Size: 23,16 km²
Location: Cephalonia Island
Tel: +30 26710 22293, +30 26710 25911
Ainos is the oldest nature park in the country and the only one that’s on an island. Much of the park is covered by the unique in the world “Cephalonian fir Abies”, which gives the mountain a dark colour and the main purpose of the park is to protect this tree. The Venetians called the mountain “Monte Negro” (Black Mountain). The fir population is darker than any other vegetation and characteristically darkens the flanks of Mount Ainos (which the park takes its name from). There are a great variety of bushes and flowers like “viola cephalonica” (which grows up only in Ainos and nowhere else in the world), arbutus, thyme, amaranth, lilies, cyclamens and other wildflowers. The population of wild horses (uncommon in Europe), the large black woodpecker (Dryocopus Martius) the island’s most popular bird, and also other birds found in the park, such as the osprey, the short-toed eagle and the rock partridge. Its value lies because the small area manages to include everything from a coastal ecology, where the mountain meets the Ionian sea up to the top “Megalos Soros” at 1628 m. A few meters below you can see the ruins of “Enissios Zeus” temple.Ainos is not very accessible, has olive and laurel trees of 300 to 500 m, Pine forest between 700 to 1200m and mountain slopes mainly rocky and harsh above 1200 m. The mountain range covers almost 3/4 of the island from Poros to Assos. A fantastic view (day or night), of almost all of Cephalonia’s villages and the capital Argostoli, of the Peloponnese (from Patras, Kyllini coast, Pyrgos), Aetolia-Akarnania, the islands Zakynthos, Lefkada, Ithaca & the blue waters of the Ionian Sea is amazing. You can see the Ferry boats of the bay of Patras and planes (from the international airport located outside of the capital Argostoli), in the west.
There were no lights before the 1950s. The 1980s and the 1990s made the night sky look brighter with lights coming from smaller villages and towns in Mount Ainos making most of the scenery of the land look brighter. Only one road passes over the mountain range connecting from southwestern to the eastern part of the island. There are around 4,000 people living on the mountain range of Ainos.
A large TV transmitter which covers a large area of western Greece for Television and communication is located near the top of Mountain Ainos, somewhere in the 1970s, when protection wasn’t quite strict.
Area: 130 km²
Location: North Greece
Tel: +30 26510 26591, +30 26510 24594
The Vikos-Aoos National Park it’s the largest national park in Greece located in the north of Ioannina, south-west of Kastoria and north to the Albanian border and covers an area of 13000 hectares. The Vikos Gorge is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book of Records with walls 550m up to 1250m in height and the length is 12 km and wide from 100m to 1000m. The gorge on the Voidomatis River between the villages Vikos and Papigo is amazing and spectacular also the Mountain Timfi (with its highest peak Gamila, 2497 m) and several villages called Zagoria. There are lots of fantastic rocky bridges (Konitsa, Klidonia, Misiou, Noutsou, Kokkorou, Lakou etc) and stoned steps (Bradetou, Vitsas, Koukouliou, Tsepelovou). The river Aoos flows from north sides of mountain Timfi to the south of another mountain called Trazitsa in 2022m. The length of the gorge is 8km and wide from 200m to 4km. There are a lot of small mountain lakes such as Loutsa Tzanova, Loutsa Rompozi, Xeroloutsa, Rizina and Drakolimni.
The Park hosted 133 different kinds of birds, 25 kinds of mammals, 21 reptiles and 10 amphibians. The forests are composed of diverse species. It is one of the most important wildlife sanctuary in Europe. The park has approximately 130-160 brown bears (Ursus arctos) and 130-170 wolfs (Canis lupus) protected by http://www.arcturos.gr/en/default.asp
From the village Small Papigo 1050m to katafigio Astraka 1950m (From May-October (4,5 h) and then to Drakolimni 2050m (1,5 h).
From the village Papigo 1050m, up to Karterou 2300m and down to Vrisohori 990m. Distance 16km (13 h).
From the village Papigo 1050m to Kokkino Lithari 1100m. Distance 2km (1,5 h).
From the village Vikos 770m to Elafotopos 1100m. Distance 7km (2,45 h).
From the old stoned bridge Klidonia 480m through the ancient akropoli Kastraki 800m to the village Saint Minas 640m. Distance 5km (3,5 h).
From the village Monodendri through the gorge to the village Vikos. Distance 10km (6 h).
