When we think about Greece the most common images which spring into our minds will probably be those of pristine beaches, breathtaking sunsets on the famous Caldera, in Santorini, or even the magnificent blue waters that shape the landscape of Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos.
The truth is that there are many other beautiful places to see in Greece, including dozens of enchanting villages.
Take a look at these settlements; some appear isolated, others look magical and traditional, but all seem to belong to a fairytale.
Syrrako, West Greece
This traditional village is a hidden gem in Ioannina. To get there it is necessary to take a winding path above the gorge of the River Kalarritikos, a difficult trip that will lead to an amazing view of the village with remarkable architecture!
Once visitors pass the stone gate, a paved alley directs them right into the heart of the village, a settlement built by experienced craftsmen who made sure that the stone houses looked like works of art. Some years ago the village was inhabited only by a guard, but nowadays quite a few have returned. Syrrako and neighboring Kalarrites have been declared preserved settlements.
Parthenonas already appears in the writings of Herodotus, when he describes a settlement called Parthenopolis, located in the area of the modern Parthenonas; pottery from the Archaic period also shows evidence of a settlement.
The modern village goes back to the Ottoman period. It was in 1973 that the shipping magnate Yannis Carras started to construct the tourist resort of Porto Carras. People left the village to move to the coast and the village was gradually abandoned.
About 20 years later, foreigners moved into Parthenonas, renovated the stone houses, opening taverns and even a museum. Throughout the area, there are endless hiking trails that take the visitor through ancient olive groves.
Mikro Papigo, West Greece
The impressive mountain landscape serves as the backstage of a village built like an amphitheatre on the slopes of Mount Timfy. Mikro can be reached approximately three kilometers (1.8 miles) further up from Megalo Papigo.
This stunning village welcomes visitors with a central square and stone-paved alleys with houses also made of stone. It has mansions built in a perfect Zagorian architecture style, many with two storys, ornate chimneys and courtyards.
In the village, there is also a church, Agioi Taxiarches. The village lies 61 km northwest of Ioannina.
Arachova, Central Greece
Arachova is a mountainous village at the foot of Mount Parnassos. It is the most cosmopolitan winter destination in Greece, favorite among celebrities and ski fans due to its modern ski resort and its convenient proximity to Athens.
However, the main reasons for being so famous are its impressive landscape and its bustling nightlife. The narrow streets that run along the village, traditional houses and water sources have helped it retain its traditional character despite the high arrival of tourists during the cold season.
Also known as the Balcony of Pelion, Makrinitsa offers an amazing view as well as a unique character, with beautiful houses made in traditional style and well-preserved. In the village, it is also possible to encounter more than 60 traditional fountains scattered around the picturesque cobbled paths in town. Popular mostly during winter, the region is also home to great beaches, both characteristics that make the place a perfect all-year destination.
Karytaina, or Karitaina, is a village situated on a hill on the right bank of the River Alpheios. It dates back to the 13th century and became the seat of a barony under the Frankish Principality of Achaea. Its castle was built on a steep rocky outcrop and is one of the most important fortresses of the Peloponnese.
The area came under Ottoman control in 1460 and prospered as a commercial center. Karytaina and its inhabitants were among the first to rise up during the Greek War of Independence of 1821–29. Today Karytaina is a protected traditional settlement. The Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis described Karytaina as the “Toledo of Greece”.
Ambelakia, Central Greece
Ambelakia is a village in Larissa, in the region of Central Greece. It is also one of the most historic Greek villages in the municipality of Tempe and it has been declared a traditional settlement. The landscape is made of countless well-preserved houses and traditional stone fountains. In the late 18th century there were 6,000 inhabitants in the villages who worked and shipped thousands of local products to the rest of Europe.
With a history going back over 5,000 years, the village of Archanes is one of the most traditional settlements in Crete. It is located in the foothills of Mount Giouchtas and is relatively close to the capital of the island, Heraklion.
The village has been restored in total respect of the original features, retaining much of the Cretan mountain atmosphere. Villagers are proud of their successful efforts to keep their home alive, clean, traditional and beautiful, a job that has earned Archanes the awards of the second best-restored village in Europe and first in long-term development prospects. Its streets have been newly stone-paved; there are blooming flowers and fruit trees everywhere
Dimitsana is another beautiful Greek village in Arcadia. It counts a plethora of amazing monasteries and a unique architecture that give this settlement a traditional atmosphere. Built on a mountain slope, it offers great views of the plain of Megalopolis and Taygetus. The famous high stone towers spread over two facing hills, offering unique scenery.
Nymfaio, North Greece
Nymfaio is a village surrounded by a renowned beech forest, with old houses that have undergone renovation so as to be transformed into traditional guest houses and shops selling local products.
The settlement offers unique forest trails, ideal for mountain biking and horse riding.
Nymfaio, or Neveska as it used to be called, was settled in around 1385 by Vlach travelers, who fled into the mountains after fighting the Ottomans. The fighters of Neveska capitulated under the condition they remained armed and autonomous, ruled directly ruled by the mother of the Sultan, paying reduced taxes.