Spring is finally here! The dull grayish shades of winter recede as the new season’s kaleidoscope of bright colours brings out the beauty of Greek nature. The land beckons us to experience memorable trips to green mountains and ravines, to valleys and fields in full bloom, to torrential rivers and serene lakes.

Across the country, the options are numerous. We have narrowed down your search for you and we propose five earthly paradise locations where you can enjoy nature at its best.Spring is finally here! The dull grayish shades of winter recede as the new season’s kaleidoscope of bright colours brings out the beauty of Greek nature. The land beckons us to experience memorable trips to green mountains and ravines, to valleys and fields in full bloom, to torrential rivers and serene lakes. Across the country, the options are numerous. We have narrowed down your search for you and we propose five earthly paradise locations where you can enjoy nature at its best.

Lake Doxa

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This is the pride and joy of Corinthia’s mountainous area. It’s a picture-perfect lake and –although an artificial one- it is in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings. It is nestled amid sky-high fir-covered mountain peaks called Zireia and Chelmos. Lake Doxa is a top destination and very popular, even for a day trip only. There is a thin strip of land entering the lake waters, and on it you will see Agios Fanourios church. At a short distance on the wooded mountainside you will see the historic monastery of Agios Georgios, well-known for its fortress-like architectural style and for being the location of the ‘Secret School’ [a type of Greek schooling practiced stealthily –for obvious reasons- during the Ottoman occupation of Greece]. Feneos plateau lies at an 850m. elevation and there are nine stone built villages surrounding the lake and adding impressive touches to the area’s great beauty.The quiet street that circles the lake is recommended for romantic walks and bicycle rides while enjoying the mountain view.

Nestos Straits

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Nestos River is the geographical border between Kavala and Xanthi Regions. It flows through landscapes of breathtaking beauty, dense forests, water habitats of great diversity and impressive geological formations.The river is a vein of life that supports a sensitive ecosystem; because of this, Nestos River is one of the top five major natural habitats in Europe. Undoubtedly, the best part of the river is the Straits, also called Thracian Tempi. It is a heritage site, a nature reserve covering a 23,800,000m2 area.Your trip to the Nestos Straits begins at the area between Toxotes and Stavroupoli, 12km off Xanthi town. This location offers a splendid view of the river’s sinuous course. The Greek nature invites you to explore it – your options are numerous. There are many alternative tourism programmes for you to choose from; these involve hiking, canoeing - kayaking on the river, horseback riding, mountain biking, bird watching, and off-roading using 4X4 vehicles.

Samothraki

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Hundreds of streams and rivers rise in Mt. Saos and flow down the island’s compact, bow-shaped mountain massif. The waters branch off and follow different courses down the rocks, feeding gullies and ravines (such as Fonias, Gria Vathra, Tsivdogiannis, Kremastos, Gyali). They form beautiful successive waterfalls (Kleidosi, Kakia Plaka, Karya) that flow amidst the luxuriant green landscape, as well as vathres i.e. natural ponds of crystal-clear emerald waters, nestled in the rocks. The best known ones are Fonias and Gria Vathra.Start your adventure at Therma. It’s a paradise of lush vegetation and hot sulphur springs - known since the Byzantine times - that appear through tall chestnut trees and dense myrtle trees. This is where your uphill exploration of Mt Saos begins. You will meet many vathres on your way up. Bear in mind, though, that hiking on rough terrain and climbing on certain locations is a must if you are to discover the little pools that are …out of sight! Things get harder as you hike towards higher elevations looking for more vathres. So, if you hunger for adventure, make sure you carry a backpack and you wear a suitable pair of shoes. You’re good to go!

Vikos Gorge

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According to the Guinness Book of Records, this canyon is the deepest in the whole world, and one of the best known ones in Greece. It lies in the heart of the Vikos – Aoos National Park. The wild beauty of this breathtaking gorge that stretches to the northwest of Ioannina town across the limits with Konitsa town will strike you as remarkable. The steep mountainsides are coloured by rare flowers and herbs the medicinal properties of which are known to Vikogiatrous [doctors of the Vikos area], a name given to the local self-taught medical practitioners of neighbouring villages. The Vikos gorge is a very popular hiking route. An experienced team will need 4-5 hours to tour the area. The most interesting locations offering the finest view of the ravine are in Vradeto village (Beloi and Oxia locations).Voidomatis River flows in the gorge and it is among the top European rivers where water quality is concerned. This is the ideal place for rafting beginners. Along the river you will come across some of the most beautiful single-span bridges in Epirus – the best-known one being Kleidonia bridge.

Valia Calda

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Pindos National Park is also known as Valia Calda (in the local dialect this means “warm valley” and it is located between Grevena and Ioannina regions. The breathtaking pristine landscape is surrounded by high peaks and wooded slopes, adorned with streams and lakes which are also known as the Flega area dragon lakes (drakolimnes). The only way you are allowed to explore this precious ecosystem is to go hiking in the area. The most important routes are five, each one with a different level of difficulty.Stavros location on Valia Calda – Zioga peak – beginning of ArkoudoremaStavros on Valia Calda – Arkoudorema – Vovousa (both ways)Valia Calda Valley – beginning of ArkoudoremaArkoudorema – Flega Lakes – Flega PeakAoos Lake – Mountain shelter – Flega Peak – Flega Lakes – ArkoudoremaThe best location for you to enter the national park is Spilaio village, 26km southwest of Grevena town.

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