From the village Monodendri through the gorge to the village Papingo. Distance 12km (7 h).
From the village Monodendri to the place Oxia with a panoramic view of the gorge. Distance 4km.
From the village Vitsa to the river Vikos (stoned bridges Misiou, Noutsou). Distance 3km (1,5 h).
From the village Kapesovo to the village Vradeto. Distance 3m (1,45 h).
From the village Vradeto 1350m to the place Mpeloi 1450m with panoramic view of the gorge. Distance 2km (45 minutes).
From the village Vradeto 1350m to Drakolimni 2050. Distance 16km (7 h).
From the villageTsepelovo to Drakolimni. Distance 14km (6,5 h).
From the village Konitsa 450m to the monastery Stomiou 800m. Distance 6km (2 h).
From the village Konitsa 450m to Drakolimni 2050m. Distance 12km (7,5 h).
From the village Konitsa 450m to the village Skamneli 1050m. Distance 21km (13 h).
From the village Konitsa to Vrisohori. Distance 20km (12 h).
From the village Konitsa church Ag. Athanasios 900m to the pick Trapezitsa 2022m. Distance 5km (4 h).
From the village Vrisohori 990m to the monastery Ag. Triada 940m. Distance 6,5km (3 h).
Size: 7,21 km²
Location: Central Greece
Tel: +30 22310 22319, +30 22310 22410
The National Park lies in Central Greece in Fthiotis-Fokis South-East mainland, surrounded by the Maliako Bay and the Valley of Sperchios. The area was established as a National Park in 1966. It is integrated to the network “Natura 2000”. The mountain Oiti 2152 meters with old fir forest above 800 m and maquis lower down.
It has very rich flora and in wet places there are marsh orchids and globe flower (quite rare in Greece).
The region hosted many kinds of mammals such as fox, roe deer’s, chamois, red squirrels, weasels, badgers, hares etc. The Park has many birds such as the Golden Eagles, griffon vultures, peregrines, owls, honey buzzards, aried grouse, hawks, blackbirds, Tsartsaris, “elatopapaditses”, finches at least four kinds of woodpeckers, and red-backed shrikes. Butterflies are also plentiful. Near the valley of Sperchios lives, an endemic freshwater fish the “Ellinopygosteos”.
Access to the park is easy from the village of Ipati, with both a path and road; the village is a good base for hikes. There’s a refuge at 1800 meters, but available only to groups.
Location: Macedonia and Thessaly
Tel: +30 23510 45470, +30 23510 45562
The National Park is located on the highest mountain of Greece, Olympus. It starts from an altitude of 600 m and reaches an altitude of 2917 m on top highest pick Mytikas.
Mount Olympus is the highest and most famous mountain of Greece and is noted for its very rich flora (over 1700 species), possibly the richest in the whole of Europe. It is also an important nesting area for birds such as the honey buzzard, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the short-toed eagle, the golden eagle, the booted eagle and the lanner falcon. In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is the home of the 12 ancient Greek gods and goddess “Olympians”, the principal gods in the Greek Pantheon. In 1938 Mount Olympus was established as Greece’s first national park and in 1981, UNESCO included Olympus National Park in an international network of regions named “Biosphere Reserves”. In 2011, the Ecologist ranked Mount Olympus among the top ten National parks in Europe.
The European Community has included Olympus in the list of “The Most Important Bird areas of the European Community”.
Size: 35 km²
Location: Viotia, Fokis
Tel: +30 22650 28539, +30 22650 28264
Second-largest of the parks, Mount Parnassos is located in south-central Greece of the Prefectures of Viotia and of Phocis and the aesthetic forest Tithorea, which belongs to the Prefecture of Fthiotida and the Oracle of Delphi.
According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo and the home of the Muses. Mount Parnassos takes its name from the son of the nymph Kleodora and the man Kleopompous. There was a city of which Parnassos was leader, which was flooded by torrential rain. The citizens ran from the flood, following wolves’ howling, up the mountain slope and there the survivors built another city called Lykoreia, which in Greek means “the howling of the wolves”.
In Park is not only for the great archaeological importance, but also for the types of plants and animals that exist there. The Park has a rich vegetation, waterfalls, springs, caves and canyons. In and around live birds of prey, woodpeckers and many other birds. Also hosts many small mammals.
Not very accessible but it does have hiking facilities and refuges if you can get there which is usually from the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth.
