Aegean Welcomes Guests to New Business Lounge at Athens Airport

Greece’s leading airline carrier Aegean has welcomed its first guests to the brand-new Business Lounge, located at the extra Schengen area of Athens International Airport. 

The new 1250sqm lounge has been designed to enhance passengers’ travel experience with unique aesthetics, functionality, comfort, and hospitality through state-of-the-art technology and upgraded services. 

The modern space, which marks the airline’s fresh start to the 2022 tourist season, has been inspired by traditional Greek architecture and was designed by leading Greek architecture firm K-Studio. Featuring marble, terrazzo, glass and wood, it offers a contemporary and comfortable environment for guests to make the most of the new media lounge, social lounge, and quiet lounge; as well as the meeting rooms, two cafeterias and a restaurant alongside a wine bar. 

Insights Greece - Aegean Welcomes Guests to New Business Lounge at Athens Airport

“As the new Aegean Business Lounge is aiming to serve as a platform to promote Greekness, all warm and cold dishes as well as wines offered, come mainly from fine Greek producers,” announced Aegean. 

The new Business Lounge will be open to all Business Class and Miles+Bonus Gold passengers, as well as to members of the Star Alliance network, where they will have the opportunity to experience all of Aegean’s unique services.  

Images Courtesy of Aegean

Top 12 Things to do in Thassos

If you are looking for a stunning island filled with charming villages, traditional local cuisine, adventurous activities, and breathtaking beaches surrounded by lush greenery- look no further than Thassos. 

This emerald green island escape is located in the Northern Aegean and offers visitors a wonderful range of boutique hotels, authentic local delicacies, great hiking trails, and rich culture and history. With a unique landscape that can’t be found anywhere else on the Aegean, Thassos is an ideal Greek island experience.

Here are the Top 10 Things to do in Thassos 

1. Discover Local Culture & History 

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to do in Thassos

There is so much history to explore on Thassos, a place that boasts loads of silver, gold, and marble material. To get a feel of the island’s past, firstly, make your way to the Archaeological Museum, then visit The Kalogeriko, a two-story building that belongs to Mount Athos’ Vatopedi Monastery and has now become a museum. Also head over to the Acropolis in Limenas, which is home to a 5th Century BC theatre overlooking the sea. Finally, visit the ancient Marble Quarry to find out more about the island’s famous stone. 

2. Stroll Through the Mountainous Villages 

Set along lush mountain greenery are villages that offer a taste of traditional island life. Whether on the coast or inland you’ll discover beautiful little villages all over the island, such as Agios Georgios, Alyki, Theologos, Kallirahi, Kastro, Kazaviti, Koinyra, Limenaria, Maries, and Panagia. Here you’ll find charming cobblestoned alleys, stone mansions, and fantastic sea views. 

3. Explore the Capital, Limenas

The capital Limenas is the most popular spot on the island, where you will find a range of hotels, eateries, cafes, and shops. This is Thassos’ link to the mainland and its capital since antiquity. Be sure to see the ancient agora; the sanctuaries of Herakles, Dionysos, Artemis, and Poseidon. Then walk through the central market and the small harbour by the beach. At night, sit at one of the many restaurants or bars and enjoy the views.

4. Be Adventurous

The island is ideal for anyone wanting to be adventurous- with a range of options for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding in Skala, and diving in Panagia Island shipwreck. Discover the scenic roads from the beaches to the lakes, and footpaths around the villages.  Try trails like Maries to Prinos, Panagia- Potamia-Ypsario, Kallirahi-Prinos, or Xrisi Ammoudia-Limenas, that can be enjoyed on foot or by mountain bike. For outdoor sports, Thassos is also ideal with scuba diving at Pefkari, water skiing at Chrysi Ammoudia, windsurfing at Paradise beach and boat rides to the most remote beaches. 

