25 most beautiful towns to visit in Greece is a 27-minute film from Lifestyle Hal
So many pretty places: A new video from a popular travel blogger might prove inspiring and helpful to people who are hoping to visit Greece for the first time, but don’t yet have a clue where they would like to go.
25 most beautiful towns to visit in Greece was released January 22 by U.K.-based photographer/videographer Hal, whose Lifestyle Hal travel channel on YouTube has nearly 32,000 subscribers.
We think the film is worth checking out by would-be Greece travel newbies since it provides a good introduction to some of the country’s leading island and mainland tourist destinations.
The video clocks in at just over 27 minutes, profiling each place in its own distinct and succinct segment of approximately one minute apiece. Beautiful aerial and ground-level video footage is accompanied by a voice-over narration in which Hal describes key features and attractions which distinguish each destination.
We feel the video’s title is a bit of a misnomer, though, since the film focusses primarily on islands, rather than towns, with a pair of major archaeological sites — Delphi and Delos — included in the list, along with the magnificent monastery-topped rock formations at Meteora, and Sarakiniko beach on Milos island.
The film doesn’t reveal any off-the-beaten-path hidden gems or secret hideaways — all of the places that Hal highlights are long-established, well-known tourist draws reachable on regular ferry or flight schedules or, in the case of a handful of spots on mainland Greece, along major roadway routes. But all are beautiful and well worth visiting as we can personally attest, having been to 16 of the spots on Hal’s top 25 so far.
And even though we’re familiar with all of the destinations, we still enjoyed watching Hal’s video of gorgeous sights and scenery, and hearing his personal perspective on each place’s attractions and attributes.
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 (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.
An aerial view of the Parthenon with snowy mountainsides in the background, by @spirostheodorou
@slavmk23 captured this image of the Anafiotika neighbourhood on the lower slopes of the Acropolis
@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.
The Acropolis and its recently-upgraded lighting system are seen in one of a series of sunrise images captured by @agispeterson
The Parthenon, photographed through snow-laden trees by @imikov
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:
This is the lead video in a Central Macedonia tourism campaign that invites visitors to come “do something great.” The promotion includes four additional short films (see below) that will tempt travellers with fabulous photography of great things they can see and do in the region.
Greatness abounds: It’s widely known as the historic home of its king, Alexander the Great, in ancient times, but the mainland Greece region of Central Macedonia wants more people to discover that it’s also an incredible place for tourists to visit 365 days a year.
The region already attracts more than 7 million visitors annually, drawn to such internationally-known destinations as the city of Thessaloniki, the holy monasteries at Mount Athos, the beach-blessed Halkidiki peninsulas, and the tallest peak in Greece, Mount Olympus.
But Central Macedonia isn’t even on the radar for countless other people who have been to Greece, or who might be planning to visit, and aren’t aware there’s so much more to the country than Athens and the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes. Crete and Corfu. To show those potential visitors why they should give Central Macedonia a closer look, the region has produced five promotional videos that highlight the vast array of vacation experiences available for all types of travellers and their holiday activity preferences.
With spectacular cinematography, the 2-minute videos showcase some of the region’s magnificent landscapes and natural scenery, exciting outdoor sports and adventure activities, arts and cultural attractions, beautiful beaches, and its traditional and contemporary cuisine. The sheer breadth of the region’s natural and human-created wonders may be an eye-opening surprise to people who aren’t familiar with this part of Greece.
The “Do Something Great” video, posted above, is the primary film for the tourism campaign. Published on YouTube and shared on social media platforms, it provides a general cinematic overview of Central Macedonia’s appealing travel attractions, while four other videos, posted below, shine a spotlight on destination features that appeal to specific visitor pastimes:
♦ Taste the Great! whets viewers’ appetites with images of mouth-watering traditional and contemporary cuisine;
♦ Sun the Great! displays brilliant scenes of gorgeous coastal landscapes to show that “nothing beats a sunny day on the beach”;
♦ Experience the Great! profiles some of the thrilling outdoor activities that sports enthusiasts can pursue, such as: mountain biking; skateboarding; surfing; rock climbing; scuba diving; alpine skiing; boating; and river rafting; and
♦ Admire the Great! spotlights cultural attractions, including: art galleries; museums; historic sites; monuments; memorials; churches, temples and monasteries; and music entertainment.
Each of the videos is well worth watching, and the full series takes only 10 minutes to view. We don’t have a favourite to recommend; although we’ve notched half a dozen viewings for the food film, and at least two apiece for the rest, we enjoyed them all.
If you’re interested in learning more about the region after watching the clips, you’ll find the Central Macedonia travel website (pictured below) is a great place to start your research and holiday planning.
