Complete Travel Guide to Karditsa 

A destination for lovers of nature, exploration, and authentic tradition – Karditsa offers a mosaic of experiences for all tastes.

This small city in the heart of Thessaly boasts endless natural beauty, excellent local cuisine, countless activities, and direct access to historical attractions that create unforgettable memories for its visitors.

Travel Notes

Perfect place for

Couples, families, or those seeking a well-being retreat weekend and an eco holiday.

Where to stay

In the centre of the city is the best place to stay, as you can get around on foot, grab your morning coffee, and visit nearby attractions.

Where to sleep

We suggest you choose for your accommodation Hotel Kierion or Arni Hotel Domotel. Both beautiful rococo-style hotels in the center of the city promise a stay that is utterly imbued with the calm vibes of the city. 

Also, 30km from Karditsa near Lake Plastira there is Kazarma Lake Resort and Spa, a great choice for a well-being retreat.

Must See + Do

Walk to Pausilipo, an urban leisure park in the city’s heart. Its main attraction is the pretty peacocks that roam within it.

You will see that almost everyone uses a bicycle to get around. It is no coincidence, after all, that for decades, it has had the title of the “cycling capital” of Greece! Bicycles in Karditsa made their first appearance in 1960, while in 2003 the construction of a network of bicycle paths began, which extends throughout the city. So it is a perfect opportunity to rent a bike and explore the city!

An absolute must-visit is Lake Plastira, one of the most beautiful lakes you will find in Greece. Rich in nature and vegetation, the region is one that visitors will instantly fall in love with. Along with the charming area of Tavropos, both are ideal for those seeking alternative holidays and ecotourism. Only 30 minutes by car from the city of Karditsa. 

You must not leave this city without discovering local dishes and enjoying the local nightlife too.

Cultural hotspots

Karditsa Archaeological Museum: Here you will see exhibits dating from the Prehistoric and Paleolithic eras to Late Antiquity.

Folklore Museum “L. & N. Sakellariou: is located opposite the metropolitan temple, the museum has three floors with rooms that feature permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Also make your the Municipal Library of Karditsa, since 2002, it has been hosting permanent and periodic exhibitions, events and educational programs.

Εat + Drink

Coffee + Breakfast

Hangout Coffee and More (Mplatsouka,1 Karditsa) is a great choice for morning coffee and breakfast.

Fontaine Brunch – Patisserie (Adelfon Valtadorou,1 Karditsa ) offers a nice atmosphere and the best brunch dishes. 

Destro (Nick. Plastiras 2-10, Karditsa) – this all-day restaurant serves delicious dishes from breakfast through to brunch, lunch and dinner.

Lunch + Dinner

Pausilipo, for the most gourmet choices in Karditsa (A: Pausilipo Park)

Type of cuisine: Greek, International

Signature dishes: Rib Eye, risotto

Price range: €25- €30

Grape Bar Bistro, Italian cuisine with the greatest wine list (A: Episkopou 47)

Type of cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Signature dishes: Gnocci alla milanese, tiramisu

Price range: €20- €35

Apomero is the best dinner choice! (A: Episkopou 47)

Type of cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Signature dishes: Batzina, Pork fillets with Vinsanto sauce

Price range: €20- €30

18 Grada where you can taste local cuisine and traditional mezedes (A: Skoufa 4)

Type of cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Signature dishes: Meatballs with Feta

Price range: €15- €20

Sweets + Drinks 

Rook’s Pastry Lab (A: Gamveta, Dim. Lappa 12 – 16) is the talk of the town and the newest pastry store in Karditsa. Μodern sweets made with unique combinations to satisfy every taste.

Avli (A: Irakleitou 12) is the most popular meze restaurant in Karditsa, which hosts most of the live concerts in this cozy spot in the heart of the city. Fridays and Saturdays are no doubt the busiest – attracting a young, cool crowd.

Margarita Bar (A: Valvi 59) great atmosphere and a place that serves great cocktails and specialty drinks.

Cadillac Records Cocktail Bar (A: D. Tertipi) and Charlot Bar (A: Tertipi 40), are also excellent choices for cocktail lovers. For those who want to discover the nightlife of the city just head down Vlavi Street, where you will find new bars constantly popping up.

