Category: Rhodes (page 1 of 2)

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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Visual delights in Greece’s Dodecanese islands

Dodecanese Promenade Part A is a 10-minute film featuring highlight attractions on Rhodes, Kasos, Chalki, Symi, Kastellorizo and Karpathos …

 

… while Part B  presents 10 more minutes of beautiful sights and scenes from Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Astypalea

 

Delightful dozen: Four down, eight to go. That’s how many places we have already been to in the Dodecanese island chain, and the number of other islands we want to see there, as we continue to explore Greece in our annual travels.

Our first foray into the Dodecanese was back in 2004 when we spent three days on Rhodes during our first-ever island hopping holiday in Greece. Our second trip into the region came several years later when we kicked off our 2009 vacation on Astypalea. We returned to the Dodecanese for a third time in 2010, when our travels took us to Kos and Patmos (with ferry stops that teased us with brief looks at Kalymnos and Leros en route).

Seeing only four islands in one chain is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s still just one-third of the dozen major destinations in the Dodecanese, and we definitely would like to boost that number. Topping our list of the other Dodecanese islands we would like to experience are Karpathos and Kastellorizo, though we’d be happy spending time on any of the others, too — including Kasos, Chalki and Symi.

 

I doubt we’ll get back to the Dodecanese before 2018 at the earliest, but I keep bookmarking photos and videos of the area for research and inspiration, just in case we get the opportunity to go there sooner.

I have shared two of the inspiring videos above. Dodecanese Promenade Parts A and B were both shot by photographer / filmmaker Constantinos Tseklenis in a project for Aegean Airlines two years ago. However, the clips posted above are original Director’s Cut versions that were not shown on Aegean flights. 

Part A brought back fond memories of our time on Rhodes, while Part B showed us many familiar sights and scenes from the days we spent on Patmos and Kos. In both parts, Tseklenis brilliantly captures the gorgeous colours and impressive scenery that we remember seeing first-hand.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare,  give the films a watch — they’ll take you on a spectacular visual promenade through the Dodecanese.

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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Wind and waves lash Mykonos, Samos & Dodecanese islands

Pthagoras sculpture on Samos photographed by Manolis Marg

Samos island resident Manolis Marg captured this striking image of surf spraying the Pythagoras sculpture on the seafront at Pythagorion

 

Winter wallop: Just before this weekend, I was jealously viewing photos of sunny Greek island beach and village scenes that local residents and business operators had been sharing on social media. Weather reports showing temperatures in the mid to high teens (Celsius) made me even more envious. Until today. When I logged into my blog’s Facebook page this afternoon, the photos and posts in my news feed were telling a completely different story — severe winds and heavy rain were lashing many of the Aegean islands as a ferocious winter storm surged across Greece.

Despite the gale-force winds, some hardy residents of Agathonisi, Samos and Rhodes ventured outdoors to capture dramatic photos of waves and stormy skies at their respective islands.

 

Waves damaged the seafront at Ornos beach on Mykonos

On Mykonos, a local restaurant owner stayed inside his vehicle to shoot photos of flooded roads, wave debris on the Ornos bay seafront, and boats that had been ripped from their moorings and tossed ashore. 

The winds were so strong– exceeding force 8 and 9 on the Beaufort scale — that they prevented flights by Aegean Airlines and Ryanair from landing on Rhodes, the Greek news website The Rodiaki reported. Rough seas forced the cancellation of shipping and ferry services to many islands as well.

And this was just the beginning of even worse weather expected nationwide for the next several days.  In a separate report, The Rodiaki said many parts of Greece can expect cold to freezing temperatures by Monday, along with continuing strong winds, while some regions of the mainland can expect snowfalls. 

 

Winter storms struck Greece same time last year

Coincidentally, it’s almost exactly one year ago that brutal winter weather struck Greece, dumping snow on some of the Cyclades islands (see my Snow scenes from the Cyclades post for winter storm photos from islands including Andros, Tinos, Naxos, Milos and Paros).

But, as always, the islanders aren’t letting bad weather get them down.  On its Facebook page, Super Paradise beach observed: “No winter lasts forever. Mykonos awaits.” And the Mykonos Palace Hotel posted this quote from W.R. Alger: “After every ‪‎storm the sun‬ will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.” Good points indeed — there’s only 154 more days until summer!

Please click here or on the link beneath the next picture to turn to page 2 of this post, where you can view storm photos from Samos, Mykonos, Agathonisi and Rhodes.

