Vampires in Santorini…? Six Mysterious Greek Islands | Mysterious Greece

haunted greek islands

Greek islands are famous for their picturesque villages, aesthetically pleasing architecture, unique landscapes, and crystal-clear waters. But some of these islands are shrouded in mystery. For example, what is the story behind the vampire islands near the island of Skyros? And who were the “sea demons” that scared the locals on the island of Agkistri?

In the last episode of Helinika’s “Mysterious Greece” series, we discovered the most mysterious places in Athens, Greece. Today, we explore a list of six Greek islands that have sparked the interest of archaeologists, historians, and researchers of the unexplained. From Samothraki island in Northern Aegean to the tiny island of Antikythera, Greece is surrounded by legends, myths, and thrills. Stay till the end because no. 1 will surprise you!

Six Mysterious Greek Islands | Greek Mysteries

  1. Delos Island
  2. Vrykolakonisia (Vampire Islands)
  3. Samothraki Island
  4. Antikythera Island
  5. Salamina Island
  6. Agkistri Island (Kekryfalia)

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The Mysteries of Agkistri

Agkistri (also seen as Angistri or Agistri) is a small island situated in the Saronic Gulf, in close proximity to the city of Athens. It is one of the greenest islands in Greece. That is why ancient Greeks called it “Kekryfalia” – which can be translated as “decorated/ covered head”. Today, Agkistri is mostly known as a popular weekend destination for Athenians. But the beautiful island is also associated with several myths and thrills.

Since ancient antiquity, the people of Agkistri feared the “Telhines” – sea demons who visited other islands as well, such as Rhodes and Crete. Although these creatures allegedly taught humans the art of metallurgy, they were also sorcerers that could cause the “evil eye”; they could harm humans with their jealous stares.

The myth of the Telchines survived for many centuries. In Medieval times, Telchines were now believed to be amphibian monsters that terrorized islanders who wondered around the streets late at night. They were short – not bigger than the size of an average dog – but they looked terrifying.

This is reportedly the reason why many traditional houses in Agkistri have enormous staircases leading to their front door. Many of these houses have ceramic faces built on their walls to scare away the Telchines.

According to modern historians and marine biologists, Medieval fishermen were probably terrified at the sight of the so-called “Jenny Hanivers” that were caught in their fishnets. Jenny Haniver is the name given to the carcass of a ray or devil fish that has been dried out or mummified. Their appearance is… terrifying.

Although Jenny Hanivers were often modified by humans and displayed in museums in the past, they can also result naturally under prolonged exposure to the sun. It is therefore believed that the island of Agkistri was not attacked by sea monsters but rather by… dried out rays. Looking at how these rays looked like, no one can blame the islanders for being terrified!

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Salamina and the Unexplained

Salamina (also known as Salamis or Koulouri) is another island in the Saronic Gulf. It is the closest island to the city of Athens and many Athenians choose to build their summer houses there. The island has a long history and it is mostly known for the battle of Salamis, the important naval battle in 480 BC, which resulted in the victory of the Greeks against the Persians.

But for reasons that are not yet clear, the island has a disproportionate amount of urban legends, ghost stories, and mysteries. For example, there is the story of the “haunted battleship” named “Lemnos” (link in Greek) that caused panic in the naval base of Salamis in 1932 and resulted in a police investigation.

Sailors had repeatedly reported seeing terrifying ghostly apparitions in the corridors. They would often exit the ship in the middle of the night, after hearing unexplained banging on the walls, along with whispers and screams coming out of nowhere.

According to newspaper reports of that time, most of the sailors had at least one terrifying experience and the police had been called to investigate the subject. But the sailors of the neighboring battleship “Ierax II” were not convinced. They decided to stay awake the whole night, staring at the nearby battleship for any paranormal activity.

A sailor named Emmanuel Maxouris couldn’t believe his colleagues believed in ghosts. He stood up and started yelling at them when he saw something staring at him from one of the portholes of “Lemnos”. He looked closely and he saw an emaciated hand touching the porthole and, right behind it, there was a skull staring back at him.

Maxouris ended up being hospitalized, since he passed out right after seeing the skeleton on the nearby battleship. It is not clear what were the findings of the police investigation but, after this incidence, everyone on Salamis believed that something out of this world lurked on the battleship “Lemnos”.

Salamina is full of many similar stories. Many believe that the forest area surrounding the monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is haunted. There is an urban legend that there is an old woman walking in the area late at night, asking people to follow her. If the person is not wearing a cross, he or she follows the woman in a trans-like state and disappears forever. Not only that but many of the nearby abandoned houses are thought to be haunted. Why Salamina has so many scary stories remains a mystery.

Mysterious Places in Athens, Greece | Mysterious Greece

The city of Athens has a history spanning over three thousand years. As you can imagine, the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece is the birthplace of countless important figures, revolutionary ideas, legendary stories, and mysteries. Here are some of the most mysterious places in Athens, Greece.

The Secret in the Sea of Antikythera

Antikythera (also known as Aigilia) is one of the most mysterious Greek islands, after an archaeological discovery in 1901, which changed the way we viewed ancient civilizations. The tiny island is located between Crete and the Peloponnese and it is one of the least touristic Greek destinations.

In 1901, a mysterious artifact in the sea of Antikythera drew the attention of the international scientific community. That is the Antikythera Mechanism that was discovered in a nearby Roman shipwreck by a group of sponge divers from Symi.

The sponge divers had discovered the shipwreck by accident in 1900, after getting stranded in Antikythera thanks to a storm. A year later, they helped the Greek government explore it. The divers recovered several important artifacts: statues, coins, pieces of glasswork, and several other bronze items – including a weird looking machine. Unfortunately, one diver named Georgios Kritikos died during the expedition and two more were paralyzed after suffering from decompression sickness.

