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Travel video promotes Crete as a winter holiday destination

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This 2-minute promotional video by Incredible Crete features enticing views of Cretan food and wine, and wonderful winter scenery

 

If you think Crete is a place worth visiting only in summer to experience its exquisite beaches, historic archaeological sites, outdoor activities, food, wine and culture, the island’s regional tourism authority wants you to think again — and to consider paying Crete a winter visit.

Incredible Crete, the island’s official tourism agency, recently released a promotional video entitled Crete: Sense the authentic winter! in a bid to boost off-season travel to Greece’s largest island.

Crete is one of the most popular islands in Greece, but many people mistakenly believe it’s a summertime destination “open” only from April to October. While it’s true that winter isn’t suitable for beach fun like swimming, sunbathing and water sports, and the Samaria Gorge (one of the island’s top outdoor tourist attractions) is closed to hikers for weather and safety reasons, that doesn’t mean Crete completely shuts down for the season.

On the contrary, Crete is a veritable winter wonderland.

Lakkoi village in Crete seen in a winter photo from mapio.net

This winter photo of Lakkoi village, in the Chania prefecture, is from the Lakkoi page on mapio.net 

 

Chania and Heraklion are superb city-break destinations year-round, while many of the island’s museums, historic and archaeological sites remain open, albeit on reduced hours of operation. Plenty of tavernas and restaurants continue serving renowned Cretan cuisine and wine, while outdoor activities are available, including scenic walks and trekking, and adventure snow sports in some areas. And of course there’s one thing that doesn’t disappear just because it’s winter: Crete’s gorgeous natural scenery — from mountains and valleys to coastlines and beaches — is beautiful to behold 365 days a year.

 

Venetian Harbour at Heraklion Crete seen in a photo by the municipality of Heraklion

The Koules Fortress and the Venetian Harbour at Heraklion are seen in a photo from the municipality of Heraklion website. Below is a picture we shot at Chania’s harbourfront during a late October trip to Crete.

The historic harbour at Chania Crete

 

 

As the Sense the authentic winter video demonstrates, Crete can overwhelm your senses even in winter, and that’s why tourism officials are hoping to encourage more travellers to give the island a look during the off-season.

Should you be interested in exploring Crete during the winter, you’ll find information about activities, accommodations and attractions in these online resources:

Incredible Crete, the island’s official tourism website, is packed with an extensive array of information and photos to help travellers plan island visits;

♦ The Creti.co blog article suggests its Top 10 reasons for spending your winter holidays in Crete, while …

♦ the Cretan Beaches website suggests its own 11 Reasons to visit Crete in winter;

♦ The Crete in Winter page of CreteTravel.com describes places to visit, and includes links to accommodations;

♦ The official website for the city of Heraklion is loaded with information about the city, including news and event listings, maps, photos and videos, and offers a  special Visitor section with details about museums and attractions.

♦ the official tourism website for Chania also features extensive information for visitors, while

♦ the Fabulous Crete blog post Winter in Crete from a different side of view has descriptions and photos showing what the island is like in the off-season.

Additionally, a simple web search for “winter travel to Crete,” or similar topics will yield scores of additional sites and articles, including websites for specific accommodations that are open year-round on the island.

 

Below are more winter photos of Crete, followed by a video of breathtaking mountain and valley scenery in the Lasithi region in early winter of 2019.

Winter view of Heraklion Crete harbourfront in a photo from the Festivalaki page on Facebook

The snowy Psiloritis mountains provide an impressive winter backdrop to this photo of the Heraklion harbourfront. The image is from the Facebook page Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture.

 

Rethymno Crete harbourfront photo from the Facebook page for Festivalaki Cretan festival of arts and culture

The harbourfront of Rethymno is captured in a winter photo by Theofilis Papadopoulos.  The image was shared on the Festivalaki page on Facebook.

 

Festivalaki Facepage page photo of Chania Crete harbour

Another photo from the Festivalaki Facebook page, this time showing Chania’s historic harbourfront with a snow-capped mountain backdrop

 

Winter hiking photo from Incredible Crete page on Facebook

From the Incredible Crete site, a photo of winter trekkers visiting old mountaintop windmills

 

Incredible Crete photo of climbers on Spathi peak of Dikti Mountains in Lasithi region of the island

Also from Incredible Crete, an image of adventure climbers on the Spathi peak of the Dikti Mountains

 

Stunning winter views of the Lasithi region are shown in this clip of photos and videos by Renos Drone Works

 

Zameer Pactyan published this video of Mount Psiloritis and the White Mountains on January 4 2020. Breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains can be seen starting from the 45 second mark in the film.

Top beach, golf, diving and other outdoor activity attractions near Marathopoli

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Proti Island

Located just one nautical mile from the town of Marathopoli in southwestern Messenia, Proti Island is a popular day trip destination for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, cliff jumping and trekking. This aerial photo of Proti Island is from the website for the Artina hotels in Marathopoli.

 

Lagouvardos, shown in this aerial video by Giannis Mpantes, is a long golden sand beach less than 3 kilometers from Marathopoli. It’s considered one of the top surfing spots in Greece, and also attracts enthusiasts of windsurfing, SUP, canoeing and other watersports. 

 

Surf’s up!: In a recent post I noted that the quiet, laid-back town of Marathopoli is an ideal base for travellers wishing to explore Methoni, Pylos, Navarino, Voidokilia and other popular places in the Messenian region of the southwestern Peloponnese. 

