Escape the crowds in Greece's most spectacular rural spots – where vibrant culture, unspoiled beaches and far-flung islands await...
1. Sea kayaking in the Sporades islands
With its calm and crystal-clear waters, sea kayaking in the Sporades archipelago
is like paddling in a swimming pool – only much more spectacular! Conditions are perfect for beginners, and once you've mastered the key techniques you'll be able to soak up your surroundings and ease into the gentle pace of life on the islands.
There are coves, sea caves and far-flung beaches to discover, with plenty of opportunity to stop for snorkelling and picnics on uninhabited islands.
2. Rock climbing in Kalymnos
The island of Kalymnos is a rock climber's heaven : it has over 2,000 established climbing routes, although many rock formations remain unexplored.
The vast limestone cliffs range from easy to challenging – and if the action doesn't make you catch your breath, the view certainly will. Try a coastal climb for bird's eye vistas of the Mediterranean and the other Greek islands.
3. Windsurfing in Rhodes, Lefkada & Paros
The breeze on Greece's beaches isn't just handy for cooling down while you're sunbathing: it's perfect for windsurfing and kite surfing, two of the country's fastest-growing sports.
Adrenaline junkies flock to Rhodes
for the best conditions – there are lots of local clubs to choose from, with lessons and guided trips too.
4. Mountaineering on Olympus
Have your own Olympian moment on the wild slopes of Mount Olympus, a daunting yet thrilling peak within easy reach of Thessaloniki
. The mountain is rich in natural beauty (it has over 30 species of mammals and 100 species of birds), and the mountaineering trails will test you. Mount Olympus (Shutterstock)
See the official website
for routes and itineraries – from meanders along relatively gentle slopes, to challenging treks for ambitious peak-baggers.
5. Skiing in Northern Greece
Northern Greece has ski slopes to rival those of its better-known European neighbours – with great-quality snow fall, good schools, and a hearty apres ski scene. Base yourself in the quaint mountain village of Seli, to ply the slopes of Vermion Mountain with the locals – or try the challenging slopes of Tria Pente Pigadia Ski Centre, also in northern Greece.
On Falakros Mountain you'll find the Falakro Ski Centre: it boasts beautiful chalets and 20 varied ski slopes. Other key ski resorts are Vasilitsa and Kaimaktsalan. For more information (and other key ski sites), see the official website
6. White water rafting in the Peloponnese and Epirus mountains
With its dramatic mountainous terrain and deep fast-flowing rivers, Greece was made for white water rafting.
Test your nerve in the Peloponnese or Epirus mountains, where rapids spill through lush pine forests, alongside remote villages, and under waterfalls – the rivers of Lousios in Arcadia and Voidomatis in the Zagori area of Epirus
boast particularly picturesque (and thrilling!) white water routes.
7. Hiking in the Cyclades (Naxos & Kea islands)
Lose yourself in the wild herb-scented trails of Naxos and Kea islands – a glorious mini adventure in the autumn, winter or spring months. Crunch your way along rocky paths from the coast towards inland mountains and villages, and take your pick from easy or challenging routes.
The trails on Kea
meander past rock formations, secluded beaches and ancient chapels, while Naxos
has more vertiginous views. Why not try hiking to the summit of Zas, the Cyclades’ highest mountain?
8. Bird watching in Northern Greece
Over 300 different bird species can be found in Lake Kerkini
: it's one of the most important wetlands in Europe, and a haven for endangered types too.
Bird watching is best during the spring and autumn migration periods, but you're pretty much guaranteed memorable wild encounters all year round. Not a keen twitcher? Try canoeing on the lake, or heading into the surrounding hills on a mountain bike or walking trail.
9. Touring by train in Pelion
Scale the mountain of Pelion
without breaking a sweat – just book a seat on the Mountzouris
, the traditional steam train which does all the hard work for you. Pelion train (Shutterstock)
It's an easy way to get very remote very quickly, and offers a glimpse of some of Greece's more far-flung mountain villages and spectacular valleys. The train has been operating since 1895, and was originally designed by Italian engineer Evaristo de Chirico.
10. Caving in Kefalonia
Beneath the surface of Greece lies a whole new world to explore. There are over 8,500 caves
throughout Greece – many of which have hidden key anthropological artefacts.
Explore the palatial caverns of Mellisani in Kefalonia, an underwater lake with a ceiling of sharp stalactites. You'll venture by boat into the depths of the island, before emerging into a clear-water cave: a thrilling off-grid adventure. For more off-grid adventures in Greece, see visitgreece.gr
This article was produced in partnership with the Greece National Tourist Office. For more information on Greece, see visitgreece.gr Unless otherwise credited, all images courtesy Greece National Tourist Office
Main image: Kayaking in Greece (Shutterstock)