7+1 Souvenir Ideas from Greece | Top Greek Souvenirs and Products Made in Greece

souvenirs greece

You visited Greece and had a blast. Before your flight, you want to purchase a few items made in Greece to remember your time there. You may also want to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Forget donkey key chains and Parthenon magnets. Helinika has gathered a list of quality products that are made in Greece. Here is a list with original souvenir ideas from Greece!

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Top Greek Souvenirs and Quality Greek Products

  1. Greek leather sandals
  2. Olive oil and olive-based products
  3. Greek Ceramics
  4. Gold Jewelry
  5. Natural Sponges
  6. Tavli (Backgammon Board Game)
  7. Greek/Turkish Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea
  8. Greek Honey

Greek Honey is an Excellent Gift from Greece

Ancient Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus would eat honey and drink honey infused wine. They would eat it for its medicinal benefits and they would offer it to the dead along with wine, milk, and oil. The Attica region has been a bee-keeper’s heaven since antiquity. Greek honey -especially Greek thyme honey- is known for its thick consistency, rich taste, and countless health benefits. Greece’s “liquid gold”, as it is often called, makes an excellent souvenir choice or a gift choice for your friends and family. Keep in mind that modern Greeks have made innovative changes in their honey production methods. For example, the brand “Vasilissa” offers a blend of honey and pure gold flakes! Other brands have been inspired by this product and offer various honey blends.

Don’t Leave Greece without Greek Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea

Greek traditional coffee is very similar -if not the same- as Turkish coffee. Although most young Greeks tend to choose Italian coffee nowadays, this unfiltered type of coffee continues being a big part of the local culture. Strong and bitter, Greek coffee has been served in every “kafeneio” when the village’s elders started a political conversation. And a visit to the grandparents’ house has been associated with the strong smell of Greek coffee being boiled in a briki over a small camping stove on the kitchen counter. Older women would often gather at home and gossip over a cup of Greek coffee, often turning their cup upside down and reading the symbols created by the coffee grounds. This method of fortune telling is known as “tasseography”.

It goes without saying that taking a bag of fine coffee grinds is a must. Loumidis is perhaps the most famous brand in Greece. However, there are countless other Greek coffee brands to choose from in every Greek super-market. If you are not a fan of coffee, consider buying the famous “Greek Mountain Tea” or “Sideritis”. A flowering plant that is dried and used as herbal tea. Sideritis has been used for thousands of years against respiratory illnesses, anemia, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Remember Greece Forever by Bringing a Greek Tavli Home

Did you know that the oldest known board game is still played religiously in Greece? Tavli or Backgammon was invented 5.000 years ago in Mesopotamia and it is still a popular board game in Greece. Apparently, modern Greeks play the same games that Byzantine Greeks loved: Portes, Plakoto, and Asodio. If you are not sure how to play any of these tavli games, I can assure you that any elderly man in a coffee shop will be more than happy to teach you. You can then bring a tavli back home or gift it to a friend who loves board games.

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Greek Natural Sponges are Hard to Find

Natural sea sponges are the preferred bathing and cleaning sponges for many people around the world. However, they are hard to find and even harder to get. They require a team of brave and skilled free divers who are willing to risk their lives to retrieve these sponges. Greece has a long history of sponge diving, with Kalymnos island having a special sponge diving tradition. In fact, the “Antikythera Mechanism”, the world’s first computer, wouldn’t have been discovered if a group of Kalymnian sponge divers hadn’t explored the depths of the Sea of Antikythera. Today, you can find sea sponges in many natural product stores all around Greece.

Greek Gold Jewelry as a Gift from Greece

It is no secret that well-known luxury brands have been inspired by jewelry pieces displayed in Greek archaeological Museums. Gold jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and rings, have been popular in Greece in ancient, medieval, and modern times. Greek designs are usually geometric and minimalistic. Depending on your budget, consider buying a unique set of earrings or an elegant necklace from one of Greece’s countless jewelry shops. Hermina Athens, 3rd Floor, and Lito, are a few Greek jewelry brands that come to mind.

Greek Ceramics and Pottery as Souvenirs

If you have ever visited an archaeological Museum in Greece, then you know that Greeks have a very long ceramics and pottery tradition. In certain islands, such as in the Cyclades, you will find shops selling only handmade ceramic mugs, plates, vases, and items. They are usually painted by hand, and they are one of a kind. An example is the traditional pottery workshop in the island of Kythnos. Please don’t mix them up with the industrially produced “ancient Greek” imitation pottery that you may find in some souvenir shops. If you choose to buy ceramics as a Greek souvenir, make sure to pack them carefully with a generous amount of bubble wrap.

