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The Best Outdoor Activities in Greece That Aren’t the Beach

Kayaking at Skala Eressos, Lesvos
Kayaking at Skala Eressos, Lesvos | © Sarah / Flickr
Holidays in Greece don’t have to mean a lazy beach vacation. With its mild climate and collection of rivers and mountains, there are plenty of outdoor adventures to partake in when visiting the country. From cycling in Koufonissia to rock climbing in Meteora, here are the best outdoor activities you can do in Greece.

Sailing

You don’t have to spend the day lying down at the beach when in Greece. There are plenty of fun water activities you can do on a boat, including sailing. Feel the wind on your face as you sail across the turquoise waters of the Ionian and Aegean Seas, discovering forgotten coves and hidden islets. Whether you opt for a sailing class or simply want to spend a day out at sea, there are sailing charter companies across the nation that offer sailboats for rent and even lessons.

Sailing in the Aegean Sea © Christian Lendl / Flickr

Surf

When people think of Greece, they usually think of its picture-perfect beaches, ancient monuments, delicious cuisine and scenic landscapes. Few or none think about surfing, but it is time to add it to your list of things to do in the country. Though located in the sheltered Mediterranean, Greece enjoys some strong winds, creating waves ideal for surfing (and every other wind sport you can think of). As such, surfing is becoming a popular sport, as is windsurfing. From the enchanting shores of Ikaria to the rugged landscapes of Karpathos, there are plenty of surf spots in Greece.

Air activities

Feel like Icarus and fly over the clouds (without crashing, of course) with a skydive over Athens, or jump off the Corinth bridge to get that much-needed adrenaline boost. Paraglide across Lefkada or on the mainland and admire Greece’s natural beauty from above. All of these extreme sports are available in the country, and you should give them a try if you want to feel your heart racing.

Paragliding in Zakynthos © Bill Tyne / Flickr

Hiking

Hike your way across mountains, valleys and other fascinating landscapes. Whether you want to do a two-hour exploration or a four-day adventure, Greece is home to numerous trekking and hiking paths, suitable for all levels and ages. And don’t think that you have to be stuck on the mainland; islands such as Amorgos, Lemnos, Ikaria or Corfu are perfect for hiking.

Scuba diving

Have you ever wanted to explore the wonders of the deep blue sea? Well, scuba diving is an exhilarating experience and one you can have in Greece. With over 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) of coastline, there are a plethora of ideal diving spots where you can see marine life and admire the beauty of nature. You will find plenty of scuba diving centers across the country and islands that are willing to take you on a fascinating underwater adventure.

Rafting

Get ready to embark on a rafting adventure in Greece. A great activity for nature lovers and adventure seekers, rafting across the waterways of Greece allows visitors to explore secluded paths and marvel at breathtaking gorges and mountain slopes. A fun activity year-round, rafting along the Greek rivers of Evrytania, Epirus or Arcadia is a perfect outdoor activity that combines sightseeing, adrenaline, and nature.

Sea kayaking

In love with the waters but not a fan of intense activities like kitesurfing? Then opt for sea kayaking. Paddle along the coast or in the open sea, and find secluded spots. Or take a break in a small cove, and travel to various islands. From sea-kayaking trips in Santorini to a week-long adventure around Skopelos, you will find a wide array of tour operators offering sea-kayak trips suitable for all levels.

Rock climbing

Contrary to popular belief, Greece is a mountainous country with over 80 percent of its land mass being mountains. As such, it is a perfect destination for becoming one with nature; push yourself by climbing some of the imposing peaks in the country. Visit Kalymnos where rock climbing is the main draw, or climb some of the mainland mountainous ranges, including Mount Olympus, Pelion or even Meteora.

Rock climbing is definitely possible in Greece © Pexels / Pixabay

Bird-watching

Not all outdoor activities must include some adrenaline. Greece is home to a series of enchanting lakes and lagoons where bird-watching aficionados will have the chance to indulge in their favorite hobby. A quick look at the map of Greece shows you the vast diversity of the local fauna and flora, and with a little over 190 Important Bird Areas (IBA), Greece is the preferred habitat for a majority of bird species, including pelicans, cormorants, ducks, gulls, geese, and eagles.

Skiing

Did you know that you could ski in Greece? That’s right! Thanks to its massive and impressive mountains, winters in Greece means snow and skiing. The country is home to a few ski resorts where snow lovers can practice their favorite activities, including skiing and snowboarding. You may even get to do some sightseeing nearby, such as exploring small traditional villages and sampling the local cuisine. Greece might quickly turn out to be your next favorite winter destination.

Ski session at Vasilitisa ski resort Dimitrios Papageorgiou / © Culture Trip