landscape

7 of the Most Inspiring Hiking Trails to Explore in Greece

Travelers who want to get off the beaten tourist path may want to think about exploring some of Greece’s wonderful trailheads. About 80 percent of the country is covered with hills and mountains, making it one of the primary destinations for both hiking and trekking. Even on the islands, tourists can find inspiring trails that lead to breathtaking views and give a unique perspective on the area. Many of these trails date back to ancient times, from the paths created by shepherds and monks to kalderimia, flagstone or cobbled paths that date back to the Byzantine Empire. Some of the top trails in Greece include the following:

 

  1. Mount Olympus

The highest peak in all of Greece, Mount Olympus was known as the home of the gods. Today, the mountain has transformed into a hiker’s paradise with a wide variety of different plants and birds. Mount Olympus officially became the first national park in Greece back in 1938; it features more than 160 kilometers of trails leading to several breathtaking vistas, as well as some refuges that hikers can take advantage of during multi-day treks. For travelers who enjoy exploring mountains, this destination is a must.

mt. olympus

 

  1. Pelion Peninsula

Another great option for people who want to explore the natural beauty of Greece, Pelion is a peninsula found about halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki. Green and lush, Pelion is home to miles of ancient kalderimia connecting various villages. Helpfully, all of the paths have been signposted to help people travel easily by foot between the different destinations.

These paths offer scenic hikes with trails starting from several major villages, including Kala Nera, Tsagarada, and Milies. Greek mythology holds that this area was once home to centaurs, beasts with both human and horse features. While hikers are not likely to encounter centaurs, they will find monasteries, churches, and placid water springs, as well as diverse fauna.

 

  1. Menalon Trail

About 75 kilometers in length, the Menalon Trail is a mountain path that runs through Gortynia, at the heart of the Peloponnese. This trail is a bit of a challenge since it moves across rugged mountains and deep canyons, but hikers will also come across charming villages like Nymfasia, Dimitsana, and Elati.

The trail is divided into eight sections that vary in length and difficulty, so hikers of all skill levels will be able to find a path that suits them.

hiker

  1. Vikos Gorge

Epirus remains one of the lesser-explored parts of Greece, but hikers will find one of the most exciting destinations in the whole country here, as well as some of the most scenic views. Visitors should head to the Vikos Aoos National Park, located in Zagori, to hike the Vikos Gorge, which the Guinness Book of Records cites as the deepest gorge in the world.

Hiking along this incredible gorge will prove to be an unforgettable experience. Individuals should also make time to visit some of the picturesque villages in the region to get a taste of local culture. Furthermore, the surrounding Pindos Mountains have some worthy trails with excellent views of the range’s nearby lakes and 2,000-meter-high peaks.

 

  1. Sifnos

This island is perhaps best known for its food, which visitors can enjoy after hiking along its more than 200 kilometers of trails. Along the island are several ancient trail networks that take hikers past landmark buildings and stunning sea vistas. In total, Sifnos has 19 well-marked trails that individuals can use to explore the island and work up an appetite.

 

  1. Mount Athos

One of the more unique hiking experiences that individuals can have in Greece remains Mount Athos in the east of the Halkidiki Peninsula. In Greek, this mountain is also called Agio Oros (Holy Mountain) as it is home to 20 different monasteries. The mountain range has a distinctly peaceful atmosphere and its beauty is simply stunning.

Because the area is a bit secluded, it is best attempted by seasoned hikers, although the paths do vary in length and difficulty, so those who are less experienced will still have options. Hikers will encounter a wide variety of different animals and flora. However, due to religious reasons, women and young children are not permitted to visit.

mount-athos-1301413_1280

 

  1. Nisyros

The attraction of Nisyros, an island between Kos and Tilos, is the fact that it is a volcano! Along the edge of the island are several whitewashed villages with accommodations for guests. From these villages, individuals can hike upward toward the volcanic crater. They can also find some natural pools scattered around the island in which to cool off during their hike. Additionally, the hike is possible to do as a day trip when staying on the nearby island of Kos.