Tel: +30 210 2434064, +30 210 2434061-3
The Park is located north of Athens, the tallest of the prefecture Attica, includes the core, which occupies the central volume of the mountain.
The mountain can be seen from Eleusis and northern suburbs. Forests are situated on the mountain and it contains a cable car. The municipality of Acharnes covers much of the mountain areas and is surrounded by Aegaleo to the south and PenTel:i to southeast. Towns surrounding the mountain are Aspropyrgos (Thria), Fyli, Acharnae/Menidi, Varympompi, Thrakomakedones, Decelea, Avlona and Aghios Stefanos. The new Attiki Odos is in its south. The two plains are adjacent to the mountain (Thriasian, and Pedia).
It is a special area for the protection of birds and has become part of the network “Natura 2000”.
The mountain also has a chairlift on its southern face and forests dominate all its sides beneath 1,000 m. Above 1,000 m are covered in grasses and bushes and under 300 m they are mainly farmlands and urban areas. At the heart of the Park has forests of Greek Fir and Aleppo Pine. There are 42 types of mammals (out of 116 in Greece) and around 1100 types of plants (1/6 of the known types in Greece) but 2 of them only in Parnitha. Also has many species of birds, 132 which have been observed.
In Parnitha there is the cave of Pan, a nymphaeum (place of the Nymphs). Various churches such as Agia Triada and monasteries such as the monastery Kleiston from the 11th century. The “Mount Parnes Casino” is also located there.
This is the most visited park and therefore inevitably the most burdened by human activity within it. It’s threatened by commercial exploitation of the surrounding area, poor use of the peripheral area and even by construction for the 2004 Olympics. The 3812 hectares of mainly fir forest core area are criss-crossed by hiking routes and a cable car reaches the top. It’s the most accessible of all since you can get to its entrance simply by taking a city bus.
Parnitha suffered extensive damage from a wildfire on Thursday, June 28, 2007 and continued for several days burning approximately 25,000 hectares of land which made it became one of the worst recorded wildfires in the prefecture in Greece. It was an event that never happened before. The fire consumed forest in two prefectures. Firefighters, helicopters and planes were all over the mountain and its edges fighting out the enormous blaze and took hours and days to contain. It spreaded rapidly with very strong winds into northwestern edges of Greater Athens including towns as Ano Liosia and villages Fyli, Skoura and Schimatari. 80% of the forest is burned including 150 red deer’s and other rare animals. Its remains of the green firs and pines are sporadically located and by its edges. It resembles a scene of a burnt forest and an ugly winter, with the loss of its pine needles, it can see the horrifying mountain slopes and it can be seen throughout including by its summit and its valleys. The fires later disintegrated.
“Pindos” (Valia Calda)
Size: 7 km²
Location: Ioannina, Grevena
Tel: +30 24620 76400, +30 24620 76390
The Park is located in northern Greece and includes the Valley “Valia Calda” and “Arkoudorematos”, the mountains Lygkos and Mavrovouni which covers an area of 68.990 acres. The 70,62% of the area belongs to the Prefecture of Grevena and the 29,38% in the Prefecture of Ioannina. Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus the Pindos range is often called the “Spine of Greece”.
A very beautiful village is “Samarina” which is the highest village in Balkan.
There are two major forest zones. A conifer zone, with trees such as a subspecies of Austrian Pine and the endemic Greek fir. These forests have an amazing diversity of oak species. Here you find 415 kinds of plants and 86 kinds of mushrooms.
Hosts many species from the animal kingdom such as, the Ursus Arctos (brown bear), Wolf, Felis Sylvestris (wild cat), Lynx (Lingas), Capreolus (zarkadi), Rupicapra (agriogido) and many other carnivores and herbivores. In the Park are also 7 reptiles, Triturus Alpestris, Bombina Variegata, Rana Graeca (brown frog), Bufo bufo (Homatofrinos), Bufo Viridis (Prasinofrinos), Salamandra. 10 reptiles Coronetta Austriaca (asinofido), Coluber Austriaca (saita), Natrix Tessellata (limnofido). freshwater fish Trutta Fario (Pestrofa), insects and a multitude of 70 birds of the forest, such as Eremophilla Alpestris (hionada), Lanius Excubiton (diplokefalas), predators Aquilla Heliaca (vasilaetos), Aquilla Chrysaetos (chrysaetos), Accipiter Brevipes (saini), Falco Biarmicus (chrysogerakas), 8 different kinds of dryokolaptis Dendrocopus Leucotos (lefkonotis), Dendrocopus Medius (mesotsiklitara), Dendrocopus Minor (nanotsiklitara), Dendrocopus Martius (mavrotsiklitara). Here its the only of few areas in Europe to find the Dalmatian pelican.
