Greek architect Dimitris Rizos, this stunning pair of villas by Five Star Greece lay hidden on a private road at the edge of a sublime south-facing peninsula of Antiparos.

Comfortably accommodating up to 20 people, or alternatively, as two completely separate and private villas, each villa has its own adjoining guest house. Built in 2007, the complex is set within gorgeous gardens conceived by eminent French landscape architect Philippe Niez. Guests can relax under the shady pergolas covering lovely outdoor and entertaining spaces which border a large pool shared by both houses. A short 10-minute walk down a path leads to a small secluded sandy beach.

The villas are perfect for family holidays and large family reunions. Guests can either take both five-bedroom homes together, or the Pool House on its own with exclusive use of the pool.

Enjoy a posh and peaceful holiday in Antiparos with some archaeological adventures with Five Star Greece here.

Villa Melissa

This vast, recently renovated 11-bedroom Mediterranean-style property is undoubtedly among the island’s few, very exclusive estates and features extreme privacy and exceptional vistas of the sea and islands, available through White Key Villas.

Its white-washed silhouette sunbathes on an elevated seafront plot of 12,000 square meters, which grants it a supremely calm setting. Its size and location are complemented by breathtaking views, graceful indoor and outdoor living, a fabulous infinity pool area and access to a semi-private beach with a pergola and sunloungers.

The bedrooms, which can accommodate 18 to 21 guests, are ideally spread out over the complex. Most include en-suite baths and private entrances and four are located in an adjacent guest cottage.

The large swimming pool area with daybeds and a lounge also includes a bar and external shower. The buildings are surrounded and linked by arched courtyards and beautiful terraces with various seating and dining areas as well as a barbeque.

Bring your family or friends together for an laidback luxury getaway to Greece with White Key villas at this link.

Antiparos MS

This fresh and chic seven-bedroom waterfront home, available through Five Star Greece, is set in a picturesque location facing northeast across to Paros and the colorful kite-surfers of Pounda club.

It consists of a main house, with the pool stretching in front of it, and two guest homes to the rear. It can sleep up to 12 in its seven bedrooms, making it an excellent fit for a group of friends or two families traveling together. The interiors are decorated in white and with light primary colour accents and the whole property benefits from A/C and mosquito netting at doors and windows. There is a large, comfortable living room with an open plan kitchen beckoning guests to gather around meals.

Lovely Apantima Beach and Beach Club are found at the end of the garden and the sparkling sea is directly in front. There is a path to some steps down to a private sea-entry point. The port is a mere eight minute drive away and other conveniences are within easy reach.

Start designing your relaxing Greek culture and beach escape by reaching out to Five Star Greece here.

Corinth, Peloponnese

White Key Villas offer their guests staying in the Peloponnese and Porto Heli a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at a working excavation with one of the most respected institutions in the field, the Corinth Excavation Tour is a must for archaeology enthusiasts and anyone looking for an extraordinary cultural experience in Greece. Elena Fotiadi tells us more about this unique site and experience:

“Inhabited for over 8000 years, Corinth has played a key role in the region over the course of Greek history. One of the great city-states of antiquity and a major center of silk production during the Byzantine Era, it was coveted by various Crusader States and the Ottoman Empire, who fought over it for over four hundred years. As a result of its tumultuous history, Corinth now boasts impressive archaeological sites that yield exquisite cultural artefacts.

“More than just a tour, this is an extraordinary opportunity to explore the ruins of Ancient Corinth, visit a working excavation, and experience the wonder of archaeology first-hand! In partnership with the American School of Classical Studies of Athens (ASCSA) this is a unique tour offering unprecedented access to the site and the work of this internationally renowned organization: The Corinth Excavation Tour features a number of ASCSA field experts and archaeologists, who will introduce you to the excavation site and to various key concepts and modern techniques of archaeological excavation, giving you unique insight into the science—and art—of archaeology.”

Participation in these excavations tours is available only during specific periods throughout the year and should be prearranged through White Key Villas. Contact them here for further information.

Where to Stay near Corinth

Villa Yria

Your majestic experience discovering Greece’s ancient ruins can be accentuated by staying this splendid villa which appears to have been washed up ashore like a hero in a Greek legend. Bordering quaint coastal fishing villages, you’ll enter another dimension arriving at this spacious beachfront estate.

The large 4.5-acre property, available through White Key Villas, includes a main building, a chic aristocratic house from the sixties and three newly built, stylish and fully independent suites. The villa’s pool extends between the front patio and the beach, acting as a natural extension of the sea. Its charming Mediterranean garden further highlights the scenery and provides the estate with privacy, shade and wonderful summery aromas.

This villa has a postmodern glamour with the combination of the stylish retro decor of the main building and the contemporary aesthetics of the newly added suites. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast gorgeous natural lighting on its carefully selected furniture, paintings and objets d’art. There is a graceful flow between the interior and exterior living spaces, with the pool area in the front, presided over by an impressive gazebo.

Enjoy the pleasures of privacy, direct access to a sandy beach, an amazing pool and a magical garden at the Villa Yria by contacting White Key villas at this link.