What are the characteristics that make up the ideal winter destination? Imagine merging rivers, impressive waterfalls, verdant valleys dotted with stone-built villages. Now open your eyes and start thinking about a possible visit to Karpenisi, located in the heart of Greece’s mainland.
Are you sitting on the sofa of your airbnb apartment, wondering how to exploit the limited time before leaving Athens? Well, what if someone told you there’s a quick, alternative escape just around the corner?
I cannot say that I am the biggest fan of mainland Greece; I strictly prefer the islands; driving has never featured in the list of my favorite activities, either. But, I love the Peloponnese, the Greek paradise that has seduced me over the years.
Unlike the other Aegean islands, with their harsh, forbidding terrain, Aegina is much more hiking-friendly. The island’s small size and particular shape, combined with its relatively mild slopes – its tallest peak, Ellanion Oros, is only 532 meters high – and the many villages which are spread around, make the place ideal for hiking.
Well that’s a tough one. We will try to warn you about driving on Greek roads and at the same time not scare you away from the wheel (or handlebars).
Aphaias’ stone blocks may look fairly unattractive, even rather uninspiring, at first sight. As a matter of fact, they are of great importance, revealing some of the major aspects of the ancient Greek Temple-building process. Beyond that, they stand witness to how the ancient Temple of Aphaia on Aegina Island was built some 2,500 years ago.
Of all the little islands in the Saronic gulf, this one is kept off the tourist map as an Athenian’s little secret; a small island just 35 kilometers from Piraeus, covered easily with a 40-minute Flying Dolphin (hydrofoil) ride or a 75-minute trip with a ferry. Such a short trip means it is “no big deal” for Athenians to get there, while the island itself is so beautiful that it had the Huffington Post declare it “the most beautiful Greek island that you haven’t heard of”. Being so near the Greek capital, it is ideal for a day-trip but, at the same time, it is an interesting place where you can easily spend a couple of weeks.
If you enjoy performing arts, and especially theater, this is an opportunity like no other. Visiting Athens and central Greece offers the unique opportunity to experience a theatrical performance at the birthplace of this art-form. Watch gods and humans struggle against their passions and fate, as the warm Mediterranean night covers a two-thousand-years-old stone-made theater or a modern dance show at a contemporary open-air plaza.
One could say that their name itself betrays the attraction. “Meteora” means “things suspended in mid-air”. But nothing can prepare you for what you are about to experience after a four-hour drive north from Athens. Truth be told, it could be the set for a futuristic film or trippy video clip. But it is real and it has been there for millions of years, overlooking the, otherwise ordinary, town of Kalambaka. And there they are; not one or two, but twenty-four gigantic, pillar-like sandstone rocks standing next to one another, reaching up to 400 meters high. Unfortunately, no photographic effort has yet captured the full majesty of the place, the breathtaking 360°-scenery of a rare geological phenomenon.
by Athens Insiders
Zagoria Villages in Epirus
A magical territory with suiting, pagan-sounding place-names. Like the “Gamila” (camel) mountain, which guards this cluster of small villages made of stone, called “Zagoria”, so picturesque that they seem to belong to a fairy-tale. Or the mesmerizing color of “Voidomatis” (the Oxeye), the clearest river in Europe where you can dive and go rafting, floating through places beautiful and isolated, which you cannot see in any other way except by paddling. Then, you can take a walk to Vikos Gorge, with its breathtaking views and unique plants, once home to druid-like spirit-doctors that healed people with rare herbs they gathered there, or go on a 4-hour hike up to the Dragolimni (yup it means Dragon Lake) an Alpine magnificent small lake inhabited by little tritons, on top of Tympfi mountain. And live on a diet of homemade pies, local free-range meat and fish fresh from the river. Oh, and tsipouro spirit of course.