The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. Athens is the historical capital of Europe which since the 5th century BC – the “Golden Age of Pericles”– the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. A large part of the town’s historical centre has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone, leading to the major archaeological sites, reconstructing the ancient landscape. At the tour one can admire the temple of Olympian Zeus, the ancient Theatre of Dionysos, Odeion of Herodes Atticus, climb up to the sacred rock of the Acropolis, visit the impressive new Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora and the Kerameikos – cemetery of the ancient city. A tour of enchanting Athens should include the neighborhoods of Plaka, Monastiraki and Psyrri. The heart of the city is Syntagma square, across which is the Greek Parliament building and in front of it the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in traditional costume. Nearby is the beautiful National Garden, the impressive Zappeion Mansion and the Panathinaikon Stadium, where the first Olympic Games in modern history were held (1896). A visit to the verdant Lycavittos Hill is worthwhile for its view of the entire city, all the way to the sea. On a side of the hill is the “aristocratic” neighborhood Kolonaki, whose boundary is Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, one of the most grandiose streets of Athens with beautiful buildings, many museums and green areas.
The southern suburbs, located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, offer many opportunities to take a walk along the seaside, while you will also find many beautiful organized and free beaches, large shopping centers and nightclubs. Take the opportunity to swim, relax at a waterfront café, walk along the picture-perfect pedestrian streets and the marinas, exercise your favorite water sport, shop in one of the area’s modern shopping centers, dine by the sea or entertain yourself in one of the coastal avenue’s buzzing clubs! The coastal road continues through marvellous tourist resorts such as Lagonissi and Saronida and ends at Cape Sounio, where you will find the impressive Temple of Poseidon and can enjoy a wonderful sunset. Kifissia – in the northern suburbs – is also worth a visit, with its beautiful villas and impressive mansions. In the wider Attica area, the battle of the Marathon area with the Tomb of Marathon, as well as the wonderful surrounding mountain massifs of Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettos, all suitable for hiking.
Fascinating children-oriented museums narrating centuries of history, lush green gardens; spacious playgrounds and exciting amusement parks make out the perfect destination for children and grownups who wish to remember their age of innocence.
All around Athens, you will find hotel accommodation of high standard, modern means of transportation, a wide choice of opportunities for shopping, dining and nightlife, good service but above all the hospitality and warmth of its inhabitants. In a nutshell, Athens is a city that fascinates every visitor, during all seasons.
Mykonos is a grand example of unique Cycladic architecture set around a picturesque fishing-village bay, often named “the jewel” of the Aegean Sea… Whitewashed cube-like buildings fit closely together to form a maze of narrow alley ways and streets. The earthen colors of the bare hills surround the island’s gleaming whiteness between the incredibly blue sky and even deeper blue sparkling sea. Its many well preserved windmills and hundreds of tiny red-roofed churches add a flavor of culture and custom to the scene, enhanced even further by “Little Venice”, many museums and the historical ancient site of Delos. Modernized and well organized accommodation facilities, refined food services, beautiful golden beaches, friendly people, and amazing nightlife contribute to an unforgettable stay on this little island.
Delos Island, the birthplace of mythology Gods Apollo and Diana, rises through Hellenic history since 10th century b.C. as a great idolatrous centre and desirable from many people of the ancient world until its abandonment on the 6th century a.C. The archeological museum of Delos is one of the most important ones in Hellas, with exceptional exhibits, like sculptures, mosaics etc.
is one of the most popular and touristy Greek islands. Paros is located in the heart of the Cyclades, in the Aegean sea, in front of Naxos and near Mykonos. It is a popular island and the reasons are obvious: exquisite sandy beaches in crystal waters, Parian traditional villages with whitewashed cubic houses in narrow paved alleys contrasted with the many colourful bougainvilleas, lovely chapels, an exciting nightlife…
Paros Island was known in antiquity for its fine marble. The main town is Parikia. The most cosmopolitan area of the island is Naoussa.
Naxos is the biggest and the greenest island in Cyclades with impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops, where the inhabitants still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land! Naxos is also an island of beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles coexisting harmoniously. Upon entering the port, the impressive “Portara”, a marble gate of a 6th century B.C. temple of Apollo, welcomes the visitors. Hora, capital of Naxos, is an old castle town with stone paved alleys where you can admire a unique blend of Cycladic and Medieval architecture. Discover the island following breathtaking routes by hiking, climbing or biking and enjoy the crystalline waters on the beaches around the island. Explore traditional, spread around villages with a “magical” character: Apeiranthos, with its museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble. Filoti, built on the top of a rock, and the 9th-10th century church of Panayia Protothroni, the biggest Byzantine church of Naxos. The community of Sagri, full of Venetian towers, traditional windmills and a number of major Byzantine churches, which are eloquent witness to the island’s glorious past. Naxos is also famous for its wide variety of cultural events, such as the Naxos Festival, organized at Bazeos Tower and “Dionissia”. The celebrations culminate with the famous “Wine Festival” and the “Fisherman’s Feast” held in September.
