6 Reasons to Visit Mainland Greece Over Its Islands

Beautiful Mani, in Peloponnese
Beautiful Mani, in Peloponnese | © travelspot / Pixabay

Every year, thousands of people flock to Greece, eager to enjoy some well-needed sea fun or maybe to dig into the nation’s rich past and culture. But a majority of these visitors head straight to the islands, leaving behind a wealth of treasures on the mainland. Here are a few reasons why you should give the mainland a chance over the islands.

Breathtaking landscape

While the islands are known around the world for their stunning beaches and exotic charm, the same can be said about the mainland. Greece’s extensive coastline boasts stunning beaches and coves just like the islands. Across the mainland, you’ll also find high mountains ideal for trekking adventures, verdant valleys and a collection of cities and towns waiting to show you their best secrets.

Dragonlake in Epirus, Greece | ©  athanasopoulos andreas / Shutterstock

Enchanting regions

The wild and rugged Epirus, the age-old Peloponnese, the fertile valleys of Thessaly, the history-laden villages of Macedonia, the natural paradise of Pelion or the idyllic shores of Halkidiki are only a few locations you will find in mainland Greece. Each region on the mainland has its own authentic style, and it would take days, if not weeks, to explore them thoroughly. However, you will fall in love with them at first sight.

Beach in Halkidiki | © Sprint28 / WikiCommons

Diverse history

From Frankish enclaves to Macedonian towns, Venetian fortresses and Ottoman mosques, without forgetting to mention Byzantine churches, the rich, diverse history on the mainland will enthrall you. The century-old villages of Zagori will seduce you with their austere charm balanced with the luxuriant greenery surrounding them, while the well-preserved Roman and Ottoman architecture of Thessaloniki combined with the Byzantine vestiges in Greece’s second city will take you to a distant past.

Thessaloniki, capital of Macedonia region | © Anargyros Tsadimas / Flickr

A wealth of possibilities

Maybe you are looking for an urban escape or a quiet getaway in the wild. Or perhaps you want to simply relax on a beach, complete with a refreshing drink in hand. Or maybe you just want to explore ancient sites before rafting your way down one of the strongest streams. Well, you may be surprised to learn that you can have it all on the mainland. For example, party like a king at a beach bar in Halkidiki, or trek your way through the mythical kingdom of centaurs in Pelion. There is so much more to the mainland than you know.

Makrinitsa village, Pelion | © Nataliya Nazarova / Shutterstock

The most epic road trip itineraries

There is something magical about road trips, don’t you think? Well, why not include it in your holidays in Greece? Whether you opt for a five-day or 15-day itinerary along the mainland, you can have an exhilarating experience roaming the roads of Greece. Take a tour of the wineries of Nemea, and admire the stone houses of Mani. Then head straight to the ancient site of Olympia before crossing over to central Greece to take in the grandeur of Meteora on your way to Vergina, home of the Macedonian Kings, before reaching Thessaloniki, where you can visit ancient sites and party your heart out.

View of Semeli vineyard in Nemea, Peloponnese | © Semeli Winery

Incredibly delicious cuisine

Finally, a trip to mainland Greece is a perfect excuse to taste the local culinary culture. While Greece may not be the first wine country to come to mind, its variety of landscapes and its century-old wine-making tradition makes it an ideal place to discover local labels in Northern Greece. Also, you will certainly enjoy delicious locally produced olive oil and fresh olives in Messinia. You can learn how feta cheese is produced or simply join in on a local feast in Thessaly to sample delicacies as well.

Cheese shop in Metsovo, Epirus | Dimitrios Papageorgiou / © Culture Trip