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The Greek mainland: travel tips for a holiday full of culture and bathing fun
On the Greek mainland you can expect not only wonderful beaches, but also 13 of the currently 18 world cultural heritage sites in Greece. If you are planning a vacation on the Greek mainland, you can look forward to a varied time with many cultural highlights, but also with plenty of time to relax. In our holiday guide we present you the best holiday areas and the most beautiful beaches on the Greek mainland. We'll also give you tips for a family vacation.
Table of Contents:
1. General information for your vacation on the Greek mainland
- Best travel time: The months are due to the Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers May to September ideal for a beach holiday. The months of March and April as well as October and November offer optimal weather conditions for hiking, sightseeing and visiting cultural sites. In the winter months the coastal regions are quite rainy. Winter sports fans can choose from more than 20 idyllic winter sports areas in the very mountainous interior of the country.
- Arrival & preparation: Of the 15 international airports in Greece, six are on the mainland and cover the cardinal points southeast (Athens), southwest (Kalamata), west (Patros), east (Volos), north (Thessaloniki) and northeast (Kavala). The flight time from Germany is between two and a half and three hours, depending on the flight. The time difference to CEST is plus 1 hour. Alternatively, it is also possible to travel by car ferries. It is recommended to travel from Venice / Trieste (via Ancona) to Patras. The ferries take around 35 hours from Northern Italy and around 21 hours from Ancona. If you are arriving by plane or car ferry from Italy, your identity card is sufficient for entry. Travel plugs for different types of sockets are also not required in Greece.
- Public transportation: In 2004 the S-Bahn was opened in Athens, with which you can easily get to Piraeus and the airport. With the Greek State Railways there are also long-distance connections from Athens to the Peloponnese peninsula and to Thessaloniki and from here to Thrace.
Tip: In order to be able to explore the beautiful Greek landscape more flexibly, however, we recommend that you take a rental car.
- Money: Greece is a member of the euro area, so you can pay with the euro. Special service such as friendliness or speed should also be rewarded with tips in Greece. An exception are restaurants where the tip is already included in the price.
2. The most beautiful regions on the Greek mainland
The Greek mainland offers many varied regions in which you can spend a vacation according to your taste. Those looking for peace and quiet as well as those interested in culture will find their place here as well as sun worshipers and beach lovers. We start our little holiday guide for mainland Greece in the south and then work our way up to the north little by little. Here we go!
Attica - the cultural center of Greece around Athens
Located on the southeastern tip of the mainland, Attica is the smallest region in terms of area, but most of the people live here with just under four million inhabitants. The main reason for this is that the Greek capital Athens with about 664,000 inhabitants. The journey to Attica therefore takes place via the largest airport in the country, the International Eleftherios Venizelos Airport Athens. It is located about 25 kilometers east of downtown Athens and you can get to the city center within 30 minutes by metro line 3.
You have arrived in the country's cultural, historical and economic center. Athens is Worth a trip in every season. In summer, the rich cultural offerings can be combined with a beach holiday on Attica's beaches. This is also necessary, because Athens' location, surrounded by mountains in the west, north and east, makes it particularly hot here in summer. A pure one City trip is therefore particularly worthwhile in the spring and autumn.
The two world cultural heritage sites are located on Attica Acropolis of Athens and that is especially known for its mosaics Daphni Monastery nine kilometers northwest of the capital. Other ancient sites are Cape Sounion at the southernmost tip of Attica with a ruin of the ancient marble temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and the suburb of Athens Elefsina, about 30 kilometers to the northwest. The place was called Eleusis in antiquity and was the scene of initiation and consecration rites around the deities Demeter and Kore. In addition, there are of course many museums, churches and squares in Athens that are well worth seeing. Important Port cities on Attica are the cities Piraeus in the southwest and Rafina in the east, from which a number of ferry connections to the islands depart.
