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.

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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

5 of the Best Destinations for Wintertime Travelers in Greece

Most people associate Greece with beaches, islands, and sunshine. However, the country does experience winter. Travelers should not feel discouraged from visiting during the colder months, when individuals can head to ski slopes, mountains, and other attractions.

Greece provides a radically different experience during the winter months. For example, new seasonal produce is available, including chestnuts, wild mushrooms, and oranges. These lend themselves to a variety of traditional dishes. In the winter, hearty stews replace the lighter salads served during the summer.

People generally put their sandals away and get out the hiking boots to explore nature. Outdoors enthusiasts should definitely plan a trip during this period.

Some of the best spots to check out for winter fun in Greece include:

 

  1. Kalavryta

Located a few hours from Athens, Kalavryta provides travelers with a whole host of activities in the heart of the Peloponnese. The town sits on the slopes of Mount Helmos and offers easy access to a number of winter sports. Hikers will be in heaven here.

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Image by Hellas Holiday | Flickr

Within a small area, individuals will find open caves, alpine lakes, and different types of evergreen forests. In nearby Planitero, travelers will find picturesque forests and bubbling springs. This area is known for its trout fishing.

Visitors will find a number of hotels and spas, as well as charming guest houses. For a more immersive experience, individuals can stay in one of the small surrounding villages. Some of the other attractions in Kalavryta include a World War II museum and gorgeous monasteries, as well as railway that connects to Diakofto on the coast.

 

  1. Zagori

This is one of the most breathtaking mountainous regions in all of Europe. Zagori offers waterfalls, caves, and rivers nestled among densely forested mountains. Additionally, it is home to the Zagorohoria, more than 45 small villages constructed from stone and slate.

There are hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails that cross over stone bridges and around historic monasteries. Many of these trails offer incredible vantage points of the nearby ridges. Plus, visitors can jump onto an organized hiking group to see the most the area has to offer.

Mountaineers are often attracted to Zagori because of the many peaks that they can climb. A number of companies cater to individuals who want to whitewater raft or backcountry ski. Travelers should check out as many villages as they can, as each has its own unique culture and exceptional architecture. Nearby to this area is Ioannina, another city worth a day trip.

 

  1. Tzoumerka

In the northwestern part of Greece is the large Pindos mountain range. The lower part of this range is known as the Tzoumerka mountain chain, which creates a massive ridge dividing Ioannina from Arta. Like many of the other areas listed, Tzoumerka has crystalline springs and waterfalls feeding into rushing rivers. The National Park of Tzoumerka boasts a wide range of wildlife.

Like Zagori, the area has more than 45 villages. However, this area has undergone much less tourist development. This means that it is a fantastic option for experiencing untamed Greek countryside. Two villages that visitors should make sure to explore are Syrrako and Kalarrites. Another prime option is Melissourgi, which has various outdoors activities, including whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

To get the most out of this region, travelers should have a vehicle. They should also be aware that the roads can be very narrow and winding.

 

  1. Loutraki Pella

For a more relaxed experience, visitors can turn to Loutraki Pella, known for its natural thermal spring. This particular spring is at the base of Mount Voras in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki.

The massive facility here takes advantage of the Toplitsa River gushing out of the springs. This enables it to offer 48 private baths as well as multiple indoor pools and a hydrotherapy center. Along the river, there are also thermal waterfalls that guests can explore at their leisure.

The village of Loutraki has a wide range of accommodations for people who want to stay in the area for a few days. Also, not far from the springs is Kaimaktsalan, a great ski resort.

 

  1. Metsovo

People who want to split their time between exploring the Greek wilderness and the country’s culture should check out Metsovo in Epirus. Historically, this town emerged as a major military post and trading town. Much of the trade with other European nations went through Metsovo in the 18th and 19th centuries.

After that, the grandeur of the town began to deteriorate until, in the 1940s, Evangelos Averoff developed a foundation to keep the town thriving. The foundation has supported the development of wineries and a cheesemaking industry as a means to promote tourism.

This investment worked. Metsovo has become a prime attraction for Greeks and foreigners alike, especially those who enjoy wine and food. However, the town also has three small ski resorts nearby as well as a great folk museum and an art gallery.

 

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.