What do you seek from a vacation? a) Long sandy beaches b) Mountains and valleys c) Awesome cuisine d) Opulent culture e) All of the above
The vote should be for ‘e’ right? Greece has ‘e’ in plenty!
It’s the cradle of Western civilization, consisting 6,000 plus islands, about half of whose borders are beaches, third most mountainous country in Europe, with exquisite cuisine and concept of beauty that has influenced artists over millennia. Greece is officially known as the Hellenic Republic, which you will realise while applying for the visa. Situated on the tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it is located on the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, and surrounded by the sea on three sides.
Okay, let’s get to the specifics. With a coastline of 13,600+ kilometers, a beach isn’t far away from anywhere in Greece. It would be idle to land in Chania and take the road to Elafonissi beach in West Crete – a two-hour drive through some of the best scenic terrain – and recharge on the silicon dioxide before the revelry inland. The beach here is said to be the most beautiful in Greece. The water here is crystal clear and the sand turns pink where it touches the sea. This mile-long beach is studded with small coves and rock formations that naturists find attractive. If you are in a sporty mood, go windsurfing and kite-surfing or take to water skiing and wakeboarding. While there, check out the final step of the staircase leading to Chrysoskalitisa monastery which, the legend says, is built of gold and only a ‘real believer’ can see. Grab the best Greece Holiday Packages from un[travel] to enjoy hassle-free vacations in Greece.
While in Crete, eat like the Cretans: ‘Slow food’ joints here serve local cuisine known for its health benefits. The family-run businesses serve food made from vegetables, fruits and meat produced on their farms. The traditional cuisine is said to be delight for vegans and meat-eaters alike. Nearby slopes of White Mountains are the source of herbs such as oregano, dittany and chamomile that give the final flavour to Greek salads, rabbit casseroles and meat dishes.
The next stop has to be the Athens – the city of unravelled charm. The city is home to architecture from as long back as 6th Century BC. It’s a long list of must-sees here. The Acropolis of Athens is the most striking Greek monumental complex standing today. This ancient citadel on the hill houses among other buildings, Designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, the Acropolis Museum is another amazing spectacle of Athens, made of ultra-modern glass and steel structure, exhibiting ancient finds from the Acropolis. The Parthenon – the temple dedicated to Athena. Theatre of Dionysus, were the oldest Greek stories were staged, is considered the birthplace of European theatre. Choose from our Greece Packages and go offbeat. The Agora, part of its Roman connection, used to be the market. A sports buff surely will love to visit the Penathenaic Stadium. Originally built in the 3rd century BC and rebuilt in the 2nd Century CE, this stadium has hosted many Olympics. Also the unmissable are the many museums that house artifacts from the bygone era, art galleries and olive oil museums.
While it can still be a bit chilly, spring provides great opportunity to see some of the more popular islands and sandy beaches. Peloponnese, Cyclades, and the Ionian islands are often warm enough for swimming. The volcanic island of Santorini, the most dramatic of all the Greek islands, rises straight up from the deep, blue sea-filled caldera. And there is the cliff-towns namely Oia, Firá, Imerovigli, and Firostefani-decorating the rim of the horseshoe-shaped crater.
Hollywood has had a romantic relationship with Greece’s scenic landscapes and small-ally cafés. Before Midnight and Mamma Mia are a couple of them shot in Greece. Hrithik and Katrina starrer Bang-Bang and many other Bollywood numbers, from ‘Chalte Chalte’, ‘Wanted’ have also been shot there. If you are the one who prefers distance from the hustle and humdrum of urban life, choose from our Greece Tour Packages and enjoy unhurried and quiet holidays.
Mykonos is another dream destination for couples and international celebrities, known for great hotels, classy seafood, live music venues, and massive dance clubs. Paradise Beach is ideal for partying all night. Sightseeing options include the Paraportiani, a whitewashed church in Mykonos Town, beaches and enjoy the idyllic settings, that of spectacular white-washed buildings and lined narrow stone streets. Mykonos can be easily reached by air, ferry or catamaran from Athens. Choose un[travel] to customize your Greece Tour and enjoy blissful holidays.
On the northern side of The Acropolis is Plaka, known for its rustic beauty. The cafes, restaurants, hukkah joints and small shops are a favourite among the thousands of tourists who throng this place every year. A thick, dark coffee at one of the cafes here is definitely on your bucket list – and maybe let one of the many professional coffee readers read one’s future from the residue his coffee leaves behind!
The Athens meat and vegetable market is a place you cannot miss if you are foodie. Bountiful fruit, olives, raisins, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, salted almonds, and walnuts line the streets. Greece is the world’s largest top producer of olive oil. A big producer of honey, Greeks use it for any and all sweetness in their breakfasts. Koulouri, a baked dough ring, is quite cheap and good for a hangover from a late-night revelry. The recent influx of migrants from the middle-east has introduced the falafel to the Greek and tourists, making it an instant hit. The souvlaki – meat and/or vegetables grilled on a skewer – is eaten with potatoes or pita bread, and a favourite here.
Almost 80% of Greece’s landmass is mountainous. Mount Olympus, the abode of Greek Gods, is literally in the clouds. The sports enthusiast in you will love the snow covered mountains. With its highest peak – Mytikas – at 2917mt, a hiker will cherish the six-hour trek up. If skiing is on your mind, go to Parnassus. If mountain biking is your thing, the routes near Parnitha, near Athens, is the best. To enjoy serenity as you ride, choose Litohoro, Samothraki, Karpenisi or Kissavos. Catch the best Holiday Deals in Greece and plan your exciting vacations.
The amazing clifftop monasteries on the towering vertical cliffs of Meteora have provided a place for meditation for monks lived up in caves. Atop the imposing rock there are six Eastern Orthodox monasteries—some dating back to the 14th century. The skulls of deceased monks in an ossuary are some of the scenes that can be seen at the Metamorphisis monastery.
In the south-east Aegean Sea, is the biggest island, called Rhodes, famous for the ‘Colossus of Rhodes’, and attractions like Palace of the Grand Masters–that was constructed by the Knights of St. John, Archaeological Museum, Street of the Knights, Mandraki Harbor and new town.
The last lap of the trip will cover four different types of locations that are not very far from each other. Delphi – just above two hours’ drive from Athens – is the ancient religious centre of Greece, nestled in the serenity of Mount Parnassus, built in 6th century BC. The artistic layout of the structure is said to have a magical effect on the visitor. Three hours to the north of Delphi is Lake Plastiras. This is an artificial lake created in the early 1900s. The lake, surrounded by alpine peaks, has the nickname ‘Little Switzerland’. The other must see spot is Patras, the third-largest city in Greece. Dubbed ‘the gate to west’, Patras is Greece’s point of trade with the rest of Europe. The carnival held here every February is one of the largest in the continent. Though an archipelago connected very well by road, rail and air, a small vacation as this to Greece will require a minimum of 7-10 days. If leisure is an added requirement make that 14 days. This excellent combination of nature, culture, food and serenity is one to look forward to and cherish.
Besides its pebble and sandy beaches bordered by turquoise waters, Greece is also ideal for road trips. A road trip for nature lovers, history buffs and adventurers, the Peloponnese route starts and ends in Athens, taking in all the major sights, including 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, scenic seaside towns and the island of Zakynthos, home of the ridiculously beautiful shipwreck beach! From steep mountains topped with a fortress of Nafplio to excellent wineries nestled in the rolling hills of Nemea, you have it all to make it a memorable road trip. Don’t forget to include the aforementioned places on your travel itinerary. You can customize your travel to Greece with un[travel]’s range of Greece Customised Holiday Packages.