World famous: the Acropolis in Athens
Peloponnese - The peninsula of historical landscapes
This region covers about three quarters of the peninsula of the same name in the southwest of the mainland. The is about ten kilometers east of the airport Port city of Kalamatathat many of you should be familiar with in connection with the “Kalamon” olive variety. The city with almost 70,000 inhabitants is located in the center of the historical landscape of Messenia on the Messenian Gulf. Among other things, the Temple of Apollo at Bassae, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The historical landscape occupies the southeastern part of the peninsula Laconia a. Here you can see the remains of the once mighty ancient city of Sparta marvel at. Also the Byzantine ruined city Mystras As a World Heritage Site, it is definitely worth a visit. You should also deal with the Stalactite cave near Pyrgos Dirou Do not miss one of the most beautiful stalactite caves in Europe. Bathing fun in Laconia is guaranteed by the beaches on the Messenian Gulf in the west, the Laconian Gulf in the south and the Aegean Sea in the east.
North of Laconia closes Arcadia at. The landscape covers the center of the Peloponnese peninsula. Wide plains and an infinite number of hills determine the landscape here, which is why the area is mainly used for pasture farming. In the middle of it lies in a valley and surrounded by the highlands of Arcadia and the Pamon Mountains University city of Tripoli. It is also the capital of the entire Peloponnese region. In the east, the Kynuria coastal strip stretches along the Argolic Gulf with idyllic beaches between Astros and Leonidi.
Argolis on the east coast is one of the most important centers of the Mycenaean culture with the world heritage sites Mycenae and Tiryns as well as the ancient city of Epidaurus. Other historical cities are Argos, the oldest continuously populated city in Europe, and Nafplio, the capital of modern Greece from 1829 to 1834. In addition, in the seaside resort of Tolo on the Argolic Gulf with the Golden Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
Fantastic fish awaits you in the port city of Patras
In the northeast of the peninsula is the historical landscape Corinthia with the capital Corinth. In the city known from the Pauline letters of the New Testament you can still today with the former Acrocorinth fortress visit another important site of antiquity. Those in Corinthia are also worth seeing Ruins of Nemea and the ancient cities Isthmia and Sikyons. Make a detour to the Corinth Canal in Isthmia. It artificially separates the Peloponnese from the mainland and is an imposing structure. There are also some seaside resorts such as Xylokastro on the coast of the Corinthian Gulf.
In the north of the peninsula there are still the landscapes Achaia and Eliswhich, administratively, already belong to western Greece. Among other things, the important ones are located here Port city of Patras or the ancient city of Olympia. The Peloponnese is therefore ideally suited to walk in the footsteps of ancient Greece. And in between you can leave your own tracks in the sand of the beaches around the peninsula.
►►► You want to walk in the footsteps of the Greek gods even more during your vacation? Then we have some tips for you here!
Central Greece - a variety of landscapes for bathing, hiking or skiing holidays
Our next stop in our holiday guide for mainland Greece is the region of Central Greece. It borders Attica in the southeast and extends a good 200 kilometers inland to the north. The region is bordered in the southwest by the Gulf of Corinth and in the northeast by the Gulf of Evia. So you don't have to open here either Beaches with green-blue waters dispense. But the region has a lot more to offer. Inland, the landscape is from high mountains, dense forests and rushing rivers. In the coastal areas, the natural beaches tempt you to swim in crystal clear waters.
The Temple of Athena at Delphi
So in Central Greece both Bathing and hiking vacationers as well as friends of the Winter sports on your costs. Holidays are possible here all year round. Variety offers you a large selection of possible leisure activities. From water sports such as diving, surfing or parasailing to hiking and river trekking on ancient paths in a magically beautiful nature to winter sports in the ski areas around Mount Parnassus. Central Greece is perfect for all of these activities.
A journey via the international airport Nea Anchialos not far from Volos is strategically favorable. But even when arriving via Athens, the distance is still acceptable depending on the destination. The regional capital Lamia is about 200 kilometers away from Athens. In addition, the train route from Athens to Thessaloniki runs through the region.
Among the cultural sights, the one that is part of the world cultural heritage stands out Delphi archaeological site emerged. The world-famous oracle of Delphi was located here in ancient times. The site is one of the most frequently visited sights in Greece and also has a temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
Another place worth seeing in Central Greece is that, according to legend, was inhabited by nymphs Coryk grotto on Parnassus above Delphi. In the small port town of Galaxidi on the Gulf of Corinth, the typical captain's houses make up the very special charm. Here you can also admire two magnificent churches from the 18th century and an interesting maritime museum.
