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Spotlight – 7 Exciting Outdoor Adventure Trips in Greece

While some people want nothing more than to sit on the beach and relax during vacation, other people see this time as the right opportunity for adventure. Greece is widely known for its beauty and its long history, but few tourists realize that it is also a great destination for outdoor activities. Across the mainland and the islands, a number of great opportunities exist for getting outside and enjoying some adventure.

Among these opportunities are the following:

 

  1. Kalymnos – Rock Climbing

rock climbingOnce a major destination for archaeologists, Kalymnos now receives relatively few visitors. In an effort to drive additional tourism, the island decided to capitalize on its natural resources and introduce Massouri and Armeos, two resorts in the northwest part of the island that are focused on rock climbing.

Kalymnos features towering limestone cliffs and provides easy access to Telendos, a tiny islet known for its great rock-climbing cliffs. New routes continue to open up along these cliffs, adding to the many that are already available. The island also hosts a major climbing festival each year, usually during October. Because summers in Greece can get so hot, a rock-climbing adventure is best enjoyed in the spring or fall.

 

  1. Corinth – Bungee Jumping

People who want a simply thrilling experience during their vacation in Greece may want to head to Corinth, which has developed a reputation for bungee jumping. Here, individuals dive right over the aquamarine waters of the Corinth Channel and take in the breathtaking scenery while enjoying one of the biggest adrenaline rushes available. The cliffs along the Corinth Channel are particularly picturesque, so individuals should be sure to bring their cameras along for this adventure.

 

  1. Aegina – Sailing

Because Greece has such an abundance of gorgeous water, it attracts a number of sailors each year. One of the prime destinations for advanced sailors and novices alike is Aegina, which is a short boat ride away from Athens. This island is home to the Aegean Sailing School, which offers six-day family sailing holidays that people can book. During the adventure, individuals sleep aboard the vessel while learning how to steer, gain speed, and slow down. Of course, there is plenty of free time for swimming and sight-seeing.

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  1. Thessaly – Mountaineering

Tourists who want to spend some time in the mountains of Greece should head to Thessaly, which is home to the towering Mount Olympus. Here, individuals will have the opportunity to kayak, rock climb, explore rugged canyons, mountain bike, and hike. In addition to inspiring vistas of Mount Olympus, these trails provide excellent views of the Aegean Sea, the River Pineios, and Tempi Valley. Families that do not have a lot of mountaineering experience can engage companies like Olympos Trek in Larissa that plan set adventures, including many of the activities mentioned earlier.

 

  1. Peloponnese – Skiing

For most people, Greece is not the first place that comes to mind when talking about great skiing destinations in Europe. However, the country has some great slopes in regions that are not as warm as others. For example, Mount Parnassos, which has an elevation in excess of 8,000 feet, receives significant snowfall each year. This region has some great ski resorts, with multiple slopes catering to individuals of all skills levels.

Advanced skiers and snowboarders should check out Kellaria and Fterolakka, two of the larger trails. Altogether, the region has more than a dozen runs, with three of them rated as extremely difficult. Tourists also flock to Mt. Helmos on Peloponnese because it is so close to Athens. The ski resort in Kalavryta has a number of green runs and a few with very steep and winding trails.

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  1. Arcadia – Hiking

People who love hiking need to check out Gortynia in Arcadia. This area has eight different trails, including the Zygovisti-Elati trail that has become popular among the most daring hikers. This trail features a massive incline that takes individuals more than 5,000 feet above sea level, but it rewards their efforts with incredible views of massive boulders and thick forests covering the local hills. On the latter part of the path, hikers will see the red-tiled roofs of Elati, a small settlement surrounded by old, fortified walls. Visitors can finish their hike here and enjoy some of the delicious local food, such as baklava soaked in honey.

 

  1. Paros – Windsurfing

Part of the Cyclades, Paros is an island that has hosted the Professional Windsurfing Association World Cup on multiple occasions. Throughout the summer, New Golden Beach gets a continuous breeze that makes it ideal for the sport. Because the breeze can die down at times, beginners also find it a great place to learn. Individuals can rent equipment on the island and hire instructors to help them learn. Windsurfing fans may even encounter some Olympic medalists practicing on the island.