The items were transported to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where archaeologists started examining them. That’s when they realized that one of the bronze items was actually a 2000-year-old complicated mechanism that displayed the motion of the universe and calculated astronomical events. The Antikythera Mechanism -as it was named- was the first analogue computer. This finding baffled scientists, since it required manufacturing techniques that are considered too sophisticated for that time period. Its exact use still remains a mystery.

What makes the story even more interesting is the fact that the mechanism was lost in a storm, during an attempt to transport it to Rome, and it was recovered 2000 years later… thanks to a storm. Although Antikythera is not full of mysteries like many of the other islands on the list, the Sea of Antikythera is definitely a mystery!

Mysterious Samothraki

You may know Samothraki thanks to the statue of the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”, which is now displayed in the Louvre. Samothraki (also seen as Samothrace) is an island located in the northern Aegean Sea and a popular summer destination for northern Greeks.

In antiquity, Samothraki was not an area of political or economic significance. But it was an island of religious significance, housing the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, a temple complex where several religious ceremonies used to take place. It was also the meeting point for the members of the Cult of the Great Gods who participated in the Cabeirian Mysteries.  Just like with the Eleusinian Mysteries that we have seen in the past, details regarding the Cabeirian rituals remain a… mystery.

Due to its religious significance, Samothraki continues attracting spiritual people from all around the world. Some of the most popular sights are its waterfalls and Oros Feggari (translated as Mount Moon in English). The island has also its own recent urban legends and stories. For example, many new age believers avoid camping in close proximity to the river Fonias. Fonias (Φονιάς) means “killer” in Greek, but this is not the reason they avoid spending the night there. The area supposedly has a strong energy that… can keep you up at night!

But the weirdest stories about Samothraki surround the “Vdelolimni” a small lake that it is rumored to be the home of the Topakes (Τόπακες) – weird creatures that live under the surface of the Earth and visit our world late at night. If you hear the locals’ descriptions of the Topakes, it doesn’t take long to realize that they refer to what we call “fairies” and “elves” in other parts of the world.

Locals and visitors have also reportedly witnessed a weird phenomenon at Vdelolimni (link in Greek). Every ten years, the lake appears to be boiling and a weird mist surrounds the area. That is your warning sign to leave the place as soon as possible, unless you want to come across the “Skylolakas” – a terrifying dog-like monster that jumps straight out of hell!

Although stories about fairies and other creatures existed since ancient times, the story of Skylolakas is a more recent one. According to the legend, during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, an Ottoman ruler summoned a demon to make sure that locals remain obedient. This resulted in the creation of a portal to hell that opens and closes every ten years.

The Greek Vampire Islands

If you have watched Helinika’s video on ancient Greek vampires, then you already know that legends about the undead existed in Greece for thousands of years. It may be easier to imagine a vampire hiding in a misty forest in Transylvania, but, what if I told you that vampires reportedly lurked in sunny Santorini?

Greek vampires do not have the classic Hollywood look – they are more similar to zombies than to Dracula or Edward Cullen. And they would terrorize the living during the night, by destroying their properties, eating their livestock, and, if they managed to get into a house, they would violently attack anyone living there.

The main reason someone would turn into a “vrykolakas” (as Greeks call vampires) is an improper burial. But the character of the person who was buried also played a role; mean-spirited and jealous people were more at risk. The same goes for people who were wronged and needed to bring justice.

Stories like this survived in many Greek islands -Crete, Santorini, Rhodes…- for thousands of years with only minor differences. In Medieval and Ottoman Greece, locals would often bury the dead in small uninhabited islands, since the “vrykolakas” cannot cross a body of water. These islands are known as “Vrykolakonisia” (Vampire Islands).

Opposite the island of Skyros, there is also a group of islands known also as “Vrykolakonisia”. But the name was reportedly given to these islands after they were used to isolate those who had contracted the bubonic plague during the worst years of the “Black Death”.

For reasons that are not fully clear, there has been an connection between the “Black Death” and legends about vampires. During this health crisis, bodies would be casually buried in a ditch before their proper burial, to avoid spreading the disease. Some patients were buried alive by accident and, when their bodies were dug out to be transported in their final burial ground, their arms and legs were placed in peculiar positions. According to historians, that led people to believe that the dead were angry for being thrown into a ditch without a proper burial ceremony and that turned them into vampires.

The Mysteries of Delos

The most mysterious Greek island is located right at the heart of the Cycladic Archipelago in the Aegean Sea. Apart from the center of the Cyclades, it is also the center of the most extensive archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean. A place with a rich mythological and historical background. This is the mysterious island of Delos.

According to ancient Greek mythology, Delos was the birthplace of god Apollo and goddess Artemis. It is estimated that it was inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC and it later became the meeting point of the cult of Dionysus and Leto. But apart from an important religious site, it soon became a trade, political, and cultural center. Many archaeological findings were transported in Museums in Athens. Others, like the famous lion statues, remain on the sacred island.

The history of Delos has inspired many stories. For example, many people believe that Delos has a strong, almost therapeutic energy, thanks to the repeated cleansings that were performed there by the Athenians but also thanks to the island’s location (it is literally at the epicenter of the Cyclades). Moreover, some people believe that the buildings, sculptures and other items on Delos contain symbols and encrypted messages. Others even claim that the island is visited by UFOs.

Delos is now an archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you can visit during the day by boat from Mykonos, Naxos, or Paros. The only residents are the people who have dedicated their lives in protecting and preserving the artifacts and monuments of Delos. As you can imagine, an island that is a sacred and fully-protected archaeological site deserves the first place on this list.

Which island is the most mysterious island in your opinion? Have you visited any of these places? Leave a comment down below. If you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like and share. If you are new here, subscribe and stay connected! In the description you will find a link to Helinika’s Udemy course for learning Greek, among other helpful links!

