Category: Greece mainland villages & towns (page 1 of 2)

Trifilia’s enticing attractions

This film by Achillefs Jorjini spotlights more than 30 stunning destinations in the western Peloponnese area of Trifilia

 

Treasure trove: Plans for our next Greek holiday are gradually coming together, and a visit to part of the Peloponnese is on the itinerary for the second year in a row.

Last year’s vacation took us through the regions of Laconia and Arcadia in the eastern Peloponnese, where we spent time in Nafplio, Monemvasia, Sparta, and Tolo, and saw numerous other places along the way.

This time, a road trip will take us through Messenia in the western Peloponnese, where we will get to see parts of the municipal region of Trifilia. I am familiar with Messenia, since I know people who live in the area and many others who have travelled there. But I had never heard of Trifiliam by that name at least, until I discovered the video I posted above. And what good timing it was to find the film, since it spotlights a virtual treasure trove of enticing destinations, many of which I knew nothing about. 

Entitled Explore Trifilia 2017, the 10.5-minute video  by Achillefs Jorjini takes you on an alluring aerial tour above nearly three dozen different places in the area, including scenic towns and villages, breathtaking coastlines and beaches, impressive natural scenery and important historic sites and monuments.

 

 

Among the gorgeous beaches and coastal areas shown in the video are:

♦ Voidokilia

♦ Golden Beach Mati

♦ Vromoneri

♦ Barlas

♦ Lagouvardos

♦ Agia Kiriaki

♦ Stomio

♦ Agrilis

♦ Kyparissia

♦ Kalo Nero

♦ Elea, and

♦ the Vourlia peninsula on Proti island 

 

Kalo Nero beach in Messenia

Screen capture of the video’s pass above Kalo Nero beach

 

Villages and towns seen in the film include:

♦ Koroni

♦ Pylos

♦ Kyparissia and the Kyparissia Old Town

♦ Agia Sotira

♦ Tragana

♦ Gargaliani

♦ Marathopoli

♦ Filiatra

♦ Kalo Nero

♦ Kopanaki

♦ Sidirokastro, and

♦ Aetos

 

Marathopoli in Messenia

Screen capture from the video’s view of the coastal village of Marathopoli

 

Views of significant landmarks and attractions include:

♦ Ancient Messene

♦ the monastery on Proti island

♦ the fortress at Methoni

♦ the Neokastro and Palaiokastro fortresses at Pylos

♦ the Palace of Nestor

♦ the waterfalls at Polilimnio and Valtas

♦ Analipsi church at Filiastra

♦ Byzantine monuments at Agia Sotira

♦ the Mycenean tomb at Peristeria

♦ the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, and

♦ the  Neda River

 

the fortress at Methoni

Screen capture of the video’s flight around the Methoni fortress

 

The only drawback to watching the video was that it revealed far more sites and attractions than we will have time to visit, which I found a little disappointing. I wanted to see everything, since it all looked so picturesque and appealing! The upside, of course, is that there will be plenty of places to see on another trip to Messenia. And I have a strong hunch there will indeed be a return visit.

Discover more of Greece on my blog’s Facebook page

MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page

I regularly share photos & videos, as well as links to Greece travel news and information, on the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook. You don’t have to be a Facebook member to see what I post there.

 

What’s there: I love blogging about Greece, but since this website is a personal hobby that I work on during my limited spare time  (it’s not a commercial travel site, as some people think), it’s just not possible for me to post new articles every day. But it’s a whole different story with the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook, where I can easily share news, information, pictures and videos with just a few quick clicks on my mouse or smartphone. And that’s exactly what I do almost every day when I check my Facebook news feed to see what’s happening in Greece.

 

 

You don’t have to be a registered Facebook user to see what I post on my page — although you will encounter one of those annoying popup windows that asks you to either login or sign up for an account to see more of the MyGreeceTravelBlog page. (You don’t have to do that — just click the “Not Now” button and the box will drop to the bottom of the page, letting you scroll through the various items I have posted.)

If you do have a Facebook account, simply “like” or “follow” my blog page (if you haven’t done so already) so you can see my posts in your daily news feed.

Check out my page regularly, and you’ll discover more of Greece to complement the articles I publish here on the blog.

Click on the link below to turn to page 2 where you’ll see examples of the types of posts you’ll find on my Facebook page.

