Greece 2nd in the World for 2022 Blue Flag Beaches Awards

Greece has ranked second in the world again for the “Blue Flag” quality award list of beaches, marinas and sustainable tourism boats.

The great news has come just in time for those deciding where to head for their summer swims; with the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (EEPF) announcing at a special event on Monday, that Greece was named second among 53 countries on the 2022 Blue Flag quality award list. 

Coastal stretches across Greece have been awarded 581 flags, marinas have received 15 in total and six tourist boats have been accredited by the Blue Flag label, which corresponds to 14 percent of the total number of beaches awarded by the program this year.

Halkidiki’s beaches received the highest number of accolades with 96 flags, followed by Attica, Crete and Rhodes.

Spain has retained the title of world leader in Blue Flag awards in 2022 with the country’s beaches, marinas and tourist boats having received a total of 729.

The prestigious Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.

Central to the ideals of the Blue Flag program is the aim of connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment. As such, environmental education activities must be offered and promoted in addition to a permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena.

 The International Jury Blue Flag 2022 for the northern hemisphere, chaired by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has awarded 5,042 Blue Flags in 74 countries, 4,194 for beaches, 732 for marinas and 116 for tourist boats.

Attica Crowned “World’s Top Seaside Metropolitan Destination 2021”

The title for “World’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination 2021” at the prestigious World Travel Awards went to Greece’s stunning coastal region of Attica.

The region managed to clinch the coveted spot from leading international destinations including Cape Town, Dubai, Maimi, Shanghai, Jakarta and Perth.

Attica is the home of Athens, the epicentre of history and culture, stunning Cape Sounio, endless beaches along the glamorous Athens Riviera and allows easy access to the beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf. 

This is the second important distinction that Attica received this year, after its accolade by the same institution, in October 2021, as “Europe’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination 2021,” prevailing among destinations such as Barcelona, Venice, Istanbul, Lisbon, Porto and Dubrovnik. 

The top award comes as a result of the regional strategy of strengthening the area of Attica, by using the comparative advantages that make Attica a popular year-round destination.  

Attica received the top distinction, thanks to its award-winning “Eleftherios Venizelos” Airport, the ancient Acropolis, the luxury hotels and accommodation, Blue Flag awarded beaches, the cultural capital of Attica, as a whole, the Athenian Riviera, the impressive yacht marinas, impressive restaurants and wineries, unique combination of sea and land, and cultural experiences that make Attica suitable for tourism in all seasons. 

After receiving the award governor of Attica, George Patoulis said, “We set the bar high for an Attica more friendly to the visitor, more sustainable, more humane. For a Metropolitan Attica that offers visitors options 365 days a year and upgraded thematic tourism experiences.”

The World Travel Awards is a global body that has been rewarding the leading players in the travel industry since 1993. Today, it is internationally recognised as the ultimate travel industry accolade.

1st Olympic Yacht Show to Take Place in Sounio

The 1st Olympic Yacht Show, a premium event focused on Greece’s yachting and luxury tourism industry, is set to take place in the stunning area of Sounio in Attica, during October 1-5, 2021.

The event will take place at the upgraded facilities of Olympic Marine in Sounio – one of the most prominent marinas in Attica, located around half an hour away from Athens International Airport and 45 minutes from the heart of Athens – and is expected to attract the interest of industry experts from local and international markets.

Insights Greece - 1st Olympic Yacht Show to Take Place in Sounio
Sailing in Sounio

Organisers of the Olympic Yacht Show have announced that 95 yachts are due to exhibit- and all of the yachts displayed are newly-built vessels to showcase the very best of the Greek market, as the Show is st to highlight New Yachts for Sale belonging to the premium yacht category. As well as vessels built in Greek shipyards, the show will display a range of yachts from international yards. 

It is the only Greek event with the aim of promoting medium and large yachts and related businesses, with leading companies of the industry given the opportunity to have a strong presence both on land and in water- in what will be a stunning setting; there will also be a specially designed area for Luxury Ribs and Luxury Day Cruisers.

And not only will the show feature some of the industry’s leading companies but also a lineup of luxury RIB boats and premium day cruisers, also offering visitors the opportunity of a sea trial.

Insights Greece - 1st Olympic Yacht Show to Take Place in Sounio
Greece’s premium yachts will be on display

Organised by ONDECK Events in collaboration with Olympic Marine, the show will host top international maritime tourism professionals including foreign yacht designers, senior company executives and journalists from around the world.

“The organisers aim for the show to become a pillar for the development, not only of maritime tourism but also luxury tourism in Greece,” ONDECK Events said in an announcement.

The Hellenic Coast Guard will also be present at the event in Sounio, to represent the history of Greek shipping and to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of its service.

For more details head to Olympic Yacht Show 

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.