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Quarantine in paradise: what lockdown is like in the Greek Islands. A stiff wind gusts across the flat-roofed houses of my village at the heart of the Lasithi Plateau, riffling long-fingered palms and shaking the silver-leafed olive trees. Throwing another log on the fire, I take a sip of Cretan kotsifali, savouring the fruity red wine, when there’s a ping on my phone: the text message says we’re in lockdown.
Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) – the culmination of Athens’ long, fascinating history – the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest.
The tour starts at the temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c. B.C.), one of the largest in antiquity and close by Hadrian’s Arch (131 A.D.), which forms the symbolic entrance to the city. From there, walking along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street (on the south side of the Acropolis) you pass the ancient Theatre of Dionysos (5th c. B.C.) where most of the works by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylos and Aristophanes were performed.
The “core” of the historic centre is the Plaka neighborhood (at the eastern side of the Acropolis), which has been inhabited without interruption since antiquity. When you walk through the narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the time of the Turkish occupation and the Neoclassical period (19th c.), you will have the impression of travelling with a “time machine”.
Syntagma and Omonia are the main central squares of the town; they are linked by Stadiou Street and Panepistimiou Avenue, along which some of the town’s most beautiful Neoclassical buildings have been erected. Dominating Syntagma Squareis the Greek Parliament building and in front of it the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in traditional costume.
The southern suburbs, located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, a recreational and cultural park is being planned, comprising the existing sports facilities. They 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 (especially during the summer).
Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture. Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!
The region of Chania, on the western side of the island, is dominated by the impressive White Mountains (in Greek: Lefka Ori) and its famous National Park, which occupy the largest part of the region.The Prefecture of Chania provides tourist services and activities of all kinds, satisfying all the choices. The city of Chania maintains unaltered all of its characteristics, from the time of the Venetian Rule up until today.
Rethymno (Rethymno) region: Crete's smallest prefecture located between White Mountains and Mt Psiloritis (also called “Idi”), is synonymous with gorgeous mountainscapes, marvellous beaches, Cretan lyre melodies, tsikoudia spirit served with “ofto”, legendary caves, historic monasteries and monuments, traditional mountain villages and luxurious holiday resorts. Feel the essence of Incredible Crete in this mountainous, remote and self-sufficient region of the island of Crete.
The largest and most densely populate region on the island of Crete is Heraklion (pronounced Iraklion). Nestling picturesquely among two imposing mountain ranges – Idi (Mt Psiloritis) to the west and Dikti (Lasithiotika mountains) to the east– Heraklion boasts exceptional archaeological treasures, significant coastal settlements, a series of picturesque villages, vast valleys with olive groves and vineyards as well as the best organised tourist infrastructure in Crete. A unique combination of urban scenery and natural wealth makes the region of Heraklion an appealing all-year-round destination.
Lasithi (Lassíthi) region. Welcome to the easternmost and least mountainous region of Crete, where the population resides in four semi-urban centers: Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Sitia and Neapoli. The mythical palm tree forest of Vaï, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lassithi (the largest in Crete), beaches lapped by crystalline water, beautiful cities and luxurious hotel resorts all make up a rather fascinating world.
Mythology has it that it was in a cave of Crete where the goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus. In that cave, Zeus was brought up by the nymphs while the demonical Kouretes would strike their shields loudly so that Cronus may not hear the crying of the baby Zeus and eat it. It was also to Crete that Zeus, disguised as a bull, took Europa so that they may enjoy their love together. Their union produced a son, Minos, who ruled Crete and turned it into a mighty island empire of the seas. In Minoan times, even Attica would pay a tribute tax to Crete, until Theseus, the Athenian prince, killed the Minotaur. The truth behind the myth is the existence of a mighty and wealthy kingdom and of a civilisation that is considered the most ancient one on the European continent.
At the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world.
Archaeological research in Delphi began in 1860 by Germans. In 1891, the Greek government granted the French School at Athens permission for long-term excavations on the site. It is then that the village of Kastri was removed to allow for the so-called “Great Excavation' to take place. The Great Excavation uncovered spectacular remains, including about three thousand inscriptions of great importance for our knowledge of public life in ancient Greece.