The one belonging to the region Evia Island particularly impresses with its wooded areas with waterfalls and wonderful beaches.
Thessaly - Picturesque mountain villages and beaches of rare beauty
We move further north and are now in the Thessaly region. The capital Larisa has about 160,000 inhabitants and is located in the center of the Thessalian plain, a fertile area for olive and wine production. It is a modern university town and is home to, among other things, the largest ancient marble theater in Greece. The coastal region is located exclusively in the eastern part of the region and includes the Pagasitic Gulf with the port city of Volos and an approximately 150 km long coastal strip along the Aegean Sea. The most beautiful beaches are on the delightful Pelion Peninsula. There are inexpensive travel options via the airports in Volos, Athens and Thessaloniki.
A real eye-catcher: the Meteora monasteries
Our travel tip for sports enthusiasts: hiking is particularly recommended in the catchment area of the city of Kalambaka. It is located at the foot of the Meteora monasteries, which are located on very steep cliffs and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Developed hiking trails offer a breathtaking view here. The area around Mount Ossa is known for organized 4x4 tours. Mountain bike tours and gorge hikes are also possible holiday activities here. The calm waters of the Pagasitic Gulf in the region around Volos are wonderful for sailing and canoeing. The seaside resort of Agiokambos about 50 kilometers east of the capital Larisa is a popular spot for windsurfers.
Epirus - landscape of many faces
A year-round holiday in the Epirus region bordering Thessaly to the west is also worthwhile. The diverse and different landscapes spread out in front of you like a fan. Picturesque villages alternate with cosmopolitan cities, small bays and hidden beaches can be found on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Mountains and gorges with rushing rivers characterize the landscape inland. kayak on the river Aoos and Rafting popular holiday activities here are on the Voidomatis and Arachthos Rivers. Adventure and tranquility are equally possible in Epirus.
A paradise not only for water sports enthusiasts: Epirus
The regional capital Ioannis has a population of around 115,000 and has a lovely old town on a peninsula that is surrounded by the walls of the original fortress. They are also impressive Its Kale Castle as well as the Byzantine Museum. The historical area of the Zagorochoria is home to monasteries that are well worth seeing. Popular excursion destinations are the Vikos Aoos National Park, the Dragon lakes Smolikas and Gamila at 2,000 meters above sea level, two beautiful old stone villages called Syrakko & Kalarytes or the Tsoumerka waterfalls with a height of 125 meters.
The cultural wealth of Macedonia and Thrace
In administrative terms, Macedonia is divided into the regions of West Macedonia, Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace. West Macedonia is an inland region without a sea coast and borders Albania in the north. Central Macedonia with long coastlines in the south and the wonderful peninsula of Chalkidiki are interesting for a beach holiday. On the "Three Finger Peninsula" there is another world cultural heritage site in Greece, the Mount Athos. Unfortunately women are not allowed to visit this autonomous monastic republic.
Thessaloniki is the regional capital of Central Macedonia and the country's second largest metropolis. The city is modern and cosmopolitan and has important Christian and Muslim landmarks as sights. Macedonia also has numerous archaeological sites to offer that you should not miss. These include the archaeological site of the ancient city of Aigai not far from Vergina or the ancient city of Stageira in Halkidiki, which is known to every Greek as the birthplace of Aristotle.
Christianity and Islam are united in Thessaloniki
Sandy coastal strips, inland waters such as rivers and lakes, valleys with dense forests and high mountains with snow-capped peaks make Macedonia a region with diverse landscapes. Therefore, the vacation activities here range from Hiking, rafting, water sports and skiing. For the latter, we recommend Grevena Vasilitsa on Mount Tymfristos at an altitude of 2,315 meters or the Seli ski center.
In northeastern Greece, Thrace forms the interface between Europe and Asia. The mosques, bazaars and the wealth of Byzantine and Ottoman monuments are evidence of this. But a jump into the cool water is also possible in Thrace. The coast of the northern Aegean offers many beautiful beaches from Makri to Alexandroupoli.
3. The most beautiful beaches on mainland Greece
With around 8,000 kilometers of coastline, it is clear that mainland Greece is rich in seaside resorts with many beaches. We have picked out the most beautiful beaches and would like to introduce them to you here so that nothing stands in the way of your dream vacation on the dream beach in Greece.