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8 of Greece’s Most Charming and Breathtaking Beach Destinations

From its many islands to the mainland, Greece boasts some of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Europe. The Greek beach experience is unlike any other in the world, with fresh, grilled seafood and refreshing wine enjoyed right on the sand. Many of the best beach destinations also have a rich history that visitors can explore in between hours of relaxation in the sun.

In addition, several of the most beautiful beaches in Greece sit off the beaten path for tourists, so they provide some seclusion and the chance to meet local people. Some of the top beach destinations in Greece include:

 

  1. Navagio on Zakynthos

The coast of Zakynthos Island has one of the most photographed beaches in the entire country. Located on the northwest part of island, Navagio gets its name from a ship that ran aground and still remains on the beach. Here, the waters are so turquoise that they can sometimes look artificial in photographs. Beyond the beautiful hue of the water, visitors will find a sunny, white-sand beach and towering limestone cliffs, which together set Navagio apart from other beaches around the country. To get to the beach, you must take a boat. Tourists should be prepared for a large crowd at this beach as it remains a top destination.

zakintos

 

  1. Kapari on Mykonos

The island of Mykonos is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Greece. While there, be sure to check out Kapari, which is not far from Mykonos Town. The great thing about Kapari is that it is the primary beach for locals, even in the height of the tourist season. People will not find any bars or restaurants—only a lovely, quiet cove with few visitors. The tricky part about visiting Kapari is getting there. Because the beach is near a cliff, parking can be difficult. Once parked, you must climb over some rocks to reach the cove.

 

  1. Palioxori on Milos

Relatively few tourists go to the island Milos, which is home to charming fishing villages. However, people who make the effort are rewarded with natural hot springs, ancient ruins, and several dozen different beaches. The beach that really stands out is Palioxori, a pebbled beach known for its rock formations in several different colors. Palioxori also boasts crystal-clear waters and an on-site bar for grabbing a quick drink while relaxing in the sun or exploring the various rock formations.

 

  1. Voidokoilia in Messinia

Tourists on the mainland who make it to Messinia in the Peloponnese region of Greece should be sure to check out Voidokoilia. The beach runs along a curving bay with a rich history. This is the spot where, according to mythology, King Nestor met with Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, as he searched for his father. One of the best ways to start exploring the area is to hike up the hills on the southwest section of the beach to reach Nestor’s Cave. Legend has it that Hermes once hid 50 oxen stolen from Apollo in this cave. The beach also features the ruins of a castle built in the 13th century and Gialova Lagoon, a nature reserve known for its various bird species.

voidkokilia

 

  1. Elafonisi on Crete

The primary draw of Elafonisi, a tiny islet off the coast of Crete, is its pink coral sand beaches. Often, the tides draw low enough that visitors can wade through a lagoon to reach the islet, which functions as a protected nature reserve. Nearby on the mainland is a fantastic beach restaurant and the 17th century Chrysoskalitissa monastery to explore.

 

  1. Porto Katsiki on Lefkada

The most renowned beach on the island of Lefkada, Porto Katsiki literally means “port of the goats;” it was so named because only goats could reach the beach, which sits at the bottom of a cliff. Porto Katsiki lies on the southwestern part of the island and features an impressive bay with blue waters that stretch out into impressive views of the Ionian Sea. The beach boasts a couple of different bars, and it’s not difficult to drive to the site. However, visitors still must follow a series of steep steps down a cliff to the sand.

 

  1. Mylopotas on Ios

Part of the Cyclades Islands, Ios has a very classically Greek landscape, with blue-roofed buildings and beaches of golden sand. This island is known for its lavish parties in the summer, but quiets down during other parts of the year. Mylopotas has clear waters and a number of different opportunities for engaging in water sports. The beach has become one of the most popular choices among younger travelers but it still retains a low-key vibe, even in the busier summer months.

 

  1. Canal D’Amour on Corfu

One of the most otherworldly places on the popular island of Corfu, Canal D’Amour features delightful grottoes, small stretches of beach, and large white sculpted rock structures. Canal D’Amour actually refers to one of these rock structures that has an opening wide enough to swim through. According to legend, people who brave the narrow opening will find love on the other side. The beach is located between Peroulades and Sidari.

