Make a mountain out of…a Christmas holiday
Leave the rat race of the cities behind and treat your body to a strong dose of energy and your lungs to an excess of oxygen. Let the spirit of Christmas guide you to the heaven of the Greek mountains.
Endless snowcapped reserves; chalets and refuges with a breathtaking view; rivers crowned by stone bridges; paths through the woods lead to the allure and the grandeur of the timeless Greek nature.
Hiking through the clouds
Greece is known for its exceptionally rich mountainous landscape. From Thrace and Macedonia to Peloponnese and Crete, the mountain ranges of Greece form one of the most interesting natural terrains on earth. Within the territory of Greece there are 47 mountains with elevations of more than 2000 metres, 105 with a height of over 1500 metres and 155 which are more than 1000 metres high. The number of peaks in the zone between 200 and 1000 metres high is literally uncountable. The large areas of woodland, unique habitats, villages where time seems to have stood still, shelters with views that seem to go on for ever, and the unexpected scrublands with thickets and hidden clearings, are all a great attraction for travellers. There are an endless number of routes to choose from. More experienced and demanding hikers will have the chance to make their way up breathtakingly beautiful mountain peaks. Mount Olympus, Pindos, Taygetos, the Ochi range in Evia, and Psiloreitis in Crete, with their gorges, ravines and steep footpaths, are gradually becoming well established destinations in the minds of travellers planning a hiking holiday. The views and the primordial natural environment are rich rewards for the efforts of hikers, whereas well organized facilities, excellent hostels and a richly varied local cuisine will provide the much needed rest and relaxation at the end of the day.
Footsteps pave the way
Greece is a country which was always much loved by travellers. Pausanias and Strabo, Evliya Çelebi and Lord Byron, Chateaubriand and Henri Beyle all put pen to paper to sing the praises of the land of Greece. Ancient pathways, such as the “armakades” carriage tracks in Arcadia, weave a magical network across the endlessly beautiful Greek landscape. Beautiful landscapes, ravines and valleys, proud mountains, unspoilt traditional villages, untouched protected areas and an ancient anthropocentric civilization such as that of Greece, make the country a hiker’s paradise.
Greece is also part of the European long-distance footpath E4 which crosses Europe from the Pyrenees to Crete. Travellers from all parts of the world arrange their walking routes along this unique path, which follows beautiful mountain trails and pauses in lovely villages and towns full of history.
The hiking clubs in Greece, with a real love for nature, maintain the trails, provide excellent signposting, and offer their experience to travellers. Hiking does not have to be an extremely demanding activity. In Greece there are many very exciting and interesting trails which need no special expertise or equipment. Armed only with a pair of reasonably sturdy shoes and a love of exploration one can get to know all the beauty of forests, the crystal clear rivers, mysterious lakes, and the unchanging culture of the Greek countryside.
If you are into exploration but not a fitness type of person, if you want to take in beauty on the Greek mountains but dislike hiking, here are your alternatives:
Off-road routes to secret paradises
Driving a 4x4 vehicle is a unique experience. It allows one to reach completely unspoiled formerly inaccessible places and enjoy nature like never before.
There are many organized clubs in Greece involved in 4X4 driving, competitively as well as with touring and nature appreciation. It is possible to hire 4x4 vehicles, as well as all the necessary additional equipment, such as snow chains. Travellers who are ready for adventure and new discoveries will have the opportunity to explore stunningly beautiful countryside and secret mountain paradises, to cross small rivers or enjoy the splendour of the snow on the glorious mountain peaks.
With a bicycle and a backpack
Cycling can without a doubt be a great pleasure. The easygoing sense of freedom which a cycling holiday can provide has created an entire travel culture of its own. The mountain areas of Greece have an excellent climate all year round and evergreen forests offer a great number of very exciting and interesting routes for cyclists. On mystical Mount Parnitha, very close to Athens, there are some of the most exciting routes in Greece. Many clubs can provide experienced guides and special equipment to enjoy this unique experience. Dirt roads, as well as more demanding trails, traverse the heart of the forest. There are crystal clear springs and streams to quench the thirst of cyclists and all the hard work is well rewarded by the breathtaking mountain views.
All the Greek mountainsides have individually beautiful routes to choose from. From the Rhodope mountain range in Thrace, Mount Olympus in Macedonia, Ypsario on Thassos, Mount Chelmos and Mount Lykaio in the Peloponnese, Parnassos in central mainland Greece, Vaidenitsa in Mani to the iconic Psiloreitis Mountain in Crete, there are so many places for cyclists to enjoy nature in the most powerfully direct way.
A ride through nature on horseback
There are very active riding clubs from the Evros River to Crete offering the opportunity to take part in cross country exploration or competitive riding.
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace have long standing horse riding traditions. Horseback riding along the banks of the Nestos River in the lush green countryside will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Western Macedonia boasts eight lakes and rivers with many tributaries. Gorges, arched stone bridges, streams and ravines create an unbelievably beautiful landscape. All of these amazing sights can be enjoyed on horseback, and one can truly experience what it means to get back to nature.
In Pilion, the traveller can get to know a uniquely beautiful natural landscape, with stunning views of the sea and imposing mountains and hillsides. The Voidomatis River in the northern province of Epirus is one of the cleanest in all of Europe. Its fast flowing waters have carved out stunning geological formations with pathways along its banks and tributaries. In Peloponnese there are a number of theme parks which also organize rides for children giving them a chance to have first contact with these wonderful creatures and have lots of fun.