Santorini is one of the most unique and romantic places in the world. Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here. Crescent-shaped Santorini, the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands in Cyclades, which came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity over the centuries. Santorini’s volcano is probably the only one in the world whose crater is in the sea. Its eruptions caused the collapse of the central part of the island and the creation of an enormous “pot” – today’s Caldera. Fira is the picturesque capital of the island. Perched high up on the edge of the Caldera, it looks like a marvelous painting and, together with Oia, Imerovigli and Firostefani make up the so-called “Caldera’s eyebrow”, the balcony of Santorini, which offers an amazing view of the volcano. Whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean, villages surrounded by vast vineyards as well as archeological sites are a piece of the distinctive traditional atmosphere that rewards the visitor. A visit to Santorini is an ultimate gastronomic experience, too, as the island is a true culinary paradise. Satisfy your taste buds to some famous traditional products and of course visit the local wineries (some of them operate as a museum as well) and taste the exceptional wines produced from grapes grown in the volcanic soil of the island. Enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles and impressive lunar landscapes.
Paros, located at the heart of the Cyclades, is one of the best loved holiday destinations in Hellas. Parikia, the capital of the island, is a beautiful Cycladic village with whitewashed cubic houses and impressive neoclassical mansions. A well preserved 13th century Venetian castle stands proudly on a hill at the centre of the village offering an amazing view of Parikia. In the capital you can also admire an important ecclesiastical monument, the 6th century church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani, which means the church with 100 gates, one of which is a secret one! The Archaeological Museum displays exhibits from the island’s monuments, including part of the “Parian Chronicle”, a chronological table of the 3rd century BC with references to important events and personalities of antiquity. Wander through beautiful traditional villages like the colourful and vivid village of Naoussa. Lefkes is located at the highest point of Paros and enjoys stunning views of the island. Marpissa is a traditional village with a distinctive medieval character. Sun-drenched beaches, like Chrissi Akti, where the Windsurfing World Championship takes place ever year, Santa Maria and Pounda, welcome sun-loving visitors who wish to enjoy the crystal clear sea or their favourite water sports. Enjoy the unusual natural landscape with impressive white rock formations on Kolymbithres beach. The beach of Kaloyeros, surrounded by red and green clay rocks offers a really effective spa for free. Discover the island’s stunning beauty by hiking or on horseback! Paros is also one of the oldest Mediterranean wine-making areas, with its own protected designation of origin wines! Extra tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the small islet of Antiparos.
The islet of Antiparos, lying southwest of Paros, is ideal for a relaxed and serene holiday. Hora of Antiparos has been built around a 15th century Venetian castle. The stone-paved streets, the whitewashed alleys, the houses decorated with thriving pink and purple bougainvilleas and the central square with its shadowy eucalyptus trees create an enchanting atmosphere. The cave of Antiparos is located on Ayios Ioannis Hill, and it is famous for its marvellous stalagmite and stalactite formations; here, you will find the oldest stalagmite in Europe! The chapel of Ai Giannis Spiliotis “welcomes” the visitor at the cave’s entrance. Enjoy the sunshine in beaches along the island’s beautiful coastline. The last years, Antiparos has become a famous destination for Hollywood movie stars.
This is the island where Greek tradition and western influence come to a harmonious marriage. Ermoupoli is the island’s capital town and has been the first important trade and industrial centre of the country in the 19th century. Evidence of this glorious past can be seen on public buildings, like the City Hall, the Customs Office and “Apollo” theatre, on the neoclassical houses and at the beautiful squares. The Orthodox community has contributed some outstanding religious monuments to the architecture of the town. The medieval quarter of the Roman Catholic community and the fortress-like St George’s cathedral are on Ano Syros. Stairs lead you to the top of the hill and through the narrow streets, by the traditional whitewashed houses, enjoy a breathtaking view. As most of the Cycladic islands, Syros is full of beautiful beaches. Internationally acclaimed festivals are held on the island, offering a wide range of choices and covering any taste of entertainment. The International Cyclades Music Festival, the Classical Music Festival, the Ermoupolia and the Musical May are the most famous. Syros is a unique combination of the classic with the modern.