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Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

Chora on Astipalia island

A Venetian castle towers above Chora village on Astipalea island. The quiet and unassuming Dodecanese island boasts beautiful scenery, some of which you can see in the video featured in my post Aspects of Astipalea.  

 

Budget friendly: Are you considering a trip to Greece this summer, but wondering where you can go to avoid draining your bank account paying for food and accommodations at expensive destinations like Mykonos and Santorini? Although it’s possible to holiday on a tight budget on both those islands. as well as other high-profile destinations, there are numerous alternatives that offer great Greek holiday experiences at considerably cheaper prices. You’ll find some excellent suggestions in the article Best low budget summer destinations in Greece, published by the informative and insightful travel website  HIP GREECE.

The article lists more than a dozen islands plus one mainland Greece resort area that won’t break the bank, and offers brief descriptions of highlight attractions at each place, with links to additional in-depth articles about some of the destinations.

The spotlighted destinations include:

♦ The Small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Koufonissia (Pano and Kato Koufonissi), Donousa and Schinoussa

♦ Kythira

♦ Serifos

♦ Tinos

♦ Ios

♦ Ikaria

♦ Astipalea

♦ Lefkada

♦ Skopelos, and

♦ Parga, a picturesque coastal resort area near the town of Preveza in western Greece.

You can read the complete HIP GREECE article by clicking here.

 

 

We’ve been to three of the recommended islands — Astipalea, Ios and Tinos — and have had brief peeks at the Small Cyclades during port stops on a ride from Amorgos to Naxos on the Express Skopelitis ferry. We would agree that all are good choices for travellers visiting Greece on a budget. We haven’t yet been to the other destinations cited by HIP GREECE, but several friends have told us Kythira, Serifos and Ikaria are wallet-friendly, while others have said the same for the Small Cyclades. However, we were surprised that Naxos wasn’t mentioned — we have found it to be the most reasonably priced island of all we have been to so far and it remains one of our favourite places to visit in large part for that reason. (See my article  Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos for further information about that wonderful island). 

Keep in mind that the main tourist period in Greece runs from late April until early October, with July and August being peak travel season. July and especially August also happen to be the most expensive months to visit, so if you’re on a limited budget, try to schedule your vacation for April, May, June, late September or early October, when prices tend to be much lower. Hotel rates usually skyrocket for August, and hostel, camping and cheaper basic accommodations typically tend to book up early in the year. If you can only travel during peak season, make arrangements for your accommodations as soon as possible to secure the lowest prices.

Chora village on Ios

Chora village on Ios is chock full of restaurants and bars, while the island is blessed with numerous gorgeous beaches including Mylopotas (which is walking distance from Chora) and Manganari.

 

Greece in white winter glory

 Η χιονισμένη Ακρόπολη από ψηλά (The snowy Acropolis from above), is a 1-minute video filmed for the Eurokinissi news agency. It shows drone views of the Acropolis, the Parthenon and nearby historic sites following a light snowfall in Athens in early January 2017

 

Winter wonders: I previously published a 2-part post containing dozens of photos of winter scenes from Greece — pictures that had been shared on social media after severely harsh northern weather systems brought freezing temperatures and snowfalls to many parts of Greece, including islands, the Peloponnese, and the mainland. Dozens of winter scene videos have been published online, too, and in this post I’m sharing some of the many films that I have enjoyed watching.

On this page you’ll find films showing breathtaking aerial views of snowy Athens, Kastoria, Kavala,  Ioannina and Nafplio.  The videos on page 2 feature stunning storm and après-snowfall scenes from Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Sparta, Thessaloniki, Volos, Evia, Chios, Crete, Naxos, Lake Plastiras near Karditsa, and more of Athens and Nafplio.

 

 

International news reports about the snow and cold weather that struck Greece and other European countries earlier this month, along with the scores of snow photos and videos shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have surprised many people around the world who don’t realize that Greece gets winter weather, too.

Many mistakenly believe Greece enjoys balmy temperatures and sunny skies year-round, so some people have been absolutely astounded to see pictures showing snow on beaches, monuments and villages they have visited during summer trips to Greece. (In the various Greece travel forum pages on TripAdvisor, I regularly see  posts from people who are planning Greek island holidays for winter months because they believe it’s a good time to visit for swimming, sunbathing and beach parties. I would love to see the looks on their faces when they see videos like the ones in this post — or actually show up at a Mykonos beach in mid February!)

