Today, Helinika presents a list of films that will inspire you to visit or even move to Greece. Some of these films are not necessarily Greek speaking nor are they produced by a Greek film company. But they do capture the beauty of the Mediterranean country. They are presented to you in a random sequence.
9 Movies Filmed in Greece
Mama Mia 1
Boy on a Dolphin
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Zorba the Greek
Never on Sunday
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Mama Mia 1, 2008
The first Mama Mia (2008) movie is perhaps one of the most recent movies that put Greece into everyone’s bucket list. The American movie follows the young bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, played by Amanda Seyfried, to the fictional island of Kalokairi, where her wedding is going(?) to take place. The real location is no other than the underrated island of Skopelos in the Sporades island group. The film also includes scenes filmed in neighboring islands and in South Pelion.
The film is a musical and it has moderate online reviews. If you love musicals, Greece… and you are looking for a light-hearted movie to watch, you will definitely enjoy Mama Mia. Although a prequel to the movie has recently been released, all the scenes that are supposedly set in Greece were actually filmed in Croatia.
Boy on a Dolphin, 1957
Boy on a Dolphin (1957) is a vintage American adventure romance film set in Greece. Although a Hollywood film, it has an international cast. The legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren plays Phaedra, a sponge diver on the island of Hydra who accidentally discovers an ancient Greek stature of a boy riding a dolphin. What follows is a battle between virtue and money. Is the statue going to be taken away from its home, Hydra?
The movie was the first Hollywood production filmed in Greece. A very important Greek actor, Alexis Minotis, is also playing in the film, along with other European actors and actresses. Anyone who loves European cinema should watch this movie at least once.
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond), 1981
Did you know that the 12th film in the James Bond franchise is set in Greece? “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) is a British spy film with Roger Moore playing the iconic secret agent with the code number 007.
The movie includes scenes filmed in the Ionian island of Corfu, in Meteora and the Achilleion. Other scenes were filmed outside of Greece, such as the Bahamas and Italy. If you are a spy film enthusiast, “For Your Eyes Only” should be on your list.
Suntan (2016) is a Greek drama film by Argyris Papadimitropoulos that captures the Mediterranean sunlight and scenery in a fascinating way. Described as a “cautionary tale” by critics, it premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. It follows a middle-aged doctor at a small island, whose life spirals out of control as soon as summer arrives.
The film won Best Film, Best Director and other awards at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. If you are planning on watching it, you should know that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001
A classic film that most Greeks have watched at least once, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) is a British war film based on a book with the same title. The movie is set in the Ionian island of Cephalonia during World War II.
Nicolas Cage plays an Italian officer with a passion for music. Penelope Cruz plays a highly educated and strong-willed woman named Pelagia. The two fall in love during some of the most brutal years of the 20th century. If you enjoy watching historical films and Mediterranean sceneries, you should watch this movie as soon as possible.
Zorba the Greek, 1964
If you know anything about Greece, then you must be familiar with the name “Zorba” or at least the popular syrtaki dance with that name. Zorba the Greek (1964) is a Greek comedy-drama starring Anthony Quinn. The film is based on a book with the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis.
It revolves around the unorthodox friendship between an uptight British-Greek writer named Basil and a chaotic, Dionysian Greek man named Zorba. The legendary film is set in the island of Crete, featuring locations such as Chania and Kokkino Chorio. It is a film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. It is worth mentioning that the music is by Greece’s best-known composer, Mikis Theodorakis who unfortunately passed earlier this month.
Never on Sunday, 1960
It is not the first time Helinika features Never on Sunday (1960). The vintage Greek romantic comedy is set in the port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. It is a must watch for anyone who loves Greek cinema. One of the protagonists is the great Greek actress Melina Merkouri, who plays the role of wild, untamed and honest Ilya.
Although the film attempts to show the degradation of Greek classical culture, it does so by showing a romanticized version of the notorious neighborhoods of Piraeus. You should watch it for a) Melina Merkouri, b) Hatzidaki’s music and c) the beautiful scenes set in Piraeus in the 1960s.
One of the protagonists, Lena Kaligaris, is a Greek American girl who spends her summer with relatives in Greece. Just like the rest of her friends, she goes through a transformation while away from her family and friends. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants has made many young girls dream of travelling to Santorini one day.
