Alternative Greek Getaways That Aren't the Beach

Makrinitsa village, Pelion
Makrinitsa village, Pelion | © Nataliya Nazarova / Shutterstock
Ethel Dilouambaka

While Greece is known as a beach holiday destination, few know that it’s also perfect for a ‘green’ holiday. You can enjoy sunshine-filled days in the countryside amid green pastures, rugged mountains and verdant valleys. We’ve compiled a list of non-beachy destinations for the perfect summer vacation in Greece.

Arcadia

In the heart of one of Greece’s most beloved destinations, Peloponnese, Arcadia is an extensive region that features forest-covered mountains, gorges and refreshing rivers, picturesque villages and age-old treasures. Explore mountain hamlets (Dimitsana, Karytaina and Stemnitsa are favorites), old cities, monasteries and local cuisine, and get active hiking, rafting, and mountain biking.

The mountainous region of Arcadia, Peloponnese

Lake Plastiras

Lake Plastiras is an artificial lake in the heart of Thessaly, at 750 meters (2460 feet) above sea level. The region is known as Little Switzerland. Surrounded by fir-clad mountains, the lake and its surrounding area is the perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty of Greece. Exploring traditional villages (Neraida, Kastania, Kalivia Pezoulas or Neochori) and cities (Karditsa), enjoy the many activities available (biking, watersports, climbing, paragliding or horse-riding) and even pamper yourself at the thermal springs of Smokovo.

Zagori

Zagori (or Zagoria) is a dreamy mountainous area in the northeast of Greece, in Epirus. With high peaks, stunning gorges, traditional villages and a unique culture and traditions, Zagori is one of the best alternatives to a beach holiday in Greece. Zagori is also the perfect setting for many outdoor activities, such as climbing, hiking, canyoning, rafting and kayaking. Don’t forget to visit some of its beautiful stone villages, known as the Zagochoria.

Aerial view of Konitsa town. Tymfi mount, Zagori, Epirus, Greece, Europe

Meteora

While Meteora and its boulder-top monasteries are often visited as a day trip from mainland Greece, the region is worth more time. Travelers who stay longer will discover central Greek culture, visit beautiful little villages, enjoy the local cuisine and get the chance to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities.

Lake Prespa

The Prespa Lakes (or Prespes) are two lakes on the border with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). There are small villages, mountains, and verdant valleys to explore. Befriend a local fisherman for an impromptu tour on the water, visit the little island of Agios Achilleos in the middle of the lake, or simply take in the serenity and beauty of the place while doing some hiking and birdwatching (or even dwarf-cattle watching).

Saint Achilleios old Byzantine church ruins at lake Prespa in Greece

Pelion

The peninsula of Pelion, another of the country’s well-kept secrets, is perfect in the summer as it offers hikes in the mountains, strolls in the forest, camping under the stars and exploration of lovely villages. There are also several beaches bordered by turquoise waters and hidden coves for those days where the heat is unbearable. Pelion is a place where you can enjoy both a beach and mountain vacation in one place.

Galaxidi

Considered one of the most picturesque destinations in Greece, the town of Galaxidi in Central Greece is by the sea of the Corinthian Gulf and surrounded by mountains. But, Galaxidi has more to offer than just its waterfront. Its harbor with its homely mansions is a beautiful sight, and you can discover local life and culture in the surrounding mountains and villages. You can also squeeze in some big-ticket sightseeing at the nearby sanctuary of Delphi. Arachova, though a popular winter destination, is equally exhilarating, with its several hiking trails.

Coastal town of Galaxidi, Central Greece

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