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to do in Thassos

5. Dive into Giola Lagoon 

Giola Lagoon known as “Aphrodite’s Tear” in Thassos is one of the world’s most beautiful natural swimming pools – separated from the sea by a narrow strip of rocks, it looks like a pool of crystal clear water, carved into a coral reef that rises above it. This beautiful natural rock pool on the south coast of Thassos has now become one of the most popular spots on the island because of the experience of swimming in it and the mesmerizing contrast of its water with the wild and rocky landscape surrounding it. 

6. Swim in the Most Emerald Green Sea 

One of the main drawcards to Thassos is the breathtaking beaches. There are so many gorgeous coves and bays to choose from- some are easy to reach, while others require some effort but they are definitely worth the effort. Make sure you add to your list the following: Paradise, Glifoneri, Makriammos, Chrysi Akti, Arsanas, Chrysi Ammoudia, Agios Antonios, Alykes, Trypiti, Skala Potamia, Paralia Limena, Pefkari, Skala Raxiou, Saliara, and Marble beach. 

7. Explore the Cave of Drakotripa

If you have time visit the renowned cave Drakotripa in Panagia. Only 7 km’s from the main town, Dragon Cave (Dracotrypa Cave) literally means dragon hole. The cave is full of impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The cave was named after a stalactite that had the shape of a dragon. 

8. Take Part in the Summer Festival

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to do in Thassos

If you are lucky to be here during the annual summer Kavala-Thassos Festival, make sure you go! Guests are able to experience local music, dance, food, and traditions at a stone theatre. If you have a chance to watch the representation of the ‘Thassos wedding’, you’ll witness the revival of ancient Dionysian traditions through local wedding customs. 

9. Eat Your Way Around Town 

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to wining and dining in Thassos and for some authentic local dishes, we recommend you head to Limanaki, Agorastos, Tavern Mouses, and Leonidas. For some of the best seafood head to Symi Restaurant. For taverns by the sea check out Beautiful Alice at Aliki Beach and Skidia Tavern is also right on the water. For delicious local desserts try Pastry; and Panetteria is also great for its wide range of sweets. For after-dinner drinks make your way to Karnagio, Street Cafe, Marley Beach Lounge, Oasis, or Natura.  

10. Taste Local Cuisine 

Thassos cuisine is mostly known for its seafood; including its mouthwatering sardines, anchovies, prawns, squid, octopus; as well as fish including sea bream and red mullet. As it’s a mountainous island, the meat is also very good, with taverns serving a variety of goat and lamb dishes. Thassos is also famous for its olive oil and has its own distinct wrinkled olive, the Thassian Throuba Olive, which produces a great extra-virgin olive oil with low acidity. The sweets of Thassos have a special flavour originating from their secret ingredient, Thassian honey. The most well-known among these is the walnut sweet, made of local walnuts that are picked early in the spring. Other sweets are made from fig, pumpkin, orange, rose, and quince.

11. Stay in Style 

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to do in Thassos

Thassos has a wide range of accommodation to choose from- from family-owned apartments and villas to five-star hotels and resorts. We recommend you check out Meli SuitesAlea Hotel, Thassos Hotel, Ilio Mare Resort, Thassos Grand Resort, Orama, Villa Teresa, and Aeolis Enavlion Hotel. 

12. Visit Nearby Kavala 

If you are wanting a day trip away from the island, the beautiful city of Kavala is only 35km from Keramoti port and has a wonderful history and local culture. You can get there by ferry in about an hour and 15 minutes. 

Getting there 

It takes one hour to fly to Kavala international airport from Athens. From there, you can reach the island by ferry from the port of Keramoti—just 15 minutes from the airport to the island capital of Limenas. Otherwise take a ferry from Kavala to Thassos, as mentioned above it takes a bit over an hour. 

Visiting the Beautiful Giola Lagoon in Thassos

Giola Lagoon known as “Aphrodite’s Tear” in Thassos is one of the world’s most beautiful natural swimming pools – separated from the sea by a narrow strip of rocks, it looks like a pool of crystal clear water, carved into a coral reef that rises above it.

