island Paros

8 Wonderful Destinations off the Beaten Track in Greece

When people think about exploring Greece, they usually plot out itineraries that include popular destinations such as Athens, Mykonos, Thessaloniki, and major archaeological sites such as Delphi. However, there is much more to Greece than these commonly visited sites. People who wander off the beaten track will get a much better sense of what Greek life looks like and discover some of the real charm of the country. For this reason, tourists should consider including some of the lesser-known destinations in Greece in their itineraries. Some of these excellent options include:

 

1. Evia

A common weekend destination for Athenians, Evia remains relatively unexplored by foreigners. Evia is the second-largest island in Greece and easily accessed by two bridges that connect it to the mainland. While on Evia, individuals should check out Edipsos, which has healing thermal baths. In addition to this attraction, visitors will find some charming beaches with a much milder climate than many of the other islands. In addition, Evia offers great local cuisine and various landmarks for visitors to explore.

 

evia

 

2. Ioannina

The capital of Epirus, Ioannina is located right on Lake Pamvotida, and visitors will catch a wonderful glimpse of the water throughout the town. What makes Ioannina truly unique among Greek cities is its blend of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian influences in its architecture and design. Some of the top attractions include the Veli Pasha Mosque and the House Matei Hussein. In addition, travelers will come across a number of gorgeous Byzantine churches as they explore the town.

 

3. Kavala

Located in Macedonia, Kavala has a unique amphitheater-like shape. Situated at the base of Mount Simvolo, the town boasts several great attractions, such as Suleyman the Magnificent’s aqueduct, the church of Virgin Mary’s Assumption, and the Mohamed Ali Pasha Square. The oldest part of Kavala is known as Panagia. People have consistently lived in Panagia since the 7th century BCE. As a result, the whole area has a very unique culture influenced by the many different peoples who have called it home. Moreover, Kavala offers tourists some very relaxing and quiet beaches.

 

4. Kastellorizo

An island that located is near the southern coast of Turkey, Kastellorizo also goes by the name of Megisti. Visitors will initially notice the beautiful harbor dotted with colorful mansions lining the coast and climbing up the hills. Despite the crowded appearance of the port, the island has some great wildlife and dense flora to be explored on hikes. While there, individuals should not miss the Old Mosque, which the Turks built when they occupied the island. As with many of the Greek islands, Kastellorizo also has breathtaking beaches.

 

5. Lemnos

Most tourists stick to islands in the southern part of Greece, but Lemnos is located in the Northern Aegean, which makes it much more quiet than other options. At the same time, Lemnos has very exciting attractions, including the Castle of Myrina, which is located on a hilltop above the main town. Lemnos remains a great place to learn how to kite surf due to the lessons offered at Keros Beach. Tourists should also check out Varos Village, a town that was once quite dilapidated, but which has since been rejuvenated as a luxury resort spot with breathtaking views of the surrounding water.

 

6. Paxi

Because Paxi is located so close to Italy, the island provides visitors with a unique amalgamation of Italian and Greek cultures. Paxi is the smallest island in the archipelago that includes Corfu. On Paxi, visitors will find gentle hills, pristine beaches, and underwater caves. The island has several cute villages nestled among olive groves with many hiking trails. While there, individuals should sample the local black wine made from local vineyards and explore Orkos Beach, which is one of the most beautiful among all the Ionian islands. Paxi also hosts several music festivals throughout the summer.

 

Paxi

Image by Dom Crossley | Flickr

 

7. Folegandros

A small island situated on the southern side of the Cyclades, Folegandros is a rocky isle with a main village called Chora that has been consistently recognized for its beauty. Many people think that Chora is more charming than even Santorini. While on Folegandros, tourists will need to charter boats to take them to various caves, coves, and beaches since they usually cannot be accessed by land. However, this makes for a very unique experience. For a bit of luxury, individuals can check out Anemi Hotel, which has large suites and a wonderful infinity pool overlooking the water with a nearby pebbly beach.

 

8. Methoni

Mythology buffs may recognize Methoni as one of the seven cities that Agamemnon offered to Achilles. The city is on the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese. The top attraction is Kastro, a fortress and castle that dates back to the 15th century and offers a perfect example of Venetian architecture. Visitors will also find a number of great tavernas serving traditional food and a beautiful beach located very close to Kastro. This beach offers an ideal place to cool off during the hotter summer months.

