7 traditional villages you should visit when travelling in the Greek mainland

2 Dec

1. Nymfaio, Florina

Nimfaio Village via www.ethnos.gr

Nimfaio Village via http://www.ethnos.gr

Nymfaio has been often included in “The ten most beautiful villages of Europe” lists, and has claimed the UNESCO “Melina Mercouri International Prize” for the excellent management of the area’s cultural heritage and the surrounding natural environment.

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Arcturos’s (NGO dedicated to the protection of brown bears and wolves) headquarters are situated just 1,5 km from Nymfaio and their sanctuary is open to visitors year round (depending on weather conditions).

Don’t miss the chance to visit the “Goldsmith, Folklore and History Museum”, with exhibits including authentic local furniture, traditional tools for jewellery making, and, of course, jewels. Before leaving the area dine at Thoma’s, a 5-star tavern in Amyntaio, a few kilometres away from Nymfaio.

2. Palaios Panteleimon, Pieria

Located at the foothills of the most famous and mysterious mountain of antiquity, Mount Olympus, the village of Palaios Panteleimon is renowned for its hospitable people. The village, also named “the balcony of Olympus” is an ideal destination for every season. Nature lovers and adrenaline enthusiasts will have the opportunity to choose between hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding and off-road driving. After a day full of exhausting activities, relax in one of the traditional cafes (or kafenia in Greek!) on the main square and enjoy authentic Greek coffee prepared on the coals and served in a copper pot, always accompanied by a locally produced spoon sweet!

3. Palaios Agios Athanasios, Pella

Situated within short distance from the border between Greece and FYROM, Palaios Agios Athanasios has become a trending destination in the last couple of years due to its proximity to the ski centre of Kaimaktsalan. For travellers seeking relaxation, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Palaios Agios Athanasios during the winter season, but if you are in pursuit of cosmopolitan ski holidays rush to book one of the charming guest houses; from traditional cafes and taverns to luxury restaurants and nightclubs, you will find everything you need in this small village.

4. Zagorochoria, Ioannina

I would need more than 20 pages if I wanted to fully describe this corner of Greece. Zagorochoria is a set of 46 villages that meet the needs of every kind of traveller. Here you can find cosmopolitan villages, quiet villages, or even secluded villages, only accessible on foot! Either on the peaks of Pindos mountain range or hidden in the woods, each and every one of them will take you back to older times.

The hiking trail of Vikos gorge, part of the E4 European path, and Drakolimni (or “Dragon Lake”) are two places of incomparable natural beauty totally worth your time.

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

The local cuisine is amazing, its cornerstones being the pies (or “pita” in Greek), several traditional recipes with meat and spoon sweets. Pair your meal with a nice red wine made in the area, and spend your evenings drinking tsipouro, a strong spirit made by local producers.

5. Pelion

There are 24 villages on Mount Pelion, some of them hidden in forests of beech and chestnut trees and other on the coastline. During your visit in Portaria village, which is probably the most picturesque one, and after you walk its cobbled alleys, follow the “trail of the Centaurs”, a circular path of 2,7 km (approximately 1 hour), to get inspired by the ancient Greek mythology.

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Before leaving Portaria, have some coffee and cake at the Cafe “Aeriko” while enjoying the magnificent vista over Pagassitikos bay. The cosmopolitan village of Makrynitsa, known also as the “balcony of Pelion” is located just 4km away from Portaria. Once you get tired by strolling through its picturesque streets with the small shops, head to the restaurant “Gefsokratoras” to treat your sense of taste with a delicious meal.

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

What is more, from horse riding in the woods and skiing to scuba diving in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the area of Pelion can offer you numerous dreaming experiences!

6. Monemvasia

Perched on a rock thrown in the sea, Monemvasia gives the impression that the rock and the settlement were created together at once. Surrounded by walls and almost cut off from the mainland, the scenery will make you think that you just discovered a time travel machine! The entire old town looks like a museum, with narrow alleys and small squares while some buildings still retain their marble coats of arms, remnants of an era of wealth and glory.

At sunset, relax on the balcony of your hotel room, empty your mind and lose yourself among shades of red you’ve never imagined.

7. Vatheia, Laconia

Resembling an open-air museum of architecture in the heart of Mani, Vatheia remains untouched by time. A settlement positioned on a hilltop, Vatheia looks like an abandoned village since the permanent habitants are no more than a few dozen, living in tower-like mansions. The fairytale 2-3 -floor chateaus made of stone have very small windows, once used as ramparts during the war against the Turks or pirate invasions.

Many mansions have been renovated and are now charming guest houses. Don’t miss the chance to swim in the turquoise waters at the nearby beaches of Kapi and Exo Kapi.

Labros Psomodotis

7 Responses to “7 traditional villages you should visit when travelling in the Greek mainland”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 6 reasons why driving along the main Greek highway is not boring | diskaverins - December 2, 2013

    […] Paleos Panteleimon is my favourite traditional settlement in Greece. It is situated at the foothills of Mount Olympus, 5km away from the new settlement and the highway. A walk around its picturesque streets is totally worth it, as you can find small shops with traditional local goods, while the wonderful sea view and paved central square will surely seduce you! Choose your favourite traditional cafeteria on the square and sip on Greek coffee served with a traditional Greek dessert called “glyko tou koutaliou” or “spoon dessert”! […]

  2. 6 Holywood-class filming locations in Greece | diskaverins - December 2, 2013

    […] locations in Greece; in Skopelos and Skiathos, 2 islands in the complex of Sporades, and in Pelion, a mountainous traditional area in Greece’s mainland. Highlight of the movie (and one of Greece’s as well!) the monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos in […]

  3. Skiing down Greece; discover 9 amazing ski resorts | diskaverins - December 2, 2013

    […] ski centre, very close to the border with FYROM and the traditional village of Palaios Agios Athanasios, offers 13 ski runs of different difficulties. From up there (2500m) you will also be able to enjoy […]

  4. Discover 12 colours in Greece! | diskaverins - December 2, 2013

    […] you will find many villages scattered in the mountains. Linking these small villages called Zagorochoria as a set, you will find amazing bridges that have been standing there for centuries, connecting […]

  5. Discover the 4 seasons of Kastoria (part 2): Winter | diskaverins - December 15, 2013

    […] then Vitsi is just the place for you! If the weather is nice you can also visit the nearby traditional village of Nymfaio (the road might sometimes be closed if the weather conditions are […]

  6. A roadtrip between the 2 largest Greek cities | diskaverins.com - March 26, 2014

    […] Palaios Panteleimon is my favourite traditional settlement in Greece. It is situated at the foothills of Mount Olympus, 5km away from the new settlement and the highway. A walk around its picturesque streets is totally worth it, as you can find small shops with traditional local goods, while the wonderful sea view and paved central square will surely seduce you! Choose your favourite traditional cafeteria on the square and sip on Greek coffee served with a traditional Greek dessert called “glyko tou koutaliou” or “spoon dessert”! […]

  7. Discover 12 colours in Greece! | diskaverins.com - March 26, 2014

    […] you will find many villages scattered in the mountains. Linking these small villages called Zagorochoria as a set, you will find amazing bridges that have been standing there for centuries, connecting […]

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