Greek Input #5: Greek Animal Vocabulary Input | Comprehensible Input

animals in greek

Welcome to another Greek input language learning video. Today, Helinika will teach you common Greek words that are related to animals. It goes without saying that these include animal names. Comprehensible input is a language learning method that helps you learn a language by listening and observing… just like a baby. For better results, this method should be used along with traditional language learning methods.

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Greek Animal Vocabulary Input | Animal Names in Greek

Ο Αλέξανδρος αγαπάει τα ζώα. Αγαπάει όλα τα ζώα – τα θηλαστικά, τα πτηνά, τα ψάρια… ακόμα και τα ερπετά. Άλλα ζώα γαβγίζουν, άλλα νιαουρίζουν, άλλα βρυχώνται, άλλα μουγκρίζουν. Ο Αλέξανδρος φροντίζει τα εξημερωμένα ζώα, όμως νοιάζεται και για την προστασία των άγριων ζώων.

Ο Αλέξανδρος έχει και το δικό του κατοικίδιο ζώο. Έχει έναν σκύλο. Έναν αρσενικό σκύλο. O σκύλος του Αλέξανδρου δεν είναι πλέον κουτάβι. Είναι τριών ετών. Ο σκύλος είναι ασπρόμαυρος και μεγαλόσωμος. Τον λένε Άρη. Είναι ένας ήσυχος και φιλικός σκύλος. Σπάνια γαβγίζει. Τρώει την σκυλοτροφή του μέσα σε δευτερόλεπτα – και λατρεύει τις λιχουδιές. Είναι λιχούδης. Ο Αλέξανδρος βγάζει βόλτα τον Άρη δύο φορές την ημέρα. Τον βγάζει βόλτα με το λουρί του. Ο Άρης είναι ο καλύτερος φίλος του Αλέξανδρου. Εξάλλου, ο σκύλος είναι ο καλύτερος φίλος του ανθρώπου.

Ο Αλέξανδρος φροντίζει και τις αδέσποτες γάτες της γειτονιάς του. Αφήνει νερό έξω από την πόρτα του. Καμιά φορά, ταΐζει τις γάτες με γατοτροφές. Η γειτονιά έχει πολλές αδέσποτες γάτες. Αρσενικές και θηλυκές γάτες. Οι γάτες σκαρφαλώνουν στις στέγες των σπιτιών και νιαουρίζουν.

Καμιά φορά, κυνηγάνε τα πουλιά που ψάχνουν για τροφή στον δρόμο ή κελαηδούν στα κλαδιά των δέντρων. Τα πουλιά είναι πτηνά. Τα πουλιά της πόλης είναι τα περιστέρια και τα σπουργίτια. Η γειτονιά του Αλέξανδρου είναι γεμάτη από περιστέρια και σπουργίτια. Άρα, είναι γεμάτη και από κουτσουλιές.

Ο Αλέξανδρος έχει σχέση με μια κοπέλα, την Ελπίδα. Η Ελπίδα αγαπάει τα ζώα. Έχει όμως αδυναμία στα άλογα. Η Ελπίδα κάνει ιππασία. Η ιππασία είναι το χόμπι της. Έχει το δικό της άλογο – ένα ολόμαυρο θηλυκό άλογο. Δηλαδή, μια φοράδα. Την έχει ονομάσει «Μαύρη Καλλονή». Η φοράδα είναι πανέμορφη. Το άλογο βρίσκεται σε ένα ράντζο με πολλά άλλα άλογα. Η Ελπίδα το επισκέπτεται, το φροντίζει, και ανεβαίνει πάνω του για να κάνει ιππασία.

Η Ελπίδα προέρχεται από μια αγροτική οικογένεια. Οι γονείς της ζουν σε ένα μεγάλο αγρόκτημα – δηλαδή σε μία φάρμα. Στο αγρόκτημα έχουν πολλά ζώα. Έχουν αγελάδες, κατσίκες, γουρούνια, κουνέλια, και ένα γαϊδουράκι. Στο αγρόκτημα θα βρει κανείς και ένα κοτέτσι. Στο κοτέτσι βρίσκονται τρεις κότες και ένας κόκορας. Ο κόκορας τους ξυπνάει κάθε πρωί. Κάθε πρωί έχουν και φρέσκα αβγά από τις κότες.

Η Ελπίδα έχει έναν μικρό αδελφό, τον Ανδρέα. Ο Ανδρέας είναι οχτώ ετών και λατρεύει τα άγρια ζώα. Τα ζώα που ζουν στα δάση, στις ζούγκλες, στις στέπες, και τις ερήμους. Άγρια ζώα είναι το λιοντάρι, η τίγρης, το φίδι, η αρκούδα, ο ιπποπόταμος, και ο ελέφαντας. Όμως άγρια ζώα είναι και το ελάφι, η καμηλοπάρδαλη, ο λαγός, και ο σκαντζόχοιρος. Τα άγρια ζώα δεν είναι επομένως πάντα επικίνδυνα για τον άνθρωπο.

Αυτό ήταν λοιπόν το ζωικό βασίλειο. Εσάς ποιο είναι το αγαπημένο σας ζώο; Έχετε κατοικίδιο;

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Feel free to rewatch this video as many times as you need. How many words did you catch? Leave a comment down below. If you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like and share. If you are new here, subscribe to stay connected. You can follow Helinika on social media and visit for more free content. Lastly, you can take advantage of your Udemy discount – you can find the link in the description!

How to Pronounce the Greek Letters Like a Greek (Ββ, Γγ, Δδ, Θθ, Ρρ, Υυ..) | Greek Alphabet

greek letters

How to pronounce the Greek letters –the letters of the Greek alphabet– like a Greek. Although Alpha (Αα), Epsilon (Εε), and most Greek letters are easy to pronounce, there are a few that absolutely confuse most Greek language students. These Greek letters are Ββ, Γγ, Δδ, Θθ, Ρρ, Υυ. Students who learn Greek outside of Greece often pronounce these letters as if they read Latin scriptures. But why is that and how can someone overcome their pronunciation difficulties?

