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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greek church

7 of the Most Inspiring Churches in Greece Worthy of a Visit

Churches are an integral part of the Greek landscape, with structures ranging from simple chapels to magnificent displays of architecture and art. A number of renowned architects and builders, not to mention painters, have contributed to the rich collection of churches, cathedrals, and more that exist throughout the country.

The oldest churches date back to the 4th century AD. However, many key structures from the ancient world, such as the Parthenon, functioned as Christian gathering points during certain periods in history.

Travelers in Greece will find churches everywhere. Many of them are worth a visit, especially for people who like the particular style of Greek Orthodox art and design. Some of the must-see churches and cathedrals in Greece include:

 

  1. Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani

Located on the island of Paros in the Cyclades, the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani dates back to the middle of the 4th century. This makes it one of the earliest Byzantine churches in existence.

The name of the structure means “Church of 100 Doors,” although legend has it that only 99 doors are actually visible when people tour the building. The hidden 100th door will appear only when Constantinople is returned to the Greeks, according to local myth.

The building is incredibly ornate. It contains breathtaking stone details and many gold decorations.

 

  1. Church of Agia Anna

In some ways, the Church of Agia Anna is the opposite of Panagia Ekatontapiliani. A small chapel, the church represents a very traditional and simple style with basic white walls and minimal decoration.

Church of "Agia Anna"

Image by Tilemahos Efthimiadis | Flickr

The structure sits on the top of a rock right by the water on Agia Anna Beach on Amorgos. Not far from the church is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which is also worth a visit.

The monastery was built directly into the face of a cliff hundreds of meters above the sea in the 11th century AD. A miraculous icon of the Virgin was found at the site, which prompted the construction.

 

  1. Church of the Seven Martyrs

Sifnos has been called the island of 336 churches, although this is actually an urban legend. However, the island does boast an overwhelming number of small chapels and monasteries. The one that attracts the most visitors remains the Church of Seven Martyrs, which is on top of an islet close to the village of Kastro.

The church perfectly represents Cycladic style. Its white and blue dome reflects the clear waters nearby. People may actually recognize the church as they approach. It has become one of the most photographed locations in the Greek islands.

 

  1. Church of Agios Isidoros

Another church that has attracted a lot of photographic attention is the Church of Agios Isidoros on Chios. It is not far from Sykiada on the northern part of the island. This church is in the midst of a bay. A long pier stretches out from the rocky beach to reach the structure.

An early Christian temple once occupied the tiny island and was later replaced by this small chapel. While it looks fairly humble from the outside, Agios Isidoros has some incredible design elements located within. These include mosaic floors and a crypt with holy relics.

 

  1. Church of Agios Ioannis

This church gained fame because it was featured in the movie Mamma Mia. However, it attracted people to the island of Skopelos even before that. The structure is located on the top of a cliff close to a village named Glossa.

Church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos

Image by Ava Babili | Flickr

Visitors need to trek up 106 steps to reach the church. They are rewarded with 360-degree views of the island and the surrounding waters. The cliff itself stretches out into the water. This means the panorama is unlike any other on the island.

 

  1. Church of Megalochari

One of the most important places of worship in all of Greece is the Church of Megalochari on the island of Tinos. Located on a hill above Chora, the church was built to celebrate and house an icon of the Virgin Mary.

Greeks strongly believe this icon can grant miracles. Many people travel long distances to visit the church and ask for assistance. Visitors may see some of the most devout pilgrims enter the church on their knees as a sign of deference to the Virgin.

 

  1. Church of Agios Dionysios

A relatively new church compared to others on this list, the Church of Agios Dionysios was built in the 1890s. Today, the church is recognized as one of the most important in the Greek Orthodox tradition because it houses a great deal of orthodox art.

