We were in Greece in spring and summer, and here we decided to go in winter for New Year and Christmas 2021 / 2022! So immensely happy) Prices are lower, a lot of accommodation options, few people - at least sometimes there is a place to park!!!))
From the end of December 2021 (relevant in January 2022) to enter Greece Ukrainians need to have a green passport vaccination (printed with QR code), filled out form PLF 1-2 days before entry (shown with phone) and antigen test / psr test for Covid-19 (printed on the form with wet stamps, necessarily in English).
Kastoria - the capital of coats or a real resort in Greece
Winter, time for fur coats, so we visited the coat capital of Greece - Kastoria. The production of fur coats is a very sensitive topic and do not want to talk about it here. We can only say that we read how to make fur coats from astrakhan (unborn sheep babies are killed in the womb with the mother!) And refused to buy fur coats at all! But the city visited not in vain, it turns out a real resort in Greece with a beautiful lake Orestiada and chic promenade! Here you will not find any leather goods and sheepskin coats, but the shelves are full of fur coats. The main type is mink, but also sable, fox,strakhan, fox, and even lynx (Factories are mostly mixed, but there are those who specialize only in mink,strakhan or sable. All factories are concentrated basically in one area of the city, in other places will be small stores. The map below shows the road (just after the exit of the highway) with red arrows where the main factories are located, then blue arrows indicate factories on the way into the city, but the blue arrows to stop only in particularly large in appearance. Otherwise, the small ones may work for half a day or have a weekend. The large factories like Avanti, Bourtsos. Factory buildings have no windows and look like they are not workers) You have to find where there is an entrance and ring the bell. Sometimes even the gates are closed, but the bell next to the gate will let you in. Inside the store is often cold as the street, take this into account to try on fur coats in the winter).
Below the second map shows the walking route with blue arrows for driving or walking. The red triangle shows the center of the city, or rather the central promenade. Just above is the hotel, which offers a beautiful view of the city. By the way, we liked the room in this hotel very much!
Apart from the fur coat factories and the promenade, there is nothing else in town. But the promenade is a delight and you can come here for a couple of days to walk along this very promenade and around the local "peninsula". There are so many birds of different species around the lake that are absolutely tame and nibble food right off your hands! There are swans, ducks, geese, pelicans, cormorants, gulls, etc!!!
Lifehack #1: for the opening hours of stores and attractions (fortresses, excavations, etc.) All non-food stores, as well as attractions, in Greece in winter are mostly open until 15, maximum 17 hours! It is better to be oriented till 15, then you will get there for sure) Opening hours are written at the entrances almost in marker on a sheet, so you can't find exact information even on google! For 30 minutes before the end of work are no longer allowed to enter.
Metsvon - the Christmas town of Greece
A small mountain town, the main view is from the road / highway. On the map below in gray are the tunnels! The road to Metsvon is a sheer pleasure of magical views! The town itself is also like a fairy tale) We got here on Christmas Eve, it was certainly very interesting). But there is a nuance...the number of people and cars is staggering. One day before Christmas, we couldn't even book anything in this town at any price through the bookings! The streets of the city are very narrow and doll-like, so cute and cozy. There is a square in the center of town that also has beautiful views of the neighborhood and neighboring townships. It is a must visit for a day walk around these streets. We were just passing through, we took the Kastoria-Athens highway. The pictures below don't really convey the magical atmosphere of the city...
Lifehack № 2 - it is better to rent a house in Greece, not on the first line by the water, and with panoramic views in the mountains. So you can admire the views and parking is always free) rent a house in the neighboring villages near Athens. Although in Athens itself shelter is very cheap - from 20 euros per day for an apartment - studio or hotel room, ie it's not even a hostel.
Lifehack #3: The citrus on street trees on the continent is Pomeranian, they are not edible because of their acidity! They are only used for their dried zest. Pomeranian is present exactly on the continent, not to be confused with citrus on the Peloponnese Peninsula)))
Ferries in Greece
Greece is a continent and many islands, including large and unusual ones. Communication between the continent and the islands is established through ferries. The ferry cities of course are Athens and Patras. Through the port of Piraeus in Athens, there are connections to the islands of Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, and others. The port in Patras even connects Greece with Italy (where we went after a trip to Greece in January 2022).
A little bit of a lifehack about ferries:
- ferries mostly run at night, which is very convenient; you can get a full night's sleep on them.
- The places on the ferry can be - on the deck (without shelter from the wind, you can try to find a place in the cafe), in the sitting compartment (like an airplane cabin), in the cabin. Cabins come in four and two berths. Double cabins come with a porthole and without. Since the ferry goes at night, and in the sea is not visible, it is not necessary to overpay for a window at all. Cabins are equipped with full beds as in the train (respectively compartment or stateroom), private toilet and shower. The price varies from 20 to 70 euros per person (Athens - Crete).
- Car transportation on the ferry is expensive. If you rent a car and go to the island for less than 3 days, it makes sense to rent a car locally. Carriage of a car is around 60-80 euros (for example Athens - Crete).
- It is better to book/pay ferry tickets in advance and online. You do not even need to print them out. Or you can print out 1,5 hours before departure, in the port at the pier (gate) indicated in the ticket. Look for the booth with the name of your carrier. Boarding generally begins 3 hours before departure, the deadline for arrival is 1-1,5 hours before departure.
- In 2022, only those with a green vaccination certificate are allowed on the ferry.
- The ferry has a full bar and dining area.
- The website we used to book all trips is anek.gr. You can see other carriers on the aggregator website - ferries.gr. Among popular and fast carriers there is also bluestarferries.com.
What is worth visiting in Greece for a traveler?
- Let's make a selection of the main attractions from three trips by car in Greece. Dividing the country conventionally into sections north (Halkidiki, Corfu), center (Kalambaka, Litochoro), south (Athens, Pelolones, Crete). The connection to the islands is by ferry.
- The island of Corfu is a good summer vacation. There is the ancient city of Corfu with its fortress and the region of Paleokastritsa for scenic holidays. The fortress of Angelokastra is a good vantage point for most of the island. But there is nothing for travelers to do here.
- Parga is a town that you can stop by if you're in transit. A beautiful promenade and a good vantage point from the ancient fortress over almost the entire town.
- Halkidiki is a summer seasonal vacation spot.
- Kalambaka and the surrounding area are good places for travelers. In Litochoro it is possible to hike to Olympus. You can hike through Vikos Gorge, or you can admire the views from a vantage point. But most importantly, the chic monasteries of Meteora in the village of Kastraki are the world's top attractions. The views from Beloi Viewpoint (Vikos) can also be ranked among the top natural beauty spots in the world.
- Athens - worth a visit just passing through, and it is the Acropolis.
- Peloponnese Peninsula - this region is worth visiting for travelers. The main places of interest here are Nafplion and Monemvasia. For each place there is enough for 1 day. In winter (December - February) the citrus orchards are a delight))). There are oranges, mandarins and lemons on every tree!!! Driving through such gardens on the highway is a pleasure - different varieties and tastes)
- The Island of Crete - the only interesting region is Chania, with its Venetian promenade and the bay of Balos. Chic is the beach of Elafonisi. This island is more suitable for seasonal holidays on the beach, rather than travels. It is not worth sailing here especially.