The Greek Summer from A to Z

Beaches, mountains, villages, gastronomy, monuments... Here are 26 things to enjoy in Greece this summer.


A – Simply Apeiranthos 

One of the most beautiful villages of Naxos is Apeiranthos, a main exporter of Naxian emery during the 20th century.  Walking through its marble-covered narrow streets, between the whitewashed houses, will offer some of the most wonderful moments of the summer. Notice the marble frames and impressive domed arches, explore its museums and listen for the musical dialect and rhymes coming from the locals.

B – Beaches of Lefkada

Lefkada is home to some of Greece’s most photographed beaches. With a landscape that’s mountainous and quite exciting, with some of its most picturesque villages located high above the sea, the coastline on the western side of the island often feature staggering high rock walls laced with bright white beaches that make the Ionian Sea shine in bright, light turquoise. The most famous beaches are Porto Katsiki, Egramni, Mylos, Kathisma, and for surfers – Vassiliki.

C – Crete’s Lasithi Plateau

 

Agios Georgios, Tzermiadon, Psychro, Marmaketo, Pinakiano, Lagou, Avrakontes. Villages with unusual names compose the micro-community of the Lasithi Plateau. Here you will see Cretan ladies hiding their white hair under headscarves, and the men snacking on roasted chickpeas and sipping tsikoudia at 10 am; houses with wooden doors and windows, and half open coffee shops with maps yellowed by time. Do not expect a consistent architectural identity or classical village beauty – the essence of the Plateau is its people and its atmosphere, a living image of the old, good Crete. 

D – Dimitsana and its surroundings

Do not miss the view from the hill of Agia Paraskevi, just above the most famous village of the mountains of Arkadia, Dimitsana. An accessible dirt road will lead you to the summit, where the view over the village and the rolling slopes surrounding it is simply enchanting, particularly at sunset. 

E – Endless sand dunes of Issos

Whether you like playing games in the sand or whether you prefer peace and quiet, take a day trip to Issos beach, in south Corfu. It is magical, with sand dunes, cedar trees and rocks that have increased in mass due to the thick layer of sand that covers them. Sky and endless horizon await. 

F – Fakistra, Damouhari, Tsagarada

 

Pilio is known for its dense network of footpaths, which were used by locals to navigate the area before the construction of roads. Easy, downhill hiking trails begin from Tsagarada heading towards Fakistra beach and Damouhari. Get an early start in the morning to avoid the excessive heat. Alternatively, you can walk around the village of Tsagarada, under the beautiful plane and chestnut trees.

G – Galatista for its tower 

The Halkidiki peninsula has been established as the top destination in Northern Greece mostly due to the beaches adorning the first and second “finger”, even though it also boasts lots of historical monuments, such as towers. One of the most impressive is the Byzantine Tower of Galatista, located in the small town that carries the same name that you will encounter on the way to Poligiros from Thessaloniki. 

H – Hymettos for a staycation

Summer in Athens has its own charm. And if not the city center, then definitely its mountains, such as Hymettos. Featuring one of the most amazing green spaces flanking the capital, in recent years the mountain has acquired a fanatic audience, especially following the pandemic. Also known as “Mad”, Hymettus has the comparative advantage of being located very close to the city, which many Athenians take advantage of to participate in hiking, cycling, meditation or yoga activities.  

I – Ilia for everyone 

 

The prefecture of Ilia is unique, home to ancient Olympia and the Gulf of Kyparissia. Dedicate at least half a day to see one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, with the Stadium, Philippeion and other monuments that gave Olympia its glory – in Greece and beyond. Then, head to your preferred beach on this endless sandy coast on the western Peloponnese. Not all parts of the Gulf of Kyparissia are beautiful, so you may need to search around for the setting that works for you. 

J – Raki Joints

Low key, isolated, and small, and yet Sitia is the most special town in Crete, even if it lacks the grandeur of Hania or the liveliness of Irakleio. The homeland of Vitsentzo Kornaros has a sweetness of its own, undefined yet all-permeating. The summer sun pulses its scorching light and its prime time is at dusk, when the heat subsides and the horizon turns a shade of pink. Take a seat at one of the raki joints on the port for raki, meze and some live music. 

K – Views over the rocks of Kalymnos

Head to Masouri and Armeos, if not for climbing then at least for a glimpse of the most impressive climbing terrain that attracts climbers from all over the world. The cone-shaped islet of Telendos, across the way, is also impressive. If you make your way to Vathi, you will see a lovely fjord with chapels and tavernas. 

L – Summer lakes

 

The fairytale setting at Polylimnio (34 kilometers from Kalamata on the way to Pylos) is always a good idea, when it is extremely hot. You will see many small lakes and waterfalls along the 3 kilometer route, with the largest measuring 25 meters in height. Be sure to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

M – Makarounes from Astypalaia

The dream dish of the island is pasta with cheese! The pasta in question involves the handmade makarounes and tarahtes cooked with local fresh cheese and saffron, which grows in various parts of the island. The same ingredients and a dash of honey combine to create the famous pougia, pastries you will find in several cafes. 

N – Neda for hiking and swims

In order to enjoy the River Neda in the western Peloponnese in its full glory, you will have to hike quite a bit, as traversing the canyon usually takes two days, requires a good fitness level and experienced guides. However, you can enjoy a section of the river, the loveliest in fact, much easier: head to the stone bridge from the village of Figalia, walk west for 15 minutes on an accessible footpath and crossing wooden footbridges, to arrive at two waterfalls and their lakes. Take a deep breath and dive in. 