Discover

Local gem

The dam of Lake Plastira is an impressive concrete structure, an elegant arch that embraces the vast volume of water of the lake. It is a beautiful spot to admire the lake, as well as the back side of the dam which sinks to a depth of about 80 meters, vertically between the rocks. In addition, from the position of Mucha, you can admire the fjords of the lake as well as the Niaga islet. There you will find many local producers, who will offer you souvenirs and traditional local products.

Best view

The most impressive image of the lake, which looks just like a painting, is undoubtedly from the observatory, where you will gaze at the surface of the lake and its sheltered island. The charming landscape is perfectly complemented by the forested slopes and the imposing peaks of the Agrafa mountains!

Ultimate day trip

A fabulous excursion is to the village of Fanari, which is about 20 minutes from Karditsa, following Fanariou Street. There you can see the Fanario Castle, which has been built since the 13th century and stands there at the top of the village – a breathtaking view. Under the shadow of the castle is the cafe of the same name which is a wonderful choice to drink your afternoon coffee with the best view. 

Essentials

Getting there: About a 3.5-hour drive from Athens

Best time to gο: Autumn/Winter 

Ideal time to stay: 2-3 days (weekend preferable)

Getting around: οn foot, rent a bicycle. You can go to the lake easily by bus or by car.

Make sure you take home: local wine and tsipouro 

What to pack: comfortable shoes to walk around, and your camera to capture moments. We also suggest you have cash with you, as many shops, restaurants, and cafes do not have card facilities. 

Main image courtesy of @naei2015

Best Greek Islands for Beaches

Let’s be honest, the perfect Greek island summer holiday entails arriving at the beach in the morning (ordering a Freddo Cappuccino as soon as you get there) and leaving when it’s almost dark (after that last post-sunset swim and a cocktail at the bar). 

Whether you prefer kicking back on a sun bed listening to famous DJs playing the latest and hottest tracks, or discovering remote spots that offer complete and utter privacy- we’ve rounded up the best Greek islands for those (like us) who love spending endless hours at the beach every summer!  

Crete

Greece’s largest island is filled with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and whether you visit Chania, Rethymno, or Heraklion- you are in for a treat! 

Best beaches in Crete

Vai (about 2 hours from Heraklion), Preveli (closest to Rethymnon), Balos (55 km from Chania), Elafonisi (1.5-hour drive from Chania), and Seitan Limani (in Chania). 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Gramvousa Beach
Koufonissia

This small Cycladic island offers breathtaking beaches and stunning waters; the bonus is you can easily get around from one beach to another without a car! 

Best beaches in Koufonissia

Finikas, Fanos, Ammos, Italida, Pori, Charakopou and Parianos. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Kasteli Beach
Lefkada

Postcard-perfect beaches are scattered all over the island! From famous Porto Katsiki to remote little bays that boast crystal clear waters- Lefkada is a must for water babies! 

Best beaches in Lefkada

Porto Katsiki, Egremni, Kathisma, Pefkoulia, Agiofili and Avali.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Porto Katsiki
Zakynthos

Lefkada’s neighbouring Ionian isle is also renowned for its stunning waters that are surrounded by lush cliffs that make for memorable days at the beach. 

Best beaches in Zakynthos

Navagio (for the views), Marathonissi island (a small boat ride from town), Gerakas, Dafni, Limnionas, Porto Vromi, and Xyngia. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Marathonisi
Milos

Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular islands, Milos is home to some of the Cyclades (if not Greece’s) most beautiful beaches. 

Best beaches in Milos

Sarakiniko, Firiplaka, Tsigrado, Papafragas and Fyropotamos.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Tsigrado
Naxos

This is the largest island of the Cyclades and an ideal destination for those that want to spend all day and night on a long sandy beach that’s lined with taverns and bars- so you don’t need to move!  

Best beaches in Naxos

Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Agios Giorgios, Sahara and Mikri Vigla. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Agios Prokopios
Donoussa

An under-the-radar island that offers striking beaches that are quiet and remote; this is the ideal island for those who prefer privacy and tranquility during their summer getaway. 

Best beaches in Donoussa 

Kedros, Livadi, Kalotaritissa, Fikio and Stavros

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Livadi Beach

Rhodes

With water temperatures that are ideal from early Spring through to late Autumn, Rhodes is by far one of the best Greek islands for those that want to make the most of the magical Mediterranean Sea! 

