My name is Stefanos. I was born in Athens but grew up in tiny old Luxembourg, in the heart of Europe. At the age of 18, I moved to Greece because I wanted to live like an Athenian. It was at that period, 8 years ago, when I bought my first camera and began experimenting with it.
I later found my niche in landscape and travel photography. From this moment onwards, I have enjoyed capturing the incredible landscapes that I discover while travelling across Greece and sharing these wonderful photos with the world through my Instagram channel.
Out of all my travels in Greece, my favourite place is still Serifos island, part of the Cyclades islands. This island is where I have spent all my summers and where my family owns a small, traditional guest house. I am heavily emotionally linked to this island due to our family history and, obviously, have tons of memories here.
I like to take every chance I get to visit Serifos island — smelling the fresh sea breeze, swimming in its deep blue sea and clear waters, catching up with the locals and roaming around the narrow streets of our beautiful Chora town perched on a hill.
Greece is famous for its islands and I receive messages on a daily basis about my recommendations for the popular Mykonos and Santorini. While I always try to help people plan their trips, I also like to recommend new destinations (which are just as beautiful) that people have never heard of before.
There are over 220 inhabited islands in Greece, so it can be quite difficult to read about all of them and do exhaustive research. I usually like to explore areas that combine natural beauty, rich history and adventure. And by adventure, I mean exciting outdoor activities.
For example, in Andros island, there is more than 100km of stunning trekking and hiking trails to discover. Kalymnos island is world-famous for its climbing spots and its underwater depths rich in sponges, and certain beaches in Zakynthos (Zante) island are home to Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta).
Crete, the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, is a treasure when it comes to trekking gorges: The Gorge of Samaria is the longest in Europe and takes more than 6-7 hours to cross. These are just some of the examples of the kinds of islands I like to visit in Greece!
How to Spend One Month Travelling Through Greece
What’s interesting about Greece is that what it lacks in size it makes up for with diverse landscapes and environments. Contrary to popular belief, Greece’s landscape is actually 85% mountainous. Greece also has the second largest coastline in Europe, after Norway. At the same time, you are never more than 100km away from the sea – an amazing fact!
Greece is home to 22 ski resorts (yes, you read that right, you can actually ski in Greece!) and in the months of April and May you can ski in the mountains in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon. The large diversity in altitudes creates microclimates – which means the landscape and weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes.
However, enough with the facts, let’s create a killer 1-month itinerary around Greece. My suggestion would be to travel from north to south: discovering the ancient cities in the Macedonia region, then hiking the legendary Mt Olympus (Greek’s highest peak at 2,918m) located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia.
Next, let’s head west to the Epirus region and discover the gorgeous Zagorochoria villages – a complex of 64 mountainous villages unique in architecture and culture. Follow that by a week of sailing around the Ionian islands where the beautiful Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Leftkada and Paxos islands await.
After a week of sailing it’s time to head back to the mainland and discover the incredible Peloponnese peninsula. Here we will find Kalamata, the Ancient Olympia and picturesque Nafplion town. I think my favourite trip in Greece was a road-trip I took around the Peloponnese and more specifically the authentic Lakonia region.
Lakonia is home to proud locals, distinct architecture and a laid-back lifestyle. Even as a Greek, I was surprised to see how welcoming and accommodating the locals are down there. Lakonia is also one of the most fertile areas in Greece and the unofficial home of oranges. A ride along the traditional villages will lead you to oceans of orange trees.
Stop and ask a local for an orange: you will leave with a whole basket. This is an area completely unspoilt by mass tourism. The locals will honour your visit and will do everything to accommodate you, revealing to you their authentic character with no masks. I highly recommend visiting this region of Greece.
After Peloponnese, it’s off to Athens for a few days. Explore all that the city has to offer and then head to the Temple of Poseidon for an excellent day trip. The ancients back in the age of Pericles knew what they were doing, building a temple in favour of the ‘God of the Seas’ on a hill overlooking the Aegean.