Mediterraneo (1991) is an awarded Italian war comedy-drama filmed in Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese. It follows a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on the island and miss the brutality of the war.
The movie not only captured the beautiful Mediterranean scenery of Kastellorizo, but it won the hearts of the critics. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. It was also the debut film for the Greek actress Vana Barba who played the role of Vasilissa. It is a film everyone should watch in their lives. Keep in mind that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
“Live your myth in Greece” – the phrase used to be Greece’s motto in some older international tourism campaigns. And that was for a good reason. Imagine stepping at the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis or cliff jumping at the home of the Cabeirian Mysteries. A trip to Greece is not just a seaside vacation but also a time-travelling experience.
If you have subscribed to Helinika’s YouTube channel, there is a great chance you love ancient Greek mythology and history, while also enjoying travelling. Here are seven Greek destinations and sites for people who would love to visit the most mythical places in Greece. Before we get started, make sure to like this video if you love travelling and mythology!
One of the most important Panhellenic religious sanctuaries was situated in a small town in Ilia (Elis), in the Peloponnese. The town was named after the Olympian gods and goddesses, and it is still known as “Olympia”. Not only that but this is where the ancient Olympic Games were held every four years. A modern town with the same name is situated near “Archaea Olympia”, which is the ancient town and archaeological site. In ancient Olympia you will find ancient temples and training grounds that are maintained in a very good condition. Great examples are the “Palaestra”, the training grounds of wrestlers, and the ruins of the Temple of Hera. A trip to Olympia can be compared to a… time-travelling experience.
Samothrace Island, Northern Aegean Sea
Samothrace has been mentioned in many of Helinika’s articles and videos. That is because it is not just one of Greece’s hidden beauties, but also one of the country’s most mysterious sites. The Greek island is located in the northern Aegean Sea and it attracts people who love nature and mythology. Samothrace (also seen as Samothraki) was a major religious site in ancient Greece. It was the place where the ancient Cabeirian Mysteries were held, while it is still the home of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods; a temple complex to a group of enigmatic Greek gods. By visiting Samothrace you can spend your summer vacation by the sea, in close proximity to one of the world’s most mysterious places.
Delos Island, Cyclades
Delos is another mysterious Greek island. Situated at the heart of the Cyclades, Delos is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. It was also reportedly the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site which can only be visited during the day. Overnight stays are not allowed but you can book a day trip from the nearby island of Mykonos.
Eleusina, West Attica
Eleusina (also seen as Eleusis) is a small town in West Attica, in close proximity to the city of Athens. The town is mostly known for its archaeological site – one of the most visited and well-maintained sites in Greece. The town is associated with goddess Demetra and her daughter, Persephone, and it was the place where the enigmatic Eleusinian Mysteries were held. Eleusina is a place every mythology lover should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Most Greek myths and epic poems involve a prophecy and an orator. One of the most trusted ancient Greek oracles was the oracle of Delphi in Phocis, central Greece. You may have heard the name Pytho, who had the role of Pythia. Pythia was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, who would give oracles for the future with the rustling of the leaves. Today, the area is an archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. A new town with the same name is in close proximity to the archaeological site. Visiting Delphi is truly a magical experience.
Athens is the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece and a popular destination for people who love history and mythology. Democracy was born in Athens. In Classical Antiquity, it was the most important cultural, artistic, and philosophical center in the West. The city is named after goddess Athena who, according to an old myth, offered the Athenians the olive tree. The production and export of olive oil reportedly contributed to the city’s financial success. The Greek capital has plenty of archaeological sites and museums, such as the Acropolis and the ancient Agora. Visiting Athens should definitely be on your list.
Mt. Olympus, Pieria
Ancient Greeks believed that Mount Olympus was the home of the twelve gods and goddesses who influenced every aspect of their lives. Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, and the rest of the Olympians. Olympus is a real mountain located in Pieria in Northern Greece. It is the highest mountain in Greece and a World Biosphere Reserve. Gods and goddesses were thought to reside at 2.917 meters at its highest peak, Mytikas. Many hikers and climbers ascend to Mytikas to see Greece from Zeus’ perspective. If you are not an avid hiker, there are many traditional villages all around Olympus that you can drive to. There are also countless ancient and medieval sites, such as the archaeological park of Dion and the ancient city of Pydna. It goes without saying that Mount Olympus is the number one destination for people who love history, mythology, and nature.
