As the world slowly moves away from a total lock-down, it is time to start thinking of taking a holiday again! With many countries opening airports for international travel, Greece started this process slowly and steadily on 15th June and is now moving towards welcoming travelers across all its beautiful islands. While taking the required precautions and also adhering to the new rules for tourists in this COVID-19 era, we are still excited to plan a trip to Greece to welcome a new sunrise as we start thinking, “let’s travel and enjoy other cultures and countries again!” Greece has so much to do and see, that choosing the best places to visit is a hard task. However, as many parts of Greece boast many historical sites, panoramic beaches, charming villages, mouthwatering food, sunny climes, and lots of shopping, we are ready to try out these 11 places in Greece as our first adventure for 2020!.
As first-time travelers, we were overwhelmed with everything there is to do and see in Greece, including Greek island and beach hopping. After much research, this is what we have on our agenda for the Greek Islands as first-time travelers to this popular holiday destination. Let's dive in!
The capital of Greece is our first choice of cities to visit in this historically rich nation. Not only does Athens have a plethora of significant ancient Greek archaeological wonders, but the city is also a bustling business hub filled with modern-day attractions such as amusement parks, shopping squares, and of course the Greek food culture. While in Athens, these are some of the places to visit.
Athens being a cosmopolitan city of Greece, there are several HALAL food restaurants serving a choice of cuisines.
Mainland Greece, while being home to its capital city of Athens, is divided into the six regions of Thrace, Macedonia, and Epirus to the north, and Thessaly, Central Greece, and the Peloponnesus to the south. So, the Greek Peninsula does have much do and see as well.
A town nestled in the mountains of Central Greece, and home to many archaeologically significant sites of ancient Greece including the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, the Castalian Spring and the Delphi theatre and hippodrome.
in the region of Epirus is home to the only inhabited lake-island in Greece and offers a chance to stay in the castle or the mini-city of ‘Kastro’ while enjoying the stunning views of mountains and lake.
in northwestern Peloponnese is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. An iconic village where the Olympic Flame is lit every two years and visiting the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity is a must.
is the capital city of the Macedonian region of Northern Greece and considered the second largest city after Athens. Like Athens, this city offers both the wonders of the ancient worlds and the modern attractions of today. Check out the city’s Byzantine walls, White Tower and Turkish baths, museums, art galleries and of course the lively food markets.
Next on the agenda is what we consider one of the best places to visit in Greece. Santorini, a part of the Cyclades island group, is one of the most visited Greek Isles, and no wonder! With its volcanic history, whitewashed houses clinging to the cliffs and the rugged landscape shaped by the volcanic eruption, this gorgeous island is a treasure of this Mediterranean country. While at Santorini, we plan to swim in the clear blue oceans, take in the intrinsic beauty of the villages and enjoy some fabulous Santorini cuisine. We also plan to take in the two main towns of Fira and Oia, where we can enjoy the unique features of each. Fira is known for its shopping and is also the capital of Santorini, while Oia is considered to be the more luxurious town offering many romantic restaurants and high-end shopping to take home that memorable romantic date. While HALAL food maybe a bit difficult to come by, there are many seafood and vegetarian options to choose from. Here are some of the sites and beaches to check out at this lovely Greek Island.
Corfu is a popular Greek Island with numerous beaches and oceanside activities. Our plan for this Greek Island revolves around beach hopping, soaking in the true Greek beach culture, and enjoying some watersports. Some of the best beaches on this Greek Island include Porto Timoni beach, Agios Georgios of Pagoi, Ermones, Ampelaki beach, Alipa beach, and Platakia beach. To enjoy fun watersport activities, we plan to visit the beaches of Pelekas, Kontogialos, and Glyfada. Time permitting, we will soak in the atmosphere of Old Town Corfu and also visit Perithia. Unfortunately, Corfu like many of the Greek Isles has no HALAL food. But, no worries, as an island there is plenty of seafood choices and vegetarian dishes to choose from.
As the largest of the Greek islands, a visit to Crete will be filled with changing scenes from the expected turquoise coastlines to rolling countryside and rugged mountain regions. Crete is also a mix of quiet villages and bustling cities. We look forward to enjoying a break to relax and unwind with authentic Greek coffee while taking in the vistas of the turquoise ocean views or olive trees as far as the eye can see. These are some of the cities and places on our “to visit” list for this large Greek island.
As the capital port city of Crete, Heraklion is a mix of ancient ruins, picturesque old towns, restaurants, lots of places to shop, as well as traffic and a large population. Some of the places to visit are the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Vrondisi Fountain, Venetian Fortress, Natural History Museum of Crete, Palace of Knossos, and the Karteros beach.
As one of the more popular tourist destinations of this Greek Isle, Agios Nikolaos has much to offer from a range of beaches, cafes and boutiques to breathtaking views of Mirabello Bay. A trip to this midsized town will surely be filled with lots of beach-type activity and sunscreen. Lake Voulismeni is also on our must-visit list with a day trip to the Cretan Olive Farm not too far away to learn all about olive oil.
Crete is renowned for some of the best beaches in Greece. While there are many beautiful beaches on this large Greek Island, Balos Lagoon takes the cake. Its pink sand and turquoise waters, it is not to be missed. Nestled between the island of Imeri Gramvousa and Crete itself, Balos Lagoon is located in the region of Chania near the town of Kissamos.
Visiting Crete would not be complete without a visit to its Samarai National Park in the White Mountains. The popular Samarai Gorge which starts in Xylóskalo is 16 kilometers in length, and renowned as the longest gorge in Europe and one of the most extraordinary gorges of Greece. This downhill hike concludes at the Agia Roumelli on the black sand beaches off of the Mediterranean sea. At an altitude of 1,230 meters, the Samarai Gorge is home to over 450 species of flora and fauna, of which nearly 70 are endemic to Crete. The 10-mile one-way hike takes you through rugged cliffs, ancient cypress and pine forests showcasing nature at its best. For your return trip, consider hiring a boat to Chora Sfakion, a remote and sparsely populated town where you can enjoy a rest before continuing your Greek holiday or returning home.
A first-time visit to Greece must include Athens and some of the closer towns and places in mainland Greece as well as one or two Greek Islands such as Santorini and Corfu. Crete is an adventure all on its own and can be combined with sightseeing in Athens, Greece. So, while we plan this extended Greece holiday visit, take your time, do your research and put together a holiday plan that best suits your time and budget.
Point to note, as HALAL food and MOSQUES are difficult to find in most Geek towns and Isles, plan ahead and do your research, bring a prayer mat and use our Qibla Directions and Halal Restaurants feature on our app and you are all set to enjoy your Greek vacation.
As a bonus check out the Halal Trip article on Tips and Advice for HALAL food in Greece.
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