Because the church was constructed on Zakynthos, it was dedicated to the island’s patron saint, Agios Dionysios. The structure has a unique, calming effect on visitors. Peace and serenity seem to enshrine the building. Visitors are able to put worries out of their minds and enjoy the beautiful architecture.

delphi

5 of the Top Reasons to Spend Time Exploring Delphi

Located only a couple of hours from Athens, Delphi has emerged as one of the most popular day trips for tourists based in the Greek capital. Most people associate the city with the historic oracle and come to see the wonderful archaeological attractions, but Delphi has grown into one of the largest cities in Greece. For that reason, it has a lot to offer tourists who choose to stay there for longer than a day. From excellent food and world-class shopping to exciting historical and cultural attractions, Delphi has something for everyone. Some of the must-do activities for visitors include:

 

  1. Visiting the archeological site of Delphi

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Delphi archaeological site attracts about 500,000 tourists each year. The site includes the sanctuary of Pythia, a high priestess of Apollo who provided consultations to the Ancient Greeks. The majority of major decisions in the ancient world were not made until after a pilgrimage to see the oracle. Visitors can see what it was like to go through the entire process, from making a sacrifice at the Tholos of Athena Pronaia to bathing at the Castallian Fountain before entering the sacred site. The Sacred Way takes visitors to the main attraction by way of the Temple of Apollo. The Archaeological Museum associated with the site provides some great background on excavation efforts and includes a number of incredible pieces, including the Large Sphynx of Naxos and a bronze statue of a charioteer dating back to 470 BC.

 

delphi

 

  1. Exploring the art scene in Delphi Village

Delphi Village largely serves to welcome tourists as they first arrive to the area. While the two main roads have a handful of cafés, tavernas, and small hotels, they also feature two gems for art lovers. The first must-see attraction is the Angelos and Eva Sikelianos Museum, which occupies the former home of the famous Greek poet. Angelos and Eva organized the Delphic Festival in 1927 and then again in 1930. Eva made the costumes for the dance and theater performances using a loom that is still in the home. The couple also helped found the village’s other major attraction for art lovers: the European Cultural Center. In addition to hosting events, the center features sculptures and paintings from Alekos Fasianos, Yiannis Tsarouchis, and Giannis Gaitis, among other Greek artists.

 

  1. Hiking around the surrounding mountains

Hikers have discovered a number of paths around Mt. Parnassos that were once used by pilgrims coming to see the oracle. Today, visitors can choose from a variety of trails of varying difficulties that provide sweeping views of the landscape, as well as nearby villages and monuments. Trekking Hellas Parnassos is a local business that provides tours of the hills for visitors who do not want to explore on their own. One of the most popular sites is Corycian Cave, situated above the sanctuary of Delphi. The cave has served as the site of pagan rituals since Neolithic times and is associated with the god Pan and the nymphs. Greek mythology explains that the cave was named for Corycia, a nymph who was a partner to Apollo. Hikers can also complete longer treks on Mt. Parnassos to explore other caves, springs, and mountain shelters.

amphitheatre

 

  1. Venturing out to the nearby village of Arachova

Nicknamed the “Mykonos of the Mountains,” Arachova has a number of celebrated restaurants, boutique shops, and trendy cafes among its picturesque stone buildings. One of the most famous ski resorts in Greece is located in the town. Because the area is known for its wealthy visitors, it has attracted a number of global brands to its main street. However, even people who don’t care to shop will still find much to do. Arachova produces some unique local foods, including Formaela cheese, Amfissa olives, and a delicious spirit known as tsipouro. Several restaurants serve unexpected proteins like wild boar, goat, rooster, and other locally sourced meats. Once guests have their fill of food, they can burn off some calories by exploring the church of St. George, which has a massive clock tower that overlooks the whole village.

