Category: Monuments & historic sites (page 1 of 6)

Visiting Delos in 2017

This short video includes aerial views of Delos island, film of the excursion boats that ferry visitors between Mykonos and Delos and, at the 1:39 mark of the clip,  a schedule of boat trips and prices for tickets and guided tours in 2017

 

Time changes: If you’re visiting Mykonos this summer and hope to take a daytrip to explore the historic ruins and museum at nearby Delos island, take note there has been a slight change to the time excursion boats will return from Delos in the evening during 2017. The last boat back to Mykonos will now depart Delos at 7:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than last year.  

That’s the only significant change (so far, at least) to the information provided in my Visiting Delos in 2016 blog post. Prices for the boat rides remain at €20 per adult and €10 for children aged 6 to 12. Kids under 6 can still ride for free. 

Guided half-day tours still cost €50 per adult and €25 per child between 6 and 12 years of age. There is no charge for kids under 6 to join the  guided tours, which are available from May 2 until the end of October.

 

 

The ferry ticket and tour prices do not include the government-imposed fee for admission to the Delos archaeological site, which is €12 per person again this year, and which is payable at the entrance gate on the island.

For full details about Delos excursions from Mykonos, consult the website for Delos Tours — the company that operates the boat service between the islands.

For photos and information about what you can see and do on Delos, check out my previous articles about daytrips to the island

In the meantime, take a look below at the three videos I have posted to inform and inspire you prior to your Delos visit.

 

This 2.5-minute clip, flimed by www.sky-net.co.uk, shows drone views of the Delos archaeological site

 

This 6-minute film, by sitesandphotosvideo, offers an overview of some of the most significant sites on Delos

 

Learn more about Delos and its fascinating history in this beautifully-filmed 23-minute video by Andonis Kioukas

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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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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Where to find live jazz, rock and Greek music on Mykonos

Vocalist and saxophonist Giuseppe Fabris makes frequent live appearances in Mykonos, including Tuesday and Friday nights this summer at Vinos wine bar. Check out the video (above) to watch him perform to the backdrop of a magnificent Mykonos sunset.

 

Sun, sea & sax: Although most people associate Mykonos with frenzied beach parties and a vibrant dusk-to-dawn club and bar scene boasting music by top Greek and international DJs, musical entertainment on the island isn’t limited to dance, house, techno and hip hop.

Visitors can enjoy live jazz, rock and Greek music, too, at performances presented by some of the island’s bars and restaurants on a regular basis during the summer tourist season.

 

 

I post promotional flyers for many of these events in my directory of Mykonos party events for 2016,  but I’m launching this separate list of “alternative” music shows and performances since many people think that article is devoted only to DJ appearances at dance and party venues.

Please click at the bottom of this post to turn to page 2, you’ll find flyers for jazz, rock, Greek and other music events taking place during August 2016. 

 

Dionisis Sxoinas appearance at 4711 nightclub Mykonos

Located in Mykonos Town, 4711 is a live Greek music venue open nightly during the summer. Some of the club’s regular feature entertainers include Dionisis Sxoinas as well as  the duo Nancy Alexiadi and Tilemachos Zeis.

 

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Enchanting views of Naxos

Naxos: The island that will enchant you is a mesmerizing 4-minute area film by Naxos Times

 

Here’s an intriguing video of Naxos that’s unlike any I’ve seen before. Released just this week by Naxos Times, the 4-minute film features breathtaking aerial views of Naxos Town as well as Cape Agios Prokopios in the Stelida district of the island’s northwest coast. 

What’s unusual is that the film captures Naxos in the golden light of daybreak and sunset, when the seas are smooth as glass and barely a soul is in sight anywhere in the town. There’s an eerie and almost haunting, mysterious atmosphere to the video, but that’s what makes it even more captivating and fascinating.

Quietly spectacular Skyros

Enjoy aerial views of some of the wonderful coastal, mountain, valley and village scenery on Skyros in this 5-minute film by TreeZone

 

Real deal: Want to visit an authentic Greek island that isn’t a mainstream tourist magnet like Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, or even its nearby neighbour, Skiathos? Then have a look at Skyros, the southernmost and largest island in the Sporades archipelago. Skyros has everything you would want and expect from a great Greek island holiday destination — impressive landscapes and coastal scenery, inviting beaches, picturesque villages, historic sites, good food, and age-old local traditions — without the massive crowds and commerciality of other islands that have become household names around the world.

Though it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, and has an international airport that receives direct charter flights from several European cities during July and August, Skyros is a relatively low-profile destination that isn’t even on the radar for most tourists planning vacations in the Greek islands.

In fact, there were only 3 question-and-answer threads posted on TripAdvisor’s Skyros travel forum in all of 2015, and just 10 in total since 2010. The Skiathos forum, by comparison, had  more than 6,100 conversation threads as of mid-May 2016.

