Saturday, 18 May 2024

Unveiling Hidden Gems: Five Overlooked Corners of Greece Beckoning Your Exploration in 2024

Unveiling Hidden Gems: Five Overlooked Corners of Greece Beckoning Your Exploration in 2024
Tuesday, 02 January 2024 22:34

Embark on a Journey Beyond the Ordinary: Unveiling Greece's Best-Kept Secrets in 2024

Amidst the allure of sun-drenched beaches, ancient wonders, and welcoming tavernas, Greece annually beckons over 30 million visitors seeking an immersive experience. However, the familiar landscapes of Santorini and Mykonos can become overcrowded, especially during the vibrant summer months. As the demand for unique travel experiences rises, airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair are expanding direct flights to lesser-known Greek regions in the coming year, making exploration beyond the mainstream more accessible.

Escape the tourist throngs and discover an authentic side of Greece, celebrated for its 'filoxenia' or friendliness towards strangers. Whether you dream of idyllic Caribbean-esque beaches, serene proximity to renowned landmarks away from bustling crowds, or charming villages with traditional mezedopoleia serving raki and generous meze snacks, our guide unveils the five overlooked corners of Greece that deserve your attention in 2024.

Just a 20-minute tram ride from the Acropolis, the Athenian Riviera emerges as a hidden gem, earning the local moniker 'The Hamptons of Greece.' Shielded from Athens' summer chaos, this 30-kilometer coastal stretch, from Palaio Faliro to Cape Sounion, boasts retro-style architecture, golden sand beaches, and chic boutiques. Once an exclusive hideaway for celebrities evading paparazzi, the Athenian Riviera is poised for a renaissance. The recently opened One&Only Aesthesis in Glyfada, fine-dining establishments along the seafront, and Greece's inaugural luxury glamping complex in Voula mark the area's evolution into a sought-after destination. Be among the first to explore this revived haven before it captures the world's attention.

Scheduled to open in 2024, Athens Riviera 91 in Voula promises a luxurious glamping experience, adding a touch of opulence to the paraliaki or corniche. Priced from £772 per luxury tent, the resort offers an exclusive retreat. The Riviera's enchanting beaches, designer boutiques, and quaint cafes operate from early spring to late autumn, ensuring a year-round haven for discerning travelers. Seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Athenian Riviera's charm before it becomes a global hotspot, and let 2024 be the year you discover Greece's hidden treasures.

Unlocking the Secrets of Thessaloniki and the Enchanting Peloponnesian Hideaway in 2024

Amidst the impending launch of a new metro network and a fleet of electric buses in the coming year, Greece's understated second city remains a hidden treasure rarely explored by UK tourists. Despite earning the prestigious Unesco Capital of Gastronomy title in 2021 and boasting a burgeoning food scene, this Macedonian city, named after Alexander the Great's sister, holds a rich history showcased in its diverse architectural styles. A centuries-old melting pot, Thessaloniki embraces modernity with a vibrant student population and a nightlife spectrum ranging from traditional bouzouki hangouts to the lively beats of venues like Mamalouka.

The city's allure extends beyond its lively atmosphere; it is a gastronomic haven drawing Greeks for dishes like the spicy feta bouyiourdi, salted cod and garlic bakaliaro, and custard-filled bougatsa. Local-run tavernas such as Estrella and Maitre & Margarita serve up these culinary delights, while third-generation pastry maestro Filippos Bantis crafts irresistible bougatsa. The city's modern charm and historical significance are seamlessly woven, making it an ideal destination for exploration.

Within walking distance of Thessaloniki's main sights, Thess Residence offers 25 serviced apartments, providing a comfortable and convenient stay. Apartments start from £72, providing an affordable option for those seeking an authentic Thessaloniki experience. With direct flights from the UK, Thessaloniki stands as an enticing year-round city break destination, and the upcoming release of the Maria Callas opus starring Angelina Jolie adds another layer of cultural richness to the city's appeal.

Venturing to the western Peloponnese, an often-overlooked region, unveils a cinematic landscape where scenes from the Maria Callas film were captured. Pyrgos, a picturesque town with neoclassical mansions surrounding a leafy square, served as a backdrop for the movie. The 19th-century Apollo Theatre, where Jolie/Callas sings in the film, is a highlight, and Pyrgos itself is renowned for hole-in-the-wall tavernas like Opos Palia and Edeatros, offering generous portions of local specialties.

Beyond its cinematic charm, Pyrgos provides easy access to Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the original Olympics, and the pine-fringed beaches of Arkoudi and Glyfa. Additionally, the mineral-rich hot spring baths in Kaifa, surrounded by sweet-scented eucalyptus forests where tortoises hibernate in winter, add to the region's allure. Nestled in a lovingly renovated post-war winery, Dexamenes emerges as a luxurious resort overlooking the stunning coastline—a true hidden gem awaiting discovery. Rooms start from £146, inviting travelers to experience the tranquility and beauty of this enchanting Peloponnesian retreat. In 2024, let Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese be your guide to uncovering the lesser-known treasures of Greece.