Never Leave Greece without Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Apart from honey, Greece’s “liquid gold” is also olive oil. Sold today around the world, Greek olive oil was reportedly the product that brought immense profit to the city of Athens, contributing to the citizens’ achievements in the classical period. Imagine a world without the concept of Democracy or Theatre because olive oil did not exist. And let’s not forget the fact that goddess Athena was chosen as the protector of Athens for planting the first olive tree. Greek olive oil makes the perfect souvenir from Greece.

Hand-made Leather Sandals as Souvenirs from Greece

Another must-item to get from Greece is a pair of hand-made leather sandals. Flat, chic, and minimal. They are the most original product you can get from Greece. You will find many stores dedicated to this art at the streets of Athens and other locations. Sandalaki and Ancient Greek Sandals are two well-known brands that ship their products abroad.

Seven Greek Destinations and Sites for People Who Love Greek Mythology

“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!

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7 Greek Destinations and Greek Sites for People Who Love Mythology

  1. Mt. Olympus
  2. Athens
  3. Delphi
  4. Eleusina
  5. Delos
  6. Samothrace
  7. Olympia

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Olympia, Peloponnese

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.  

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Delphi, Phocis

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, Attica

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.

Top 10 Foods to Try in Greece | Greek Dishes You MUST Try

Greek food and Greek cuisine are popular around the world. As we have covered in a previous post, sometimes Greek cuisine is considered part of Mediterranean cuisine – based on fish, vegetables, and legumes. Other times, usually outside of Europe, it is considered part of Middle Eastern cuisine – incorporating many spices and red meat into its dishes.

This might be due to Greece’s geographic location – at the borders of Europe with Asia Minor – and its long history. The European country has indeed many dishes that can be described as “Mediterranean”, such as the Greek salad and the so-called fava spread. But there are also some dishes that can be described as “Middle Eastern”, such as moussaka. This also depends on the part of Greece you are visiting.

If you visit a Cycladic island that wasn’t colonized by the Ottomans, you will find more food options that fall under the “Mediterranean Cuisine” category. On the other hand, traditional dishes in Central and Northern Greece might include minced meat and red tomato sauce with lots of spices. Here is a list of 10 Greek dishes and food items you should try at least once when visiting Greece!

Top Ten Greek Dishes | Greek Food You Must Try

  1. Greek Salad (Choriatiki)
  2. Souvlaki or Gyros me Pita
  3. Fresh Grilled Fish (Big) or Fried Fish (Small)
  4. Traditional Filo Pie (Pita)
  5. Zucchini “Fries” or Zucchini “Balls” (Kolokythakia Tiganita, Kolokythokeftedes)
  6. Horta (Boiled Leafy Greens)
  7. Sweet and Savory Pastries (Kalitsounia, Baked honey feta…)
  8. Meze Food (Dolmadakia, Oysters…)
  9. Mageireuta (Moussaka, Gemista…)
  10. Traditional Spread on Bread (Tzatziki, Taramas, Fava…)

Traditional Spread on Bread

Instead of ordering a dish per person, Greek people prefer ordering a bunch of dishes and place them at the center of the table. They then pick small portions from each dish and transfer them on their empty plates. Just like a family does at home. Usually, a table is not complete without some freshly baked bread with a traditional homemade dip or spread.

The most popular Greek spread is tzatziki: a condiment consisting of Greek yoghurt, dried pieces of cucumber, minced garlic, olive oil, and vinegar or lemon juice. Other Greek spreads and dips are fava, which is made of split peas and onions, and taramosalata, which is made of fish eggs (tarama) and can be either pale yellow or pale pink in color (avoid bright pink tarama, since it is probably not homemade). Some of these spreads and dips can be found in neighboring countries as well.

Where you’ll find them: Greek dips and spreads are offered in most Greek tavernas and casual restaurants, along with delicious slices of bread or pita bread. Some restaurants might offer a wider variety of spreads, including melitzanosalata (an eggplant-based dip) and htypiti (a feta and vegetable based dip).

Mageireuta: Moussaka, Papoutsakia, Pastitsio, Gemista and More

Some of the most popular Greek dishes are called “mama’s food” or “mageireuta”. Mageireuta translates to “cooked”. These dishes are usually prepared slow-cooked in a pot on the stove or slow-roasted in the oven. Onions, garlic, and tomato sauce are three essential ingredients. Perhaps, the most popular “mageireuta” are moussaka, an eggplant, potato, and minced meat dish, and “papoutsakia” (translates to “little shoes”), a “lighter” version of moussaka. These dishes can also be found in many Eastern Mediterranean countries. There is also the Greek version of lasagna, which is called “pastitsio”.

