Any eager traveler will find themselves spoiled for choice with the abundance of things to do in Greece. This country effortlessly blends beautiful landscapes, ancient history, and energetic and welcoming culture into one delightful package. So, it’s not rocket science as to why this destination is popular with tourists.
Whether you’re a history buff, a party-till dawn night owl, a beach bum, or a foodie seeking the best Greek food, Greece is an absolute treasure trove. Ancient wonders await you with open arms as a proud testament to the country’s rich and impressive history. Crystal-clear waters offer up some unbeatable fresh seafood to gorge on to your heart’s desire.
The numerous top spots in Greece, and the variety of experiences on offer, make it a brilliant country to suit every taste. It’s not just a fabulous country to see as a tourist – it’s just fabulous all around.
So, we’ll uncover some of the best places to visit in Greece and the top things you might want to try out along the way. This country suits all, to those seeking sun-soaked adventures, historical immersion, or any opportunity to devour some exceptional Greek cuisine! The lively cities, enchanting islands, and picturesque villages are calling your name. Opa!
Show Table of Contents
- TL;DR: Our Top Picks
- Best Things to Do in Greece
- 1. Visit The Ancient Acropolis
- 2. Go on a Walking Tour of Athens to Sample Greek Cuisine
- 3. Attend the Athens Epidaurus Festival
- 4. Visit the Famous Village of Oia
- 5. Enjoy the beaches of Mykonos
- 6. Scuba Dive the Mythical Seas
- 7. Fall for the Island of Delos
- 8. Enjoy Greek Wine
- 9. Explore Mykonos Town
- 10. Explore the island of Crete
- 11. Wander the Medieval City of Rhodes
- 12. Take a Day Trip to Neighboring Turkey
- 13. Dive into the Natural World in Corfu
- 14. Take a Day Trip to Albania
- 15. Explore Shipwreck Beach
- 16. Marvel at Venetian Castles
- 17. Eat your Heart out at Thessaloniki
- 18. Enjoy a Peaceful Getaway at Nafplio
- 19. Take a Step Back in Time at Delphi
- 20. See the Famous Monasteries of Meteora
- 21. Hike Mount Olympus
- 22. See the Birthplace of the Olympic Games
- 23. Visit the Temple of Poseidon
- 24. Go Island-Hopping to Paros Island
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- When is the best time to visit Greece?
- How much time should I spend in Greece to fully explore its attractions?
- What are the top things to do in Greece for first-time visitors?
TL;DR: Our Top Picks
|Destination||Location||Type of Traveler||Best Attraction||Cost|
|Athens||Mainland||History & Culture||Acropolis and Parthenon||$$|
|Santorini||Cyclades||Romance & Luxury||Oia and the Caldera||$$$|
|Mykonos||Cyclades||Nightlife & Parties||Mykonos Town and Paradise Beach||$$$|
|Crete||Crete||Families & Nature||Samaria Gorge and Knossos Palace||$$|
|Delphi||Mainland||History Enthusiasts||Temple of Apollo||$|
|Nafplio||Peloponnese||Cultural Immersion||Palamidi Fortress and Old Town||$$|
|Mount Olympus||Thessaly||Adventure & Hiking||Hiking to Mount Olympus Summit||$|
Best Things to Do in Greece
1. Visit The Ancient Acropolis
First up, let’s start with the capital of Greece, Athens!
Athens is a city that perfectly blends ancient history with modern urban life. Enjoy a most memorable time spent visiting iconic landmarks one minute and then eating amazing Greek cuisine the next. One of the most valuable experiences you could seek in this historical city would be to delve into the world of ancient Greece by checking out some of its long-standing landmarks.
For one, the awe-inspiring Athens Acropolis, home to the majestic Parthenon, can’t be missed if visiting this ancient city. You could also go to the Acropolis Museum on the same outing to learn more about this amazing and iconic landmark of Greece! It’s best to visit the Parthenon early to beat the crowds and then hit the museum after.
2. Go on a Walking Tour of Athens to Sample Greek Cuisine
If you’re not all that into Greek history or want some variety, ancient Athens boasts some wonderfully unique neighborhoods ready for you to explore.