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Most Common Greek Words | 100 Greek Words

The first 100 Greek words every beginner should know. These include Greek articles and linking words. Nouns will include the definite article in brackets. Take notes, create flashcards, and try memorizing them in groups of ten.

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Most Common Greek Words | Greek Vocabulary for Beginners:

  1. Ναι= Yes
  2. Όχι= No
  3. Εντάξει= All good/ Ok/ Fine
  4. Α!= Oh! (Surprise)
  5. Αχ!= Oh! (Physical or Emotional Pain/ Pleasure)
  6. Ωχ!= Oh, no!
  7. Αχού!= Oh, no!/ Oh, c’ mon!
  8. Ωιμέ= Oh, no! (dramatic)
  9. Ε= Hey/ Stop/ C’mon/ Oh/ Hm
  10. Να= To
  11. Θα= Will/ Would
  12. Με= With
  13. Σε= To/ At/ For/ On/ Into/ In/ Over
  14. Και/ Κι= And
  15. Προς= Towards/ At
  16. Ευχαριστώ= Thanks
  17. Παρακαλώ= Please/ You’ re welcome
  18. Μη(ν)= Don’t! (imperative)
  19. Δεν= Don’t (indicative)
  20. Έλα= Come/ Come On/ No Way
  21. Ο/ Η/ Το/ Oι/ Τα= The (gendered)
  22. Ένας/ Μία/ Ένα= A (gendered)
  23. Μου= My/ Me
  24. Σου= Your/ You
  25. Του= His/ Him
  26. Δικό + Μου/ Σου/ Tου…= Mine/ Yours/ His…
  27. Στου/ Στης/ Στις…= At
  28. Γεια= Hi/ Hello
  29. Γεια μας= Cheers
  30. Καλημέρα= Good Morning
  31. Καληνύχτα= Good Night
  32. Καλή Όρεξη= Bon Appetite
  33. Χρόνια πολλά= Many Years (a wish that applies to almost every celebration)
  34. Τι= What
  35. Πως= That/ How
  36. Πώς;= How?
  37. Πότε= When
  38. Ποτέ= Never
  39. Μάλλον= Perhaps/ Maybe
  40. Ποιος/ Ποια/ Ποιο= Who (gendered)
  41. Γιατί= Why/ Because
  42. Που= Where/ Which/ Τhat
  43. Πού;= Where?
  44. Εδώ= Here
  45. Εκεί= There/ Over There
  46. Πάνω= Up/ Over
  47. Κάτω= Under/ Down
  48. Αριστερά= Left
  49. Δεξιά= Right
  50. Υπέρ= (All) For/ Approving/ Hyper
  51. Κατά= Against
  52. Μπροστά= In front (of)
  53. Εμπρός= Let’s Go/ Keep Going/ Straight Ahead
  54. Πίσω= Behind
  55. Πάμε= (we all) Go/ Let’s Go
  56. Κάτσε= Sit/ Sit down
  57. Πρέπει= Must
  58. Απαγορεύεται= It is forbidden
  59. Επιτρέπεται= It is allowed
  60. Μπράβο= Bravo/ Congrats
  61. Ζήτω!= Hurray!
  62. Επιτέλους= Finally
  63. Άλλος= Other (also used when the toilet is occupied)
  64. Εγώ= I
  65. Εσύ= You
  66. Αυτός/ Αυτή/ Αυτό= He/ She/ It
  67. Εμείς= We
  68. Εσείς= You (plural, formal)
  69. Αυτοί/ Αυτές/ Αυτά= They (gendered)
  70. Είμαι= (I) Am
  71. Είναι= (it) Is/ To Be
  72. Ξέρω= To Know
  73. Μπορώ= Can
  74. Μπορεί= Perhaps/ Maybe/ (He/ She/ It) Can
  75. Ίσως= Perhaps/ Maybe
  76. Έχω= To Have
  77. Κάνω= To do
  78. Θέλω= To Want
  79. Παίρνω= To Take/ To Hire/ To Call (on the phone)
  80. Όλος / Όλη/ Όλο= All/ Whole
  81. Πόσο= How Much
  82. Πόσα= How Many
  83. Ποσό= Amount of Money
  84. (η) Ελλάδα= Greece
  85. (ο) Έλληνας/ (η) Ελληνίδα= (the) Greek man/ woman
  86. (τα) Ελληνικά= (the) Greek language
  87. (o) Άνθρωπος= (the) Human/ Person
  88.  (ο) Άνδρας= (the) Man
  89. (η) Γυναίκα= (the) Woman
  90. (το) Παιδί= (the) Child/ Young Person/ Service Person
  91. (τα) Παιδιά= (the) Children/ Guys/ Friends
  92. (η) Παρέα= (the) Group of Friends/ Friendly Atmosphere
  93. (o) Φίλος= (the) Friend
  94. Καλά= Ok/ Fine/ Good
  95. (το) Κακό= (the) Bad/ Evil
  96. Αγαπητέ/ Αγαπητή= Dear
  97. Άνοιξε= Open/ Turn On
  98. Κλείσε= Close/ Turn Off
  99. (η) Τουαλέτα= (the) WC/ Toilet
  100. (το) Μπάνιο= (the) Bathroom

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Ten Amazing Beaches and Swimming Spots in Greece | Best Greek Beaches

Greece has been repeatedly placed in the top countries for swimming or sailing in the world, being awarded several Blue Flag awards year by year. Selecting only ten seaside locations wasn’t easy. That is why the most unique-looking places have been selected. Here is Helinika’s list of the best Greek beaches and swimming spots!

