When it comes to picking Greece as a holiday destination, most people automatically think about the iconic Greek islands, but Greece also offers nature-lovers countless, year-round activities, in outstandingly beautiful outdoor locations.
Beyond its status as a top destination for sea and sun holidays, visitors to Greece can opt for alternative experiences on active adventures across the mainland and on the idyllic islands.
Outdoors enthusiasts can pick their favourite activity or try something new and immerse themselves in breath-taking scenery, unique gastronomic traditions and Greece’s rich cultural heritage.
Cycling in Kos and Kalamata
Cycling lovers might just find their idea of heaven exploring Kos. This island is a truly bicycle-friendly destination which has even earnt itself the nickname “the cycling island” due to its exceptional conditions for cyclists of all skill levels.
Kalamata is another gem of a destination for road cyclists of all ages and abilities. So much so, that in 2020, Kalamata hosted the “Jeroboam Kalamata Gravel Challenge”, sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. This cycling challenge is all about discovering new places, meeting people and having fun along the journey rather than getting to the finish line the fastest.
Kalamata is the perfect place to explore on two wheels either participating in this challenge or simply enjoying the roads on your own.
Climbing Meteora and Kalymnos
For climbing enthusiasts, Kalymnos has become something of a mecca in the last two decades, with thousands of routes for all to enjoy, all with incredible Aegean views.
On the Greek mainland, there’s the unmissable Meteora, a stunning rock formation with one of the largest and most precipitously constructed Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also a world-class destination for rock climbing.
Visitors to Meteora can also participate in a lesser-known activity and enjoy another unique experience: truffle hunting!
Mushroom hunting in Zagori and Grevena
If you want to go in search of mushrooms, Zagori and Grevena are two of the best places to visit. Zagor is a remarkably unspoilt area in Greece, boasting verdant landscapes and wonderful architecture. Autumn or spring are the optimum seasons for mushroom hunting; as the rains and mild temperatures favour their growth, you’ll be treated to an abundance of mushroom varieties of excellent quality. The wide range of mushrooms found in the region is thanks to Zagori’s large natural forest and the diversity of its vegetation.
Grevena is considered by many, not only the mushroom capital of Greece, but also, a top destination for mushroom lovers from all over the world. Mushroom foraging in the rich and wild nature of Grevena is a unique experience for everyone, combining use of knowledge, recreation and physical activity in the great outdoors. Mushrooms are present in all seasons; the best seasons, here again, are autumn and spring.
Mount Pelion and Samaria Gorge
Hiking lovers won’t be able to resist the exceptional views and delightful trails up Mount Pelion, the mountain of mythical centaurs in Thessaly, northern Greece. Its soft slopes and easily accessed peaks make Mount Pelion a popular destination for hikers and climbers. There are plenty routes and trails that are also ideal for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Pelion’s incredible network of hiking trails can only be compared to the spectacular Samaria Gorge in Crete, undoubtedly one of the longest and most epic hikes in Europe.
Surrounded by the Samaria National Park, the gorge has a spectacular and unique ecology due to its isolated mountainous terrain. The park was created in 1962, to protect endangered species like the Cretan mountain goat (Kri-Kri) and their sustaining ecosystems.
With miles of spectacular coastline, it’s no surprise that Greece offers exceptional opportunities for water sports. Holidaymakers to both the islands and the mainland can enjoy excellent diving in pristine Aegean waters.
Alonissos and Amorgos top the list when it comes to unmissable Greek dive spots.
Alonissos, in the northern Sporades, offers first-class diving experiences, and recently opened Greece’s first underwater museum on the islet of Peristera. Alonissos is also home to the largest natural marine park in the Mediterranean. Visit and you may spot resident monk seals among plenty of other fascinating marine life!
Greece is famous for its tradition of sponge divers. Amorgos became the ideal backdrop for director Luc Besson’s movie, The Big Blue. Its enchanting waters have been attracting divers ever since.
It doesn’t stop at diving. Arachthos and Voidomatis have incredible river rafting routes which are accessible to beginners and practised rafters, who will find plenty of challenging, white-knuckle rides. Nestos river is perfect for kayaking, so too are the calm coastal waters around Samos.
The surfing and windsurfing in Lefkada are excellent; seasoned windsurfers will love Vasiliki beach, the ultimate windsurfing playground. There’s a windsurfing club on the beach offering kit hire and tuition.
Spas and thermal baths
Away from the water, a walk through Chios island’s famous citrus orchards and medieval villages make for a dream break, particularly during spring. It’s such a serene setting, like so much of Greece. It’s no surprise that the country has a long tradition in health and well-being practices. There are hundreds of medicinal spas - Aidipsos and Pozar are a couple of our favourites.
Aidipsos is perhaps the best-knows spa town in the country, situated in Northern Evia, and blessed with 81 thermal springs. Loutra Pozar’s thermal baths are unusual since they have a cold stream and waterfall that runs right next to the hot springs.
Find out more
I hope I’ve shown you a little more of what’s on offer in Greece, for active outdoor and year-round adventures. Contact me today to discuss and start planning your trip to see and experience the other side of Greece.