Some of the most popular Greek dishes in the city include Moussaka, Spanakopita, or the street-food favorite, Souvlaki. Of course, there’s the famous Greek salad, of which you’ll find some version in literally every Greek restaurant.
As a lover of deserts, I would feel wrong not to suggest trying the savory breakfast pastry, Bougatsa, or maybe a nice flaky Baklava. There are many great dessert spots in Athens, and you won’t have to look long; try the traditional recipe of the family-run Bougatsadiko Thessaloniki for a great Bougatsa.
An afternoon in Athens is the perfect opportunity to tag along on a foodie walking tour to sample some of Greece’s finest food. Maybe you could even fit in a hunt for treasures in the flea market of Monastiraki.
3. Attend the Athens Epidaurus Festival
If you’re after some seasonal cultural immersion, plan your trip between June and August to catch the Athens Epidaurus Festival. The city’s annual arts festival celebrates music, theatre, visual arts, and dance. Performances are held twice a week during summer, and festival highlights are held at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Odeon Herodes Atticus.
As for the question of where to stay in Athens, the Acropolis View Hotel is a mere five-minute walk from the Acropolis Museum and boasts brilliant views. Wind down after a day of getting your tourist cap on, and sip a glass of wine with a lit-up Acropolis as your backdrop.
Wyndham Grand Athens offers an impressive list of facilities and services for those who want grand views and the added luxury of an all-inclusive. Try the full-service spa, pool, and on-site car service.
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4. Visit the Famous Village of Oia
White-washed buildings sit at the edge of dramatic cliffs overlooking the beautiful blue ocean in the picture-perfect destination of Santorini.
One highly recommended destination in Santorini would be the village of Oia. You’ve probably already seen many pictures of Oia’s iconic blue-domed churches standing in stark contrast to their surroundings.
For a less crowded view of the sunset off the cliffs, consider a stay at the adults-only boutique hotel Old Castle Oia.
Another standout hotel offering a similar experience would be Grace Hotel Santorini, with its pool overlooking the ocean. You could even opt for a deluxe suite with a plunge pool or a private villa with a larger pool for completely private, unobstructed views of the setting sun.
5. Enjoy the beaches of Mykonos
Mykonos has a reputation as being somewhere to enjoy pristine sandy beaches during the day and a top-notch nightlife scene once the sun sets.
If a party is what you’re after, Super Paradise Beach and Paradise Beach and renowned for popular beach parties. But if serenity or a family-friendly ambiance is more of what you’re after, the area is full of options such as Platis Gialos or Psarou Beach.
During the day, a great way to enjoy the many gorgeous beaches of Mykonos is to take a kayak tour. Take in the island’s natural side and see it from a new perspective while watching for local wildlife.
6. Scuba Dive the Mythical Seas
If you’re eager to dive deeper into what Greece has to offer, you could try actually diving.
The island of Mykonos may not be as famous for its scuba diving as it is for its nightlife, but you can enjoy year-round crystal clear water. A dive or snorkel trip will offer amazing underwater visibility to enjoy beautiful reefs, diverse marine life, and maybe even a shipwreck!
Mykonos isn’t your only option for experiencing what the underwater world of Greece has to offer. Santorini holds underwater volcanic caves, while Crete provides ample opportunities to see dolphins. Moreover, the blue caves of Zakynthos are incredibly popular with divers, and Corfu is littered with ancient shipwrecks.
7. Fall for the Island of Delos
For a unique history tour, try the uninhabited island of Delos to see the ruins of a once-thriving city, now a significant UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Delos once served as a prosperous trading port. Moreover, according to Greek mythology, Apollo himself was born on the island, and such a claim to fame led the island to become a significant site for pilgrimage. First settled in the 3rd century BCE, its remote location allowed for impressive preservation after its downfall.
These days, it’s a designated archaeological site that receives about 100,000 annual visitors. Once you’re through roaming around spots like the Terrace of the Lions and the House of Dionysus, you can awe over artifacts discovered on the island at the Archaeological Museum.