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hydra

5 Exciting Reasons to Visit the Greek Island of Hydra

While the larger, more popular Greek islands like Santorini have a lot to offer tourist, people sometimes want a more relaxed experience. One of the most unique stops that people can make while island hopping in Greece is Hydra, a fairly large carless island that is located not far from Athens. The island offers great nightlife and a number of opportunities to spot celebrities who regularly vacation there. Furthermore, the island only allows buildings that are representative of traditional architecture. That feature, combined with the fact that water taxis and donkeys are the primary modes of transportation, make Hydra a unique destination.

Hydra as a municipality consists of two primary islands, Hydra itself and Dokos, although several smaller and uninhabited islets are also located nearby. The main town, known as Hydra port, is tiny, but has some great shops and restaurants. The island as a whole is largely known for its arts scene, and part of the Greek School of Fine Arts is based on the island. Individuals can easily reach the island by boat or hydrofoil from the mainland or other island destinations. Once they arrive there, a number of exciting options exist, including the following:

 

1. Breathtaking Churches

While Hydra is a relatively small island, it has hundreds of churches and six monasteries. While is can be hard to choose which one to see during a short visit, the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary should definitely be on the list. The structure, which is the main cathedral on the island, is situated in the center of the harbor just underneath a large clock tower. According to legend, a nun built the cathedral after arriving at the island in 1643. The structure was built in a Byzantine style and has frescoes that date back to the 18th century. Inside, visitors will find a vast array of Orthodox decorations.

greek church

 

2. Gorgeous Beaches

Like the other islands throughout Greece, Hydra has its fair share of picturesque beaches with crystal waters. One of the most popular ones is Vlychos Beach, which can be reached by water taxi or on foot from the main town. The beach remains rather quiet and undisturbed. Slightly closer to the main town is Kaminia Beach, which is located in a small fishing village that has some great restaurant choices. Another beach near the main town is Spilia, which has a number of rocks and is ideal for diving. One of the more remote choices is Agios Nikolaos, a beach sheltered within a charming cove. For a great panoramic view of mainland Greece, visitors should head to Plakes Vlychos. Since the beach is located in front of the Four Seasons, individuals can arrive there via a boat hired by the hotel to serve as a taxi.

 

3. Intriguing Museums

A number of different museums are located on Hydra. Perhaps the most well-known one is the Historical Archives Museum, which dates back to 1918. The museum displays various artifacts and documents related to the island and is a perfect way to obtain a sense of its traditions and culture. The museum also has an extensive library. Another option is the Ecclesiastical Museum, which is located in the former cell of a monk. One of the newer museums, it has displayed various holy vessels, manuscripts, and jewelry related to the church since 1999. Many of the mansions on the island have also been converted to museums, including one dedicated to Greek War of Independence leader Lazaros Koundouriotis. The home features various art and furniture that once belonged to his family.

 

4. Animal-Based Exploration

As stated above, donkeys have become one of the primary forms of transportation on the island, especially when people need to carry large items with them. Guests can hire someone to transport them via mule, and more than 1,000 of the animals live on the island. For a different experience, individuals can book a horseback adventure that lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an entire day. Available itineraries include coastal walks and longer hikes up into the steeper terrain of the mountain.

hydra donkeys

 

5. Engaging Hikes

Due to the lack of cars, many people choose to get around the island by simply walking. As a result, a number of different walking routes exist. One of the most beautiful routes exists between the main town and Kamini, a small fishing village. This route is located off the beaten path and away from tourist shops, meaning that individuals can obtain a genuine feel for the island as they pass by churches, mansions, and even old ruins. Along the path is Sunset Restaurant, a great place to have dinner and watch the sun go down over the water, with mainland Greece in the background. More adventurous travelers may enjoy climbing the bastions. Hydra used cannons to protect itself during the 18th century, and the bastions still exist on both sides of the harbor. While climbing up to them, individuals will discover great views of the Aegean Sea while having an opportunity to experience some unique Greek history.

corfu

6 of the Most Amazing Beach Hotels in Greece

A popular vacation destination, Greece offers visitors a gorgeous island getaway. Considering that the country 6,000 islands, the options for an unforgettable trip are nearly endless. Accommodations range from camping sites to luxury resorts located directly on the beach. While some travelers will plan their vacation around which islands they want to visit and then search for accommodations when they arrive, others may want to base their trip around the many incredible beach hotels scattered among these islands. Here are a few of the best beach hotels in Greece.