According to Greek mythology, Giola was created by Zeus as a lagoon for his wife Aphrodite to bathe in. This beautiful natural rock pool on the south coast of Thassos has now become one of the most popular spots on the island because of the experience of swimming in it and the mesmerizing contrast of its water with the wild and rocky landscape surrounding it. 

With water warmer than the sea beside it and the colours constantly shifting from shades of blue and green, visitors come here for the perfect Instagram shot. Laying on the rocks or diving into the water, it’s just as wonderful to sit back and take in the view across to the uninhabited island of Astiriotiko opposite the lagoon. 

Giola Lagoon

Carved into the southeast coast of Thassos, several kilometers from the village of Astris, Giola is approximately 20 metres long and over 15 metres wide. It’s enclosed by rock terraces that rise up to eight meters high, creating great platforms from which visitors can jump and dive into the crystal-clear water, which is refreshed by waves from the sea.

This stunning natural pool is where thousands of local and international visitors gather each year to swim and to take images as the location is popular amongst photographers who want the perfect shot of someone jumping from the rocks into the pool. 

Located near the village of Astris, it may not be the easiest place to get to as there is a dirt road you must take and an off-road vehicle is highly recommended. This seaside gem is quite a trek, but for those willing to make the journey, you will definitely be rewarded with an incredible natural pool to soak in the gorgeous views of the sea. The scenery along the 10-15 minute walk is part of the wonderful experience. Keep in mind there is a bus service available to Giola during the summer months.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Beautiful Giola Lagoon in Thassos

Even though many think it’s a beach, it is in fact a natural seа lagοon and the Aegean Sea rinses its shores and fills the pool with water. But since the pool is separated from the sea with a rock wall, the water in the lagoon is much warmer, making it much more pleasant to swim in.

If you decidе tо visit Giοla for а swim, remember that you will need to leave your bеaсh tοwels on the rоcks and thеre is nο sаnd, shade, sunbeds or umbrellas at Giola, so make sure to pack your hat, sunscreen, and water. A tavern recently opened up nearby, where you are able to eat lunch or dinner, otherwise, pack snacks with you as there are no other shops nearby. 

Getting there 

The way to this little slice of heaven is a tad tricky and in order to arrive at Giola, drive from Poto to Astris. After the hotel Aeria you will find a sign directing you to Sirens. Turn left and follow the dirt road. After a while, you will get to a beach. From there you leave your vehicle at the car park and you need to walk. There are many signs with arrows showing the direction. As mentioned above, it is recommended that you hire a high four-engined or an off-road vehicle, and the distance from the main road is about 2k

Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Relax, recharge and reinvigorate yourself in just a few days at Nefeli Nine Retreat, located just an hour’s drive from Athens city centre.

The renowned retreat offers tailored experiences to meet all personal situations or goals — whether you’re in need of a fitness boost, peaceful sleep, nutrition advice, or relaxation and refocusing, Nefeli Nine is the ideal place to help you create a life-changing journey specific to you and your goals.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

And it’s not just the personalised programs that will help you unwind — many features of the retreat were created with Ancient Greek design principles in mind to help you to disconnect and detox.

Found in Dikastika, in the Attica region, the location will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments. Here you can indulge in pure R&R at a traditional villa with panoramic views of the sea.

We recently spoke with founder Stephanie Contomichalos, about her successful health and wellness retreat, which can quickly take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and treat your mind and body to much-needed TLC.

When did Nefeli Nine Retreat open and what was the concept behind it?

I started Nefeli Nine in 2018. I grew up in the UK and would spend every summer and Easter in Greece with my grandparents. In 2016 I moved here and completely fell in love with Athens. It is a young, vibrant city, the weather is fantastic, and nature is very easy to access. It ticked every box. Nefeli Nine was really born from two things: My love for Greece, coupled with my love for nature and sports. Health and fitness have always been important to me, so it felt very natural to combine all the things I love and to share that with other people.