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6 of the Top Shopping Destinations in and around Athens

Athens offers travelers a wide range of exciting activities, from seeing monuments and eating at world-class restaurants to a wide variety of different types of shopping. Most people think of Greece as a country of islands, natural beauty, and rich history. The country also has some incredible shopping opportunities for people who enjoy hunting out deals and looking for truly unique items.

In recent years, many of the markets scattered throughout Athens, as well as in other parts of the country, have exploded in size. They now offer an astonishing range of items. People have even been known to fly to Greece with empty suitcases and the intention of filling them during their stay.

Some must-visit shopping areas in Athens and elsewhere include:

 

  1. Central Market

Located along Athinas Street in Athens, Central Market is a colorful place for shoppers to visit with a history that dates back to the 19th century. The market, which also goes by the name Varvakios, sells a range of items, including fruits, seafood, cured meats, and spices.

Some of the most popular items at the market are cheeses, many of which are made by hand, as well as fresh olives. Individuals will also find some of the freshest herbs in the city here.

While the market is closed Sunday, it is open every other day and an absolute must for food lovers and chefs. Also, individuals should note that the market is actually divided into two sections, one that is purely vegetarian and another that has meet. Generally, the sellers stick around until late evening.

 

  1. Piraeus Flea Market

Individuals in Athens, whether shoppers are not, should make time to walk through Piraeus Flea Market. It provides a purely Greek experience. The flea market only operates on Sundays but is open from the very early morning hours until the evening.

While here, people will come across some incredible deals on virtually everything, from shoes to bedsheets. Many people who collect books have luck finding first editions here.

Visitors should always make sure they keep their belongings secure as they explore the market as it can get quite crowded. Also, bargaining is encouraged, so individuals should always try to talk down sellers from the originally stated price to get the best deal possible.

 

  1. Mykonos Town

People probably think mostly of relaxing on the beach when they imagine Mykonos. However, the island has emerged as a top destination for fashionistas.

Many of the shops can get quite expensive, but they offer unique and stylish clothing that cannot be found anywhere else. Plus, the stores here stay open late into the evening so individuals can wander around once they have left the beach.

In the town, individuals will find everything from traditional Greek textiles to international designer labels. Starting in August, many of the shops have end-of-season sales. The island also has many kitschy souvenir shops.

 

  1. Ermou Street and Kifisia

Perhaps the most famous shopping district in all of Athens, Ermou street features all of the top international brands, from Zara to Bershka. Because of the financial situation in Greece, these shops tend to sell clothing at prices much cheaper than in other parts of the world, so travelers can find great deals.

The street has a number of local stores and shops with unique collections. Some of the top-rated shops along the street include Fokas and Attika. While not everyone will enjoy a stop on Ermou Street, people who enjoy upscale shopping will be sure to have a great time.

Another spot for checking out luxury brands is Kifisia, which is the Athenian version of Fifth Avenue. Virtually all high-end brands have representation between these two spots.

 

  1. Eleftherios Venizelos

On Crete in the Heraklion district is Eleftherios Venizelos, a square with some of the best shopping in the country. Here, individuals will find an impressive array of designers, as well as incredible jewelry, quality leather craft, and even fine antiques.

This spot is great for getting a sense of traditional Greek leatherwork and jewelry. This means it has some of the best examples of both. As a result, the items can get quite pricey.

Nearby is Chania, another district with leather pieces and jewelry that is meant more for souvenirs and thus has a lower price. Chania also has some beautiful handmade textiles, pottery, and art. This area also has some weekly pop-up markets with clothes, produce, and more.

 

  1. Aeolou and Agios Markos Streets

One of the most famous shopping areas in Athens outside of Ermou and Kifisia, Aeolou and Agios Markos Streets are home to a number of unique shops with clothes, yarn, fabrics, and more. What makes this spot so special are the cheap prices, even on typically expensive fabrics like silk and linen.

