Greece is both epic and ethereal. This is a land of gods and goddesses after all, and our Greece tours all have smatterings of heavenliness built in. For example, the gods’ home of Mount Olympus is the country’s highest peak and a high for many on a walking holiday in Greece.
Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture’s fruitfulness is particularly ripe on the islands of Crete, Corfu and the Cyclades. On walking holidays, Greece is bursting with Gaia, the goddess of the earth sharing her generous gifts in the Peloponnese, Pelion or Pindos Mountains.
Aether, the god of light pays regular visits on our cycling tours, Greece proffering sunrise bike rides on the likes of Kefalonia or Rhodes that you will never regret getting out of bed for. Even after a night out with Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, whose fine gifts are flowing on all of our Greece tours.
Where to go
Walking holidays in Crete cover all compass points of this mountainous island, the largest in Greece. Heading north to south through the White Mountains and stupendous Samaria Gorge is an epic Cretan adventure. Ending up at Agia Roumeli beach in the west, because the coast always beckons in Crete. This eastern walking holiday leading you through the Sitìa Geopark and to some of Crete’s best beaches. These include Vai and Skinias, or a finale walk in the Gorge of the Dead bringing you out at the coastal village of Zakros.
Cyclades and Dodecanese
Two archipelagos with a meze of maritime trails, ancient Greek heritage and beaches, then more beaches. Walking in the Cyclades opens up spectacular trails such as the volcanic caldera on Santorini, the islands’ highest peak of Mount Zas (1,000m) on Naxos, or the ancient kalderimi paths of Andros and Tinos, all well off the island-hopping tourist trails. Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese, and cycling here is one of our top Greek tours, taking in ancient sites such as the Acropolis of Lindos or the ruined city of Kamiros.
Mainland Greece is rightfully taking its place on the world map of top walking holidays, with the Peloponnese Peninsula and, in particular its 75km Menalon Trail, a sure wanderlust winner. This trail covers the Western Menalon massif and Mylaon Valley, traverses walnut and olive groves, leads you to ancient architecture such as the Old Philosophou Monastery, with an option to climb up Pliovouni summit, the highest peak of Trail at 1643m. This is Hellenic heritage at its most heavenly.
Pindos Mountains and Zagori
Even further off the tourist trail is a walking holiday in the Pindos Mountains up near the Albanian border. This takes you through Vikos-Aoös National Park and Vikos Gorge, a quiet competitor in the race to win best Greek gorge. You will barely meet another soul on these walking trails through rural villages, crossing the ancient stone bridges of Zagori and heading up to the UNESCO mountain top monasteries of Meteora. You will wonder how on earth you can have these spectacles all to yourselves.
Corfu and Ionian Islands
The Corfu Trail is one of the best walking holidays in the Ionian Islands, a 200km adventure into the heart of the archipelago’s second largest island. Walk it in segments or do the whole thing in two weeks, reading its most famous resident’s work, Gerald Durrell, along the way. You can also visit his beloved home area at Kalami. Although Kefalonia holidays are on the largest of the Ionian islands, it is a lot less populated, and cycling along its limestone cliffs, cooling down at blissful beaches such as Myrtos or Antisamos feels like a gift from the gods.
Things to do
When it comes to cycling tours, Greece gives out generously, with off-road mountain trails on Rhodes, unforgettable velo vistas in Kefalonia, and a circuit of ever-changing scenery along the Gulf of Euboea (Evia) and its eponymous island. You can also do a fascinating cycling combo holiday, dividing your time between the lakes and mountains of North Macedonia then travelling south into similarly dramatic terrain in Greek Macedonia.
Greek wine’s reputation has grown over the years, leaving behind its rough retsina reputations, and welcoming the country’s varied grape varieties. Moschofilero is flowing on our Peloponnese tours, malvasia and mandilaria thrive on Crete’s rugged terraces and assyrtiko rises like a phoenix out of the volcanic ashes on Santorini walking holidays.
One of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Greece is spending time on a sea turtle beach during nesting season, between June and early August, with eggs hatching two months later. The Ionian Islands are important breeding sites for endangered loggerhead turtles, and designated nesting beaches include Argostoli on Kefalonia, or you can visit the island’s Turtle Centre at Katelios. Always adhere to turtle watching rules, so that these islands can protect these historical visitors for centuries to come.
One of the best ways to be a responsible tourist in Greece is to seek out small, rural tavernas and street food venues known as souvlatzidika. Spending your money on local food is the most direct and delicious way to thank your hosts for having you. The menu might feel ‘all Greek to you’ but look out for sumptuous local delights such as meat souvlaki, ladera vegetable stews, pastitsio or Greek lasagne, tyropita cheese pie and spanakopita spinach pie. Never go on a hiking or cycling day out without stopping at a local foúrnos or bakery first.
Responsible travel tips
Summer temperatures can go off the scale in Greece and so always ensure that you have plenty of water, using a hydration backpack carrier as well as rehydration salts if necessary.
With islands playing a central role on Greek tours, waste management is expensive and complex. Don’t bring packaging with you and, if in doubt, take your litter out.
You will see a lot of feral cats and sometimes dogs on your travels in Greece. It’s best not to feed them, and keep your distance in case they are diseased. A better approach is to support local welfare organisations such as Greek Animal Rescue and Friends of the Strays of Greece, both of which also offer adoption services.
Between overfishing and marine pollution, the splendid waters of Greece’s coast are at risk although they are monitored to a by the EU but also by the national parks umbrella, as Greece has two marine national parks: the National Marine Park of Alonnisos, Northern Sporades and Zakynthos. However, remember that all the cosmetics you use are washed off into the sea as you swim, and the same goes for toiletries or cleaning products at your accommodation. Do your bit to wear marine friendly suncreams, moisturisers and other smellies when swimming or showering. Or the Greek gods will start groaning.
Read more about Greece