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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 May 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018 19 Athens TRAVEL Meteora Thessaloniki transport links to Crete, make Kalamata even more attractive to overseas visitors who wish to combine mainland with island life," says Hellander. Distance from Athens: 240 km. DELPHI Considered by the ancient Greeks as the centre of the world, and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987, the ancient town and seat of the most important Greek temple and Oracle of Apollo is one of Greece's must-see archaeological sites. Distance from Athens: 145 km. NAFPAKTOS Although Nafpaktos is considered the most beautiful and picturesque town in the district of Aitoloakarnania and one of the best on Greece's mainland, it is not widely known to international tourists. This coastal town in western Greece is a popular all year-round destination for Greeks due to its proximity to Athens and is a favourite destination as it combines sea with mountain. Built on the top of a hill, the castle of Nafpaktos, one of the largest and most well-preserved fortifications in Greece, offers a breathtaking view of the famous Rio-Antirio bridge and the Venetian Harbour. Distance from Athens: 220 km. GALAXIDI Along with Nafpaktos, Galaxidi is considered as one of the most scenic and romantic destinations of the Greek mainland. Hidden amongst the stunning mountainous landscapes of Fokida, Galaxidi offers cobbled narrow streets drenched in colourful facades, marble gate arches, yards with flowers and pebble beds, as well as ancient monuments and traditional churches. Distance from Athens: 220 km. METEORA Meteora in central Greece is a huge Eastern Orthodox monastic complex unlike anywhere else in the world, featuring monasteries more than 500 years old on top of an unearthly landscape of massive pillar-like VOLOS Located at the foot of the peninsula of Pelion in the centre of Greece, the city of Volos is situated equidistant between the country's capital, Athens, and the second major city, Thessaloniki. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, Volos is considered the political and economic capital of the prefecture, and remains the main export centre of Thessaly. Housing two universities in the heart of the city, with many paved streets that crisscross the city, Volos is an extremely lively town with a breathtaking waterfront lined with pastry shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and mezedopolia, where locals and visitors can take a stroll before dinnertime. mountains and columns. Six of the monasteries are open to the public for those who are willing to take on the challenge and climb all the way to the top. Those who have managed to do so vow that the experience is totally worth it. Distance from Athens: 355 km. "The port of Volos is a very active hub with daily schedules to the islands of the Sporades; Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. Volos is also a necessary stop on your way to Pelion peninsula villages that are a favourite destination for travellers," says Hellander. Distance from Athens: 330 km. EPIRUS REGION Epirus lies in northwest Greece between the Pindos mountain range and the Ionian Sea, where visitors can explore wild landscapes with great virgin forests and experience a plethora of activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting in the untamed waterways, mythical mountain lakes (Dragon Lakes), and challenging rivers that drench the whole region. "Visitors' options here are unlimited with the group of the 46 villages called Zagorochoria, picturesque Metsovo, and the Epirus Riviera with its three jewels Parga, Preveza, and Syvota which combine an impressive mountainous and charming seaside scenery trenched with olive groves, ancient ruins, and sapphire beaches. "Ioannina is a bustling picturesque town, the key to the gateway to the northwest and certainly one of my favourite destinations in Greece," says Hellander. Distance from Athens: 420 km. THESSALONIKI Built near the sea, at the back end of the Thermaïkos Gulf, Thessaloniki is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its troublesome history and cosmopolitan character. "Greece's second city occupies a strategic tourist and travel position in the central north. Charming and easily accessible it is considered a gateway to Greece to arrivals by land from the Balkans, a strategic airport hub and is also a gateway to the Chalkidiki peninsula," says Hellander. Distance from Athens: 540 km. KASTORIA Built amphitheatrically on a narrow peninsula and described as the 'Lady of Macedonia', Kastoria is a beautiful lakeside town similar in style to Ioannina, nestled in between Grammos and Vitsi mountains. "Kastoria holds the key to the mid-north and border regions; nature, skiing, and through-connections to the borders of Greece make this little town a must to see," says Hellander. Distance from Athens: 495 km. "Irrespective of where you choose to spend your precious time this summer, Greece will always be Greece; a unique and miraculous land. "Nevertheless, it is worth encouraging fellow travellers to open their minds, look outside the square and embrace the mainland adventure that Greece has to offer. "Dare to delve deeper and this little piece of heaven on earth will most certainly reward you,” concludes Hellander.
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