Best beaches in Rhodes

Anthony Quinn, St Paul’s Bay, Kallithea, and Tsambika.   

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Anthony Quinn

Skiathos

Part of the Sporades group, Skiathos offers some of the most unique beaches in Greece, that are surrounded by lush pine trees and soft sand. 

Best beaches in Skiathos

Lalaria, Koukouniares, Vromolimnos, Elia and Mandraki. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Lalaria

Main image | Anthony Quinn Beach in Rhodes | by IN+SIGHTS GREECE ©

Explore Kythnos Like a Local

Welcome to Kythnos! Not sure how I can describe in a few hundred words an authentic Greek island, its beauties, its tastes and smells but also all the other senses it engages you with- from the moment the boat door opens and you inhale an aroma mixture of thyme, fennel, sage with salt and sea air- but I will try to convey all the love I have for this place, through the following.

By Julia Vagiani 

The island is only accessible by two ferry routes. One from Piraeus which takes about three hours, and another from Lavrion port which is less than two hours. You can also visit Kythnos direct from other nearby islands in the Cyclades. The closest airport is Athens, which is only 30 minutes from Lavrion port. Of course, you can rent a yacht or a speed boat, even a helicopter if your budget allows since there is a helidrome on the island.

Kythnos has come under the spotlight over the last few years, thanks to the advantages of proximity, natural quiet beaches, relaxing landscape, and picturesque villages. 

Where to Stay

The accommodation proposals are still growing due to the popularity of the island and it strives to provide availability in the high season months but also over time for all budgets. Prices and offerings range from traditional houseshotelssuites, and villas, or private studios and apartment rooms- there really is a wide range to choose from.

What to Do

Activities are developing and visitors are able to go kayaking, do yoga on the beach or in private, go island hopping with speed boats or sail around the island with a yacht, enjoy some hikingscuba, snorkelling, or take pottery classes.

Where to Swim

Kythnos has approximately 100 beaches formed like a surrounding lace that creates shores, coves, bays and hidden tiny beaches that can be explored- from organised with beach bars to literally tranquil “deserted feel like” points, that can’t be seen from above. Others are accessible by car, some by boat or by foot, from white irregular pebbles, crispy sand with tamarisk trees to cast a shadow or totally bare for those who can’t get enough of the Greek sun!

Just the view of the rocky surrounding, the sun peeking through, the whiter whites, the browns and greys, glowing metallic blue, crystal clear transparent turquoise blue waters, one can find at least one beach to call his favourite. The most famous beach on the island, Kolona, which took its name from the shape of the wide sand beach that divides the sea in two and connects the island with the island of Agios Loukas, is crowded with boats that visit from spring to autumn; it remains as a highlight attraction.  

Apokrousi beach is one of the longest beaches with armirikia (tamarisk) trees that offer shade, a couple of beach bars one on the side and another in the middle of the beach, and two tavernas to serve your appetite if you decide to stay all the way till the mesmerizing sunset. The road allows access for all types of cars and motorcycles and that makes it very attractive, especially for the last swim before you catch the return ferry!

Where to Eat

Bars & cafes are in every town the island has from your arrival at the port, going to Chora café bar or brunch, or arriving at Loutra, try having a café on the beach or a delicious waffle with ice cream. 

Eating on the island is an exploration in itself. From having breakfast at traditional kafenio (coffee shop) eating pies (cheese pie with fresh eggs, local cheese and fennel) and kolopi (horta/green vegetable pie), buy handmade pasteli (sesame and honey-sweet) and amigdalota (soft, rose-scented almond cookies) to delicious desserts, fresh fish, Mediterranean seafood, traditional taverns with handmade products of their own production and breeding, to the most modern restaurants with gastronomic and gourmet suggestions, Kythnos covers all tastes!

Not to be missed, the delicious taste of local lemon juice pork, the remarkably unforgettable red sauce goat, ambelofasoula (green long been salad) which you could sense the chlorophyll tingling your mouth, (saliagous) snails cooked in onion red sauce, a plate of the famous sfougato a kind of small cheese ball croquette made with local cream cheese – and of course the caparosalata (caper salad mash) a mouthful of gourmet in its most simple form!

