Category: Greece mainland villages & towns (page 1 of 9)

The awe-striking autumn and winter scenery at Kastoria in Northern Greece

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Τα Χρώματα Του Φθινοπώρου Kastoria (The Autumn Colours of Kastoria) is a beautiful 4-minute film by Kastoria-based Studio Trasias

 

“Let me guess — I bet you are thinking you would rather be in Greece right now.”

That’s what a friend remarked when he saw me gazing wistfully out the windows at our gym as snow fell over downtown Toronto today — our second major winter storm in less than a week.  At daybreak, the neighbourhood had looked lovely under a blanket of wet snow, but morning rush hour traffic had turned the streets and sidewalks below us into a sloppy mess of puddles and dirty slush. Meanwhile, the snow on rooftops, trees and gardens had already lost its crisp white brilliance as a grimy film of brownish-grey dust from traffic, construction and air pollution started to settle on its surface.  My friend was right: I wasn’t looking forward to the wet slog home after my workout.

“Yes, I really do wish that I could be in Greece right now instead of here,” I replied. “I would much rather be in Kastoria when it’s snowy.”

Although my friend  has travelled to a few island and mainland destinations in Greece, he didn’t recognize Kastoria by name and wanted me to tell him more about it — as well as why I would be happy to travel there in off season.

 

I explained that Kastoria is a small city situated in northern Greece, nearly 600 kilometers northwest of Athens. Internationally famous for its centuries-old fur garment industry, the city is built on hillsides overlooking Lake Orestiada. One of the city’s top attractions is a pedestrian promenade that extends along the lake shore, offering panoramic views of the nearby Grammos and Vitsi mountains. I haven’t been to Kastoria myself yet (it’s on my bucket list), but I have seen plenty of photos and videos, and know I would enjoy strolling the lakeside path to see the beautiful fall colours or admire the snowy winter vistas.

“It would be so much prettier than here,” I said. “Kastoria looks like something you would see on a Christmas greeting card.”

“You must show me pictures of it sometime,” my friend said. I knew I had bookmarked several Kastoria videos I had watched on YouTube, so I promised that I would share my favourites here on the blog so that he — and any of my readers who also aren’t familiar with the city — could see how beautiful it is, and why it fascinates me so much.

On this page, you can watch two beautiful short films by Studios Trasias of Kastoria; one showing the city with fabulous fall foliage, and the other capturing Kastoria’s wonderful winter scenery. You can see several more short videos on page 2.

 

There’s nearly 4 minutes of beautiful winter scenery in ΚΑΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΜΑΓΙΚΗ ΟΜΟΡΦΙΑ (The Magic Beauty of Kastoria), another film by Studio Trasias 

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More moments in the Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese

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This short film offers a short but sweet tour of what its producer,  Fist AK Productions, describes as “one of the most beautiful areas of Greece.”

 

More Mani: Regular readers might recall my Magical moments in the Mesa Mani post last summer, in which I shared a video and travel information links for a region of Greece that truly fascinates and intrigues me — the rugged Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese. I mentioned that the Mani was on our bucket list of places to see, and in fact it was on a short list of destinations we were considering for our upcoming spring holiday. We ultimately chose an island for our next trip, but still intend to make it to the Mani.

While I was organizing bookmarked articles and photos of the Mani to keep for future reference, I discovered a short video that had been published on Vimeo in March, by Fist AK Productions.  Rather than relegate it to a bulging bookmarks folder where I could easily overlook or even lose it, I’m sharing the short film here, along with a pair of older clips that I was going to file away as well — just in case any of my readers might be planning a Mani visit themselves.

 

Aerial views of the Laconian Mani, captured by fabdrone

 

In background notes posted with this film, fabdrone observes that “Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea. Today a narrow and winding road extends along the west coast from Kalamata to Areopoli, then south to Akrotainaro (the pointy cape which is the most southward soil of continental Greece) before it turns north toward Gytheio. Another road, that is used from the public buses in the line Piraeus – Mani and exists several decades now, comes from Tripoli through Sparta, Gytheio, Areopoli and ends in the Gerolimenas port near Cape Matapan.”

 

This video by YouTube contributor Stelios Hontas includes alluring scenes of Porto Kayo, Lagia, Marmari, Kokkala, Paliros, Castro, Achilleion, Cape Tainaro, Kokkinogia and Diamistastika.

