6 of the best sustainable trips in Greece
A selection of Greek activities for people conscious of their impact when they travel
Pick an escape that’s perfect for clients looking to lower their impact, says Clare Vooght
Helping bees by kicking back on a Halkidiki beach, drinking wine to support organic vineyards in Santorini, staying in the home of a local family in Crete – these are just some of the sustainable travel experiences clients can have in Greece.
And since the launch of the Greek National Tourism Organisation’s sustainable travel platform last month, it’s much easier for agents and operators to find sustainable holiday ideas there.
Here, we’ve picked out six sustainable options to sell to clients looking for a low-impact holiday.
1. Feel the buzz in Halkidiki
Set in a 1,000-acre ecological reserve on the Kassandra Peninsula in Halkidiki, with sandy beaches, forest trails and wetlands, Sani Resort has been working hard to protect its natural surroundings.
The resort’s Sani Green programme is based on solid sustainable targets spanning energy usage, food waste and more. And there’s plenty of buzz about the resort’s Sani Bee Spot too: the bee-friendly garden that’s aimed at protecting pollinators is the largest of its kind in Greece.
Book it: Olympic Holidays offers seven nights’ full-board at the five-star Porto Sani from £1,285 per person based on two people travelling, including flights from Stansted, for a departure on April 18, 2023.
2. Sip sustainable wine in Santorini
Santorini is one of the oldest wine producers in the world, with volcanic soil and a hot, dry climate, as well as the right environment for making organic wine with minimal meddling.
Family-run Hatzidakis Winery led the way, cave-ageing its wines using traditional methods, without the need for temperature control.
Sustainability-minded guests can base themselves at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, where they’ll find a slow food experience. Organic herbs, fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in the gardens, with seasonal produce landing on guests’ plates at dinner time.
Book it: Jet2holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, Santorini, from £2,374, including flights from Stansted, on May 4, 2023.
3. Mix wildlife with history in the north
For clients who like to get away from the crowds, recommend the less-travelled parts of northern Greece. The region is filled with history: from the sandstone peaks of the Meteora Unesco site, home to 11th-century Eastern Orthodox monasteries, to the vibrant port city of Thessaloniki, shaped by its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past, and the Roman Via Egnatia, travelled by Alexander the Great, Paul the Apostle and Caesar.
The region is a wildlife lover’s dream too, with wild brown bears in the Pindus Mountains and birds including pygmy cormorants and pelicans in the lakeside town of Kastoria.
Book it: Wild Frontiers’ nine-day Northern Greece: Along the Via Egnatia itinerary costs from £2,985 per person, based on two sharing, including accommodation, guides and meals, but excluding international flights.
4. ‘Pick the Alien’ on Naxos and Santorini
Conservation organisation iSea has launched a quirky culinary initiative called ‘Pick the Alien’. Locals and visitors are encouraged to help keep the seas free of invasive species, including lionfish – which are harmful to local marine life and local economies in fishing towns – by eating them.
The organisation works with seafood markets, restaurants and shops to put these invasive species on menus. Clients can work up an appetite on Responsible Travel’s Naxos and Santorini Walking trip, with mountain trails and a hike up the Cyclades’ tallest peak, Mt Zas.
Book it: Responsible Travel offers a seven-day self-guided walking holiday in Naxos and Santorini from £542 per person, based on two sharing, including mobile navigation app, local transfers and breakfasts, but excluding flights.
5. Meet the locals in Crete
As well as taking in some of the island’s big hitters – from Heraklion’s famous archaeological site Knossos, the former capital of Minoan Crete, to the charming Venetian port in Chania – this Intrepid Travel trip shows a more local side of Greece’s largest island.
Through a partnership with non-profit organisation MEET, guests can stay the night with a family in the village of Agios Ioannis and dine in a restaurant with live traditional music.
There’s the option to go farther off the beaten track to fishing village Sougia, for secluded beaches and coastal trails, and take in the dramatic landscape at Agia Irini Gorge. The trip is carbon neutral and uses local guides.
Book it: Intrepid offers a seven-night Highlights of Crete tour from £1,305, based on an April 30, 2023 departure. The price includes breakfasts, one dinner and local transport but not flights.
6. Try sustainable sailing
Explore places that are only accessible by boat with G Adventures’ sailing around the Cyclades. Clients sail from Mykonos to Santorini on a 52ft yacht that’s powered by the wind, in a small group of up to eight.
Possible stops on flexible itineraries include Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Ios, Sifnos and Folegandros, with visits to microbreweries, hikes around olive groves and stops at hidden beaches and ancient sites (such as the Cave of Antiparos) all on the cards. And if they wish, clients can learn to sail with the on-board skipper.
Book it: G Adventures’ eight-day Sailing Greece – Mykonos to Santorini trip costs from £1,149, departing on an April 23, 2023. Price includes yacht accommodation, fully licensed skipper and snorkelling equipment, but not meals or flights.
Ask the expert
Eleni Skarveli, director, Greek National Tourism Organisation UK & Ireland
So many destinations across Greece, from tiny islands and major cities to regional municipalities and the private sector, are stepping up to tackle issues around sustainability in tourism. Their effort and resilience are truly inspiring.
After attending last year’s Travel Weekly Sustainability Summit and seeing the appetite of the trade for more responsible experiences, we decided to collate and share these positive stories.
We wanted to create a useful tool for the trade to shed light on an array of Greek destinations, some of which are still relatively undiscovered in the UK market, as well as provide inspiration for new itineraries, particularly those focused on sustainability.
The sustainablegreece.co.uk hub is just the start, and we cannot wait to see it grow as more tourism partners take action and help us on our sustainability journey.
Moving forward, we intend to work closely with the trade on promoting sustainability through educational webinars, events and roadshows.
PICTURES: Werieglers@yahoo.de; G Adventures Inc; Shutterstock/Vitaliy6447, Jarno Holappa