The archaeological site of Delphi includes two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena, and other buildings, mostly intended for sports. Visitors arriving from Athens first encountered the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia - that is, Athena who is before the temple of Apollo. Outside its walls spread the settlement of Delphi. Within the walls were the famous Tholos, the symbol of Delphi today, and the remains of three temples dedicated to the goddess. The two earlier temples were built of tufa on the same location. These date to the middle of the seventh century and to c. 500 BC. The third temple, made of limestone, was built at the west end of the sanctuary after the earthquake of 373 BC. This sanctuary also includes the altars of Zeus Polieus, Athena Ergane, Athena Zosteria, Eileithyia and Hygeia, the remains of two buildings dedicated to the cult of the local heroes Phylakos and Autonos, who routed the Persians from Delphi, and two treasuries with marble roofs, one Doric and the other Aeolian. The Aeolian Treasury of Massalia preserves a characteristic palm-leaf capital. Finally, the sanctuary included a memorial to the routing of the Persians, a statue of Emperor Hadrian, and a building known as the "house of the priests".
With the passage of time the island may have changed, but we can still feel the spirit of a distant glorious past. Its rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas, and its excellent weather all year round explain why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations weaving a powerful spell on its visitors.
• Spianada, the largest square in the Balkans, is the centre of the city, adorned with 19th-century remarkable works of French architecture. Here you can watch cricket games, or attend in musical concerts organised throughout the year.
• Liston, the city’s trademark, where the aristocrats used to enjoy their evening promenades. The characteristic arcades form the most romantic background setting for a welcome cup of coffee at one of the town’s cosy cafés.
• The smart suburbs: Mandouki, Garitsa and Sarokos.
• Mon Repos Palace was built by the British Commissioner Adams as a gift to his Corfiot wife. It is a small but beautiful palace with colonial elements, which today operates as a museum. In this luxurious dwelling, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Elisabeth the Second, was born in 1921. The park around the palace is ideal for long romantic walks.
Epidaurus is one of the most important archaeological findings reflecting the splendour of Greek culture through its imposing beauty. Its ancient town stands on Argolian land, overlooking the Saronic Gulf. The mountain heights of Arachnaio, Koryfaio and Tithio form a natural perimeter which embraces the town, protecting from the winds and giving it an exceptionally mild climate. Clear running waters, beautiful natural landscapes and beneficial climatic conditions served to create the ideal place for healing of man with the power of the gods. The Asklepieion at Epidaurus gained fame throughout the world for its unique healing practices as it was undoubtedly the greatest of the theurgical sites in antiquity.
Archaeological evidence give us proof that Asklepieia offered in antiquity what we nowadays call holistic health care. The therapies and treatments practiced by the mystic-physicians were extremely sophisticated. Centuries of observation of nature, the human body and the interdependence of mental harmony and physical health created a complex medical context for healing, which proved extremely effective.
Scattered off the western coastline of Central Greece and to the south of Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands are an island group comprising large and small islands.
During the period of Ottoman rule in the rest of Greece, the Ionian Islands were European dominions; this exposure to the western way of life has led to a cultural and artistic development that is evident today in their architectural heritage, their charming dialect, customs and traditions.
Kavala, the capital and main port of the Kavala prefecture is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo forming one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. The city’s breeze sweeps through its historic buildings, which perfectly reflect the city’s modern character.
Kavala boasts a unique character reflecting its recent past: neoclassical mansions and big tobacco warehouses evoke the memory of a distant past when a wealthy bourgeoisie was dominating the city. In the “Mecca of tobacco” as Kavala was named in the past, thousands of tobacco workers, male and female, earned their living. Their faces will remain alive for all eternity thanks to the black and white photos adorning the walls of the city’s Tobacco Museum. At the cobblestoned, lined with palm trees port, stand one next to another modern buildings and fish tavernas, while fish boats cast their reflection on azure waters.
Kamares, meaning arches, are the trademark of Kavala and a listed monument. It is actually an aqueduct built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleiman II, the Magnificent and repaired in the 19th century by Mehmet Ali to serve the water supply needs of the City. It is a monumental construction, 52meters high, consisting of 60 arches. On Kamares are perched some beautifully repaired refugees’ houses as well as 20th century stores.
This green island with its breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters of greenish-blue colours will take your breath away. Kefalonia a gem in the Ionian Sea. It carries a rich history in cultural tradition. It’s the biggest Ionian Island and the green of its mountains blend with the blue of the water making it truly unique and a beloved destination. Pine, cypress and olive trees cover Mt. Ainos' peak, while at its foot you’ll come across vineyards where the popular Kefalonian Robola wine variety is produced.
