As I write about our Greek adventures for a magazine article this week, I have noticed how many posts there are on Facebook about heading to this luscious land this year. I’m sure it’s always been a popular destination – after all who wouldn’t want golden sands, white washed, cobbled-stoned street villages and azure blue seas! I’m in!
As we had a glorious 3 months there touring in our camper, a month of which was in Crete I thought it would be worth putting together a resource that captures all of our experiences, lessons, places we visited, and camper stops just in one place. A one-stop shop if you like. Of course the normal caveat applies – we didn’t visit everywhere – you can’t possibly in three months, although we gave it a good shot and managed to get to see a diverse range of places on Islands, mainland and the Peloponnese. So sit back, relax and soak up the goodness that is Greece.
Interactive Route Map for Greece
This map gives you a good sense of our places of interest and our camping spots with co-ordinates, if camping is your thing. Just click on the dots for more information.
Flying is the most obvious, either into Athens or into one of many inhabited islands.
Or you could take the ferry from one of five ports in Italy; Venice, Ancona, Trieste, Bari, Brindisi to either Igoumenitsa in the north of Greece up by the Albanian border or Patras, gateway to the Peloponnese.
Alternatively you could drive, one of two routes depending on which part of the world you are living in of course…..
Either you can drive south through Italy, Croatia, Albania and Bosnia (although there may be insurance limitations on your vehicle for the latter two – meaning you have to rely on getting a Green Card at the Border, so do check before you travel.)
Or you can take the Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria route, dropping into north-east Greece.
We took the ferry from Spain to Italy, as we spent winter there and then hopped across the Adriatic Sea from Bari to Igoumenitsa. You can read more about the ferry options from Spain and Italy by clicking here for our comprehensive blog.
Greece Mainland – it’s a must
Many of us when we think of Greece immediately conjure up the iconic images of the lslands, steeped in glorious sunshine and to-die-for beaches. And whilst it’s true, they are certainly devine – (who wouldn’t want to see Santorini at sunset?), there really is so much more to Greece. The mainland in particular is a jigsaw of diverse pieces that, when put together create a map of historical intrigue, natural wonders and an authentic off-the-beaten-track perspective. Here’s our highlights, just to whet your appetite;
Metsovo Lake where your only neighbours will be the sheep dogs and the odd bear or two, if you are lucky to see them. In an incredible landscape high up in the Pindos mountains and with a little hop, skip and a jump you can check out Metsovo – a characterful mountain village that thrives on local tourism and agriculture.
Kastoria a byzantine town hidden in the mountains with its own mirror lake. A town that has prospered historically under the fur-trade banner and more recently attracts international rowing athletes. And if caves are your favs, then you seriously need to go see the Dragon Cave, which is the third largest and longest in Greece, with seven underwater lakes and chambers like you have never seen before. And then there’s the bird life which with its 100 plus pelicans, grebes and warblers you will be in ornithological heaven. Here’s a glimpse of what is in store for you at Kastoria.
Kerkini – the place where land succumbs to water as this wetland nature reserve protects hundreds of bird species and where water buffalo wallow in the bogs creating their delectable cheese. Take the sunrise boat ride to see the birds in their natural habitat and be bowled over by this preserved landscape. .
Meteora – a surreal and atmospheric place that looks like something out of a James Bond movie-set. Where sandstone rocks rise to the sky with six monasteries atop. An early morning visit benefits you with swirling mists and shafts of light caressing these magnificent buildings that make you wonder at their engineering feat. It’s a busy place, so beware of running the gauntlet with the caterpillar procession of coaches. Make the most of your trip by following our free guide. And don’t miss the incredible drone footage that we captured.
Parga and Lefkas – the west coast of the Greek mainland offers a town that Italy’s Cinque Terre would be proud of with its colourful terraced houses overlooking its double bay. And Lefkas, the only island you can drive to, is more like something out of an Indian Ocean brochure, with its white sand beaches.
