If you ever thought that Greece is a destination only worth-visiting during summertime, well, you’re wrong! Let’s now suppose that you are one of those people, who simply doesn't get fascinated about visiting the Greek destinations only for their beaches and sun. Your blood’s running fast and you need something extreme, something more breath-taking than chilling at a beach and enjoying your sun-bed. You wanna feel your adrenaline rising and you wanna get in touch with natural, paradisiac landscapes! Hiking, trekking, mountain biking, climbing and wandering into the greenery is just what characterizes you and of course, what you’re looking for during your travels. You’re an eco-tourist, who just loves experiencing new challenges into the wild! If while reading this paragraph you kept identifying yourself with my descriptions, then keep going, you’ll definitely not get disappointed.
Being Greek, I’ve many times found myself in conversations where I’ve been constantly asked by international people to provide them with info about the “hidden” and not touristic hiking and “natural” trails, that are worth visiting while in Greece. The options of where to go in Greece are seemingly endless, and they all look great. Whatever you’re after, a holiday in Greece has something for everyone, it’s just a question of knowing where to look! Hence, to make it easier for you, here’s a list with my personal favorite trails that you should take notes on, before visiting Greece!
When you’re thinking about the most iconic mountains of the world, I’m pretty sure that the Mt Olympus, located in Greece, has a spot in your list! Not only is it a geographically impressive peak, rising straight from the Aegean Sea to a height of 2,917 m, but it’s also one of great mythological importance. The gods were said to come together on the highest summit, Mytikas, where they could actually determine the fate of the mortals they ruled. Olympus is the first declared National Park of Greece and has been included in Unesco's World Network of Biosphere Preserves since 1981. The mountain is rich in tree and plant life, supporting over 1700 species, some very rare. Climbing Olympus takes two days, but you can easily spend longer if you like, it’s all up to your personal planning. The majority of the Mt. Olympus trails can be hiked throughout the year, provided that you are properly equipped and the weather so allows. While on those trails, "refreshment" also comes from local tasty food or an overnight stay in mountain huts. Today, an estimated 10,000 people climb the peak annually, though far fewer attain the ultimate summit of Mytikas.
The gorge of Samaria is situated in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete. This majestic gorge is considered one of the greatest attractions of Crete and many tourists want to visit it. However, before starting this trip, it's important that you realize that it is a long (5 to 7 hours) walk on rough terrain and hence, you will need to have a certain degree of fitness and walking experience in order to enjoy it properly.
For the hiking lovers a visit should definitely be paid to the gorge of Vikos, also known as the Greek “Grand Canyon”. There’s one famous route starting at the base of the Vikos Gorge. The route takes about 6 hours and it is well marked with many signs. While trekking you’ll be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the scenery and learn about the geological phenomenons that occurred and sculpted the area in that extremely beautiful way! At the same time, if you enjoy climbing you should visit Smolikas, as it rises to a height of 2637m, being the second highest mountain in Greece after Mount Olympus!
Of course, Mani offers a variety of hiking options that will impress the mountain aficionados! Start from the fortified tower houses of the old Kardamyli town. Follow the path that once was part of the ancient so-called "royal road" connecting Kardamyli with Sparta. Along the way, visit some of the traditional, beautiful little villages of the region and walk through their narrow streets. Enjoy a breathtaking route, immersed in olive trees, pines and cypress trees. A burst of colors and fragrances of flowers and herbs will overwhelm you and bring you even closer to the natural environment.
Samothraki is one of the most magnificent islands that I’ve ever been to. Recently, I have read that Samotraki ranks among the 10 first undiscovered and unspoiled natural paradises worldwide. The imposing mountainous heart of the island paired with its pristine nature, are just what explorers and adventure lovers could ever wish for: crossing gorges, trekking, mountaineering, mountain bike, paragliding, rafting, kayak, diving will be amongst your choices if you want to go active.
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