1. Istoria

Located along the black sands of Perivolos Beach in Santorini, Istoria has been designed to feel more like a decadent mansion than a hotel. The accommodations include just 12 suites for a truly unique experience on one of the most popular islands in the country. The majority of the suites feature private outdoor pools and hot tubs. The hotel itself was designed by an Athens interior design group to reflect traditional Cycladic island architecture, and the decorations pull from local craftspeople. Guests will encounter forged cement flooring that is embedded with wonderful mosaics, as well as traditional carved wooden furniture with handmade textiles. The restaurant at Istoria features incredible dishes prepared by chef Alexandros Tsiotinis, who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and Copenhagen.

black sands

Image by John M | Flickr

2. Casa Cook

With 100 rooms arranged in cubist pavilions, Casa Cook offers guests sweeping views of the mountains dotting Kos against a background of white sand beaches and olive trees. The property represents a collaboration between several different teams, including local architects and a design agency from Berlin. The result is a hotel that feels likes its own little village. Each of the rooms at Casa Cook has its own private terrace and features decorations in understated tones of grass and charcoal that enable visitors to feel immersed in Greek culture. The property is the second one from the Thomas Cook hotel brand, with the first on Rhodes. The Rhodes hotel embraces spartan architecture with a touch of midcentury California design. A third property will open this year on Chania. Each of these hotels has its own unique charm and would be a great choice for travelers.

3. Vora

Another option in Santorini, Vora offers an amazing experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The hotel is carved into the cliffs of the island, with guest rooms overlooking the Aegean Sea and the nearby volcano. Vora has emerged as one of the most exclusive hotels in the world with only three villas. Each of the villas embraces a minimalistic Cycladic design with custom-made wooden furniture. In addition, each of the three villas has a private plunge pool. Due to the rocky location of Vora, construction equipment could not be used to build it. Instead, the hotel was constructed by hand over the course of four years.

4. Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas

Like Vora, Daios Cove is nestled into island cliffs that overlook a beautiful bay. Located on Crete, the hotel features 230 rooms, 40 villas, and 30 suites. Many people choose Daios Cove due to the wide range of recreational activities offered at the hotel, including outdoor pools, water sports, sailing, and boat rentals. In addition, guests have access to a private beach, four restaurants, a beauty studio, and a spa with an extensive menu of treatments. The spa is worth a visit for its unique decoration and style alone. Guests can also make use of a private jet and helicopter services, as well as various limousines complete with chauffeurs.

5. San Giorgio

Recognized as one of the most luxurious hotels on Mykonos, San Giorgio embraces a minimalistic style that can be described as bohemian with many traditional Greek elements. The hotel’s design was spearheaded by Michael Schickinger and Annabell Kutucu from Lambs and Lions. The structure of San Giorgio itself reflects the architectural tradition of the island. Guests enjoy an ideal location between Paradise and Paranga beaches with a wonderful veranda that faces the blue waters of the island, as well as a romantic gazebo. In addition, San Giorgio is situated only 300 meters from the famed Paradise Club. Guests have easy access to some of the best parts of the island.

6. Naxian Collection

Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic islands, features lush valleys and gorges, as well as charming villages. The Naxian Collection consists of a number of minimalist villas in the traditional white-washed style. A local couple has developed the property to be welcoming with verdant gardens and a restrained design. Guests can explore the vineyard, olive grove, and organic garden that produces some of the food for the hotel. In addition, guests can enjoy a glass of wine with the owners or even take a cooking lesson from them. The Naxian Collection is located a short distance from Naxos town and the ocean.

