Just about everybody who comes to Greece sets their sights for the blue-domed steeples and white adobe-style homes of the Greek islands. Who can blame them? Movies like Mamma Mia and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants have done their duty in sparking wanderlust. In the three months I spent in Greece, almost all of it was in the islands. But I did get to experience mainland Greece at the end of the trip. Castles, magic monasteries, walled towns, and mountainous landscapes? I did myself a disservice by not spending more time here. If you’ve got limited time in Greece, here are seven great spots to consider visiting.
As a little girl, Ariti Katsarou loved traveling and experiencing new cultures. After finishing her studies, she decided to combine her love of travel with her love of Greece by becoming a Viator private guide. She literally loves her job leading travelers through Athens’ museums, markets and famous sites.
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.