‘Not just islands’: Greece asks tourists to explore beyond the islands to avoid overtourism

Can you even claim to have been to Greece if you haven’t posted a perfectly posed photo of yourself in front of the white-and-blue houses of Santorini and the deep blue sea?

While the Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea has become a super-popular tourist destination in recent years and a must-see for influencers, the country’s tourism officials say there is so much more to discover in Greece beyond Santorini – Plus, you can avoid the crowds while also being a more sustainable tourist.

Greece has long been committed to promoting sustainable tourism on its territory and address the environmental impact of contemporary travel. But for the country, sustainability means more than just preserving its world-famous landscapes.

“We are not just talking about preserving natural resources or protecting the environment. For us, sustainability is also something else,” says Dimitris Fragakis, Secretary General of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).

“It’s about how local communities get involved in tourism, because we want people to be close to tourism, not against tourism.

“There are some bad cases here in Europe of countries experiencing over-tourism, where locals are evicted from their homes or neighborhoods. We don’t want that.”

Greece‘s strategy to avoid overtourism is to expand the destinations people would like to visit across the country and to encourage tourists to explore Greece not only in summer but also in winter.

“Greece is not just sun and sand, and it’s not just the islands. The beaches are also beautiful in Northern Greece and Western Greece. No one knows these places. So we want to promote them. We want to show people that you can go to many places to have a quality holiday.”

Where should I go to avoid influencers?

There is plenty to find in Greece, wherever you are in the country.

The small village of Gialova, in the southwest of the Peloponnese peninsula, is a perfect place to live the Greek dream of sun, beach, nature and good food while staying away from the crowds. The village is within walking distance of the Gialova lagoon and nature reserve and it is close to the ancient archaeological site of Pylos, a palace from Mycenaean times. Close by there is also the beach of Voïdokoilia, one of the most beautiful in the country.

You can get there from the city of Kalamata, which is an hour’s drive from the island and less than three hours’ drive from Athens.

While Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu many on the radar of tourists, there are also Greek islands that remain off the beaten track.

The tiny island of Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea, is largely overlooked by tourists, meaning you’ll only have to share its peaceful, sandy beaches with the locals (and we’re talking just 8,500 people, who follow the traditional Greek way of living). to live). You can get there by taking a ferry from the port of Piraeus, in Athens.

The Leros Islands in the Dodecanese in eastern Greece are a paradise for people who want to relax on the beach or get sweaty while climbing their rocky mountains. Each island is uniquely different from the next, from the rolling green hills of Leros to the neoclassical houses of Lakki, but all have beautiful, unspoiled beaches and mouth-watering seafood. You can reach Leros by ferry from Athens.

What is the most environmentally friendly place to visit in Greece?

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your vacation, you should explore Chalki and Tilos, Greece‘s most environmentally friendly islands.

The tiny island of Tilos, with its 500 inhabitants, became Greece’s and the entire Mediterranean’s first 100 percent “green island” in 2019, when the island, powered only by renewable energy, declared itself completely self-sufficient.

Only two hours away by ferry RhodesTilos is all about slow tourism, sun, beach and sustainability.

Another sustainable choice is Halki. inaugurated by GreeceHalki, Prime Minister of Greece on November 5, is the first of several small islands in the Aegean Sea that the Greek government intends to make fully independent from the national grid and run entirely on renewable energy sources under the GR -eco national project.

The island has a power station – which powers solar phone chargers around the country – and all vehicles on the island are electric.

Chalki, a popular day trip destination from Rhodes, is well worth a longer stay to learn more about living more sustainably.

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