Sifnos, the island of flavors, is the birthplace of famous Hellenic poets as well as award winning chefs, like Tselementes. Unique small villages, organized or isolated beaches and 227 churches, spread around the island. Explore the picturesque settlements, starting from Apollonia (Hora), the capital town, which is built in the shape of an amphitheatre over three hills in the centre of the island and is full of elegant hotels, and homey guesthouses. In every taverna or classy restaurant, sample some of Sifnos’ exceptional dishes and when the night falls discover fancy lounge bars and nightclubs. Artemonas is ideal for relaxing vacation, famous for its neoclassic mansions and its outstanding panoramic view and known for the most famous restaurants and patisseries of Sifnos. The historic settlement of Kastro, to which you enter from “lozies”, the castle’s old entrances, is built over the ruins of ancient Sifnos. It stands out for its old houses with wooden balconies, the ancient columns, the narrow courtyards and its breathtaking view of the sea. Sifnos is the centre of the art of pottery in the Cyclades, because of the island’s clayey soil. Whether cosmopolitan or secluded, all the beaches in Sifnos offer azure waters and sun-drenched sandy beaches.
Ideal for a relaxed holiday, Serifos used to be rich in the ancient times thanks to its minerals. Although a typical Cycladic island, it captivates you at first sight with its white villages, quiet harbors, 72 fantastic golden beaches, bare hills and beautiful landscapes. The mild tourism growth has not affected the island’s nature and traditional features. The enchanting Chora is the capital town, built on an almost perpendicular rock, with windmills and stone paved pedestrian walkways, which classify it among one of the most beautiful capital towns of the Hellenic islands. Apart from relishing the joys of sea, one can go cycling or walking along the island, scuba diving in the old mines or in the World War II wreck, or sightseeing in the fortress-like monastery of Taxiarches of 16th century. The sunset at Saint Konstantinos is one of a kind. The adventurous ones can take a trip to “the centre of the Earth” visiting the underground mining museum in Megalo Livadi.
Ios is an island of light and winds. It enchants the visitors instantly as they face Hora, which is built in an amphitheatre-like manner on the slope of a hill, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle as well as the church of Panayia Gremiotissa, the most important of the 365 churches on the island, affording an amazing view of the open sea. Snow-white little houses, picturesque arcade-covered alleys, the twelve windmills and of course the beautiful open theatre “Odysseas Elytis”, with its great view, create a unique residential area. The archaeological site Skarkos has been awarded a prize and a rich collection of its finds are on display in Hora’s excellent Archaeological Museum. Ios was also the final resting place of Homer, the great epic poet. Mylopotas, Magganari, Psathi, and Ayia Theodoti beaches are known worldwide –among others– to be top choices for dives and windsurfing in the island’s emerald waters. In order to explore the inland, follow the paths that shepherds prefer to take and discover the pristine natural beauty of Ios through magic scents and colours. Don’t miss tasting the local products which are famous.
The volcanic activity in ancient years has endowed this island with an exciting variety of gorgeous landscapes, consequently offering the visitor a wide range of activities. Funny shapes of the rocks and their wonderful colors at the beautiful white sandy beaches, spectacular caves and a multitude of thermal springs are an expression of the volcanic features of Milos. What is more, one of the most ancient mines in the Mediterranean is on this island. The diving enthusiasts will find a paradise in the underwater caves. The island’s villages are lovely too: the stately Plaka (the island’s capital), the harbour of Adamantas, the beautiful Hivadolimni, the marvellous Emporios with the little lagoon of Revary and the old iron mines. As far as archaeology is concerned, the early Christian catacombs, a prehistoric settlement in Fylakopi and the mining museum are definitely worth a visit. Last but not least, there are local tastes offering a special gastronomic experience.
Amorgos is one of the most impressive Cycladic islands, boasting marvelous beaches, most of which are secluded, with azure waters, gorgeous caves, ideal spots for diving and scenic bays. Built at the centre of the island and surrounded by rocky hills, the maze-like Hora of Amorgos is considered to be one of the most picturesque in the Cyclades! Here you can admire a breathtaking setting with scenic squares, traditional Cycladic houses with Bougainville trees in their court yards and the 13th century castle. Taste local specialties, like patatato, accompanied by a shot of “psimeni” raki and feel free to join in groups of people enjoying an impromptu feast! Katapola is a haven for boats and small cruise ships. Eyiali is popular to young people for its camp site with a lively waterfront full of cafes and restaurants. There are also picturesque villages famous for their sunset, like Tholaria, Lagada and Potamos. There are several footpaths on the island, mapped and sign-posted, along which you can discover its rich natural and cultural treasures. The island’s top attraction is the 10th century cliffside monastery of Panayia (Virgin Mary) Hozoviotissa, one of the most important ecclesiastic monuments in Hellas. Set high up, the monastery offers a stunning view of the island’s wild beauty. Visible only from the sea, 350 steps lead you to it, the interior of which is like a labyrinth. The cells of the monks are all carved into the rock to form a unique example of traditional architecture. The movie “The Big Blue” (1988) was shot on this island. In Liveros lies the impressive wreck of the ship “The Olympia” which appears in the film.
Rhodes, the island of the Knights, due to its strategic position, has a long history of attacks and conquers which is obviously demonstrated by its architecture.