Unveiling Greece's Hidden Treasures: Astypalea's Eco-Friendly Oasis and Sitia's Untouched Eastern Charms in 2024

Nestled in the embrace of the formidable Mount Taygetos, the rugged region of Mani boasts a winter cloak of snow, transforming into a haven for balmy weather seekers between June and September. Often referred to as the "butterfly island" due to its unique land formation resembling wings linked by a narrow peninsula, Astypalea emerges as a remote gem overshadowed by its better-known Dodecanese sisters, Rhodes and Kos. Since a groundbreaking agreement in 2020 between the Greek government and the Volkswagen Group to turn Astypalea into a model island for climate-neutral mobility, this eco-friendly atoll has become a sanctuary accessible only by a ferry ride from surrounding islands, drawing travelers seeking tranquility. The designated astyMOVE app facilitates the silent exploration of Chora's main town, adorned with white-painted windmills, a medieval castle, and craft-lined alleys on Mesa Nisi (the inner island), to the secluded coves and remote hiking trails on Exo Nisi (the outer island). Saluti da Stampalia, a seven-suite boutique hotel overlooking a picturesque bay towards Chora, stands as a testament to sustainability, with owners committed to UNESCO's Sustainable Travel Pledge. Rooms start from £53, inviting travelers to experience the serenity of this untouched paradise.

Astypalea's remote allure extends into summer, offering an escape from the crowds. For optimal weather and convenient ferry connections, plan your visit between June and September. With the promise of low-cost airline Corendon introducing direct flights from the UK to Sitia's new airport in the upcoming year, this far-flung region on Crete island's eastern tip, home to one of Greece's newest UNESCO Geoparks, is set to welcome more explorers. In contrast to the bustling Venetian harbor and cobblestone shopping lanes in Chania to the west, Sitia presents a lost-in-the-past charm with some of Crete's least spoiled beaches. From Vai, home to Europe's only palm forest, to the windsurfing haven of Paleokastro and the pristine sandy coves of Xerokampos, accessed through a winding road from the mountain-top village of Ziros, this region promises a journey into the untouched beauty of Crete's eastern shores. As these hidden treasures unfold, 2024 invites you to discover the unexplored corners of Greece.

Nestled around a tranquil harbor adorned with vibrant kaiki fishing boats, Sitia unveils a culinary haven where tavernas beckon with the aromas of slow-cooked kleftiko lamb and garlicky stuffed snails, among other local delights. The waterfront setting provides the perfect backdrop to savor these gastronomic treasures. A climb through steep, narrow paved streets from the harbor leads to Sitia's crowning jewel—the Kazarma Venetian fortress perched on the hilltop. The ascent may be challenging, but the reward is panoramic views stretching over the countryside, adorned with picturesque villages and well-marked hiking trails.

Embarking on a journey along a secluded country lane bordered by bamboo canes, White River Cottages emerges as a rustic-styled retreat, seamlessly blending modern comforts with natural charm. Situated near the seaside resort of Makrigialos, the resort offers a tranquil escape for those seeking relaxation by the sea. Rooms start from £74 per night, inviting guests to indulge in the simplicity and serenity of their surroundings. As the warmest region of Crete, the promise of blue skies extends from early spring until late autumn, ensuring an idyllic backdrop for exploration and relaxation alike. In 2024, let Sitia be your gateway to a sensory voyage, where flavors, views, and rustic elegance converge to create an unforgettable experience in the heart of Crete's warm embrace.

As the sun sets over Sitia's picturesque harbor, casting a warm glow on the brightly colored kaiki fishing boats, and the aroma of local delicacies lingers in the air, one cannot help but feel the enchantment of this hidden gem in Crete. The steep climb to the Kazarma Venetian fortress becomes a rewarding endeavor, offering breathtaking views that stretch across the countryside and unveil the charm of well-marked hiking trails and quaint villages. Amidst this tranquility, White River Cottages stands as a rustic sanctuary, blending modern comforts with natural allure, beckoning travelers seeking a peaceful retreat near the seaside resort of Makrigialos.

The warm embrace of Crete's sun extends its hospitality from early spring to late autumn, creating a haven for exploration and relaxation. Sitia, with its culinary delights, historic treasures, and serene landscapes, invites visitors to unravel the layers of its charm. In 2024, let the warmest region of Crete be your destination, where every moment is a sensory journey, and the essence of the Mediterranean comes alive in the heart of this coastal haven. Sitia, with its authenticity and warmth, promises an unforgettable experience, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of those who venture into its embrace.

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