8. Enjoy Greek Wine
If you want a little more culture, take the day easy at a local winery and learn how the Greeks make their wine before getting to sample it alongside delicious appetizers and live traditional music. Then once the sun sets, party the night away and dance like no one’s watching!
A most popular Greek wine you might want to tick off during your trip to Greece would be Assyrtiko. It’s produced all over Greece, but mostly in its place of origin, Santorini. It’s a lean white wine that pairs well with fried seafood.
Another notable entry on the “to sample” list would be the traditional Retsina wine. With a mixed reputation and something of an acquired taste, this wine features the strong flavors of pine resin and pairs wonderfully with some calamari by the sea or some fresh olives.
9. Explore Mykonos Town
Mykonos Town, or “Chora,” is the island’s capital and holds a lively maze of boutiques, art galleries, and tempting tavernas to dip into. Enjoy a day of shopping for unique souvenirs and local gems, then chow down on fresh, locally caught seafood right next to the sea it came from.
When it comes to accommodation, Mykonos can cater to wide-ranging preferences. The Belvedere Hotel is snugly in the main town, only a mere 400m from the beach. Guests at the hotel can enjoy live music during the summer season and gourmet dining.
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10. Explore the island of Crete
The largest of all the Greek islands, Crete has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Transport yourself back to the legendary ancient world with a visit to the labyrinth of King Minos or the Palace of Knossos.
If you really want to get out and explore this wonderful island, many activities are available. Off-roading trips open up a new side to Crete that are a little harder to access solo. Or, you could hop on an ATV for an exhilarating tour of the rugged north!
The scenery in Crete is nothing short of dramatic. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Peaks of Crete offer up brilliant hiking, mountaineering, and cave-exploring opportunities.
Alternatively, as a rest bite, you could get yourself over to Elafonisi and marvel at its pink sandy allure. Or, if delicious Greek food is the comfort you seek, consider a cooking experience with a local family.
For a well-rounded and authentic experience of Crete, consider staying at this charming Anatoli traditional villa. This pet-friendly stay offers stunning ocean views in a welcoming and quiet mountain village.
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11. Wander the Medieval City of Rhodes
Rhodes happily welcomes you in with enduring remnants of medieval times, stunning beaches, and quaint little seaside spots. My first introduction to this wonderful island was on a family vacation, and I can easily say that everyone had an absolutely cracking time.
The island of Rhodes really is bombarded with some impressive must-see attractions. Most notable of those attractions would be the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Medieval City of Rhodes. Soak up what’s left of a bygone era with a leisurely stroll, or take on a more fast-paced approach with a local scooter tour.
Accommodation-wise, most budgets can find something suitable for a comfortable stay. But, if you want to splash out, the super luxurious all-inclusive resort of Atrium Platinum Luxury Resort Hotel & Spa might be for you. This beachside property promises unobstructed sea views for all guests, two sizeable swimming pools, multiple dining options, and a top-notch spa and wellness center.
12. Take a Day Trip to Neighboring Turkey
When I was in Rhodes, my family and I enjoyed a day trip to neighboring Turkey (or Türkiye as they would prefer to be known). It only takes about one and a half hours to get to Turkey from Rhodes via a fast boat! It will only cost about 35 – 50 Euros for the return ferry ride to Fethiye, Türkiye, and it’s a great day out.
Once in Türkiye, the options of how to spend your day away from Greece are seemingly boundless. The biggest Turkish town closest to Rhodes that you’ll most likely be day-tripping to could end up being Marmaris. The area surrounding this gorgeous city is teeming with stunning coastline, ready for you to enjoy day cruises fueled with tasty treats and snorkeling.
Or maybe you would prefer a trip to Turtle Beach. Here you could stop off for a unique bathing experience in the nearby sulfur mud pools or even spy the local Caretta caretta Turtles!
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13. Dive into the Natural World in Corfu
Plonked in the waters of the Ionian Sea, you’ll find Corfu, a true jewel of Greece.
Famed British naturalist, Gerald Durrell, found his love of the natural world growing up in Corfu before starting a world-renowned zoo in my island home of Jersey. If you go for yourself, it won’t take long for you to see how easily this island managed to inspire his life’s work!
