Greece : Travel beyond Athens and Santorini

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Meteora Mountains and Monastery (C) Riddhi Debh

Photo of Greece : Travel beyond Athens and Santorini by riddhidebh

For many years, Greece has been one of the key travel destinations from people across the world. We have grown up learning about the ancient Greek history, including Greek architecture, Greek Gods, and Greek alphabets. So getting an opportunity to go to Greece isn't something to let go of. But, whenever I spoke to someone about Greece, all I could hear is Athens and Santorini.

Athens is the capital city with the presence of amazing ancient structures, e.g. Parthenon, Acropolis, Olympic stadium. And you will get numerous blogs and sites giving you the detailed ideas about how to see Athens in a few days.

Santorini is of course, the dream of the European holiday. Couples swoon over getting cozy in Santorini, rest of the people count the money and save up to see the most beautiful sunset along side the caldera. Again, you will get many articles, covering both expensive and budget options (though it is not that budget, frankly speaking), to enjoy this island in the Aegean sea.

I am going to tell you about the other side of Greece, you won't hear so often. However, they are amazingly beautiful, totally photography worthy, and unique to Greece. So if you are visiting for a slightly longer time, and have time after Athens or Santorini, or have the guts to ditch Santorini (not Athens, because most of your flights will reach Atehns, and it is not as expensive as Santorini is), here is your pick.

1. Meteora : The land of jutted out mountains and monasteries

Meteora is many things - the kind of mountains you have never seen, the monasteries perched in those mountains, defying the laws of gravity, hiking trails that will take your heart away, sunsets that will get you romantic in no time, and a feel of overall calmness which you have been craving for. If you want to shoot here for business, pre-wedding or just for fun, you will love it.

Getting to Meteora is fairly easy from Athens - either by bus or train. These monasteries are not Buddhist, they are part of the network of the Greek orthodox churches. If you have interest beyond landscape, you will be in for interesting facts about how this came about and how it is different from the catholic Christian belief. And if history isn't your thing, you will be engulfed by the landscape. You are likely to put up in Kalabaka to explore this place. Do visit the traditional sweet shops in the city centre, and thank me from there :)

I visited and explored Meteora with Visit Meteora. They offer beautiful tours on the rods, hikes and other kinds along with arranging stay and logistics. This was part of the 2 day tour including Meteora and Delphi.

2. Thessaloniki: A city where history meets the coolness of youth

So, you are in Greece. Make tryst with history. I love it, so I enjoy knowing about the past. If you don't, this is the best place to give it a try. Thessaloniki is a university town. So the vibe is chic, cool and on the go. Stay here for a couple of days. Go up (yeah literally up, as the city is uphill and downhill), and see the most amazing view from there. Roam around in chic cafes, have some amazing Greek food and enjoy the nightlife. During the day, do yourself a favour by enrolling yourself in one of the walking tours, which usually starts from Sophia Agora. Know about the Roman civilisation here, and a number of Byzantine churches. Spend the afternoon in the park alongside the White Tower.

(C) Riddhi Debh : White Tower, Thessaloniki

Photo of Thessaloniki, Greece by riddhidebh

Stay in one of the art-boutique hotels near the city centre. You can fly to or take a train to Thessaloniki from all major cities in Greece.

I stayed at the City Hotel. Many economical options are available at the city centre on Booking.com.

3. Delphi : A city which was alive more than any other place, and oh yes, what a view

Delphi is iconic in the real sense. It could very well be a day trip from Athens. Also known as Pytho, it was the epicentre of Pythia. The Oracle is a wonder, but what is more fascinating for me was, how the entire place had everything stacked up. The temples, the market, the very first racing tracks, and the hike up there is steep but so rewarding. You will do well to visit this place either in the early morning, or in the late afternoon. Due to the height and the stone based architecture, this place gets really hot. But sunrise or sunset brings out the best view of this place. The Delphi museum, just next to the site, is quite informative. Once done with the hike up and exploration of the site, you can go back to the city centre, sip a drink and take a bus back to Athens.

So if you have been yearning for a Eurotrip, and not shy of experiencing the flavours of a country, without counting the big city names, Greece is an economical and beautiful choice. I did this 10 day long trip in less than 1 lac rupees, and an itinerary of that sort can be prepared with a bit of experience and research.

I visited and explored Meteora with Visit Meteora. They offer beautiful tours on the rods, hikes and other kinds along with arranging stay and logistics. This was part of the 2 day tour including Meteora and Delphi.

Keep going places,

Rids

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