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Greece


We did not visit Greece for quite a long time, as it was always associated only with a beach vacation. If you have not been to Greece, then most likely you have heard about the Athenian Acropolis, the island of Santorini, perhaps about the islands of Rhodes, Corfu, Crete, and... that's all.

In fact, there are plenty of sights in Greece. They are scattered on the mainland and islands. We planned our trip in a way to see the entire mainland and a couple of islands. It's difficult to visit more than 2-3 islands in a short time, since they are located pretty far away.

Map of Greece
Map of Greece GeoAtlas

When to go

Greece has the standard Mediterranean climate: hot summer and warm winter. June - September are the best month for beach holidays, and April, May October for trips around the country. We were in April, the weather was perfect all the time.

Around Greece by car

The roads on the mainland are good. Autobahns are actively being built, so you need the newest maps. Autobahns are toll, every 10-20 kilometers you will see payment points. Approximate fare can be calculated on the following website https://www.viamichelin.com/. For example from Athens to Thessaloniki we paid 30 euros.

The main problem of the Greek autobahns is their small number. This is especially felt on the Peloponpes Peninsula, where there are a lot of interesting places, but the roads are pretty slow. On the islands, the situation with roads is even worse. Even if they exist, they are very narrow.

Check here http://www.highwaymaps.eu/greece speed ​limits in Greece. There are many speed cameras on the roads. As of 2018 most of them are not working. During our 3000 km trip we did not see police with radars.

Road traffic is really bad. In some places, for example in Thessaloniki, we left the car on the parking lot and took a taxi. However, a minute later our taxi was involved in a road accident!!!

Ferries

We did not use buses and trains, but used ferries. Despite the fact that there are airports on many islands, ferries are the main way to travel. On the Internet you can find dozens of websites with Greek ferries, but the schedules should be checked on this website https://ferries.gtp.gr/.

Greece Ferry Map
Greece Ferry Map @

Financial crisis

It already passed and not visible to tourists. The main problems were in 2009 - 2014, when GDP fell by 26%. Now the economy has stabilized and is growing. In the summer of 2018 Greece for the first time signed an agreement on refusal of financial assistance. And in many places, such as the island of Kefalonia, signs of crisis are not seen at all.

For tourists the crisis means low prices in hotels and restaurants.

Our itinerary

If you plan to see the mainland, then you can fly to Athens or Thessaloniki. For us it was cheaper to Thessaloniki, so we flew there and rented a car.

A little later, we flew over the weekend to see Athens and the surroundings. We will combine both of these trips and describe them in one route. The total mileage is 3000 kilometers.

Day 1 - Thessaloniki
Day 2 - Thessaloniki, Waterfalls in Edessa, Kastoria
Day 3 - Meteora Monasteries
Day 4 - Meteora Monasteries, Vikos Gorge and surroundings
Day 5 - Navagio Beach
Day 6 - Zakynthos (city), Kastro castle (Chlemoutsi), Castle of Saint George, Drapano Bridge, Asos, Myrtos Beach
Day 7 - Fiscardo Bay and the Venetian Lighthouse, Olympia, Fairytale Castle of Agrili, New Fortress (Pylos), Venetian Fortress Metoni
Day 8 - Voidokilia beach, Ghost Town and Mystra Fortress, Sparta, Monemvasia
Day 9 - Monemvasia, Fortress Argos Larisa, Nafplio
Day 10 - Epidaurus Theater, Corinth Canal, Athens
Day 11 - Athens
Day 12 - Lake Vouliagmeni, 300 Spartans, Delphi
Day 13 - Delphi, Platamonas Castle

Day 1 - Thessaloniki

Arrived, took the car in the airport and drove to Thessaloniki. There settled into the hotel and went for a walk around the city

Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Yuriy Buriak

Day 2 - Thessaloniki, Waterfalls in Edessa, Kastoria

In the morning we walked along the deserted embankment

Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Yuriy Buriak

Then we went to Edessa, where visited waterfalls and had lunch.

Waterfalls in Edessa
Waterfalls in Edessa Yuriy Buriak

Next is Kastoria, where we walked around the city, climbed the mountain and spent the night.

