Category: Macedonia (page 1 of 2)

Crete clinches 4th place ranking on TripAdvisor list of the world’s top destinations for 2019

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Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port,, Chania harbour,

Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port, lighthouse, Chania lighthouse,

Views of the historic Venetian harbourfront and the iconic lighthouse at Chania, a perenially popular travel destination in northwestern Crete

 

Crete shines: Millions of travellers around the world have spoken, and their positive reviews, ratings and comments have landed Crete island in 4th place on the prestigious TripAdvisor listing of the Top 25 destinations in the world this year.

The 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards were announced this week (on March 26), lauding London as the #1 destination in the world, followed by Paris, Rome, Crete, and Bali in Indonesia. Last year Crete placed fifth, behind Bali. 

TripAdvisor is the globe’s largest travel website, containing listings for more than 156,000 destinations. Each year it presents its Travelers’ Choice awards to top international destinations, honouring the places that are most popular with people who post reviews on the website.

A press release announcing this year’s winners quoted TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Communications, Desiree Fish, as saying: “The Travelers’ Choice awards for Destinations recognize major cities and islands that continue to deliver an outstanding experience and are beloved by our global community of travelers.”

The news release explained that award winners “were determined using an algorithm based on reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and experiences in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period. The methodology takes into account quality and volume of reviews to surface destinations that consistently deliver the best overall experience for travelers.”

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Loutro village in southwestern Crete

 

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Looking along the spectacular southwestern coast of Crete from one of the many beaches near the town of Paleochora

 

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A taverna courtyard in the heart of the historic old town area of Chania

 

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Sweet Water Beach in southwestern Crete, between the villages of Chora Sfakion and Loutro

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, southwest Crete, Agia Roumeli, village, coast, mountains, Samaria Gorge,

A view of Agia Roumeli village, situated at the foot of the world-famous Samaria Gorge. Extending for 16 kilometers, the gorge is the longest in Europe and is one of Crete’s top tourist attractions.

 

We spent more than two weeks on Crete in late fall of 2017, and could easily see why it has been ranked among the world’s Top 5 travel destinations two years in a row — it truly delivers outstanding travel experiences. Crete has something to suit every traveller’s taste, style and budget: fascinating cities, towns and villages; vibrant resorts; breathtaking landscapes, stunning scenery and gorgeous beaches;  superb food and wine; significant historical sites and attractions; a diverse range of outdoor activities for all ages and lifestyles; myriad hotel and lodging options, and much more. 

Crete also claimed two spots in the list of the world’s Top 25 Beaches: Balos ranked #15, while Elafonissi took 21st place. Though both are situated in western Crete, the region in which we focussed our 2017 holiday travels, we never made it to either beach, so they remain on our bucket list of places to see. The island is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches, however, so visitors still have countless strands to choose from if they can’t get to Balos or Elafonissi.  (We saw many impressive beaches along the island’s southwestern coast.)

Greece in general fared well on other top rankings, particularly for hotels, where it won top honours in two categories. It nabbed the number 1 and 2 spots in the Top 25 all-inclusive hotel ranking, and it claimed the number 1 and 3 position on the awards list for the world’s Top 25 Small Hotels. Greece also achieved Top 25 rankings for best hotels, luxury hotels, best service, romantic hotels, family hotels, and bargain hotels.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that Greece received TripAdvisor recognition for the world’s top two all-inclusive hotels because, in TripAdvisor’s own travel forums, regular visitors to Greece routinely advise travellers to avoid all-inclusive properties, urging them to stay at hotel or self-catering accommodations instead. In essence, the forum commentators claim Greece simply doesn’t do all-inclusives very well, and visitors don’t experience Greece if they stay at an AI resort. With this year’s awards, however, it’s quite clear that all-inclusive resort guests disagree! 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Crete island, beach, Greek beach, Elafonissi beach Crete, Elafonisi beach Crete,

Famous for its brilliant turquoise waters and pink-hued sand, Elafonissi beach is seen in an image from the Elafonissi page on the Cretico Blog.  Elafonissi ranked #21 on the TripAdvisor list of the Top 25 beaches in the world.

