beer

9 of the Best Beers to Try in Greece

While many people may know that Greece produces some distinctive, flavorful varieties of wine, they may not be aware that it also has a rich beer heritage. Beer is particularly refreshing during the hottest summer months while people relax on the beach. Various regions of the country have their own go-to beers, and great examples of lagers, ales, and more are now brewed in Greece. The following are some must-try drinks for fans of beer who are traveling in Greece:

 

1. Nisos

In 2014, Nisos won the second prize at the European Beer Star competition, an impressive feat. Nisos is brewed on Tinos, a small island, by Cyclades Microbrewery. This beer is a pilsner that has several spices and herbal aromatics, adding to the complexity of the flavor. Several different flavor varieties are available, including a Beaufort edition that has heavy caramel notes and a high ABV (alcohol by volume), as well as one with the refreshing taste of green apple and lime. All Nisos beers are produced with organic ingredients and made in small quantities. These options are all designed as a great complement to a warm beach day.

 

2. Vergina

For more than two decades, Macedonian Thrace Brewery in Komotini, a small town near Thessaloniki, has produced truly distinctive brews. The brand has emerged as among the most popular in Greece and is definitely worth a try. The Red Vergina has a strong caramel taste, while the white variety offers much fruitier notes for those who want something lighter and sweeter.

 

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3. Septem

Two brothers, an economist and a chemist, founded Septem about a decade ago on the island of Evia in Orologio. The founders aimed to create a refined beer that would stand up to the distinctive wines of Greece. The duo applies many philosophies gleaned from the wine industry to the production of their beers, which include award-winning pilsners and pale ales, as well as seasonal varieties. Visitors who make their way to Evia are welcome to check out the brewery and try some of its great options, and travelers can simply look for beer options at different tavernas as they explore the country.

 

4. Corfu Beer

A family-run brewery, Corfu Beer is located in the small village of Arillas on the island of Corfu. Brewer Claudio Mouzakitis leads the operation and specializes in ales, along with some limited-edition runs. Corfu offers a wide range of different options, from a ginger beer to a fruity Weissbier. The brewery also offers some more bitter varieties, along with a red. The island of Corfu has demonstrated a strong affinity for ginger beer since the British brought the drink to the island in the 1800s, so it is something that travelers will find in several spots. However, this brewery’s version is one of the best.

 

5. Kirki

A microbrewery located in Halkida, Kirki is a newcomer and has operated only since 2015. Now, the brewery offers two celebrated options. One is the namesake Kirki, a cloudy pale ale that does not get filtered, and Pikri, a very light ale. Despite the young age of the brewery, Kirki has created quite a name for itself and will likely continue to grow rapidly in the future.

 

6. Piraiki

Pharmacist Alexander Koumantou launched Piraiki in Drapetsona, Piraeus, a part of Athens, in 2005. The brewery relocated to central Greece five years later so that it could increase production and change some of its methodologies. Piraiki maintains a commitment to authenticity and actually follows Reinheitsgebot, the German law for beer purity, in addition to using organic ingredients. These beers contain no additives or preservatives. Focused largely on German varieties of beer, the brewery produces pilsners, lagers, and pale ales.

 

7. Volkan

The name of this beer comes from the eruption that occurred in Santorini in 1600 BCE. Volkan produces beers with many of the most distinctive Greek flavors. For example, the Black beer highlights honey and citrus while the Gray beer has orange and bergamot notes. Travelers should find out if there have been any other unique additions to the Volkan lineup in the tavernas that they visit.

 

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8. Zeos

Produced under the claim of being the “beer of the gods,” Zeos has a distinctive blue label that visitors may quickly begin to recognize during their time in Greece. Individuals should try all of the different varieties to see which one is their favorite. One of the most unique options is the Black beer, which has the flavor of honey, brown sugar and grape. Another option combines orange and lemon for a very refreshing experience. Many Greeks enjoy the Weiss, a white beer that subtly combines the flavors of fruit and spices.

 

9. Bios 5

Featuring Demeter, the goddess of earth, nature, an agriculture, on the label, Bios 5 is a brew that attempts to replicate what the first beers produced would have tasted like. The brewery behind the drink uses only five ingredients, which is what inspired the “5” in the beer’s name. These ingredients are rice, corn, rice, wheat, and barley.