Even closer to the town are two noteworthy destinations that draw active travellers seeking scenic spots for outdoor sports activities such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking and fishing.

Uninhabited Proti Island, which dominates sea views from the town, is approximately one nautical mile away and can be accessed in summer on boat trips from Marathopoli harbour.  The tours take passengers to secluded coves, including Grammeno Bay,  and stop at picturesque Vourlia beach for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or jumping into the sea from rocks and ledges along the rugged coast. 

 

This aerial video of a boat trip to Vourlia beach on Proti island is from the website for Proti Cruises, which offers a variety of daily “mini cruise” excursions from Marathopoli

 

Proti Island monastery

The Monastery of the Assumption of Gorgopigi is one of the sights that hikers might encounter while walking some of the trails on Proti Island. This photo appears on the websites for Lagouvardos Apartments and other Marathopoli-area businesses.

 

 

Trekkers can explore Proti Island on three designated hiking routes, while rock climbers can test their skills on the challenging cliffs and coastal rock formations. Fishing trips and sunset tours also are available.

For those curious to see what lies beneath the waves, Ionian Dive Center offers scuba diving excursions to such island sites as the Anouar shipwreck in Vourlia Bay, the Tiganakia wall and cavern, the Blue Hole cavern with stalactites, Callens Valley and the  Beacon Cove.

 

This video by Ionian Dive Center will take you to the Blue Hole, one of the sights that scuba divers could explore during excursions to Proti Island

 

Lagouvardas beach

This photo from the official Marathopoli tourism website shows an aerial view of the long strip of golden sand at Lagouvardos beach

 

Lagouvardos Beach is only 3 kilometers from Marathopoli so it can easily be reached by car, bicycle or even walking. The Culture Trip website has included Lagouvardos on its list of The Best Surfing Spots in Greece, while travel publications and online guides regularly recommend the beach for windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), swimming, canoeing and other watersports. Equipment rentals and lessons are available from the Beach Break surf club at Lagouvardos.

For beach lovers and watersports fans who don’t mind driving a little farther afield, some of Messenia’s most beautiful and world-famous beaches — including Vromoneri, Mati, Romanos, Golden Sands Divari, and the incomparable Voidokilia — are situated within a span of just 7 to 15 kilometers. 

 

Vromoneri Beach

Just 7 kilometers from Marathopoli is Vromoneri beach, seen in an image from AllMessenia.com

 

Located about 9 km from Marathopoli is gorgeous Mati beach, seen in this aerial video by KOABeach Pool Bar

 

Additionally, the Marathopoli area is ideal for bicycling and mountain biking, while two globally renowned 18-hole courses at nearby Costa Navarino offer golfers the opportunity to tee off in spectacular settings.

 

Dunes Golf Course at Navarino

Award-winning world-class links await golf enthusiasts at Costa Navarino, just 13 km from Marathopoli. The green pictured above is on The Dunes Course, while the one below is on The Bay Course. Both images are from the Costa Navarino Facebook page.

 

Bay Course golf course at Navarino

More stunning photos and extensive information about the two golf resorts can be found in the golf section of the Costa Navarino website.

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.

 

 

Kalymnos keeps calling

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Kalymnos summer 2016 (above) and Kalymnos island (below) are short videos that spotlight sights, scenery and summer activities on the Dodecanese island famous for its sponge fishing past and its present popularity as one of the world’s premier rock climbing destinations

 

Extra enticement: There are times I’m convinced that somebody in Greece is secretly monitoring my email and text communications so they can plant my social media pages with photos, news and videos about places mentioned in my conversations. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have chatted with or messaged people about specific areas in Greece, only to see posts about those destinations suddenly appear on my Facebook page or Twitter feed soon afterward.

It happened again this week after a friend texted to ask if I have been to Kalymnos, which she has been considering for an island hopping holiday in the Dodecanese this year. I haven’t been there yet, but I was able to refer her to Kalymnos rocks!, a post I published last year to showcase a video that four young Scottish rock climbers made when they visited Kalymnos to test their skills on its world-famous cliffs. Exhilarating landscapes and scenery in the 4-minute-long film convinced me that Kalymnos is just the kind of island my partner and I would thoroughly enjoy — so I promptly added it to our travel bucket list.

 

 

Mere days after the text chat with my friend, two more Kalymnos videos curiously appeared in the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page, no doubt to tempt and tease me into wanting to visit the island even more. Sponsored by the Kalymnian Union of Attica, both clips were produced late last summer and show even more island sights and scenes than the fun rock-climbing film I previously shared on the blog. Since I have found myself contemplating a future trip to Kalymnos once again, I am sharing the clips here for the benefit of any readers who may be planning to spend some time on the island this summer.

Meanwhile, in text messages a few days ago, my friend and I discussed Kefalonia and Lefkada, as well as some destinations in mainland Greece. Sure enough, my social media feeds quickly filled with images and information about both islands and the other places we had discussed. Spooky? Absolutely! But maybe it’s just a goodhearted online spy who is simply trying to assist with my holiday travel planning. Whether it’s purely coincidental or not, don’t be surprised if I start blogging about how much I would like to see Kefalonia, Lefkada and certain other places this summer!

In the meantime, have a look at Kalymnos to see if it should be on your own Greek holiday bucket list.

 

 

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