PELOPONNESE – AN AFFAIR WITH THE SEA
So many visitors flock to the Peloponnese, three fingers and a thumb of the most spectacular coastal scenery you will see. Coves, bays and headlands will greet you here, with the earthiness of nature’s battle and yet the grace of a seagull. Don’t miss out on the Diakopto Railway that will take you to the mountain village of Kalyvita, scene of the WW2 Massacre in 1943 and then the Corinth Canal which tells a whole different tale. The ancient delights of Epidaurus with its Amphitheatre and Healing Sanctuary will no doubt impress or perhaps its coast will have you exploring the underwater cities with your kayak or snorkel. Methana and its volcanic delights reminds you how fragile our world is and how the earth’s core still runs the show from beneath the surface. Climb up to Methana’s largest volcano via its lava paths and even enter into its shaft – it’s like being on the moon and the scenery isn’t bad either. Check out our video here and our blog.
At Galatas, just a little further round the coast you will gasp in amazement at the first real sighting of a traditional Greek village. The island of Poros, which is just a €1 ferry ride away is a delight for fisherman, sailors and visitors as you wander the cobbled streets and immerse yourself in authentic Greek culture. It is a pretty surreal place only really captured by our drone – the pictures simply don’t do it justice… Here’s our blog on the area…
And the ancient capital of the Peloponnese, Napflio with its mesmerising coastline and crystal waters will lure you and surprise you with its three castles, suggesting its historical prowess. The old town is stereotypically Greek with its alleyways linked by magenta bougainvillaea, cafe culture and cobbled stairways leading to the real Greek lifestyle rather than the tourist one. And don’t miss the mind-blowing ancient citadel of Mycenae, just 20km drive north where you will be transported to 4000BC and will get to gasp in humility at the advancement of this age with their water system and jewellery making capability. All of which would look at home in our high street shops.
The Peloponnese Thumb is a great introduction to the area and a delight to behold.
Camping in Greece
Firstly let us say that Greece is wild camping paradise and as long as we are respectful and aware of our surroundings, you can pretty much overnight anywhere. We found some amazing spots, partly thanks to our Greek wild camp guide – Mit Dem Wohnmobil auf die Peloponnese. Although it is in German, the co-ordinates and pictures are more than enough to go by in choosing a home.
We also followed pins that have been collected by previous campers such as Peejays, although we also found our own spots along the way. This is one of our favourites at Porto Cheli on the Peloponnese.
As you’ll see from our interactive map, there are a fair few camping options and whilst campsites are not profuse in Greece, they do exist. Bare in mind that many of them are only open from mid April until mid-end October. That said, if you’re happy wild camping, then going into an official site will only become necessary to off load and fill up with a bit of washing on the side.
Water filling up is easy – every beach and marina have showers that you can fill up from and many mountain villages have fresh water springs. So you’ll never go without. For black waste we had a number of solutions for this. First was to go to a Garage, where they often had outside toilets. In exchange for diesel they would give us permission to off-load, given that we don’t use chemical products in our toilet. Secondly, we would ask permission from campsites that we found along the way, whether we could use their facilities. Despite always offering to pay for their services, they rarely took it and were very happy to help. We were only refused once and we kind of understood why.
Getting by in Greece
Life is very easy in Greece. There’s no need to rush and the weather is generally great even in Spring, except for the afternoon wind that always springs up like a bad smell, every day. Although let’s face it, it was a warm wind! Driving was pretty good on the whole, although some of the roads left a little bit to be desired. We learnt that when searching for a place to stay, to park up and explore on foot rather than risk taking the van and getting stuck. It happened once and we didn’t repeat the error.
Eating out is cheap and delicious and one of the best places in Europe to get lamb. The cost of living is pretty much the same as Italy and France. Still with the amount of wild camping you will do, you will definitely be in pocket.
During our first month we learnt plenty – and so we gathered all our lessons in one place so that we can easily share these with others. We also have compiled a ‘Getting By in Greek’ document, which is included in this blog that will help you master some of the language basics – the Greeks, much like any nation love to hear visitors speaking in their tongue. Click here for our insights and your Language Guide.
And so there we have it – Greece in a nutshell – at least based on our experiences there. It really is a fabulous love affair with the landscape, the culture and the people. Want to know what all the fuss is about? Then go and start your own Greek Odyssey. It will enrich you, entertain you and enthral you. Your visit is callin you….
Camped up in the seclusion of a campsite, just south of Nafplio on the eastern Peloponnese, I have a chance to reflect on our fourth week in Greece. It’s so hard to believe that nearly thirty days have elapsed since our arrival from Italy. Who would have known that we would have fallen in love with this ancient land with so much fervour and passion.