For one, there’s the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Mount Pantokrator. Here you’ll find lush forests and intriguing scenic trails to wander down for some breathtaking panoramic views of the island.
The island is also known for having some beautifully unique birdlife. The old salt pans and Corfiot wetlands of Alikes Lefkimmis are brilliant places for bird-watching. If you time your visit right, you might even get to witness some flamingos!
Corfu Town acts as a great base for your trip and serves a range of suitable accommodation options for tourists. An apartment rental, like Dimora di Stile, will have you close to the city center but a comfortable walk away from the beach.
If you want to move further away from the center, the adults-only Kairaba Mythos Palace might be for you. With mountain and sea views, Kairaba offers all the amenities you’ll need for a relaxing trip to Greece.
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14. Take a Day Trip to Albania
Really want to shake things up? Albania is super accessible from Corfu and makes for a cool day trip. Getting back to mainland Greece will take you around one and a half hours. Similarly, a ferry boat to Albania will take around the same time, and a speedboat can get you there in as little as 30 minutes.
Albania is a gorgeous country with a lot to offer. On a day trip here from Corfu, you could stroll around the coastal town of Saranda before taking a guided tour of the ancient archaeological park of Butrint.
Go a little further afield for a once-in-a-lifetime swim at the beautiful Blue Eye water springs. After walking through the dense forest, you reach the crystal-clear cold springs for a nice refreshing dip. A nice little extra on such an excursion would be the chance to spot a rare Blue Dragonfly bobbing around the water’s edge.
15. Explore Shipwreck Beach
Zakynthos, also known as “Zante,” is not too far from Corfu and equally as beautiful. It’s known as a hot spot for British teens and young adults seeking out non-stop partying in the summer months. While it is indeed brilliant for such entertainment, it certainly has much more to offer.
The island of Zakynthos boasts some beautiful beaches, one of which you may have already seen a picture of! The beach I speak of is Navagio (or Shipwreck Beach), which can only be accessed by boat. While you can get some pretty great birds-eye views of Shipwreck Beach solo, many tour operators are ready to take you right onto its shores.
If you’re in Zakynthos for the parties, you might be best to stay within Laganas for easier access to local bars and restaurants. Somewhere like Agave Boutique Hotel provides luxury on a budget, whereas, if you want to splurge a little more, there are luxury villas with private pools waiting to welcome you in with open arms.
If you want more of a peaceful retreat, you would be better off looking for places to stay in areas like Bochali, Argasi, or Tsilivi.
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16. Marvel at Venetian Castles
While it certainly is party central, there’s more to Zante than ouzo-fueled nights out. Zante’s old Venetian Castle ruins are a great opportunity to delve into a little more ancient Greek history. Zante, alongside the other Ionian islands, has a diverse past, and the castle here stands as a reminder of the former glory of the island.
The castle was all but completely destroyed by the Turks back in the 15th century, but a couple of centuries later, it was revived by the Venetians around 1646. Unfortunately, this ancient citadel has received substantial damage over the years from war, pirate raids, and earthquakes (and maybe the odd drunken tourist).
But don’t let this deter you. It’s not a major site to see in Zante, but it is a completely free and peaceful retreat. It’s a beautiful spot if you want to learn a little about the local history.
17. Eat your Heart out at Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece, close to the sea with a lively cultural scene. In addition, due to its geographical location, the city acts as a brilliant base for exploring more of what Northern Greece shows off.
For foodie lovers, Thessaloniki serves up some finger-licking good street food options. A personal favorite that makes my tummy rumble now just writing about it is “Bougatsa.” I can almost smell the wafts of cinnamon that envelop the flaky layers of pastry and custard filling.
You won’t find the city short of amazing places providing other late-night eats and street food. Consider a food tour to get the inside scoop from a local that can take you to the best spots for a delightfully memorable experience trying out the top eats!
Staying in the city center is the best idea for first-time visitors. Staying somewhere like Colors Urban Hotel Thessaloniki is a budget-friendly and sustainable option, conveniently close to restaurants, bars, and local transport.
If you want to stay somewhere a little more traditional, Ano Poli, just north of the city center, is a smart move. The architecture, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and charming winding alleys will most certainly win you over.