 

 

While the winter scenery in these videos is amazing to see, it simply confirms that Greece looks marvellous and is well worth visiting even in the off season. The island and mainland landscapes, the historic ruins and monuments, and the cities, towns and villages are breathtaking all year long.

If you can’t make it to Greece in spring, summer or autumn, why not consider a winter trip? You’ll find the scenery is just as lovely as it is in peak travel season, the locals are warm and friendly, and best of all — there are no crowds.

 

Studiotrasias created this superb aerial film of gorgeous winter scenery at Kastoria

 

These drone views of Kavala were filmed by Tetracopterakias after the city endured three consecutive days of snowfalls 

 

Nikos Roussis captures the winter beauty of Ioannina in this 4.5-minute film

 

Captivating aerial views of Nafplio, filmed by Kostas Ko

 

Please click on the link below to view more videos on page 2 of this post.

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Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece

Athens Acropolis with snow photographed by Maria Theofanopoulou

Maria Theofanopoulou captured this beautiful photo of the snow-dusted Acropolis in Athens on the morning of Tuesday January 10. She shot the image from a rooftop vantage point at the Electra Metropolis Athens hotel.

 

Surreal snow scenes:  Since the Christmas holiday period, I have been fascinated viewing hundreds of images of stunning winter scenery that people throughout Greece have been sharing on social media. Although the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page is usually filled with breathtaking photos of beautiful beaches, stunning seasides, charming villages and historic monuments, I have been surprised to see that familiar places look almost completely different under dark, stormy skies and blankets of crisp white snow.

At times the pictures of snow-covered beaches, ruins and villages in Greece have seemed surreal to me, especially since there is almost no snow anywhere near my home in downtown Toronto.  Scenes of streets knee-deep in fluffy soft snow are something I would expect from most places in Canada this time of year, but not on Greek islands like Skiathos, Skopelos or Evia!

 

 

I find the images particularly impressive because they show how spectacular Greece looks even in extremely severe weather during a season few tourists get to see and experience. 

If, like me, you have only visited Greece during spring, summer or fall, you probably will be pleasantly surprised to see just how striking and amazing various regions looked during the cold snap that has gripped much of the nation since Christmas.

Below are photos of wintry scenes in several popular Greece destinations, followed on page 2 of this post by dozens of photos from Athens, Rhodes, Chios, Evia, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, Sparta, Mystras, Lakonia, Corinth and Ioannina.  Part 2 includes photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. With links to scores of additional snow pictures and videos, this two-part feature is one of the most comprehensive collections of Greece winter storm photos you’ll find in one spot.

(Please note that I have done my best to credit the original photographers for each image. However, it wasn’t always possible to trace back all sources. if you notice an incorrect attribution for any of the pictures, please let me know and I’ll be happy to correct the photo credits.)

So bundle up and enjoy a photo tour of winter wonderlands in Greece! 

 

Constantinos Mg photo of snow in Kymi village on Evia

Evia island (also spelled Evvoia and Euboea) was one of the places hardest-hit by snowfalls, with some regions receiving nearly 2 meters of white stuff. Constantinos Mg photographed this snow-filled street in Kymi.

 

Snow on Mandraki beach on Skiathos

It looks like a scene from the Arctic, but this actually is Mandraki beach on Skiathos, photographed by Nikos Mavropoulos 

 

Snow at Parga Greece

Parga looks pretty all dressed in white. This image of the popular seaside resort in northwestern Greece was shared on the Meteo Gr Facebook page

. snow on Skiathos

This photo of snow on Skopelos island has been widely shared on social media, including the Meteo Gr page on Facebook

 

Snow at Myrtos beachon Kefalonia

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia after a snowfall. The image appeared on the Amazing Greece / Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

Snow at Knossos Palace on Crete

Snow blankets the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion, seen in a photo from the My Crete Guide page on Facebook

 

Snow on Charaki beach on Rhodes

A Christmas Eve view of Charaki beach on Rhodes, seen in an image shared by the Rhodes Through My Eyes page on Facebook

 

Snow at Chania Crete

Léandrou Simeonidis captured this breathtaking scene as stormclouds filled the sky above the city of Chania on Crete

 

Lagada village on Chios island

It looks like a scene from a Christmas card, but it’s a photo by George Zournas showing Lagada village on Chios island after a snowfall

 

Snow at Nafplio

The Bourtzi sea castle at Nafplio is surrounded by snowy mountains and  white landscapes in this image by Σεραφείμ Ζίου 

 

Snow at Thessaloniki Greece

Αλέξανδρου Παπαδόπουλου took this photo of the Thessaloniki waterfront during a snowstorm

 

Snow at Mystras Greece

Sunshine illuminates one of the churches at Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Sparta. The image appears in a collection of Mystras snow photos published on the Evrotas blog of landscape photography from the Sparta region. 