What to See 

Visit Panagia (Holy Mother) Kanala church, which is the patron saint of Kythnos to worship, light a candle in her icon which is considered miraculous and admire the temple and the location. Other churches and chapels can be visited, especially if your visit falls on a celebration of a saint and the local panigiri (festivity) it’s worth going and mixing with the locals, to enjoy the traditional music, dances, food and wine offered.

Katafiki cave is believed to be one of the biggest caves in Greece and was first encountered in the 1830s. It has unique and interesting stalagmites and rock formations. Till 1939, it was used as an iron mine and locals used it to keep food cool, but also as a place of gathering and celebrations. Located in Driopida, it’s worth visiting if you find it open to the public.

In Chora, you will find the Folklore Museum, in a traditional house with an extensive collection of the traditional setting of how households, clothes, furniture and significant folk-art objects. The exhibits provide an idea of life in the past and have historical significance.

Buy your gifts to take back home to your friends from handmade wood art objects, to sublime cosmetics or buy a jar of local thyme honey and other gifts, but most important take back the calm and rest you have captured, tell your friends about Kythnos, show off your amazing tan and those pictures you took!

For more information and details about the island head to Your Kythnos  

Images by Julia Vagiani ©

Summer 2022’s Best Greek Swimwear Brands 

It’s time to put those sweaters and coats away and bring out the bikinis and classic one-pieces for your summer 2022 holidays, with the best Greek swimwear brands.

As the bright spring weather transitions into warm summer days, it’s officially time to ditch the winter wardrobe and start celebrating the summer season with some sophisticated new swimwear.  

And when it comes to finding new summer pieces, there are so many options and designs to choose from, so we’ve rounded up the best Greek swimwear brands for you- that will have you looking cool and stylish this season! 

Holyday 

Each piece is carefully thought out, as the modern, yet timeless designs are made for every body type; and their range can easily take you from a long, lazy day at the beach, straight to an outdoor bar for evening drinks. Holyday’s latest collection has us obsessing over their baby blue range!

Insights Greece - Summer 2022’s Best Greek Swimwear Brands 

Georgia Theodosiou

A swimwear and resort wear brand with floral suits, classic bikinis and one-pieces; this year Georgia Theodosiou has added a few scoop neck one-pieces, and classic white bikinis. Our fave is the navy one-shoulder piece!

Sophie Deloudi

Each season, the designer experiments with new materials and styles- and whether it’s bold colours, classic black bikinis, or geometric patterns you are after- the 2022 collection has something to suit every style and taste. 

Stefania Frangista 

Whether you are off to the Amalfi Coast, Cycladic islands, (or anywhere in between) this swimwear range is made for sunny European days and balmy nights!  

Zeus + Dione 

Creating sophisticated and effortless swimsuits, Zeus + Dione has kept with the brand’s overall classic style this season, with the pieces being Grecian-inspired in both design and colour. For 2022, we can’t get past their elegant and timeless one-pieces! 

Discover the Best Greek Sandal Brands for 2022 Here

12 Amazing Hours in Hydra

Just a couple of hours by ferry from Athens, the beautiful Greek island of Hydra is one of the most glorious spots for a day trip from the Greek capital!

This much-loved destination features a stunning town, rocky landscape, great eateries, and crystal-clear waters. And if you only have 12 hours in Hydra, here is the perfect itinerary, that will give you a real feel for the island; while undoubtedly leaving you wanting to explore more of this charming place next time around! 

9 am 

Port of Hydra | Image by Polina Paraskevopoulou
Port of Hydra | Image by Polina Paraskevopoulou

Arrive at the port, one of the most enticing harbours in all of Greece.  

9:30 am 

Start your day with a coffee at Isalos, the most well-known café on the island. Ask for the Caffe del Doge (their specialty) and if you haven’t had breakfast yet, you can order from their delightful brunch menu. 

10:30 am

Visit the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Hydra’s main Cathedral, located in the center of the harbor, underneath the clock tower. 

11:30 am

Head to Kaminia, a pebbled beach, only 1km west of Hydra Town, and have a wonderful swim at this authentic small fishing village. 

2:00 pm

After your lovely dip, head back to town and make your way over to Omilos; make sure to grab a table next to the water. From here you can admire the views as you enjoy a fabulous seafood lunch. 

