Category: Athens (page 1 of 9)

Massive snowstorm gives Greece’s winter tourism campaign a big boost

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The Greece National Tourism Organisation released this video last month to kick off a campaign promoting the country’s mainland destinations for winter holidays. This week, a  massive snowstorm made international headlines and reinforced the campaign message that “Greece has winter, too.”

 

Snow wonder:  Was it simply good timing, a complete coincidence, or an incredible Greek drama directed by the mythical Greek gods at Mount Olympus?

Just days before Christmas, Greece’s ministry of tourism and its national tourism organization launched an advertising promotion to encourage winter tourism at destinations in mainland Greece — a campaign intended to show people around the world that there’s much more to experience in Greece than summer vacations on its famous sun-drenched islands.

The campaign was built around its centerpiece video, which we posted above. It begins with a press conference-style spokesperson greeting viewers with: “Dear World. We Greeks know that when you think of our country, you think of the islands, the sea, the endless summer. But today, we have a big announcement to make. It may sound confusing. You may be surprised. But Greece has a winter too!” 

The video goes on to show beautiful winter scenery and exciting outdoor activities at places in Central Greece, Epirus, the Peloponnese, Thessaly and West Macedonia. We were surprised that the film doesn’t mention or display any skiing or other alpine snow sports, even though mainland Greece does boast major ski centers — such as Parnassos and Kalavrita — along with 15 smaller but very popular alpine facilities.

 

Kalavrita Ski Resort in Greece

Kalavrita Ski Resort (Το χιονοδρομικό κέντρο Καλαβρύτων) in the Peloponnese, seen in a January 15  aerial photo  from its Facebook page

 

The promotional campaign was aimed primarily at Greece’s main travel markets — the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavian countries and Israel. But less than a month later, the message that Greece has a winter season reached countless millions of people around the world loud and clear — not through the video or advertisements, but rather thanks to some unexpected free publicity from Mother Nature on Monday January 24.

That’s the day a massive weather system walloped Greece, dumping record-setting heavy snowfalls that virtually paralyzed traffic and transport in Athens and many parts of the country. The unprecedented snowstorm and its immense visual impact made international news headlines across the globe,  with television and social media reports showing almost surreal snowfall images that confused, surprised — and astounded — millions of people who didn’t realize that it snows in Greece in winter, including sometimes in Athens and on the islands, too.

Given the widespread media coverage of the storm — including videos of people skiing along streets below the Acropolis of Athens — it seems clear the tourism campaign achieved its goal of showing people there’s a winter season in Greece, albeit inadvertently. 

Perhaps tourism officials might consider updating their campaign to include images and references to skiing, snowboarding and other alpine snow adventure sports. Before the Elpis snowstorm, Greek ski enthusiasts were raving about this season’s superb snow conditions, which some reports described as the best in decades.  Imagine how good the skiing and boarding is now, with even more snow. We think it would be a shame for people outside the country not to learn there is much better skiing to be found in Greece than on the roads beneath the Acropolis!

Below are a few of our favourite Instagram photos of Elpis snow on globally-recognized Athens monuments, along with an aerial video showing some of the city’s landmarks the day after the storm.

 

spirostheodorou photo of snow at the Athens Parthenon

 An aerial view of the Parthenon with snowy mountainsides in the background, by @spirostheodorou

 

engelvolkersgreece Instagram photo of snow on the Athens Acropolis

Snow-covered Acropolis and Theatre of Herodes Atticus, captured in an image by @alkisk_

 

ioanniskoskoutis Instagram photo of snow on the Acropolis of Athens

Overhead aerial view of the Acropolis, by @ioanniskaskoutis

 

@slavmk23 photo of snow on Anafiotika in Athens

@slavmk23 captured this image of the Anafiotika neighbourhood on the lower slopes of the Acropolis

 

@imikov photo of Dromeas The Runner sculpture in Athens

@imikov captured this marvellous image of snow collecting on Dromeas (The Runner), the famous glass sculpture by artist Costas Varotsos on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue near the Athens Hilton hotel.