Now, I am curious to hear if you have ever visited any of these places. If you liked this video, you can hit the like button and subscribe to stay connected.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
Greece has thousands of islands, with approximately 200 of them being inhabited. That makes it a top summer destination for Europeans but also for people from all around the world. Here is Helinika’s list with the top 10 Greek islands to visit this year. These are some of the most popular and breathtaking islands in the country.
Top 10 Greek Islands | Breathtaking Islands in Greece
Milos Island, Greece
If you want a trip to the moon, you can simply visit the Cycladic island of Milos with its “lunar landscapes”. Sarakiniko Bay in Milos is a coastline of smooth chalk-white rocks that contrast with the deep blue waters. The scenery is breathtaking. The volcanic island has a long history that takes us back to 15.000 years ago, when the local Obsidian was Milos’ main commodity. In modern times, Milos was one of the first Greek islands to join the Greek War of Independence.
Rhodes Island, Greece
If you love Medieval history, castles, knights, and the Mediterranean, then Rhodes is an island you should add to your list. The Greek island in the southeastern Aegean Sea was widely known for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Visitors can go see the Memorial of the Colossus. Other sights are the palace of the Medieval castle of the Grand Master of the Knights, the Castle of the Old Town, the Medieval Clock Tower, the countless medieval churches, and the Valley of the Butterflies – a beautiful biotope with millions of multicolor butterflies. Of course, the island has countless swimming spots with crystal clear waters.
Serifos Island, Greece
Close to Milos island there is also Serifos island. Serifos has some of the most beautiful coastlines in Greece. If you want to spend your vacation relaxing by the sea, Serifos should be on your list. It is also an affordable option in comparison to some other neighboring islands. Serifos is known for its traditional white and blue houses, picturesque churches, its old mines, the castle of Gria (The Old Woman), and the cave of Koutalas – where, according to ancient Greek mythology, the legendary Cyclops resided. The Cycladic island will give you a taste of authentic Greece; it has the typical blue-white houses you find in other Cycladic islands, without being packed with groups of tourists.
Mykonos Island, Greece
If you love partying, Mykonos, “the island of the winds”, is a Greek destination you should visit. The Cycladic island is one of the busiest summer destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors every year. The island is very sunny, which comes as no surprise; according to Greek mythology, the founder of the island was the grandson of god Apollo – god of music and light. Its famous windmills, archaeological Museum, identical wells, and secret party beach known as Paradise Beach, are some of the island’s most important landmarks.
Naxos Island is the largest Cycladic island. It was the center of the archaic Cycladic civilization and the birthplace of many important figures, such as the playwright Iakovos Kambanelis. Today, the island is the perfect summer destination for families. The ancient Portara, its 13th century castle, its countless picturesque churches, impressive ancient ruins, and breathtaking coastline, attract many –but not too many– tourists every year. Since it can get quite windy in Naxos, it’s the perfect location for wind and kite surfers.
Paros Island, Greece
Paros is located in close proximity to Naxos. Contrary to Naxos, Paros is an island that attracts mostly young single people. Its picturesque windmills, white-blue houses, and Medieval churches, including the legendary Panagia Ekatontapiliani, are some of the island’s landmarks. It goes without saying that the island of Paros has also some of the most magnificent swimming spots in Greece.
Zakynthos Island, Greece
Zakynthos island is located in the Ionian Sea in western Greece. Although the island is full of picturesque Mediterranean houses, the typical Cycladic white-blue houses are rare on this side of Greece. Zakynthos attracts both families and people who love partying. If you are not a fan of dry landscapes, the green island of Zakynthos should be on your list. The island is known worldwide for the breathtaking “Navagio” – the shipwreck cove that can only be accessible by boat.
Corfu Island, Greece
Corfu or Kerkyra is also located in the Ionian Sea. It is an island with rich history and strong Venetian influences in its architecture and overall local culture. It is a very unique Greek island; instead of roofless white-blue houses you will find impressive arches and clusters of colorful buildings from the Venetian period and eclectic mansions with the austere Greek-revival style. The island has a picturesque old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), countless medieval castles and ancient temples, and crystal-clear green-blue waters. The Spianada square is the biggest square in the Balkan peninsula. Kerkyra will take your breath away with its elegance and natural beauty.
