I’ve got a total soft spot for Greece… from the stunning Greek Islands like; Santorini, Mykonos, Samos and Skiathos, to more hidden areas that are just as charming but that little bit lesser-known, Greece has it all!
Now, I’m no stranger to the fact that my love of Greek food has a lot to do with my bias for visiting Greece but there’s so much more to this incredible country than just its amazing food and gorgeous islands.
That’s why we finally decided to hop over to the mainland, away from the islands and somewhere that was totally different.
Over the course of 7 days on the mainland, we decided to explore the more westerly fringes, flying in from Athens and making our way towards the West coast, which was incredible.
With our little car, Yaya’s terrible map reading (he really is that bad) and a whole load of stops, we saw some stunning sites that you just have to see when you visit.
Take a look at our complete guide on what to see, do and eat whilst travelling around Mainland Greece.
Okay, so it’s you’ll either arrive by car, train, boat, plane or NASA-style rocket… the latter being the obvious choice!
Car hire: Depending on which way you choose, you might need to pick up a hire car from your place of entry. This can be done in most places like Airports and even train stations where they will wait for you with the car to arrive.
Flights: We flew in via London on Aegean Airlines straight to Athens, though you can always choose different airports and airlines in the region depending on what suits you best. If you’re flying from outside London or from a different country, you might find other carriers provide direct flights to Athens (or the west coast).
Trains: Once we arrived at Athens Airport, you can actually take the train west to some of the larger towns without any need to drive.
This is a great option if you don’t want to drive long distances but, if you do drive, rent a car and explore some of the places outside of towns themselves. You won’t be disappointed.
What to eat?
As I’ve already rambled on about, Greece has some of my favourite food! It doesn’t matter when or where I visit the country, I always seem to gorge on everything.
If you’re wanting to try some of Greece’s most yummy dishes, make sure to read our post on the most delicious meals to have in Greece.
Your 1-week plan for visiting Mainland Greece
8:45: Arrive in Athens either first thing in the morning (or the night before) and take the train to Kiato Train station which is about 1-1.5 hours west of Athens Airport. Train tickets are relatively cheap, especially if you’re visiting from places like the UK. Our tickets were about €11 or so.
10:20: Arrival at Kiato station and pick up your rental car. We got ours from Avance who picked us up from the station itself.
10:30: Drive over to the citadel of Nafpaktos, the drive itself will take around 1 hour. One of the biggest draws of Nafpaktos has to be its history, around 3 millennia of influence and culture that has been pretty turbulent, especially with its key position on the Corinthian Gulf.
12:30: Check-in to Apollon Library Suites which is situated within the town itself.
They have a gorgeous little courtyard for breakfast and each room is themed around different Greek folklore.
13:00: Explore the neighbourhoods of this citadel and walk the coastal route to see the gorgeous Venetian harbour, mighty Antirrio Castle castle and intimate beaches (Psani and Gribovo) all before an essential foody stop-off for lunch in one of the fresh fish restaurants that line the harbourfront.
Keep your eyes peeled for Botsaris’ Tower, a 15th-century and town clock dating from the early 20th Century.
For a tasty bite head over to Ev-oinos or Papoulis tavernas, or, for a good coffee head over to Gribovo café.
15:00: After filling your tummy and exploring Nafpaktos, head to Agios Nektarios Monastery (in Τrikorfo), which is about 10km away from Nafpaktos itself. Perched in the mountains, overlooking the Corinthian Gulf, this monastery houses the largest bell tower in all the world.
Make sure to know the door hard when you arrive, the monks will then come to greet you and show you around (free of charge).
20:00: Head down the promenade and grab a bite to eat at Sousouro.
Here you’ll get to try some authentic Greek cuisine and some delicious local wines.
22:00: Catch some well-earned zzzzzz’s
08:00: Today is going to be a bigger driving day to head north to the iconic Meteora near the Greek town of Kalambaka. The drive will take around 3.5 hours from Nafpaktos so make sure to have a big sleep and lots for breakfast.
11: 30: Arrive In Kalambaka and head straight across to Meteora for a day of exploring. Built on the top of some pretty epic rock pillars, this range of Eastern Orthodox Monastary’s are some of the most important in the world.
Spend the day enjoying sites such as The Monastery of Great Meteoron, St. Nicholas Anapausas and the stunning Holy Trinity Monastery They really are an incredible place. Entry to many of the monasteries is a few Euro per place. Just remember to wear modest clothing and always cover shoulders for women.
18:00: After visiting Meteora, grab a bite to eat at Taverna Gardenia that serves up some of the tastiest stuffed peppers and moussaka. They’re based pretty close to the church in Kastraki, Kalambaka.
20:00: Spend the night in Kalambaka in one of the independent guest houses you’ll find in the town itself.
Want to include some islands too? Make your trip a little longer by visiting (and reading our guides on):