 

Flooded road at Ornos Mykonos

A flooded road in the Ornos beach area of Mykonos is seen in this photograph shot by Sikiniotis Lefteris, who owns the Apaggio restaurant at Ornos. Several more of his photos, showing wave damage on the Ornos bay seashore, can be seen on page 2 of this post. 

 

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Snowfalls & cold temps bring Greece’s turbulent 2015 to a wintry close

Snow on Paros photo shared on Facebook by ΠΑΡΟΣ like

Snow blankets the ground beside a chapel in Lefkes village on Paros following light flurries on December 31 2015. Μαρία Ραγκούση shared this image on the Lefkes Paros public group page on Facebook.

 

Snowflurries in Halki village on Naxos photo shared on Facebook by Petros Anamateros

Petros Anamateros shared on Facebook this image he captured showing New Year’s Eve snowflurries at Halki village on Naxos  

 

From green to white: Every day this month, I’ve been feeling green with envy seeing social media posts showing sunny skies and gorgeous summer-like scenery in Greece.  Only three days ago, in fact, I was jealously admiring beach and seashore photos from the Athens Riviera that a friend had taken during balmy 18 degree Celsius temperatures. 

But when I logged onto my blog’s Facebook newsfeed first thing this morning, I was stunned to see pictures and read reports about light snow falling at various places on the Greek mainland, in Athens, and on such islands as Amorgos, Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Skiathos.  

On Rhodes and other islands in the Dodecanese, people had posted comments about chilly temperatures and strong, cold winds. The We Love Rhodes page, for instance, reported that temperatures of only 3 degrees and winds reaching level 5 on the Beaufort scale had brought the “first day of winter for Rhodes at the last day of 2015.”

And in an article entitled White New Year’s Eve in Greece, the news website Protothema described snowfalls in northern and central Greece and Attica, and reported on weather-related disruptions to ferry service to the Saronic Gulf islands and other places. (Click on the article title link to see photos and videos that Protothema included with its story.)

 

 

 

Snow isn’t unusual in Greece

Snowflurries aren’t unheard-of either on the mainland, in Athens, or on many of the Greek islands. Severe winter weather conditions including snow and sleet can and do strike virtually all parts of the country from time to time.  

But it is perhaps fitting that what has been an extremely turbulent year for Greece seems to be ending just the way it began — with dark, brooding stormclouds bringing cold temperatures and light snow to many parts of the nation.

As I reported in my posts Wild winter weather wallops Greece and Snow scenes from the Cyclades, Greece got this year off to a stormy start with severe winter weather that started just before New Year’s Eve 2014 and carried into early January.  There were More weather woes during the second week of February. After that, the country experienced a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, with national elections, financial bailout negotiations, the ongoing refugee/migrant crisis and record tourist visits, to name just a few of the many events that put Greece in the international media spotlight throughout the year.

Now, as 2015 comes to a stormy close, I’m anxious to see if the new year will bring better times. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that 2016 will indeed be a Happy New Year for Greece.

Please click here or on the link at the bottom of this post to see more New Year’s Eve snow scenes from Greece on page 2 of this report.

 

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Christmas greetings with a special touch of Greece

Hellenic Seaways Christmas greeting 2015

The Hellenic Seaways ferry company extended holiday greetings on social media with this shiny red Christmas tree ornament decorated with a golden satellite view-image of Greece

 

Scenes of the season: My social media news feeds have been filled with hundreds of holiday greetings this week, but the ones that inspire me the most are Christmas wishes that include a photo or image of a place in Greece that I’ve either been to or hope to see someday. 

Just for fun, I have collected some of my favourites to share here on the blog.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see some of the Christmas greetings that have been spreading joy to me and many other Greece fans this festive season.

 

 

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Where to find five of the best beaches in Greece

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos island Greece

Majestic limestone cliffs soar above alluring light blue seas at Navagio Beach, seen in this image by Flickr member Cristi Sinca

 

Guest post by Christofer Adam

Are you counting the days till summer arrives? Can you not wait till your next holiday trip? Are you living and breathing for your next adventure? Then you are reading the right article! Since we know how important and desirable it is for you to swim in crystal clear waters, we have chosen some of the top beaches you can find in Greece — the country where the sea, sun and summer are taken for granted!

Follow our guide and get ready to have the most remarkable beach holidays!

