Ask any Greek when the best time to visit their country is, and 9 out of 10 times the answer is September (the other being, Easter!). The weather is perfect, the sea is clear and has retained the warmth of August, accommodation rates go down and finally, the crowds have mostly vanished. We were fortunate to travel in this unusual year, but have had to become a little more creative in order to enjoy ourselves away from the usual crowds. So these are our recommendations for an idyllic (socially distanced) Greek getaway in September.
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Many quaint villages dot the Ipiros Mountains and Papingo is just one of jewels of this fascinating corner of Greece. Nestled among the evergreens and ancient maple trees, Papingo is a beautifully kept village with traditional stone architecture and stunning views of the magnificent Vikos Gorge - part of the Aoös National Park and one of the world's deepest gorges. Nature here is the top attraction and there's something to do for everyone, from the most ardent of outdoorsmen to kids of all ages. Say adios to your car for a few days and just walk: to the natural rock pools nearby, up to Mikro Papingo for lunch, and if you have the stamina and sure-footedness, leave the kids behind and try to go all the way up to Drakolimni (Dragon Lake). Weather can get a bit chilly, so be sure to pack accordingly.
Eat at: Pantheon in Papingo with the dramatic view of Vikos Gorge right in front of you. The vegetables are straight from their garden and the fresh trout from the nearby Apos River is to die for.
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Popular year round, this charming mountain village that's not as secluded and hard to reach as the Zagorachoria villages has plenty to offer. Surrounded by forested mountains, and with three rivers and an artificial lake, you cannot go wrong spending a few late summer days here. If you are in search of an active vacation, the area is ideal for hiking on its marked trails, rock climbing, mountain biking, as well as kayaking and rafting. If you're more of the passive traveler, Metsovo is great for just strolling along the cobbled streets, eating at some great restaurants and enjoying a drink under the canopy of trees.
Try the: Metsovone smoked cheese. Hard to miss as it is sold everywhere! Metsovone sounds like Provolone...coincidence?
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Sure, this island has been "discovered" in recent years but it still holds that laid back vibe that legend has it, was once felt in Mykonos long before most of us were born. Case in point, people jokingly refer to Koufonisia as the Mykonos of the Cyclades. Come September, this island will allow you to truly shut down and take a break from absolutely everything you wish to avoid. And guess what? No cars! Yes, it is so small that you can walk from one end to the other in less than an hour. With fantastic beaches, some cool hippy bars and excellent food, this little Greek gem is well worth visiting.
Eat at: Aneplora, in Praianou Bay is a family run taverna with excellent service. If you are looking for a traditional meal with no frills look no further.
Drink at: Milos bar and enjoy the amazing sunset. Don't forget to check-out the windmill turned boutique that houses Greek Brands.
Still undiscovered by the masses, Serifo can be spotted as people are ferrying their way to the usual Cycladic hotspots. Greatly underdeveloped, the wild and barren hills are a stunning juxtaposition to the beautiful blues of the Aegean Sea. Walk through the white washed Chora of Serifo, one of the most beautiful you will find in the Cyclades. Serifo has some beautiful organized and unorganized beaches. Golden sand and big boulders jutting out of the sea is what you will find at Kalo Ambeli beach, just one of the many gorgeous beaches on the island.
Swim at: Ambeli Beach with its golden sand and unspoiled landscape but do not forget your umbrella as the beach is unorganized. The plus is you will probably have it to yourself in September.
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Located in the Ionian and famous for being home to the legendary Odysseus (the mythological hero from Homer's Odyssey) the island is unbridled in nature. Vathy, Kioni, and Frikes are the most picturesque villages and they have still managed to keep their traditional identity despite the steady development of the island's tourism industry. To get there takes a bit of an effort, but the rewards will surely make it up to any traveler that embarks on a journey to reach the island.
Swim at: Gidaki beach (meaning little goat) because the hike down to the beach is a little treacherous. Another option is to take a boat from the port of Vathy. The beach is isolated and not organized so along with your Anaskela towel, do not forget to pack an umbrella and enjoy the priceless solitude of a Greek September holiday.
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This is a small group of islets in the northern Dodecanese, near Patmos and Leros. The greater Lipsi-Arkoi archipelago consists of some 37 islands, and of these, only three are larger than one square kilometer. This means that even if inhabited (like Lipsi or Arkoi), there aren't many people to disturb you while taking your long-deserved break far, far away from the daily grind. Beaches a plenty, great food and like just about anywhere in Greece, the sea is marvelous.
Swim at: Hohlakoura beach, with calm, crystal waters (but avoid it if there are strong winds coming from the sea). Like most beaches here, Hohlakoura lacks facilities like sunbeds and umbrellas. Highly recommend you rent a boat so that you can explore the innumerable little secluded coves/islets this paradise has to offer.
Image credit @thecrazytourist.com
Part of the Sporades islands, Alonissos is the furthest from the mainland but well worth the boat ride as most passengers get off at popular Skiathos and Skopelos. Those who stay on the ferry until the very end will have Alonissos to themselves come September. The island is rugged, wild, and has gorgeous beaches. The Chora is propped on the top of a cliff and is a great place to go for a drink and dinner after a day in the sun. Be sure to walk all the way up to the Kastro.
Eat at: Eleonas restaurant on Leftos Gialos. Watch the kids (if you brought them along) play in the olive grove while you enjoy a crisp Greek wine accompanied by the fresh fish carpaccio - or go a little more traditional with the barbounaki, fried to perfection.
We hope to offer some inspiration for anyone looking for some Greek getaways this September, so all that’s left is to grab your towel and go!
This blog comes to you from the travel-loving team at Anaskela.
If you’re looking for something a little more active than a mid-morning nap under the palapa, maybe some of these activities will inspire you to go off the beaten path.
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