 

Nafplio’s scenic seaside walks: The Arvanitia promenade and the Karathona beach path

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The Arvanitia promenade is a stone-paved walkway that winds along the seaside from Nafplio’s historic Old Town to Arvanitia beach 1 kilometer away

 

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The sand and dirt path to Karathona beach begins near Arvanitia, and meanders southward along the Argonic Gulf coast. The walking distance between the two beaches is roughly 2.7 kilometers, about a 30- to 40-minute trek.

 

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Boats docked in the north corner of Karathona Bay. From here, Karathona beach extends nearly 2 kilometers around the bay. It takes half an hour to walk from this spot to the south end of the beach.

 

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A separate, third trail leads from Karathona beach to Agios Nikolaos church, which sits on a windy slope above the sea. It’s a pleasant, short hike that’s worthwhile if you reach the south end of Karathona Bay and wish to view more coastal scenery before your return walk to Nafplio.

 

Wonderful walks:  Nafplio is commonly called “one of the most beautiful towns in Greece,” and rightly so — its historic Old Town is one of the prettiest places we have seen during our travels to more than two dozen islands plus a wide variety of places on the mainland and in the Peloponnese. 

With its picturesque alleys, lanes and streets, charming old buildings, impressive public parks and squares, myriad monuments and historic sites, and an extensive selection of restaurants, bars and shops, Nafplio is fascinating to visit, whether just on a daytrip or for several days or more.

Though the town itself is lovely, one of the features we personally love most about Nafplio is the surrounding natural scenery — an exhilarating expanse of rolling hills and mountains, rugged rocky peninsulas and shorelines, and captivating sea colours in the bays, beaches, coves and harbours that indent the  Argolic Gulf coast.

Walking is the best way to observe and savour the marvellous scenery, and Nafplio boasts two wonderful seaside paths that rank among our favourite coastal walks in all of Greece — the Arvanitia promenade, and the footpath to Karathona beach. We make a point of walking at least one of the paths each day we are in Nafplio.

 

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Aerial view of the Acronauplia peninsula’s south side. The Arvanitia promenade can be seen at the base of the rocky cliffs and is partially visible where it snakes through the line of trees above the shore. The walkway ends at a square above Arvanitia beach (bottom right).

 

The Nafplio Old Town is positioned on the northern slopes of Acronauplia, a thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into the Argolic Gulf (a body of water between the Arcadia and Argolida regions of the Peloponnese). The Arvanitia promenade begins at the Nafplio waterfront area known locally as The Shore, and curves around the western tip of Acronauplia, hugging the base of imposing steep cliffs covered in wide swaths of prickly pear and other cactus plants. The walkway ends at Arvanitia Square, a walking distance of approximately 1 kilometer.  The town’s popular sunbathing and swimming spot, the stone and pebble Arvanitia beach, is a short downhill walk from the square. 

The footpath to Karathona starts a mere stone’s throw beyond the Arvanitia beach entrance. As it meanders south, it passes above several coves and secluded inlets as well as the pebble and stone strands known as Neraki beach. The path is a favourite route for local residents to power walk, jog, cycle and exercise their dogs. At a casual pace, it takes about half an hour to walk the 2.7 kilometer distance to a small harbour at the northern tip of Karathona beach. 

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Beach view from the south side of Karathona Bay

 

Karathona is an exceptionally wide and gently curved beach that stretches nearly 2 kilometers — almost as long as the path from Arvanitia. While it has several sections organized with beach chairs, umbrellas and bars, there are plenty of wide-open spaces in between.  There is another small harbour at the southern end of the beach, along with several houses and Agios Konstantinos Church.  Across the road and parking area behind the houses is the starting point of yet another coastal path, this one a short, narrow trail that leads up and over a hill to the small whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos. It takes less than 15 minutes to hike to the church, with superb views of the gulf and the mountainous coast of Arcadia throughout the trek (followed by excellent views of Karathona Bay and beach on the way back.)

