Experience Great Routes
The best way to sample the pleasures that the Greek islands have to offer, the inter-connecting ferry system is an efficient and economical way to travel between the islands. Athens provides the main hub for the many ferry companies that operate, with various routes leading off from it.
Perhaps the best way to plan an island hopping adventure is to choose one of the natural ‘chains’ of islands, and focus your travels around it. Ferries are frequent and cheap as the price is government regulated to provide affordability for the locals and tickets can be bought on the quayside prior to departure. There are also numerous private operators that offer faster, but more expensive services.
One of the most popular routes passes through the central Cyclades, which includes the islands of Paros, Naxos, Ios, Santorini, Mykonos and Delos. Another takes in the Dodecanese that run parallel to the Turkish coast and includes the islands of Samos, Kos, Rhodes and Patmos.
Although summer can be busy on main routes, with hundreds of islands to choose from it isn’t hard to get away from the crowds. It’s worth noting that while ferry services are frequent at peak times of the year, those travelling out of season are advised to check local timetables.
Mainland Greece has grown in popularity as a tourist destination and provides the visitor with a range of routes to choose from. Perhaps the big attraction of travelling on the mainland is the relatively undiscovered countryside, the diversity of the landscape, and the imposing mountain scenery.
Central Greece is a convenient area to explore because of its proximity to Athens. Hiring a car in the capital, or from the airport, allows visitors to explore within the proximity. The regions of Viotia, Evrytania and Fthiotis are renowned for their beautiful landscapes, sweeping views and charming towns.
The geography of the Peloponnese, a three fingered peninsular, that occupies the southwest corner of the country, provides a natural route to travel. Perhaps the best way to see this region is to base a tour around the numerous cultural sites that pepper the area. Listed as UNESCO Monuments of Cultural heritage, the temple of Apollo Epikourios, the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, and the ampitheatre of the coastal town of Epidaurus provide natural focus points for a regional tour.
Northern Greece still has a sense of the ‘undiscovered’ about it, although improved road systems have now made it freely accessible. Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, provides a good base to explore the Macedonian region and the monasteries of Agion Oros. Famous for its wines, an excellent option for travellers wishing to explore the region is to follow one or more of the routes detailed in the Wine Roads Of Northern Greece programme.
Another option is to take a Fly-and-Drive package that begins in Athens and provides the traveller with a 7-14 day itinerary that takes in Central Greece, Epirus, Thessalia and Northern Greece. With your route marked out and a pre-determined place to stay for the night, a package like this provides all the adventure of a road trip without the stress.
Alternative Modes of Transport
As most of Greece is made up of provincial countryside, there is much to offer the cycling enthusiast. Spring and autumn are the best times of the year to take to the countryside on bike and enjoy warm temperatures and the glorious landscape that rolls by.
An extensive network of well paved country roads that see little in the way of traffic congestion except for the occasional herd of goats crossing from one grazing ground to the next, make for a perfect cyclists environment.
With its dramatic mountainous landscape Greece is thought to have a terrain that is only 20% flat! As such, Greece is ideal mountain biking country and there are numerous operators who offer pre-packaged excursions and route itineraries for mountain bike enthusiasts of all levels. Both mainland and island options are offered.
Great weather, winding roads and dramatic scenery, make Greece the perfect land to tour by motorbike. In addition to some great on-road handling, the country has, without doubt, some of the most perfect end of journey pit-stops for riders to re-fuel after a long day in the saddle. There are various motorcycle tour operators offering a range of routes or, for riders craving a little more independence, there are possibilities to hire motorbikes and numerous recommended biking routes.
An unforgettable way to see Greece is to take a sea-bound route on board a sailing yacht, and discover the hidden treasures of deserted beaches and secret coves that can be found along Greece’s 16,000 km long coastline.
Many operators offer chartered yacht cruises along various routes. The narrow gulf between Evia and the mainland is perhaps the most travelled stretch of water, due to its sheltered waters and numerous available harbours and anchorages. Other routes include the Cyclades, the northern Ionian Sea, the Dodecanese, and the eastern Peloponnese coastline.