4 pm 

Cool down with another dip- this time at the famous Splilia, (Cave), where you are able to dive into the deep blue sea, before kicking back at Hydronetta Bar. 

5:30 pm

Insights Greece - 12 Amazing Hours in Hydra
Hydronetta Bar

Dry off and go grab yourself a Freddo Espresso and an Amygdaloto (traditional Greek almond biscuit; a specialty of the island) from Tsagarakis. 

6:00 pm

Stroll around the town and soak up the amazing atmosphere, with the stunning stone mansions, historic monasteries, and cobblestoned streets.

7:00 pm

Finish off a perfect day with a memorable dinner at Téchnē, a restaurant set in an 1870s former boat factory. Make sure you sit on the terrace and catch the views out to sea; from here you can also enjoy the sunset with a Spritz in hand.

How to get there 

You can arrive in Hydra from Athens by ferry, which departs from the port of Piraeus (a 2-hour journey), otherwise, there are many private cruises that will take you to Hydra from the Greek capital. 

Mini-Guide to Anafi

Anafi, located near Santorini, is a tiny island with a slow-paced lifestyle and traditional vibe. Boasting a rugged yet serene landscape Anafi, untouched by mass tourism, is one of the most enchanting Greek islands that has kept its authentic character. 

See

Remote beaches, hills, monasteries, and Cycladic architecture highlight the skills of local craftspeople and unique archaeological sites; wander around the Chora with its beautiful churches, crisp white homes, flower-filled courtyards and traditional windmills in the background. Also visit the Monastery Zoodchou Pigis a little monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Kastelli, an ancient settlement located on the way to the monastery. 

Do

Swim at the wonderful beaches including Agios Nikolaos, Mikros and Megalos Roukounas, Katsouni, Klisidi and the stunning coasts of Flamourou and Prasies. Anafi is known for its amazing trails and paths, and we suggest you climb the Monolith of Kalamos and enjoy the amazing view from the Monastery. Also, hike to the Cave of Drakontospilo (featuring stalactite and stalagmites), which can be reached only by footpath. 

Eat

Anafi is known for its traditional taverns that serve fresh seafood and dishes made from locally sourced ingredients (the herbs and honey here are a standout). The specialties of the island include Ballothia (handmade pasta), saffron breadXerotigana are fine dough leaves drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sesame or coconut, as well as Melitera which are sweet cheese pies made with local egg and mizithra (ricotta cheese). For the freshest seafood head to Anemos, Astrachan, or Liotrivi tavern, and for meat, mezedes and amazing sweets add Margarita, Steki, Petrino and Tholos to your list. 

Drink

For a cocktail or aperitif with a view head over to Apollon Blue Café, Argo Cafe Bar, or Madres Bar.

Stay

Ypseli Anafis Hive and Casa Di Namphio Villas and Suites are modern, and stylish and offer great views of the island; or if you prefer traditional apartment-style accommodation run by locals check out Dream Anafi, Ostria, Balcony in the Aegean, or Pelagos

Tip

Take a private boat cruise around the island, which will allow you to swim at the most remote beaches that are completely secluded and offer the utmost privacy. 

Getting There

You can reach Anafi from Athens by ferry, which leaves from Piraeus port about 3 times a week, the trip is around 10 hours. The closest airport to Anafi is Santorini and from there can take the quick ferry to Anafi, which lasts about 1 hour and 10 minutes. 

New Cyprus-Greece Ferry Link to Set Sail in June 

After 21 years, the first Cyprus-Greece passenger ferry link will set sail on June 19 from Limassol Port arriving at the Port of Piraeus in Athens, 30 hours later. 

The announcement was made on Friday by Cyprus’ Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilios Dimitriades, along with Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades stating, “Our citizens will once again be able to travel to Greece and Europe by sea, transporting their private vehicles as well.”

The service will last until September 16, with four trips scheduled for June, eight in July, seven in August, and three in September.

The Cypriot-flagged passenger ferry which carries up to 400 people, includes  38 first-class cabins, 68 second-class cabins, 110 seats, 100 vehicle spots, as well as a restaurant, café, and a clinic. 

The cheapest return tickets for adults, with a simple seating arrangement, are set at 76 euros while a second-class cabin return ticket is 80 euros and one-way tickets cost 38 and 40 euros. 

