I've been tourist cycling for a few years now, and this year I'm off to Greece. To be honest, I'm a little nervous about cycling in Greece and I'm looking for tips. For one thing, I'm not sure about what route to take. I've been using Google Earth, "real" maps and Ride with GPS, but I really need to hear from people who know the country.
I'm arriving in Thessaloniki and making my way southwards (the exact destination depends on my wife's progress in a sailing boat but it'll be somewhere in the northern Peloponnese). There are two places I'd ideally like to go to (Meteora and Delphi) but I'm not fixed about the route there. So far I've tried planning to Meteora and I hesitate between two options:
1) Thessaloniki -> Katerini -> Elassona -> Deskati -> Kalampaka
This route is the most direct and looks stunning - but I'm a bit worried about the road from Katerini - is it safe for cyclists? It looks like there's a heck of a climb between Katerini and Elassona - and as I'll be there on a fully-loaded bike in the very height of summer I'm a bit nervous about it. Also, I may need to wild-camp as there are no camp sites. And what about dogs? I've heard some stories about them.
2) Thessaloniki -> Katerini -> Dion -> Larissa -> Kalampaka.
This route seems less interesting and less direct - but a lot easier than the other. However, finding the best road to Larissa seems a challenge as it looks like the most practical way there can only be done by a motorway-ish type road.
Apart from the route itself, does anyone have any tips for cycling on Greek roads in general? Has anyone done a route they recommend?
Thanks a lot for any help!
We just went back form a cycling trip in Greece with my girlfriend. Our route was Thessaloniki-Kavala and a would definitely recommend it if you want to do a cycling trip along the sea coast - beautiful landscapes, calm roads (out of the season), but there is no any other special sights apart form that (unless you choose to combine it with a trip to Athon). A few times cycling on busy roads wasn't pleasant because of the fast driving. Generally its better to choose a highway with an emergency bank, where you can cycle, than two banks road with heavy traffic. If there is shown highway and parallel (older) main road on the map (as it was for us from Thessaloniki to Kavala), you can guess that this road will be quite calm as most of the traffic goes on the highway. We wild-camped without any problems with people or dogs.
Thanks a lot for the information. I have been getting a lot of help on a Greek cycling forum with route planning etc. They all say that wild camping shouldn't be a problem, and they also say there should be very little traffic on most roads. With a few alterations to avoid heavy traffic and trucks, they have assured me that my route is good. Mountainous and wild, but good!
Thanks for the input.
Can't really comment on the mainland but we cycled a bit of Crete early in the year and although it was short and sweet liked it a lot.
Good friendly people, free camping (graveyards and churches always had water), and great scenery.
For a small look you may find this helpful
I made a tour of Crete on boke: spectacular. I wrote a book about it in french: http://www.livresquebecois.com/livre.asp?id=isdisdyisdabpeab&/velo-blues-cyclotourisme-en-crete/daniel-berthiaume
you can also see pictures of my trip
Thanks for your input. I've just come back from my Greece tour and I had a great time. The scenery was amazing, the people fantastic and I found the drivers respectful to cyclists. I didn't have time to go to Crete this time - but I'll definitely think about doing it one day. I'll read your book, Daniel, before I go out - it'll be interesting to learn about your experiences.
I kept a blog of my tour. If you're interested it's here:
Thanks once again