With over a thousand islands and a territory that stretches from the south Aegean Sea to the middle of the Balkan peninsula, Greece is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. With such a diverse range of Greek destinations on offer, virtually all tastes are catered for – from history fans to serious clubbers but it’s popularity means that it’s sometimes hard to escape the crowds. Here’s 10 overlooked beauty spots chosen by our guest blogger and Greek local Eleni Ispoglou from Greece by a Greek.com
Makrinitsa Village, Thessaly
Makrinitsa village is also known as Pelion’s Balcony due to its location. This mountainous village’s characteristics are the epitomy of Pelion style architecture – the beautiful cobbled stoned mystical paths, the traditional churches and bridges that send you back in time. Locals successfully managed to preserved its beauty and charm through the years and you are really going to be amazed by the architecture of the stoned built mansions and houses, that look like a piece of art hanging on the mountain.
One of the village’s most popular places is the main square. The panoramic views towards the Pagasitic Gulf are just impressive day or night. It is the ideal place to treat yourself with a nice meal or coffee.
Tip: The guesthouses in the village have kept the traditional architecture inside out. Most of them have rooms with fireplaces, and offer breakfast made of local products to make your stay unforgettable.
Ithaca, a calm island in the Ioanian Sea, is a place of authentic natural beauty. According to Greek Mythology it was Homer’s Odysseus homeland. The island is formed by two large pieces of land joined by a narrow land strip. Its dense vegetation, sheer cliffs, majestic traditional villages, hidden coves and crystal clear blue beaches make this place ideal for travelers who like alternative vacation in unspoiled Greece. Most of the beaches are not crowded without noisy beach bars and sunbeds. Lush vegetation that reaches the coastlines, pebbles and breathtaking views at the Ioanian sea characterize all of them.
Guided walks are organized to Ithaca’s hills and walking paths. The best way to explore the island’s history, nature and customs. If you visit the island during August, you should not miss the local festivals (Greeks call them panigiria) that start in the evening and keep going until early morning. What makes Ithaca’s festivals special, is the alternation of traditional songs (dimotika) with tangos and waltz. You will be amazed by the movements of the talented locals dancing tango and waltz with such a style!
Vourvourou is a village in the Sithonia Sithonia peninsula of Chalkidiki in North Greece. The region is a unique place known for its natural landscape. Once there, you get the feeling that the marvelous beaches extend to meet the pine tree forests of the nearby mountains. The clear blue waters and the beautiful little islands are two of Vourvourou’s characteristics. Karidi is one of the most enchanting beaches of the bay with white big stones and transparent clear waters. Once you get in the sea you will feel that your are in a magical place out of this world. Try to avoid the midday peak hours or the mid August peak holiday season altogether.
Tip: If you want to have a superb experience, you can explore the area even further with the help of a sea kayak. Sea kayaking trips are organised by professionals who also provide travelers with useful information about the beaches.
This is Syvota, a coastal village at the northwest part of Greece, and an ideal exotic resort if you seek clear turquoise waters and many pristine beaches. What makes this destination to stand out are the green island look formations in the sea, which hide enchanting beaches that are accessible only by boat or yacht.
You can hire a boat from the marina for a day or you can choose one of the organised cruises of the local travel agencies.
Tip: The bay gets very busy during July – August period so try and avoid these areas.
Symi is a mountainous island, part of the Dodecanese Islands. It is known for the finest Neo-classical architecture, its picturesque alleys and the magnificent harbor. An authentic Greek destination where old tradition meets modern travellers. Examples of the beautiful architecture are the Clock Tower situated at Symi’s port, the Castle at the village’s hill and the peaceful Monastery of Michael Panormitis.
Kali Strata is one of the most beautiful alleys of the village. This old pathway starts at Yialos (harbor) and leads up to Chorio (village). As you walk up the 300 plus stairs, you have the chance to admire panoramic views at the sea.
Tip: For beach lovers there several quiet bays and beaches to chose from. Some beaches are accessible only by boat. Daily boat trips depart from the harbour.
Hydra, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, stands as a national and historical monument with exceptional architecture and unique character. It is a traffic free island, where cars are banned, a fact that makes the island special. Once you arrive, you will be astonished by the picturesque architectural beauty and the impressive style of its building. Hydra’s mansions, located at the port, represent the island’s splendid architecture. Admire the beauty of the traditional stone built Kountouriotis, Tombazis and Voulgaris mansions. Another example of the elegant traditional architecture is the locals’ beautifully painted houses and their artistic yards and gardens.
Kastellorizo aka Megisti, is Greece’s eastern and southernmost island in the Mediterranean sea about 2km off Turkey’s south coast. It is the smallest of the Dodecanese islands and once on it, your feet is your only way of transportation. Once you arrive closer to the port, you will be amazed by the impressive colours of the mansions built on the seaside. The town’s old buildings have been preserved, making the island a unique place for travelers. Admire the beautiful scenery and do not miss a visit to its ancient monuments. The Old Mosque was build during the Ottoman occupation of the island. A building with magnificent beauty, is now a Cultural Museum and open to the public.
Tip: The island is ideal for those who seek quiet and peaceful holidays. There are no clubs and late night bars. Instead, you can hike or sail around the island.
Giola Lagoon, Thassos
An amazing natural pool carved in rocks, Giola in Thassos island is the perfect place to go if you are a little bit adventurous and attracted by earth’s breathtaking scenes. In order to get there you must drive through a dirty road for about 4km. You must have a high 4 engine vehicle to take the drive. Then you walk straight on the stones to get to the lagoon. Be sure you wear appropriate shoes for the walk and it would be good to wear special water shoes if you plan to dive and swim. Once you reach the cliffs the view is just spectacular. The blue water and the rocks create a great contrast that you must see for yourself.
Tip: Go as early as you can during summer peak season as it gets crowded. There is no sand, so lay your towel on the stones.
Hozoviotissa monastery, Amorgos
What a spectacular monastery! Hozoviotissa monastery is built on a cliff’s side in Amorgos, part of the Cyclades islands. The monastery accommodates a few monks and it is also open for visitors everyday. If you visit the island you definitely must climb up the 300 slippery stairs to get there. Make sure though that you are properly dressed. Men should were long trousers and women long skirts. Once you arrive at the top the views of the Aegean Sea will catch your breath.
Once visitors arrive in the beautiful monastery, monks greet them by serving refreshments, rakomelo and small traditional sweets called loukoumi. The little chapel is the place to feel the religion vibes. The icons in there are a real treasure. Before you start your journey up the stairs, make sure you wear comfortable shoes, a hat and have a bottle of fresh water with you.
Seitan Limania, Crete
Seitan Limania is located 20 km east-side of Chania Town in Crete. It is one of the most beautiful virgin beaches in Greece, with crystal emerald deep waters. A well hidden paradise that is not so easy to reach, but surely it’s worth the adventure, if you like to visit non-touristic places. You firstly need a car to get there. The views from the top where you park the car are breathtaking. Then follow the descending rocking path that leads to the beach. The route is quite hard, so not suitable for kids and elderly people.
Make sure you wear appropriate hiking shoes and have all your belongings in a backpack to keep your hands free. It is hard to descend the steep path carrying stuff. There are no food stalls, bars or sunbeds. Bring your own food and water with you. If you visit in July/August period get as early as you can to avoid the crowd. Sadly it does not have much space for more than 30 – 40 people to lay on the beach.
All words by our guest blogger Eleni Ispoglou Greece by a Greek.com