Spring is finally here! Greek Nature is at its best, beckoning us to experience memorable trips to green mountains and ravines, to valleys and fields in full bloom, to torrential rivers and serene lakes. Across the country, your options are numerous. We have narrowed down your search for you and we propose five paradise locations where you can enjoy nature at its best.
This is the pride and joy of Corinthia’s mountainous area [NE Peloponnese]. It’s a picture-perfect lake and –although an artificial one- it is in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings, nestled amid sky-high fir-covered mountain peaks called Zireia and Chelmos. Lake Doxa is a very popular destination, even for a day trip only. There is a thin strip of land entering the lake waters, and on it you will see Agios Fanourios church. At a short distance on the wooded mountainside you will see the historic monastery of Agios Georgios, well-known for its fortress-like architectural style and for being the location of the ‘Secret School’ [a type of Greek schooling practiced stealthily –for fear of being discovered- during the Ottoman occupation of Greece]. Feneos plateau lies at an 850m elevation and there are nine stone built villages surrounding the lake and adding impressive touches to the area’s great beauty. The quiet street that circles the lake is recommended for romantic walks and bicycle rides while enjoying the mountain views.
Nestos River is the geographical border between Kavala and Xanthi Regions. It flows through breathtakingly beautiful expanses of dense forests, freshwater habitats of great diversity and impressive geological formations. The area is included in the Natura 2000 network.
The best part of the river is the Straits, also called Thracian Tempi. It is a heritage site, a nature reserve covering a 23,800,000m2 area. Your trip to the Nestos Straits starts at the area between Toxotes and Stavroupoli, 12km off Xanthi town. This location offers a splendid view of the river’s sinuous course. Greek nature invites you to explore it – your options are numerous. There are many alternative tourism programmes for you to choose from; these involve hiking, canoeing - kayaking on the river, horse riding, mountain biking, bird watching, and off-roading.
Hundreds of streams and rivers rise in Mt. Saos and flow down the island’s compact, bow-shaped mountain massif. The waters branch off and follow different courses down the rocks, feeding gullies and ravines (such as Fonias, Gria Vathra, Tsivdogiannis, Kremastos, Gyali). They also form beautiful waterfalls (Kleidosi, Kakia Plaka, Karya) that flow across the luxuriant green area, as well as vathres i.e. natural pools of crystal-clear emerald waters, nestled in the rocky hollows. The best known ones are Fonias and Gria Vathra.
Start your adventure at Therma. It’s a paradise of lush vegetation and hot sulphur springs - known since the Byzantine times - that appear through tall chestnut trees and dense myrtle trees. This is where your uphill exploration of Mt Saos begins. You will meet many vathres on your way up. Bear in mind, though, that hiking on rough terrain and climbing on certain locations is necessary if you are to discover the little pools that are …out of sight! Things get harder as you hike towards higher elevations looking for more vathres. So, wear your adventurous mood, a suitable pair of shoes, and make sure you carry a backpack with your travel essentials. You’re good to go!
According to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the deepest canyon in the world, and one of the best known ones in Greece. It lies in the heart of the Vikos – Aoos National Park. The wild beauty of this breathtaking gorge that stretches to the northwest of Ioannina town along the limits with Konitsa town will strike you as remarkable. The steep mountainsides are dotted with rare flowers and herbs with medicinal properties, which the local empirical physicians of neighbouring villages, called Vikogiatroi [Vikos area doctors], know very well how to use. The hiking route which winds its way in Vikos gorge is a very popular one. An experienced team will need 4-5 hours to tour the area. The most interesting locations offering the finest views in the canyon are in Vradeto village (Beloi and Oxia locations). Voidomatis River flows in the gorge and it is among the top European rivers for its water quality. This is the ideal place for rafting beginners. Along the river you will come across some of the most beautiful single-span bridges in Epirus – the best-known one being Kleidonia bridge.
Pindos National Park is also known as Valia Calda (in the local dialect this means “warm valley” and it is located between Grevena and Ioannina regions. The breathtaking pristine expanse of high peaks and wooded slopes is adorned with streams and lakes which are also known as the Flega area dragon lakes (drakolimnes). This area is ideal for hiking. There are five routes you can choose from, depending on your level of expertise:
- Stavros location on Valia Calda – Zioga peak – entrance to Arkoudorema
- Stavros location on Valia Calda – Arkoudorema – Vovousa (both ways)
- Valia Calda Valley – entrance to Arkoudorema
- Arkoudorema – Flega Lakes – Flega Peak
- Aoos Lake – Mountain shelter – Flega Peak – Flega Lakes – Arkoudorema
The best location for you to enter the national park is Spilaio village, 26km southwest of Grevena town.