We're please to present you another great Greek insider post from Nelios. Carry on reading and find two great Greek mainland and two island itineraries.
Outdoor Greece Itineraries: 2 Mainland & 2 Island Destinations
If you are planning on travelling to Greece in 2020, our last post about 4 Greek seasonal holidays for active travel with kids, could give you some bearings about where to go.
However, as Greece is such an incredibly varied and versatile destination, if you do your research well, you will be able to find a handful of other equally fascinating places to visit.
And although Greece is known for its numerous islands, the Greek mainland proves to be up to par.
We have collated two exciting sets of itineraries, for 2 mainland and 2 island destinations that exemplify Greece’s spectacular outdoors and the disarming beauty of their landscapes. Introducing our outdoor Greece itineraries that are filled with local insight for a tried and tested Greek holiday experience you will not soon forget.
Outdoor Greece: Mainland itineraries
Most people associate Greece with the islands, often to the disadvantage of its mainland. This is unfortunate since some of the amazing destinations of mainland Greece get very little coverage. Athens is of course well known, being the capital city and home of the iconic Acropolis, and is usually the place where most international flights arrive. Somewhere between impressive ancient monuments and an edgy urban side, Athens city remains an enchantress. Do not treat it as a brief stopover, but try to work in a few days to spend in Athens for getting a taste of its timeless charm. Choose a central hotel in Athens for minimising your commute time which is especially favourable for families with young children. Having Athens as your base you can then explore a handful of fascinating locations, as it is the most well connected city in Greece.
On the Map below you can find all mentioned locations.
Meteora, Arachova village and Delphi site
One such place is the majestic mountains of Meteora. A unique location, it is remarkable to witness the vast rocky pillars that rise high above the ground as if by divine intervention. Both children and adults will be awed by this bizarre natural marvel, especially considering the handful of 16th century monasteries that are built on the peaks of these striking boulders. Today you can visit 4 out of the 24 original monasteries that are well maintained and still in perfect running order. The displays of icons show detail that is so realistic that is absolutely disarming.
Getting to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Meteora by car is a not so scenic, 4 plus hours drive toward the Greek hinterland, in the direction of Trikala which can be tiring for families who need to stop frequently. The alternative, which is a day trip to Meteora by train from Athens, is much more enjoyable than driving as well as enhancing your tour experience by taking you through the wonderful Greek countryside which is otherwise non accessible.
You could also combine the ancient and UNESCO World Heritage site of Delphi too on your way up if you choose a different type of tour. Set on a magnificent hill amidst an incredible landscape, the site used to be what the ancient Greeks considered to be the navel of the world. It was where the Oracle at the sanctuary of Apollo was found; Pythia, a renowned ancient seer, was consulted before major strategic decisions and conquests by many leaders. Those who have visited will say there is a different kind of energy that can be felt all around the Delphi site.
There is also a museum within the grounds apart from more than a dozen archaeological outdoor structures.
Delphi is located near the most popular mountain village Arachova, which is a place buzzing with life especially during the winter and early spring months. It is the closest village to a recently upgraded ski resort with 23 pistes, 4 of which are beginners with baby lifts too. It attracts many active families and young folk who like to get away from the city. It is absolutely a sensational place to find yourselves, especially if there is snow for skiing on Mount Parnassos.
Porto Heli in Argolis, Epidaurus and Nafplio
For families who enjoy road trips, a more scenic drive from Athens is toward the Peloponnese. Within a 2 and a half hour journey you will find yourselves in its prefecture of Argolis, where the sensational seaside resort town of Porto Heli is located. Built along a sheltered gulf, it exudes a laid back vibe although it is brimming with facilities. There is a quainter bay still, that of Hinitsa and is where a beachfront family resort in Porto Heli provides great family accommodation.
The spot boasts amazing sea views overlooking the lovely namesake islet of Hinitsa, as well as Spetses island in the background, which you can actually visit by water taxi directly from the hotel’s private pier. You can easily make a splendid day of a family boat excursion also visiting the neighbouring, picturesque Hydra island too.