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Top Ten Greek Beaches and Swimming Spots:

  1. Giola, Thassos
  2. Elafonisi, Crete
  3. Elafonisos, Peloponnese
  4. Balos, Crete
  5. Sarakiniko, Milos
  6. Myrtos, Kefalonia
  7. Nauagio, Zakynthos
  8. Kolona, Kythnos
  9. Koukounaries, Skiathos
  10. Sithonia, Halkidiki

#10 Sithonia, Halkidiki

Halkidiki is a very popular vacation destination for Greeks residing in the northern part of the country. It is also the Greek Blue Flag champion for 2021, thanks to its countless organized beaches. But, for this list, Helinika has selected Halkidiki’s natural beauty.

Sithonia cape -known also as Lemos (neck), thanks to its shape- is considered one of the best swimming spots in Halkidiki. It differs from other nearby beaches because it is not organized nor developed. The soft pebbles cape is located at the southern most point of Sithonia and it offers pure isolation. You can get there after a small hike from Porto Koufos or with a 4×4 vehicle.

But before you get there, you may need to pack some necessities – especially water bottles. What makes Lemos unique is that it serves as two beaches at once. It is also an excellent snorkeling spot, thanks to its buzzing sea life and unique underwater landscape. Just be aware of the sea urchins that sometimes lay on the rocks located at the east side of the coastline.

#9 Koukounaries, Skiathos

Koukounaries beach, also known as “Chrysi Ammos” (Golden Sand), is a popular swimming spot in the island of Skiathos in Sporades in Northern Aegean. Its first name derives from the countless koukounaries (pine trees) that provide a natural shade. Its second name derives from the unique sparkly sand that is actually protected; taking large amounts of sand in jars and bottles is generally prohibited.

Chrysi Ammos is reachable by bus and car but also by water taxis from nearby locations – such as South Pelion. It is an organized beach with many amenities. It is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, water skiing, and other water sports. But what makes this spot so unique?

To begin with, the beach is one of the longest in Greece – approximately 1.5 km long. Moreover, it is one of the safest swimming spots in Greece. Its waters are swallow and usually free from sea urchins and other underwater stingers. It is an overall very safe swimming spot but, if you like swimming away from the shore, keep in an eye on the jet skis and various water sport activities that take place in specific areas.

The scenery in Koukounaries is very unique for Greece, where the most popular beaches are usually dry and with scarce natural shade. The pine trees all across the coastline “paint” the waters into a greenish-blue color. This, in combination with the sparkly white sand, make Koukounaries an exotic-looking location.

But what makes Koukounaries outstanding is that it is connected to a biotope, Limni Strofilias, a lagoon protected by the Natura 2000 European initiative. Visitors sometimes see bunnies, large birds, swans, hedgehogs, and other forest animals peeking through the pine forest, while they sunbathe on Koukounaries beach.

#8 Kolona, Kythnos

Kythnos is an island with a typical Cycladic landscape – rocky and dry with a variety of shrub vegetation. This unique island is popular among the locals, but fewer foreign visitors know of its existence. And the island, situated at the heart of the Aegean Sea, has its own secret.

At the northwest part of Kythnos, there is a swimming spot named Kolona. It is similar to the one in Halkidiki; it basically serves as two beaches at once. It is semi-organized and there are also a couple of trees providing some natural shadow. Just make sure to apply SPF to your skin regularly while staying there.

The location is breathtaking, while the waters are some of the clearest in the Cyclades. The waters have also the perfect depth; not too swallow but not too deep either. Moreover, the sea is usually relatively calm, even under bad weather conditions.

You can easily get there by water taxi from the port city of Kythnos or with your private boat. Kolona is also connected to the rest of the island by a dirt road but using it is not recommended. The beach is literally a hidden beauty. If you ever visit the beautiful island of Kythnos, visiting Kolona at least once is a must!

#7 Nauagio, Zakynthos

If Kolona is a hidden secret, Nauagio is a location known all around the world. You may not know its name, but you have probably seen images of this location before. This swimming spot and landmark is located on the island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea of western Greece. You may know it as the island of “turtles”, since it is the home of the endangered caretta-caretta turtles. The Ionian island has many important landmarks but the one you should definitely visit is Nauagio (also seen as Navagio).

Nauagio (ναυάγιο) means “shipwreck” in Greek. There is indeed the shipwreck of “Panagiotis” from 1980 on the exposed cove of Zakynthos, which makes this beautiful location even more unique. The blue-green waters surrounding the tall white cliffs will amaze you.

The beach can only be accessed by boat. If you don’t own your private yacht, don’t worry! There are plenty of boat tour services in Porto Vromi and Agios Nikolaos that can help you get there in no time. Just remember to take water and other things you may need while staying there. SPF, hats, and sunglasses are a must, since there is not a lot of natural shade there. And before you leave, make sure that you haven’t left any garbage behind.

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#6 Myrtos, Kefalonia

In close proximity to Zakynthos, there is the island of Kefalonia. Just like Zakynthos, the Ionian island of Kefalonia is much greener than most Cycladic islands. It also has plenty of beautiful beaches but there is one that is standing out. That is Myrtos beach, located in the north-western part of Kefalonia.

Myrtos is known for its bright blue crystal-clear waters and smooth pebbles. The steep limestone cliffs that surround Myrtos, make the scenery even more spectacular. You can get there by bus or by car from the village of Divarata. The drive there is reportedly breathtaking; you can have a panoramic view of Myrtos’ wild beauty.

The beach is semi-organized, attracting both people who love being pampered and those who prefer bringing their own belongings before swimming. One thing to keep in mind though is that, in the presence of strong winds, the sea can get rough pretty quickly. Some visitors have reported strong currents that, along with the tall waves, can make getting out of the water a bit challenging. If the weather is bad and you are not a confident swimmer, watching the waves from the shore is advised. Myrtos is a wild beauty after all!

