Hidden away in the Northern Sporades east of Athens, the unspoiled island paradise that is Skopelos has shot to world fame thanks to the 2007 shooting of the record-breaking film version of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!. Doubling up as the fictional Greek island ‘Kalokairi’ in the film, lush little Skopelos stole the show and fans went to great lengths to uncover its identity.
As the country is primarily considered a summer destination it comes as a surprise to many people that there are ski resorts in Greece. But in fact the Greek mainland is composed almost entirely of mountains and foothills, from the Peloponnese in the south to the north around Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki in north-east Greece is the country’s second city, with a buzzing vibe and a rich cultural heritage stretching over 2,000 years. The Byzantines, Turks and Jews have all passed through this seaside metropolis and all left their mark on the city.
Greece is a deeply religious country and accordingly celebrating Christmas in Athens is a solemn occasion centered around family and the Greek Orthodox church. Celebrations may be more muted than ever in 2013 following several years of austerity.
Greece is primarily considered a summer destination but there are plenty of reasons to visit over winter. Prices are cheaper and temperatures are reasonable, at around 52°F (11°C) in Athens. Visiting Greece in winter also means that the lack of crowds at the major attractions makes sightseeing more relaxed.
Corfu sits off the west coasts of both Greece and Albania in the Ionian Sea, an island carpeted with olive groves and with pockets of modern beach resorts scattered around the coastline. There’s plenty to do on Corfu for cruise visitors; catch a taxi from the cruise port to spend the day on one of dozens of beaches, head for a pampering spa in a classy beach hotel or hike along way-marked paths through the olive groves.