Why do you think Greece is a great destination for healing? 

What is so special about Greece is its simplicity, the colours, the food, the traditions all play a huge role in what makes Greece so unique. Having grown up in London I really started to appreciate the simple things; the concept of eating seasonal food (which is totally alien in London where we eat mangoes and raspberries all year round), the pure joy of just being outside on a hiking trail, and the beauty of all the traditions.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Why did you chose Dikastika as the spot where you would open your retreat?

I had a few criteria, but the most important ones were that it was close to mountains and sea, easily accessed and yet gave you a feeling of being far away. Dikastika ticked every box. It is right on the sea, facing Evia island with beautiful views of the Aegean and is very close to the mountains. Despite its proximity to town, the thing that I really love about this area is the feeling of being in a small seaside village.

Dikastika will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments to a glorious past. Located very close to Marathon (yes 26 miles from Athens!) the area is rich in history… from the famous battle of the Greeks versus Persians, the birthplace of the Marathon and you can even still visit the city of Rhamnous, a well-preserved and ancient citadel dating from 400BC.  During your time at Nefeli Nine, we will explore these ancient wonders and get lost amid pieces of living history.

What benefits can guests expect after visiting Nefeli Nine?

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

My main goal for guests is for them to leave feeling completely relaxed and refreshed. We aim to not ask any questions of people during their stay with us (other than whether they want us to bring tea or coffee to their room in the morning!) and all activities are optional. We do not push people. We hope that a week of fresh air, good food and exercise leaves them feeling revitalized and ready to go when they leave.

Nefeli Nine was designed to give people a true break from the stresses of their everyday lives, to spend a week by the sea, hiking, eating well, moving well and enjoying the company of others. Clients have the opportunity to experience Greek traditions, see some lesser-known archaeological sites, eat delicious seasonal food, and take a few days off from having any obligations. They leave feeling mentally relaxed and physically raring to go!

What is the busiest time of year for you and when do you recommend people visit?

We run retreats in Spring (April – June) and Autumn (September – November). These are my favourite times of the year, the weather tends to be lovely, there are less tourists and you get to truly enjoy Greece and all that it has to offer.

Tell us about the healthy dishes you prepare for guests and the local produce you use.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Coming from a Greek and Middle Eastern background, the table has always been an especially important place for me. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother watching her cook and taking notes, and then the whole family would sit together and share the food. This is very much a concept that I encourage at Nefeli Nine.

Everything I prepare is locally sourced and using seasonal ingredients. We buy our honey from a local beekeeper (who I actually found on a hike), our fruits and vegetables all come from local farmers’ markets, and even our wine and olive oil are produced within the area.

The concept behind Nefeli Nine is based on the Blue Zones Lifestyle, and this also applies to all of the food that we prepare. We can cater to vegans and vegetarians, but we promote a predominantly plant-based diet, supplemented by organic lean meat and fresh fish. We avoid all processed sugars, chemicals and additives, but we do offer delicious homemade sweets. 

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

What fitness classes can guests participate in?

We offer yoga, mobility, and bodyweight fitness classes. We tend to adjust these classes depending on our clients. For those who are looking for more we can organize watersports activities (windsurf, SUP, waterskiing and wakeboarding) nearby.

Are the programs designed for people of all fitness levels?  

The Nefeli Nine program has been carefully designed so that people of all levels can join. Our hikes have been chosen so that everyone can participate and there are always at least two guides allowing people to walk at different paces. All our yoga and mobility classes can be adjusted accordingly. We will never leave anybody behind, nor will we leave those looking for more of a harder workout feeling unchallenged!

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Tell us more about the hikes.

All our hikes offer wonderful and surprisingly different experiences. Our hiking guides are very well-versed on the flora and fauna of the surrounding mountains and we always try to bring home some fresh herbs, mushrooms, wild greens or asparagus from our hikes.

Do you offer a more personalised program for guests?