Crete Island, Greece
Crete is the largest Greek island and a destination with the most unique landscapes. Its coastlines vary – many of its beautiful beaches have an exotic look. These include Balos, Istro, Elafonisi, and Falassarna. Many people can’t imagine that all of these unique locations can be found in one Greek island. Moreover, Crete has a rich history and culture that spans for thousands of years. Visiting the ancient Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos is a must! The same goes with tasting the local cuisine and attending a traditional music feast. Hikers can also explore the breathtaking National Park of Faraggi tis Samarias – a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
Santorini Island, Greece
Thanks to its breathtaking sunset views and unique volcanic landscapes, Santorini or Thera is by far the most popular Greek destination. In 2019, Santorini had over 500.000 international air arrivals. It is a couples’ island due to its romantic atmosphere. The Cycladic island has a long history, just like most of the previously mentioned destinations. It got its unique landscape after the Thera volcanic eruption around 1600 BC – which resulted in the destruction of the Minoan Civilization. Santorini is known for its typical white-blue houses and churches and magnificent views. One thing to keep in mind is that its swimming spots have a striking appearance, since the coastline is composed of volcanic sand and pebbles. Moreover, most villages are built amphitheatrically, so be prepared for some stair climbing. The quick exercise will totally worth it once you stare at the breathtaking sunset from the Caldera!
Are you planning on visiting Greece in the future? Comment down below which destinations are on your list!
Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece and one of the most beautiful ones as well. Situated in the Greek region of Macedonia in northern Greece, the port city of Thessaloniki has been a cosmopolitan city for many centuries. Known for its unique architecture, relaxed lifestyle, and rich history, Thessaloniki attracts many visitors every year. The city is also one of the places that see some snow from time to time during the winter, with many Greeks visiting it for this exact reason!
Another reason to visit Thessaloniki is the fact that is considered the food capital of Greece. Do you like sweet treats? Try the traditional sweet-savory bougatsa pie with lots of cinnamon and you will instantly fall in love with the city. Do you prefer fine dining? You will find plenty of restaurants to choose from. Since the Greek summer can be quite hot, hence reducing people’s appetite, make sure to visit Thessaloniki in the winter.
# 9 Athens
The capital of Greece might be visited all year round, however, it is recommended to visit it during the winter. Just ask a tourist who did outdoor sightseeing in Athens in July. Athenian summers are always very hot, with the temperature reaching often 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Therefore, coming during the winter is more enjoyable.
The city of Athens is always sunny, and the temperature can reach 20 degrees Celsius even in December. Pack your lightest coat and a few thin sweaters (or your shorts if you are from Scandinavia) and climb up the Acropolis of Athens and the Filopappou hill. Walk around the ancient Agora and National Gardens and explore the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos. Visit the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the Benaki Museum, and Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. Go thrift shopping in the second-hand markets of Monastiraki and Omonoia and order a nice cocktail in the bars around Square Klafthmonos.In the winter, there are also several theatrical plays. If you understand Greek at a basic level, watching a play in the birthplace of drama is a lifetime experience.
#8 Mounts of Attica
Athens is situated in Attica, a region with rich history. Attica is visited throughout the year by nature and hiking lovers because of its mountainous landscape. Try exploring Mount Hymettus, Penteli, and Parnitha. These mountains were considered “magical” since ancient times and there are often visited by paranormal investigators. A great example would be the “haunted” cave of Mount Penteli. If you love skiing, you can also visit Mount Parnassos ski center!
Due to its geographic location, Xanthi is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Greece. Situated in the northern region of Thrace, Xanthi welcomes many visitors during the winter. The city is known for its unique architecture. Byzantine churches, next to Ottoman-era mosques, and neoclassical buildings from the 19th century. Every winter, the city celebrates one of Greece’s most popular events: the carnival of Xanthi. It is recommended to visit the folklore museum, the old town, and the nearby waterfalls.
#6 Trikala of Corinthia
In the North Peloponnese, Greece holds one of its greatest secrets: Trikala. The picturesque town is known for its beautiful landscape, traditional homes made out of stone, and numerous winter traditions. Many families visit Trikala during Christmas to see the “Mill of the Elves” – the most beautiful Christmas themed park in Greece (which is completely free of charge). Not only that, but Trikala is one of the few smart cities in the world! It has automated citizens service center, mobile check apps, wifi for everyone, smart lighting system, smart parking system, smart waste management, and many more advanced municipal services. Trikala was also the first city to use driverless buses!