Since they are served hot and contain lots of spices, mageireuta are usually consumed during the winter months. You don’t want to eat a big portion of moussaka, papoutsakia, or pastitsio during a heat wave. But there are, however, a few mageireuta that are mostly popular in the summer. These are “gemista” (stuffed vegetables) and “fasolakia kokkinista” (green beans in tomato sauce). These dishes are always served with a generous piece of feta cheese.

Where you’ll find them: Some of the most popular mageireuta, such as moussaka, can be found in generic Greek restaurants that you usually see in close proximity to metro stations, tourist attractions, and ports, or even outside of Greece. But it is recommended to try these dishes in tavernas and restaurants that specialize in these types of dishes. If the restaurant you are dining at doesn’t have a wide selection of mageireuta, you might end up tasting a piece of low-quality moussaka that was stored in the freezer and then reheated.

Meze Food (Greek Version of Tapas)

If you have ever visited an “ouzeri” or “tsipouradiko”, places where they serve ouzo and tsipouro respectively, then you might already know “meze” or “mezedes”: small plates with various delicacies.

To begin with, ouzo and tsipouro are both Greek alcoholic drinks that include various herbs, such as anise. They have been consumed for hundreds of years in Greece and they are now a popular summer drink. Greeks usually drink ouzo or tsipouro at an “ouzeri” or “tsipouradiko” and preferably by the sea.

If you want to drink ouzo or tsipouro like a local, you need a tall glass full of ice cubes. You then add a little bit of the spirit and, depending on your mood, you can also pour cold water. In some parts of Greece, people often add sour cherry juice to their glass of tsipouro.  

Ouzo and tsipouro are usually combined with meze food. Small cold and hot dishes, such as fried calamari, tzatziki, zucchini balls, oysters… anything that is available on that day. Keep in mind that many main and side dishes are served as meze – just in a smaller portion! In some parts of the country, such as Volos and Pelion, meze is often offered for free to anyone ordering tsipouro.

Where you’ll find them: Almost every Greek city, town, island, and village has at least an ouzeri or tsipouradiko. You can find meze food in these places, along with some traditional coffee shops known as “kafeneio”. Some tavernas also serve meze. It is less likely to find small dishes like these in fancy restaurants.

Sweet and Savory Pastries

Since you will be tasting Greek pitas, you should also try the lesser known sweet and savory pastries that are served as desserts. They are usually filled with cheese, such as feta, and then covered in honey and sometimes thyme and sesame.

The most popular sweet and savory pastry is “kalitsounia”. Kalitsounia are small cheese and herb snacks from the island of Crete. They are usually filled in with mizithra, cinnamon, lemon zest, and then covered in honey. In other parts of Greece, it is common to eat baked feta with honey and thyme.

Where you’ll find them: You will find these pastries in most Greek bakeries (fournos) and in some Greek restaurants and tavernas. Kalitsounia are eaten widely in Crete, whereas baked feta with honey and thyme is a popular desert in the Cyclades and other parts of Greece.

Horta (Boiled Leafy Green)

A lesser known but delicious Greek side dish in the summer is “horta”. Horta are wild greens such as wild amaranth, wild radish, prickly goldenfleece, duckweed and more. Greeks wash them carefully, boil them, and add olive oil, lemon, and salt.

Horta is a dish that few people who visit Greece try. However, it is a must! Fresh, healthy, and delicious. An authentic Greek dish that you should try at least once during your stay in Greece.

Where you’ll find them:  Most Greek tavernas offer Horta, depending on the season. Keep in mind that this is a dish that is rarely offered in Greek restaurants abroad.

Zucchini “Fries” and Zucchini “Balls”

Zucchini is a common ingredient in various Greek recipes. In the summer, it is common to deep-fry zucchini slices that may or may not be coated with flour. This crunchy side dish is known as “kolokythakia tiganita” and it is a common alternative to potato fries. Locals usually eat them dipped into a yoghurt-based Greek spread, such as tzatziki.

Another popular zucchini-based dish is “kolokythokeftedes” (zucchini balls or zucchini fritters). Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, kolokythokeftedes is a popular Greek main, side, or meze dish.

Where you’ll find them: Kolokythokeftedes and kolokythakia tiganita are served in most tavernas and Greek restaurants.

Greek Pies (Pitas)

You may have already heard about spanakopita – the traditional Greek spinach and feta cheese pie. But Greece is known for its great variety of pitas: sweet and savory pies with different fillings and types of dough.