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18. Enjoy a Peaceful Getaway at Nafplio
Nafplio is one of the quieter spots mentioned in this list so far, but still full of charm and worth a mention. It’s less than two hours drive from Athens, so combining the two locations in one trip is most certainly doable.
Within the city itself are some undeniably picturesque streets that hold plenty of tavernas for you to sample the rich cuisine of Nafplio. Equally available is the number of traditional coffee houses ready to serve you a traditional Greek brew.
This seaside town provides a quiet and peaceful getaway, with many activities available to provide a perfect rest bite from a busy life back home. Take it easy and lounge the days away on Nafplio’s pretty beaches like Karathona or Neraki. Or treat yourself to some local wine tasting on a local vineyard tour.
As for where to stay, you’ve got a few options. Want to stay in the heart of Nafplio? You have plenty of options in the old town that provide just what you need for a peaceful stay.
If that’s not enough, you can always travel further out to town for a little more seclusion. Frunze Luxury Apartments sits in an excellent location, with mountain views and good proximity to everywhere you’ll want to visit in Nafplio during your stay!
19. Take a Step Back in Time at Delphi
The Greeks once considered Delphi to be the center of the world. Because of this, it attracted thousands of pilgrims every year. In modern times, it’s still an amazing place for a step back in time!
Delphi is a brilliant add-on option for anyone traveling to Athens. A day trip to Delphi could involve visiting numerous ancient monuments like the Temple of Apollo or the impressive ancient theater that once entertained up to 5,000 people at a time.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi is an absolute must for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the area’s history. It’s one of the unbeaten best archaeological museums in all of Greece. It was founded back in 1903 and houses some incredibly notable discoveries from Delphi.
A trip to Delphi is indeed a little venture into ancient times, and while the town can provide some rural charm, it’s most suited to history buffs. While a popular day trip from Athens, you can opt to stay in Delphi to take your time and venture a little further out from the top spots.
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20. See the Famous Monasteries of Meteora
Meteora boasts no less than six UNESCO World Heritage Site monasteries. You can visit Meteora on a day trip from Athens, but your time will be rushed, and the experience is dimmed by travel time.
As popular an area as Meteora might be for tourists, it still manages to feel uncrowded and super accessible. It’s one of those amazing wonders that has not lost its magic and charm from hoards of tourists while still being on the radar as a popular place.
Rather than rush this wonderful spot into a day trip, you’re much better off sticking around for a couple of days to really soak it all in. Stick around and relax, take in the beautiful countryside, and take your sweet time to see all it has to offer.
There are some charming budget-friendly options like Filoxeni Gonia, with its wonderfully cozy aesthetic. Or, get a little fancy at Grand Forest Metsovo, with its indoor swimming pool and incredible mountain views.
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21. Hike Mount Olympus
In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is the all-mighty home of the Greek gods, and it’s most certainly deserving of the Greek mythology and magical stories surrounding it. Not only is Mount Olympus one of the most famous mountains in the world and the tallest mountain in all of Greece, but it’s also the second tallest in the Balkans.
The absolute best way for a fully immersive experience of Mount Olympus would be to take on the challenge of hiking up it! The hike is said to be about 10-11 hours. However, when factoring in time for snacks and breaks, many people stretch the hike out to two or three days.
People do hike up the mountain solo, so this is an option. But if you would prefer a guide if you’re not so experienced or would prefer some company if traveling solo, many tour operators offer once-in-a-lifetime hikes up this legendary mountain! A trip to Mount Olympus is a brilliant day trip option if visiting the likes of the previously mentioned Thessaloniki.
Just remember, there are many things to do in Greece that will get the adrenaline pumping, and it’s not just for beach lounging and delicious food. With that in mind, don’t forget to take out the right travel insurance for your adrenaline activities for peace of mind so you can make the most of the experience.
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22. See the Birthplace of the Olympic Games
Located on the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in the birthplace of the modern Olympic games. The Olympia Archaeological site provides a unique and incredible experience, transporting you back to the beginning of what has remained a worldwide event of significant importance. Try to imagine the ancient Greeks as they embarked on the first modern Olympic games at this one-of-a-kind archaeological site.