If you happen to love snorkeling or diving then the seabed around the island will definitely satisfy you. You might even get the chance to encounter the rare, caretta caretta, sea turtle that take refuge here, as well as the monk seals monachus monachus. Kefalonia’s culinary tradition, history, traditional villages, upbeat nightlife and pristine beaches will make you fall in love with the island.
Fiscardo survived the destructive earthquake of 1953. Most of the buildings preserve their traditional local colour that travels you back in time: the grand mansions with their elegant balconies, the old two-storey houses, the dark red tiled rooftops, the green mountainsides, the blue of the sea and the overall scenery is enchanting. This picturesque village is the home town of the Greek poet Nikos Kavvadias who usually wrote about the sea.
The most passionate mention it as the most wonderful village of the Balkan area. The village is called Kourkoumelata and lies at the southwest part of the island. The earthquake of 1953 ruined Kourkoumelata, as it ruined most areas of the island, however, the way that this area was rebuilt is the feature that makes it stand out. This resettlement has occurred abiding by both to modern rules of city planning and to the preservation of neo-classic features. You can't miss this!
Lefkada is surrounded by a total of 24 islets - Aristotle Onassis’ Skorpios being one of them. It connects to the opposite coast of Central Greece via a floating swing bridge (length: 50 m). The bridge offers easy access to Lefkada to visitors from all over Greece. On Lefkada you will find noteworthy sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque villages, lush vegetation, idyllic coves of transparent, turquoise waters, busy and secluded beaches of stunning beauty, a significant cultural heritage and hospitable locals.
- International Folklore Festival. As of 1962, bands and artists from all over the world meet in Lefkada every August and exchange the product of their cultural and artistic folklore in the fields of dancing, music, and traditional heritage.
- The Discourse & Art Festival. It has been organised by the Cultural Centre of Lefkada and involves theatrical and musical events, exhibitions, conferences, and poetry nights. It is one of Greece’s oldest cultural institutions along with the Athens Festival.
- Wine festival that takes place in Sfakiotes Municipality on Frya Square, around the historic Frya Well.
- Representation of a traditional wedding in Karya (August 11th).
- Kariotes, a seaside village with modern tourist facilities, lying on the island’s east shores. At “Spasmeni Vrysi” location there is a well equipped camping site.
- Nikiana, a picturesque fishing village, built at the foot of Mount Skaros near a forest of age-long oak trees.
Welcome to Peloponnese and Lakoniki Mani where you can see and enjoy stone built houses and impressive towers next to prickly pear cacti, dashing old tower villages, impressive caves, byzantine churches, beautiful beaches and unique local gastronomy. Let yourself be taken by the wild beauty of the rocks next to the sea. Discover Lakoniki Mani and its most revealing spots with our special tour packages that cover the hidden beauty of Peloponnese.
Visit a secret underground world, divided into three caves, 4km away from the town of Pyrgos Dirou. The caves Spilaia Glyfada or Vlychada, Alepotrypa (meaning foxhole) and Katafygi are all in their own way beautiful and of rare archaeological value. At the Vlychada cave you will enjoy a 3,100m. tour of which only 300m are on dry land, for the rest of the excursion you will embark on a boat. The boat trip will drive you through several beautiful chambers with fanciful Greek names such as the Crossroads of Nymphs, the sea of shipwrecks etc. You can also visit the Neolithic Museum where you will see findings from the Paleolithic Age.
Messinia will take your breath away. This land filled with contrasts and welcoming inhabitants is only two hours drive away from Athens. See its vast olive groves, green valleys, mountains, gorges and coves. Numerous small or long sandy beaches, with calm waters or huge waves that will satisfy families or aspiring surfers. Small mountainous cliff-hanging villages with breathtaking views will blow your mind away. Make a point in tasting the large variety of traditional dishes in the nearby tavernas. Messinia invites you to discover all she has to offer and explore her beauties.
Encounter a wild charm exuded by the easternmost border of Messinian Mani by Lakoniki Mani, where the foot of Mt. Taygetos drops into the sea. Enjoy the rich nature, the olive groves, the lush vegetation; a perfect scenery to lay back and relax. Visit Byzantine, Frankish and Mani’s Castles, walk through the traditional settlements, on their cobblestone streets in ravines and canyons. Stoupa and Kardamyli are an ideal base for excursions.
