A small harbour directly south from Heraklion, about two hours drive, about 30km east of Matala.
Quiet and peaceful, plenty of good quality accomodation, fantastic restaurants.
Lentas sits in its own micro climate at the foot of a mountain, there is only one road in and out, a long beach to the west, and several beautiful bays to the east with a fishing port newly built, accessed by a precipitous road from Lenas.
All in, its a place of peace and tranquility, hardly known but easy to reach.
Almosy directly south from Heraklion, head for Matala, but stay east across the plain. Its not easy to find the road over the mountain, but local people will guide you.
Google map: bit.ly/10moNjk
Just 6km north of the beautiful, sleepy fishing harbour of Gytheio on the Mani peninsular is a stunning shipwreck standing defiantly on a perfect beach. It was an incredible sunrise. With the help of a rental car, out of peak-season camping is so easy on beaches of the Peloponnese - remote and tranquil.
Hotels, tavernas and cafes are also available in Gytheio, and to the south are more unspoilt beaches, extending down the rugged but accessible 'Mani'.
Valtaki, Lakonia, Peloponnese
Google map: bit.ly/18718Yj
First tip for travelling in Greece is to go in late September/early October! The crowds are gone, the beaches are empty and the weather is still hot and accommodation/tours are about half the price of the August peak.
Milos is a lovely, lesser-known island close to Santorini but I think the people are friendlier and the island more romantic than Santorini (if that's possible.) In Milos, rent a car (Giorgio's in particular, good prices, Giorgio himself seems dependable and he actually gives receipts) and drive to all the beaches - Sarakiniko looks like the surface of the moon and looks simply surreal. Another beach Tsigrado is stunning and isolated and well worth the death-defying cliff descent. Take a day trip as well by boat to see Kleftiko, where the pirates used to hide - unmissable! Tours in October are about 35 euros (down from 70 euros in August!)
Tour boats are available all along the main pier. Milos is easily accessible by ferry from Piraeus.
Google map: bit.ly/13KnF6d
It's a lovely village on the northern coast of Kos. Only 15 minutes from the airport and decades away from the tourist resorts in other parts of Kos. The beach is long and gets a constant breeze - good for watersports but equally good to keep cool. Water doesn't get deep quickly so ideal swimming for all. Village is full of fantastic real Greek restaurants serving great value very fresh meals. Sunsets here can rival anywhere in the world. Ferry from the village goes over to Kalymnos if you fancy a change of scene and also easy to get around the area on bike or by car. Tourist operators don't go here (thank goodness) but plenty of independent great value accommodation right on the beach.
We are just back from two weeks “island hopping” in the Sporades. The price of flights being so high, we bought a two week package including flight, transfer and accommodation on Skiathos for little more than the cost of a flight, but absconded from the package tour accommodation and backpacked for part of the two weeks to Alonissos and Skopolos. Alonissos is an unspoilt island: one road, one bus (no service in school term time), and three taxis!! Village rooms on both Alonissos and Skopelos were easy to find, and we stayed at Maria’s house on Alonissos: situated in a quiet side road (they all are!), 50m back from the port in the only town Patitiri. We had breakfast every morning on our terrace in Maria’s lovely garden under the lemon trees. We paid 30 Euros a night for a spotless en-suite room. There is superb walking and swimming on Alonissos: but to get the best you will need to buy the guide “Alonissos Through the Souls of Your Feet” by Chris Browne available at www.travelleur.com. Although there’s only one main road, car hire is available which will get you to the start of walks and also secluded beaches at 25 Euros a day from Albedo Travel (abbedotravel.com) who also organise sea kayak trips.
Pension Gioula: e-mail email@example.com +30 24240 65301
South Pelion has everything to offer at all seasons. Walk on ancient stone paths under plane and olive trees with glorious views of the Pagasitikos gulf or the Aegean. Swim at deserted pebbled coves or beaches with swathes of fine sand. Select from a range of reasonably priced places to stay and enjoy food in fish restaurants, small tavernas that offer regional cuisine, or more international eateries such as Casablanca in Horton. Visit traditional hill top villages with quiet, plane tree shaded cobbled squares, little fishing harbours, historical sites, tiny fresoed churches or the market in Argalasti for local produce including home brewed local spirit tsipouro. In addition you can take a trip to nearby Skiathos on board the Africana from Platania for a day or two of partying. You will certainly be glad to return to the peace and beauty of South Pelion.
Campsites include Louisa at Platanias (www.camplouisa.gr/en/draseis.html), hotels include Kima and Des Roses in Platanias and accommodation includes Katerina in Pelion and Valtoudi in Milina.