Strolling the Arvanitia promenade is often suggested as a “must-do” activity for Nafplio visitors, and we certainly agree. But we recommend that walking enthusiasts also make the invigorating hike to Karathona and onward to take a quick look at Agios Nikoloas Church.  These walks offer a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh sea air while enjoying the tremendous views of coastal landscapes and the Argolic Gulf.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolis, Nafplio,Bourtzi castle, castle, fortress, bay, sea, Banieres, coast,

From the Arvanitia promenade, walkers can view two castles: the Bourtzi sea fortress, seen from a lookout spot above the Banieres swimming area …

 

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… and the massive Palamidi castle on the peak high above Arvanitia beach, seen as evening sun casts a golden glow on the mountain

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Argolic Gulf, bay, sea, coast,

Both walking paths overlook alluring turquoise waters in the Argolic Gulf …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, cliffs, landscape, mountain, seaside,

…  exhilarating coastal landscapes …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, sea, bay, coast, mountains,

… mountains in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese to the west …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, seaside, shore, sea, bay, cove, water, Argolic Gulf,

… pretty bays and quiet coves along the rugged shoreline …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Arvanitia, Arvanitia beach, beach, seaside, coast, sunbathers, swimmers, sea,

… organized beaches, like Arvanitia, which offer bars, restaurants, lounge chairs and umbrellas …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona path, beach, Neraki beach, Neraki beach Nafplio, coast, seaside, sea, water,

… and quieter beaches, like Neraki, with no facilities (or crowds)

 

Please click on the links below to continue reading and to see many more photos of the Arvanitia promenade, Arvanitia beach, the Karathona path,  Karathona beach, the trail to Agios Nikolaos Church and of course the church itself.

Page 2 contains some general information about the walking routes, as well as photos of the Arvanitia promenade.

Page 3 features photos of the Karathona footpath and Karathona beach.

Page 4 has pictures of Agios Nikolaos Church and its access trail.

 

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Winter views of Nymfaio, the pretty ‘fairy tale’ village in northern Greece

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This film by Studios Trasias captures breathtaking views of snow-covered Nymfaio, a traditional mountain settlement in the Florina region of northern Greece. It’s regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Europe.

 

Alpine gem: When winter storms brought freezing temperatures and snowfalls to many parts of Greece this week, my social media newsfeeds quickly filled with photos and videos of snowy scenes from places as diverse as Ancient Messenia, Kalavrita, Meteora, Arachova and Thessaloniki, and such islands as Kefalonia, Evia, Skopelos, Skyros, Lesvos and Crete.

The winter wonderland scenery in many of the images looked impressive, but far more striking are the scenes in this film of Nymfaio, which I stumbled upon today while researching for another blog post I’m writing.

Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters on a ridge of Mount Vitsi in the northern Greece region of Florina, Nymfaio has been inhabited since 1385. It is often described as looking like something out of a fairy tale, and it has been named to lists of the most beautiful and most picturesque villages both in Greece and in all of Europe. From the opening seconds of the video, it’s easy to see why — Nymfaio looks simply picture postcard perfect under a crisp blanket of fresh snow. 

Though it’s a year-round travel destination, Nymfaio isn’t a place you can easily visit for a quick look-see — roughly a 7-hour drive north of Athens, it’s well off the main tourist routes in the southern half of Greece. (It’s much closer to and easier to reach from the cities of Ioannina and Thessaloniki, which are less than 2 hours’ driving distance.) But this alpine gem certainly appears to be well worth the trek, particularly for visitors who have already seen or who want to avoid the busy tourist magnets like Athens or the islands.

If you’ve become intrigued by Nymfaio and want to learn more about it, here are links to websites and blogs offering photos and detailed information about the village:

♦ the Nymfaio page on Greece Virtual will take you on a virtual tour of the village with its more than 20 panoramic / 360-degree photos;

♦ In April 2018, the Greek travel agency Fly Me to the Moon published a destination spotlight on Nymfaio on its blog;

♦ In May 2016, the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper highlighted Nymfaio in a feature list of the best places to visit in northern Greece;

♦ In a 2014 post, the travel blog Moco Choco profiled Nymfaio as one of the 10 most beautiful mountain villages in Europe;

♦ The Discover Greece article Nimfaio, The Mountain Nymph of Stone and Snow includes photographs and information about accommodations in and near the village, which the Greek tourism website describes as “one of the best winter holiday destinations in Greece”;

♦ the Visit Greece article A Fairytale Escape to Nimfaio in Florina includes photos and brief descriptions of the history, traditions and activities of what it hails as “a year-round charming destination.” 

 

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The red marker pinpoints Nymfaio’s location in northern Greece on this map from Google

 

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