Wonderful scenery can be seen in every corner of Greece. However, a special place in our hearts is held by its forests, which possess unimaginable beauty. Our country, moreover, consists of ¼ of its total area of forests, which is why it is in fourth place among European countries with forest wealth. A walk through them will rejuvenate you, as you will see the rich vegetation, the running waters and the unique fauna, while the melodies of nature will be heard.
1. Valia Kalda
A monument of pristine beauty can be found on the border between the prefectures of Grevena and Ioannina and on an area of 68,990 acres, where the Pindos National Park extends, in a particularly inaccessible area of the mountain range. The idyllic scenery is composed of cliffs, mountains, streams and dense forests. Centuries-old pines and black pines, coniferous and beech forests and a variety of endemic plants of the Balkans and Greece characterize the forest area, which is also rich in fauna, as it is home to over 80 species of birds, including raptors, and rare mammals such as the otter, the deer and the wildcat.
2. Vikos – Aou National Park, Voidomatis
The pristine beauty and diversity of the area ranks it among the treasures of Greece, which no photo can capture. North of the city of Ioannina, in Zagori, Epirus, this area has been declared a national forest since 1973 and has been included in the European network of protected areas Natura 2000, with its lush green areas interspersed with steep cliffs. The Vikos – Aou National Park includes many virgin and protected forests with varieties of trees and plants such as willows, plane trees, beeches and poplars, while at a higher altitude, oaks and oaks, as well as protected species of animals. The fauna of the forest includes 24 species of mammals, many of which are endangered, such as bears, wolves, roe deer, wild boars, lynxes, ferrets, while in the category of birds we find around 133 species, including various predators such as eagles, vultures and hawks. Whichever path you choose to walk, in order to admire the endless natural beauty, you will encounter unique sights, with the branches of plane trees spreading over you and the Voidomatis river, one of the cleanest rivers in Europe, running next to it.
3. Forest of Lailia – Serres
In the Vrontos mountain range, in the Forest of Lailia in Serres, you will see towering beech and pine trees, steep ravines and steep rocks. This frame becomes magical in winter, when its vast area is covered with snow, reminiscent of an alpine landscape. In this forest there is a rich fauna, with a strong presence of roe deer and wild boar, badgers, hedgehogs, squirrels and other animals, while hunting is prohibited on a permanent basis. On the north side of the Ali Mpamba peak, in a forest at an altitude of 1600 m, is the ski center of Lailia.
4. Mulberries Forest, Kilkis
North of the settlement of Doirani, at 4 kilometers, in the village of Mouries of Kilkis, 590 acres of land are a living work of nature with rare beauty, which is formed by the natural forest of a mixed composition of oak and birch. The Murion Forest, or the “Thousand Trees”, is also an important stop during the migration of birds. A little above the village of Mouries, which is close to the forest, you will find the seasonal waterfall of Mouries, except in the summer months. In the northern part of the Prefecture of Kilkis, near the forest of Muria and on the border with Skopje is the lake of Doirani. It has an area of approximately 38 square kilometers of which 13 belong to Greece. It is a wetland with a particular diversity of vegetation and rich fauna. On the shores of the lake you will see peaceful images, while to the northeast lies the Mulberry Forest. The forest as a whole has been designated a Protected Natural Monument, located between agricultural lands and pastures. After your foray into it, you can rest in the recreation area, among 400-year-old century oaks.
5. Scra Lake, Kilkis Forest
The lake and waterfalls are named after the village of Skra located to the north. A few kilometers outside of Kilkis, nature has flourished, creating a lush green forest with waterfalls and a small blue lake. The dreamy sight is made up of many streams coming from Mount Paikou, which as they all flow together end up at the Skra Falls. There, in the idyllic forest, is a lake with blue-green waters. This is the frame that the visitor faces and makes him feel the majesty of nature.