Cheaper flights to Corfu now make organising your own bespoke holiday easy on an island that still has miles of unspoilt coastline. And with rooms and apartments to rent from £300 a week it’s a great way to enjoy the Greek experience on a budget. Just 15 miles south of Corfu airport is the village of Messonghi. A picture hanging in a local taverna shows a large group of the villagers socialising on the beach and is titled “1974 BT – before tourism”. Eating in local tavernas is part of what make this type of holiday special. Great affordable food and an authentic Greek experience. There is a small coast road that follows the contours of the many bays going south in the direction of Boukari, Petriti and Notos. It’s only 10 miles long and with hardly any traffic it is a beautiful walk or bike ride. Bikes can be hired for just five euro a day in Messonghi. With a taverna roughly every mile you can stop to refresh yourself and sample the delicious seafood before wallowing in the clear warm water. Spiros Taverna in Boukari is renowned for the fish it serves. Petriti has a small fishing fleet and is a stop-over for flotilla holidaymakers. Stamatis Taverna right on the beach is straight out of Zorba the Greek and little has changed since the film was made. Ask for the local wine, its wonderful. If you want to sample the real Greece and not just sit around a pool, then this could be the holiday for you.
Accommodation in Messonghi:
Google map: bit.ly/11QZMjc
Spiros Taverna Boukari
Syros is an undiscovered gem of an island. Off the beaten track for mass tourism, this lovely town has so much to offer. Within easy reach of Athens via ferry, and a faster hydrofoil in the summer, it even has its own airport with a daily flight to Athens taking 30 minutes. The main town of Ermoupolis has an attractive harbour with many tavernas on the waterfront. Wander through the little backstreets, see the huge marble square and town hall, walk up the narrow streets and many steps to Ano Syros. Visit the impressive Venetian style houses in Vaporia, built for sea captains. Several beaches are just a bus ride away or hire a moped for the day. The sandy beach at Kini has beachside tavernas, as does Azolimnos, the nearest beach to Ermoupolis. Even in the winter, the island is a buzzing, lively place to visit, as it is the capital of the Cyclades. Well worth a stop over if you are island hopping, sailing, or for a day trip.
Google map: bit.ly/12SImQt
The highest point in Athens. You can walk to the top using the footpaths but it is fun to catch the funicular railway (Telefrik). It is about a ten minute walk from Kolonaki square through some steep backstreets, but the funicular station is not well signposted. The little trains run every thirty minutes, and more frequently in busy times and costs six euros return. The views from the top are absolutely stunning.
10 minutes walk from Kolonaki square.
Google map: bit.ly/11w8a1O
The city of Nicopolis was built by Octavian (Emperor Augustus) to celebrate his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium which took place just off the coast.
Today the ruins are largely free of tourists and beautifully overgrown but curious visitors who follow the paths and agricultural roads around the sprawling archaeological site will discover the remains of a Roman odeion, a nymphaea, an amphitheatre, a stadium, the foundations of a villa, a necropolis, mosaics, and stretches of the original Roman walls.
On a nearby hillside the Monument of Augustus stood on the site of Octavian's war camp and originally showcased the spoils of battle including bronze rams cut from the bows of Antony and Cleopatra's ships.
The Archaeological Museum of Preveza tells the story of the ancient city and displays finds from the site. Visit first and you will have a better feel for the history. The admission ticket covers entry to the museum and the archaeological site.
Preveza in Epirus, North West Greece is within reach of Parga and Lefkada by car.
Buses from Preveza bus station to Ioannina (or other local services) pass the museum and the archaeological site. Getting back to Preveza is difficult as buses are irregular and it's a good 30 mins walk.
Details of opening times and admission free days: odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh3530.jsp?obj_id=2575
Google map: bit.ly/1624kkj
Mystra: ‘The Despotate of Mystra’ as it was known in the 14th Century. The most complete, dramatically sited and atmospheric Byzantine city in Greece. With magnificent views into the valley below it huddles against a steep cliff at the foot of the Taiyetos mountain range in the south eastern Peloponnese. Narrow streets and alleys give access to medieval semi-ruined houses, palaces and churches, some of the latter having brilliant ‘fresco’s. We felt we had entered the Byzantine world.
Whichever route you take to Mystra you will experience great scenery as well as having the opportunity to visit classical sites.
Google map: bit.ly/YVjTaD
After the visits to myriad marble columns, temple remnants, and paved roads, the Kouros of Naxos are a refreshing change. The three Kouros are prostrate statues still lying where they were being chiselled from the local marble. Dating from 6th or 7th Century BC, these male forms are believed to be either the God Dionysus, or perhaps local heroes, destined to grace temples. They lie in the open countryside where skilled hands worked on the marble slabs until fatal flaws were revealed or the stone fractured. The statues were then discarded, unfinished, and irretrievable. These are sites of heroic failure and are touching and impressive reminders of the minor craftsmen behind the great antiquities. The best Kouros are at Apollon (10.3m long) and near the central town of Melanes. All are accessible by foot.
