10 reasons to visit Greece in 2014
From it’s kaleidoscopic history to Zorba, the eternal Greek, and the glorious Olympic summer of 2004, visitors from all over the world have been coming to – and connecting with – Greece for decades.
With new museums opening, more flights launching and a number of important anniversaries, 2014 will be a key year for Greece. Adelto looks at 10 reasons that will appeal to the discerning luxury traveller.
1. Athens goes upmarket, as the National Museum of Contemporary Art opens in the spring. After 13 years of development, it will open its doors to the public at the former site of the legendary Athenian brewery Fix. Coming soon: The new cultural foundation centre designed by Renzo Piano, which will house the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, is due to open in 2015.
2. The cosmopolitan Greek islands become even more accessible for UK travellers. British Airways launches its first direct flights to Mykonos and Santorini from London Heathrow. Easyjet has also announced new flights from Scotland (Edinburgh to Heraklion and Glasgow to Kos), while Norwegian will begin flying from London Gatwick to Corfu and Santorini.
3. See for yourself why everyone is going to Crete. With more than 2.5m international visitors having passed its door in 2013, Heraklion is now the busiest airport in the country. The ruins of Knossos, excavated and restored by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, are three miles south of the city, while CretAquarium is the largest marine research and entertainment complex in the Mediterranean.
4. The Olympic Games ‘returned home’ a decade ago. Hailed as ‘unforgettable, dream games’, they left Athens with significantly improved infrastructure, including a new airport, metro network, ring road and a pedestrianised archaeological promenade that changed the look of the city centre. Visit the Panathenaic Stadium, the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble!
5. Follow in the footsteps of Madonna… who will soon own her own property on Ithaca, after holidaying on the island earlier in the summer. The pop diva is one of the first celebrities to have expressed interest in buying a luxury villa, part of a new six-star resort complex named Odyssey 6* Resort. It will feature six luxury resorts, 1,020 suites, a marina that will accommodate at least 200 yachts, waterfront villas with their own marina, pools, tennis courts, gardens and a golf course.
6. Explore the elegant Ionian Islands, which will be officially part of Greece for 150 years. Evidence of the previous British (and earlier French) administration can be seen all over the main towns of Corfu, Zante, Kefalonia and the other islands off the western coast of Greece. Find yourself lost in a maze of narrow streets, old mansions and secret garden squares.
7. Discover the new Acropolis Museum, recently chosen as one of the top three museums in the world, as it celebrates its fifth anniversary. It features nearly 4,000 objects on display and during 2014 it will offer a special behind-the-scenes view of conservators carrying out work on the famed Caryatids female statues, who once graced the Acropolis Hill.
8. Join in the birthday celebrations of one of Greece’s most recognisable symbols: Zorba the Greek turns 50! If you want to recreate the famous syrtaki dance scene of the 1964 Oscar-winning film, head to Stavros beach outside Chania, Crete.
9. Colossus of Rhodes to rise again? Rhodes has unveiled plans to ‘resurrect’ the 30-metre high statue of Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that was destroyed by an earthquake. The revival of the near-mythical sculpture dedicated to peace and freedom as a ‘mega attraction of the 21st-century’ aims to reintroduce the island to the world. The original Colossus, depicting the sun Titan Helios and straddling the ancient harbour, was erected in 282 BC to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over Cyprus, when the latter unsuccessfully besieged the island in 305 BC.
10. 4th Athens Open Air Film Festival. Outdoor and free cinema and cultural events across the city, including the Grand Promenade at the foot of the Acropolis, the Plato Academy Park, museums and courtyard spaces. The 2013 festival launched with the long-awaited premiere of ‘Before Midnight’, which was filmed in Greece. Dates: 10 June – 30 September 2014.
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