The Medieval City of Rhodes is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you enter one of the largest medieval towns in Europe through the Gate of Freedom, it becomes obvious that the Old Town of Rhodes is a mosaic of different cultures and civilizations; The fascinating medieval fortress-like buildings, the bastions, walls, gates, narrow alleys, minarets, old houses, fountains, tranquil and busy squares make it feel like you have stepped back into medieval times. The Palace of the Grand Master is certainly the highlight of the Old Town. The cobblestoned Street of the Knights is one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. Stroll around the “Turkish district”, where you will find the Mustafa Pasha Mosque, the 16th century “Yeni Hammam” and the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent towards the harbor.
Outside the walls of the Old Town lies the “new” city, with its magnificent Venetian, neoclassic and modern buildings. Among the most remarkable Italian period’s buildings are the Post Office, the Prefecture of the Dodecanese, Evangelismos Church, the Town Hall and the National Theatre. Mandraki, the small marina with the Rhodian deer statues at its entrance and the surrounding windmills, is ideal for a walk. A visit to the Aquarium as well as Rodini Park is a must!
Outside the city, it is worth visiting:
- Kallithea, a cosmopolitan holiday resort area, where you can admire the Roman baths.
- The picturesque small bay at Ladiko, where the film “The Guns of Navarone” was shot.
- Koskinou, a traditional village where the house facades are painted in bright colours.
- Ialissos, a popular cosmopolitan resort that its beach is a favourite destination for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing enthusiasts.
- Afandou, where one can play golf on a modern 18-hole golf course.
- The Valley of the Butterflies, a habitat of unique value for the reproduction of the Panaxia Quadripunctaria butterfly.
- The ancient city-state of Lindos, with its acropolis, a natural watchtower facing the open sea and its traditional village with its cubic whitewashed houses and mansions.
- Prassonisi, the southernmost tip of the island and a popular location for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Take the opportunity to go on a daytrip to the nearby islands.
Its bright green hills, the golden beaches, excellent tourist facilities, the numerous cultural sites exhale both a cosmopolitan and traditional scent, offering a perfect holiday destination.
Sandy beaches, turquoise waters, lush vegetation, ancient and medieval monuments, tree-lined wide roads, large squares, parks, a superb city plan and an extensive bicycle-only routes network are the distinctive characteristics of Kos. The island’s trademark is its medieval castle situated at the entrance of the port. Wander along the impressive avenue with the Palm Trees, or stroll around famous squares like Platanou Square and Eleftheria Square and admire legendary buildings, remains of the Italian rule. Pay a visit to the ancient city of Kos and observe important archaeological finds dating back to the 4th century. You can also sit under the plane tree (over 2,500 years old) where Hippocrates himself, the Father of Medicine, used to teach his students and examine his patients. Don’t miss the 4th century Asclipiion, the Antimahia 15th century castle with its imposing battle tower, as well as one of the most scenic villages of Kos with a distinctive traditional character, Zia nestled amongst a dense cedar forest.
Kastellorizo (or Megisti) is the easternmost island in Greece, with a long and stormy history. Only 300 people live on the island today but the town and its magnificent neo-classical houses reveal the former prosperity of the island.
A former sponge-diving centre, Halki, is famous for its Theological School, which unfortunately does not operate anymore. Emborio, with its grand houses and a picturesque waterfront offering fresh fish, is the only inhabited hamlet on the island. Horio and the Knights’ Castle are both well worth visiting.
Beautiful Symi is an island of sponge divers and seamen and, before the Second World War, was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today Symi attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved neo-classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
To the north west of Rhodes you will find Tilos, with its imposing mountains, rocky and steep coasts, beaches with crystal clear water, caves and medieval castles. The island’s harbour is at Livadia, and from there you can visit the village of Micro Horio, deserted since 1950. At Megalo Horio visit the Palaeontology Museum, where you can see petrified skeletons of dwarf elephants.
Worldwide known as a sacred island for it is the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation, Patmos is an ideal destination for nature lovers thanks to its lace-like coastline, sheer cliffs and volcanic soil.
According to the prevailing theory, the Book of Revelation was written in 95 A.D. in the Holy Cave of the Apolacypse, where St. John heard the voice of God talking to him. Turned into a place of worship by the monk Christodoulos Latrinos in the 11th century, the cave –on whose walls we can trace the fingerprints of St. John’s himself– is still open to the devout Christians.
The Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse was built as a castle and became cultural and religious centre since its first day of use. There is also a library of 890 handwritten codes and 13,000 documents about the history of the site, which is worth visiting.
In the area of Hora, little glittering white houses under the Aegean sun stand next to proud two-storey mansions. Follow the historical narrow streets all the way from the monastery down to Skala (the island’s port), and discover restaurants, cafés, shops and traditional bakeries. The beach in Kampos with sea sports facilities and marvelous fish tavernas is the most cosmopolitan one, whereas Psili Ammos will offer you an off-the-beaten-track experience as it is accessible only by boat. The beach of Lampi is very beautiful, covered with colourful pebbles. The very small and mainly uninhabited islets of Arkoi are absolutely worth a visit.
