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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

 

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.