Size: 84,8 km²
Location: North Greece
Tel: +30 23850 24171, +30 23850 45215
One of the most important wetlands in the Balkans and the only transnational park. It surrounds the Greek side of the two Prespes lakes (Mikri Prespa and Megali Prespa) in western Macedonia and continues to the north-west as a national park of Albania. The boundaries of the Park are in the Greek parts of Small and Large Prespas and on the sides of mountains Triklari and Barnounta. The core of the Park, which spans the entire Mikri Prespa and includes some still Lake areas, was declared in 1973 by the “Ramsar Convention” as an international Protected Wetlands and in 2000 as Transnational Park.
The Great Prespa Lake (Limni Megali Prespa) is divided between Albania, Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Small Prespa Lake (Limni Mikri Prespa) is shared only between Greece (138 km² drainage area; 43.5 km² surface area) and Albania (51 km² drainage area; 3.9 km² surface area). Of the total surface area, 190 km² belongs to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 84.8 km² to Greece and 38.8 km² to Albania.
Because Great Prespa Lake sits about 150m above Lake Ohrid, which lies only about 10 km to the west, its waters run through underground channels and emerge from springs which feed streams running into Lake Ohrid.
The are living several species of aquatic birds, such as herons, cormorants, duck, glaroniwn, predators and woodpeckers. It is the only region of Greece, where they roost together the Dalmatian Pelican, Pelecanus crispus, “argyropelakanos” and the “rodopelekanos”. End in the forests of the Park stands the bear and the Wolf and there is a great variety of fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects.
Agios Achillius church, Mikri Prespa
In the 10th century, Bulgarian Tsar Samuil built a fortress and church of St Achilius on an island called Achil in the Small Prespa Lake, on the Greek side of the border. Today there are not inhabits.
Size: 48,5 km²
Tel: +30 28210 92287, +30 28210 91295
The Samaria Gorge is a national park in the island of Crete, one of the major touristic attractions of the island. It’s located in the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and Mount Volakias in the prefecture of Chania of south-western Crete and created by a small river running between them. The National Park includes the Samaria Gorge along with the surrounding slopes and some other smaller gorges. The Park starts from the Omalos plateau, place “xyloskalo”, to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea and is 18 km the longest Gorge in Europe. The walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, near to village Hora Sfakion takes between four and seven hours. This is probably the most visited of all the national parks in Greece. The village of Samaria lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their name from the village’s ancient church Óssia María (St Mary). The most famous part of the gorge is the section known as the “Iron Gates”, where the sides of the gorge close in and reach up to 1,000m high. The northern entrance to the gorge is 1,250m above sea level. It descends practically to sea level, opening out a couple of kilometres above the village of Agia Roumeli.
The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the well known Cretan ibex, Kri-Kri, the trademark mountain goat of Crete. It is one of several wild goats having very large, recurved horns, transversely ridged in front, called also steinbock. The region hosted many species of plants and is the only place in Europe that exist the small mouse called “agkathopontikas”, the Cretan ferret or zourida and the Cretan ferret Badger known as “arkalos”.
Size: 3,5 km²
Location: Attica, Sounio
Tel: +30 22920 23100, +30 22920 24444
Located about 50 km south-east of Athens, Cape Sounion also famous for its ancient temple of Poseidon overlooking the sea, is one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of Greece and definitely you will fall in love with it. Here there are the most beautiful sunsets over the Saronic Gulf, as seen from the cape Sounion.
Ιt is the smallest of the country’s ten national parks. Its core area is only half that required for a national park but an exception was made because it’s coastal, extraordinarily scenic, archaeologically unique of the fifth-century BC temple of Poseidon (built with local marble) and the neighbouring temple of Athena. Archaeologically it’s one of the most interesting and diverse parts of Greece. That part of Attica has been inhabited since palaeolithic times and holds an impressive record of successive cultures based on agriculture and mining. In the Park there are relics of ancient silver mining, lead, zinc, iron, etc. In the cave “Kitsos” Park botanical species found fossils that no longer exist in the region or in the entire Greece. Additionally chicken bones found, confirming the existence of this species from ancient times.
