A Local's Guide to Vacationing in Greece: Mainland Edition
Although most first time visitors come to Greece for its beautiful islands, many others find that the mainland offers some of the traditional qualities they come to this country for. Exploring mainland Greece like a local is a great way to experience its reach history, culture and natural beauty. Here are my top recommended must-visit places and a few tips on how to immerse yourself in the local experience:
1. Athens: Start your journey here
I covered Athens in great detail on part 1 of this three-part series. Since you will most likely fly in and out of Athens, I recommend spending a day or two exploring this amazing city. Click here to read all my recommendation
2. Thessaloniki : Greece's culinary capital
Thessaloniki is known for its vibrant cultural scene, amazing food, archaeological sites and so much more. You can fly here from Athens or from any major European city. While here try the Bougatsa - a custardy cream filling wrapped in phyllo. This is my go to recipe.
3. Meteora : The Land of Monasteries
What makes this a must-visit place is that on top of weathered rock formations, monks have built monasteries which look like they are suspended in the air. Meteora is 145 miles from Thessaloniki which makes this a great place to visit.
4. Delphi : The place for history enthusiasts
Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It hosts some of the most important archaeological sites of Greece including the Temple of Apollo. If you enjoy history, a visit here is a must.
5. Peloponnese : Locals' favorite beach destination
Peloponnese offers is all. From beautiful beaches, to archaeological sites and castles to ski centers. Foodies will love the many local dishes - including Kalamata olives and olive oils.
6. Zagori Villages : 46 villages tucked in the green mountainside
Known for their traditional architecture with stone houses, paved paths, and roofs with grey tiles. One of the traditional dishes they are famous for are the savory pies made with handmade phyllo (part of the Epirotic cuisine).
7. Epirus : Stunning landscapes
Epirus holds a special place in my heart because is where I come from and where part of my family still lives today. There are many wonderful areas to visit here including Ioannina (a lakeside town with an amazing history), Vikos Gorge (a must visit place if you enjoy hiking).
These destinations are amongst locals favorites. They offer a mix of history, natural beauty, cultural and culinary experiences. While visiting these places, I recommends participating in local experiences such as: attending local markets and seasonal festivals, using public transportation, learning and practicing speaking the Greek language, embracing slow living. Remember the key to exploring like a local is to be open, respectful and willing to immerse yourself in the local way of life. Greeks are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I know.
This concludes my three part series of a Local's Guide to Vacationing in Greece.