 

 agispeterson Instagram photo of snow on the Athens Acropolis

The Acropolis and its recently-upgraded lighting system are seen in one of a series of sunrise images captured by @agispeterson 

 

imikov Instagram photo of snowy trees and the Athens Acropolis

The Parthenon, photographed through snow-laden trees by @imikov

 

katerinakatopis Instagram photo of snow on the Zappeion in Athens

A @katerinakatopis aerial photo of snow on the Zappeion Megaron and on Mount Lycabettus in the background

 

Καλημέρα Αθήνα – Καλημέρα Ελπίδα is a 2:25-minute aerial video by Up Stories showing views of snowy Athens landmarks the day after the Elpis snowstorm struck the city

 

Thousands more photos and videos are available online; if you’re keen to see more, here are links to several news and information websites that have published photo galleries of Elpis images from across Greece:

In pictures: snow covers Athens and Greek Islands by Greece Is;

Athens after Elpis snowstorm by Greek City Times;

Frozen fountains, snowed in Evzones, and blanketed Monastiraki by Greek City Times;

Snow blankets Greece’s ancient city of Athens; disrupts life by Greece High Definition;

The most beautiful snowy photos and videos from Greece by Greek Gateway;

Parthenon covered in snow as rare cold front hits Greece by Greek Reporter;

 

You might also be interested in seeing our own recent posts with photos from Greek islands that were struck by Elpis, and by a different storm, Diomedes, just a few days earlier:

After the Elpis snowstorm: Amazing Mykonos landscape photos by Leanne Vorrias;

The powdery white Mykonos beaches few tourists ever see;

After the storm: Snowy streets and landscapes on Samothraki island

Snow scenes from Thassos island

Writers report on mood, hopes & fears at top Greece travel spots during & after the nation’s Covid-19 lockdown

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

At his Greece Summer 2020 press conference on Santorini on June 13, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis formally announced Greece’s re-opening for summer tourism. Impressive backdrops for the international media event included views of the island’s clifftop village of Imerovigli (top photo) and a glorious sunset over nearby islands (bottom). Greece went into lockdown in late March to protect its citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic, and on June 15 began reopening its borders to tourism.

 

By mygreecetravelblog.com

 

“Greek tourism is back.”

Those words — spoken by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during an international press conference on Santorini island June 13 — must have been sweet music to the ears of people around the world who have been hoping to holiday in Greece this summer.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post.

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Our quarantine reads Part 2: Greek hotels and restaurants on travel hot lists for 2020

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Rendering of the main swimming pool at Royal Senses resort on Crete

A rendering of the main swimming pool at The Royal Senses Resort & Spa, scheduled to open in late June on Crete.  The Royal Senses was included on The Telegraph‘s list of 10 amazing new Greek island hotels to book in 2020.

 

Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens website hotel photo

The Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens, a legendary hotel on the Athens Riviera that re-opened last year following extensive renovations. The hotel was profiled this spring by World Traveller magazine.

 

A short social media promotional clip for Kaliya, a much-anticipated new restaurant opening this summer in Fira, the capital of Santorini. Kaliya is among several sumptuous Santorini dining spots cited by World Travel magazine.

 

Where to stay, dine and drink: Each winter and spring, major newspapers and travel magazines publish articles describing new and noteworthy places to stay and visit in Greece, and this year they’ve done it again, even though the Covid-19 pandemic turned international travel planning upside down and left everyone wondering if there would even be a tourist season in 2020.  Would any of the hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars described in the travel media be able to open this year?

It looks like there might be part of a summer travel season after all, now that the Greek government has announced (on April 28) its plans for lifting lockdowns, gradually restarting the country’s economy, and possibly re-opening its tourism infrastructure and facilities as early as July. Although details about when — and which — foreign visitors will be allowed to enter Greece are still up in the air, it appears summer holiday travel to Greece will be a possibility for some people.

Given that hopeful prospect, we have compiled this post to highlight travel articles we have read over the past month during our own coronavirus home quarantine.   It’s a round-up of recommendations and travel reports for hotels, resorts, villas and restaurants in Greece that captured the attention of international travel media experts.

If you’re among the fortunate people who get to visit Greece this summer and experience any of the properties and establishments described in these publications, do drop us a line once you’re back home, to let us know how you enjoyed them.

 

 

The Times article about 30 best places to go in Greece

 

If you’re having trouble choosing where to go once Greece re-opens its borders to international tourists, The Times article 30 best places to stay might help you narrow your options. Then again, it could confuse you even more, since it describes so many outstanding accommodations to consider.

Whether it’s adults-only on Santorini, kid-friendly on Rhodes, eco-conscious on Crete, a rustic mountain retreat or a luxury hilltop villa, the newspaper’s top picks cover most travel lifestyles, though the list does lean mainly towards higher-end and design-forward hotels. 