Perhaps, the most popular type of dough is “filo” (also seen as phyllo). The word “filo” (φύλλο) means “leaf”. Pastries made with filo consist of multiple layers of dough that are as thin as a leaf. Other types of dough are: kourou and choriatiko.

When it comes to fillings, Greek pitas usually contain vegetables, such as spinach, zucchini, and leek. Adding white cheese, such as feta or manouri, is quite common. There is also “kotopita” and “kreatopita” – chicken and ground beef pies. In Northern Greece, people often eat “bougatsa”: a sweet custard pie with filo. Every place in Greece has its own type of pie with the Epirus region being the “pie capital of Greece”.

Where you ’ll find them: You will find such pies on every “fournos” (bakery) in Greece. A piece of savory pie is a popular breakfast snack in many parts of Greece. Some restaurants and tavernas also serve hand-made pies.

Fresh Fish from the Sea

Seafood is an important part of the Greek and Mediterranean diet. Eating fresh fish from the sea in one of Greece’s many fisherman villages, is a must.

It is common to eat large fish such as “lavraki” (European bass) and “tsipoura” (gilthead seabream), grilled with “avgolemono”: a sauce made with eggs and lemon. Smaller fish, such as “gavros” (anchovy), are usually fried.

Where you’ll find them: It is recommended to eat fish at a “psarotaverna” (fish tavern) or a fish restaurant in one of Greece’s countless fisherman villages and ports.

Souvlaki or Gyros me Pita

The most popular street food in Greece is souvlaki with pita bread. It is a type of sandwich consisting of meat, lettuce, fries, tzatziki, tomato, and onion – all wrapped in pita bread. You should try souvlaki at least once while traveling in Greece!

Keep in mind that this street food item has different names in northern and southern Greece. This might have to do with the type of meat that is added in the sandwich.

In Athens, it is common for the meat of the sandwich (usually pork or chicken) to be grilled horizontally on a skewer. Souvlaki means skewer in Greek – hence the name “souvlaki me pita”. Even if an Athenian asks for a souvlaki with a different type of meat, such as gyros or kebab, he or she will still ask for a… souvlaki. Souvlaki with gyros.

In Thessaloniki and other neighboring areas, people prefer adding gyros meat in their pita bread sandwich. Gyros are thin, flat slices of pork or chicken, stacked on a pit and seasoned. In the United States, lamb is a popular meat of choice, but this doesn’t apply to original Greek gyros. In Northern Greece, people don’t call this sandwich “souvlaki” but rather “gyros” or “pitogyro”.

Where you’ll find them: Souvlaki or gyros can be found in almost every neighborhood in Greece. You can order them from places called “souvlatzidika” or “gyradika”, depending on where you travel in Greece. It is a “casual” street food item and you wont find it in fancy Greek restaurants. Some restaurants do offer a “fancier” version of this dish. They call it “merida”. All the ingredients are served on a plate, rather than in a sandwich form.

Greek Salad (Choriatiki)

Although a salad, Choriatiki, known as “Greek Salad”, is a nutritious and delicious full meal. The salad doesn’t contain leafy greens but rather fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Some Greeks add peppers and caper. Feta cheese or any other locally produced cheese, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil are a must.

Where you’ll find it: Most Greek tavernas and restaurants serve Choriatiki in its different variations.  

Have you tried any of these dishes before? Comment down below!

One Day in Athens? Here is What to Do | 24h in Athens, Greece

athens travel guide

Athens is the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece; a city that has been inhabited for over 5.000 years and which is known around the world as the birthplace of Democracy, Theatre, and Philosophy.

The city was named after goddess Athena, the Olympian deity of wisdom and strategy. Today, more than five million people visit the  city of Athens to explore its archaeological sites and contemporary urban neighborhoods, and then hop onto the next ferry to one of Greece’s countless breathtaking islands.

Unfortunately, many visitors don’t get the chance to spend many days in the Greek capital, before traveling to their next destination. If you are in the same situation, the last thing you want to do is spend the entire day in your hotel room. Here is what to do if you stay in Athens for just one day!

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7 Things to Do in 24h in Athens, Greece (Athens Must-See)

  1. Ascend the Acropolis of Athens.
  2. Visit one of the city’s countless museums (e.g. Benaki Museum, Acropolis Museum).
  3. Cycle next to the canal at SNFCC.
  4. Explore the Anafiotika traditional neighborhood (Athens’ Old Town).
  5. Try authentic Athenian street-food (souvlaki me pita and more).
  6. Have a cocktail at one of the countless Athenian rooftop bars.

