Mythology, art, and exceptional cuisine are all staples of a Grecian holiday; but the breathtaking scenery of Greece is not to be overlooked. Home to some of the most rugged wilderness and stunning islands in the Meditteranean, Greece is the place to be this summer. So get out of the city and explore these awe-inspiring sites on your summer holiday.
Rising from the plains of Thessaly, the gigantic rock formations – known as Meteora – are revered as not just a beautiful spectacle, but also a sacred site. More than 600 meters in the air, you will find Greek Orthodox monasteries at the top of these incredible rock pillars. Hike up to the top to meet the monks and nuns who still work at these ancient monasteries, and enjoy a panoramic view of the valley.
Samaria National Park
Get up close with the Grecian nature in Samaria National Park’s 300 species of animals and 900 species of plants. Follow the creek as you explore the gorge and look for the ancient ruins of the city of Terra. At the end of the park, you will find Agia Roumeli, a sleepy beach town that makes a perfect basecamp for hiking the trails and observing the untamed nature.
Melissani Lake Cave
In Kefalonia, just outside of Sami, you will find the Melissani Cave – one of the most popular tourist sites in Greece. The turquoise blue waters in the first cavern are illuminated by the natural sky-light giving it an ethereal glow, while the adjoining room is shaded from the sun and home to impressive stalactites. Boat tours of the cave run all day long, making it convenient to choose between sunrise, sunset, and mid-day views of the magical cave.
For a scenic swim, leave the beach behind and look for the Giola Lagoon, a hidden gem on the island of Thassos. The natural pool is sheltered from the ocean so you don’t have to worry about currents, tides, or slippery seaweed. The circular lagoon is a trendy spot for Instagrammers, so if you want to get the perfect pic it’s best to go early in the day!
The Island of Zakynthos is one of Greece’s biggest tourist attractions, for good reason! The Mediterranean-blue waters and powdery white sand has made this island famous for its beaches, especially the Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach with its impressive abandoned sailing ship. But don’t let the shipwreck scare you away from taking a boat tour around the island – the Blue Caves are definitely worth seeing. In the nighttime, make your way to the coastal towns of Tsilivi and Laganas to dance until you drop.
The crystal clear waters of the Voidomatis river in Zagorochoria are some of the cleanest and most beautiful in all of Europe. The river passes through the lush forests of the Vikos-Aoos Natural Reserve and offers views of traditional villages and Byzantine monasteries. The river is a great place for adventure seekers, as rafting, canyoning, canoeing, and river trekking are all popular daytime activities in the area.
The underwater Santorini Volcano may not look like much from the surface but in fact, this natural wonder shaped the Santorini island and gave its beaches their mysterious black color. Wander along the two islands made by the black lava rocks, and feel the steam coming up from below. Then, make your way over to the island of Palaia Kammeni to experience the volcanic heat rising up in the natural hot springs.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com