 

Booking.com

 

With so much going for the island, It’s rather surprising that Skyros doesn’t get more attention from travellers — especially considering that it gets good press whenever it’s mentioned in social and regular media.

For instance, Skyros was cited as the best destination for alternative travel and holistic holidays in The Telegraph’s January 2016 feature The 19 best Greek islands, and was included in a piece the Independent published about Holidays for single travellers. Also in January, The Irish Examiner published A letter from paradise on the Greek island of Skyros, a journalist’s account of her writing holiday. And in 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines named Skyros as best destination for “healthy lifestyle holidays” in its profile of Greece’s top 10 islands.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Skyros hasn’t become hugely popular — that means it will remain a unique and special place to charm and delight those travellers who do venture off the main tourist paths to pay it a visit. (And that’s one of the chief reasons why Skyros is on my bucket list of islands to see.)

Skyros photo from sail-la-vie.com

Built on the steep slopes of a craggy peak topped by a Byzantine fortress and a  monastery, Chora village is a striking sight on Skyros (Photo from the Municipality of Skyros travel guide)

 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find more pictures and videos along with links to more than a dozen different websites with Skyros travel information and photos.

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Thessaloniki: Greece’s historic yet young-at-heart second city

If you haven’t been to Thessaloniki yet, this promotional film will leave you wondering how to include the city on your next trip to Greece

 

Cultural capital: Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece, is already on my list of must-see destinations for future vacations. But an impressive promotional video produced on behalf of the city has left me wishing I could go there ASAP.

Released on March 18 2016, Thessaloniki, the inside track includes enticing aerial and ground-level views of some of the city’s top attractions, including monuments, historic sites, public squares, the beautiful waterfront and other public places.

Notes accompanying the YouTube video say that “Thessaloniki, historically one of Europe’s oldest and most multiethnic cities, widely considered as the cultural capital of Greece, is truly unique in the sense that it intricately marries its thousands-year-old multicultural heritage and the architectural marvels with the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Sephardic Jew history.  With a student-strong population of 150,000, Thessaloniki boasts an under-30s do-it-yourself youth culture-creative movement seen nowhere else in the Southern part of Europe.”

The notes also describe Thessaloniki as “Gastronomic Capital of Greece,” best party city and best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.

All perfectly good reasons why the city clearly deserves a visit.

Should you need further convincing, just give the 3.5-minute clip a watch. I’m willing to bet it will make you want to see Thessaloniki, too.

 

Booking.com

 

Visiting Delos in 2016

 Delos island photo by Delos Tours

The “sacred island” of Delos is seen in a photo from the Google+ page for Delos Tours, the firm that runs ferries between Mykonos and Delos. 

 

Delos daytripping: It has been nearly two years since I last wrote about Delos island, and because there have been some noteworthy price changes for 2016, I’ve written this general information article to update my series of Top Delos Posts published from 2012 to 2014. (Apart from ferry schedules and the new prices for ferry tickets and admission to the Delos archaeological site, the information in my previous posts remains current.)

 

 What is Delos?

Here’s a brief background for readers who might not be familiar with Delos. The island, situated just over 2 km west of Mykonos, is one of the most important historic and archaeological sites in Greece. It’s often called “the sacred island” and “the island of light” because, in Greek mythology, it was the birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, the goddess of night light.

During its glory days between 166 BC and 69 BC, Delos was a wealthy shipping hub and one of the world’s leading centers of commerce. Home to more than 30,000 people, the city went into decline after it was looted and razed in two separate attacks; residents gradually left the island, and eventually Delos was abandoned completely and almost forgotten.

 

Delos island

The ruins of the Quarter of the Theater and the island’s once-great commercial port sprawl across the lower slopes of Mt Kynthos on Delos

 

Delos regained international attention when archaeologists began excavating its ruins in 1872. Small numbers of travellers, mainly from Europe, started visiting the island to view the fascinating historic sites that were gradually being unearthed. Over the decades, the trickle of tourists turned into a steady stream of sightseers from around the world, and today Delos is a top tourist attraction drawing more than 100,000 visitors each year. Delos is widely considered a “must see” attraction for people visiting Mykonos, and I personally recommend that visitors schedule a half-day trip to Delos during their Mykonos holidays, especially if it’s their first visit to Greece.

In 1990, Delos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. A description for UNESCO’s Delos listing says “The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.”

And according to the Delos page on Visit Greece, the official tourism website for Greece, “nowhere else in the Globe is there a natural insular archaeological site of this size and importance. No other island on Earth hosts so many monumental antiquities from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods, i.e. the centuries of the great Greek art, on a territory used exclusively as an archaeological site.”

 

What’s on Delos?

Delos Terrace of the Lions photo by Bernard Gagnon

The Terrace of the Lions is one of the most popular attractions on Delos island (Photo by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon)

 

All of Delos is a protected archaeological site, and visitors are not permitted to stay on the island overnight; hence, there are no accommodations (the nearest available lodging is on Mykonos). Besides the extensive ruins, which extend across most of the island, there is a museum that houses sculptures, wall paintings, pottery and thousands of small artefacts discovered during the excavations. A cafe in a separate building sells beverages and light snacks.