We are deliberately small precisely so that we can be flexible and cater to everything from a couple who want to do something different and perhaps challenging, to a small group or family where we tailor different programs for people of different ages or fitness levels. If you are looking for the ‘one size fits all’ offering, then we may not be for you. If you want a bespoke product designed for your work team, family group or just the two of you, then we will rise to the challenge. We have a limit of 10 people.

Tell us more about the villas and the facilities available.

It’s a traditional stone villa, spotlessly clean and well-appointed so guests can truly relax. We have had to instill a program of daily rigorous cleansing and disinfecting so our guests can enjoy themselves without worry. Beds are firm, cushions and towels are fluffy, and you wake up with a view that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day. There is a pool, there is WiFi, there are books and a variety of games, but the reality is you may just want to use the house for your downtime to recharge for the next day.


Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires

Living between Athens, Andros and New York, writer/sculptor Amalia Melis talks about her life as an artist in Greece.

By Amalia Melis 

I have a vivid imagination. When I was a kid, I wanted to live on the bottom of a Spanish olive jar eating olives and drinking brine to survive. It’s true. I live in my head: I think more than I do on this earth at times. I still observe clouds and watch ants in the dirt.

I love to write. I have practiced almost every form of writing there is to earn a living in Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and WiresNew York and in Athens. News reporting, features, essays, poems, short stories, speeches, ghostwriting. I always felt like an oddball and writing gave me voice: it allows me to role play without appearing anywhere in person. I have interviewed dictators, drug traffickers, award winning writers, for newspapers and magazines and found I can plow through any situation.

I grew up in a chaotic household in the Greek immigrant neighborhood of Astoria (New York) with my younger sister and two very hardworking parents who also made things in their spare time. My mom is a self-taught painter and my dad is a creative mad genius who makes things from nothing. His family films were entire productions and I was often his helper, so all this activity rubbed off on me.

Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires
Sculptures using discarded metal & wire

I started making assemblage sculptures about 10 years ago. I find discarded metal and wires thrown on the side of the street or near garbage cans and I drag them home to see what new life I can breathe into them. The assemblages I ‘ve been making are my three-dimensional stories. I am a hunter of many things; metal, wires, sea glass, sea pottery, rocks, whatever strikes my fancy.

I just listen to what comes out of me and go to what attracts me. I listen to what is happening in nature around me. I listen to what happens between people. I walk the path the energy around me takes me on. I feel like I am at the right place right now in my life because I see how connected everything and everyone is around me. Maybe it is how I best process and express pain.

When I write fiction I am sculpting a story that hides a real pain or truth. It has many layers and the more I work on it the more it takes on a life of its own. When I cover a news event as a reporter, I report the facts. I do not embellish.

Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires
Writing Studio in Andros

The Aegean Arts Circle writing workshops are my pride and joy. I created them when I needed a writing community. I was alone in a new country. I brought the talent to me and from the experiences in these workshops I flourished as a person and a writer. I was working on my first novel, which took years to write and finish and I was privy to stories emerging from other participants who came from all over the world to be part of these small annual groups in Andros. We have made friendships that span the seas. Many of us publish, work professionally as writers. I have published short stories, essays and poems many of which were worked on in the workshops.

Andros was the first exotic experience for me as a child. We visited my great grandmother, a grandmother, stone houses my parents and generations before them were born in. In Andros, all my senses opened. Lemon blossoms, dirt, chickens, fresh eggs, ballo dancing, violin and other traditional instruments, stories; piles of stories about the past- the seamen stories, island stories.

From that moment on I became a gatherer. I gathered these stories filled with failure, struggle, harsh conditions and I let them incubate inside me. I used them to write my own novel about three generations of women from a Greek island who search for home; to belong, to be.