6. Rhodope Forest
At the northernmost end of the Greek part of the Rhodope mountain range, essentially forming part of the Fraktos Forest, you will find the Rhodope forest, covering an area of 5,892 acres. The name Frakto (and the old name Zagrandenia) means “blocked place”, due to the surrounding mountain peaks and dense vegetation. This particular forest has been recognized as virgin in 1979 and since 1980 it has been declared a “Preservable Natural Monument”. It is under special protection due to its great phytogeographical, ecological and historical value. It is also called “Virgin Forest”, as there has been no human intervention for five centuries. Beech, spruce, pine, rowan, willow and maple are some of the species that grow in the country’s only virgin forest, while among the dense vegetation with broad-leaved and coniferous trees live 32 species of mammals such as the brown bear, the fox, the deer, the wolf, the wild goat, the roe deer, the hare, the wild boar and other rare protected species. In the forest is Gorge of Agriogido (Wild goat), where wild goats live on steep slopes, whose fur changes color depending on the season. The dreamlike setting of the forest does not lack running water, as impressive waterfalls and streams run through it. During your hike you will hear the chirping of rare species of birds, while in low flights you will see flying falcons, golden eagles and other rare species.
7. Foloi Forest
On the Foloi plateau in the Peloponnese, on the eastern side, there is the only native broadleaf oak forest in the Balkans, with old stands of oak trees. The Foloi oak forest is a protected area of the NATURA 2000 Network, located at an altitude of 688 m on Mount Foloi in Ilia and occupies an area of 33,000 acres. Being in the forest you will feel a part of mythology, as it is said that the Centaur Folos (son of Silenus and the nymph Melia), the famous good centaur who hosted Heracles when he was chasing the Erymanthian boar, had his kingdom there. The crossing of the Erymanthos and Iliakou Ladon rivers completes the fairytale setting.
8. Rema ton Mylon, Mountainous Corinthia
A special route through a dense forest with black pine and olive groves leads the visitor to the Zacholi plateau, to a traditional village full of fountains, threshing floors and chapels. Rema ton Mylon, a natural stream with ponds full of trout, waterfalls and small bridges, is located in the mountain village, about 11 kilometers from Derveni in the Municipality of Xilokastro – Eurostini. This gully, rich in colors, gurgling waters, and stone fountains, is surrounded by a dreamy natural landscape, ideal for an expedition, without any degree of difficulty. You can combine your wandering in the forest with a visit to the nearby Panagia ton Katafugio or Katafugiotissa, a small church carved into the rock with a sweeping view to the Gulf of Corinth.
9. Steni Forest, Evia
Stenis Forest (Dirfys), is an earthly paradise in the “heart” of Evia. It spreads on the southern slope of Mount Dirfys, which is located near the village of Steni in Central Evia. It is one of the 19 aesthetic forests of Greece and is included in the European ecological network Natura for the protection of nature. Plane trees, chestnuts, oaks, firs, wild flowers of the area such as peonies and primroses and other plants and trees make up the aesthetic forest of Steni in an area of 500 hectares. The natural environment is breath-taking with its palette of colors, tall trees hiding the sky, running streams and gorges, small wild animals and rare birds such as peregrines and vultures. No matter what season you visit the forest, the only thing that is certain is that you will have unique experiences. Orange shades of fire star in the autumn landscape, white magic follows in winter, followed by spring with its refreshing green, while in summer yellow shades star in the scene. The Stenis Aesthetic Forest is suitable for walking, hiking, cycling, bird watching and other types of activities.
10. Palm forest of Vai
At the eastern end of Crete, in the prefecture of Lasithi, next to the sea, on the Cretan coast of the Carpathian sea, about 20 kilometers from Sitia, is the Palm Forest of Vai of incomparable beauty, a special forest that composes tropical images with the endemic Cretan palm. The forest has been one of the 19 aesthetic forests of Greece since 1973. Its name is due to the local dialect, where the palm trees are called vagias or vagias. The sight will amaze you, as the forest is an oasis in the “desert” of eastern Crete and a jewel in general for Greece.
The nature of Greece, therefore, is “flooded” by landscapes of indescribable beauty. Such fairy-tale scenes, ready to offer you powerful experiences, you will find in the forests of our country, where every visitor feels that fairies and elves will spring up somewhere among the flowers, dense vegetation and streams.
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