 

Please click on the link below to view more photos on page 2 of this post.

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Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece: Part 2

Kalavrita Ski Center in Greece

There is snow as far as the eye can see along the road to Kalavrita Ski Center in the northern Peloponnese. The picture was posted to the ski resort’s Facebook page on January 6 

 

Winter wonders: This is the second set of photos I’m publishing on the blog to profile remarkable winter scenery in different regions of Greece — images that have been shared on social media after much of the nation was struck by icy cold temperatures and some surprisingly heavy snowfalls during the 2016 Christmas holidays and up to the second week of January 2017.

Part 1 of the photo feature included snow scenes from Athens, Ioannina, Corinth, Chios, Evia, Rhodes, Sparta, Mystras, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

 

 

Here in Part 2 I have collected photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. Many of the photo captions include links to social media pages or websites where you can find countless more pictures of snowy sites in Greece. (It could be spring by the time you manage to finish looking at the photos on all of the links!)

Click on the link beneath the next photo to view the full series of pictures on page 2 of this post.

 

Winter stormclouds above Nafplio

One of my favourite Greece winter scenes is this spectacular photograph by Thanos Komninos, which captures dark, fluffy storm clouds swirling above and around the Nafplio Old Town and Acronauplia fortress, before leaving the town dusted with a layer of light snow. The photo appeared on the Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook.

 

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Where we could have cooled off during this week’s heat wave

Tolo beach IMG_3496

The beautiful golden sand seafront at Tolo stretches for approximately one kilometer from Psili Ammos beach (seen here) to a harbour barely visible in the center-top area of this photo

 

Extreme temps: We’re never happy after we return home from one of our Greek holidays, as we did three days ago — we always wish we were still in Greece. But this time we’re actually a bit relieved that we’re not there — we simply could not have handled the heat wave currently sweeping across the country.

Sunshine and temperatures hitting the low 30s (Celsius) hindered some of our walking and sightseeing in Nafplio, Monemvasia, Tolo and Hydra on several days of our vacation from May 30 to June 16, but since we left Greece on Thursday temperatures have soared even higher, approaching and even exceeding an absolutely sweltering 40 degrees in many places, particularly on the mainland.

 

 

On Saturday, for instance, the temperature reached 43.4 at Sparta, which we had found hot when it was in the low 30s during the day we spent there. As I write this post today, it’s 37 in Nafplio, where a few 30-degree days forced us to limit our activities during the first week of June. And temperatures are forecast to remain scorching hot for several more days. If we were still in Greece, we would either be hiding inside our air-conditioned hotel rooms, or swimming as much as possible.

Fortunately there were plenty of excellent places to take a dip in the sea at most of the destinations we visited. Click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see photos of the great swimming spots we discovered near Epidaurus, Hydra, Monemvasia, Nafplio and Tolo.

 

Hydronetta swimming spot on Hydra

Bathers cool off in the gorgeous turquoise waters at Hydronetta, a popular coastal swimming spot on Hydra island

 

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Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

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Falling for Pelion

Pelion – Greece – Fall 2015 is a breathtaking 4-minute film created by George Giampuranis and Christopher Dormoy

 

Autumn glory: Don’t be surprised if you feel a powerful urge to pack your bags and travel to the Pelion area of Greece after watching the video I posted above. That seems to be a common reaction for many people who have seen and shared it on social media this week.

Pelion – Greece – Fall 2015 is a gorgeous short film that spotlights beautiful autumn sights and scenery from the area around Mount Pelion, which is situated about an hour’s drive northeast of Volos, a city in Greece’s Thessaly region.

The video project was produced and directed by George Giampuranis and filmed by his friend,  Christopher Dormoy, a photographer and interactive graphic designer who works at the Montreal advertising agency Sid Lee.

 

In notes for the film’s profile page on Vimeo.com, Dormoy observes that Mount Pelion was “the mythical homeland to Chiron the Centaur and summer residence of the gods. Mount Pelion remains beautiful all year round with its pristine and diverse beaches, lush forests with miles of hiking trails, skiing in the winter, and picturesque villages that seem to refuse change as they maintain their traditional architecture with warmth and charm.”

