Tourists who visit Greece can participate in a variety of activities that range from lounging on the beach in Santorini to eating at an award-winning restaurant in Athens. In addition, they may want to consider adding more unique destinations to their itineraries so that they can develop a better feel for the culture of the country and the everyday lives of its citizens. These destinations located off the beaten path can also offer individuals an interesting glimpse into Greece’s rich history by showing them a side that relatively few people have an opportunity to see. Read on to learn more about some of the unique destinations in Greece.
1. Necromanteion in Ephyra
Many tourists in Greece choose to visit the Oracle of Delphi in the central part of the country. However, not many of them make it to Ephyra to see the necromanteion, the oracle of the dead. The site features an ancient temple that is consecrated to Hades, the god of the Underworld, and his wife, Persephone. In the temple, ancient Greeks would practice necromancy to receive prophecies. Similar temples were built at other locations that were thought to have a strong connection to the Underworld. Archaeologist Sotirios Dakaris found the necromanteion along the banks of the river Acheron in the 1960s. Visitors can explore the site and visit a few underground chambers.
2. Fairytale Castle in Agrilia
Harry Fournarakis served as a surgeon in the United States and made a small fortune that he brought back to Agrilia, a small town in Messinia, Peloponnese. He used his money to build a fairytale castle that combines features of a medieval castle from fairytales and Greek mythology. The concrete-and-plaster castle features a drawbridge and massive statues of both Athena and Poseidon, as well as a sitting horse. Although nobody lives in the castle, visitors can wander around the outside of it. Visitors may also want to check out the nearby town of Filiatra, where Fournarakis built a replica of the Eiffel Tower.
3. Meteora in Kalabaka
Located in the Pindus mountains, Meteora consists of massive sandstone pillars carved out by both wind and water. Some of these pillars stretch hundreds of meters into the air. Hermit monks first began populating the area in the 11th century, and a monastery complex was constructed in the 1400s. While individuals once had to climb various ladders tied together to reach the top, visitors can now take steps that have been carved into the rock that lead up to a bridge. While Meteora once had 20 monasteries, only six of them remain standing today.
4. Milos in the Cyclades
While the volcanic island of Milos is famed for being the site of the discovery of the Venus de Milo, very few people actually visit it. However, some think that it will get a lot more foot traffic in the coming years. The island has dozens of beaches that are each quite different. For example, the Paleochori cliffs present travelers with a breathtaking palette of colors, yet Sarakiniko resembles the moon with its pure whiteness. The geothermal energy in some places on the island is so hot that tavernas cook stews overnight in clay pots that they bury in the sand. Milos also has a number of thermal springs purported to have healing powers. In addition, visitors can explore an ancient network of Christian catacombs.
5. Nisyros in the Dodecanese
Another volcanic island, Nisyros is a must-see for people interested in geology. The small island, which sits between Kos and Tilos, houses a dormant volcano where visitors are welcome to explore the massive Stefanos crater. While the center of the crater, which sits near the center of the island, is fenced off, visitors can often see steam forming on the surface. In addition, individuals will likely feel a burning sensation if they wear shoes with thin soles.
6. Monemvasia in Pelopennese
A medieval fortress town, Monemvasia rests in the sea atop a dramatic cliff that rises hundreds of feet out of the water and stretches for more than a half mile. In 375 AD, an earthquake separated the cliff from the mainland. Eventually, the upper town, which housed the original fortress, became deserted, although visitors are still welcome to explore it. While there, individuals should not miss the 12th century Byzantine church Agia Sophia. People still live in the lower town, where there are no cars on the cobbled streets. Guests will find a number of restaurants and cafes to enjoy, as well as a few hotels. The area is home to Christos Elkomenos, the largest medieval church in the southern part of Greece.
7. Gavros in Macedonia
The town has become a favorite among professional and amateur photographers, as well as curious tourists. Located on the road that connects the Prespa lakes to Kastoria, Gavros is an abandoned village. Historians have not been able to figure out why the residents left the town, which is a testament to the unique architectural style that was once popular in this region. An exploration of the town provides a unique glimpse into country life in Greece.