Best time to visit mainland Greece

Best time to visit mainland Greece


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Infamously hot in July and August, and very packed, this is a good time to head to the northern regions of, say, Northern Pindos. For archaeological trips, winter and spring pre-Easter are much quieter, and for hiking, April-June and September-November are just perfection. April and October are the best months for seeing wild bears in the north. You read that right – there are nearly 400 brown bears in Greece. Christmas is also a delight, and almost tourist free, with an emphasis on the spiritual rather than material.

Things to do on mainland Greece


WHAT TO DO ON MAINLAND GREECE & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do on mainland Greece…


It used to be that Greek tourists were divided into two camps: the ancient history lovers and the all over tan lovers. But hiking and biking vacations are now big business, and have brought a new lease of life to small villages, mountain and coastal, outside of the peak season, when it is too hot to even contemplate activity. Cycle from one archaeological site to another in the Peloponnese, or cove to cove in Messinia or Laconia. Wherever you go, there will be tavernas or tantalising bays to cool off in. And hiking in the Northern Pindos or Parnassus National Parks brings a whole other world of Hellenic heights.
Although Greece is far from the eastern origins of yoga, it is fast becoming a favourite place to salute the sun. Hardly surprising, given just how prolific the sunshine is here. Few places will inspire you to maintain asanas than the Aegean. And you will certainly find your prana on the Pelion peninsula. And as for shanti – Greece just is peace.
Archaeology vacations are far from history in Greece, but still thriving and thrilling. From the Athenian classics to an ancient odyssey around the Peloponnese greats. Such as the first modern capital of Nafplion, the ancient theatre at Epidavros, the Venetian fortress at Pylos orAgamemnon’s home at Mycenae. And who can miss the pilgrimage to Delphi, where the good and the great trekked to hear Apollo’s oracle at the temple on Mount Parnassus.

Things not to do on mainland Greece…


Dehydrate. If you are here in summer, it can start to feel more like hell than a heavenly land of the gods. You can’t underestimate it, so always have plenty of water or take a break in the shade between 12-4pm to avoid the risk of sunstroke and dehydration. Bring your own water bottle too, as you don’t want to add to the plastic pile up.
On the other hand, don’t overuse water. Greece does, unsurprisingly, suffer from drought, so do all the sensible things regarding showers, flushing, brushing teeth and so on.
Greece’s economic crisis is far from over. It is like an odyssey that never ends, and so one of the most important things you can do here to be a responsible tourist is to support the local economy. Shop at the markets, eat out, hire local guides, use buses, stay in small, locally owned accommodation and tip well. International all inclusive resorts do not, in general, include local people’s interests.
Overlook wildlife. One of Greece’s best kept secrets is its population of nearly 400 bears, particularly in the north, around Northern Pindos National Park. Bird watching in the likes of Lake Kirkini is a-flutter with everything from pelicans to black kites, or in Parnassos National Park, where vultures and eagles are prolific. So, don’t forget your binoculars. Oh, and don’t go see dolphins in captivity. There is lots of wild marine life out there.

Mainland Greece travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS ON THE MAINLAND GREECE

Tips on where to go


Nikos Kritsinelias, from our supplier Land Life, highlights the pleasures of the Peloponnese: “The Peloponnese is an emerging destination and we know its secrets and traditions better than anyone. Our aim is to create strong emotions and memories through participation in the way of living of our country: distinctive gastronomic experiences such as wine roads and olive roads; cultural activities like religious tourism or learning traditional Greek dances. Our guests will live a unique travel experience by participating actively as locals and not just one more member of a group. We're sure all our visitors will return different from their journey in Greece, filled with memories and richer in knowledge.”
Chantel Kyriakopoulou-Beuvink, from our supplier Natural Greece, is the go to person for Greek wildlife: “Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece is a unique experience where you walk amazing trails in a truly unspoilt and little known paradise. Contrary to popular belief, you will not be putting your life at risk. The Eurasian brown bear is shy and will try to avoid humans. But you will get an adrenaline rush nevertheless when spotting fresh bear signs like scratch and hair markings on trees, plus little, big and huge footprints! Because no bait is being used it diminishes the chances of actually seeing bears – but this is the responsible way of doing things: without disturbing the bears' natural behaviour.”

Traveling with
children


Nikos Kritsinelias of our supplier Land Life is an expert in traveling in mainland Greece with kids: “Our trips are excellent for teaching children about different cultures, food, history, geography, climate, environment and so much more. We aim to provide a venue for experiences that both parents and kids would never have had otherwise. Visiting world famous historical monuments like Mycenae and Epidavros, learning cultural activities like Greek traditional dances, and how olive oil or sweets are produced, are something families always remember.”

Mainland Greece travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful mainland Greece travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation.
“Be aware that this is not generally a relaxing vacation, as, in order to get to the number of sites we visited, we had to get up relatively early in the mornings. This was fine with us, but might not be for some (as I've already said, there are some relaxing times, such as at Galaxidi). You need to have a basic level of fitness, as the vacation involves a fair amount of walking. We also did a hike along the Lousios Gorge, and while I understand this is optional, it is really enjoyable and you get to see some ancient monasteries, so I would really recommend doing this… We felt it was also worth paying the extra for the professional guides at the different sites – they definitely enhanced the experience of visiting the sites.” - Neil Holt on our archaeology vacation in Greece

“Familiarise yourself with the Greek alphabet, learn some basic phrases, and particularly try to learn some restaurant menu items. You generally won't find English or Russian menus on this vacation!” – John Hird

“Be prepared to do plenty of walking over rough and rocky ground, possibly in high temperatures. Enjoy the local people, food, culture and scenery as much as possible. Don't expect to find bears, just treat it as highlight if you do.” – Liz Pitt on our brown bear watching tracking vacation in Northern Greece

“Driving Greece is the way to go. Get out of Athens and see the small villages especially in the Peloponnese. June was the perfect time of year before the mad tourist crunch.” – Sarah Turner on a self drive vacation

“Don't forget to take high factor sunscreen as it's easy to forget just how much sun you are getting as you move about & even in October you'll get a great tan. The insects can be a bother while the weather is still hot, so extra strong insect repellent and antihistamine cream are useful too. The tap water is hard because of limestone, so you may want to use a water filter (jug provided) or drink bottled only. The roadside stalls have amazing fresh and local fruit and vegetables, though there is also a Sunday market by the seafront. Pastry shops seem to be open nearly always, useful if you've forgotten to shop before the afternoon closing.” – Alison Kirby, staying at a Peloponnese self catering cottage
Photo credits: [Temp chart - castle: Ronny Siegel] [Temp chart - swimmers: Ellen Munro] [Tips on where to go - Nikos Kritsinelias: Antonis Lamnatos] [Greek dancers: Agnee] [Traveling with children: Fingalo] [review - Sarah Turner : max_ilias] [Help desk: Ronny Siegel] [review - Julian Grubb: Klearchos Kapoutsis]
Written by Catherine Mack
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