Janice visited Greece in 2006 and had always wanted to return with Gary & Amelia. We expected Greece to be a highlight of our travels in Europe, it was and still surpassed our expectations. Other countries on the land route to Greece also became favourites – see our upcoming post. Also see our Practicalities of Travelling in Greece blog.
We arrived in Greece via a ferry from Italy. Our first stop was:
Lefkada is a stunning island that you can access by bridge from the mainland. It is filled with lush green mountains, stunning white cliffs, and hazy blue sea stretching into the distance. After spending a few days exploring Lefkada, we stayed the night and had a delicious meal at a small tavern.
The Peloponnese is a fantastic location for motorhome travel with a great density of interesting places to visit and camp. Our time in Peloponnese began with visiting Eva and family in a small village near Patras. We felt privileged to join in the Greek Orthodox easter celebrations, including the candle-lit procession on Holy Friday, the lighting of the eternal flame at midnight on Holy Saturday, the battle of red easter eggs in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the celebrations on Sunday afternoon. The small village where children played in the square while adults chatted in the café under an ancient plane tree was peaceful and relaxing.
Next we explored the “fingers” of Peloponnese. Some of our highlights were:
- Ancient Olympia (site of the first Olympics)
- Hiking to the castle by Voidokilia Beach
- The Mani Peninsula, including tiny mountain towns like Kampos and Thalamus, the ghost town of Vathia, and the hike to the lighthouse for sunset.
- Mystras monastery and the beautiful mountains in the area. On the way, we passed briefly through Sparti (site of ancient Sparta).
- Elafonisos Island and nearby beaches
- Monemvasia (a small island town linked to the mainland by a causeway)
- Epidaurus (ancient theatre where you can hear a coin drop from any seat!)
Within the city, we enjoyed the acropolis and its incredible museum, the small but fun Museum of Illusions – Gary took Amelia inside while Janice wandered the interesting neighbourhood nearby (filled with used bookshops), the Xplore Centre – a small but well-designed science museum and play area in a mall, and a delicious lunch. Outside the city, Amelia loved the Adventure Park and we enjoyed the Temple of Poseidon, Delphi, and the hot springs at Thermopylae.
On the way north:
At Mount Olympus, we did a nice short hike from the Monastery of Saint Dionysios to the Cave of Dionysios of Olympus.
Next, we visited the incredible Meteora monasteries – while we had planned to stay for sunset, the temperature reached 34°C (93°F) so we quickly moved on to the mountains near Metsovo, where we experienced refreshing temperatures and even a thunderstorm and hail.
For our final stop when we visited Greece, we explored the spectacular Vikos gorge, where we particularly enjoyed stopping at the bridge over the beautiful Voidomatis river and the towns of Papingo and Micro Papingo.
Greece quickly became one of our favourite countries on our route. And we also appreciated that the route back from Greece introduced us to our next country: Albania.