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Greece’s "12 Essential Places" Featured in Lonely Planet

The National Herald Archive

Samaria Gorge, Crete. (Photo by TNH, File)

NEW YORK – Twelve “essential places to visit in Greece” were featured in Lonely Planet (LP) on July 5, including Meteora, Delphi, the Cyclades, Athens, Corfu, Thessaloniki, Molyvos, Kefalonia, Mani, Samaria Gorge, Halkidiki, and Zagorohoria.

“Magnificent Meteora will leave you speechless,” LP reported, noting that the “soaring pillars of rock jut heavenward, a handful complete with monasteries perched on their summits.”

“Early morning is a magical time at Delphi, as the sun's rays pour over the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia,” LP reported, adding that “as you gaze out over the Gulf of Corinth, it is easy to understand why the ancient Greeks chose this as the centre of their world.”

The Cyclades were featured for “the spirited nightlife and celebrity hideaways of Mykonos and Ios,” and the “isolated sandy coasts of tiny, far-flung specks such as Anafi,” LP reported, adding that “hopping through the Cyclades is a Greek experience not to be missed.”

“Life in Athens is a magnificent mash-up of both the ancient and the contemporary,” LP reported, noting that “beneath the majestic facades of the many venerable landmarks, the city is teeming with life and creativity. Galleries and clubs hold the exhibitions, performances and installations of the city's booming arts scene.”

“The story of Corfu is written across the handsome facades of its main town's buildings,” LP reported, adding that “this is a place that crams a remarkable mix of architecture into its small circumference. Stroll past Byzantine fortresses, neoclassical 19th-century British buildings, Parisian-style arcades, Orthodox church towers and the narrow, sun-dappled streets of the Venetian Old Town. Beyond the town, Corfu is lush green mountains, rolling countryside and dramatic coastlines. And if the architecture and scenery aren't enough, come to enjoy the Italian-influenced food.”

“Stylish Thessaloniki remains northern Greece's liveliest town, thanks to its universities, cultural scene, arts and nightlife,” LP reported, noting “the old quarter, a neighbourhood full of colourful, winding streets marked by white-plastered houses, lazy cats and Byzantine churches.”

The well-preserved medieval town of Molyvos on the island of Lesvos “displays a happy marriage of gorgeous landscape and gracious architecture,” LP reported, adding that “sitting on top of an elegantly curving headland and crowned with a Byzantine castle, it faces west as if inviting the setting sun to touch the red-tiled roofs and bobbing yachts in its pretty marina. Life moves pretty slow here, pull up a chair and relax.”

Kefalonia “is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors,” LP reported, noting the activities on offer- “paddle kayaks between white-sand beaches lapped by gentle seas that glow with an unnatural luminosity; explore pretty villages surrounded by vineyards and olive groves; scuba-dive in crystal-clear waters blushing with fish; and hike up mountains that spiral high into the sky.”

The National Herald Archive

Assos, Kefalonia is among the top Greek villages to visit according to CNN Travel. Photo: Spiros Rokkos, via Wikimedia Commons

Mani, “can no longer be described as `remote'," LP reported, noting that the “rugged rocky highlands and hidden lush green oases to small fishing tavernas and severe rock-solid tower houses, this pocket of the Peloponnese is well worth exploring.”

Samaria Gorge in Crete was featured as it runs “down through an ancient riverbed to the Libyan Sea,” a “home to soaring birds of prey and a dazzling array of wildflowers in spring… the jaw-dropping views make it worth every step.”

“Northern Greece's Halkidiki stretches out into the Aegean like a fat fist with three enticing fingers of sand and sun-soaked bliss,” LP reported, adding that “Kassandra Peninsula buzzes in summer with open-air discos and umbrella-peppered beaches, while Sithonia Peninsula is quieter and reserved for escapists on its sandy shores. Athos Peninsula offers stunning beaches and is also home to the men-only preserve of Mt Athos, a monastic community that has kept its Byzantine rituals for more than 1000 years.”

“After passing through a seemingly endless array of tunnels, the Egnatia Odos Highway brings you into rugged Epiros, home of the Pindos Mountains and the Zagorohoria – an immaculately preserved region of traditional villages spread along the ridges of Europe's deepest canyon, the Vikos Gorge,” LP reported, noting that “here, the air is clear, fresh and cool, and the views astounding. You can explore the region by hiking or mountain biking, or simply get cosy by the fire in one of the many rustic B&Bs dotting the region.”