Christmas elves have transformed The Drop Cafe in Sparta into a fairy-tale wonderland for the holiday season
All decked out: With snow on the ground and ski resorts opening in various parts of the country this month, it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas in Greece. Especially in the Peloponnese city of Sparta, where festive elves have turned The Drop Cafe into a sensational Christmas wonderland.
The cafe describes itself as a “themed coffeehouse,” serving coffees, cocktails and deliciously decadent desserts in a quirky yet cozy mansion-style living room space. The place delights in dressing itself up for special seasonal events, and for Christmas it goes over-the-top with fantastically festive decor.
This year, decorating duties were assigned to a team of exuberant elves who magically transformed the place into a dreamy setting that looks like something you would see in a Hollywood Christmas movie.
“Many times you may have wondered what it might be like to live in a Christmas fairy tale. The elves took care of that!” says the caption for a video The Drop Cafe posted on its social media pages on December 10, showing the sparkling lights and festive trim that adorn the shop from top to bottom, inside and out.
Besides going all-out with garlands, Christmas tree ornaments and twinkling lights, the multi-talented elves concocted a special Christmas cocktails list (the red velvet is one of the most popular drinks on the menu), along with heart-warming seasonal beverages like cinnamon apple tea and hot chocolate “bombs,” all of which pair well with the cafe’s scrumptious cakes and sweet treats.
You can bet that children will be thrilled by the display, which features countless lights and ornaments, stuffed animals, toy elves, a circus carousel and a giant Christmas cake, while adults are bound to feel like they’re experiencing Christmas as kids all over again.
The cafe unveiled its Christmas look in mid-November. We reached out to ask how long management plans to keep the decorations up, but haven’t heard back yet. If you’re within driving distance of Sparta, we recommend taking a roadtrip there ASAP to partake in some holiday cheer and experience a real-life Christmas fairy tale.
Below are several photos of the cafe’s glowing and glittering holiday decor, all of which were shared on The Drop Cafe’s social media pages. Check out their Instagram and Facebook profiles to see more photos and videos of their Christmas garb, as well as their theme decors from this past Halloween, last Christmas, and seasons in between.
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;
♦ 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
Dimitsana, a mountain village in Arcadia, is among the places writer Nikos Chrysoloras recommends visiting in the southern Peloponnese
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.
The Aegean Sea, Lindos village and the Acropolis of Lindos, on Rhodes, are depicted in a fabulous face painting by makeup artist Natalia J of Rhodes. This image is one of several she shared on her Facebook page; Natalia also posted a photo of the painting on her Instagram. Her facial artwork was inspired by the Till Then, Stay Safe campaign for Greek tourism.
Dream now, travel later: The Covid-19 pandemic has completely upended travel plans for millions of people (including us) who were supposed to holiday in Greece this spring and summer. Lockdowns, quarantines and international travel restrictions have put Greece off-limits to visitors since March, and as of mid-April it’s still far too early to tell if or when Greece will be able to welcome tourists back.
At this point, no-one knows if travel can resume sometime this summer or fall, or if there will even be a 2020 travel season at all.
Although their own livelihoods and personal well-being are in peril during the pandemic, Greeks who work in the tourism industry fully understand the frustration travellers are feeling because their Greek holiday plans have either been cancelled already, or remain in limbo. Feeling hopeful and positive despite the tremendous international upheaval caused by Covid-19, Greeks have been encouraging anxious travellers to stay optimistic, too, and to keep dreaming about going to Greece as soon as it’s safe to travel. To that end, the operators of hotels, resorts, tavernas, tour operators, promotional agencies, Greek destination websites, and many more, have been filling their social media pages with inspiring, positive posts and alluring images of beautiful sights and scenes in Greece.
They’re participating in an innovative initiative launched in mid-March by Marketing Greece, a private sector company established by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) and the Hotel Chamber of Greece (XEE) to promotes travel and tourism to Greece.
One of several dozen images that Marketing Greece has made available to tourism businesses as part of its “Till Then, Stay Safe” campaign. This photo of a whitewashed chapel on Serifos island was shot by travel photographer Stefanos Addimando, better known to Instagrammers as @stef_greece.
“Nowadays, humanity is called upon to respond to a shocking challenge, with the messages of hope and optimism being more necessary than ever. Greek tourism, perfectly identified with the feelings of freedom, immediacy and escape from everyday life, sends its own message of anticipation for the next day,” Marketing Greece noted in a press release. Seizing upon that, the company kicked off a campaign called Till Then, #stay safe, and created promotional content for Greek tourism businesses to share with the international travelling public, urging them to remain safe while waiting for the better days that undoubtedly will come.
