Greece, a country renowned for its ancient history and captivating coastline, also boasts a wealth of natural wonders in the form of national parks and natural reserves. These protected areas offer a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Greece’s diverse ecosystems, rich biodiversity, and breathtaking landscapes. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to explore some of Greece’s remarkable national parks and natural reserves, discovering the hidden treasures they hold.
Mount Olympus National Park:
Mount Olympus National Park, is a place steeped in mythology and awe-inspiring beauty. As Greece’s highest peak, Mount Olympus is fabled as the dwelling place of the gods. The park offers a range of trails catering to different hiking abilities, allowing visitors to explore its lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and alpine meadows. Revel in the majesty of the mountain, breathe in the crisp air, and witness panoramic views that will leave you spellbound.
Samaria Gorge National Park:
Next, is the stunning Samaria Gorge National Park, located on the island of Crete. Known as one of Europe’s longest gorges, this natural wonder stretches over 16 kilometres and enchants visitors with its rugged beauty. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a memorable journey through the gorge, passing towering cliffs, fragrant pine forests, and a rushing river. Keep an eye out for the native Cretan wild goat, known as the kri-kri, and soak in the serenity of this remarkable landscape.
Prespa Lakes National Park:
Moving north, you find Prespa Lakes National Park, situated on the border of Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia. This transboundary park encompasses two interconnected lakes, Great Prespa and Small Prespa, and their surrounding wetlands. The park is a sanctuary for numerous bird species, including the endangered Dalmatian pelican and the rare pygmy cormorant. Explore the park’s walking trails, go birdwatching, or embark on a boat trip to fully appreciate the abundant wildlife and pristine beauty of the Prespa Lakes.
Mount Athos Nature Reserve:
Situated on the easternmost peninsula of Halkidiki, the Mount Athos Nature Reserve is a place of spiritual significance and natural beauty. The reserve is home to Mount Athos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an autonomous monastic state inhabited by Orthodox monks. The rugged mountain landscape, dense forests, and pristine beaches create a unique sanctuary for both nature and spirituality. While access to the monastic community is restricted, visitors can still appreciate the beauty of the reserve from the sea or by hiking along designated trails.
Alonissos National Marine Park:
Finally, get to explore the Alonissos National Marine Park, the first marine park established in Greece. Located in the Aegean Sea, this park aims to safeguard the endangered Mediterranean monk seal and its marine habitat. Snorkel or dive in the park’s crystalline waters to encounter an array of marine life, including colourful fish, dolphins, and sea turtles. The park also encompasses several islands, such as Alonissos and Peristera, providing opportunities for island exploration and a chance to appreciate the region’s pristine beauty both above and below the water’s surface.
You can reach the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades from Halkidiki via a thrilling speedboat ride. The speedboat journey takes approximately two to three hours, providing ample opportunities to soak in the mesmerizing views of the Aegean Sea.
Greece’s national parks and natural reserves are true treasures, offering an immersive experience in the country’s diverse ecosystems and awe-inspiring landscapes.