Getting there: local buses from Naxos port to Melanes or to Apollon. Kouros of Flerio, Kouros of Potamia are near Melanes and the largest is near Apollon.
Google map: bit.ly/10gGC28
While we were staying at the Peloponnese sea town of Natplio we went to see the amphitheatre at Epidavros, extraordinarily preserved and set against a stunning backdrop. We saw a performance of the Greek tragedy, Medea by Euripides along with thousands of others. The acoustics and atmosphere were truly memorable.
The town is located in the North Eastern Peloponnese and the best way to get there is by car which is a three hour drive from Athens via Corinth. Designated buses also run from Natplio.
Google map: bit.ly/13aIqOh
An ambling six km walk through the Sirikan Gorge, amid cooling chestnut groves, wild olives and plane trees, brings you to the ruined hilltop acropolis of Polyrinia, ‘rich in lambs’. A powerful city-state built by the Achaens, it dominated western Crete and later flourished under the Romans, who added a subterranean reservoir and aqueduct. It was re-colonized in Byzantine and Venetian times and there is much to see among its ruined fortifications, decorative arches, rock-cut tombs and later Church of the Holy Fathers. Rest in the shaded chapel courtyard and admire the jaw-dropping views of Kissamos Bay and the White Mountains before turning back for the sleepy village of Ano Paleokastra. Call in on Yiorgos’ workshop where he’ll ply you with olives and raki until you buy one of his beautiful olive wood boxes, or just pet his friendly dog, Lula.
With remains of one of the seven cities mentioned in the Iliad, the home of writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and the chapel where Bruce Chatwin's ashes are buried, this is Greece ancient and modern - and for modern comforts stay at Anniska or Liakoto in the village.
An amazing site for everyone to enjoy including families, with its legends and myths of the minotaur, impressive frescoes and murals and space to explore and wander without rush. This is a centre of Minoan civilisation and culture. There is enough information for enthusiasts, a decent shop, nice cafe and unintrusive staff who let you take your time to absorb the atmosphere and wonder of this important historic site. The dolphins and griffins in murals appeal to the younger visitors and there is plenty of shade when a break needed from the sun and heat. Wonderful.
This was the most unassuming, beautiful, restful spot one could imagine. An hour from the airport through hilly countryside and quiet villages takes you to this wonderful place in the middle of Crete, among mountains and olive groves with the most amazing views from your bedroom balcony on waking. Eleonas is a treasure, peaceful and with amenities like air con, swimming pool and fantastic Cretan traditional cooking. They love children which was a bonus and helpful with anything you need.Great value too, you can book per night. There is also a lovely lake…walkable, and quaint village with tavernas for a local treat. Pure Simple Bliss.
This was the most unassuming, beautiful, restful spot one could imagine. An hour from the airport through hilly countryside and quiet villages takes you to this wonderful place in the middle of Crete, among mountains and olive groves with the most amazing views from your bedroom balcony on waking. Eleonas is a treasure, peaceful and with amenities like air con, swimming pool and fantastic Cretan traditional cooking. They love children which was a bonus and helpful with anything you need. Great value too, you can book per night. There is also a lovely lake, walkable and quaint village with tavernas for a local treat. Pure simple bliss.
It is a lovely peaceful guesthouse, perfect for an idyllic break away from the crowds and is located in Greece, on the beautiful mount of Pelion, in a village called Portaria. Klio, who runs the guesthouse, is the perfect host and had a lot of suggestions for day trips in the surrounding area, which has many interesting sights.
Αmazing landscapes full of forests, breathtaking views over the sea, spectacular beaches and many picturesque villages in the area.
The hotel is surrounded by a nice garden. All the rooms of Klio are very clean and built according to the traditional style of Pelion.
It is uses a stone which is produced only on this mountain.
+30 24280 99222
With so many places to stay on Crete, how do you decide? One of my favourite resorts on the north coast of Crete is Agia Pelagia, a lovely, laid-back seaside village ideal for a relaxing holiday on Crete.
Its main sandy beach is ideal for children, and the clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
There's also a good choice of cafes, bars and family run tavernas. One of the must eat places is the new bar/restaurant Almyra - it's a slice of Myknonos in Agia Pelagia with great cocktails and delicious food.
Agia Pelagia is within striking distance of bustling Heraklion and the ancient ruins at Knossos, so it's well positioned for some sightseeing.
In terms of hotels and apartments there's a good selection.
Google map: bit.ly/RbqDeO
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