Zagori is a region in the Pindus mountains in the Epirus region of Greece. The area is known for its magnificent landscapes that are very rare in southern Europe. Rare animal species such as the brown bear and the wolf reside there. Greeks visit the area during the winter months to hike or explore the 46 traditional picturesque villages, known as the “Zagorochoria” (the villages of Zagori). Zagori has two national parks, traditional arched stone bridges, crystal-clear waters, and numerous Byzantine churches. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Greece.
If you love climbing, you might already know Meteora. It is a rock formation in central Greece, near the town of Kalabaka. The area is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is visited by people from around the world who are intrigued by its unique landscape. On top of some of the hills, there are Christian Orthodox monasteries that were built there during Byzantine times. Many climbers attempt to climb on top of the hills and countless film companies have asked for permission to film there. Meteora is one of the magnificent places to visit in Greece during the winter.
#3 Northern Pelion
Although South Pelion is a secret summer paradise, Northern Pelion – a mountain range in central Greece, is Greece’s winter hidden gem. Do you love skiing and winter sports? You can visit the ski resort of Chania. Do you love hiking? You can explore the cobblestone trails connecting Pelion’s traditional villages. Pelion is one of the few places where you can experience heavy snowfall in Greece.
The most well-known ski resort in Greece is the one of Arachova. It is situated next to one of the most picturesque villages of the entire country, Arachova. Located in the region of Boeotia, not very far from Attica, it gathers many visitors from Athens. The village is known for its woodcut creations, dark red wine, traditional carpets, and chylopites – a type of pasta that dates back to Byzantine times.
It was believed to be the home of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. The kingdom of Zeus and Hera. A magnificent mountain that reaches the heavens. How could it come second or third on this list? Mount Olympus is one of the most popular hiking and climbing destinations in Greece. It is also a ski mountaineering destination for avid skiers! On Mount Olympus you can find several beautiful villages, including some ghost villages such as Morna. The village was abandoned for unknown reasons and many urban legends have spurred over the years. The village was built on the “dark” side of Olympus, where sunlight is limited. Since ancient times, Greeks avoided this part of the mountain, since it was visited by chthonic deities, and not by the gods and goddesses who resided at the top.
Close your eyes and try to think of Greece. What was the first thing that came into your mind? Was it the white and blue houses on a hill in Santorini? The temple of the Parthenon standing proud on the Acropolis hill of Athens? For many people, Greece is connected to specific popular destinations: Santorini, Mykonos, Zakynthos, Crete, Corfu, and Athens. But what about the rest of the country? Here are seven Greek destinations that people who don’t live in Greece rarely know. Stay till the end to discover an unpopulated island that could be described as “heaven on Earth”.
Some of the most iconic Greek islands are the Cycladic islands, which are known for their dry, golden terrain, white-blue houses, and great Bronze-era civilization. Samothrace island, however, looks nothing like those islands – but it does have a rich history.
Located in the northern Aegean Sea, Samothrace has dense vegetation, a lot of natural springs, and many picturesque villages. The island used to be an important religious center in Hellenic and pre-Hellenic times.
If you have watched the video on the Eleusinian Mysteries, then you might remember a short reference to the so-called “Kabeirian Mysteries”. An ancient Greek cult with members from different parts of Greece would meet in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods that is located there and perform ceremonies to a group of chthonic gods called Kabeiri.
Today, many people visit Samothrace for its beautiful nature and numerous archaeological sites. It also has some popular camping sites. Some of the places you should visit are: the Paleopoli (where many ancient temples are located), the island’s waterfalls (including the waterfall «Fonias”, which means “Murderer” in Greek), and the mountain “Feggari”, which means “moon” in Greek.
#6 Halkidiki Peninsula
If you are not from Greece or from a neighboring country, chances are that you have never heard about (C)Halkidiki. Located in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, this peninsula can be easily located on the map; all you have to do is search for “Poseidon’s trident”.
The first two “prongs” of the “trident” are known for their beautiful beaches (which often have a natural shade), well-known restaurants, and bars. Northern Greeks are often quoted saying: «Σαν την Χαλκιδική δεν έχει», which can be translated as “No place like Halkidiki”. You might also remember from another video from Helinika that Aristotle was born there.
