Plan your trip to mainland Greece the smart way


Mainland Greece is only a generic term that defines a huge territory too many times overlooked by tourists and travel agents alike. When they think about Greece, most people think about Mykonos, Santorini or a large group of tiny islands scattered all over the sea. While islands have their charm, mainland Greece is also a lovely place to visit. My first contact with Greece was on the mainland, in Chalkidiki, (alternative spelling variants – Chalkidike, Chalcidice, Khalkidhiki or Halkidike), a peninsula and regional unit of Greece, located in the north of the country. I stayed in Savros, a small village in the Strymonian Gulf, at the intersection of Kassandra and Sithonia, two of the three “fingers” of the Chakidiki peninsula. The third finger is Mount Athos and it isn’t open to tourists. You can go until Ouranopolis, which is the last town before the wilderness. By the end of the road that leads to the forest. there’s a big Greek guy with a huge gun. You don’t need to understand Greek to know that you have to turn around and you’d better be quick (just kidding, the guy was peaceful but that was the end of the public road). Then there’s Thessaloniki, a vibrant and neat city, with its old tower and its fish restaurants. There’s also Mount Olympus and the Olympic Riviera, with Platamonas, Paralia Katerini, Nei Pori and Olympiaki Akti. As you head south, you’ll get to Meteora, Kalambaka, Trikala, Larissa, Delphi and many other towns and villages. Everywhere you’ll see ruins, remainders of ancient civilizations, rocks, goats and a lot of welcoming restaurants. Athens deserves a full week trip itself, as there are many historic landmarks to see here. The nearby beach resorts are merely populated by locals. From Marathon and Nea Makri to Rafina, the coast can be the ideal spot for a peaceful vacation. I loved the calm atmosphere and the amazing (fried) shrimps in Nea Makri. Piraeus and Glyfada are two neighborhoods worth visiting, even though they aren’t as touristy as other spots in Athens (perhaps this is for the better). Down from Athens, there’s Nafplio, Monemvasia and the entire Peloponnese peninsula. The Corinth canal separates it from the mainland. However, since the Corinth canal is man-made, Peloponnese isn’t considered an island. If it were an island, it would have been bigger than Crete. How many days (or lives for that matter) would you need to visit this whole territory?  

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