As you watch the video, you’ll quickly see why the Greek gods chose Pelion for their summer home — and you’ll understand why you might suddenly want to go there, too.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a clue where to stay or go for dinner once you arrive — in the film’s Vimeo profile, Dormoy has helpfully included links for several hotels and restaurants in the area where he filmed scenes for the video. Have a look in particular at the photo gallery on the website for The Lost Unicorn Hotel in Tsagkarada — its images of Pelion’s wonderful landscapes and amazing scenery will make you want to visit the area even more.

Better start packing!

 

Mount Pelion location in Thessaly region of Greece

This Google Map pinpoints the location of Mount Pelion in the Thessaly region of mainland Greece

Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives

Greece on foot walking tour photo 01

A light layer of snow on the ground didn’t deter participants in a Greece on Foot walking tour from enjoying the awe-inspiring mountain and valley scenery in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese on January 24 …

 

Greece on foot walking tour photo 02

… nor did cold temperatures just two days later, when walkers got to trek through vibrant green olive groves like this one under brilliant sunny skies. (Photos provided courtesy of Greece on Foot tours.)

 

Winter wonders: Take a winter vacation in Greece? Sure! Why not?

The seething  crowds of summer tourists have long since disappeared, as have the scorching temperatures and the startling high prices of peak season. There’s no waiting in long queues for seats on buses or in restaurants, and no jostling with mobs of organized excursion groups or gaggles of selfie-snapping sightseers at monuments and museums. Hiking paths are almost deserted, and roads aren’t clogged with tour coaches. The magnificent historic and natural scenery remains glorious despite the drastic change in seasons, the legendary Greek hospitality continues unabated, and the food is superb as always.

Of course, winter is the wrong time to visit if your primary holiday preferences are swimming and water sports, lounging on beaches, or all-night-long dancing and carousing at bars, clubs and beaches on Mykonos, Ios or any of the other legendary Greek “party islands.” 

But you’ll still find dynamic nightlife in Athens and Thessaloniki, cities which abound in world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities all year round. And if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can challenge your alpine mountaineering or snow kiting skills on Crete, or go snowboarding and downhill skiing at Kalavrita or one of several other major resorts on the Greek mainland.

Mountaineering in Crete

Two alpine mountaineers ascend the steep snow-covered peak of Mt Dikti on Crete, in this image shared on Facebook in late January by Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture. The organization’s Facebook post said mountaineering in Crete offers “a wonderful experience combining alpine terrain with breathless views of both the Libyan & Aegean sea.”

 

Vouliagmeni beach photo by John de Castelberg

A beach near the Vouliagmeni beach suburb of Athens is seen in this December 29 2015 photo by John de Castelberg.  Most tourists might find the sea too chilly for a winter dip, but the scenic beach- and café-lined coast of the Athenian Riviera is pleasant to visit throughout the off season.

 

 

Main tourist season is April to October

For people like me and my partner, who couldn’t bear either the blistering heat and sun or the heaving hordes of tourists in midsummer, winter could well be one of the best times to visit Greece. So why, then, have we travelled there only in spring or fall?

That’s a question we have been pondering a lot lately. We used to believe it was better to travel during the regular tourist season, which generally starts in late April and winds down by the end of October (particularly on the islands). In fact, most of our Greek holidays have been fairly early in the season, typically sometime between mid-May and early June. But we have gone twice in the autumn — we went island hopping in the Cyclades in late September 2007, and we explored Naxos and Athens during the first half of October 2013.

What we like about our spring trips in particular is the palpable local excitement and anticipation for the new travel season and approaching summer period, an atmosphere we find invigorating and refreshing after our long winter hibernation at home in Canada. Also, the weather is usually perfect for some of our favourite holiday activities — hiking and walking, and dining outdoors (especially near the sea). We weren’t keen to visit Greece during the off-season because we were worried we might not enjoy it as much with colder temperatures, inclement weather and few tourists around. 

Samos flamingo photo by Nikolaos Housas

Winter shouldn’t keep us away from Greece — it didn’t stop this pretty pink flamingo and a dozen of its feathered friends from visiting the Alyki wetland reserve on Samos island for several days at the end of January 2016.  Local photographer Nikolaos Housas captured this splendid image on January 27 and shared it on the Samos Island public group page on Facebook. 