From Athens, we venture out to some of the more popular islands of the Cyclades: 25 beautiful islands to hop on! My suggestion would be to visit Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Folegandros, Ios, Mykonos, Santorini and from there to reach Crete – the largest and most populous Greek island. Crete alone would need at least a week!
Going from west to east, one can then take the ferry to reach the Dodecanese islands – such as Karpathos, Rhodes and the tiny but beautiful Kastellorizon. On the above plan, I inevitably had to leave out plenty of destinations. But as it’s usually believed: “It takes only a moment to fall in love with Greece, but a lifetime to discover it.”
Experiences that Showcase the Heart and Soul of Greece
Greece is full of wonderful experiences just waiting to be had. While the above itinerary gives you an overview of Greece’s best destinations, below are some experiences that will help you connect with authentic Greek culture. If you can, try and fit these experiences into your travels!
Attending a summer feast in the Cyclades islands is a must-do in Greece. Traditionally, all the islands in the Cyclades organise big feasts in summer called “Panigiri” in honour of saints. The feasts are usually held outside a chapel and are accompanied by live folk music (mostly violins), lots of dancing, local food and wine, and joyful vibes!
Experiencing a Greek Easter is another must-do experience, especially if you have Greek friends you could stay with. Easter is without doubt the mother of all religious events in the Greek Orthodox Church in terms of importance and richness in traditions. The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings hope and joy to everyone, whether you’re a believer or not.
The anticipation for Easter Day builds up during the Holy Week and is accompanied by traditions, such as 40 days of fasting eagerly waiting for that meat dish on Easter Day. Everyone rejoices on Easter Day over a rich dish of lamb, potatoes and all sorts of Greek food. Naturally, dancing and singing is in order, as is always with big family get-togethers!
Then there is Bouzoukia: the ultimate live Greek music experience. Bouzouki is the Greek string instrument that produces the characteristic sound usually heard on Greek folk songs. The Bouzoukia is the live music scene where you will listen to Greek music only and is known for having a fun atmosphere.
They usually resemble regular clubs and the music won’t stop before the sun is up. Just the sound of the bouzouki instrument is enough to make us Greeks want to stand up and dance! Two things are guaranteed if you decide to spend your Saturday night in a Bouzoukia club: you will probably be the only foreigner and you will have loads and loads of fun!
Meeting Locals and Trying Glorious Greek Food
Since the ancient times, Greece has been under the rule of different empires for centuries, including the Venetians and the Ottomans. This has resulted in our DNA shifting a little bit, picking up new traits and characteristics along the way. However, the soul and spirit cultivated by our ancestors is still preserved through our incredible legacy and history.
First of all, you don’t actually need to meet a Greek to know they are Greek. Being very loud and social is already a safe indicator that this person may very well be from Greece! We Greeks like to be loud and expressive in everything we do and stand for: our behaviour, our emotions (both positive and negative), and our language.
It’s all about hyperbole, including when it comes to being passionate. Never date a Greek woman if you want to have a monotonous and boring life. Although, at the same time we like to sit back and enjoy life; something we do just as passionately! With that passion for life also comes a passion for food.
In fact, food is one of the primary reasons why people travel to Greece. Almost all the foods and dishes in Greek cuisine revolve around the Mediterranean diet, which involves eating mostly plant-based foods and using tons of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is considered by many to be the healthiest diet in the world.
It should be no surprise that 2 out of the 5 blue zones in the world (areas with a high percentage of centenarians) are located in the Mediterranean: Sardinia in Italy and the Greek island of Ikaria. I like to use olive oil in almost everything that I cook. Even the simple combination of bread dipped in olive oil can become a super tasty starter.
Here are some of my favourite dishes: “yemista” – stuffed tomatoes and peppers with rice and herbs cooked with a side of potatoes, “psiti feta” – grilled feta cheese served with honey and sesame, “spanakopita” – the traditional spinach pie, containing spinach, feta cheese, onion and herbs. Yum!