Children aged 4-12 will be charged 56 euros while those aged up to four will be charged 31 euros and cars up to 5-meters long will have a fee of 203 euros. 

For more details on the new ferry link from Cyprus to Greece, head to Maritime Cyprus. 

Historic Corinth Canal Set to Reopen in Summer 

Greece’s Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport has announced they expect the Corinth Canal to reopen for navigation from the 5th of July.  

The 128-year-old canal has been closed to traffic since February 2021, after a series of landslides made it unnavigable. Following its closure, the Greek government commenced vital restoration works worth 30.6 million euros.  

The famous canal that separates the mainland from the Peloponnese can accommodate small cruise ships and is crossed by several bridges, including a motorway and railway.

Also known as the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal connects the Ionian and the Aegean Seas, making the passage of cargo and passenger ships between the two much quicker and safer.

As Greece opened up to tourism and yachts last summer, visitors who passed through from the Ionian to the Aegean Seas on yachts and cruise ships had to take the long and costlier route around the Peloponnesian peninsula; however this year the Greek Development & Investments Ministry is hoping to see the Corinth Canal open in July through to the end of October. 

A press release issued by the Corinth Canal SA states, “We would like to inform our customers and partners that the restoration works are in progress and that according to the official schedule of the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport, the canal will be available for navigation from the 5th of July until the end of October 2022, where restoration work will continue.” 

To see the Corinth Canal, visitors can drive to it, take a bus, or board a boat cruise that goes through it – boat trips run from Loutraki. 

Miniguide to Parga

Picturesque Parga, lying northwest of Preveza in Epirus, is an ideal place to visit during a late spring or summertime exploration of the entire beautiful region, or as a sole destination. In this new miniguide, you’ll find all the best places to stay at, eat, swim and shop. 

Richly verdant, with emerald waters and colourful mansions, amphitheatrically built Parga also offers close access to Paxos and Antipaxos islands in the Ionian, known for their gorgeous crystalline turquoise waters and scenic villages. 

In Parga, you’re likely to feel a carefree island vibe and enjoy admiring lovely Venetian architecture – including an archaic castle at its top. There are plenty of things to see, do and taste to keep you busy, whether you’re going for two days or two weeks.

Swim

Most popular – and busy of Parga’s beaches is the long, sandy Kryoneri coastline, with Piso (back) Kryoneri at its end and Valtos beach interconnecting on the other end.

From Kryoneri beach you can rent a pedalo (or swim) to reach the Panagia islet, where two churches stand and with surrounding rocks perfect for snorkelling around.

Ai Yiannaki and Lichno on the south side are also great places to swim. 

On the path to Syvota, you’ll find the beaches of SarakinikoKaravostasi and Arilla

Valtos is popular for watersports enthusiasts. 

Walk

Along the Promenade

A perfect seafront walkway for sunset strolls where you can stop for an ouzo and meze by the water.

Visit the Olive Oil Factory

Learn all about local olive oil production and how it has helped shape the culture and culinary profile of Parga and book an olive oil tasting session. (Paragaea, K. Tzavella 19, Parga +30 2684 032889)

The Venetian Castle

The 13th Century castle has sturdily remained in place despite being knocked down by both Ottoman occupiers and pirates before being rebuilt by the Venetians in 1572. Head up to see spellbinding 360-degree views.

Journey to the Underworld

Visit the springs of the Acheron River, in a beautiful natural landscape near Glyki village. According to Greek mythology, the river was one of the five rivers of the underworld. On the banks of Acheron is the Nekromanteion, where the dead were said to begin their descent to the underworld accompanied by a blind ferryman. 