 

Social media show the winter appeal of Greece

But recently we’ve really been warming up to the idea of a winter getaway to Greece.  What changed our minds? In two words: social media.

With their photos on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (some of which I will share with you on page 2 of this post), friends, acquaintances and dozens of people we don’t even know have shown us that Greece can be just as delightful and charming in winter as it is during spring, summer or fall. In fact, they have demonstrated that it’s a terrific time to see the country’s wonderful sights and scenery either on foot or by driving around, and it can often even be comfortable to eat outdoors, or at least sit outside with a coffee to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  What’s more, colourful Carnival celebrations held each February and March in scores of villages and towns provide traditional festive fun and excitement we wouldn’t find in spring.

Haroula taverna at Marpissa on Paros

We thought we would miss eating outdoors if we took an off-season trip to Greece. But occasional mild weather means outdoor dining can be possible even in winter, as this photo posted by the Parosweb Facebook page attests. Taken on January 21 2016, the picture shows a table laden with delectable dishes of home-cooked Greek cuisine in the courtyard at Haroula’s Taverna in Marpissa village on Paros.

 

A place to escape our usual winter blahs

Of course there can be gloomy days with rain, cold temperatures, gale-force winds and even snowstorms, as I have reported in posts on December 31 2015, January 17 2016, and January 23 2016. But we get unpredictable and occasionally severe weather conditions at home, too. Yet we continue to drag ourselves through our  December and January doldrums, and the brutal February blahs, daydreaming about Greece and counting the days until we can go back.  Why not just battle the blahs by getting a winter fix of Greece instead?  With luck we might encounter pleasantly mild weather conditions, as you’ll see in many of the photos below. At worst, it will feel almost like winter back home — but at least we will be passing the time enjoying the off-season beauty in our favourite travel destination. We’re already looking into the possibility of doing exactly that next December or January.

Please click here or on the link below the following picture to turn to page 2 and see some of the photos that have convinced us we’re long overdue for an off-season trip to Greece. Fingers crossed that we’ll be posting our own winter pictures at this time next year. 

Athens winter night view photo by Wendy Gilops

Athens is a bustling year-round travel destination, as evidenced by the throngs of people strolling past historic monuments in the center of Athens, just below the illuminated Acropolis and Parthenon (upper right). Wendy Gilops captured this scene on December 27 2015. 

 

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Last-minute Christmas trip? How about Nafplio or Monemvasia?

Christmas decorations at Nafplio

A Christmas tree and holiday lighting add sparkle to Nafplio’s Syntagma square (Photo from the Ναύπλιο – Nafplio Facebook page.)

 

Holiday getaway: A friend who lives in the U.K. was just asking if I could suggest someplace in Greece, within a reasonable driving distance of Athens, for him to visit on a last-minute Christmas getaway. Ideally, it would be a charming seaside village or town with cobblestone streets, attractive old buildings, good places to eat, and historic sites nearby. 

By coincidence, I had been reading about Christmas festivities in Nafplio and Monemvasia, two historic and scenic towns in the Peloponnese, only a couple of hours earlier. So I suggested both, sending my friend links to websites providing holiday event schedules and general travel information, as well as directions on how to get to each town from Athens. I’m sharing  that information here in case any of my readers might be seeking ideas for their own spur of the moment Christmas trips to Greece, too.

Nafplio Greece

A hillside view of Nafplio and the offshore Bourtzi Castle (Photo from the Ναύπλιο – Nafplio Facebook page.)

 

Nafplio:

Often called one of the most beautiful towns in Greece, Nafplio was the country’s capital city from 1829 until 1834, when the national parliament was established in Athens.  Located approximately 150 km from Athens, Nafplio is just a 2-hour drive from there by car, and a 2-hour and 20-minute trip by bus. There are about a dozen buses to Nafplio each day, departing hourly on the half hour from the Kifissos terminal. Detailed travel directions can be found on Visit Nafplio, a non-commercial website packed with helpful information for visitors.

Interestingly, Nafplio is where the Christmas fir tree was introduced to Greece for the first time– by Bavarian King Otto, in 1833.

