There are many beautiful places in this world, but I can recommend anyone to explore around Greece for a longer time. As a working nomad, backpacker, or just as a traveler, Greece can be as interesting as other, more popular, countries. The warm and welcoming culture merged with the paradise-like landscapes will never get boring. Everyone should spend time in Greece.
Greece has 110.496 square kilometers (42,663 sq mi) of the mainland and over 6.000 islands. Of all this land, more than 80% is mountainous, and the country has 13,676 km of coastline. All around, there are sights worth seeing. From something as simple as a beautiful white church on top of a mountain to the world’s only inhabited caldera, Santorini.
Greece is never boring
No matter how often or long you go to Greece, you’ll never finish exploring. For me, it became an addiction. To find an undiscovered and mind-blowing spot, only to start looking for the next one as soon as I succeed. It provides an extreme feeling of freedom and connection with nature to travel through the places only locals have discovered. And breathtaking views are everywhere in Greece.
I believe the best thing about Greece is that even when traveling from one site to another can be an adventure. The landscape’s beauty keeps surprising. Driving through mountains, fruit plantations, forests, and coastlines keeps you excited. Besides, hopping on a ferry is not trite either. Surrounded by the blue seas, you can observe the coastline of the islands, and you might even discover dolphins on the way.
Nature in Greece
Greece provides the opportunity to connect with nature in almost every way possible. Hiking through Zagoria or Tzoumerka, for instance. Amongst lush green forests and giant cliffsides, solely accompanied by Mother Earth. There are rivers and waterfalls, blue water ponds, impressive caves, and monasteries. This area is not what you expect to find in Greece, nor are there many tourists visiting. However, exploring these mountains in Greece, the country of the perfect summer beach holidays, created my addiction. I can recommend everyone to experience it.
In Greece, there is also the possibility to spot animals you did not expect to see. Bears and flamingos. In Northern Greece, along the borders of Albania and Bulgaria, around 450 brown bears are living. Finding them in the wild is both dangerous and difficult. However, there are guided bear hikes available, or you can visit the bear sanctuary in Nymfaio, called Arcturos. This non-profit organization tries to reintegrate ex-captive bears.
Flamingos are a much easier find in Greece, but still as surprising as the bears. Around November, they come from Africa to the Greek wetlands and stay for about four months. They come with many and can be extremely loud. Finding them in Greece is easy. During the winter, they are in almost every shallow water in the country. The island of Lefkada, the Lefkimi lagoon in Corfu, Agios Mamas in Halkidiki, or Porto Lagos in Xanthi, are spots famous for their seasonal flamingo inhabitants. However, last winter, I encountered them in an unnamed small wetland, so I believe they are everywhere.
This brings me to the third reason for spending time in Greek nature, the seasons. You might not expect seasons in Greece since temperatures on islands like Crete rarely drop below 15 degrees. However, the further North you go, the more you can recognize the different seasons. The fall will turn the mountains into the most colorful paintings. The winter allows skiing and snowboarding in one of the many ski resorts on the mainland. But it is also the time to enjoy the hot springs, of which there are many throughout the country. Spring comes with blooming flowers and the celebration of Easter. And the summer months are perfect for a visit to the islands.
Greece changes throughout all seasons, and these changes come with new reasons to spend time and explore the country. When you believe you have seen all the beautiful beaches in summer, try the fruit plantations and mountainous areas in spring. Or experience the olive harvest during the fall.
Last but definitely not least is the Greek coastline. Although Greece is famous for its organized and easily accessible beaches, much of the coastline is still unexplored territory for tourists. The most amazing shores are the ones that require at least an hour of hiking along cliffs or through forests. Since they are often not marked on Google Maps, you can only find these places through locals. But when you reach the beach, surrounded by nature without anyone else there, you will understand why it was worth the afford to get there.
Greeks teach you to slow down
Greek culture is warm and welcoming, but more important is that Greeks can teach you how to unwind. Going off-grid in Greece, you will meet people who know what it is to slow down while still working hard. The Greeks are masters when it comes to not worrying or rushing when there is no point to do so. To work hard but not stress over having to work harder.
It is a misconception that Greeks are lazy, or that slowing down life means you can not work hard. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Greeks work more hours than any other European. The difference is that besides their jobs, they choose not to stick to schedules, spend time with friends and family, and live life at a slow pace. The further you are from Athens, the more relaxed life is. The people in the Greek remote villages have a kind of serenity over them, and whenever I am amongst them, I absorb their tranquility and feel like a different person.
Culture is something local
It is impossible to visit one island in Greece and say you know everything about Greek culture. Although Greek culture as a whole does exist, every region, or even village, has something unique to add to it. One Greek mousaka recipe does not exist, every Greek grandmother will have her own, as will every tavern cook. The same goes for lifestyle, cheese, liquor, traditions, and history.
Exploring the whole Greek culture is impossible. However, it is extremely interesting to try. Every Greek region or island can teach you something different.
The ancient history
Greece is known for its archeological sites. While history often remains no more than a story or object in a museum, in Greece, you have the opportunity to explore ancient cities and architecture. Popular examples are Mycenae in Peloponnese, Delphi in central Greece, and of course, the Acropolis in Athens. One of my personal favorites is Epidavros. This theatre, built in 400 BC, is the most well-preserved in the entire world. Visiting during the summer months, I can recommend attending an ancient theatre performance here. It is impossible to get closer to the Greek ancient culture.
It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal while traveling through Greece. Feta, good olive oil, and fresh vegetables can turn any recipe into a delicious meal. Combine this with fresh fish or souvlaki, and you have heaven on a plate. Local products, vegetables, fruits, and olives, grown by natural sunlight, have a flavor unique to Greece.
As I said before, recipes will differ in every region or island in Greece, often based on the availability of products in the region. When entering a tavern, ask for the local specialty and try it! Explore Greece through food and don’t stick to the well-known gyros.
Take your time in Greece
Although Greece is great as a summer holiday destination, many tourists fail to discover the real experience Greece has to offer. In 10 days spent on a famous island, you will not meet the real Greeks and not learn the Greek way of living.
The beauty of Greek life is that it moves at a slow pace, so you should take it slow and take your time to explore. Don’t rush through a list of sites you want to visit. Don’t plan your entire trip and stick to a schedule. Instead, go to Greece without a program and see what happens. Explore different seasons and the different activities that they bring. This beautiful country deserves your attention, and you will be surprised by what it can give you! Everyone should explore Greece!