Travelling with our Follow our Motorhome buddies has allowed us to treat this chapter of our full-time adventures almost as a holiday and so our experiences have been enriched with a playful energy. Pinching the famous chocolate’s strap line, travelling with friends ‘helps you work, rest and play.’
What has struck me as I’ve trawled through my thousand and one photographs that even a Chinese tourist would be proud of, I’m struck by the natural beauty of this special place. Whilst undoubtedly the people and the history are draw enough to this haven, this week I have been enveloped by Mother Nature’s delightful canvas.
And so as our wheels rolled from the beauty of Epidavros towards Méthana’s peninsular, it was the active volcano that intrigued us. It never ceases to amaze me how incredible nature is as we clambered up the craggy face of what I imagine the moon to look like. Rock formations that seemed as if they had frozen in time, as they were catapulted from the volcano’s last eruption some three hundred years ago. Granite boulders and volcanic lava framing this incredible landscape where you feel like you are on top of the world. There was something quite surreal knowing that this was no normal mountain – this was a volcano that still rumbled deep beneath the surface of the earth, ready to burst forth its pent up energy, at any moment. Thankfully, not whilst we were there.
Poros island, Greece
Galatas was our next destination so that we could check out Poros. This tiny island, a short ferry ride away, is one of the prettiest Greek places we’ve seen so far. Red roofs, multicoloured facias and deep pink bougainvillea were the cast of this incredible movie, directed of course, by Mother Nature herself. Yet beyond the mulit-million dollar yachts that made this aqua car park look rather unique, fishermen, who had years worth of history etched into their faces, still went about their daily chores. Octopus hunters pummelled their wares upon the rocks so that supper that night could be enjoyed by their family and their skins dried above the barbecues, perversely looking to entice the bravest of tourist. It was May Day whilst we were there and we were told how the locals pick wild flowers and make them into wreaths for the front doors or as headdresses for the ladies to wear. At the end of the month, the wreaths are then either thrown to the sea or burnt as a gesture of good will to the gods. Traditions and culture fascinate me and of course I entered into the spirit of it, as best I could. Bright yellow wreaths sat on our dashboard and then were caste to the sea the next day as an offering of thanks. It’s been a long time since I picked flowers for creative purpose – took me right back to my childhood.
Despite the intoxicating lure of the Greek coast that we called home for a couple of days, close to Ermioni, it was the wildlife that had the greatest affect on me. A carpet of purple flowers coloured the ground and just to watch the amount of life buzzing around this colourful tapestry was entertainment personified. Humming bees, insects and dragonflies all searching for their own sense of survival as they danced, darted and hovered around us. A whole world of existence right beneath our feet.
Our final ‘home’ was Porto Cheli where we found a secluded spot overlooking the Peloponnese mountains in the distance. The waters here rival any staged Aquariums and I had many moments simply watching the shoals of fish as they waved around the shallows, crabs that crept along the water’s edge and sea urchins clinging to the rocks beneath the surface, awaiting their prey – even if that happened to be my bare feet. A whole new world for us to experience – perhaps it’s time to learn to snorkel Myles? Would love to see some dolphins, although they are elusive at the moment. Keeping my eyes peeled though.
What a joy to see the wildlife here so unique to this dry and arid land and an education in itself. The journey we are taking may cover many miles, crossing country borders, driving from coast to coast, although it is the humble lessons that nature has provided this week, that have enhanced my nomadic experiences. One more week to go before we change direction and head towards Piraeus and the ferry that will take us to some Cretan adventures for three weeks and a rendez-vous with my gorgeous mum. Until next week. Kx
So the latest chapter from our Greek Odyssey had the promise of some better weather, which could mean only one thing; hikes, bikes and kayaks. For that we needed a beach and that’s one thing that Greece has aplenty. So from a windy north coast Peloponnese we headed east – not chasing the sun you understand, just travelling in the vain hope that the forecast, offering us a big yellow ball of heat, would enhance our Greek experiences. And enhance it, it did.
Corinth Canal, Greece
En route to the Peloponnese thumb, it would have been rude to not stop off at the Corinth Canal. We had seen our friends from the Two Drifters go through this last year on their catamaran heading for the Caribbean, so we were keen to see it. And what great timing! As we arrived to marvel at the sinking bridge, five boats were due to enter the canal and so we actually got to see the bridge in action. Not only that, Mr Controller invited us into his inner sanctum to watch the boats move through. Typical Greek hospitality as we’ve come to learn.