Besides the ancient ruins, you could tour the Museum of Olympia to witness the treasure trove of artifacts that bring the athletic prowess nurtured on this famous archaeological site back to life.
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23. Visit the Temple of Poseidon
Cape Sounio is the home of the iconic Temple of Poseidon. The temple is a testament to Greek architecture’s timeless beauty as it sits high on a rocky headland overlooking the Aegean Sea.
The temple is best just before sunset. Due to its location, you get an unparalleled vantage point. The temple gets washed in a golden glow while the sky turns vibrant hues as the sun dips below the horizon. It’s pretty idyllic!
The temple itself is pretty cheap to enter, costing only 10 Euro April-October, and 5 Euro November-March. It opens quite early in the morning and stays open to sunset. Obviously, well aware of the appeal of visiting at this time, opening hours have accommodated to demand!
If you just want a fleeting visit, there is the option to take a day trip to Cape Sounio from the likes of Athens.
Otherwise, many local resorts provide the ultimate getaway. Cape Sounio Grecotel Boutique Resort offers a private beach and private yacht excursions to neighboring islets. Or maybe you would prefer sipping a cocktail at the poolside bar at Plaza Resort after a game on one of its tennis courts.
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24. Go Island-Hopping to Paros Island
The island of Paros lies just south of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea. Of all the things to do in Greece, island-hopping the Greek islands is one of the best, and Paros is perfect for just that!
The cobbled streets of Parikia, the island’s capital, are picture-perfect, with traditional white-washed houses covered with a rainbow of flowers.
Several other popular Greek islands are all within perfect distance for island-hopping day trips. For example, check out Oia village of Santorini, or lounge on the beaches of Delos and Mykonos, for a day out of Paros.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When is the best time to visit Greece?
If you’re after the best weather for your trip to Greece, look to go during spring (April to June) and fall (September to October). Opting to travel during the spring or fall season will grace you with pleasant weather and mild temperatures. Moreover, these seasons are a little less crowded than the peak summer season, so you could enjoy fewer crowds and potentially cheaper accommodation options.
How much time should I spend in Greece to fully explore its attractions?
If you really want to make the most of some of the best things to do in Greece, spending at least 10 to 14 days in the country is a good shout. This time frame will allow you plenty of opportunity to soak in the best attractions in Greece. Take your sweet time to delight in the Greek culture, food, history, and natural beauty aplenty!
This time frame also gives you that little wiggle room if you want to stop off at a couple of hot spots or go island hopping without rushing yourself.
What are the top things to do in Greece for first-time visitors?
So, the question of the best things to do in Greece for first-time travelers is relative to the tourist in question! The recommendations relevant to you will completely depend on personal interests, travel styles, and trip expectations.
However, to give a general overview. Any trip to Greece that involves island hopping will be memorable! As you’ve seen from this list, many islands in Greece can offer up varying experiences.
Visit Zante for that party vibe, Delphi for amazing history, or Santorini for unmissable sunsets. Don’t forget to visit the country’s capital, Athens, to get a different vibe of Greece and immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle to either start or end your trip to Greece with a bang.
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Lisa Ward is a travel writer based in Jersey. She loves hiking and adventure travel, and has hiked to Everest Base Camp and Machu Picchu, as well as through Patagonia and up several volcanoes across the world. Lisa cycled down Death Road in Bolivia, went canyoneering in Costa Rica, climbed canopies in Honduras. That school trip to Honduras sparked Lisa’s interest in the underwater world. She has since undergone basic training in biological research concerning marine conservation, most notably that of coral reefs, and is a PADI qualified Rescue Diver with a specialty in underwater photography. So far, she has dived in Jersey, Honduras, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef.
After gaining her law degree and falling into the world of finance, Lisa gained a qualification in digital marketing before deciding to take the leap into writing full time. Lisa is also a trained English Language tutor with a TEFL qualification and specialty qualifications in teaching online and 1-1. Other interests include playing the clarinet, which Lisa played in orchestras from the age of 10 to 19, martial arts (black belt in karate), and quite literally anything outdoors.