What to Wear in Greece in the Summer | What to Pack for Greece

You have booked your tickets to visit Greece this summer and now it is time to pack your bags. But your country of residence might have a completely different climate than the one in Greece. Should you pack your winter jacket “just in case”? Do you need to wear tights under your dresses? Should you leave your leather boots at home?

How to Fully Plan Your Day in Athens, Greece

Early Morning: Ascend the Acropolis of Athens

Almost every European city has a citadel – a fortified center that serves as a refuge but also as a repository or even as a religious center. For the ancient city of Athens, that was the Acropolis – the city’s highest point. The Acropolis of Athens is known for the impressive ancient temples dedicated to the Olympian gods and goddesses.  

The most impressive of them all is the Parthenon – the Doric temple dedicated to Athena, patroness of Athens. The temple was completed in 432 BC, and it was designed by the well-known architects Iktinos and Callicrates. Monuments other than the Parthenon are the Erechtheon, the Propulaea, and the temple dedicated to Athena Nike, the Eleusinion, and many more sanctuaries and temples. From the top, you can also view the ancient theatre of Herodes Atticus, which is still in use.

Nowadays, at least a million people visit the Acropolis of Athens every year. Situated at the heart of Athens, you can ascend the hill by entering from one of its two entrances: one close to the Areopagus Hill and one next to the Church of Hagia Paraskevi, close to the Acropolis metro station. The ticket shop is located next to the first entrance.

It is advised to visit the Acropolis Hill early in the morning. You will avoid waiting in long ques and walking around the citadel under the hot Athenian sun. You can always prebook your tickets and download them at your smartphone.

Before Noon: Explore Anafiotika

After exiting the archaeological sight of Acropolis, you can start exploring Anafiotika, the most picturesque neighborhood of Athens. Anafiotika is located in Plaka, the “old town” surrounding the Acropolis hill. And it can be described as an “island that overlooks the city of Athens”. No cars, streets, or tall buildings in sight. Just cats and the smell of Jasmine trees.

The neighborhood was founded by islanders from Anafi who moved to Athens to construct the Palace of Otto of Greece, the king of Greece from 1832 to 1862. Indeed, Anafiotika has an atmosphere similar to the ones in the Greek islands. A small escape within the city.

While strolling around, you can always stop and have a Greek coffee or an ouzo with meze (Greek version of tapas) in one of the local cafes and tavernas. Anafiotika and Plaka will amaze you.

Lunchtime: Athens Street Food Tour

After walking around for so long, you will probably get super hungry. But don’t worry, Athens is known for its great variety of street food options. The most popular option is of course the “gyros” or “souvlaki me pita”, as it is known in Athens. You can choose between a wide variety of ingredients -pieces of grilled chicken/pork, tomatoes, onions, fries, and tzatziki being the most popular options- to be wrapped within a delicious pita bread.

Athens has countless “souvlatzidika”, places where you can order and eat this delicious type of sandwich. They are in every neighborhood, and almost on every street at the city center. If you are looking for something sweet, you can always try the Eastern Mediterranean version of a donut: loukoumades. Round deep-fried pastries soaked in honey and coated with cinnamon. Loukoumades were reportedly consumed by ancient Greeks, who called them “honey tokens”.

Today, Athens hosts several street food restaurants that serve delicacies from all around the world: from crab burgers to bao buns. For a more authentic experience, you can always visit a local bakery and try a piece (or two) of Greece’s traditional savory or sweet pies, the so-called “pitas”: spanakopita (spinach pie), tyropita (cheese pie), and kolokythopita (zucchini pie). And, finally, it wouldn’t be a Mediterranean trip without a scoop of gelato to wash things down!

Top 10 Coolest Neighborhoods in Athens (to Explore or Live in)

When non-Athenians visit Athens, they usually explore the three historical neighborhoods surrounding the Acropolis hill. But Athens is more than Plaka, Monastiraki, and Thiseio. Here are some of the lesser-known Athenian neighborhoods you should explore or consider living in.

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Early Afternoon: Visit an Indoor Museum

Athens can get quite hot at noon and early afternoon. After your Athens street food tour, it is time to explore at least one indoor Athenian Museum. You will get a taste of the Greek culture, while enjoying the cool air from the air conditioning units.

Athens has numerous Museums and Galleries, including the Acropolis Museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Benaki Museum, Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, Museum of Greek Folk Art, the National Art Gallery, and more.

Keep in mind that the National Archaeological Museum is the biggest Athenian Museum. Moreover, many of these Museums and Galleries are located in the suburbs. Since you will be staying in Athens for only one day, visiting a small or medium-sized Museum near the center, such as the Acropolis Museum, is the best option.