Some of the antiquities and sights most popular with tourists include: spectacular floor mosaics in the House of Dionysos, the House of the Dolphins, the House of the Mask, and the House of the Tritons; a marble amphitheater; several different agoras, sanctuaries and temples; the Sacred Lake and the Terrace of the Lions.

 

Delos Tours photo of mosaic in the House of the Dolphins on Delos

A detail of one of the colourful mosaics in the House of the Dolphins (Photo from the Delos Tours website.)

 

Bernard Gagnon Wikimedia Commons photo of Delos theater

The marble theater, seen in another image by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon, could seat up to 5,500 spectators

 

You’ll see many of the island’s top sights while a narrator describes the history of Delos in this informative 9.5-minute film by Expoza Travel.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find information about Delos ferry ticket and site admission prices, ferry schedules, guided tours, private charters to Delos, and more.

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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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Santorini sets its sights on year-round tourism

 Click on the arrow to view Santorini The One, the lead video in a series of clips produced earlier this year to promote Santorini tourism. The island now hopes to become a popular travel destination all year long. 

 

Four seasons of splendour: If all goes according to plans currently under development, winter won’t be “off season” on Santorini anymore. That’s because the island has set its sights on becoming a year-round travel destination, beginning in 2016. 

And it’s already off to a good start — around 100 hotels will be open on the island this winter, as will a number of restaurants and shops.

Santorini’s plans fit nicely with the Greek government’s own announced goal of extending the country’s tourism season to 12 months a year and upgrade the quality of Greece’s tourism product. (On many islands, the season presently lasts only from late April until the end of October, with most tourist-related businesses closed the other months.)

 

More than sun and sea

Although many travellers associate Santorini and other Greek islands with summer sunshine, beaches, warm weather and water sports, the mayor of Thira Municipality, Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos, says Santorini has many more features and attractions to offer tourists regardless of time of year.

“Santorini’s tourism model is not based on ‘sun and sea’ but on ancient treasures, geology, traditional architecture and gastronomy — features that are guaranteed to attract visitors throughout the year,” Mayor Zorzos said, according to a December 1 news report on the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) website. 

The GTP report said the tourism development plan, branded as “Santorini: Year-Round Destination,” is a collaborative effort between the municipal government and island businesses. The program will promote alternative forms of tourism and will seek to establish “new products and activities” to draw visitors during what are now off-season periods.

 

Online ad campaign underway

To promote the initiative, GTP says, Santorini has kicked off a 3-week online advertising campaign on European versions of some of the world’s top travel websites, including TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Expedia and Lonely Planet. Special banner and videos ads also will appear on various sections of the National Geographic website accessible to web users in the program’s target markets — the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Scandinavia. 

Seeing Santorini’s stunning scenery, architecture and archaeological sites without the crowds and heat of summer appeals to me, and people I’ve spoken to who have been to Santorini in late fall and late winter have told me they found the island just as spectacular if not more enjoyable at those times. 

The large number of hotels remaining open this winter will be comforting news to people worried they will have trouble finding accommodations if they decide to pay Santorini a visit sometime between now and the spring. Last year, I saw online travel forum posts in which people who could only take winter holidays said they were considering last-minute trips to Santorini, but feared they would have few if any choices of hotels. They certainly won’t have such cause for concern this winter. 

 

Winter restaurant and wine bar listing

For visitors wondering where they will be able to dine if they do take a winter trip to the island, Santorini photographer Anna Sulte has posted on her website a list of more than a dozen restaurants and wine bars that will be open. The list includes establishments in Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia, Exo Gonia, Megalochori, Akrotiri beach and Ag. Georgios Perivolos.

Another good reason to go to Santorini in the winter — bargains on air transportation, which can be hugely expensive during the regular travel season. A few days ago, a friend in Athens told me she saw flights from Athens to Santorini available this month for as low as €9.99. If I had been able to travel now, I would have purchased plane tickets to Santorini in a snap!

 

Anna Sulte photo of Fira Santorini on January 20 2015

Santorini photographer Anna Sulte posted this photo of Fira on her Anna’s Photo Facebook page on January 20 2015, with the caption: “This is how green it is right now.” It drew a response from one viewer who wrote: “Looks like there is just no time of year when it isn’t breathtakingly beautiful!” Indeed!

The enchanting beauty of Athens

Athens is a gorgeous 5-minute promotional video produced by Visit Greece, the website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation. With its fabulous high-definition and time-lapse photography showcasing top attractions and historic monuments in Greece’s capital city and points beyond, such as spectacular Cape Sounion and beautiful beaches on the Athens Riviera, it’s one of the best Athens videos I’ve ever seen.  Click the arrow on the image above to start the film and take “an enchanting trip around the beauties of Athens.” 

 

 

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