“Utilizing photographic material and accompanied by the copy ‘When the time is right, we’ll be there for you. Till then #staysafe,’ Marketing Greece emphasizes the hopeful Greek light, the refreshing blue of our country, our relaxing nature and invites travelers to continue dreaming the next time that carefree people can enjoy the uniqueness of Greece,” the press release explained.
Greeks joined in the campaign instantly and enthusiastically, and have since shared thousands of messages on social media pages and websites, using either the “Till Then, Stay Safe” catchphrase and hashtag, or substituting similarly-themed messages like “stay home,” “don’t cancel — reschedule,” “dream now,” and “till we meet again.”
The “I wanna go to Mykonos” photo at left — a knock-off of a popular Instagram post by @dudewithsign — went viral on social media in late March and early April. The image was frequently reposted with the word “Greece” or the names of other islands or Greek destinations Photoshopped in place of “Mykonos.”
This is Athens shared this image on Twitter to remind travellers that the Acropolis and Parthenon have endured tumultous events for centuries, and will still be around to visit after the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
The tourism center for the city of Volos and the region of Pelion shared this enticing short video to remind viewers of the immense natural beauty of Greece they will be able to enjoy once travel resumes.
We have collected dozens of Till Then, Stay Safe images that evoke happy memories from our own past vacations in Greece and make us eagerly anticipate our next trip, whenever that can happen. We have compiled them on page 2 of this post, where you can see popular places, attractions and holiday activities in Greece that will be waiting to welcome you once the pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted. If you haven’t yet decided where you would like to holiday once it is possible to arrange a trip to Greece, the pictures should give you plenty of ideas for amazing places to consider.
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.”
My Sifnos by Nikos Panou is my favourite video of 2019; it makes me smile and feel good every time I watch it. Panou deftly captures the essence of an amazing Greek holiday experience — the pure joy, wonder and exhilaration of exploring a beautiful destination (in this case, Sifnos island) and discovering the delights of its people, food, culture and atmosphere.
You know that December is drawing to a close when you see just about every media outlet — TV and radio shows, newspapers, magazines and websites — presenting lists and rankings of “the best” and the “top moments/ memories/ things/ whatever” of the year. Seeing “best of 2019” features everywhere I looked inspired me to compile one myself this week while I was organizing the many hundreds of bookmarks I had accumulated on my web browser this year.
Rather than move links for my favourite videos into folders where I probably would forget all about them, I’m posting them here for my readers to enjoy (and to give me an easier way to find them for repeat viewing or future reference).
In Greece Story –The Best Places in Greece? Pawel Worsztynowicz captures striking aerial scenes from 28 beautiful places in Greece, including Athens, Sounion, Crete, Corfu, Meteora, Halkidiki, the Peloponnese, Skiathos, Skopelos, Symi, Santorini, Thirasia, Ios, Kos, Eubea, Rhodes and Zakynthos. (Notes accompanying the video on YouTube provide a chronological list of locations shown.) Pawel compiled the film following nearly a year of travels across Greece, so you can just imagine the stories he can tell about the places he visited.
Out of the countless clips I have seen in the past 12 months, I have selected just over two dozen to highlight in this post. I liked these best of all either because they show sights and scenes familiar to me from our own past vacations, or because they depict destinations on my travel bucket list. All were released or published sometime during 2019, and none run longer than 10 minutes.
I have organized the clips into alphabetic order starting with the videos of Amorgos island, below, and continuing on page 2. Included are films of:
♦ Vatheia in the Peloponnese
I love The Island‘s dramatic cinematography, which superbly captures the mountain, coast and village scenery on Amorgos. This film by Igor Popović also contains excellent views of the incredible Chozoviotissa Monastery, built against the face of a cliff high above the sea.
I thoroughly enjoyed Amazing Amorgos, Greece, a delightful and entertaining aerial film in which Joerg Daiber captures the island’s magnificent sights and scenery using time lapse and tilt shift photography techniques.
This film by I Viaggi Di Michele is narrated in Italian; however, you don’t need to speak or understand the language to enjoy the beautiful Andros scenery. Sights and locations shown in the 11.5-minute video include Chora, the Tis Grias castle, Tis Grias to Pidima and Achla beaches, the Tourlitis lighthouse, Korthi Bay, Batsi village, the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi and the Panachrantos Monastery, and the Pithara waterfalls.
If there are any videos from 2019 that you enjoyed, but don’t see featured in this post, feel free to post their links in the comments section so other readers and I can check them out.