Kastoria
Kastoria Yuriy Buriak

Day 3 - Meteora Monasteries

In the morning we went to Kastraki. The road is beautiful and we stopped in the canyon of the Venetikos River (N 40 03.082 E 21 28.763).

Venetikos River Canyon
Venetikos River Canyon Yuriy Buriak

The rest of the day we spent near the famous monasteries of Meteora.

Meteora Monasteries
Meteora Monasteries Yuriy Buriak

Day 4 - Meteora Monasteries, Vikos Gorge and surroundings

In the morning we again walked around

Roussanou Monastery
Roussanou Monastery Yuriy Buriak

And went to the Vikos gorge. On the way stopped near the nameless church on the hill (N 39 44.884 E 21 30.429).

Church on the hill
Church on the hill Yuriy Buriak


Church on the hill
Church on the hill Yuriy Buriak

Arrived at the Vikos gorge and visited many interesting places during the day.

View of the Papingo village and the Vikos-Aoos park
View of the Papingo village and the Vikos-Aoos park Yuriy Buriak

Day 5 - Navagio Beach

In the morning we went 350 kilometers to Killini. Mostly on the new highway, which was not yet in the GPS, we found it ourselves. Bridge Rion - Andirion costs 13 euros.

In Killini we bought tickets for the next ferry to Zakynthos and had lunch. The island turned out to be very budget, but for us it was the first Greek island, so we did not immediately recognize it. Many roads are broken and in some places you have to drive on the beach.

The island has one significant attraction - Navagio Beach, so we went there. Despite short distances, it took quite a long time to get there. 44 kilometers took us an hour and a half, since the roads are very narrow.

Navagio Beach
Navagio Beach Yuriy Buriak

We spent the night in the south of the island, since we wanted to meet the dawn near a beautiful wooden bridge to the island of Cameo (N 37 42.857 E 20 51.863). Though it is visible on Google Map, in reality it was demolished by storm and is no longer there.

To meet the sunset we went to the Keri rocks (N 37 39.309 E 20 48.464). But there everything was closed due to a reconstruction. Therefore, we watched the sunset from behind the fence. From above this place looks like this.

Keri Rocks. Sunset on Zakynthos
Keri Rocks. Sunset on Zakynthos Yuriy Buriak

Day 6 - Zakynthos (city), Kastro castle (Chlemoutsi), Castle of Saint George, Drapano Bridge, Asos, Myrtos Beach

In the morning walked in the capital of the island of Zakynthos

Zakynthos (city)
Zakynthos (city) Yuriy Buriak

Next returned on the ferry to Killini, where bought tickets to Kefalonia. Since we had some free time, we went to Kastro castle.

Kastro castle
Kastro castle Yuriy Buriak

After arriving to Kefalonia, we visited the castle of St. George.

Castle of Saint George (Kefalonia)
Castle of Saint George (Kefalonia) Yuriy Buriak

Walked on the Drapano bridge and had lunch there.

Drapano Bridge
Drapano Bridge Yuriy Buriak

Then we went to Asos. The road is very beautiful, one of the best which we visited. Be sure to drive it closer to sunset.

Kefalonia looks much more well-kept island than Zakynthos. It is clearly seen that the European Union has made significant cash infusion.

Myrtos beach
Myrtos beach Yuriy Buriak

At sunset walked in the fortress of Asos.

Asos
Asos Yuriy Buriak

Day 7 - Fiscardo Bay and the Venetian Lighthouse, Olympia, Fairytale Castle of Agrili, New Fortress (Pylos), Venetian Fortress Metoni

In the morning walked around the Gulf of Fiscardo

Fiscardo Bay and the Venetian Lighthouse
Fiscardo Bay and the Venetian Lighthouse Yuriy Buriak

Next, according to our plan, we had a visit one of the main attractions of the island - the lake and cave Melissani (N 38 15.421 E 20 37.418). But when we arrived there, the sky was overcast and there is no sense in visiting this place in cloudy weather. Therefore, we decided to take an earlier ferry and visit something else, for example as ancient Olympia.

Olympia
Olympia Yuriy Buriak

Then we went to the very south of the Peloponnese peninsula. On the way visited an unusual abandoned house in Agrili.