 

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada

This famous golden sandy beach is located around 40 kilometres southwest of the island’s capital city, Lefkada Town. The magnificent hills surrounding this beautiful beach are well worth the effort it takes to arrive there – which involves an exhausting but adventurous hike of 80 steep steps! But before you follow the track, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a frappe (the famous Greek iced coffee) from the snack bars you can find at the top of the hill so that you won’t find yourself thirsty half way!  However, if you are not excited about this idea, there is always an alternative solution — just take one of the taxi boats available from the nearby towns of Nidri or Vassiliki for a magical journey. Porto Katsiki provides a range of water activities including swimming (of course!), sailing and surfing.

 Porto Katsiki beach

Porto Katsiki beach, seen in an image by JuzaPhoto member Robepate

 

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos

Situated on the north-west shore of the island of Zakynthos, Navagio beach — also popularly known as Shipwreck beach — is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. And this is not random at all, as the steep limestone cliffs, white sands, crystal clear waters and the incredible abandoned shipwreck stuck on the sand create an astonishing scenery. The location is also a favourite spot for base jumpers, as the view from above is mesmerizing! You can only access the beach by boat, unless you are a base jumper, in which case you can jump from the cliff and smoothly land on the soft sands!

 

Base jumping is the fastest way to reach extroardinary Navagio beach

 

Faliraki, Rhodes

With its golden sands spread for more than 5 kilometres, Faliraki beach in Rhodes is one of the most beautiful on the island. As a very well organized beach, Faliraki will keep you busy and satisfied with its wide range of services and activities provided. Umbrella and sunbed rental is available, while you can also find a variety of water activities such as bungee-jumping! Furthermore, the area doesn’t lack of any good restaurants, night clubs and cafeterias. Bear in mind that the beach gets crowded, so it’s a good idea to wake up early in the morning if you would like to secure yourself a spot near the shore. However, if you are on hangover from having too many cocktails the night before, then you can take a nap at the beach while sunbathing! Just remember to put your sunscreen on, as you don’t want to wake up later with sunburns! To check out some of the best places to stay in Faliraki, click here.

 Faliraki beach Rhodes

An aerial view of Faliraki beach, from the Discover Rhodes travel site

 

Golden Beach, Thassos

Golden Beach (Chrysi Ammoudia) is a long coast with golden sands, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful beach of Thassos Island. The shallow waters are so transparent you can see the bottom of the sea and all the little fish swimming there! The scenery is magnificent, as the beach is framed by little cliffs and green trees reaching down the sea, while Mountain Ypsarion arises over the bay, creating an irreplaceable view. As a very well organized beach, it is also a popular destination for families with small children. Check out the best places to stay near the beach by clicking here.

YouTube member Goran Tosic posted this 3-minute video showing a variety of views of gorgeous Golden Beach

 

Red Beach, Santorini

Situated in the most popular island of Greece, the Red Beach is famous for its unique colour of sands and the stiff red lava cliffs surrounding it. It is blessed with a beautiful sandy shore, clear blue waters and big rocks sitting around it, creating a magnificent scenery that would make you want to spend the whole day there! The beach is near Akrotiri area, and we suggest accessing it by boat which you can board from the areas of Perissa or Akrotiri. Otherwise, if you prefer walking and hiking, then you might as well reach the beach by foot, which is just 10 minutes away from Akrotiri.

 Red Beach Santorini

Santorini’s Red Beach seen in an image by Flickr member Alex Coppo

 

 Christofer Adam is a Content Marketing Executive at London’s leading Online Marketing Agency, passionate with Social Media, Creative Writing and the Travel Industry. Click here to view his profile on LinkedIn.

No sandy beach? No worries at these seaside swimming spots on four Greek Islands!

sunbeds on the coast of Rhodes

Colourful umbrellas and lounge chairs brighten a rocky stretch of coastline near Kallithea Bay on Rhodes

 

Whenever I tell people we’re going to Greece, almost everyone says the same thing: “A beach vacation! Nice!”

Truth be told, we visit Greece for many more things besides sunbathing, swimming and water sports activities. Still, I’m not surprised that so many people associate the country with bountiful, beautiful beaches. With its thousands of islands and its mainland combined, Greece boasts nearly 16,000 kilometers of coastline and many of Europe’s best beaches.

