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From Desert to Tropical Landscapes: Lesser-Known Travel Destinations in a Reopening Greece

Αssociated Press

A boy dives into the sea from an old dock on the Aegean Sea island of Milos, Greece, Sunday, May 24, 2020. Greece s long-awaited tourist season will begin on June 15 with the opening of seasonal hotels and the arrival of the first foreign visitors, while international flights will begin heading directly for holiday destinations gradually as of July 1. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - Greece's gradual reopening after the restrictions of the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down a key sector for the country's economy, tourism, is shedding light on alternative tour spots that may be unknown to most of the Greek population and foreign visitors alike.

Below, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) highlights some of these rare gems, which show that despite its small size, Greece provides a wide variety of landscapes.

Greece has two fossilized forests. One on the island of Lesvos, where fossilized trees retain their root system in place and record the geological history of the Aegean basin the last 20 million years, and one in Laconia in the Peloponnese, dated to 2 or 3 million years ago, with Paleolithic remains as well. There are museums at both sites and accessible beaches.

In the Sikyon municipality of Corinth, the naturally preserved forest of Mougostos, hear the beach of Mylokopi, is a natural oak-tree forest under presidential protection.

Off the coast of North Evia, near the mainland, lie the Lichadonisia, a cluster of seven islets across from Kammena Vourla on the mainland often called "Greece's Bahamas islands" that include the islet of Manolia with its natural-made port for private sailboats.

Greece's variations in climate include the only desert in Europe on the island of Limnos, NE Aegean, and Pandavrechi ("It's always raining"), a gorge in Evrytania, near Karpenissi, with several small waterfalls that create an impression of incessant rain.

Off southern Peloponnese's Messinia region lie seven islets called Inousses (like the better-known islets off Chios), with Sapienza being best known.

Greece's lakes include Tsivlous in Achaia prefecture, 108 years old; Taka in Arcadia, lying at 650 meters above the sea; and even higher, at 1,000 meters, the Loga lake in Thessaly, central Greece.

On Crete, besides the best-known and walkable Samaria gorge, there is the Havgas gorge on the Lassithi plain, eastern Crete, combining a waterfall and a lake. Crete's colorful city of Rethymno also provides unique walks and tours.

Lesser-known beaches in Greece of unique beauty are also found in Igoumenitsa, South Corfu, Zakynthos (in western Greece), Iraklio prefecture (Crete), Pagasitikos Gulf (Magnissia prefecture, and those of Pserimos, Arkioi and Marathi, part of the Dodecanese Islands.