Just under an hour from Porto Heli you will find the most famous theatre of ancient Greece, the 4th century Epidaurus. The marble and stone amphitheater is known for its brilliant acoustics and has hosted countless dramatic performances in antiquity, while it is still part of the Epidaurus festival which takes place every summer. Epidaurus is also where the sanctuary of Asklepeios is situated, dedicated to the ancient Greek father of medicine. Only a short distance away from Epidaurus, you can reach Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece. It is a striking coastal place, set on a cascading hillside and a medieval castle of Palamidi commanding the most breathtaking of panoramic views. In Nafplio you will also find Bourtzi, a small fortressed islet not so far from the shore.
Outdoor Greece: Island Itineraries
Of course we would be remiss by not including some phenomenal island itineraries that are an integral part in the magnificent outdoors of Greece. The sea, the sky and the sun are the three greatest protagonists of what makes Greece such a blessed place. And around the Greek islands is where these three are a plenty.
Greece's vast coastline easily makes it the country with the most seaside in the Mediterranean, and with over 200 inhabited islands, the options for itineraries are endless. Your quest is made easier if you consider that Greece is split across two major seas, the Ionian to the west and the Aegean to the east of the mainland. Islands are grouped into clusters, sharing a similar charm, architectural characteristics and natural beauty.
Elegant Corfu & stunning Paxi
The lady of the Ionian, Corfu island, is an exceptional destination. Once the poll of attraction for the aristocracy of the western world, the old town of Corfu showcases a rare kind of elegance.
Infused with Venetian heritage, Corfu exudes an air of past eras, with its intriguing array of old mansions, estate manors, six story original housing buildings, fortresses and palaces. However, Corfu’s splendour is found in its countryside too, of verdant hillsides, tree covered cliffs that cascade down to azure waters, awarded beaches and wildlife reserves.
Families who want a seaside holiday should look into a family beach resort in Corfu, that provides them with plenty of facilities and set on a shallow, blue flag beach which is perfect for little ones. Apart from many exciting things to do on site, kids will love exploring the salterns at Lefkimmi, the Korison lake and the cedar forest.
From there you can also easily visit Paxi islands on a day trip. The smallest island cluster in the Ionian, Paxi includes Paxos and Antipaxos, two emerald gems in the midst of lagoon-like, crystalline waters. Since the islands are fairly small and tend to be congested, the best way to visit them is by boat so that you can anchor out in the various bays and really admire the idyllic scenery in peace and quiet. Visit them by taking a day cruise from Corfu, or, if you prefer to be more adventurous, hire a boat so that you can sleep on the sheltered waters and wake up to exhilarating mornings when the first thing you’ll do is dive into the shimmering sea that surrounds you.
The Island Jewels of Cyclades
The Cyclades are the most famed of all the Greek island groups. The white cubist houses, the blue dome churches, the gorgeous beaches, panoramic views, rocky landscapes and the picturesque villages. The dramatic Santorini and the exciting Mykonos belong to the jewels of the Cyclades including some other truly fascinating places such as the disarming Folegandros, the charming Paros, the sacred islet of Delos, the aristocratic Syros and the wild Poliegos.
A Cyclades islands cruise will reveal the magnitude of the natural beauty Greece is blessed with. If you opt for the in land excursions that are available, you will get to experience 8 island destinations, enjoying the incredible visuals and learning about their history too.
Folegandros is a striking island, more wuthered than Santorini, but much more peaceful and poignant. Delos was a place of worship, where you can still visit the ruins of the Terrace of the Lions and more. Paros is simply sensational with its fishing villages, exuberant locals, a laid back attitude and maze of cobblestone alleyways. Syros is a unique place within the Cyclades, exuding a different vibe than its other counterparts.
Neoclassical mansions are more than the typical Cycladic cubist structures while Poliegos, meaning ‘many goats’ in Greek, is mostly a barren island populated only by a local kind of goat while the waters around its coves are translucent and absolutely breathtaking.
I hope that the information provided in this guests post, will prove itself useful when planning your Outdoor Greece itineraries: 2 mainland & 2 island destinations trip.
If our guests writer, Nelios has left anything out, or you have any other amazing spots we should include, please let us know in the comments below. Or ask your questions also below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries and suggestions as well.