But the Greek seashores aren’t long, continuous strips of stunning sand and pebble strands. While those number in the thousands, much of the country’s seafront is rugged and rocky, with no sandy shores in sight. But that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the seemingly endless waterfronts in Greece. In fact, it’s along craggy coastlines that you tend to find uncrowded swimming locations that are favourites for local residents and for in-the-know tourists, too.

There must be countless seaside swimming “holes” throughout the country, but in this post I will profile four that we have seen during our Greek Island travels over the past 11 years. The photo at top shows one we discovered on Rhodes back in 2004, while the three pictures below showing swimming spots on Naxos, Santorini and Syros, respectively:

 

swimming area below the Temple of Apollo on Naxos

Several stone staircases descend to the water’s edge at a swimming spot below the Temple of Apollo monument (also known as the Portara) near the ferry port and harbour at Naxos Town.

  Photo by Rocio Lluch if the swimming area near Amoudi Bay Santorini

A short walk from Amoudi Bay brings visitors to a narrow channel separating Santorini from little Agios Nikolaos island, seen in this photo by Flickr member Rocio Lluch. Tourists enjoy taking a dip in the channel and swimming to the islet, where they can dive from cliffs into the sea.

  Vaporia swimming spot

This is one of several jetties in the Vaporia district of Ermoupoli, on Syros, where locals and visitors alike can take a quick dip and soak up some sunshine

 

Click on the link below to continue reading and view more photos.

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5 Greek Island gems

Guest post by Katrina Hinrichsen

Depending on how you judge the minimum size of an island, there are between 1,200 to 6,000 individual Greek islands. Together they make up one of the most stunning and popular destinations in the entire world. They are frequented by everyone from casual travellers to celebrities to perhaps, even, the gods as well! With so many islands to choose from, how will you decide which ones are the best to visit?

I have selected a handful of Greek island gems that will promise an amazing and unique range of views and activities for you to  to discover and enjoy.

 

Gaios, Paxos Island

Gaios Town on Paxos island

 Harbour view of Gaios Town on Paxos. This photo, by Bogdan Giuşcă, appears on the Wikipedia entry for the Paxi group of islands in the Ionian Sea

 

If you’re on the hunt for a truly relaxing holiday, Paxos is one of your best bets! The island has a charming collection of small bays, lush green hills and lovely beaches. The star attraction, however may be the port area near the capital town Gaios, as it is one of the best looking settings in the whole of Greece! Why not hire a boat ride and sunbathe on the deck or take in the sights of the handsome town? You could travel from the port to Gaios and visit the Water Planet dive centre, where an experienced instructor will help you learn how to scuba dive and explore some of the island’s underwater caves. The centre has an excellent rating; you can have a look at the positive reviews here.

Paxos is also home to a number of cultural traditions, including its annual summer ‘Water and Oil’ festival which celebrates folk music. In addition to tapping your toes to some music, people attending the festival will also get to enjoy the custom dishes of potatoes, olives, onions, water and wine. If you like the sound of wine, (and who doesn’t!) then we recommend a visit to the island Antipaxos, Paxos’ neighbour. There you will be able to sample some of the best local wine, all in front of beautiful scenery and the glimmering blue sea.

Interesting fact: Paxos Island was said to be a love sanctuary for the god of the Sea, Poseidon, and his lover, Nereid Amphitrite. Sounds like the perfect place to go for a romantic holiday!

 

Chios Island

Pyrgi village on Chios

A street in Pyrgi village on Chios island is captured in this image by Flickr member Pétille. You can view 37 more excellent photos of the island in Pétille’s Île de Chios album on Flickr.

 

The kidney-shaped island of Chios is special because it is the only setting in the whole world where mastic trees grow! The trees are used for their fragrant ivory-coloured resin, which is used as a spice. Pyrgi is the biggest village on the island, and was built way back in the Middle Ages. The architecture in the village is worth noting – the surfaces of the buildings have geometric patterns artistically scratched onto them by plasterers. In Mesta, a village close to Pyrgi, the stone buildings are positioned so near each other that it is challenging to walk around them, and in fact the locals say that the easiest way to travel about is to climb over the roofs!

Chios Island is a fantastic destination for photographers, journalists, or just interested vacationers to discover somewhere unique among the Greek Islands and wider area. Plus, the inhabitants of the island are warm and personable, so if you’re lucky you could be treated to the local wine, created with grapes and distilled figs.

Interesting fact: Although it is now prized for growing mastic, in Antiquity it was known as Ophioussa (‘snake island’) and Pityoussa (‘pine-tree’ island).

