Location: Greece Duration: 9 nights Price: From £1,250 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, car hire, ferry transportation and taxes

There’s a lot more to Greece than beaches. Go beyond classic Greece and into its rugged interior, immersing yourself in its little-visited northern regions which have historically been dwarfed by Greece’s more obvious gems – though you’ll soon be scratching your head wondering why. This self-drive trip will get you off the beaten path and into the untamed Zagori region, characterised by fluffy green mountains carved by turquoise rivers where endless adventure awaits. You’ll also come face to face with the otherworldly Meteora, home to precariously-placed monasteries, and end your adventure in the rich landscapes of Corfu Island.

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Perfect for

Unearthing the unspoilt corners of lesser-known Greece, taking in a generous dose of culture and nature.

In the know

Hopping on to Paxi from Corfu, staying at the authentic and homely B&B, Zakspitaki. Or, if you’re travelling with the family in tow, stay at Kontolaki Bay in Corfu, complete with kids club and family units.

Recommended for...
Landscapes & Scenery
Off the Beaten Track
Cultural Immersion
History & Heritage

METEORA – 2 nights

Fly to Thessaloniki and drive inland through ever more mountainous scenery, spying Mount Olympus in the distance, and stop en route at Vergina where the Royal Tombs Museum encases the burial site of Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great). Take lunch at a local tavern before continuing to Meteora – you’ll know you’ve arrived once the cloud-scraping rock pinnacles come into view. Perched impossibly on the summit of these pinnacles are several ancient monasteries, which beg to be explored. They were constructed in the 14th century at the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, as a haven from the atrocities of the invading Ottomans. Take the rock-hewn steps up towards these monasteries ‘in the heavens above’, and explore the area by rock climbing or visiting local villages nearby like Elati or Pertouli. In Meteora, stay at Dellas Boutique Hotel, hidden away in the shadow of the rocks in Kalambaka.

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ZAGORI – 4 nights

Hit the road and make for Ioannina, a lesser-known Greek city where a skyline of Byzantine arches and minarets peers over the peaceful Lake Pamvotis. Enjoy lunch and a dose of history before heading on to the untamed Zagori region north of here. A patchwork of forested mountains, jagged peaks, clear rivers and traditional villages make up this pristine corner of northern Greece. Take to the Viodomatis River for rafting, hike the Vikos gorge and cross stone bridges from the 17th century, built by Ottoman traders – Kokkoros and Plakidas are both unmissable. On your hiking trail you might even find yourself stumbling upon a 15th century frescoed monastery, hewn into the gorge. If that’s not enough adventure, how about hang gliding, jeep safaris, canyoning or mountain biking? After all the action, indulge in a relaxing spa session at your hotel, Aristi Mountain Resort, taking a dip in the indoor pool with mountain views or even going for a yoga class on the banks of a trickling river.

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PALEA PERITHIA – 3 nights

Leave the mainland behind and catch the ferry to Corfu (Kerkira), the Ionian island heaving with heritage and unexplored corners. One of its best kept secrets is Paleá Perithia, a sleepy spot on the northern slopes of Mount Pandokrátor and the oldest permanently inhabited village on Corfu. Built in the 14th century but with roots dating as far back as 500BC, the somnolent village is made up of mostly abandoned buildings that are slowly being restored, but the locals aren’t in any rush – they even refer to their home as ‘the place where time doesn’t fly’. Adopt their laidback approach and take your time to wander the cobbled streets, peeking into churches and lingering over lunch at one of the family-run tavernas. Stay at the authentic Merchant’s House, the characterful B&B that was painstakingly restored to blend with its centuries-old surroundings, by friendly owners Saskia and Mark, who will be delighted to share their stories and knowledge with you. Take breakfast on the shaded terrace and then, when the lure of Corfu’s beaches is all too irresistible, make for Agios Spyridon – Gerald Durrell’s favourite, which he referred to as ‘the beach of white lilies’ – or the pebbled and more exclusive Kerasia. In the evening, gaze up at a canopy of stars and listen to the sounds of resident owls and crickets.

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