Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
1:00 AM 16th September 2023
Acropolis Tourist Limits Present New Opportunity
The recent implementation of visitor number limits at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece – designed to mitigate the negative aspects of tourism – could present an opportunity for people to get their ‘Greek Experience’ from other parts of the country.
That’s the message from yachting holiday specialist, HELM, who include holidays to Greek islands within their portfolio.
Simon Morgan, co-founder of the company, said:
"We see the visitor limit as a positive step by the Greek authorities to preserve an incredible historical monument.
“We have always encouraged our clients to either visit first thing in the morning, when the weather is cooler and the crowds smaller, or to forgo the Acropolis in favour of the many other less famous but just as interesting ancient sites in the Saronic Gulf, like the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, or the epic Amphitheatre at Epidaurus, all within a day's sail from Athens and easy to access by boat.
“We have seen record numbers of tourists in Athens this summer, making the city itself quite congested, but most of our guests are able to sail away from the crowds and find these hidden gems. We are always happy to offer itinerary advice to help guests plan a vacation that includes all the historical sites they want to see."
The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and authorities maintain it is crucial to protect its historical and architectural significance.
By controlling visitor numbers Greek tourist officials say they can better manage wear and tear on the site and ensure its long-term preservation.
However, there are numerous hidden gem alternatives that promise a unique experience:
The Saronic Gulf:
Is just a stone's throw away from Athens, offers a treasure trove of enchanting destinations waiting to be explored by sea. One such captivating spot is the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, perched majestically on a cliff overlooking the azure waters of the Aegean. This ancient temple dedicated to the god of the sea boasts not only a rich history but also breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding seascape.
Another remarkable destination within the Saronic Gulf is the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, an island known for its serene beauty and historical significance. This temple, dedicated to the goddess Aphaia, is a testament to ancient Greek architecture and mythology.
Kea is one of the Cyclades islands and is relatively close to Athens. It offers picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, and hiking trails. The island is less crowded compared to some other popular Cyclades destinations.
Andros is another Cycladic island known for its lush vegetation and natural beauty. It has several charming villages, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Andros is a great destination for nature lovers.
Kythnos is an unspoiled island in the Western Cyclades with sandy beaches and hot springs. It's an excellent place to relax and unwind, away from the crowds.
While not exactly a hidden gem, Hydra is often overlooked in favour of more famous islands like Mykonos and Santorini. It's known for its car-free status, stunning architecture, and artistic community.
Serifos is a quiet island with beautiful beaches and traditional Cycladic architecture. It's a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands, and it's quite close to Athens. It's known for its pistachios, historical sites like the Temple of Aphaia, and charming waterfront villages.
Poros is another Saronic Island located close to Athens. It's known for its lush vegetation, lovely beaches, and a picturesque town with neoclassical buildings.
Spetses is a charming island known for its maritime history, beautiful architecture, and pine-covered hills. It's a great place to explore by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
Although a bit farther from Athens, Koufonisia is a hidden gem worth the journey. This small Cycladic archipelago consists of two main islands, Ano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi, and offers pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Kythira is located between the Peloponnese and Crete. It has a unique blend of Greek and Venetian influences, and its natural beauty includes waterfalls, caves, and a diverse landscape.
Visiting these lesser-known highlights can provide a more intimate and authentic experience of Greece, away from the crowds, while also supporting local communities and preserving the country's cultural heritage.
More details here