Scoobie’s Camperstop, Epidavros
From canals to the famous Peloponnese coastline, we searched for a place we could call ‘home’ after a lot of travelling. After a few failed attempts down some challenging roads, we eventually parked up at Archaia Epidavros where we were treated to the lullaby of gently crashing waves, the historical intrigue of the sunken village, ancient amphitheatres, stunning sunrises and organic olive oil. This was just perfect. There were a couple of wild camping opportunities here. (Co-ords N37.63694 E23.16188). So we anchored down for five days and rested our travel-weary bones and this little town gave us the rejuvenation that we needed. This stunning little bay harbours crystal clear, azure blue waters, peninsulas decorated with oak and pine trees and an authentic village life trying to make a living.
Characterful restaurants line the harbour front and a stunning Greek Church sits proudly above the bay creating a great backdrop to the whole area. If you do visit, you must check out Athena Ecofarm who have their own Organic Olive Grove, shop and bar where they not only produce sensational oil, they also sell oil based products and herbs grown locally on their farm. There’s a fabulous deli in town that sells a whole range of wallet-emptying items. Needless to say a few purchases were made during our stay. If you head towards the Sunken City, which is walking distance from the town to the west, there is a campsite – Camping Nikolas I and a bar at the end of the road, which sits right on the beach. If you’re looking to camp rather than wild, we would recommend Camping Nikolas II, (N37 616111 E23.15861) which although is part of the same group, is a much nicer site than its sibling. With its terraced pitches and shore frontage spots, it’ll be hard to leave here at an ACSI price of €17 for a MH and two. (Trickier for vehicles over 7.5m though).
Ancient Amphitheatre, Epidavros
One of the main reasons people come to this area is the ancient Amphitheatre and Sanctuary, which is about 20km inland, up in the mountains. The theatre has been restored beautifully although it still has a very genuine feel to it, when you look past the coach load of tourists. The rest of the park, which is huge, is still under reconstruction. Not quite sure how I feel about the rebuilding, as it looses so much of its authenticity, although we must keep this ancient history alive – it’s a tricky balance. This has so much history to it and the Sanctuary, with its healing rituals and baths brought people from all over Europe to heal their ailments. Rumour has it that Epidavros or Epidauros is the birth place of the Epidural injection.
After our souls had been suitably rested, we headed further on around the coast, being delighted by the most incredible views across the Aegean Sea to Méthana, the peninsular of 30 volcanoes. With verges of deep red poppies waving in the gentle breeze and a burst of spring flowers set off against the sparkling sea, how could you not fall in love?
Méthana is a delight – the town, from which you can get a ferry to Piraeus, is a quaint seaside town with thermal baths, which smell more than our grey waste tank. Still it is worth a couple of night’s stay as there is so much to do here. We stayed at the harbourside, just opposite the Thermal Baths, which offers a great view of the town and coast. Although no services here, it’s a great spot to explore. (N37.577552 E23.389477) Your reward is hiking up in the mountains, ancient monuments and evidence of volcanic activity everywhere. Something for everyone. Méthana’s biggest draw though is her Volcano. A 20 minute drive around the peninsular, which is narrow although doable with the Motorhome out of season, gives you a chance to regale at the delights of this geological masterpiece. Rock climbing alongside this still active volcano, this challenging 20 minute walk offers you the most incredible views across the bay to Epidavros and also climb into one of the vents in the belly of this volcano. It is a must see if you’re fit and able to do a bit of rock clambering. The larva deposits have created some incredible artwork and framed by the pine trees and the azure seas, it is a must!
So another week, another amazing top up to our Greek Odyssey. Some great ‘homes’, wonderful hospitality and all of this shared with great friends. What more could you ask for? I’m not sure any longer that ‘music be the food of love’. I think it must be Greece. Kx
We are now in…..
Hi, Karen & Myles, The Motoroamers here. We are a fun-loving couple travelling full-time around Europe in Scoobie our trusty camper. We're driven to deliver seriously entertaining travel through our blogs, photography and humorous videos. We hope to inspire you too to travel.