By Maria Paravantes
Why visit Greece in September you may ask? Besides the country’s extra-clean award-winning beaches and waters (see those Blue Flags everywhere?), the great weather, not too cold not too hot (put poignantly by Goldilocks of Three Bears’ fame), the friendlier prices and faces, much more space (on the beach and elsewhere), the GTP proposes nine places to visit in Greece in September… as part of the “September in Greece” project.
- Athens: Yes, the Greek capital is perhaps one of the best places to visit in September not only due to the bustling city center, the happenings and concerts at the ancient Irodion Theater at the foot of the Acropolis, the fun at hotspot Agia Irini’s Square but also because you can in less than an hour visit Aegina and Agistri for some island air or drive to the highly popular Athenian Riviera complete with beaches, nightclubs, kiddies entertainment facilities, luxury hotels and the newly opened Riviera jewel: the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center (SNFCC) designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
- Sifnos: This island is more about food than it is about its wonderful sandy beaches and picturesque villages. Add to the food the smiling locals and you’ve got a great September hotspot. Sifnos was the birthplace of Greece’s top chef, the man who made his way into every Greek household through his cookbook back in the 1930s, his name? Nikolaos Tselementes. Every year, chefs, cooks, producers and food buffs meet on the island in September (this year on the 8th, 9th and 10th) to indulge… in the finest treats from the Cyclades islands during the Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy “Nikolaos Tselementes”. Be there!
- Messinia: Located in the southwestern Peloponnese, the Messinia region is chock full of experiences, sites, beaches and history… and it’s easy to get to thanks to the Kalamata Airport, one of the fastest growing in Europe in 2015. While there in September why not test your mettle at the massive Navarino Challenge, to “run” this year on September 9-11. Young or old, amateur or professional, challenge your limits at running, walking, open water swimming, climbing, cycling, kick boxing or SUP (Stand up Paddling) and much more.
- Syros: Ever thought spearfishing was a sport? Well not only is it a fully-fledged competitive sport but there’s also a championship and it takes place this year on the Cycladic island of Syros on September 15-19. The 30th CMAS World Spearfishing Championship held in such destinations as Peru, Italy, Brazil and Polynesia, features the ancient method of spearfishing defined as the bait-less hunting and capture of fish underwater without the aid of artificial breathing devices, using gear that depends entirely on the physical strength of the competitor.
- Lesvos: There’s so much to say about this North Aegean island: the excellent delicacies (oh, those sardines); the intoxicating ouzo; the traditional villages — Molyvos, Agiassos, Sigri; the 20 million year old Petrified Forest, an UNESCO World Heritage site; the astonishing art on show at the Teriade Museum including paintings by the likes of Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Le Corbusier and Matisse; and the September 3-17 Lesvos International Eressos Women’s Festival held at Skala, Eressos — one of the world’s largest LGBT events held on one of the island’s wonderfully longest and sandiest beaches complete with DJ sets, concerts, cruises, Buddha Bar parties, safaris, horse riding, poetry nights, fashion shows, film screenings and contests. Eressos was the birthplace of Greek poet Sappho.
- Tinos: This island may take center stage in August due to the thousands who flock there for the massive Dormition Virgin Mary celebrations every year but Tinos is also emerging as a major sports tourism destination. On September 4, the Tinos Marble Trail: Exomeria brings runners from across the globe to test their stuff in and around the traditionally preserved village of Pyrgos on 22km, 5km and 1km runs. In the meantime, Tinos has so much to offer in September including ongoing open-air festivals serving the finest foods and wine and plenty of local song and dance.
- Galaxidi: A mainland Greece destination, Galaxidi offers the romantic types a one-in-all retreat. The tiny harbor town is more than enough if you plan to indulge (in) your love but it’s also near the ancient Sanctuary of Delphi, known as the center of the world and an UNESCO World Heritage site; the town of Amfissa known for its green olive groves amid two of Greece’s famed mountains — Parnassos and Giona; and Nafpaktos for that dose of nightlife under the fortress.
- Mt Pelion: Another mainland Greece destination, Mt Pelion and its motley collection of villages is bound to convince you that Greece is perhaps the place to be all year round and not only in September. With spectacular beaches of all sorts, springs, rivers and streams, fully preserved traditional settlements, lush forest surroundings complete with beech, oak, maple, chestnut and plane trees, its spirituous spirit “tsipouro” and of course incredible local charcuterie edibles, Pelion is a divine destination made for humans. Besides the local saints’ festivals held in September, locals also celebrate their most famed product: the apple in the village of Zagora.
- Thessaloniki: Last but definitely not least, the northern port city of Thessaloniki is a definite “September in Greece” destination known not only known as the heart of art thanks to its many festivals and cultural events, but also for the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on September 10-18. Add to that a wide array of historic monuments, the Thessaloniki trademark custard-filled “trigona” pastry, the best nightlife spots in Greece and particularly Greek tit-bits served with distilled spirits ouzo or “tsipouro” and you can’t go wrong… so much so, that you may decide to stay for the International Film Festival, which brings some of the world’s top directors, stars and producers to the city. Meanwhile, this year’s audio-visual art Reworks Festival on September 14-18 brings some the latest trends and emerging talent in music and contemporary art to the fore.
So, why Greece in September? Perhaps, ’70s pop band Earth, Wind & Fire say it better:
“Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away”
Visit Greece in September… you can’t go wrong.