camping

8 Awe-Inspiring Camping Destinations for Travelers in Greece

Because of its incredible climate and wide range of scenery, from islands to mountains, Greece is a top vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Many people choose to be as close as possible to nature by camping, which has grown in popularity in Greece. While there aren’t many official campsites around the country, those that exist often come with a lot of amenities. They also vary widely in terms of landscape, from campgrounds on the beach to sites in densely forested areas. Experiencing Greek islands and national parks from a campsite provides a unique perspective on the natural beauty of the country—those who love the outdoors should consider a Greek camping trip for their next vacation. A handful of the top locations for camping in Greece include:

 

  1. Gythion Bay

Located near Gythion in the Peloponnese, this site sits right next to the beach and provides guests with a swimming pool and equipment for windsurfing, as well as quick access to the many historical attractions of the area. The Peloponnese features a number of ancient cities and Byzantine ruins, as well as gorgeous beaches and endless stretches of orange and olive groves. For maximum convenience, the main camping area has a bar, a restaurant, and a miniature market. Guests can rent caravans or tents in addition to bringing their own gear.

 

  1. Leros

The island of Leros, part of the Dodecanese, sits off the beaten tourist track. The camping site on the island is located in the heart of an olive grove that has produced fruit for several centuries. Leros tends to attract scuba divers, since the campground features a diving club that offers lessons, scuba adventures, and snorkeling trips. People who do not want to sleep in a tent can rent a bungalow to get a bit of shelter from the hot Mediterranean sun. The campground also features a small café for easy meals and facilities for grilling.

Leros

Image by anybookers | Flickr

 

  1. Lichnos

On the western coast of Greece is Epirus, a mountainous region with lush forests. Outdoor enthusiasts often find themselves in this area because of the variety of landscapes situated in a relatively small area, including rugged mountains and rivers cutting deep valleys through them, not to mention some charming stretches of beach. The beach at Lichnos features apartments along with camping grounds that offer basic facilities, as well as umbrellas and sun beds for beachgoers. There’s also a beautiful garden. In all, the site is an excellent place for nature-lovers to stay while hiking through Epirus.

 

  1. Skiathos

In Greece, the island of Skiathos has become known for its excellent camping along Koukounaries beach. The camping site is located less than a quarter-mile from the beach, and a bus makes it easy to travel to Skiathos Town or the other beaches scattered around the island. Ancient trees around the camping grounds provide protection from the bright sun, making it a perfect home base for an island getaway. Travelers can reach Skiathos via ferry from either Volos or Agios Konstantinos, and these boats also serve the islands of Skopelos and Alonissos.

 

  1. Lemnos

Located in the Northern Aegean Sea, Lemnos does not receive many tourists, which means that its beaches are relatively pristine. On the island is Surf Club Keros, a windsurfing resort that offers guests a wide range of accommodations, including safari tents and luxury studios. You can also bring your own equipment if you prefer. The island features some truly breathtaking landscapes that are worth spending some time exploring, but Lemnos is also one of the best places in Greece for windsurfing.

 

  1. Evia

Travelers with children who enjoy the outdoors should definitely consider spending a few nights on Evia. Along the northeastern coast of this island is Agia Anna, a small village near the beach with a well-developed campground resort that boasts basketball and volleyball courts, as well as swimming pools. The programs and activities for children are extensive here, so the kids will have an unforgettable time. In addition to tents and bungalows, the accommodations include a special garden cabana and a luxuriously appointed yurt.

 

  1. Paros

A four-hour ferry ride from Athens, Paros has become a popular choice among people who want to introduce some nature into their vacation. Great campgrounds are situated in Agia Irini, Krios, Naoussa, and Santa Maria, and all are virtually right on the beach. Strategically planted trees provide shade from the sun as well, and guests have access to great facilities. In addition, Paros proves a great choice of home base for exploring several Greek islands, since the ferries can carry travelers to many surrounding destinations.

 

  1. Naxos

One of the more popular Greek islands, Naxos has golden beaches, ancient ruins, and beautiful stretches of land waiting to be explored. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are both popular pastimes for vacationers. Those who want to maximize their outdoor time often choose to camp on Plaka beach, which is famous for its watersports; or Maragas beach, known for its beautiful, blue waters. Both of these campgrounds are only steps from the sea and can be reached easily from the port of Naxos, where ferries dock.