Andros has had the luck to have the Goulandris Museums (archeological and contemporary ones) the Kydionefs Foundation and, Adamantia Art Space, a lovely gallery in Nimborio, among other spaces. I see as much as I can each summer on the island. I participated with my assemblages in several group shows in Apikia at Blue Enigma. Visitors should explore all art events organized in Andros. There is also hiking, roller blading, biking, skating, scuba diving, boating and more. They can come to write or swim and visit precious monasteries maintained for generations with great care. Andros is unfolding as an island. Just exploring the island gets us to explore ourselves.


Samos’ Incredible Natural Charm – and Amazing Wine

What? Samos… Where? Northern Aegean… When? Early spring to late autumn…Why? 

The history
Insights Greece - Samos' Incredible Natural Charm - and Amazing Wine
image @samosisland

With a history going back to the Neolithic era, Samos is rich in a varied and impressive archaeological beauty that can raise the pulse of even the most bored, tag-along visitor. Firstly, it is the homeplace of Pythagoras, real-life God of Mathematics and Music (and creator of the Monochord sound healing instrument). Then there’s the geometrical architectural wonder known as the Efpalinios aqueduct tunnel, built in the 6th Century BC. And the only second one of its kind in world history that was excavated from both ends. Oh, and let’s not forget the Sanctuary to Goddess Hera, the Heraion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its magnificent ruins and giant sole-standing column.

The wine

Insights Greece - Samos' Incredible Natural Charm - and Amazing Wine

Samos’ viticulture roots back to antiquity, although it was fully resuscitated in the 19th century. The island has a United Winemaking Agricultural Cooperative with two winemaking facilities, one in Karlovassi, and the other in Malagari, where you can also visit the Museum of Samos Wine, which arranges tours and even wine tastings. The island is famous for Moschato grape wine, so seek it out wherever you dine. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Samos’ well-known Vin Doux (sweet wine), traditionally served with ice and a slice of lemon like a refreshing liqueur.

Hiking in beautiful nature

If you enjoy discovering places by walking, buy the Samos Hiking Guide by Stavros Psimmenos, which presents 32 of the island’s best routes. The author, who has spent decades exploring the island’s pathways, says “hundreds of kilometres of forest trails and cobbled paths crossing through a beautiful countryside link many of the most interesting places of the island: traditional villages and monasteries, mountain tops and impressive ridges, remote beaches and ancient ruins. Lush landscapes and amazing ocean views alternate for a most rewarding experience.”

The charming villages

Apart from the busiest villages of Pythagoreio, Vathy, and Votsalakia, each with its own charm, it’s worth also driving to Samos’ pretty villages of Mt Kerki, such as Kallithea, Lekka, Nikoloudes, and Kallithea, or on Mt Karvouni, such as Pandrosos, Mesogeia, Manolates and Vourliotes, and those of. At the eastern foothills of Mt Karvouni is Mitiliniaios village, where you can enjoy a wonderful open-air cinema (Cine Rex) experience straight out of the ‘60s!

The beautiful beaches

West of Kokkari village is the lovely pebble beach of Tsamadou, known for its clear waters and chilled vibe. On its eastern end, beneath the cliff-rocks is the island’s only remaining official nudist spot. Nearby is Limanakia, a smaller and during high season more crowded pebble beach that’s equally pretty.  If you prefer sand, there are several options; head to Psilli Ammos which faces Turkey’s Dilek peninsula, or scenic Livadaki. If you want to combine a good hike with a reviving swim, start from the village of Potami and take the 5km path to Megalo and Mikoro Seitani (also reachable by boat from Karlovassi). For a  beach tightly embraced by lush greenery walk or take the boat to Mikri and Megali Lakka beaches on the east of the island.

How? By ferry either from Rafina port to Karlovassi or from Piraeus port to Vathy (around 10-12 hour journeys). Or you can fly to the island from Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos in 55 minutes.

 P.S. When in Samos…Visit the Museum of Pythagoreio, where you’ll see magnificent displays of ceramics from the 9th Century BC until the Golden Age. If you’re more spiritually inclined visit the Monastery of Panagia Spilianis, a truly mystical experience.