 

Faliraki, Rhodes Island

Anthony Quinn Bay

Anthony Quinn Bay near Falraki on Rhodes. This photo, by Karelj, originally appeared in the article 5 places to see before they disappear on the Italian-language travel blog JOHO Journey Horizons

 

Some people may already be familiar with Faliraki, as it can be found on one of the biggest Dodecanese Islands: Rhodes. It is renowned for its long stretch of award-winning sandy beaches. What you may not know, however, is that Faliraki also hosts Europe’s largest water park! This attraction will get the children (and the children at heart) very excited! The fantastic water park has many exhilarating slides and pools for the whole family to enjoy. Can you imagine a lovelier way to cool off from the scorching sun? The tickets cost just over 20 euros for an adult, so your wallet will feel pretty chilled too. If you want to avoid climbing a steep hill to get to the park, I recommend taking a bus or taxi there.

If you are looking for a water activity that is a bit more relaxing, then Anthony Quinn bay in Faliraki is the place for you. It promises exquisite views and beautiful scenery, with pristine waters and charming fish to swim around with. It is a fantastic place to go snorkelling, as the seawater should be warm too.

If you would prefer to stick to dry land from time to time, then Faliraki is also unique among the Greek Islands in what it has to offer. Visitors will be able to appreciate astonishing views of the sparkling seas and stars at its Hipparchos Oservatory and Astronomy Café-bar. This is really one not to miss! Click here to look up where you can stay in the village.

Interesting fact: Anthony Quinn bay was once the backdrop for a number of shots from the movie Guns of Navarone in 1961. Definitely a place that film fans will want to visit!

 

Skiathos Island

Skiathos sunrise

Panoramio member Drosoula P captured this beautiful sunrise from a vantage point at Vasilias beach on Skiathos

 

Skiathos is home to over 60 of the most gorgeous beaches within the Mediterranean, yet it is still not particularly well-known out of the throng of Greek Islands. This just means that you fortunate travellers will be able to enjoy more of Skiathos to yourself! Mandraki Elias beach is a true utopia, cherished dually as one of the most stunning yet serene beaches of the region. If you fancy kicking back with a cocktail or two, you will be happy to hear that this beach has one of the best bars on the island, and is surrounded by magnificent cliffs of orange sandstone. To get there you can also take a wander through the delightful pine woods.

Another superb, though admittedly more crowded beach is Koukonaries. It is very popular with families as it offers an amazing array of water sports activities. Our favourite sailing trips are with the company Sail the Day as they deliver an enchanting experience on the waters, with expert captains that have a good sense of humour! The exotic island also offers horse-riding, parasailing, trekking and mountain-biking for all you adrenalin junkies!

Interesting fact: In winter the population is around 4,000 people, but in the summer it can amount to 70,000!

 

Chora, Patmos Island

Holy Monastery of Saint John a

The imposing Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian towers above the mansions of Chora village on Patmos

 

Patmos Island proposes a different experience to the others in Greece as it is much more of a spiritual haven. The Greek Parliament has called it a ‘Holy Island’ as it is said to be where Saint John composed the Book of Revelation. In the capital Chora you can stopover at the historical museums, churches and monastery to learn more.

The sacred village of Chora is a divine setting for happy snapping, as it has maze-like alleys and charismatic whitewash buildings. Plus, because the village sits at the tallest peak of Patmos, you will be able to admire unbelievable views of the surrounds. As the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also has a wonderfully tranquil air. Nature fans will appreciate the volcanic soils, clean beaches and sheer cliffs too.

Interesting fact: Patmos Island used to be used by the Romans as a destination of exile because of its steep landscape.

 

Katrina Hinrichsen is passionate about travel and writing about her experiences. In the last two years she has been to at least 12 European countries, and has spent a lot of time in the past in Asia. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and contributes to professional and personal blogs on Travel, the Arts, Lifestyle and more.

Recognize these places?

Ikaria beach scene

Rugged cliffs and dramatic rock formations rise beside a beach on Ikaria, one of Greece’s East Aegean islands

 

It’s all in Greece!: From time to time one of my blog’s Facebook friends or contacts shares a link to a fun Where is this place? photo “quiz” that a Greek-language news and information website, e-fungus.gr, first published in November 2013.

Someone posted the link on Faceback again today and I thought I’d pass it along since the photos in it are so impressive and inspiring.