Hotel, resort and villa recommendations on the newspaper’s list include the following Greek island regions:

♦ Crete

♦ Antiparos, Folegandros, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos and Syros in the Cyclades island chain

♦ Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Kythira, and Lefkada in the Ionian group of islands 

♦ Hydra and Spetses in the Saronic Gulf

♦ Skiathos and Skopelos in the Sporadic isles, and

♦ Kos and Rhodes in the Dodecanese archipelago

For mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, the article suggests stylish accommodations for:

♦ The Athens Riviera

♦ Halkidiki

♦ Monemvasia, Nafplio and The Mani in the Peloponnese;

♦ Parga, Perdika, Sivota and the Zagorochoria areas of northwestern Greece.

 

Santorini hotels, restaurants and wineries

World Travel Magazine February-March 2020 cover

Canaves Oia Epitome luxury hotel was the shooting location for the cover photo for World Travel Magazine’s February/March 2020 issue

 

When Nasos Kouzelis wrote What’s New Santorini?,  tourism-related businesses on the island were excitedly preparing for the launch of the 2020 travel season. “In just a few days’ time,” he said, restaurants would be setting their tables and wineries would be polishing their glasses to welcome their first guests of the year. His article was originally published in the February/March 2020 edition of World Travel magazine, so Kouzelis would have submitted it to the editors weeks before Greece went into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those opening plans have since been put on ice, of course, and at this time no-one knows exactly when Santorini’s tourist season for international travellers will finally start.

But by the time that happens, there will be even more built-up anticipation for the opening of some eagerly-awaited new restaurants and hotels that Kouzelis describes, along with the return of some much-talked-about accommodations and dining spots that made their debuts in 2019.

Among the hot spots Kouzelis mentions:

♦ in Oia village: the Canaves Oia Epitome and its Elements restaurant, and the Andronis Arcadia Hotel and its Opson restaurant;

♦ in Imerovigli village: Cavo Tagoo Santorini hotel and its restaurant, OVAC, plus OMMA Santorini hotel and restaurant;

♦ in Fira, the island capital: Katikies Garden hotel, Panigiri Restaurant, and the brand-new Kaliya restaurant;

♦ at Monolithos beach: the Nikki Beach Santorini Resort & Spa;

♦ at Baxedes beach near Oia: the all-day lounge restaurant Laze;

Avantis Cellar Door winery and restaurant in Kontochori near Fira, and Mikra Thira winery on nearby Thirasia island.

The article is illustrated with beautiful pictures by Christos Drazos, one of the most sought-after professional hotel and restaurant photographers in Greece.

 

Please click on the link below to read about more travel publication profiles of hotels and restaurants on Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Ios and the Athens Riviera.

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Enticing video urges travellers to keep dreaming about going to Greece after the Covid-19 crisis

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Until the time is right, dream away! features 2 minutes of alluring natural scenery, monuments, and top tourist destinations in Greece

 

Dream on: Greece tourism officials have produced an inspiring video of sights, scenery and outdoor activities to encourage travellers to keep dreaming about taking a trip to Greece once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

The 2-minute film,  Until the time is right, dream away!,  includes stunning aerial, ground-level and even underwater views of some of the country’s outstanding scenery, including mountains, rivers, valleys, beaches, coastlines, vineyards, monuments, historic sites, villages, cities and islands.

We recognized nearly two dozen places shown in the video — Chania, Loutro and Preveli on Crete, Corfu, Zakynthos, Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Delos, Milos, Thassos, Skyros, Sounion, Athens and Thessaloniki — but couldn’t put place names to many more scenes that looked familiar.

The film may make you feel wistful, especially if the pandemic forced you to cancel plans to visit Greece this spring, as was the case with us. At the same time, however, it’s an inspiring reminder of all the amazing sights and places that will still be there, waiting to enthrall, excite and entertain us, once we can again travel to Greece.

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Related posts:

Greek tourism businesses urge travellers to ‘stay safe’ now, make plans to visit Greece later;

Beautiful places to see in Greece after the Covid-19 lockdowns and travel bans are lifted;

How to visit Greece during your Covid-10 quarantine;

Video spotlights spectacular Greece sights and scenery to send inspiring message

 

Our Covid-19 quarantine travel reads: Feature profiles of Athens, Thessaloniki, the Peloponnese & mainland Greece

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Kastoria city and lake photo from Issue 6 of Sky Express airlines Fly magazine

Kokkoras Bridge in Epirus Greece photo from Sky Express airlines Fly magazine Issue 6

These striking photos of the city of Kastoria in northern Greece and the historic Kokkoros Bridge in Epirus are from The White Issue of Fly, the magazine of Sky Express airline. The  picture-packed issue spotlights visit-worthy mainland Greece destinations that aren’t on typical tourist itineraries.