Northeastern Aegean Islands
Much as Chios is famous for its mastic, it is not the only “magic” one can find on this island. Alongside its rich history starting from the Neolithic Age and including adventures with Saracene pirates and the Turks during the Greek Revolution, Chios also claims to be the birthplace of Homer.
The town of Chios is proof of the maritime glory and aristocratic nature of the island. Have some shopping at the “Aplotaria” market, which specialises in local products, have a coffee at Vounakio square, stroll around the Municipal Park, visit the eleven-century old Castle dominating the port, in which there is the tomb of Kara Ali, the Egyptian admiral who ordered the massacre at Chios in 1822, the Byzantine Museum, housed in an old Ottoman mosque, where you can see a perfect copy of the famous Delacroix’s painting “Massacre at Chios” and the famous “Korais” library with the personal collection of Adamantios Korais among its 1,300 historical volumes. Call in at the Naval Museum and see accurate replicas of sailing ships and steam boats. Walk through the picturesque narrow streets of Kaloplitis and marvel at the ship owners’ mansions.
The most famous local product is mastic. Known throughout the world, mastic is a controlled designation of origin product growing only in the South of Chios. This natural product is cultivated entirely by hand and is nowadays used in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and cosmetics.
Some of the villages of the island are worth visiting:
- The traditional settlement of Kampos, founded by the Genoese invaders. Genoa and Chios meet stylishly in the earth-coloured mansions of the local aristocrats of the past. Don’t let the high walls stop you exploring vast orange orchards, tree-roofed alleys and scented gardens.
- Nea Moni is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Greece,. Some of the most significant mosaics in the Mediterranean as well as a museum are housed here.
- The ruined byzantine village of Anavatos is called “the Mystras of the Aegean Sea”.
- The medieval mastic villages, such as Pyrgi, the biggest one, with its exquisite architecture and unique decorative elements, such as the ksistá, “scratched surfaces”, on the facades of the houses. There is also the village Mesta, whose stone houses form an impregnable fortress. The village has only one gateway for people to enter and the houses are built so close to one another that locals say the only way to walk around is by climbing over the roofs.
Beautiful beaches cover all around the island offering relaxation and fun.
Ikaria is a place with rich mythological past, and it has connected its name with the mythical figure Icarus. Sandy beaches, running waters, mountains and lush green hillsides compose the majestic relief of the island. Ikaria is also famed for its thermal springs, unique in the whole world for their chemical composition and radiation. Moreover, the unparalleled local lifestyle with a unique work-rest schedule, the famed festivals with traditional dances, the local manners and customs, are very impressive features for the visitors.
Beautiful Lesvos with many streams, rich flora and fauna, famous olives groves, the mild Mediterranean climate, charming traditional villages and remarkable examples of industrial architecture (olive presses, soap factories, tanneries) impress all visitors.
Lesvos is also known for the unique fossilized forest 15-20 million years ago covering the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area, which is designated as a preserved natural monument. It is the homeland of the famous ancient poets Sappho and Alkaios. During the 1821 Greek War of Independence, many of the island’s residents were fighters and members of Filiki Etairia. Many refugees from the Asia Minor coast settled on the island after the Asia Minor Disaster (1922), and the population exchange agreement. The contribution of Lesvos to the arts and letters has been invaluable. Eminent personalities such as Arion, Theophilos, Il. Venezis, Str. Myrivilis and the plastic artist Str. Elefteriadis were born here. Additionally, the Nobel prizewinning poet Odysseas Elytis was of Lesvian descent. Lesvos is also famous for two products, Ouzo and Olive Oil.
Mytilini is the capital of the island and is one of the most ancient Greek cities. It extends over seven hills and the traditional houses coexist harmonically with neoclassic mansions, Byzantine temples, refugee neighbourhoods and ancient monuments.
Due to its geographical position between three continents and its mild climate, Crete became an important center of culture and trade since Neolithic times. Here, the visitor can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture and mix with the locals who are very friendly and hospitable.. All of that and also being the largest island in Greece, led to an impressive tourist development since decades.
Crete is divided into four prefectures. Chania region is dominated by the impressive Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and its famous National Park, which occupy the largest part of the region. The city of Chania maintains unaltered all of its characteristics, from the time of the Venetian Rule up until today. Rethymno region, located between White Mountains and Mt Psiloritis, is synonymous with gorgeous mountainscapes, marvellous beaches, Cretan lyre melodies, legendary caves, historic monasteries and traditional mountain villages. Heraklion, the most densely populated region on the island, boasts exceptional archaeological treasures and especially the Minoan Civilization, a rich in treasures Archeological Museum, significant coastal settlements, a series of picturesque villages as well as vast valleys with olive groves and vineyards. Lasithi is the least mountainous region of Crete. The mythical palm tree forest of Vai, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lassithi, beaches lapped by crystalline water, beautiful cities and the island of Spinalonga all make up a rather fascinating world.
Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!
Skiathos & Sporades
is a very green island covered by a thick pine forest and considered as a protected environment. It is located between Skopelos and Volos Town. The Greek island of Skiathos is very popular and can get really crowded during July and August by people attracted by the wonderful long and golden sandy beaches of the island which are boarded by trees and have crystal-clear waters. It is one of the most well-organised Greek Islands and has all the tourist facilities needed.
In Sporades and near Skiathos are also Alonissos, Skopelos and Skyros.
Corfu (Kérkyra), with its rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments and museums, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas and its excellent weather all year round explain why it is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations. Colorful music events all year long, culinary feasts, religious festivals, carnival celebrations – known for their deep Venetian influences – and the most joyful Easter in Hellas, form an exquisite mosaic of experiences. The beautifully preserved Old Town, a Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire”, successfully applies to local artistic traditions. Strolling through a complex of narrow cobbled streets with stairways and vaulted passages, the so-called “kantoúnia”, the characteristic arcades, Spianáda, the bigger square of the Balkans, Listón, the city’s trademark, the Saint Michael and George Palace, the impressive 15th century Old Fortress as well as the New Fortress, form the most romantic background for a walk in the city. A visit to the city’s Cathedral, the Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are kept here, is imperative. The first Hellenic University, the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded here. Some of the sites located around the city of Corfu used to be the aristocracy’s favorites, such as: – Mon Repos Palace, a small but beautiful palace with colonial elements, today operates as a museum. – Kanóni, which offers from its circular terrace an amazing view across the island of Pontikoníssi, one of the most photographed spots of Corfu! – Achilleion, a fairy palace built by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Elisabeth truly fell in love with the island, and she dedicated this palace to Achilles as she cherished the belief that he represented the very soul and fairness of Hellas.
Paxoi is the ideal island for a peaceful holiday. Fjord-shaped beaches, extraordinary underwater caves, small bays and green hills welcome the lucky visitors. Its capital and main port, Gaios, is separated from its natural breakwater, the tiny island of Saint Nicholas, by a narrow channel, displaying one of the most beautiful port sceneries in Greece. The Venetian fortress of Saint Nicholas, the English Governor’s House, the Paxoi Museum, the churches and chapels of the area fill the are some of the monuments someone can visit. Excursions to the picturesque villages of Lógos, Lákka and Oziás, to the sulphur thermal springs, to innumerable ravishing beaches which are ideal for scuba diving into underwater caves and shipwrecks, and for top-notch windsurfing. Don’t forget to drop by the Olive Museum.
Although a small island, it is endowed with outstanding beauty. The island of Antipaxoi is famous for its renowned beaches with exotic turquoise waters and is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. But travelers will also cherish the wine produced here, because of its fine quality.
The island of Lefkada, surrounded by a total of 24 islets, including the renowned island of Scorpios, property of Aristotelis Onassis, is a must “sail around” island. Remarkable sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque settlements, green surroundings and wonderful beaches bring the island on the top of the summer vacation destinations, as a bridge provides easy access to the island. The city of Lefkada composes its image with its beautiful traditional houses, fine belfries and paved pedestrian streets, the fortress of Aghia Mavra, situated at the entrance of the city, the Bosketo park, meeting point for the intelligentsia of the island, museums and libraries, such as the Charamogleios Special Library of Lefkada, which is unique in the world. The International Folklore Festival takes place here for 45 years, where groups and artists from around the world meet every August and share the creations of their intellectual and artistic traditions (dance, music, traditional heritage). There are small boats offering a tour to the caves around the island. Papanikolis Cave is the most famous because of its size because of its colossal hall and its rich decoration of stalactites. It took its name after “Papanikolis” submarine as the cave was its base during the II World War.
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, was called “Fioro di Levante” (the flower of the East) by the Venetians, as there are over 7,000 species of flowers on the island thanks to its temperate climate. The island is also known as a shelter of the two protected animal species, the caretta aretta sea turtle and the monachus monachus seal. The Venetian architectural influence is obvious on Zante, even after a ravaging earthquake in 1953 and the ensuing fire, where a number of historical buildings and churches burned to the ground, perishing significant treasures. Take a tour around the city of Zakynthos and visit the Solomos Square, surrounded by buildings with characteristic traditional architectural features, arch-shaped windows and arcades, the Public Library, the coastal road known as Strata Marina, one of the most frequented areas, the remarkable church of the patron-saint Aghios Dionysios, where his relic is kept in a silver larnax and Aghios Markos square. Here, you will find the Museum of the poets Solomos, Kalvos and Eminent Zakynthians. Rouga, crossing almost the whole town, has been the main commercial center of the city for centuries. At the Venetian Castle, situated on the Stranis hill, the poet Dionysios Solomos inspired the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ (later the Hellenic national anthem). Zakynthos is also famous for its cultural events, such as the Carnival, the Litany and artistic events in the memory of Aghios Dionysios and Easter period. The celebration of Holy Week on Zakynthos is considered to be unique.
