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The Greek Islands are a well known holiday destination, but what about the mainland itself? What is there to explore beyond the hotspots of the Acropolis in Athens and miles of beautiful coastline? Take a look at our suggestions of less touristy places to go and things to do to help you explore more of this stunning country.
Athens is a must do of any trip to mainland Greece and you get get some great deals on car hire from Athens airport. The historical capital of Europe has much to offer in terms of unique archaeological sites. To discover hidden treasures and local places of interest not on the tourist map, why not employ the services of a local guide? Several companies offer themed walks tailored to your particular interests with a volunteer local guide.
Whilst in Athens, in Plaka, the 11th century Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos Rangavas is well worth a visit. It was the first bell to toll to sound the liberation of the city in 1944. In Plaka you can also dine in any of the picturesque restaurants on either side of a flight of steps or visit Brettos, the oldest distillery in Athens. Its wall of colourful liquor bottles is apparently one of the most photographed locations in Athens!
Once you leave Athens with your hire car, there are a whole host of other exciting and more unusual places to visit on the Greek mainland. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider.
Spot chameleons in the Gialova Lagoon. This is also a wonderful wetlands area where you can admire many species of migrating birds.
Try an Olive oil tasting tour in Kalamata and visit the olive oil museum in nearby Sparti. Kalamata also has a fantastic food market.
Explore the beautiful Acheron River which according to legend was one of the 5 rivers of Hades
Visit the railway graveyard in Thessaloniki or the deserted Bogomils cemetary for an eerie experience.
The caves of Diros are a spectacular complex of caves and underground waterways. The largest cave is called Vlychada and can be explored by boat. The caves are still being explored and new discoveries are being made.
Did you know Greece had castles? The three castle towns of Pylos, Koroni and Methoni are close together. There is also the fairytale castle at Agrilos.
Dimosari Gorge located in the south of Evia is a great hiking destination set in beautiful scenery. The gorge is around 10km long with the village of Lenoseol in the middle of it.
Greece has many ancient sites but, if you want to visit one less busy than those in the capital, try the Great Theatre of Epidaurus - one of the best-preserved classical Greek theatres.
For the adventurous travellers you can bungee jump in the Corinth Channel - 70 metres high and between two walls 21 metres apart!