# 1 Bela Vraka Beach
Bela Vraka beach is one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in the Epirus region, but unfortunately also one of the most popular, so you have to share it with many other holidaymakers. Access to the beach is on foot. To do this, you have to wade a short distance through very shallow water that is at most knee-high. At the destination, a small island of natural beauty awaits you. There are no cafes or restaurants here, therefore as tip: Bring enough food and drink with you to fully enjoy the long day at the beach. But all the effort is worth it, Bela Vraka Beach is an extraordinary beach that is definitely worth a visit!
# 2 Voidokilia Beach
The very popular beach in Messenia forms the shape of the Greek letter Omega (Ω) with a semicircular strip of dunes. On the land side of the dune strip is the Gialova Lagoon, an important habitat for birds. The parking lot for the beach can be reached via sandy paths either from the parking lot of the Gialova lagoon, which is also used by bird watchers, or from Petrochori via the north side.
The Voidokilia Beach is considered friendly for Nudist lovers and the LGBT community. At the southwest end of the beach, a hiking trail begins to the Nestor Cave, in which, according to legend, Hermes hid the cattle stolen by Apollo. A little further the path leads to the ruins of a Franconian castle from the thirteenth century.
Not only a feast for the eyes from above: The Voidokilia Beach
# 3 Ammolofoi Beach
About 1 kilometer from the village of Nea Peramos, behind the Byzantine castle Anaktoroupolis, is the beach of Ammolofoi with a length of 3 kilometers. The fine sand in connection with the crystal clear and shallow water creates a magical, almost exotic landscape, which is why the beach is well visited every year. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and has the largest volume of sand. The beach is equipped with sun beds, umbrellas and parking spaces. You can enjoy your coffee in a café while enjoying the sea view endless blue of the Aegean Sea enjoy. When the weather is clear, Thassos and Mount Athos can be seen in the distance. Natural rock formations separate the Ammolofoi beaches in Ammolofoi I, II and III from east to west.
Those of you who prefer more privacy or freedom of movement are in good hands, especially on the first and third dunes. Many natural beaches and relatively few other bathers await you here. In the south of the bay, the small cape Vrasida extends into the sea, which has many small beaches and bays for swimming and exploring.
# 4 Golden Beach
Tolo is a former fishing village on the Argolic Gulf with a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and bars. There is also something to do here in the evening. At Golden Beach there are a variety of Water sports such as surfing, water skiing, pedal boating and diving offered. The beach here consists of fine sand, with a few pebbles in the western part. The water is shallow so it's a perfect destination for families with young children is. The best and widest part of the beach is on the east side of the village. There are three small islands off the coast.
On Daskaleio and Romvi there are remains of a Venetian fortress and on Romvi there are also remains of Mycenaean walls. There is also a church on Daskalei that was built in 1688. A church dedicated to the Twelve Apostles was also built on the smallest of the three islands, Koronisi, which is close to the coast. You can easily explore the islands with a pedal boat - perfect for those who want to bring a bit of variety to their beach day on Golden Beach.
# 5 Karidi Beach
Karidi beach is located 53 km southeast of Poligiros on the bay of Vourvourou in Sithonia, the central peninsula of Chalkidiki. He is famous for his exceptionally beautiful landscape. The beach is at the end of Vourvourou and is a mixture of rocky outcrops on fine white sandy beaches. The deep green water of the beach is very clear and shallow enough for small children to take their first attempts at swimming. The beach has several taverns with fresh seafood and traditional dishes. The resort of Vourvourou is rich in accommodation and tourist facilities.
Karidi Beach at sunset - pure romance!
# 6 Sani Beach
Sani Beach is 45 km south of Poligiros and 10 km from the village of Nea Fokea. The beach is made up of sand and has clean, deep blue water. The water quality here is so good that Sani Beach with the Blue flag was awarded. Along the coast there is a longer piece of trees that offer visitors a cool shade and create a relaxed atmosphere. Sani is a well organized resort with modern facilities and numerous accommodation options.
Festivals are regularly held on this beach and some are held in the summer Environmental activities instead of. A highlight for all environmentalists is Environment Day, when seminars are held to educate people about the importance of beach cleanliness. The area around Sani Beach is special and features some rare species of flora and fauna.