In the Park there is rich vegetation covered by the Aleppo pine (pinus halepensis) forest and has prove that there are more than 100 kinds of minerals. Τhe flora is generally common and there are some animals such as foxes and jackals. Its fossil record is actually more exciting than what currently lives there.
Getting there: Public transport from Athens city is available hourly between 06:00 and 18:00 (“KTel:” orange buses) and also private tour buses. A trip to the Mineralogical Museum in Lavrio to the north, is an additional option if you’re travelling by car.
Opening Hours: Everyday 9.30 until the sunset.
Free entrance for University students from Greece and the E.U.,
6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri), 5 June (International Environment Day), 18 April (International Monuments Day), 18 May (International Museums Day), The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days), Sundays in the period between 1 November and 31 March, National Holidays, The first Sunday of every month, except for July, August & September (when the 1st Sunday is holiday, then the 2nd is the free admission day), 27 September, International Tourism Day
Tel: +30 229 2039363
The National Marine Park of Alonissos is located in the eastern part of the Northern Sporades. It is the first marine park in Greece consisting of Alonissos and smaller islands Adhelfopoulo, Gioura, Kyra Panagia, Pelagos, Peristera, Piperi, Psathoura & Skantzoura.
It is rich in marine life and is the habitat of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus Monachus), one of the rarest animals in Europe (only at about 800 surviving worldwide).
The National Marine Park has collaborated with an environmental organisation called MOm (Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal). MOm is an official member of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
The institute records the local fishing methods and research on marine interaction with the protected species. It is also involved in the area’s management and gathers new knowledge on biology of the monk seal, the marine life and ecosystem around Alonissos.
National Marine Park “Zakynthos”
Size: 13,5 km²
Location: Zakynthos Island
Web site: http://www.nmp-zak.org
Tel: +30 2695029870
The National Marine Park in Zakynthos (Zante) is the first of its kind established in Greece and is the only European country which hosts one of the most important Sea turtle Caretta Caretta nesting beaches in the Mediterranean. Zakynthos also includes various types of ecosystems of National & European interest, such as Sand dunes (Posidonia oceanica), Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), submerged reefs, as well as coast wise ecosystems in which hundreds species of flora and fauna are living. In the western coasts has a great number of Seal Monachus Monachus.
The Zakynthos Marine Park is divided up into three zones. Zone A prohibits any entry or human activity, while zones B and C permit limited access. The entire park comprises an area stretching over 50 miles from Zakynthos itself, including a pair of remote islets.
While the protections are clearly established, the quick development of the local tourism industry, (illegal building and boating activities which ignore the guidelines), is a potential threat to the marine park. The annual migration of the Sea Turtle to their nesting grounds has become increasingly risky, but despite these problems, it is estimated that about 60,000 sea turtle babies were successfully hatched on Zakynthos beaches in 2009.
The nesting habitat in the bay comprises six discrete beaches: Gerakas, Daphni, Sekania, Kalamaki, E. Laganas and Marathonissi islet, totalling about 5 km in length, of which Sekania is rated amongst the world’s highest loggerhead nesting concentrations. Apart from the nesting areas the park encompasses the wetland of Keri Lake and the two small islands of Strofadia, which are located 31 miles south from the island of Zakynthos.
The marine park hosts annually 900 to 2,000 nests, which represents an average of 80% of the nest total of Mediterranean Loggerhead population.The Loggerhead spends most of its life at sea, but females lay their eggs on “Laganas bay” at night from May to August.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (N.M.P.Z.) was founded in December 1999. In its bounds belong the most important beaches of breeding of the Sea turtles Caretta Caretta.
The main scopes of the N.M.P.Z. are the protection and conservation of :
The more important nesting beaches of the Loggerheads Caretta caretta.
The biotope and the population of the Mediterranean Sea Monachus Monachus.
The biotope of protected bird species especially of the migratory.
The biotope of endemic flora.
The coastal and marine areas of European and Mediterranean interest.
The fishing resources, water activities and in general the marine ecosystem.
In the scopes of the N.M.P.Z belongs the growth of compatible with the above activities, as:
The promotion of tourism and recreation according to the rules of viability.
The environmental education – information and the creation of sensitivity in the natural activities of the public.
The safeguarding of the traditional ways of fishing, pasturage, agriculture etc.
The safeguarding of the areas of natural and cultural interest.