4 of the Best Islands to Explore in Greece

Over the last five years, the country of Greece has seen a steady increase in the number of international tourists who visit each year, a trend that industry experts believe will continue in 2018. This is due in part to the Greek National Tourism Organization’s development strategy to bring in new visitors. However, tourists choose Greece as their preferred vacation destination for all that it has to offer: ancient history, rich culture, beautiful, varied landscapes.

While many visitors are drawn to the historical allure of renowned mainland cities like Athens, one of the most enticing options for people who wish to plan a vacation in Greece is the prospect of visiting one of the 6,000 islands located across the Ionian and Aegean Seas. With only 227 of these 6,000 are inhabited, below are eight of the most popular islands for visitors from around the world.

 

  1. Santorini

Also known as Thira, Santorini has a rich background, both historically and according to Greek myth. Archaeological evidence suggests that a civilization existed on the island as far back as 3600 B.C., and that a Minoan colony once settled on its shores. According to Greek mythology, Santorini was a miracle island created when a man named Euphemus threw a clod of earth taken from the island of Anaphe into the sea. Santorini is built on a caldera that resulted from a massive volcanic explosion in 1600 B.C., but today it exists as the third most popular tourist destination in the country.

Santorini

The tourist season runs between April and November every year. Visitors enjoy exploring its black sand beaches, exploring its clifftop towns and villages, and taking in views of romantic sunsets over the Aegean Sea from anywhere on the island. Oia, a village located on the island’s northern tip, is known specifically for its views of the sunset, and is an excellent place to get away if couples are looking for a romantic vacation spot.

 

  1. Naxos

Less popular among tourists than its neighbor Santorini (but no less beautiful) is the island of Naxos, also located in the group of islands known as the Cyclades. Greek myths state that Naxos was the location of the nuptials of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, and accordingly, the island is home to a sanctuary honoring the god.

Naxos

Naxos appeals to tourists who wish to get some distance from the ultra-modern, nightlife-heavy scene prevalent on some of the more popular islands, and who are instead interested in experiencing some of the more traditional elements of Greek culture. In addition to the beautiful, less crowded beaches located on the island’s west coast, Naxos also boasts ancient ruins, an ancient Venetian castle that hosts orchestral concerts, and horseback riding expeditions that lead visitors through local farmlands as well as beaches that run alongside seaside cliffs.

One of the best aspects of Naxos for the visitor looking to see a more authentic side of Greek life is the ability to visit any of the island’s 46 traditional villages, where locals sit together drinking coffee outside of cafes and fresh baklava is sold fresh from the bakery.

 

  1. Hydra

Located in the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is closer to Athens than almost any other island. As a result, it is a popular destination for locals looking to get out of Greece’s capital city for a weekend. It is known for its bohemian, artistic culture and has been visited by many celebrities in the 20th century, including writer Henry Miller, musician Leonard Cohen, and movie star Sofia Loren.

hydra

One thing that sets Hydra apart is the fact that the use of cars or any other motorized vehicle is banned on the island. Locals and visitors alike travel only by boat, by foot, or by donkey. Tourists on Hydra enjoy taking donkey tours to admire the monasteries, stone mansions and cobblestone streets of the island’s main town. They can also visit one of the island’s many impressive art and history museums. Hydra is also a popular place for yachting, and many tourists enjoy lunching as they watch boats come and go inside the harbor.

 

  1. Corfu

Corfu is a part of the Ionian Islands, and it is known as the “Grand Lady” of this Greek Island Group. Located farther west than most islands, Corfu historically has had a strong connection to Europe. This helped it become one of the first Greek islands to open itself up to tourism. European influence mingles with Greek tradition in Corfu’s cosmopolitan culture. Additionally, the lush nature of the foliage there means that the beaches are among the most beautiful of all the Greek islands.

Corfu

One of the best places for tourists to visit on Corfu is Old Town, which is home to two Venetian fortresses. Visitors can tour monasteries and medieval castles or visit Achillion Palace, which was constructed by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria in the late 19th century as a summer vacation home.

Another popular activity on Corfu is diving, and tourists have the opportunity to take classes, guided tours, or rent equipment to dive solo. Many locations along Corfu’s coasts give visitors the opportunity to explore coral reefs, including the Kassiopi, Pipitos, and Kalami Reefs.