Meteora is the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece after those in Mount Athos. We can locate the first traces of their history from 11th c. when the first hermits settled there. The rock monasteries have been characterized by UNESCO as a unique phenomenon of cultural heritage and they form one of the most important stations of cultural map of Greece.
Unveil a medieval mystery! Monemvasiá, founded by the Byzantines in the sixth century, is a breathtaking medieval tower town located on the south-eastern coast of the Peloponnese. Take the opportunity to explore this mystical stone-built settlement, nestled at the edge of a big rock by the sea, and immerse yourself in a unique medieval atmosphere!
Monuments from every period of the eventful Peloponnesian history, great archeological sites such as ancient Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tirynth, Byzantine churches, unique settlements and amazing castles, natural beauties such as mountains, forests, rivers and caves surrounded by the sea, beautiful beaches, sandy and smooth coasts on the west – rocky and dentelated on the east, make this part of Greek land ideal for holidays, touring, sports and connecting to the history and culture. It is not accidental that especially during the summer season many tourists arrive in Peloponnese from all over the world to travel around it. Such trip is very popular and well known.
Why: enjoy 80 amazing beaches with your better half; among them stands out Kléftiko with its turquoise waters and Sarakíniko with white sharp rocks cutting deep into a sheer cliff; add the unique lunar landscapes, the rocky secluded caves, the mysterious catacombs, the “sleeping” volcanoes and a picturesque Cycladic Chóra and experience a unique version of romance!
This is the first prefecture that is encountered by the visitor arriving from Attiki (Attica) and it offers a huge variety of choices for tourist sightseeing: fascinating massifs, beautiful sea-side locations and significant archaeological sites. The beaches in Korinthos and the Saronic Gulf have tourist facilities, and in most places the shimmering sea coexists with the pine and olive trees and the grape vines. The arable land in Korinthos is fertile and its residents are occupied with agriculture, stock-raising, poultry farming, light industry and tourism. The Corinthian raisin is renowned throughout the world.
Milos is known for its many hidden beauties for travelers. For many people traveling solo, may sounds wired but, times are changing and trips for solo travelers are becoming a trend and are high in our tours’ list.
This is a significant tourist destination, which combines famous sites, such as medieval Mystra, the fortress city at Monemvasia, and the tower houses in Mani, with locations of exceptional natural beauty, such as the Diros caves, Mt. Taygetos and cape Tainaros.
The Peloponnese is the homeland of one of the most important civilisations known in the ancient Hellenic world: the Mycenaean civilisation.
Welcome to Greece's most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. And did you know that the island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, “Mykonos”?
The island is a paradise for water sport enthusiasts! It is only natural that the “Island of the Winds” should attract surfers and sailors from all over the world! There is a great choice of beaches for windsurfing; however, the most secluded ones are considered to be the best. Choose from Kórfos, Fteliá, Meyáli Ámmos and Kalafátis, where surfing lessons are also available. Play tennis or mini golf at Ayios Stéfanos, beach volleyball at Ayia Anna or try sea parachuting or jet skiing at Eliá or Kalafátis. Diving fans can do a little exciting exploration of the underwater magic of Mykonos. September is thought to be the best month for diving, as the water is warm and visibility is good down at the seabed.
Naxos is the biggest and the greenest island in the Cyclades. It has 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 home to beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles coexisting harmoniously with the Cycladic architecture.
Explore traditional villages around the island: Aperathos is a colourful mountainous village home to five museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble, and Panagia Drosiani, a beautiful church of the Early Christian Period. Filoti is a picturesque mountainous village, built on the top of a rock, surrounded by lush vegetation with cube-shaped houses and narrow stone-paved alleys. At a short distance you can visit the biggest Byzantine church of Naxos with murals of great value, Panagia Protothroni (9th-10th c.). Sagri consists of five small neighbourhoods (Ano Sagri, Kato Sagri, Kanakari, Kastraki and Mikri Vigla). You will stand in awe before the Venetian towers, the traditional windmills and a number of major Byzantine churches, like Agios Mamas, all of which make Sagri the most significant destination of Naxos! Close to Sagri lies the 6th century BC Demeter and Apollo sanctuary, made exclusively with white marble.
Unrivalled natural beauty, beaches with crystal clear waters, unrivalled Byzantine footpaths connecting traditional villages and breathtaking landscapes make Paros, located at the heart of the Cyclades, one of the best loved holiday destinations in Greece.