Late Afternoon: Visit the SNFCC

Founded by the philanthropic organization, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) or simply “Niarchos”, as locals call it, is a public space, where everyone has free access and can participate in various activities and events.

The Cultural Center includes the Greek National Opera, the National Library of Greece, and the Stavros Niarchos Park. Countless free events, such as open-air movie nights, concerts, and athletic activities, regularly take place at SNFCC.

Niarchos is one of the few places in Athens where you can safely cycle. You can rent public bicycles and cycle around the canal. You can walk up the “Lighthouse” and get a panoramic view of the city. You can also explore its magnificent gardens, such as the Mediterranean Garden.

Evening: Cocktail Time

After a long day walking around the city, it is time to return to the city center (Syntagma or Monastiraki) for some drinks. Athens is known for its rooftop bars, such as “Couleur Locale” and “Anglais Athens”, where you can enjoy some drinks and order some finger-food, if you feel like it.

Depending on how much time you have in hand, you can have a bar tour of Athens. The Greek capital has also plenty of cocktail bars that are situated on the ground floor. During the summer, it is common to get a drink at the bar and chat with your friends on the street.

Last but not least, Athens has some of the best bars not only in Europe but… in the world. From cocktail to wine bars to… underground speak-easy bars. “The Clumsies” has been repeatedly been placed on the top 3 best bars in the world, according to the “50 BEST” annual rankings! Getting a drink before you leave is a must.

Are you planning on extending your stay? Here is a list with the coolest Athenian neighborhoods to explore!

All The Greek You Need Before Your Trip to Greece | 15 Super Basic Greek Words and Phrases

Although Modern Greeks speak English along with other foreign languages, it is essential to know some basic Greek words and phrases before visiting Greece. Here is a list of Greek words to learn before your trip to Greece. These include words such as “yes”, “no”, “thank you”, and greetings such as “good morning” and “goodnight”. Read the words and watch the video before you land in Greece!

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15 Super Basic Greek Words and Phrases (All the Greek You Need!)

  1. Ναι
  2. Όχι
  3. Ευχαριστώ
  4. Παρακαλώ
  5. Συγγνώμη
  6. Άλλος
  7. Με λένε
  8. Πού είναι;
  9. Δεξιά
  10. Αριστερά
  11. Με κάρτα
  12. Καλημέρα
  13. Γεια
  14. Καληνύχτα
  15. Αντίο

Listen to the Pronunciation and Meaning of Each Word

What to Wear in Greece in the Summer | What to Pack for Greece

You have booked your tickets to visit Greece this summer and now it is time to pack your bags. But your country of residence might have a completely different climate than the one in Greece. Should you pack your winter jacket “just in case”? Do you need to wear tights under your dresses? Should you leave your leather boots at home?

This article will not give you advice on trends. It provides you with general information on preferred materials, forms, and colors for a hot and dry summer. There is also a list of essential items for your Greek vacation, along with some tips on how to blend in with the locals.

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What is the Climate of Greece?

To begin with, it is important to remember that Greek summer is generally hot and dry. On average, expect temperatures that rise up to 31 degrees Celsius during the day. But packing a thin jacket (e.g. a jean jacket or a shawl) is recommended, since nights can get a bit chilly.

In Northern and Western Greece (e.g. Ioannina), the climate is usually more humid and cool than in other parts of Greece. Some of the most popular Greek destinations, such as Santorini and Mykonos, are sunny, windy, and warm. Vegetation is sparse, so be prepared for prolonged sun exposure.

With the exception of Athens, Greek summer is bearable, as long as you pack the following essential items. The Athenian summer is usually the hottest, with temperatures often rising over 40 degrees Celsius. It is therefore recommended to schedule all your outdoor sightseeing activities early in the morning and spend the afternoon in indoor museums (e.g. Benaki Museum, Acropolis Museum).

