HomeAway travel expert
Far 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
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.
View cottages in Olympus region
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.
View villas in Greece
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.
View apartments in Sounion
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.
View holiday rentals in Alonnisos
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.
View holiday homes in Crete
Holiday Rentals in Greece
This striking villa is stunningly located amidst colourful terraced grounds, with the inviting private swimming pool and generous terraces enjoying an amazing panorama across dense Cypress forests that complement the deep cobalt blue of the Ionian...
From all the villas we have visited over the past few years, few have managed to enthuse us as much as Villa Pisti. Villa Pisti is a truly superb Villa. Outside the beautifully landscaped terraced areas overlooking the shimmering Ionian are spacio...
For those seeking uninterrupted sea views, and direct access to a private beach, then look no further than Villa Agapi. This is a beautifully constructed Villa, with the design of the interiors having been carefully planned to again take full adva...
If you enjoy peaceful places as a choice for your vacation, if you want to be far away from the everyday noise and crowd, if the pure nature is what attracts you, fulfils you, gives you rest, balance, the brand new luxury Villa Vela is the right p...
Beautiful vacation villas for rent, located in the south-eastern part of Lefkada island, close to the traditional fishing harbour of Sivota.
The charm of the villas and the magic of the place make them the ultimate place to rest.
Luxury villas sur...