O – Oria in Kythnos

 

Hiking up to the Castle of Oria, in Kythnos, is one of the loveliest activities the island has to offer. Observe the caper plants growing out of the rocks and when you reach the top, enjoy views over the most calm, most special, most different island of the Cyclades. 

P – Psari Korinthias

The village of  Psari Korinthias is small, and usually never caught on the tourist travel radar. It is for this reason that it is worth a visit. An authentic neo-Greek village that is lively, without the perfect beauty of the stone-built mountain villages of Arkadia or Zagori. Its architecture is simple, but its residents are welcoming and its location favorable. Nestled between the wine-producing paradise of Nemea and the mythical Lake Stymphalia, it is also worth visiting the Environmental Museum by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP). 

Q – Quiet Sigri, Lesvos

The most famous visitor who ever passed by Sigri was the Nobel Prize-winning author Albert Camus, who found in this village “the place of gods”, as he had stated. Decades have passed since then and yet Sigri remains a simple, quiet village that has not been badly affected by tourism. Spend an afternoon here, enjoying swimming and delicious seafood, only 10km from the Petrified Forest.    

R – Running waters of Taygetos

 

From Kalamata to an altitude of 1350 meters, on the slopes of Taygetus, in less than one hour. Experience this exciting change of landscape and temperature by following the old road that leads from Kalamata to Sparta. As you ascend the serpentine mountain road, you initially can see the capital of Messinia from above, with the sea in the background. As you continue you enter the heart of Taygetus, and will be surrounded by mountain slopes carpeted with forest. Take a break at the village of Alagonia, which is built amphitheatrically on the mountain and inundated by natural springs. You will notice small and large waterfalls, streams and rivulets everywhere. 

S – Savory Pies of Zagori

Lahanopita (cabbage pie), alevropita (flour pie), makaronopita (pasta pie), xinogalopita (buttermilk pie), fakopita (lentil pie), blatsaria (wild greens with no filo pastry), kasata or meat pie – the original savory pies of Zagori are the result of necessity, as the Epirus imagination during poverty and hard times had to “play” with the simplest ingredients at hand while not letting anything go to waste. The ever wise lessons of home economics are also a reason to visit today – you will have the opportunity to taste these delicacies at homes or restaurants, as well as exceptional local meats and cheeses. Zagori preserves old-school nomadic stock breeding, and this is perceptible in the food’s special flavors. 

T – Turtles of Kefalonia

If you like to admire centenarian reptiles that have survived on our planet since the age of the dinosaurs, the island of Kefalonia is where you can catch a glance without disturbing them. Rent an electric boat (batteries are solar powered and the engine is silent), and take a ride on the Koutavos lagoon in Argostoli, where dozens, if not hundreds, of sea turtles gather. 

U – Unveiling the paths of Kastrohori and Mastihohori

 

You will be lost for words upon looking at Mesta. The most beautiful of the mastiha (mastic) villages in Chios is a study in fortress architecture, built by the Genoans in the 14th century. The village of Mesta is not visible from the sea and surrounded by the outer walls of the houses themselves, which in turn are built in a dense configuration around a tall tower, with connecting rooftops. Labyrinthine narrow streets and stoas, paths and pathways; whoever was able to enter the village by storming the gate would most certainly get lost. Just as you will, when you visit the village today.  

V – Velota, Mavri Spilia, Megalo Horio 

The village of Velota in Evrytania offers amazing views over the mountains of Panetoliko, Kaliakouda, Helidona and Agrafa, while also being one of the stops on your tour of one of the most verdant regions in Greece. It is also worth visiting the Monastery of Proussos, strolling around the Megalo Horio village and hiking the trail to Mavri Spilia (Black Cave). 

W – Wellness at Pozar 

The reputation of the lovely thermal springs and baths at Pozar has reached people far and wide, even beyond Greece. Especially before the pandemic, our neighbors from the north were regular visitors of the Pozar Baths. The facilities are rather big, with the old baths as well as the more modern and central “Alexandrio” that was renovated six years ago. Highlights include a large outdoor swimming pool under the cafe and the small natural basins that extend along the river in tiers. 

X – Xygalo and other Naxian tales

 

Famed cheeses, exceptional meats, delicious potatoes, as well as seafood, agricultural produce and citrus fruits. The Naxos locals still cultivate the land, breed animals and produce a wealth of local products. Try them in the tavernas and restaurants that pay attention to their ingredients. If anything is worth stocking up on, that would be cheese: source your graviera, arseniko (kefalotyri), anthotyro, mizithra (sweet and sour), touloumotyri, xinogalo, etc. from the island’s dairies.

Y – Yellow split peas of Santorini

Often confused with fava beans, what the Greeks call fava is actually yellow split pea.  Santorini’s fava comes with references that date back to antiquity (according to prehistoric remains of stored crops and seeds from excavations at Akrotiri, the local variety of Lathyrus clymenum has been cultivated exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years), and besides having many health benefits, it is a delicious summer food, served with lemon, onions, or capers.

Z – Stone villages of Zagori 

The villages of Zagori boast wonderful stone guesthouses, impeccably restored, that offer high quality services and genuine hospitality. The cost is rather steep during the winter months, but reasonable in the summer. The less famous the village, the more budget friendly the options, but you can also find good offers in the more popular villages since there is a plethora of options available.



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