Greece National Parks

Explore a land steeped in natural beauty and history

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert


Sanctuary in Delphi oracle, GreeceFar from the pandemonium of the big cities, the adolescent fervour of its myriad clubbing resorts and gridlocked beaches, lies a side to Greece that many a holidaymaker scarcely knows about. This ancient land is steeped in more mythology and history than perhaps any other, but whilst wandering around any one of its 12 national parks, you can easily forget about gods and serpents for a while; instead, simply marvel at the natural wonders on offer. And all of this under the almost perennial Mediterranean sun, that blesses these parts of southern Europe.

That’s not to say that the conventional Greek enchantments are completely abandoned in these outdoor territories. Mount Olympus, for example, is one of the primary cornerstones of the country’s folklore, whereas Sounion contains all the aquatic pleasures we’ve come to associate with the beautiful coastal regions. Whatever you desire, chances are you’ll find it here.

 

Top five National Parks in Greece


   

Olympus Olympus

In the north of the country, straddling the border between Greece and Macedonia, lies one of Europe’s most majestic mountain ranges. The 52 peaks of Olympus National Park, including the eponymous mountain itself, represented the mythological home of the gods, and it’s clear to see why the likes of Zeus may have settled here. A visit to the Agios Dionysios Monastery is a must for anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical merit, and the vast selection of diverse flora and fauna is more than enough to keep the wildlife lovers amused. 

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Pindus Pindus

Also commonly referred to as Valia Calda, this isolated mountainous terrain is a hiker’s dream come true. The adrenaline soars as you meander through the forested slopes, the dirt paths pleasingly undisturbed thanks to the park’s comparatively low tourist population. The ecology of the area is astounding, and this is one of the only places in Greece where you may spot a rare Eurasian brown bear as they cool themselves in the waters of the Arkoudorema River. 

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Sounion Sounion

Instantly recognisable for the postcard image of the Temple of the Poseidon, Cape Sounion sits at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula. The ruined temple perches dramatically on the headland, one of the finest places in the world to watch the sunset on a summer day, enjoying a stunning view over the Aegean Sea. This is the smallest of the country’s national parks, but its immense significance to the archaeological spectrum, not to mention its gleaming shorelines, make up for the lack of acres in this instance. 

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Alonnisos Alonnisos

Alonnisos is slightly different from its compatriots, in that it’s officially designated as a National Marine Park. As the title suggests, the features of the region are almost entirely water-based, the shimmering blue waters of the Med interspersed with a plethora of contrasting and captivating islands. The Marine Life Protection Centre is a fantastic place to see some of the creatures that inhabit the waters, but if you prefer to get up close and personal with the natives, you can always take a cruise on a glass-bottomed boat. 

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Samaria Gorge Samaria Gorge

As far as you can be from the youthful exuberance of Malia and Hersonissos, the miracle of nature that is Samaria Gorge sits in the infinitely sleepier southern reaches of Crete. The trek up is arduous, particularly the last three kilometres or so when the natural path gives way to a steep wooden staircase – but the view from the top makes the effort ultimately gratifying. The hauntingly charming abandoned village of Samaria lies inside the gorge, a surreal locale dominated by the ancient but resilient Ossia Maria church.

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Holiday Rentals in Greece

Mansion Kyani - Mansion with two living areas, pool & panoramic views

Follow the narrow winding footpath from the square and you will reach the welcoming doors of Mansion Kyani. The mansion is situated on a hilltop overlooking the vineyards and quaint village of Megalochori, with the sparkling Aegean in the distan...

Mansion 1878 - Spacious villa with pool, panoramic views & unique character

Built in 1878 and once owned by one of the most powerful families on the island, this beautiful traditional two storey Santorini mansion is located in the heart of the picturesque village of Megalochori. Every aspect of this mansion is unique wi...

Top rated by Conde Nast Traveler, Villa Hurmuses offers sea views, chic pool & staff

A superb holiday rental villa in the Greek island of Mykonos, Villa Hurmuses provides luxury accommodation for up to ten people in five separate bedroom areas. Rated as one of the 20 great villas on the Greek islands by Conde' Nast Traveller, it...

Chic Villa Althea 5 on 86,000 ft² estate with sublime sunset views & sleek pool

Villa Althea 5 is part of a private 86,000 sq ft situated in one of the most sought-after and exclusive locations of the island. It blends the cosmopolitan flair and ancient roots of the island with a sophisticated client - oriented approach to ...

First floor apartment a stone's throw from the sea

Beautiful Beach Aps which are newly built above the beach with eight luxury self catering apartments of 50 sq m each, and a private balcony of 10 sqm with panoramic sea view. It is the perfect choice for those seeking a nice place to relax and e...
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