The third “prong” of the “trident” is known as “Mount Athos”, and it is an autonomous polity where 20 Greek Orthodox monasteries are located. Some date back to 800 AD. It is important to note that the monasteries cannot be visited by women.
Some places that you should definitely visit are: the Trani Ammouda beach, Possidi beach, and visit some archaeological sites, such as the Sanctuary of Ammon Zeus.
Epirus is a region located in the northwestern part of Greece and it is one of the few places with an alpine climate in the country. It is rugged and mountainous, with a rich vegetation consisting mostly of coniferous species. Epirus has also a big variety of animal species: bears, wolves, foxes, deer, even lynxes.
All these make Epirus a very unique place in Greece. You should definitely visit the Vikos National Park, Pindos National Park, Cave of Perama, and the Dragon Lake (Drakolimne). The central city of Epirus and lake Pamvotida are also two places worth visiting. When you visit the historic city of Ioannina, you can try the traditional frog legs served in the local restaurants.
If you visit during the summer, you should definitely go to the city of Preveza, which is situated in the seaside. You can find some of the most beautiful green-blue waters in this region.
#4 Monemvasia Fortress
Although most people around the world are aware of Greece’s ancient history, fewer know its Medieval past. The Island Fortress of Monemvasia in South Peloponnese is a reminder of Greece’s Byzantine history.
Monemvasia means “one-way”. The fortress was built in 583 AD, during the reign of the emperor Mauricius, on a rocky island which is connected to the mainland with a narrow road. Monemvasia is one of the most romantic Greek destinations and it should be on every architect’s checklist. Visit the Byzantine churches, the old castle, the folklore museums, and the house of Yannis Ritsos, one of the most well-known Greek poets.
#3 Mount Pelion
If you have watched Helinika’s video narrating the Argonautica, then you might remember Pelion; a mountain at the southeastern part of Thessaly that forms a peninsula resembling a hook. Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, spent his childhood and teenage years there, along with his teacher, Centaur Chiron. This mythical mountain was believed to be the home of the wise half-horse, half-man creatures.
Today, Pelion is often described as “paradise on Earth”, combining mountain and sea in one place. If you visit Pelion during the winter, it is worth visiting the northern part of the mountain; the picturesque villages of Milies and Zagora, but also the ski center of Chania.
During the summer, south Pelion is known for its beautiful coastline – the wild and crystal clear beaches facing the Aegean sea and the calm and family friendly beaches facing the gulf of Pagasitikos. Papa Nero and Potistika are some of the most popular summer destinations for people who love deep and wild waters, contrary to the swallow and calm waters of most Greek coastlines. Fun fact: most of the scenes in “Mama Mia 1” were filmed in South Pelion and some neighboring islands.
Pelion is also a popular hiking area for locals. The “kalderimia”, the traditional cobblestone pathways, connect small villages to each other through beautiful natural landscapes – forests, rivers, and waterfalls.
#2 Elafonisos Island
Elafonisos is one of Greece’s hidden gems and, to be honest, revealing it comes with a feeling of guilt. Situated between the Peloponnese and the island of Kythira, the beautiful island has a history that dates back to ancient times.
Its name derives from the Greek word for “deer” (Ελάφι), since it was inhabited by deer in the past.Today, it is a protected biotope of the program Natura 2000, since it is the home of countless rare Mediterranean plants and animals, including red tulips goulimyi, green sea turtles, microbats, and European blind snakes. Some of the paradise-like beaches are Simos, Panagia, and Lefki.
#1 Chrysi Island
Chrysi means “golden” in Greek. Also known as Gaidouronisi, Chrysi island could only be placed on the first position. It is an uninhabited Greek island in the South Cretan Sea, very close to the town of Ierapetra.
The island is known for its Minoan ruins from 1800 BC, its Roman cemetery, its old lighthouse and salt pan, a 13th century chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and its crystal-clear waters. The island has swallow and safe waters and it attracts anyone who loves snorkeling and diving.
The beautiful island is so small but, at the same time, it has such a long history and such beautiful scenery that could be described as the ultimate Greek destination. You can reach it by boat from Ierapetra and other places in Crete, such as Makrigialos, and Myrtos.