Stay

Villa Rossa Area Boutique Beach Resort

The historic red villa is a Parga landmark and the only building standing on Parga’s main beach. It offers a private beach area and uninterrupted sea views.  Having starred in several international films, the hotel blends old-world charm with innovative design in addition to hosting an Interactive Museum, a Gallery and a Gift Shop. It also boasts a direct sunset location, ideal for sundowners! (Agiou Athanasiou 4, +26840 31237)

Alfa Hotel 

This recently renovated hotel is a good option for those who want to be within close walking distance to two beautiful beaches and a hotel pool. There is also a good restaurant with al fresco dining (Agiou Athanasiou 51, +26840 32111)

Lichnos Beach 

For those preferring to be a little further from town, Lichnos Beach is a large luxury hotel with spacious rooms and good family options. (Lichnos beach, +2684031257)

Eat

Villa Rossa Restaurant is an award-winning farm-to-table Greek and Mediterranean restaurant with top-quality locally sourced options. It offers exceptional quality fish and seafood and is famed for its oysters. Other signature dishes include gambares, delicacy shrimp from nearby Preveza, and beef fillet with fresh Greek truffles. (Agiou Athanasiou 4, +26840 31532)

Aegis Dine & Drink offers good, creative Mediterranean dishes and is ideal for people watching on the main promenade overlooking the sea ( Grigoriou Lampraki 17, + 693 724 1479)

Tourkopazaro is Greek for Turkish Bazaar. This is a picturesque area near the Venetian Castle full of popular tavernas that seem to blend into one, and all serve good quality Greek traditional fare. 

Drink

Pargas Distillery, Amicos Food and Bar is an old distillery where traditional liqueurs are still served along with creative cocktails and small bites in a pleasant setting ( Patatoukou 26, + 694 700 9151)

Sail In Cocktail Bar– is in a beautiful building on the steps leading to the castle. It offers great views and signature cocktails (G. Gaki 1, +2684032097)

Atrium– Perched on a hill overlooking Pisso Kryoneri beach this is a great place to unwind during the day and have a cold beer in the early evening. Options are limited but the trek is well worth the view (Agiou Athanassiou 28, +26840 31600) 

The Venetian Castle also has a café/bar. It is a spectacular location to be enjoyed at all times of the day.

Shop

Kendra is a treasure trove of interesting kaftans, beach dresses, and jewellery for affordable prices on the promenade. 

Mandalaki– easy-to-wear summer clothing by mostly Greek brands, includes interesting sandals, purses and jewellery. (Frouriou 13, +2684 031630)

Papaya– good, curated, designer options (Riga Feraiou 50, + 6947054086)

There are many souvenir shops on the promenade and Parga’s quaint alleyways, all worth exploring.

Festival time!

On August 14th, visit the Panigyri on the Panagia islet. The next day join the festivities of Dekapendavgoustos at Varkarola, a festival commemorating the homecoming of Parga’s locals after they had been made to leave their home by the English, who sold Parga to Ali Pasha of Ioannina.

Exploring the Old Town of Xanthi

When you think of the city of Xanthi, two aspects vividly come to mind, the excessive carnival celebrations and the Old Town. The best way I can describe the latter is encapsulated in one word: nostalgia!

The Old Town of Xanthi is an enchanting settlement in the heart of the city that has remained unaffected by time. It is a magnet for visitors, especially on a warm day, filled with colours and aromas. A concoction of picturesque cobbled streets, buildings with evident features of the Ottoman empire once ruling the city, rows of 19th-century houses with dilapidated balconies and throngs of tourists photographing every corner of it. A mixture of Edinburgh’s Circus Lane and Malta’s Mdina, if you like.

We embarked on a tour of the Old Town of Xanthi early on Sunday morning in an attempt to avoid the crowds. Our tour started on El. Venizelou 17 at Grand Maison, the beautiful house where the famous music composer, Manos Hadjidakis, was born and raised.

Built in 1895 by an Austrian architect, this neoclassical mansion with baroque elements belonged to Isaac Daniel, a rich Jew living in Xanthi, and not the Hadjidakis family as most people think.

The building was recently restored under the guidance of Hadjidaki’s relatives to honour his life and work in the best possible way. Nowadays, it serves as a museum and cultural centre open to the public.

It is said that the Holy Church of St. Vlassios facing Grand Maison has been the inspiration behind the artist’s composition of music mixing Byzantine and ancient Greek elements. The basilica was built in 1838 and in the courtyard lies a school and the priest’s residence. The inward-looking style of the three buildings is a common feature in Ottoman structures found in Turkey and Greece. The church courtyard is elevated three meters from the road level so that people can catch sight of it as houses on El. Venizelou were hiding the building.