Sun-drenched beaches, like Chrissí Aktí, Santa Maria and Poúnda, welcome sun-loving visitors who want to enjoy the crystal clear sea, the sun or even their favourite water sports! Every year Chrissí Aktí is the venue for the Windsurfing World Championship. On the sea bed at Alykí beach, to the southwest, you can explore the ruins of an ancient town!
Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here. On Santorini
Santorini is considered to be the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea! The island has a growing reputation as a “wedding destination” for couples not only from Greece but from all over the world. A trip to Santorini with the other half is a dream for anyone who has seen at least one photo of the island’s famous Caldera and exchanging kisses beneath Santorini’s famous sunset is the ultimate romantic experience!
Zákynthos (Zante) is a verdant island endowed with fertile valleys and a temperate climate (area: 406 sq. km; coastline: 123 km). Its landscape diversity has resulted in different types of beaches: there are sandy beaches in secluded coves where the tranquil waters are deep blue on the island’s southeastern part; yet, if rugged cliffs and an interesting underwater world are to your liking, try the western part of the island.
Aghios Nikolaos tou Molou (Solomou Square): a church of Renaissance order (17th century) with a belfry dating back to the Byzantine period. Aghios Dionysios lived here in 1853.
Be the knight or princess of your childhood fairytales in the Byzantine town of Mystras!
Ioannina, the capital of Epirus, spreads out around beautiful Lake Pamvotida. The natural environment, the climate and character of the town are defined by this stretch of water – the area’s trademark. The lake, with its still waters and its small island, is a natural monument, around which the entire area lives and breathes. The strong cultural traditions of the town, home to a number of great novelists and poets, and the artistic and intellectual events which are organized throughout the year, give visitors the opportunity to get to know the roots of the intellectual life of Epirus.
The expression to “live like the Pasha in Ioannina” means that a person is enjoying the absolute best that life has to offer. It is not enough to have the title of ruler; he also has to live in Ioannina. It is the distillation, in colloquial terms, of the idea that Ioannina was always a wealthy and aristocratic city.
In the western Peloponnese, in the beautiful valley of the Alpheios river, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it lies on the southwest foot of Mount Kronios, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush green landscape. Although secluded near the west coast of the Peloponnese, Olympia became the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece. Its fame rests upon the Olympic Games, the greatest national festival and a highly prestigious one world-wide, which was held every four years to honour Zeus. The origin of the festival goes back centuries. Local myths concerning the famous Pelops, the first ruler of the region, and the river Alpheios, betray the close ties between the sanctuary and both the East and West.
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.
Welcome to Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese, an island which is ideal not only for those who want to relax but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination.
As you head down to the east coast, the first tempting stop is Kallithéa, a cosmopolitan holiday resort bustling with hotels lining Faliráki beach. In Kallithéa the main attraction is the Roman baths – a unique example of orientalised Art Deco from 1929 – and the long sandy beach of Faliráki. The picturesque small bay at Ladikó (where the film “The Guns of Navarone” was shot) and the scenic “Anthony Quinn” Bay are just some of the beautiful beaches where you can bask! If you are interested in learning more about the local traditions of Rhodes visit Koskinoú, a traditional village where the house facades are painted in bright colours, the lovely courtyards are paved with pebbles and the houses are decorated inside with ceramic plates and hand-woven textiles.
The Archaeological Site of Philippi, the most important one in the Eastern Macedonian area of Greece, is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Monuments since mid-July 2016, satisfying all the institution’s significant and strict criteria. At the 40th Session of the Committee, which took place in Istanbul, from July 10th to 17th, Philippi was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Site.
Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area. Built near the sea (at the back of the Thermaïkos Gulf), it is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm.
Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it’s significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see:
Veria was the second most significant town, after Aigai, during the blooming ancient Macedonian years. The city is built on the foothills of Mt. Vermion and crossed by the River Tripotamo. From the 11th to the 14th century it was the third most important city of the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople (Istanbul) and Thessaloniki. The impressively large number of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches gave the city the nickname “Little Jerusalem”. Today, 48 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches are preserved in the city centre.
The Archaeological Museum houses findings from Veria’s archaeological sites dating back to the Late Stone Age up to the Hellenistic Period. The findings originating from the excavations of Nea Nikomedia, which were identified as the oldest settlement in Europe (Neolithic Age) are of special interest.