#5 Sarakiniko, Milos

Going back to the Aegean Sea, at the beautiful Cyclades, there is the island of Milos. You may know the island thanks to the Venus de Milo, the iconic sculpture that is now displayed at the Louvre Museum. But Milos island has a beauty that can’t be taken away from it: the Sarakiniko.

Sarakiniko is one of the most photographed beaches in Greece. Smooth bright white rock formations, contrasting the blue colors of the sea. Many people compare the landscape to the one on the moon. It is a popular spot for cliff jumping, swimming, sunbathing, but also filming. It is not an organized beach, so make sure to bring a lot of water with you before visiting. Since the white rocks reflect the sunlight, wearing SPF and sunglasses is a must.

You can reach Sarakiniko by bus, taxi, or private vehicle. But you will need to walk for some meters on a pathway located on the chalk white rocks. Therefore, it is recommended to wear stable, non-slippery shoes when visiting the area. Also, pay attention to the stinging sea anemones that are sometimes found on the surface of underwater rocks. Stepping or laying on underwater rocks is not recommended for this exact reason.

#4 Balos, Crete

Crete is the largest and most exotic island in Greece. It is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and it bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea. It comes as no surprise that the island of Crete is surrounded by breathtaking coastlines, waiting to be explored.

One of the most spectacular beaches of Crete is Balos Lagoon. Located on the northwestern corner of Crete, on the peninsula of Gramvousa, Balos attracts visitors from all around the world. Famous personalities, such as Princess Diana, have visited Balos with their private yachts.

The Lagoon is known for its exotic scenery: vivid waters in different shades of blue and smooth white and pink sand. The light pink color in some parts of the coast is the result of millions of seashells being crushed over the years. What makes Balos spectacular though is perhaps its unique shape. Due to its indescribable shape, many different swimming spots are formed. It is truly a natural beauty!

The area is protected by the Natura 2000 program, since it is the home of Caretta-Caretta, the monk seal, cormorants, and other endangered species. The Lagoon is semi organized, meaning that there are usually canteens that sell water and snacks. But, since the location is rather remote, arriving there with all your necessities is recommended. You can get to Balos either with a 4×4 vehicle through a breathtaking but dangerous coastal track road from the village of Kaliviani, or with an excursion boat from Kissamos. The waters are usually very warm and swallow; but keep in mind that, in some parts, the sand can get a bit muddy. It is a very safe place to swim, since the waters are swallow and rarely get rough. Just make sure that you wear your SPF, hat, and sunglasses.

#3 Elafonisos, Peloponnese

At the southern part of the Peloponnese, just below the peninsula of Laconia, there is a tiny island that, according to ancient Greek mythology, it was inhabited by deer. This is Elafonisos – its name can be translated as “island of the deer”. It is an area protected by the Natura 2000 program, since it is the home of wild fauna and flora.

Elafonisos (also seen as Elafonissos) gained enormous popularity last year, after it was featured in the official promotional video of the Greek National Tourism Organization. Just like a couple of other seaside locations on this list, Elafonisos is known for its breathtaking double beach – Simos.

Simos has five out of five stars on Tripadvisor, although it has over a thousand reviews; a rare occurrence. Similar swimming spots can be found all around the tiny island. Elafonisos is basically a giant beach. Simos beach is now semi-organized but there are plenty of other swimming spots on the island that have stayed untouched.

The waters of Elafonisos are some of the clearest in Greece. Perhaps because there are no direct ferries or flights from Athens and other big cities. You first need to get to Pounta, a port close to Neapolis in Laconia in the south of the Peloponnese. You can get there by bus or car from any major Greek city. There are also direct flights from Athens to Laconia. Then, you can hop onto one of the ferries that travel to Elafonisos every hour or every 30 minutes (depending on the season).

#2 Giola, Thassos

Thassos is one of the most underrated Greek islands. Located in Northern Aegean, Thassos is known for its picturesque villages and marble beaches. But there is one swimming spot that differs from the rest. That is Giola – a natural pool in the region of Astris. The pool is surrounded by rock formations which are used for cliff jumping. But, before you jump into the waters, make sure to check that the waters are deep enough on that day. If the waters are swallow, injuries can occur.

Giola is a very unique swimming spot… it is a natural salt-water pool formed in a round shape. According to a legend, Zeus created the pool for goddess Aphrodite. That is why it is known as the “Tear of Venus”. Thassos is also an island where, according to mythology, Sirens resided. And Giola seems to be the be the place where the resided – playing with the waters and singing.

You can get there first by car and then on foot. Just make sure that you wear stable shoes, since the pathway is reportedly quite slippery. Keep in mind that Giola is not organized, so make sure to bring enough water bottles when visiting the area. SPF, sunglasses, and stable shoes are a must! Last but not least, it is not a place to sunbathe for prolonged hours, since laying on the rocks is not very comfortable.

#1 Elafonisi, Crete

But the Peloponesse is not the only place that has a breathtaking “deer island”. The island of Crete has a hidden gem named Elafonisi, which is also protected by the Natura 2000 program. The beach is in the South-West of Crete and it is often described as “paradise on Earth”.

Elafonisi is known for its light pink and white sand, crystal clear swallow and calm waters, and unique shape. Just like many of the previously mentioned swimming destinations, the Cretan Elafonisi has an indescribable shape that transforms it into multiple beaches at once. The area is now semi-organized, with umbrellas and sunbeds, which has taken some of its wild, natural beauty.

Elafonisi has gained a lot of popularity over the years. Its breathtaking natural beauty and safe and swallow waters attract many tourists every year. This is something to keep in mind when planning on visiting Elafonisi in August. You can get there by road through Topolia or Elos. Driving from the town of Chania can take over an hour but the beauty of this place makes it worth it. Elafonisi is definitely paradise on Earth!