 

Armchair travels: Since we can’t take our scheduled spring trip to Greece because of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, we have been travelling there vicariously — by reading magazine and newspaper articles about destinations, hotels, attractions and a wide variety of aspects of Greek life and tourism. Armchair travel lacks the thrill and pleasure of actually going to Greece, of course, but it’s a heck of a lot better than brooding about the cancellation of our 2020 holiday plans while we’re cooped up in home quarantine.

On the positive side, our time catching up on articles published over the past six months has been well spent, introducing us to incredible places in Greece we weren’t too familiar with, and giving us ideas and inspiration for trips we hope to take once the pandemic has passed and Greece re-opens its borders to international visitors.

Since the articles and photo profiles could be interesting and helpful to readers dreaming about their own future trips to Greece, we will be sharing our “quarantine travel reads” in a series of  blog posts, beginning with this one.

Destinations and topics profiled in this instalment include:

♦ Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki peninsula;

♦ Athens

♦ the southern Peloponnese, including Costa Navarino, the Mani and Monemvasia; and

♦ Impressive towns, villages and scenic areas in mainland Greece

 

Upcoming blog posts will spotlight:

♦ stylish luxury hotels and hot dining spots in Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini;

♦ travel writer accounts of trips to Athens and various Greek Islands, including Evia, Milos, Paros and Symi;

♦ Cretan food and the Mediterranean diet;

♦ mini guides to Greek islands, and more.

 

Athens and the southern Peloponnese

 

Bloomberg News article on Greece travel destinations

Dimitsana, a mountain village in Arcadia, is among the places writer Nikos Chrysoloras recommends visiting in the southern Peloponnese

 

“…there will be so much Greek paradise for you when this viral outbreak is behind us” says Nikos Chrysoloras, whose article The Greece I long to visit isn’t on your average travel brochure was published by Bloomberg News on April 24.

Greece does indeed abound with places people would consider paradise, but Chrysoloras devotes his article to describing a travel itinerary that will let visitors experience the true essence of Greece first in Athens and its surrounding area, and secondly during a scenic road trip through the southern Peloponnese peninsula.

A must-see in the historical center of Athens, he says, is Monastiraki Square, which “epitomizes my country perhaps more than any island or beach.” He recommends two rooftop bars overlooking the square, from which visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Parthenon and other historic monuments. “It’s the weight of millennia packed in the space of a single block,” Chrysoloras notes. He also recommends a day trip along the Athens Riviera and a visit to the clifftop Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, famous for its sensational sunset view, which he describes as “Greece, Profound.” He also suggests specific places to drink and dine, so visitors planning to spend time in the city would be wise to bookmark the article for easy reference once in Athens.

For the Peloponnese portion of his suggested roadtrip, Chrysoloras recommends starting off in the area around the Costa Navarino resort and the incredible Voidokilia beach (which I wrote about in my blog post A bucket list visit to Voidokilia), and then exploring the rugged Mani region. “It’s a mountainous terrain with stone-built villages and very narrow roads leading to pebbled beaches. This area is the land of the ancient Spartans, people as defiant as history suggests.” Again, Chrysoloras recommends places to stay, dine, hike, swim and enjoy a drink with a fabulous sunset view.

From Mani, the drive continues to the castle town of Monemvasia, whose “medieval alleys are full of mystery and wonder, like a set that Game of Thrones producers ought to have used.” On the way back to Athens from there, Chrysoloras urges a detour to Dimitsana — his mother’s home town — “one of the most characteristic specimens of the mountainous side of Greece. Surrounded by conifer trees, you can enjoy unspoiled traditional stone architecture and hike in the area’s beautiful forests and nearby villages.” Although worth a look nearby is Panagia, a now-deserted village where Chrysoloras recommends a taverna that serves outstanding traditional dishes. 

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where we discuss excellent magazine articles about Thessaloniki, noteworthy destinations in mainland Greece, and fascinating places to explore in Athens.

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Island & mainland marvels: 38 spellbinding sights and places in Greece

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In Greece Places, filmmaker Pawel Worsztynowicz captures splendid sights and scenery from 38 marvellous spots around the country 

 

Stunning sequel: He’s done it again! Last year, filmmaker Pawel Worsztynowicz created an impressive video showing more than two dozen amazing places in Greece he had visited during nearly a year of travels throughout the country.