The Essentials for Your Greek Vacation

  1. Sunscreen with High SPF. Greece is one of the sunniest countries in the world. Apply sunscreen to your face and exposed skin before leaving the house in the morning to protect it from damaging UV rays.
  2. Hats. A straw hat or a breathable jockey hat that protects your head and face is essential when sightseeing during the day. Hats don’t only protect your skin, but they also help you maintain a low temperature.
  3. Sunglasses. UV rays can be harmful to your eyes. Not only that but sunny weather can make your eyes feel tired and appear red. Sunglasses are an essential accessory for Greece. Make sure to get your pair from an optic shop rather than from a retail shop. Sunglasses should not only come with tinted lenses but also with UV protection. Tinted lenses with no UV protection can cause more harm than good! Moreover, although small sunglasses are trendy right now, you should opt for glasses that cover the skin under your eyes when sightseeing or sunbathing.
  4. Reusable Water Bottle. Avoid leaving the house without water and make sure that you stay hydrated. In some islands and villages tap water is not drinkable; purchasing bottled water is recommended.
  5. Swimsuits. Greece is known for its countless breathtaking beaches and swimming spots. Even if you are not an avid swimmer, you will get the urge to take a quick dive into the waters. If you don’t own a quick-dry swimsuit, always pack a second one to change into while you’re drying.
  6. Beach Towel. Assuming that you will be spending time by the sea, a beach towel is essential. If you will be visiting unorganized beaches, you need a second one to lay onto. You don’t want to dry yourself with a towel full of sand.
  7. Moisturizing / After-Sun Cream. Dry and hot climates can dehydrate your skin. Moreover, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to sunburns and skin blisters. A moisturizing cream (usually based on aloe-vera) is an essential item.
  8. Mosquito Repellent and Fenistil Gel. It is recommended to spray your legs and arms with a mosquito repellent before sunset to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitos are usually active at dawn and dusk. A gel or topical cream for skin irritations and insect bites (e.g. Fenistil) might come in handy. You can always purchase these items from any pharmacy in Greece.
  9. Face Masks (2021 only). Face masks are required in public spaces according to the 2021 COVID-19 restrictions. This rule might be lifted once the vaccination plan is completed.

Clothing Items to Pack for Greece

  1. Lightweight, Breathable Fabrics. Linen blouses and pants, cotton shorts, loose dresses and skirts are the clothing items you should aim for. Avoid tight jeans and materials such as wool, polyester, fleece, nylon, vinyl, and leather. Moreover, you might think that exposing more skin equals feeling breezy. This might be the right strategy when visiting humid and warm locations. But, when visiting sunny and dry destinations, such as Santorini, flowy, light-colored, and breathable clothes that cover your body will better protect you from the heat.
  2. Light Colors. Although you can easily wear a total black outfit once the sun is down, it is recommended to wear light colors, such as white, beige, and pastels, during the day. You want to reflect the sunlight, rather than absorb it.
  3. Shawls, Kimonos, and Light Jackets. You don’t need a winter jacket when visiting Greece in the summer. But, with the exception of big cities, such as Athens, temperature tends to lower during the night. You may need to wrap yourself with a shawl while drinking your midnight cocktails by the sea. If you are planning on visiting Central and Northern Greece, such as Chalkidiki and Pelion, a light jacket (e.g. a jean jacket) might be needed.  
  4. Comfortable and Breathable Shoes. Two to three pairs of shoes are usually enough for your trip to Greece. Leather sandals for strolling in the city or island town. Canvas casual shoes for those who don’t want to expose their toes. Flip-flops or waterproof slippers for the beach (avoid wearing leather shoes in the hot sand). Breathable sneakers for hiking and outdoor sightseeing tours.
  5. Straw / Raffia Bags, Canva/ Cotton Tote Bags. Straw and raffia bags are the most popular bag of choice in Greece during the summer. Canva tote bags are a much cheaper alternative. Although leather bags are still a popular choice, sunlight and heat can damage the leather material. Additionally, leather items – especially black leather items- tend to absorb heat. As a result, your personal items will start overheating and your skin might get irritated. You may want to avoid carrying your favorite black leather handbag during your daytime sightseeing activities.

Unnecessary Items for Your Summer in Greece

  1. No need to pack your high-heeled pumps. Most Greek villages are built amphitheatrically. You will most likely need to walk on cobblestone streets, rather than asphalt. Therefore, balancing on stiletto heels won’t be an easy task. Thick-heeled sandals and platform shoes are a better alternative. Wearing heeled shoes is much easier in cities. But keep in mind that the overall atmosphere in Greece during the summer is very relaxed and laid-back. High heels are not a staple item.
  2. Avoid packing clothes made of vinyl or leather. Walking around Athens or Santorini wearing a black leather jacket, or a pair of vinyl skinny pants sounds like a nightmare. Not only do these items of clothing contrast with the relaxed summer atmosphere, but you also risk getting a heatstroke. The same applies to leather bags – especially black leather bags. Leather can be damaged under prolonged sun exposure. Leather boots are also not weather appropriate for your summer vacation in Greece.
  3. Tights are not essential. Tights don’t get a weather/fashion pass for summer. Most Greek women either expose their bare legs or wear long skirts/ pants to cover them. Tights (in any color) are considered a fall/winter accessory.

Are There Clothing Laws in Greece? Is There a Greek Dress Code?