 

Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Lagoons and sandy beach strips at Balos are seen in this photo shot by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography. Balos ranked #15 on this year’s list of the world’s top beaches.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where I have posted photos and rankings for the Greek hotels that placed in the world’s Top 25.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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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

 

Top places to visit for a winter holiday in Greece

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Arachova Greece

The alpine town of Arachova in Central Greece, seen during our visit in June 2017. The website Greece Is has ranked Arachova one of the country’s Top 10 places to visit in wintertime 

 

Off season delights: Are you trying to pick a place to visit for a unique winter getaway? Have you considered going to Greece?

If you’re like many of the people reading this post, you probably picture Greece only as a summer destination, primarily because of the immense popularity of its world-famous beach-blessed islands.

However, Greece is more than just islands and beaches — it’s a year-round travel destination with activities and attractions that appeal to everyone, from outdoor sports enthusiasts, to foodies, to history buffs, nature lovers and more.

As for what makes Greece special during the off-season winter months, here’s a nicely succinct description by one of my favourite food, culture and travel publications,  Greece Is:

“Winter is the time to swap the sandals for hiking boots, and the cold beachside beer for a brandy or warm rakomelo by the fireplace. Hearty, slow-cooked stews replace light summertime salads, and a whole host of different seasonal products begin to appear: wild mushrooms, juicy oranges, fat chestnuts. This is a time to experience a different sort of Greece – one of rivers, mountains and glorious natural landscapes as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. One that is emptier, wilder but also comforting in its own way, insulated from the rush and chaos of the modern world.” 

Although there are scores of places in Greece that would be wonderful to visit in the off-season, Greece Is compiled this list of The Top 10 places to visit in Greece in winter:

♦ Zagori

♦  Arachova

♦  Kalavryta

♦  Meteora

♦  Tzoumerka

♦  Metsovo

♦  Loutraki – Pella

♦  the mountains of Corinth

♦  Pilio (also known as Pelion), and

♦  the mountains of Arcadia

What I particularly like about the Greece Is Top 10 list is that it includes descriptions of each destination or area, and outlines the winter activities that are most appealing at each place. The listing also includes links to additional insightful articles and practical information about each location, as well as photo galleries. I found it a great starting-point for researching a trip to Greece not only in winter (though that’s the focus of the ranking), but really for any time of year — all the destinations would be marvellous to visit in spring, summer or fall, as well.

To get some Greece travel inspiration for yourself, click here to read the full article.

 

 

Captivated by Kavala

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Gregory Liotakis published this aerial drone film of Kavala in April

 

Aerial appeal: Up until the end of 2016, I was completely clueless about Kavala.

I had heard of it, and I knew it was a place in mainland Greece. But I didn’t know exactly where, and I would not have been able to tell you for certain if was a mountain village, a big town or a seaside resort. So of course I had no idea what it looked like or what was there.

That changed over the Christmas holiday season when storms dumped snow on many parts of Greece and I found photos and videos of Kavala while putting together two blog posts that I published in January — Greece in white winter glory, and Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece Part 2

Suddenly I was intrigued. Kavala looked quite appealing and attractive (and not just because it was dusted with crisp white snow.)  With a few quick Google searches, I learned that Kavala is a bustling port city of 57,000 residents in the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace, and is considered one of Greece’s “prettiest” and “most picturesque” cities. Some websites described Kavala as a “gem” and a “jewel” often overlooked by tourists or simply not on the radar for most people visiting Greece.

 

 

Since I had shared an aerial video of Kavala here on the blog, links to other Kavala films have appeared frequently in the “Up Next” sidebar when I have opened the YouTube webpage.  Most have been aerial videos showing the city in warm weather months, and I have been impressed by the scenes of seafront, beaches, city squares and historic sites — including a castle and aqueduct.  As you can probably expect, Kavala has now earned a spot on my travel bucket list.

In case you’re planning a trip to the area,  or just wondering if it’s a place you would like to visit yourself, here are several Kavala videos that will help get you acquainted with the city.

 

Scenes from Kavala in a 2.5-minute film by JL Aerial

 

This nearly 3-minute long video by Aerial View shows the city’s historic castle and the impressive scenery it overlooks. 

 

This “official” video by kavalaDimofelia shows top historic sites and attractions and near Kavala 

 

This is a Kavala time lapse video published by Theo Kavala

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