We included that film — Greece story — The best places in Greece? — in a blog post spotlighting our favourite videos of Greece from 2019. Running just over 2 minutes, Greece Story wowed us with spectacular views of some glorious Greek sights and scenes we recognized from our own travels, along with other beautiful places we haven’t yet had the chance to see for ourselves.

Pawel told us he had shot more video and thousands of photos during his time in Greece, so we kept hoping he would produce another short film sometime soon. We didn’t have to wait long — he let us know in mid-April that he had just published a new video called Greece Places, which we were thrilled to watch  and share here.

Locations shown in the film include:

♦ the Parthenon and the Old Temple of Athens in Athens;

♦ sites in Attica region, the Peloponnese and Halidiki;

♦ Evia island;

♦ Crete;

♦ Skiathos and Skopelos in the Sporades chain of islands;

♦ Corfu and Zakynthos in the Ionian islands;

♦ Ios, Santorini and Thirasia in the Cyclades; and

♦ Kos, Rhodes and Symi in the Dodecanese islands

You can see more of Pawel’s wonderful photography on his social media pages — @behind_the_seas on Instagram, and Behind the Seas on Facebook.

 

Beautiful places to see in Greece after the Covid-19 lockdowns and travel bans are lifted

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Filmmaker Anthony Venitis compiled drone footage from 30 places in Greece to create his “Proud to be Greek” salute to his country’s vast beauty

 

If you have had to postpone a trip to Greece because of the Covid-19 pandemic, filmmaker Anthony Venitis has a message — and a special 2-minute video — to share with you.

“Greece, as most countries, is under #lockdown but the time will soon come when our country will come back stronger and more colorful. The time will soon come when we will get to enjoy her beauties once more, together and united,” Venitis says in descriptive notes for an aerial video he has posted to his YouTube channel.

His film features drone video of 30 breathtaking Greek “beauties,” including historic monuments, mountains, beaches, harbours, tavernas, villages, olive groves, coastlines, lighthouses, sunrises and more.

The attractions and destinations with starring roles in the film include: the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion; lighthouses at Gytheio, Andros, Mykonos and Kea; a shipwreck at Gytheio; scenes from the islands of Santorini, Milos, Lefkada, Andros, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Kalymnos, Aegina and Hydra; scenes from the Pelion and Peloponnese regions; plus Kalavryta, Sparta and Monemvasia. The video concludes with images of a Greek flag on a hilltop at Sparta. (A list of the places shown, along with the exact times they appear in the video, can be found in the descriptive notes on the YouTube page.) 

Are you planning to see any of these beauties for yourself when you can eventually take your trip to Greece?

Video spotlights spectacular Greece sights and scenery to send inspiring message: ‘Dreams can’t be quarantined’

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Filmmaker Aris Katsigiannis collected compelling images of Greek people, some of Greece’s most famous sights and attractions, and views of the country’s spectacular natural landscapes, to create this exhilarating video

 

Don’t stop believing: If you’re suffering a severe case of self-isolation blues because your upcoming trip to Greece has been cancelled or indefinitely delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,  Aris Katsigiannis’s inspiring video Dreams can’t be quarantined should give your spirits a big boost. The 4-and-a-half-minute film presents a dazzling panoply of sights and scenery from all over Greece as it conveys an uplifting message to people around the world: Don’t let these dark days stop you from dreaming.

If it’s dreams of going to Greece that you’ve been forced to put on hold, we strongly suspect the film’s visual delights and inspirational message will give you some joy and remind you that Greece is well worth waiting for, whenever you can finally get there. And we’re all hoping that will be sooner than later.

In notes accompanying the video’s release on YouTube, Katsigiannis says he started work on the project after the Greek government imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He wanted to create a film that “could share a positive message worldwide, and motivate people globally during these difficult times.”

To send a message of hope in bleak, dark times, Katsigiannis couldn’t have picked a better subject for his film — after all, Greece has long been called “the land of light.” 

Copywriter and narrator Joanna Trafalis acknowledges this in the video’s introductory voiceover, noting “We have learned to see the light in the darkness. We have learned to never stop dreaming. The rough times will pass, so don’t forget your dreams.”

And as Katsigiannis adds in his descriptive notes, “Please remember this: We are all afraid, confused and we are all dealing with this crisis in our own way. But there is one thing that is for sure. Our dreams cannot be quarantined. We are all in this together. Stay positive, united, safe and better days will return.”

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