Greece does not have laws that prohibit people from wearing specific items of clothing. People are free to wear whatever they want, as long as they don’t walk around in their birthday suits. Women are also allowed to sunbathe topless (unless stated otherwise) and there are many nudist beaches across the country. But there are a few written and unwritten rules you may want to know.

It is generally prohibited to wear high heels or shoes with spiky soles when visiting ancient theatres and sights, where the floor is made of marble or mosaic. Wear flat shoes and avoid damaging the floor or… your ankles.

Moreover, Greece has many picturesque monasteries and churches that you can visit. Women are usually requested to wear long skirts and cover their chest and shoulders before entering a monastery. If you don’t own a long skirt, don’t worry; most monasteries will lend you a skirt for free. Men should also make sure that they do not enter a monastery shirtless or in shorts.

There are no specific clothing rules when visiting churches. However, you want to avoid entering religious sights in your beach attire. If you come across a liturgy, it is recommended to look presentable (e.g. don’t enter in your beach attire). The priest, however, might welcome you in regardless of your clothes.

It is common to enter businesses and shops in swimsuits, as long as they are located in close proximity to the beach. Dining in seaside seafood tavernas wearing your beach attire is also common. But you may want to visit your hotel room to shower and change clothes before visiting the city center or island town. This is more of an unwritten rule, rather than a requirement. Being denied entrance to a restaurant for your choice of clothing is very rare occasion in Greece. But, taking the collectivistic elements of the Greek culture into consideration, you might get a few stares.

To sum things up, there are no laws dictating what people can or cannot wear in Greece. Public nudity is prohibited with the exception of nudist beaches and other designated areas. Topless sunbathing is generally allowed. There are, however, written and unwritten rules when it comes to visiting museums, archaeological sites, monasteries, churches, and private businesses.

What Is the Greek Fashion Sense?

Modern Greeks usually dress casually in the summer. However, the concept of what “casual” means is different from country to country. Comfort is important but so is attractiveness. You will rarely see locals wearing sandals with socks, crocks, or oversized t-shirts with logos. But you will see less people going to work in ties and blazers or walking in high-heels.

Modern Greeks prefer loose-fitting and less structured clothes in the summer. But they might add belts and other accessories to create an attractive silhouette. Shapeless items of clothing and anatomic shoes are often considered “unattractive” and are less popular among younger generations.

Plain cotton t-shirts or loose-fitting linen shirts and short trousers are the most popular items of clothing for men. Women usually wear flowy maxi/midi/mini dresses, skirts, and shorts paired with tops, t-shirts, or blouses. Long linen pants are also a popular clothing item. Women like wearing makeup but it is usually minimal compared to other parts of the world (e.g. USA). There is a focus on creating a healthy-looking complexion, rather than changing facial features.

When it comes to footwear, men often wear canvas sneakers or moccasins, whereas women prefer flat leather sandals or slip-ons. Flip-flops are usually worn at the beach or for grabbing something fast at the local kiosk or mini market.

It goes without saying that each person has their own personal sense of style, and you will see many locals dressed in their own unique way. If you would rather blend in with the locals, adding some of the above-mentioned pieces to your suitcase will do the trick!

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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!

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!

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!

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Top 10 Greek Islands | Ten Breathtaking Islands in Greece

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.

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Top 10 Greek Islands | Breathtaking Islands in Greece

  1. Santorini
  2. Crete
  3. Corfu
  4. Zakynthos
  5. Paros
  6. Naxos
  7. Mykonos
  8. Serifos
  9. Rhodes
  10.  Milos

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.

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Naxos Island, Greece

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!

Greece in the Top Countries to Swim in! | Blue Flag 2021

With its hundrends of islands and 13.6 km coastline, Greece is a popular summer destination. But did you know that the country is officially a top destination for swiming and sailing?

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Blue Flag 2021: The Position of Greece

The Blue Flag International Jury 2021 has awarded 545 Greek beaches, 16 marinas, and six tourism boats. These include popular places such as Porto Katsiki in Lefkada, Falasarna in Crete, and Koukounaries in Skiathos. Halkidiki seems to be once again the Greek champion with numerous beaches being awarded the prestigious eco-label. All in all, by taking all the results into consideration, we can see that Greece is the second best destination for swimming and sailing in the world!

The results coincide with the reopening of organized beaches in Greece after an extended period of Covid-19 restrictions.

What is the Blue Flag Programme?

The Blue Flag is a programme operating under the non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education which is based in Denmark. Its goal is to encourage Blue Flag sites maintain their high-quality standards when it comes to operating beaches, marinas, and tourism boats.