This year, a substantial number of Greek holidaymakers headed for the mountains during the peak July-August vacation period instead of heading for the beaches. “An increase in mountain tourism has been seen in the past few years, even during the summer months,” says Thimios Apostolopoulos, head of the Hellenic Tourism Organization‘s section for room and apartment rentals.
“Mountain areas with the most tourism traffic,” he concedes, “are those that are organized and have infrastructure.” The development of rural tourism units at some larger mountain villages, especially those with renovated traditional homes, has enticed Greek travelers to visit during peak summer periods, he says.
As well, Greeks that select mountain holidays instead of the traditional seaside vacation are not just seniors that return to their paternal homes. Recent data show a younger crowd that thirst for relaxation far away from the hot summer sun and crowded beaches.
Of particular interest to the latter group are mountain trails and quiet enjoyment of mountain environment complete with its trees in full foliage, ravines and lakes. A small, for the moment, portion of these goes in for rugged mountain tourism, such as climbing and staying at mountain shelters created by the Hellenic Tourism Organization.
Unofficial figures suggest that some 15% of Greek holidaymakers head for the mountains.
During the 1980s and 1990s, most Greeks were drawn to the islands and beaches, says a small hotel owner in the mountains that surround Kalavryta in Peleponnessos.
“Now, many Greeks prefer their mountain villages now that major infrastructure projects have taken place. We have better roads, better communication networks, small but almost luxurious lodgings and quality food fare,” he says, “all at prices that are, for the moment, attractive.”