Whether you’ve just retired and you want to finally accomplish your dream of travelling around the world, or you’re planning a family vacation with your grandchildren, Greece must surely be on your list! But Greece is on everybody’s list, so it may get a bit crowded to say the least, especially during peak season.
If you hate bumping into other tourists every step you take or you’d like to feel like an explorer, discovering the lesser-known side of the country, have a look at these secret spots in the land of Hellas!
If you’re travelling to Athens, there’s masses to see. But if you want to desert the touristic hotspots and explore a hidden gem (for free!), hike up Mount Lycabettus. Located at about 300 m above sea level, the hill is taller than the Acropolis. According to legend, Athena herself accidentally created Lycabettus Hill, when she dropped a limestone mountain she was planning to use for the construction of the Acropolis. The breath-taking panorama and the smell of oleander and thyme that will accompany you along the way will make your experience truly unique. Certainly worth the effort of climbing by foot!
The Komboloi Museum
The Komboloi Museum in Nafplio hosts a huge variety of… komboloi. Komboloi are small strings bearing various stones, somewhat like rosaries, but they don’t have any religious connotation. They are used for stress relief or simply to pass time. The first floor of the museum features a workshop that refurbishes crumbling bracelets and makes new komboloi from old patterns. The second floor hosts traditional beaded bracelets from a variety of religions and cultures, but the largest collection is still that of Greek worry beads. The museum also has a shop where the stressed-out visitor can get a komboloi to take home.
Gytheio is a small port town in Peloponnese, a region in the southern part of the country. The town hasn’t been “assaulted” yet by the tour companies, so you can discover what “real life” looks like in Greece and immerse yourself in local culture. Stroll along the port, wander down the small streets sheathed by neoclassical buildings and feast your eyes on the flower-laden balconies, or enjoy a glass of ouzo with grilled octopus at an outdoor tavern.
Vatheia is a nearly-abandoned town that sits in the mountainous setting of the Mani peninsula. Its tower houses are characteristic to this region, where clan groups and families had a passion for starting long and bloody feuds with each other. Centuries old, Vatheia is mostly abandoned these days, despite an (unsuccessful) attempt in the 1980s to renovate it and convert it into a tourist site. You can wander freely through the town, exploring its narrow streets, forsaken structures, and the square shielded by towers, which also gives home to a small church. It’s quite a haunting, lonely place to visit, but surely one you will not regret seeing.
Final Words: Be Prepared!
Wherever your curiosity may take you throughout Greece, it is best to plan and prepare in advance. Make sure you have some sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing with you, as well as any prescription medication you may be taking. Don’t forget your European Health Insurance Card, and you might also want to look into travel insurance over 65. Greece appeals to all ages -even when going off the beaten path!
This post was written in association with Direct Travel Insurance.