Go cycling around Rhodes, or how about a bit of river rafting? Here's 6 easily accessible adventures in undiscovered Greece
Popular with holidaymakers, paved and cultivated Rhodes is eminently suitable for mountain-bike tours visiting old aqueducts, deserted coves and hilltop monasteries. There are a half-dozen or so recognized routes on broad paths, dirt tracks and quiet country blacktop, for example near picturesque Lahaniá village in the far south or through the lush citrus groves around Malóna on the east coast.
Besides day-trips (hotel pickup 8am, return by 4.30pm), one-week activity holidays (including light walking and sea-kayaking) can be arranged, based near a remote southeast coast beach. Our recommended operator uses exclusively Hardrock brand 26- and 29-inch aluminium-frame mountain bikes. Contact Rhodes Roads, +30 6980 060619, rhodesroads.com
In Ípiros (Epirus), the dramatic Vikákis Ravine, which runs between the Zagóri-district villages of Tsepélovo and Kípi, is a prime venue. Casual hikers who set out along the ravine bed, spanned by old stone bridges below Tsepélovo, quickly discover that there is almost always very deep water between the high rock walls of this gorge, necessitating thick wet suits and extensive swimming – allow four to six hours to get through to Kípi.
Overlooked in the stampede to adjacent, hallowed Mt Ólympos, Greece's highest summit (2917m/9570ft) and legendarily home of the ancient gods, lower (1978m/6490ft) adjacent Mt Kíssavos harbours on its eastern flank, near Karýtsa village, the magnificent Kalypsó canyon system. 'Kalypsó I' is more challenging, with a 200m elevation drop involving six abseils and plenty of dunkings in the chilly stream here.
Like Vikákis, this is an all-day outing. 'Kalypsó II' is more family-friendly, essentially a giant natural water-park, starting with a 70-metre-high cascade into a swimmable pool, and then a descent from that pool over three smaller (25–35m) waterfalls.
River rafting in Greece (Visit Greece)
The central Peloponnese has long been a mecca for rafters, whose main destination is the historic Loúsios River canyon. Organized trips thread the Loúsios and then veer into the larger Alfeiós, with a take-out point about two hours along at the picturesque stone bridge of Koúkos.
The icy Voïodomátis River in Ípiros, which flows out of the fabled Víkos Gorge, is an even more popular target, especially for beginners. Rafters and kayakers put in near the modern road bridge between Arísti and Pápingo, where the river attains sufficient depth downstream from its suddenly erupting source at the base of the Astráka cliffs, and take out 90 minutes later at the graceful arched stone bridge of Klidoniávista, beside which is the base-station for the recommended local operator, No Limits (+30 26550 23777, nolimits.com.gr).
In western Thessaly, beyond Tríkala, the Tría Potámia (Three Rivers) region is just that – here the Aspropótamos and Komnaïtikos streams unite to form the Ahelóös River, western Greece's largest. A recommended local outfitter is Olympos Trek (+30 6932 545001, olympostrek.gr), whch also organise canyoning on Kíssavos, and more placid day-long paddles to or through the delta of the River Pineiós, which drains the Thessalian plain, passing however the challenging Vernézi rapids en route. As one approaches the sea prolific bird life appears, including herons, storks and various ducks.
Scuba diving in Greece (Visit Greece)
Some of Greece's best scuba diving is available around the small Dodecanesian island of Léros, which is surrounded by extensive military debris – German, Italian, Greek and British – from the fiercely contested, autumn 1943 Battle of Léros, much of it between 30 and 60 metres deep.
Thus only intermediate and advanced divers can visit the wrecks of the Greek destroyer Queen Olga in Lakkí Bay; a British landing craft; a Junkers 52 transport airplane; an anti-submarine-net tender; and the submarine net itself, at the entrance of Lakkí port. Shallower wrecks accessible to novice divers include a German landing craft; a Heinkel 111 bomber; and an Arado 198 seaplane.
There is just one local dive operator, PADI-affiliated Hydrovius in Krithóni (tel: 22470 25679), which prefers that you book through Leros Active Travel (www.lerosactive.com, tel: 22470 24590). They offer 10-dive packages to qualified divers at an attractive price of €300.
Sea kayaking in Greece (Visit Greece)
The weirdly sculpted, volcanic shoreline of Mílos in the Cyclades island group constitutes one of the top sea-kayaking venues in Greece, with pinnacles, sea-caves and tunnels formed when lava collided with the Aegean – plus the odd modern shipwreck. Throughout the day there are lovely beaches to pull your kayak onto for a rest. Sea Kayak Milos are your go-to folk for this (+30 22870 23597, seakayakgreece.com). Full-days out €75, multi-day packages with accommodation also offered.
Prefer a multi-island adventure? Then the densely vegetated Sporades group is ideal, with May and September expeditions starting from Skópelos (6 days, €480), circumnavigating Skópelos and Alónissos, plus unihabited Peristéra, or for hard cases April and October trips (10 days, €700) beginning from Mt Pílio and taking in the above islands plus Skiáthos and Kyrá Panagiá. Not that committed? Just take a day-trip around Skópelos (€60). British-run Kayaking Greece (+30 24240 33805, kayakinggreece.com) are the people to get in touch with. Never kayaked seriously before? Lessons happily provided.
Lefkáda, in the west-Greece Ionian islands group, has been rated as one of the world's ten best areas for sea-kayaking, especially around the protected east-coast resort of Nydrí. The neighbouring islet just east, Meganísi, also provides good opportunities: a possible half-day outing from its Róka beach skims the forested north coast and end up at uninhabited Thiliá islet for lunch. Spiliá on Meganísi is another popular start-point. Very ambitious, experienced kayakers can arrange multi-day trips including Kálamos and Kastós islets, east of Meganísi. The top local operator is Ionian Explorers, based in Vassilikí, Lefkáda (+30 6936 181775, i-explorers.com).
Ferry-boat broke down? Never mind, swim in the 'baby Cyclades' between Amorgós and Náxos (with a 40-foot support yacht to transfer your baggage and take you to swim locales each morning). Nights are spent at comfortable hotels on Skhinoússa and Koufonísi; days are passed in coached swimming between or around various islets of this little-known archipelago.
One-week tours, June to October, organised by SwimTrek (01273 739713, swimtrek.com), from £890. They also offer weeks around the Sporádes and Mílos.