Fairytale Castle of Agrili
Fairytale Castle of Agrili Yuriy Buriak

And a new fortress in Pylos.

New fortress (Pylos)
New fortress (Pylos) Yuriy Buriak

We spent the night in Methoni, where located a huge Venetian fortress.

Methoni
Methoni Yuriy Buriak

Day 8 - Voidokilia beach, Ghost Town and Mystra Fortress, Sparta, Monemvasia

In the morning we went to the Voidokilia beach.

Voidokilia beach
Voidokilia beach Yuriy Buriak

And then to the abandoned city of Mystra.

Ghost town and Mystra Fortress
Ghost town and Mystra Fortress Yuriy Buriak

An ancient Sparta located nearby.

Sparta
Sparta Yuriy Buriak

The main goal for today was Monemvasia, where we spent the night.

Monemvasia
Monemvasia Yuriy Buriak

Day 9 - Monemvasia, Fortress Argos Larisa, Nafplio

In the morning walked around the medieval Monemvasia.

Monemvasia
Monemvasia Yuriy Buriak

Then we went to Nafplion and on the way visited the fortress of Argos Larissa.

Fortress Argos Larisa
Fortress Argos Larisa Yuriy Buriak

Nearby is the ancient Mycenae (N 37 43.826 E 22 45.260), but we were late and the entrance was already closed. So we went to Nafplion where had a great walk around the town.

Bourtzi Fortress in Nafplio
Bourtzi Fortress in Nafplio Yuriy Buriak

Day 10 - Epidaurus Theater, Corinth Canal, Athens

In the morning we went up to the fortress of Palamidi.

Palamidi fortress in Nafplio
Palamidi fortress in Nafplio Yuriy Buriak

Visited the best-preserved ancient theater in Epidaurus.

Epidaurus Theater
Epidaurus Theater Yuriy Buriak

Corinth Canal

Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal Yuriy Buriak

And settled in a hotel in Athens, where walked in the evening.

View of the Acropolis from Lykavitos Hill
View of the Acropolis from Lykavitos Hill Yuriy Buriak

Day 11 - Athens

Visited Acropolis and other places

Athens
Athens Yuriy Buriak

Day 12 - Lake Vouliagmeni, 300 Spartans, Delphi

In the morning we went to the Lemos Peninsula (N 37 47.880 E 23 46.458) and swam in the lake Vouliagmeni. There are many beaches on the peninsula, so you can swim also in the sea.

Lake Vouliagmeni
Lake Vouliagmeni Yuriy Buriak

After that went to Delphi. On the way visited the place of the battle of three hundred Spartans.

Memorial to Tsar Leonid and 300 Spartans
Memorial to Tsar Leonid and 300 Spartans Yuriy Buriak

In Delphi settled in the hotel, walked around the town and just relaxed.

Day 13 - Delphi, Platamonas Castle

In the morning visited the ancient Delphi

Delphi
Delphi Yuriy Buriak

And drove towards the airport of Thessaloniki. On the way visited the Platamonas castle.

Platamonas castle
Platamonas castle Yuriy Buriak

Useful links:

https://www.greeka.com - official travel site
https://www.greeka.com/greek-islands-guides.htm - information on all islands
https://ferries.gtp.gr/ - ferries
http://www.highwaymaps.eu/greece - autobahns
http://www.greececamping.gr/ - campings
http://tickets.trainose.gr/ - railway tickets
http://ktelbus.com/ - buses
https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en - Acropolis Museum in Athens
http://www.meteo.gr/ - weather forecast
http://mountathosinfos.gr/ - the official site of Athos

Some movies where you can see Greece:

For your eyes only (1981) - James Bond in Meteora (video), a significant part of the film was shot on Corfu Island.

Mamma Mia! (2008) - the famous musical was almost completely filmed on the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos (video)

Lara Croft 2: The Cradle of Life (2003) - opening scene was filmed on Santorini Island

The Bourne Identity (2002) - the final scene of the movie was filmed on the Mykonos island (video)

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) - a melodrama with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz was filmed on the Kefalonia island

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