Discover a different Greece by heading away from the coast for best destinations for a mountain walking aand hiking holiday. Greece is much more than sandy beaches and blue seas, yet invariably from many of the mountain trails you will glimpse a shimmering sea on a distant horizon. Discover some of the lesser known ancient ruins, archaeological sites and deserted villages.
Spring is the perfect time for exploring the mountains; high snow covered summits are the backcloth to the flora and fauna which is exceptionally magnificent during the early months of the year.
Taygetos Mountains-Southern Greece
A fabulous place suitable for all levels of walking from easy to difficult is the Taygetos Mountains in the Peloponnese located in Southern Greece. Head for ‘The Mani’ and discover one of Greece’s best kept secrets. Here Greek spring can begin in January, the air is clear, towering peaks capped with snow reach up into cloudless blue skies and breathing in the clarity of the air could be likened to drinking ‘the nectar of the gods’. This area can only be described as ‘Switzerland by the sea’ and divides the regions of Messinia and Lakonia.
Catch a coach from Athens to Kalamata and then a local coach to the small fishing village of Accommodation is available throughout the year. There are many clearly marked paths leading into the mountains; begin by taking a short walk up to the old town. Take time out to view the ancient buildings and learn a little about the interesting history of the town. Continue into the mountains; within a short time you will be in the middle of olive groves that produce the famous Kalamata olives. The wine glass shaped olive trees stand above a white carpet of flowers, extending as far as the eye can see. Walk a little further and see Mother Nature displaying the best of spring colors; stark white flowers contrast with the bright red anemones and poppies whilst the muted shades of blue and pink blooms complement the entire picture.
Visit the 2407m Mountain Activities Shop on Kardamili high street to find out about the guided walks and cycle rides in the mountains.
Mount Olympus, the home of the gods where those immortal beings gazed down on mere mortals, or so the myths go. The name refers to the entire mountain range and can be easily reached from the nearest airport of Thessaloniki or from Athens by using the extremely efficient Greek coach network.
An excellent base is the village of Litochoro at the foot of Mount Olympus. It has a wide range of accommodation, mountain maps and all manner of walking aids to help make your walk as pleasurable as possible. There are plenty of tavernas in the town with spectacular views to enjoy after a hard days trekking. The trails are well marked from the town and will lead you up into the national park. The lower slopes of Mount Olympus are grassy with the most fantastic views towards the Aegean Sea.
Once again this area is fantastic in the spring with wildflowers bursting forth; as you venture higher the stark blues of the alpine plants contrast with the stony terrain. Walk the slopes during September, October and November and enjoy the display of autumn colors.
This National Park has an interesting variety of wildlife with squirrels and pine martens, buzzards, peregrines and falcons and for the walkers who reach the summit of Mount Olympus, maybe Zeus or his minions are on hand to offer the ‘nectar of the gods’ for refreshment.
The Vikos Gorge and Pindos Mountains
This gorge is reputed to be the deepest in the world cuts through the Vikos-Aoos National Park. It is on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi in the prefecture of Ioannina which lies in the Zagori region of Northern Greece. The Pindos range has some of Greece’s highest mountains. The area is served by the nearest airport of Preveza or Athens with coach connections available. Ioannina is a good base to explore the peaks and has accommodation to suit your requirements. There are several museums of interest in Ioannina including an display of silver for which the town used to be famous.
This Muses. There are many mountain trails with fantastic views in the area of high peaks and deep gorges. If you intend to reach the summit of Liakoura, an overnight camp is necessary. Arachova, a small mountain village just east of Delphi, makes a splendid base for hiking around the area during the summer months; during the winter months the village becomes a ski resort, with the ski center of Fterolaka, complete with ski lifts, being approximately 26 kilometres away.
Ski Resort Regions For Mountain Hikes
Greece is generally not known as a ski-ing country, however it has several good ski resorts, mainly in northern and central areas of the country that make excellent areas for mountain hiking. Information can be found about these from the Greek Ski websites.
Greece has a whole ‘range’ of mountain destinations for a mountain walking and hiking holiday; all you need to do is pack a pair of comfortable hiking boots, shorts and weather proofs to take time out to discover the many wonders of ‘off the beaten track Greece’.