When it comes to travelling, there’s usually so much to see and such little time. Greece is a country that has some of the most beautiful locations on the mainland, even though it’s usually the Greek islands that are popular. This is a guide to help you plan your holiday for next year and to have the chance to see as much of Greece as you can.
Many people actually visit Athens first because it is the capital of Greece and the city is filled with ancient monuments that represent history. However, the most efficient way to travel through the country is to start up north in Thessaloniki, where you can catch a flight to the main airport there.
Thessaloniki is a city worth visiting because of their generosity when it comes to serving up big portions of traditional Greek food, plus you get to try Bougatsa there which is a specialty of theirs. Not only that, but they have ancient monuments worth visiting and a lovely waterfront. Close to Thessaloniki is Chalkidiki, which has some of the most beautiful beaches that you’ll ever come across in Greece. The cheapest way is to get the KTEL bus from Thessaloniki to Chalkidiki which will cost you €39 and runs three times a day.
You can get cheap flights from London to Thessaloniki, starting from as little as £35 one way for the beginning of July. If you’re planning on travelling from the U.S. prices start at $639 one way from New York to Thessaloniki for the beginning of July.
Chalkidiki also has the village Ouranoupoli, which you can take a ferry to Mount Athos. If you really want to experience the Greek culture, then it is worth going to Mount Athos since it is home to over 20 monasteries that still carry out traditions. There are also some of the most breathtaking views there and golden sandy beaches with turquoise blue waters.
Once you have finished exploring Chalkidiki, the next stop that’s recommended for you to visit is the 200 million old sedimentary rock that was once a home to the Greek Gods and a great significance to Greek Mythology; Mount Olympus. The best and cheapest way to get there is to catch the KTEL bus from Thessaloniki to the village Litochoro, which can cost you anywhere between €4.50 – €15.00 depending on the time of the day (students and elderly people get discounted prices).
You can realistically spend the day at Litochoro, since the village is at the foothill of Mount Olympus. The next location that is only 3 hours away by train and costs between €14 – €20 euros is Kalambaka.
Kalambaka is worth visiting because it is the town that is closest to the monasteries listed under the UNESCO’s World Heritage List; Meteora. It’s advised to stay in this town for 3 nights, because you would need time to explore the area, hike up the mountains in order to visit the monasteries and even visit other towns nearby such as Trikala and Kastraki.
Ioannina is the next location and it is only a 2 hour ride from Kalambaka. It costs €12.50 with the KTEL bus and it is worth visiting. Even though it’s a popular destination for the autumn and winter time because it’s absolutely picturesque there, it’s still popular to visit in the summer time because of the charm the old town has and its lively atmosphere. It’s best to stay there for 2 nights, and then continue your journey to Syvota. You can catch the KTEL bus which is a journey of 1 hour and 15 minutes and costs between €11 – €15 euros.
Syvota is known to have incredible beaches and it is a captivating west coast village to visit. It is a traditional fishing village, which means that you can try some local delicacies and dishes that you won’t get anywhere else. You can turn this into a day trip and actually travel down to Preveza or Lefkada, where you can spend a couple of days there. They both have the most scenic beaches, cheap local food and a family friendly atmosphere.
The next journey will be a long one, because it’ll be a 6 hour bus drive from Lefkada to Athens. You can catch the KTEL bus and tickets are between €30 – €40 euros. Athens is worth staying for 4 nights, because it is a bustling capital that has so much to offer and ancient sights to see such as the Parthenon. You can also take a day trip from Athens to Sounion and visit Kape beach and the temple of Poseidon, where you can watch one of the most beautiful sunsets. You can get the KTEL bus for €7 euros from Pedion Areos in Athens and it’s a 2 hour ride.
There is an airport in Athens which you can depart from and you can easily commute to by bus or train. You can catch the train from Larissa (Athens railway station) station which is a 44 minute journey and is €9 euros, or you could get the bus from Syntagma which is a journey of 1 hour and costs €6 euros. You can also catch the blue line for the metro from Syntagma to the airport which can cost €10 euros and is a 30 minute journey.