The tour continued uphill on Agiou Vlassiou street with the mansion of Dr. Constantine Karabetsis on the corner. Built in 1896 by European architects in neoclassical style with a typically enclosed balcony (sachnisi) in the centre the mansion stands out for its aesthetic and character. The painting on the ceiling of the entrance hall was done by the Maltzi brothers, some famous artists from Aivali in Asia Minor (today Ayvalik, Turkey). Unfortunately, like many other buildings in Xanthi’s Old Town, the building is in deer need of restoration but visitors can still see signs of its former glorious life.

We kept walking on Agiou Vlassiou street and went past many neoclassical mansions until we met the magnificent Residences of the Michaloglou family, a complex of four dwellings built in 1890, built by the Northern Epirus tobacco merchant, Ioannis Michaloglou, for his children.

A bit further away on Botsari street lies Muzaffer Bey’s mansion (konah). The building features both Thracian and Ottoman elements making it one of the most remarkable examples of local architecture. It was built during the 1860s with three floors and two wings in the form of the Greek letter Π. Today the building belongs to the Municipality of Xanthi and it is under construction. Back to El. Venizelou street, we found a beautiful house and store built in 1880 by a group of craftsmen from Epirus. The presence of the blue arched windows is something often seen in commercial buildings of the early 20th-century in Xanthi.

Suddenly, we felt famished so we headed towards Antika square for some coffee and nibbles. This scenic square is a meeting point for many locals as it is surrounded by many well-known bars, traditional tavernas and bars. We sat at Favela Chic Art Bar and enjoyed the views of the little square and the crowds of people passing in search of a place to sit and enjoy the day. On the other side of the square is a round symmetrical building that now hosts one of the most famous cafe bars ‘Bread and Chocolate‘. This impressive building was once the harem of the Ottoman ruler Mehmet Pasha!

It was getting dark when we left so with no more time to explore under the daylight, we went for a quick wander around the square shops.

There is so much to do and see in the Old Town of Xanthi, we promised to be back very soon. Hopefully, this will be the time that we will get the full tour of the Old Town as there are still so many more mansions and historic buildings to discover.

Until next time!

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

Greece Looking to Scrap Vaccination Certificate by Easter 

According to Gkikas Magiorkinis, professor of epidemiology and a member of the committee of experts advising the Greek Health Ministry on the management of the COVID-19 crisis, Greek authorities are currently discussing scrapping the vaccination certificate before Greek Easter, which falls on Sunday, April 24, 2022. 

“It will happen in the next one to two months and quite possibly, by Holy week, Greece will no longer have a Green pass,” Magiorkinis told broadcaster ERT.

Greek authorities are considering the removal of most Covid-19 measures by the end of April, including the need to present a vaccination certificate to enter restaurants, cafes, bars, museums and entertainment venues.

“As there is no pressure on the health system at the moment, there is no reason to use it,” stressed Magiorkinis. 

Although Magiorkinis did not elaborate on the details of abolishing the Green Pass, Greece is expected to follow Italy, which as of May 1st, 2022, will no longer require individuals to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, testing, or recovery to enter any public spaces. 

Currently, if you’re entering a dining area, bar, club, theatre, cinema, or museum in Greece, you need to show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate that’s no more than 9 months old and if you’ve had a booster shot, your vaccination certificate isn’t subject to an expiry limit. 

For all the latest travel requirements to Greece head to travel.gov.gr

Ferries from Turkey to Greece Set Sail Again 

It’s been two years since the last ferry ran from Turkey to Greece before closing indefinitely due to pandemic precautions, but tourists are now once again able to travel by sea between the two neighbouring destinations. 

The ban on ferry services, which were halted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was lifted on February 7, and the restriction also applies to private yachts sailing between Turkey’s Aegean coasts and the Greek islands.

Ferry routes that have, or will resume shortly include those from Bodrum to Kos, Çeşme to Chios, Fethiye to Rhodes, Ayvalık to Lesvos and Kuşadası to Samos.

Most of these ferry services leave in the morning and return the same afternoon, making a quick day trip to Greece and vice versa an option for many locals and international tourists to both countries.

During a day trip, many visitors choose to enjoy some lunch, have a coffee, or walk around the port area and shops- while others prefer to stay overnight or for longer to experience more of the islands. 

Ferry destination options between Greece and Turkey are expected to increase over the next few months, as international visitor numbers start to grow and the weather warms up.