# 7 Sounion Beach
This sandy beach about 70 kilometers south of Athens is famous for the Temple of Poseidon and the impressive sunsets. Cape Sounion is a magnificent rocky promontory that rises from the Aegean Sea and one of the most popular attractions around Athens is. It can therefore get quite crowded here in summer. There are many fish taverns nearby where you have to try freshly caught fish.
But the real highlight is clearly the Temple of Poseidon. Swimming in the sea creates an incredible feeling when you look up and see the impressive Temple of Poseidon, majestically staring down at you! You will be delighted with this experience.
You have this view of the Poseidon Temple while swimming at Sounion Beach
# 8 Agios Mamas Beach
The peaceful beach of Agios Mamas is 23 km southwest of Poligiros and 5 km east of Nea Moudania. It is a very long and wide sandy beach that is very popular with locals and foreign bathers. The turquoise, clear water invites you to swim and there are numerous sun loungers and umbrellas available on land. The nearby town of the same name is a picturesque village with cozy cafes and restaurants. All necessary beach accessories are available in the beach shops. The beach itself is well organized and offers one barrier-free access.
# 9 Kalogria Beach
Kalogria Beach is long and narrow and consists of soft sand. What makes Kalogria so attractive is actually more the water than the beach. The water is shallow and calm and is ideal not only for children to play, but also for those who like to swim far outside or on an air mattress. A rock protruding near the shore offers excellent opportunities for Snorkeling.You can even hereTo learn diving.
The shallow and calm water is ideal for water sports. Kalogria Beach is also ideal for families thanks to the lifeguards working there. However, all the advantages of Kalogria Beach have their price: Unfortunately, it is always well attended. So it's best to visit it in early or late summer to find a quiet place for yourself. Also note that you need a car to get here.
►►► Here you can find the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece
Popular with divers and snorkelers: Kalogria Beach
4. Family vacations in mainland Greece
Children are always welcome in Greece, which makes the country an ideal travel destination for families. When planning your vacation with your family, however, you should keep in mind that your children naturally want to have fun and don't necessarily want to spend hours looking at ancient sites. Fortunately, there are numerous activities that you can do with your kids all over mainland Greece. We have collected some of them for you here:
- In Athens, for example, is that Battleship "Averof" in the Trocadero museum harbor. Browsing through the crew quarters, the admiral's salon, the engine room and the captain's bridge, your children can let their imaginations run wild and they will get red cheeks with enthusiasm.
- It is a wonderful spectacle on the Peloponnese peninsula, at the eastern exit of the canal To see the bridge sinking into the canal bedwhen the ships come in. Then the ships pull past you and your kids within reach and the bridge comes out dripping wet. A real spectacle for all ship fans.
- In Central Greece it is worth visiting the Evia Island. Directly on the main road between Prokópi and Mandoúdi, a swaying wooden suspension bridge leads over a stream and to the largest plane tree in Greece. With a total height of 28 meters, it also measures just as many meters in the circumference of the crown. The attraction for children is the hollow trunk with a diameter of more than six meters, which makes an ideal playground.
- In Thessaly we recommend one Ride on the narrow-gauge railway between Áno Lechoniá and Miliés. It runs in summer on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. and is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway with the whole family. The journey takes a good hour with a coffee break. When you arrive at the train station in Miliés, you have three hours to visit the lovely village. At 4 p.m. the journey goes back towards Vólos.
- In Macedonia and Thrace, you can charter cheap boats for trips to uninhabited islands and secluded beaches. The Miniature train Tsaf Tsuf is an attraction in Thessaloniki that will delight your children. Waterland is one of the largest fun pools in Greece - fun for your little ones is inevitable here too. It is located about 20 kilometers south of Thessaloniki on the Chalkidikí peninsula. With giant slides, a wave pool, an artificial river for rubber dinghy rides and a mini zoo, the fun pool has everything a child's heart could desire.
►►► If you are now in the mood for the Greek mainland, you will also find suitable offers for every region in Greece for detailed planning!
►►► You can find our detailed vacation guide for the whole of Greece here.
►►► Would you prefer to go to a Greek island? In our post about the Greek islands you will find the right one for you!
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