Smart Cities and Maritime Shipping? | 6 Facts About Greece (Modern Times Edition)

facts about greece

When talking about the achievements of the Greeks we often think of Democracy, the Olympic Games, Astronomy, and Mathematics – all bound to our ancient past. With Modern Greece celebrating 200 years of independence, it is important to see some facts related to the achievements of Greeks in modern times.

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6 Facts About Modern Greece:

  1. Greece Continues Being the Leader in Maritime Shipping
  2. Two Nobel Prizes for Modern Greek Literature
  3. Athens Continues Being the Capital of Theatre
  4. Greek Island Holds the Secret to Longevity
  5. A Leading Smart City in the Greek Countryside
  6. 3% of the World’s Greatest Scientists are Greek

Greece Continues Being the Leader in Maritime Shipping

When thinking of Greece’s economy, the first thing that comes to mind, after the recent debt crisis, is the tourism and service industry. But one of the most important industries in Greece is maritime shipping. The country is in the top 10 ship owning nations, competing with Japan for the first place. The current fleet value is at 100.5 billion dollars, according to VesselsValue. The small country of approximately 11 million people surpasses China, a country of 1.4 billion people. As we have seen in previous videos, Greeks have been exploring the sea in search of resources, trading opportunities, and lands to establish new colonies, since the Bronze Age. And they never stopped dominating the seas.

Two Nobel Prizes for Modern Greek Literature

Western literature has been greatly influenced by ancient Greek literature, and especially epic and lyric poetry. Greece continues producing great writers and poets in modern times as well. Odysseas Elytis, the romantic modernist poet, and Giorgos Seferis, the well-known poet and diplomat, have been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first in 1979 and the second in 1963.

Athens Continues Being the Capital of Theatre

Western theatre was born in ancient Athens and specifically in the theatre of Dionysus. And Athens continues being a cultural center with a focus on theatre. According to Athens Social Atlas, the capital city of Greece has more than 152 theatre halls, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus that was built on 161 AD. The city is the perfect destination for any theatre lover.

Greek Island Holds the Secret to Longevity

The Greek diet and overall lifestyle have been connected to longevity for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, Greeks living in big cities and industrial areas have adopted different lifestyles – they stress more, cook less, and consume highly processed foods. But those living in the Greek countryside have generally continued following their traditional way of living. A specific island has caught the attention of scientists; that is the island of Ikaria. You might have heard the “Ikaria Study”, since the island has one of the highest percentages of people above the age of 90. It is worth mentioning that it is not just the diet that, according to the study, may contribute to the longevity of the islanders. The overall lifestyle, including the active social life and optimistic attitude, contribute to that. The NYT have called Ikaria “the island where people forget to die”.

A Leading Smart City in the Greek Countryside

In Greece, we might love tradition, but that doesn’t mean we are not open to innovations, following the paradigm of “polymechanos Odysseus”. Trikala is one of the first smart-cities in Europe by integrating new technologies into the daily lives of the citizens. The city, located in Thessaly, has over 80.000 inhabitants. The city has seen driverless buses, robotics kits in its 120 public schools, and countless other innovative programs and solutions.

3% of the World’s Most Referenced Scientists are Greek

Greeks make up around 0.13% of the world’s total population. Professor of Medicine at Stanford Prevention Research Center, John P.A. Ioannidis, presented statistics that showed that the percentage of referenced Greek scientists in the world reaches 3%. Many of them conduct research for foreign Universities. To be more specific, data retrieved from the database of Google Scholar, showed that 672 Greek scientists have been referenced approximately 17.000 times in various scientific reports.

haunted greek islands

Vampires in Santorini…? Six Mysterious Greek Islands | Mysterious Greece

A list of the most mysterious Greek islands. Greek islands are famous for their picturesque villages, aesthetically pleasing architecture, unique landscapes, and crystal-clear waters. But some of these islands are shrouded in mystery. For example, what is the story behind the vampire islands near the island of Skyros? And who were the “sea demons” that scared the locals on the island of Agkistri?

animals in greek

Greek Input #5: Greek Animal Vocabulary Input | Comprehensible Input

Welcome to another Greek input language learning video. Today, Helinika will teach you common Greek words that are related to animals. It goes without saying that these include animal names. Comprehensible input is a language learning method that helps you learn a language by listening and observing… just like a baby. For better results, this method should be used along with traditional language learning methods.

Answering Your Questions! | 1.000 Subscribers’ Video Special 🍾 (Helinika QA)

As promised, today I will be answering your questions about Greece, the Greek language, and the Greek culture. Are there ancient temples in Greece? Do Greeks still believe in Zeus and the gods and goddesses of Olympus? What are my favorite Greek dish and Greek island? What do I dislike about Greece?

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  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:36 Are There Ancient Greek Temples in Greece?
  • 01:29 Neopagan Religion in Greece
  • 02:24 Visa Requirements to Visit or Study in Greece
  • 03:30 Studying in Greece
  • 08:22 Greek-Cypriot Relations
  • 09:25 Cultural Differences Between Crete and Cyprus
  • 10:15 Greek Yoghurt vs American Yoghurt
  • 11:39 My Favorite Greek Islands
  • 12:34 My Favorite Greek Food
  • 13:00 What I Dislike About the Greek Culture

Reading Your “Summer in Greece” Stories (Travel Stories)

Today we celebrate Helinika’s YouTube milestone by reading subscribers’ stories from Greece. A story of a Polish girl who visited the island of Ikaria for the first time, a story of a German girl who had the most unbelievable experience after she revisited Greece, and the story of an anonymous subscriber who had a close encounter with a… Caretta-Caretta!