The splendid natural beauty, magnificent sights, amazing beaches, small bays, mountains, rich cultural heritage, castles, remote monasteries and cheerful, hospitable people are the treasures making Kefalonia one of the most attractive destinations. Argostoli, the island’s capital, is a modern town, which preserves its traditional character, built amphitheatrically with a view of the Koutavous lagoon, which is a crossing area for the migratory birds. The city has many neoclassical buildings, big squares, churches and remarkable cultural activity. Visit the Archaeological, the Folklore and History Museums, the Korgialeneios Library, one of the biggest libraries in Greece, to get a picture of the island’s history. Have a walk at the central Valianos square with the statue of the benefactor P. Vallianos, where many cafes, restaurants and bars are full of life, as well as Lithostroto Street, the Napier Garden, the Rizospaston street, with palm trees and the monument to radical revolutionaries, The Kampanas square with the belfry bearing the same name, offering an amazing view of the town and the Koutavou Lagoon. One can admire the 900 meter long Drapano stone bridge built in 1813 in order to connect Argostoli to the opposite coast as well as the panoramic view to the town from “Farao” Hill. At the caves Katavothres, the sea waters enter and pass through them reaching Sami at the other side of the island after a 14 day journey. The sunset from Aghioi Theodoroi lighthouse is majestic. Mount Ainos, over 1,600 m., is well known due to its dense forest of Kefalonian fir trees, which dominate at the upper altitudes. The area has been designated as a National Park. The inhabitants’ resistance against the Italians and the Germans during World War II was considerable. The movie ‘’Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’’, shot in the natural scenery of the island, refers to a history of the Resistance movement.
“Worldwide famous as the home of Odysseus, Ithaca symbolizes the return to the haven, the discovery and the fulfillment. It is a peaceful and undiscovered resort refuge, thus being an ideal place for alternative activities and a holiday living up to the standards of the most demanding ones. With a large mountainous surface, it boasts plenty of hiking as well as mountain bike trails in a sequence of blue and green alongside the coast and through an interesting variety of trees up on the hills. Scuba diving and sea kayaking are some of the options too. The beach lovers will take pleasure in a multitude of choices covering all tastes. Vathý village, built on a bay the center of which is decorated by the tiny little island of Lazarétto, is the capital of the island and home to the Maritime and Folkloric Museum as well as to the Archaeological Museum of Ithaca. Perahóri is a gorgeous scenic little village with a breathtaking view over the island. Built at the edge of the Afentikós Lógos forest, it is the perfect starting point for walks by medieval ruins in the oaks. Stavrós village hosts another Archaeological Museum, known for the clay mask of the 1st century A.C. writing “ΕΥΧΗΝ ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙ” (= “a wish for Odysseus” in Ancient Greek).
The island of Aegina, which took its name from a nymph, is one of the most popular tourist destinations as it is the closest island to Athens. From 1827 until 1829 Aegina town was the temporary capital of the newly founded Hellenic state. It was during that period when Governor I. Kapodistrias had impressive neoclassical mansions built to house his headquarters that today are important tourist attractions. Even though the island is small, it boasts a great number of crystalline beaches and sights, highlight of which is the site of Paleohora, Saint Nektarios Monastery and of course the famous Aphea Temple, which forms an equilateral triangle with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the so-called “holy triangle” of the antiquity. In addition, represents Aegina during Byzantine times.
The town of Poros is built in the shape of an amphitheatre over two hills. Lush pine trees vegetation, crystal clear beaches along the island’s coastline, a lively waterfront adorned with shops, cafes and restaurants, it has been declared protected settlement. Grand traditional mansions and picturesque cobbled streets, as well as a wide selection of entertainment venues are the ingredients of this quiet, yet cosmopolitan, destination that attracts visitors from all age groups. Peer into the history and tradition of the island through a visit to its Archaeological and its Folklore Museums, the Temple of Poseidon, the Zoodohos Pigi Monastery, the Russian naval base and the Residence of Governor Kapodistrias. The Clock tower, historic trademark of the island, stands up to a hill where you can relax and enjoy a panoramic view of the whole town. Take also the opportunity to stroll around the Lemon Forest, which is situated to the opposite coast, a verdant hill with more than 30,000 lemon and orange trees.
