Civilisation as we know it began in Greece, land of feta cheese, glorious sunshine, and an unmatched blue and white #aesthetic. It’s on the bucket list of any traveller suffering from extreme wanderlust and the dire need for a natural tan. The beautiful country is home to Greek gods like Zeus and Athena, and it’s the birthplace of the modern Olympics. But if you think it has nothing new to offer, you’re wrong!
Lost at E Minor has done the hard work for you and found the most unique and exhilarating ‘first-time’ experiences that will make your friends green with envy. Whether you’re keen to snap the best pics, work up a sweat, or try exotic Greek delicacies, you’ll definitely make 2017 a year to remember.
Up your Instagram game
The high-res camera of the iPhone 7 has just been released, making masterful photography a reality for everyone with a smartphone (hint, that’s you!), so it’s easier than ever to get that perfect Insta shot. Sure, the blue and white villages of Greece have been Instagrammed thousands (if not millions) of times already. You’re gonna want the shots which will make your profile pop.
Santorini boasts the unique Red Beach, which is exactly what it sounds like. A dramatic red cliff stands next to a small beach, the sand of which is darker than usual because it’s volcanic sediment. The blue water that laps at the shore of Red Beach makes it appear a little bit purple! How many purple beaches have you been to recently?
Get up close to an active volcano – but not too close!
It’s easy to forget that the Greek islands, which include Santorini and Crete, are a volcanic island group. And you’ll be very surprised to know that there are still active volcanoes near Greece. Santorini is home to Nea Kameni, an active volcano which can be climbed without fear, much like Mount Vesuvius in Italy.
The walk up to the volcano’s edge is really rocky, so you’ll have to be ready for some quality exercise. Once up there, however, you’ll realise just how unique it is to be standing beside a volcano, looking down at the vast ocean of Santorini.
We don’t know about you, but a hike to a volcano is a definite once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Hike your way to the world’s best sunset
Once you’ve walked all the way up to the edge of a volcano, you’ll be more than ready for a little hike. Ok, we lied. It’ll last 3 or 4 hours – but it’s totally worth it!
The hike from Fira to Oia is spectacular at every turn. Each sight is new and breath-taking, and each step is another step closer to crossing a Greek cliff walk off your bucket list! Make sure you hang around at the end of the long walk to watch the sun setting across the horizon. Groups of visitors are known to flock to various sunset hotspots along the coast of Oia, where they can enjoy the stunning view together.
Although it’s guaranteed to be a sweaty walk (Summer has its pros and cons), it’ll probably inspire you to spend the rest of your time in Greece walking on gorgeous old coastal paths.
Become an Athenian historian
When you’re in Athens, there’s NO way you can miss an Acropolis tour. And the best way to see such a historical sight? Through the eyes of a local. They’ve got the best stories (and maybe some good jokes too), and will show you the side of Greece tourists don’t get to see often.
Taking a stroll through the Old Town, particularly the suburb of Plaka and the Monastiraki flea market, is a great way to soak up the summer rays. Plaka is the oldest section of Athens, but it’s classic look and village feel still manages to seduce modern travellers. It’s not far from Monstiraki, the flea market of your dreams, which will ensure you don’t forget to pick up souvenirs for those back home.
Your local guide will definitely take you to Syntagma Square, which translates as Constitution Square. It’s central to Athens, and has played host to the rise and fall of countless ideologies. Unfortunately, there are flocks of pigeons who have called the historical site home since the Square was first erected. So make sure you bring some snacks along!
A trip to the southernmost point of Greece will take you to Cape Sounion. The Cape – particularly the Temple of Poseidon – has been an integral part of the history of ancient gods and goddesses, as well as kings and queens. It’s even believed that the temple’s beauty drove a certain British poet *cough* Lord byron *cough* to carve his name on the pillars.
Taste the local way of life
After exhausting yourself by asking extensive questions about the Temple of Athena Nike and the Parthenon, a good guide will help you sample unique Greek food. Unless you’ve got a Greek family – lucky you! – these foods will delight and intrigue you. Some might even scare you, but there’s a first time for everything, right?
The ultimate Greek street food, Gyro, is a combination of all the best bits. The meat in a gyro is roasted on a vertical spit, and is usually a mixture of lamb and beef. Served on a rolled-up pita, with garlic, tzatziki, onions – and here’s the weird bit – hot chips. It’s an all-in-one chips and wrap meal! It’s perfect traveller’s food, and something you’ll want to introduce when you get back home.
FUN FACT: September 1 is National Gyro Day!
There are variations of these in many Middle Eastern countries, but the Greek version features rice, meat, veggies and herbs stuffed into briny grape leaves. That might sound a little odd, but they’re a staple at Greek tables. So dig into your first dolmathakia – or dolma!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-timer or a seasoned travel pro with 10% off Topdeck’s trips see Europe from only $89* per day, now is the time to lock in your ultimate summer holiday. Make 2017 a year to remember.
*$89 per day price advertised is on the Blue Lagoons trip and is subject to availability, valid on select departures and can change without notice