Entitled “Where is this place? Gia sou Hellas!”, the article shows a series of spectacular Greek destinations that people could easily confuse for places elsewhere in the world, like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tibet, the Ukraine, the Alps, Jordan, and Bora Bora.

There are nearly 50 images of exceptional sights and remarkable scenery, including islands, mountains, beaches, castles, churches, fields, forests, coastlines and rock formations. I like viewing the photos every now and then to get ideas for places to visit on future holidays — though to date I have managed to see just 10 of the places on this particular list. Obviously, I need to get to Greece more often!

Click here to view the article and see how many places you’ve been to yourself, or that you might recognize as destinations in Greece. As the article introduction observes, “Heaven on Earth truly exists, and it is in Hellas, which is the correct name of Greece.”

I can’t wait to get back to heaven in May!

 Metereo Greece

A Greek Orthodox monastery crowns a tall crag of sandstone in the Meteora region of central Greece , near the town of Kalambaka

25 tongue-in-cheek reasons why you shouldn’t visit Greece

Messinia Golden Coast

“Mediocre” views, like this one of the Messinia Golden Coast in the beautiful Peloponnese region of mainland Greece, is one reason why BuzzFeed recommends that travellers stay away from Greece. This striking photo is from the fantastic Visit Greece photostream on Flickr.

 

Just stay home: Are you tired of winter? Could you use a good chuckle? Want to see some superb photos to inspire your next trip to Greece?

Then click here to view the tongue-in-cheek photo feature 25 Reasons You Should Never Visit Greece, which was published this week on the news and lifestyle website BuzzFeed.com.

Featuring gorgeous photos from Visit Greece and other sources, the article addresses a number of modern “myth”conceptions about Greece, considering whether Athens “isn’t really that special,” if the country’s beaches are truly only “average at best,” and whether the views, scenery and sunsets in Greece are worth seeing at all.

The BuzzFeed piece gave me a much-needed good laugh today, while the spectacular photos took my mind off the snow and deep-freeze temperatures outside.

If you want to forget winter for awhile yourself, and learn 25 reasons why you really should visit Greece as soon as possible, be sure to check out the article.

 Windmills at Chora on Amorgos

Hectic places, like this crowded hilltop with windmills near Chora village on Amorgos, is another reason why travellers might want to avoid Greece, according to the website BuzzFeed.com.

British Airways & Edelweiss Air launching new direct flights to Greek Islands in 2015

a street in Kos Town

Landmarks and popular historic sites in the center of Kos Town on Kos island. British Airways will offer London to Kos flights starting next May.

 

 

More flights in 2015: It will be easier to travel from London and Zurich to several Greek islands next summer thanks to new routes announced recently by British Airways and Edelweiss Air.

British Airways will launch flights from London Gatwick to Rhodes and to Heraklion, Crete beginning in late April, and will add routes from London Heathrow to Corfu and Kos starting on May 1.

Meanwhile, Edelweiss Air will increase its service from Zurich to Heraklion starting on April 29, and will begin direct flights from Zurich to Corfu starting in June.

 

New BA destinations

In a new routes announcement on its website, British Airways says it will start flying from London Gatwick to Heraklion commencing April 26. Flights have been scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. When I checked the BA website today, it was showing flights available at prices from £69 (one way).

Only three days after the flights to Crete kick off, BA will begin new service to Rhodes. Flights will start on April 29, operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The BA website showed one-way fares available from £109.

From May 1 to September 20, BA will fly four times a week from London Heathrow to Corfu. Flights were available today at prices as low as £83 (one way).

Also from May 1 until September 20, BA will offer two flights per week from London Heathrow to Kos. Tickets were available today at prices from £73 (one way).

With the new routes, BA will be flying to six different Greek islands next summer. As I reported in a January blog post, BA commenced twice weekly flights to Mykonos and Santorini this past spring. It will continue flying to those islands again in 2015.

 

New Edelweiss routes from Zurich

Edelweiss Air already operates summer flights from Zurich to Crete, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes. When Edelweiss recently released its summer timetable for 2015, it announced it will increase the number of flights to Crete starting on March 29, and will launch new routes to Corfu beginning June 16.

Flights to Crete will now be available up to six times per week, while during peak summer season there will be two flights weekly to Corfu.

Check the Edelweiss 2015 timetable for further details, and consult the airline’s website for fares and other information.

 

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