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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.

 

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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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6 of the Best Adventures Off the Beaten Path in Athens

Athens has a lot to offer tourists, from incredible archaeological sites like the Acropolis to world-class dining. In Athens, it’s easy to get caught up in the most famous attractions and miss out on the more interesting spots off the beaten path. Taking the time to explore some of these local, lesser-known attractions can give you a better sense of Greek culture and show you what it’s like to live as a modern Athenian. Some of the best options for getting off the normal tourist track include:

 

  1. Visiting a bouzoukia

Located throughout Athens, bouzoukias are a bit like Greek music halls where people come to drink and dance until late in the evening. During performances, musicians ply the bouzouki, an instrument that gives these buildings their name. The instrument is accompanied by people singing traditional Greek ballads and music. Here, the most popular drink is oinomelo, a sweet wine. You may want to check out some of the bouzoukias in Plaka or Anafiotika, which are smaller and tend to attract mostly locals. Alternatively, try one of the larger clubs, such as Gazi Live or Posidonio. These larger clubs are also popular among locals, but visitors may also encounter some other tourists who want to check out the scene.

 

  1. Exploring a laeki agora

Many neighborhoods in Athens host a laeki agora, similar to a local farmers’ market, at least once a week. During these times, local authorities close the streets to car traffic so vendors can set up their stalls. At the markets, you can find everything from locally grown oranges to handmade jams and cheeses. Often, the events also function as flea markets with people selling their household items and clothes. The laeki are important events for locals and can give visitors a deeper look at everyday life in Athens. Since the days and times change, it’s wise to check in with your hotel’s concierge or your hosts about the best options.

 

laeki agora

 

  1. Enjoying Coffee in Koukaki or Pagrati

While people may not immediately associate Greece with coffee, Athens has a strong coffee culture fostered by the many cozy, eclectic cafés scattered throughout the city. Often, these cafés are located on small side streets and alleys, so they can be a bit difficult to find. Two Athenian neighborhoods with some of the best cafés are Koukaki and Pagrati. Both of these neighborhoods have themed coffee shops interspersed among great bars and tavernas. Exploring these shops and connecting with some of the locals is an excellent way to experience authentic Athens.

 

  1. Climbing up Mount Lycabettus

The tallest point in Athens, Mount Lycabettus sits 277 meters above sea level, covered in a thick forest. The mountain rises just opposite the Acropolis, so hikers will get a great view of the archaeological site, as well as the rest of the city in the background. The hike is not too strenuous, since the route follows a steady, circular path rather than straight up the side of the peak. At the top of the mountain is a quaint church and a massive flagpole with the Greek flag. The best time to climb Lycabettus is sunrise or sunset because of the way the sun illuminates the horizon. However, the views are excellent at any time of day. Just be sure to bring sun protection if you make the hike in the middle of the day.

 

  1. Attending an open-air cinema

People visiting Athens between April and October should definitely try to catch an outdoor movie. Very popular in Athens, open-air cinemas have become a big part of local culture and are intimately tied to food: many people choose where to go less by the movie playing and more by the food available. That’s because the options go way beyond soda, popcorn, candy, and the typical snacks people associate with movie theaters. One open-air cinema, for example, specializes in sushi, and another in souvlaki. There’s even one that offers a range of different baked pies. Some open-air cinemas also offer great views, such as Cine-Thisio, which provides a great view of the lit-up Acropolis behind and to the side of the projection screen.

 

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  1. Walking along the Athenian Riviera

Visitors are often surprised by the many parks and green spaces in Athens and its suburbs. For example, within a 30-minute drive from the city center are beautiful beaches that line the Mediterranean Sea. This “Athenian Riviera” is home to several beach clubs, as well as excellent tavernas and beautiful walking routes. One of the best ways to take in the sights is by walking the path that extends along Flisvos Marina to Alimos, running parallel to Poseidonos Avenue. Along the route, you’ll catch glimpses of charming neighborhoods, neoclassical mansions, and small beaches. The trail ends at a small church in Alimos, but other paths lead to Voula and Vouliagmeni.

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.

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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.

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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.