5 Amazing Cities and Towns to Visit on the Greek Mainland

When travelers plan a visit to Greece, many of them are drawn to the southern half of the country, interested in navigating its chain of islands via ferry. The natural and architectural beauty that characterizes islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Corfu are undeniably can’t-miss sights. However, visitors may also want to consider what some of Greece’s most distinct and important mainland locations have to offer. Listed below are five mainland cities and towns that tourists should plan to visit during a trip to Greece.

 

  1. Thessaloniki

Greece

Located on the coast of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia, this city is the second largest in the entire country, with a bustling commercial district and a nightlife scene to match. It is one of the most modern cities in Greece, and it is also considered to be a hub for artistic talent, drawing in poets, musicians, philosophers, and visual artists from around the country.

In spite of the cosmopolitan nature of Thessaloniki’s culture, the city is old. It was founded in 316 B.C., and the ruins of ancient Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman, Roman, Balkan, and European architecture blend into the cityscape alongside modern buildings that stand as testament to its rich and varied history,

 

  1. Patras

To the southwest of Thessaloniki lies the city of Patras, a port town that serves as a hub for travelers who wish to ferry to the Ionian Islands and parts of Italy. Like Thessaloniki, Patras boasts a vibrant nightlife and is one of Greece’s premier cities of commerce, with many shopping districts and markets sure to thrill visitors.

Patra is also famous for being one of the best places in Greece to experience Carnival, the period preceding the observation of Lent each year. The Patras Carnival celebrations are the largest in the country, and they include art exhibitions, street performances, treasure hunts, music, costumes, and parades full of colorful, artistic floats.

 

  1. Pelion

pelion

Pelion is proof that travelers do not need to island-hop in order to see the most beautiful seascapes in Greece. “Pelion” actually refers to a lush, forested mountain region located on the country’s eastern peninsula, home to 20 picturesque villages. These include beach towns like Mylopotamos, Fakistra, and Agios Ioannis on the eastern side of the mountain facing the Aegean Sea, as well as more traditional mountain cities like Portaria, Makrinitsa, and Vizitsa, which boast stone-roofed buildings and other elegant architectural features.

In the summer, visitors can enjoy exotic sandy beaches and Greece’s famed crystal-blue water. Many towns in Pelion have opportunities for fishing and boating as well. In the winter, travelers may be drawn to the villages in Pelion located at higher elevations, where hiking trails and opportunities to connect with nature abound. The area also maintains several villages with ski resorts for athletic tourists who enjoy the snow.

 

 

  1. Nafplio

Located only two hours from the capital city of Athens, Nafplio is a waterfront town distinguished by the influence of the Venetian architectural movement on its buildings. As such, it is arguably one of the most romantic cities in Greece, with the older portions of the city featuring sunny cobblestone squares, streets mostly free of automobiles, quaint cafes, and authentic local shops and museums.

One of the most popular activities for couples who visit the city is taking a walk along the one-kilometer path known as the Arvanitia Promenade. It begins at the end of the shores of Nafplio, guides travelers around the high rock walls of the oldest portion of the city by the sea, and ends at the popular Arvanitia Square. In addition, Nafplio is home to some incredible medieval structures, including Palamidi Castle, the fortress known as Bourtzi, and Akronafplia fortress – the oldest castle in the city.

 

  1. Athens

athens

No list of Greek mainland destinations is complete without mentioning the cultural giant that is its capital city of Athens. Athens is an ancient city considered to be the cradle of Western civilization. Today, it functions as a busy, modern metropolis that is also home to some of the most famous historical sites in the world.

Here, travelers can marvel at the ancient buildings located within the Athenian Acropolis, including the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion. To further explore ancient culture, visitors also may take in many of Athens’ renowned museums, including the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum, and the Benaki Museum.

While a visit to the ancient ruins in Athens are a must-have experience for tourists, Athens also has many modern amenities and experiences to offer its visitors. The district of Monastiraki is an increasingly popular area of the city for tourists to purchase souvenirs. The area has a distinctly bohemian feel, and many hand-crafted local crafts, clothing, and antiques can be found there.

Athens is also an excellent place to experience Greek nightlife, with many popular bars in different settings and price ranges located throughout the city. Finally, though not typically known for its beaches, the Athens Riviera located in the southern suburbs offers visitors a great place to lounge on the beach, swim in the ocean, and sail to nearby islands.