 

  1. Heading to the coastal town of Galaxidi

Another small town close to Delphi that’s worth a visit is Galaxidi, which is located on the Gulf of Corinth. Here, tourists will find charming cobblestone pathways winding around town and a number of small specialty shops that sell locally produced herbs and spices. The town is also known for its various olive-inspired products. Galaxidi has two different ports, Agora and Chirolaka, so there is an opportunity for guests to venture out on the water if they desire. In addition, Galaxidi has two museums: one that examines the maritime history of Greece and another focused on local folklore and its impact on Greek culture. People who enjoy exploring churches and monasteries will also find a number of them scattered throughout the town.

island Paros

6 of the Top Attractions Not to Miss While on the Island of Paros

When people think about Greek islands, their minds most often turn to Santorini or Mykonos, but a number of other islands are worth exploring. One of these is Paros, a mountainous island that attracts outdoor enthusiasts with its numerous camping options and a thriving watersports culture. A short ferry ride from Athens, Paros often becomes the first destination for individuals intending to island hop, but tourists who give the island more time will quickly realize its charm. With Venetian castles, picturesque windmills, and crystal-blue waters, Paros epitomizes the rustic appeal of Greece. Some of the top attractions for visitors while on the island include the following:

 

  1. Paros Park

This natural park features some incredible rock formations characteristic of islands in the Cyclades. Tourists can explore the park by walking along well-demarcated paths that will take them to some of the best vantage points in the area. In the summer months, they can take a dip at the beach of Monastiri or take in a free film at Cine Enastron, an open-air theater. Between June and October, the park features a music festival with jazz, classic, and traditional Greek concerts, along with other cultural events. Meanwhile, the Museum of the Park provides a unique perspective on the history of the island, and visitors can get even more historical detail at the Ai Yiannis Detis monastery.

 

Monastiri Beach

Monastiri Beach | Image by Sally Taylor | Flickr

 

  1. Archaeological Museum of Paros

Located in Parikia, the capital of Paros, the Archaeological Museum of Paros provides visitors with a glimpse of how the island has changed over time, starting with artifacts from the Neolithic period and moving all the way up to early Christianity. The museum is relatively small, so visitors can get a solid sense of the island’s history without burning an entire day. Furthermore, the museum features a number of notable pieces, such as a marble statue of Gorgon from the 6th century BCE and a massive statue of Artemis from about 490 BCE. Visitors should also be sure to see the Neolithic-era figurine of a seated woman.

 

  1. Panagia Ekatontapyliani

Also located in Parikia, Panagia Ekatontapyliani (“the church with 100 doors”) is a Byzantine church constructed in the 4th century. It has emerged as one of the most sacred sites in the country. According to legend, 99 different doors have been found in the structure, but the hundredth will not be found until Constantinople is again returned to Greek control. In addition, the icon of Panagia is believed to have made miracles happen. No trip to Paros is complete without an exploration of this landmark church.

 

  1. Byzantine Path

Fans of hiking should definitely devote some time to following the Byzantine Path. Built as a defense when Paros faced pirate raids, the path is comprised of stone streets connecting the village of Lefkes, which served as the capital, to other towns and ports throughout the island. A section of these streets is preserved as the Byzantine Path, which has become one of the best hiking paths in all of Greece. The trail starts at Lefkes and proceeds through olive groves and fields of wildflowers to Prodromos, a village that dates back 1,000 years. This section alone will take individuals about an hour. From there, people can hike to Marpissa, which has interesting 17th-century homes and windmills, or take the sharp uphill course toward the Agios Antonios monastery.

 

Byzantine Path

Byzantine Path | Image by Sally Taylor | Flickr

 

  1. Naoussa

Today, Naoussa serves as the primary resort town for tourists in Paros, and many would argue that it is also the prettiest part of the island. Venetians built the old quarter so that the backs of houses created a wall along the water as a defense against pirates. They also constructed a beautiful and colorful old fishing port that still features the ruins of a fortress. Here, tourists will find white-washed cobblestone alleys and passages that look almost like mazes. The town has a number of different bars and restaurants with outdoor seating where diners can enjoy the sights of the island while enjoying their meal. At night, Naoussa can become a party town, especially around the old port, so people craving some nightlife should definitely check it out.

 

  1. Golden Beach

Recognized as one of the best spots for watersports in the entire world, Golden Beach is ideal for kayaking, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and more. In general, rental prices here are very affordable, although they can change between companies and across different seasons of the year. However, with several rental spots right on the beach, competition between companies helps keep everything affordable. When taking a break from these activities, tourists will find various beach-themed shops and boutiques, as well as tavernas serving some of the best seafood on the island.