In Greece you will find stunning mountains, sleeping and active volcanoes, and the deepest gorge in the world. Combined with the mild Mediterranean climate and the rich Greek culture you have the ideal destination for perfect geotravels.
Geotourism in Greece
In Greece the new concept of geotourism is rapidly becoming the central effort to bring nature and culture together in order to give the best experience to visitors preferring this kind of travel. Greece has, with almost 6,000 islands and islets as well as the beautiful, mountainous mainland a lot to offer visitors on geotravels.
Geotravels in Greece
Try to visit one of the geoparks in Greece, where many organized tours are available, taking you to different locations depending on the travel package you have chosen.
Famous geosites in Greece
The Petrified Forest on the island of Lesvos is one of the most famous geoparks in Greece. You can visit the park on your own or join one of the organized tours open for visitors. The Petrified Forest Park Museum has a lot to offer the visitor with information and interesting petrified trees to explore. The park is famous among trekkers with many walking paths in the area.
VIKOS GORGE IN ZAGORIA EPIRUS
You will find the Vikos Gorge in the Mountains of Pindus in Northern Greece. It lies on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi, with a length of about 20 kilometres, a depth ranging from 120 to 290 meters, and a width ranging from 400 meter to just a few meters at its narrowest part. The Vikos Gorge is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book of Records, among others. Numerous species of mammals, fish and birds can be found in this spectacular park, where the forests are composed of diverse species of flora.
VOLCANO OF SANTORINI IN THE CYCLADES
Apart from the geoparks, the Aegean Ministry has identified 400 geological sites, all located on several of the islands in the Aegean Sea. The most famous and visited of them is the volcano of Santorini with its famous and much-photographed caldera (the crater of the volcano) which is also the landmark of the island.
Another great example of vast rock formations in Greece is the Samaria Gorge on Crete Island. With its rich flora and fauna make sure it is on your priority list of top geo-destinations. Samaria Gorge will fascinate you with its steep pathway and riverbed, while it also hides some very rare animal species.
LAKE KORISSION IN CORFU ISLAND, IONIAN SEA
In the Ionian Sea you will find yet another great geotourism location. The Lake Korission in Corfu Island is one of the last remaining biotopes in the Ionian Sea. The location is beautiful with 126 species of birds visiting the lake during the seasons of the year.
WATERFALLS AND ROCKS OF EDESSA, NORTHERN GREECE
If you love water, the stunning waterfalls and rocks of Edessa in Northern Greece is yet another option to consider. The vast agricultural plain full of small streams, and waterfalls big and small, offers a great territory to explore.
What is geotourism?
There are different definitions of what geotourism is. One often referred to is the knowledge-based tourism, as an interdisciplinary integration of the tourism industry with conservation and interpretation of abiotic nature attributes, besides considering related cultural issues, within the geosites for the general public.
Another definition of geotourism is a form of natural area tourism that specifically focuses on landscape and geology. It promotes tourism to geosites and the conservation of geo-diversity as well as an understanding of Earth sciences through learning and appreciation. This way geotourism is achieved through independent visits to geosite centres, and using geo-trails, guided tours and geo-activities.
National Geographic and geotourism
National Geographic has its own definition considering geotourism the sustainable tourism and destination stewardship. According to National Geographic geotourism is:
- Environmentally responsible – committed to conserving resources and maintaining biodiversity
- Culturally responsible – committed to respecting local sensibilities and building on local heritage
- Synergistic – bringing together all elements of geographical character to create a travel experience that is richer than the sum of its parts and appealing to visitors with diverse interests
Advantages for geotourism
In 2003, a geotourism study, sponsored by National Geographic and conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America, found that 65 million American households are predisposed to support the principles of geotourism. Along with the increase of the global population of travellers and the globalization of the destinations, these principles find resonance with travellers around the globe.
Why is geotourism important?
Geotourism benefits residents economically, when travel businesses do their best to use the local services, workforce, products, and supplies. By understanding the beneficial role of geotourism the community will become an incentive for wise destination stewardship.
Geotourism also supports the integrity of place as destination-savvy travellers prefer businesses that give emphasis to the character of the locale. In turn, the tourism revenues raise the local perceived value of those assets.
Geotourism informs both visitors and hosts of a destination. The residents rediscover their own heritage and how the familiar and ordinary may be extraordinary to outsiders. And as the local people take pride and develop skill in showing off their locale tourists will get more out of their visits. In this way the enthusiastic travellers bring home new knowledge, telling stories, sharing them on the social media and eventually send friends off to experience the same thing – helping the destination business to continue its work.
Other eco- and geoparks in Greece
Geotourism is “best practice” tourism that sustains, or even enhances, the geographical character of a place, such as its culture, environment, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
National Geographic senior editor Jonathan B. Tourtellot and his wife, Sally Bensusen, coined the term in 1997 in response to requests for a term and concept more encompassing than ecotourism and sustainable tourism.
Geotourism incorporates sustainability principles, but in addition to the do-no-harm ethic, geotourism focuses on the place as a whole.
- Perama Cave Ioannina
- The Cave of the Lakes
In the village Kastria of Achaia, 60 km from Tripoli (tunnel at Artemision) and 9 km from Kleitoria, lies the famous “Cave of the Lakes”.
- The caves of Kythira Island
There are several caves in Kythera, the most important being the Cave of Agia Sofia in Milopotamos. It is 100m long and was first explored in 1955, mapped much later though. It is located on the west part of the island, just outside the village of Milopotamos, connected via paved road through the Castle of Kato Chora.
- Psiloritis Natural Park
This mountain is different from the other mountains of Crete. It is narrowide with a few peaks with the highest of all reaching the 2.456 m. Snow covers the main mountain chain almost the whole year through. Between them spread coombs, gorges and table-lands.
- European Geoparks
This is where your experience exploring the Mediterranean sea world begins. Come face to face with hundreds of species and thousands of living organisms. You will find the aquarium in Irakleion, Crete
- Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
- The National Marine Park of Zakynthos
(N.M.P.Z.) is the recently established marine park situated at the southern most part of the island of Zakynthos. The Presidential Decree for the establishment of the N.M.P.Z. was signed on the 1st of December 1999 by the President of the Greek Republic. Within the Marine Park is the most important loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta nesting rookery in the Mediterranean, a habitat essential for protection.
- Askos Stone Park at Volimes on Zakynthos island
- Environmental Centre ARCTUROS
In 1998 the ARCTUROS’ Environmental Centre was established in Aetos Florina, which originally was founded to provide shelter and care for bears and wolves that were found in a situation of illegal captivity. Nowadays with more than 50.000 visitors per year the centre has become a focal point for the region and aims in:
- Raising public awareness on conservation issues
- Promoting scientific research on large carnivores and their habitats
- Assisting international collaboration in the South Balkans
- Contributing the sustainable development of the wider region
- Promoting voluntarism
- Sea Turtle Protection Society “Archelon”
- National Marine Park of Alonissos North Sporades
- WWF (World Wildlife Fund)
- Ecotourism in Greece