A few of the many important historic attractions in the vicinity include the amphitheater at Epidavros and the archaeological sites at Mycenae and Tiryns, all of which are included on the UN’s World Heritage List

 

Nafplio Greece at Christmas

Screenshot of a “Magic Christmas in Nafplio” press release I received from the Discover Nafplio information website, advising of special Christmas and New Year’s events taking place in the former capital city of Greece

 

The Discover Nafplio travel and information website has a Christmas in Nafplio page that offers suggestions for accommodations, dining, drinking and gift shopping, and includes a link to an extensive list of special Christmas events taking place from mid-December until January 6. There’s even a separate restaurant page that displays menus for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve dinners at two popular Nafplio restaurants —  3Sixty Cafe & Wine Bar on Papanikolaou Street, and Propolis restaurant at Staikopoulou Square, both in the Old Town. 

 

 

Monemvasia Greece

Given its position on a massive rock island, it’s easy to see why Monemvasia is often called “the Gibraltar of Greece.” (Media image provided courtesy of the Municipality of Monemvasia.)

 

Monemvasia:

Located in the Laconia region of the Peloponnese, Monemvasia comprises an Old Town — a medieval fortress built on the side of a giant rock island connected to the mainland by a short causeway — and a New Town (Gefyra) just across the channel. The Old Town is a warren of narrow cobblestone lanes and vaulted passageways that lead visitors past  churches, mansions, castles, and Byzantine icons. Monemvasia is approximately 335 km from Athens International Airport, and the drive by car can take from 3.5 to 4.5 hours. The Laconia branch of the KTEL transportation company provides daily bus service between Athens and Monemvasia several times per day.

An article on the Municipality of Monemvasia website briefly describes volunteer efforts that have been undertaken “to bring life to the magic of Christmas” in special Christmas villages set up for children and the young at heart in the Old Town and in several other areas. It also provides a schedule of music, entertainment and cultural events being presented until December 31. Unfortunately, the calendar of events is in Greek only, but you can use Google Translate or other programs to read the descriptions.

Extensive information about Monemvasia is available on the municipality’s website as well as the Monemvasia Facebook page, while the Mythical Peloponnese website is an excellent resource, describing the Castle of Monemvasia and many other attractions in the Laconia region. You can also view a dozen superb photos in the article The Hidden Town of Monemvasia, which was published earlier this year on the Amusing Planet website.

 

Nafplio and Monemvasia on video

Want to see more to determine if either town appeals to you? Take a look at the two short videos below.

Μονεμβασιά, Monemvasia is a 2.5 film by TeaTimeCreations

 

Nafplio – Greece is a timelapse film photographed by Manos Kritsotakis, edited by Chris Mavridis, and produced by Kostas Marlagoutsos

Tips for budget travel from Turkey to mainland Greece

Orestiada Bus Station

The bus station at Orestiada, a town in eastern Greece near the Turkish border, is seen in a photo by EcoTripSos.com. The website’s “Travel Tips for Greece” guide provides detailed information about local bus travel. 

 

Survival Guide: Readers occasionally email me for advice on ways to travel overland from Turkey to mainland Greece, and onward to some of the Greek islands. They are typically younger travellers who intend to backpack throughout Europe, as well as individuals who simply want to combine trips to Turkey with a budget-friendly foray into parts of Greece. 

Since I haven’t been to Turkey yet and have never travelled east of Athens to the Greece-Turkey border, I haven’t been able to answer their questions. But an information-packed article published by EcoTripSos should be a valuable research rescource  for anyone seeking economical ways to travel to Greece from Turkey.

Founded by Turkish travel enthusiasts Özge Çetinkayar and Kutay Uzun, EcoTripSos is an online guide offering advice on budget and eco-friendly travel, particularly for inexperienced or beginner travellers.

On November 15, they published Travel Tips for Greece, a photo-illustrated “Greece Survival Guide for Travelers.” It recounts a 10-day journey to seven Greek villages and cities, including Kastanies, Orestiada, Alexandroupolis, and Thessaloniki on the eastern Greece mainland, plus Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania on the island of Crete. The guide describes how the travellers crossed the border at Pazarkule (9 km from the city of Edirne in Turkey) to reach the Greek town of Kastanies, used local bus transportation to travel onward to Alexandroupolis and Thessaloniki, and from the latter city flew to Crete and back. 

Besides providing practical information about how to use Greece’s intercity and local city bus systems (including how and where to buy bus tickets), the article describes air travel between Thessaloniki and Crete,  and offers myriad useful tips about hotels and “Daily Life in Greece from Travelers’ Eyes,” including such topics as food, beer, water and wi-fi service. 

Click here to read the EcoTripSos Guide to Greece.

Kastanies railway station

The tiny train station at Kastanies, near Greece’s border with Turkey

 

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