Greek YouTube Channels to Immerse Yourself in The Language

There are different YouTube channels dedicated to the Greek language and culture, such as Helinika. Two examples are LinguaTree and EasyGreek. Here are some of the best Greek YouTube channels that are not targeted at Greek language learners. They are commentary, comedy, lifestyle, and other types of channels, which can help you immerse yourself in the language.

 If you are an absolute beginner, you might find it hard following their videos. But if you have a basic understanding of the Greek language, watching the content these channels produce will significantly improve your fluency.  

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Greek Comedy Channels

Most of the Greek comedy YouTube channels belong to actors and real comedians, rather than professional YouTubers. Here are Helinika’s recommendations:

Labros Fisfis

The comedian Labros Fisfis has a nerdy, self-deprecating sense of humor that can be enjoyed by an international audience. At the same time, you will learn about certain aspects of the Greek culture that even we, Greeks, make jokes about. It is recommended to watch his videos on Greek motherhood and Greece in general.

Giorgos Vagiatas

Giorgos Vagiatas is a personal favorite, since he is gifted with making everything sound funny. His sense of humor could also be described as nerdy and foreigners will also find many Greek “inside jokes” that will help them understand more about the Greek culture. Vagiatas is also uploading travel content from time to time and he is known for his “camper” traveling series here on YouTube.

Dionysis Atzarakis

Dionysis Atzarakis is a very talented actor, director and comedian, with a very sophisticated sense of humor. No loud noises, weird face expressions, or try-hard jokes. Just pure sarcasm and irony. His jokes might be harder to understand, since he adds many references to Greece’s pop culture and media.

Greek Scientific & Informative YouTube Channels

The Greek YouTube community includes many scientists and knowledgeable people.


Astronio is a YouTube channel dedicated to the science of Astronomy. It explains complicated phenomena of the cosmos in an easy and understandable way. Behind the channel there is a real astronomer named Pavlos Kastanas, who is also a science lecturer at Mediterranean College. You can also find interviews of other scientists on this channel.

Kathimerini Physiki

 Kathimerini Physiki (Καθημερινή Φυσική) translates to “Daily Physics”. It is a Greek YouTube channel that explains scientific phenomena to a broad audience. The face of the presenter is not shown on screen.

The Skeptic Theory

A very interesting Greek YouTube channel is “The Skeptic Theory”, which covers a wide range of topics – from religion and conspiracy theories to human psychology, ethics, and logic. The face of the presenter is again not shown and viewers who are currently in the process of learning Greek will be able to expand their vocabulary.

Yannis Sarakatsanis

Yannis Sarakatsanis is a mathematician and actor here in Greece who uploads high quality content on YouTube. His videos on various philosophical matters are very well researched and he also gives great book recommendations.

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Greek Commentary Channels

Commentary channels can get controversial. Here are two commentary channels that belong to independent thinkers and do not necessarily fall under a specific political ideology.

Konstantina Adamaki

Konstantina Adamaki is a Journalism graduate who creates mostly commentary videos but also some satirical videos. By watching her videos, you will get an understanding of Greece’s current affairs. The YouTuber has been called a “leftist” and a “conservative” by commentators, since her opinions do not follow a specific political agenda.

Nefeli Meg

Nefeli Meg is a young lawyer who posts informative and entertaining content. She usually comments on Greece’s current affairs and, as a lawyer, she is able to present both sides of the story. It is as if she debates with herself, which requires a lot of research. Both native and non-native speakers should watch her videos, since they can improve their Greek vocabulary.

Greek Lifestyle Channels

There are several Greek lifestyle YouTube channels but here are the ones recommended by Helinika.

Evelina Nikoliza

Evelina Nikoliza is a singer and presenter who also shares parts of her life on YouTube. She has a great sense of humor and she has some of the most hilarious storytime videos. Greek language learners will easily follow her stories.

I Mikri Ollandeza

Danae Georganta is a half-Dutch – half-Greek YouTuber who is known as “I Mikri Ollandeza” (the little Dutch girl). She was one of the first people who made YouTube their career in Greece. Danae started with beauty and fashion videos but, at the moment, she mostly uploads vlog and lifestyle content.

By exploring these YouTube channels you will probably come across other Greek creators, whose content will be interesting to you. If you watch any of their videos, feel free to leave a comment, letting them know how you discovered them. Have a nice day and keep learning!

Learn Greek at Home During Quarantine

If you are interested in learning Greek but there are no classes taking place in your area, don’t be discouraged. Helinika, a platform dedicated to the Greek language, history, and culture, offers affordable Greek language lessons online. Learn Greek during Quarantine.

This Is Your Sign for Learning Greek

You have been debating whether you should start learning modern Greek and you constantly postpone it. Whatever the reason might be, here is the sign you were looking for. Start learning Greek today.

Greek Books to Learn Greek | Modern Greek Literature

One of the best ways to learn Greek is to immerse yourself in the language. When it comes to learning the modern Greek language, avoid limiting yourself to classical Greek literature. Here is a list of the best Greek books of modern Greek literature that will inspire you to learn Greek or improve your Greek skills. You can order these books in Greek (reaching B1 level is essential) but you can find some of them translated in your native language.

Greek Literature and Modern Greek Authors

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Best Greek Books:

  • Το οριζόντιο ύψος και άλλες αφύσικες ιστορίες – Αργύρης Χιόνης
  • Το καπλάνι της βιτρίνας – Άλκη Ζέη
  • Η μωβ ομπρέλα – Άλκη Ζέη
  • Ένα παιδί μετράει τ’ άστρα – Μενέλαος Λουντέμης
  • H φόνισσα – Αλέξανδρος Παπαδιαμάντης
  • Το αμάρτημα της μητρός μου – Γιώργος Βιζυηνός
  • Πάπισσα Ιωάννα – Εμμανουήλ Ροΐδης

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