***Delphi is not only the striking World Heritage home of Apollo, Dionysos, the oracle and varied stone treasures, but also a spectacular clifftop village. Tour buses take the shine off but it’s still worth the 180km/ 112m from Athens.
***Meteora. You could do this James Bond-pinnacle-monastery location in an afternoon with your own wheels, but that would be rushed. It’s a great place for grabbing some Ouzo and ice from a vendor and sitting on a very high rock, or having a strenuous walk.
Halkidiki, Kavourotrypes beach, Sithonia peninsula
***Halkidiki. The Halkidiki peninsula, near Thessaloniki has three smaller peninsulas, the good (Sithonia), the god (Athos), and the ugly (Kassandra). The first is the one with excellent beaches, stunning roads and a non-touristy feel.
*** Zagoria. Not easy to get around without a car, this area boasts superb views as well as a collection of incredibly organic, traditional villages – known as Zagorohoria – built mainly out of slate. Popular tourist targets are: Papingo, Monodendri and Tsepelovo.
There are also two hiker’s delights, well-forested Vikos-Aoos National Park and the 10km/6m Vikos Gorge.
*** The Peloponnese. This delightful island/peninsula is another area that deserves time and your own wheels, offering the essence of Greece in one package. Mountains tower, valleys are full of trees and remnants of lost civilizations – Olympia, Epidaurus and Mycenae for example – superb beaches (especially along the south Messinian Gulf) see few foreigners, and towns are attractive, particularly Nafplio, Greece’s first capital. It’s full of fortresses and fancy mansions and makes a good base for exploration.
Hikers, on the other hand, prefer pretty little Kardamyli village as a base to enjoy the Vyros Gorge and Taygetos Mountains.
Skiathos island town at night
Transport on Greek islands is easiest by scooter. They are good value, easy to park and OK off-road, BUT, most rental agents demand a full motorcycle licence, not just a car licence, even for 49cc wheels. So get a licence!
And look out for sand/dirt on bends if you prefer not to go home with a gravel rash.