This area is always crowded with both tourists and locals. Shoppers are encouraged to bargain with the sellers as virtually all the prices can be negotiated down. As an added bonus, individuals can head over to the nearby Agia Irini Square, which is known for its pubs and is a great place to have a drink, relax, and cool down after a shopping adventure.

sailing

What You Need to Know before Booking a Sailing Holiday in Greece

One of the best ways to explore the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and hit some of the hidden spots among the Greek islands is by sailing. Greece has emerged as a premier yacht charter destination as a result of its more than 3,000 islands, each of which has a unique culture and heritage. By sailing, individuals can see the gradual changes in vegetation, climate, architecture, and customs as they explore these many islands. Some of the common destinations for sailors include the Cyclades, the Ionian Sea, the Dodecanese, and the Saronic Gulf. Both the Saronic Gulf and the Ionian Sea have gentle waters that are ideal for beginners, whereas areas such as the Cyclades are best left to the seasoned professionals.

 

What Is the Basic Breakdown of Sailing Regions?

The Ionian Sea has emerged as perhaps the most popular destination for a sailing holiday, although rough winds can peak at the end of summer. The destination offers a wide range of traditional foods, some of the best wines in the country, and countless gorgeous bays and harbors. South of the Ionian Sea is the Peloponnese, which is known for ruins that date back to some of the oldest cultures in all of Greece, as well as breathtaking mountains. Near the coast is Crete, the largest island in Greece. Crete has picturesque beaches and a rapidly changing landscape. From here, people can move into the Aegean Sea, which include the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the North Aegean.

The Cyclades are ideal for sailing and putting many miles on a boat each day. Visitors will find some islands that possess very few inhabitants and others renowned for their nightlife, such as Mykonos. The Dodecanese, which is located near the border with Turkey, features tiny bays and ancient cities that can be seen from the water because of their fortifications. North of all this is the Sporades, which is similar to the Ionian Sea with some wonderful conservation areas and numerous ruins. The Sporades is an ideal destination for a short sailing trip with crystal blue waters and sandy beaches.

yacht Greece

 

When Is the Best Time to Sail in Greece?

People who are thinking about taking a sailing trip throughout Greece should know that the typical boating season begins in April and ends in November, although the peak season is from late June to September. During the heart of summer, ports and marinas can get very busy, and sailboats may be forced to anchor rather than dock on the islands themselves. However, these months are also when the majority of charters happen. Sailors should understand that the Greek summer is extremely hot and dry. Winds, especially in the Cyclades, can reach very high speeds, which may then prevent chartered boats from leaving the harbor. Many people enjoy sailing most just before or just after the peak when prices are low and the weather is more moderate.

 

What Options Exist for Chartering a Sailboat?

Before embarking on a sailing adventure, individuals should figure out the islands that they hope to hit along the way. While it is fine to make some unexpected stops along the way, a basic itinerary is critical for understanding what kind of boat to rent and where. In Greece, experienced sailors can pursue a bareboat yacht charter, although those people with less or no experience can still enjoy a sailing vacation by getting a skippered yacht. A skipper will take full responsibility for the yacht, which includes undertaking all sailing maneuvers and handling itineraries. Individuals should seek out a skipper with knowledge of the islands that they wish to visit so that they can get recommendations and help in becoming familiar with local customs.

Another option is to rent a crewed yacht. The crew will consist of a professional skipper and a host, who sometimes also acts as a cook. The crew may include a dedicated cook apart from the host. Larger boats may also have a deckhand, who helps with ropes and sailing maneuvers. Great crews will offer some insight on local history and culture by giving tours of the island. One of the most common crewed yacht charters in Greece is known as a gulet, a large, wooden sailboat. These boats are wide for maximum comfort, even with a lot of people on board.

sailing in Greece

 

How Much Does a Sailing Adventure in Greece Cost?

The yacht charter industry in Greece has relatively low prices compared to many other countries. Marinas and ports charge by the length of the yacht, so larger boats will involve greater expense. Even so, a sailing trip in Greece is often a fraction of the cost that one would pay for a similar trip in other Mediterranean countries. However, marinas can quickly become crowded, so it is advised that boats have a good anchor setup, as well as a backup. Also, individuals are responsible for the well-being of their crew, so they must ensure that the skipper and any other employees receive meals.

 

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.