Hydra, built in the shape of an amphitheatre on a slope overlooking the Argosaronic gulf, is one of the most romantic destinations in Hellas. Traditional stone mansions – built by Italian artisans, narrow cobblestoned streets, secluded squares, the old neighborhood of Kiafas as well as the cannons and the statues of the Independence War heroes, still standing at the balconies of the island, create a romantic mosaic. The banning of cars and the use of around 500 donkeys as means of public transportation contribute to the preserved, distinctive atmosphere through the passage of time. It is rather impressive the fact that such a tiny island is the birthplace of five Greek Prime Ministers! Hydra is also a yachting paradise, as every summer groups of sailing boats moor at the harbor, where they are joined by dozens of sensational motorboats and yachts.
Spetses, a long naval tradition island, is famous for its significant contribution to the 1821 War of Independence. It was here that the revolution flag was raised on 3rd April 1821. The island retains its individual traditional character thanks to its well-preserved grand captain mansions, the picturesque old harbor and Dapia, a tourist and commercial centre where the heart of the island’s entertainment beats. Take a romantic trip around the island in horse-drawn carriages and admire: the House of Bouboulina, heroine of the 1821 War of Independence, the Church of Panayia Armata and the Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos, the open-air sculpture museum scattered with highly imaginative animals out of unlikely materials, the Clock in Rologioú Square and the Anargyreios Korgialeneios School. The best time to visit Spetses is during September, when “Armata”, a truly impressive re-enactment of a naval battle takes place ever since 1931. One can also enjoy the island’s sun-drenched beaches with a beautiful pine-forest as backdrop. An alternative way to explore the island is mountain biking, through a well-paved road that gives you almost a complete view of the island’s coastline, as well as views of the entire Argosaronic gulf. Spetses is considered as a destination of the “rich and famous”, having as a landmark the nearly a century existing central hotel POSEIDONION – recently renovated – with its exceptional architecture echoing hotels of Côte d’ Azur style.
Thessaloniki & Northern Greece
Dimitsana, Stemnitsa and Vytina
Get a deeper insight into Greek history by visiting the places where the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Turks actually began, a place synonymous with legendary heroes, fierce battles and glorious achievements.
The village of Dimitsana is built like an amphitheatre overlooking the Lousios River. Visit the six remaining legendary Gunpowder Mills that used to produce gunpowder for the Revolutionary War, the Philosophou and Timiou Prodromou Monasteries of unique beauty, the archaeological site of Gortyna and last but not least, the Open Air Water-Power Museum, the only one of its kind.
The village of Stemnitsa is a traditional Arcadian settlement set amidst ancient plane and fir trees. It boasts grand stone mansions, Byzantine churches, cobblestone paths and a beautiful square.
At the heart of the area, lies the most popular tourist destination in Arcadia, Vytina, famous for its unique architecture and blessed with a rugged landscape. Home to a number of legendary heroes of the Revolutionary War, there are interesting sights you can visit.
The area is ideal for rafting down the Lousios River, for trekking into the mountains and of course for skiing at Mainalo ski resort. Most of the guesthouses are old stone mansions which offer a wide range of facilities. Thanks to its proximity to Athens and its striking beauty, Mountainous Arcadia is one of the most popular winter destinations in Greece.
Arahova is a mountainous village, in close proximity to Athens, nestling picturesquely at the foot of Mt. Parnassos. It is the most cosmopolitan winter destination in Greece (“Mykonos of winter”), a great favorite for passionate ski lovers and celebrities, or just first-time visitors who wish to relax in a dreamy mountainous setting with modern tourism facilities. Its well equipped ski resort and its breathtaking landscape are the strongest reason why. Apart from the mountain activities, Arahova is also famous for its bustling nightlife! A visit to the nearby archaeological site of Delphi is a must. Walking through its narrow cobblestone streets, discover the traditional character of the village, visit the Byzantine churches with their well preserved frescos, enjoy a coffee or a drink in the traditional kafeneia (coffee shops) and of course, stay up all night and experience the village’s nightlife. There are a plethora of bars and clubs up and down the streets of Arahova. Don’t forget to taste the famous cheese “formaela” and have a sip of the divine Parnassos local wine, the red “Mavroudi”.
Karpenissi is a mountain village situated in Evritania area. Towering snow capped mountains, deep ravines, fast-flowing rivers and lakes, impressive gorges, Byzantine monasteries and tiny, beautiful, mountain villages make out and form an alpine landscape that promises to offer the ultimate winter experience! The area is mostly known for its ski resort and the dominating Proussos Monastery. Karpenissi is an ideal solution for alternative sports, like trekking, canoe-kayaking, horse riding, jeep safari. Follow scenic routes and admire the undulating natural surroundings, visit the beautifully preserved villages, tour its fascinating museums, restored manor houses, Byzantine churches, schools transformed into museums and the arched bridges of the area, wonderful examples of local architecture and taste the famous local products.