Our first trip in Greece showcases a spectacular part of a beautiful country, rich in history and culture. Known especially as the birthplace of Alexander the Great, Macedonia is also where Aristotle was born. Thessaloniki, the second city after Athens, exudes flair, character and dynamism from the diversity of ethnic groups that have touched this region. It also reputed to be Greece’s culinary and cultural capital. While the focus will be on rowing in gorgeous scenery, we will explore some of this history of deep thinkers and famous warriors, experience the culture of a proud civilization, and of course sample the food. This Greece rowing tour is destined to become a classic.
After enjoying the buzz of the city and rowing the Thermaic Gulf, we will leave Thessaloniki and head to the gorgeous Halkidiki Peninsula. Three fingers reach down into the gorgeous blue of the Aegean Sea. We will explore the eastern side of Sithonia, the middle peninsula. Rugged and hilly in the interior, the coastline is stunning, lined with idyllic beach after idyllic beach. Although tourism is increasing, this side remains quieter and perhaps a bit more authentic. Maybe it is the looming presence of Mount Athos, known for its closed monastic community, across the Gulf of Agíou Orous? Kilometres of pine forests and only a few towns and villages will be our companions as we explore the coastline. In the afternoons we will also delve into the interior to get magnificent views from hilltops and discover folklore preserved in museums and villages.
What better place than the Aegean Sea to enjoy a coastal rowing tour, especially in the company of one of the best coastal rowers in the world. Nikos Gkountoulas, our guide, was World Champion in the pair with his brother, before taking up coastal rowing. Thessaloniki hosted the 2014 World Rowing Coastal Championships, and Nikos continues to generously share his love of coastal rowing, operating Greece’s first exclusively coastal rowing club, travelling to Vietnam to coach, taking his athletes to international regattas and now our rowing tour. Experienced coastal rowers will enjoy this beautiful area, while rowers new to coastal will have the opportunity to add additional skills to their rowing repertoire. Like Nikos, perhaps you will become a fan and advocate of coastal rowing after this trip!
|Fully Independent Non-rower||$1,385||$1,785||1.155€|
Non-rowing companions welcomed. We offer two options. The Fully Independent Non-rower gives you maximum flexibility to structure each day to suit you, while joining the group for evening activities. Our guides will be happy to provide suggestions and advice, but you must provide your own transportation. The second option is Semi-guided Non-rower. The priority of the guides is to support the rowers, and you will be invited to join the rowers at breaks and for lunches. As much as possible, you will be able to enjoy other activities, particular walking or visits to local attractions. Transportation and lunches are included (options for lunches not with the rowers on some days). Please contact us for the details of what is included in the price for each option – we are happy to answer your questions.
|Daily Distances||Boats||Max Group Size|
|10-25 km/day||Coxed quads and doubles for the first date;
Two coxed quads for the second date
|12 rowers for the first date
9 rowers for the second date;
Important: this trip is coastal rowing. We will be rowing on the open Aegean Sea, where wind and waves can be a factor, especially in the afternoon. We will not be supported by a motor boat. A good level of rowing skill, strength and fitness is required for this trip.
Note that this is the first time this Greece rowing tour will be run, so it is somewhat experimental in nature. Plans could change. In particular, sea and weather conditions will be an important consideration – safety is a priority. Thus, on some days, the actual program may vary from this description.
We recommend planning to arrive early or stay on after the tour, in order to further enjoy northern Greece. Recommended are excursions to Vergina –Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, or to Dion and Mount Olympus.
Arrive in beautiful and fascinating Thessaloniki. Welcome dinner and briefing.
Our Greece rowing tour truly begins. After an excellent breakfast, we will walk along the award winning waterfront to the rowing club. Our morning row gives us excellent views of the city, including the striking concert hall and the White Tower. On the far side is the port, busy with container vessels, naval ships and ferries. After loading the trailer, our reward is a lovely lunch followed by a guided walking tour of Thessaloniki. We will learn of city’s complex history as we stroll the broad straight avenues of the centre and explore the winding narrow streets of the Ano Poli. Dinner on own tonight – we have many suggestions and it might be hard to choose amongst them!
Off we go in the morning, on our way to Vourvourou. Although a relatively short drive, we will break up the journey with a visit to site of Ancient Olynthos. A thriving town in its day, it was ultimately destroyed in 348 BC by Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great. Nearby Agio Nikolaos is one of the oldest villages in Halkidiki and is still thriving today, best known for traditional houses of the 19th century that represent folk architecture. Our afternoon will be filled with a row around sheltered islands and a foray to test the waters of the open sea. We will have a training session on launching and landing in surf. Then a relaxing dinner and evening, as we absorb the holiday and beach atmosphere.
Our rowing destination, Armenistis, is 12 km, but we will have options to extend the rowing if conditions permit. It is a spectacular coastline, of high cliffs topped by pine trees, punctuated by many sandy beaches. Some of these beaches have limited or no land access, giving us options for a secluded and tranquil break. We might pass swimmers and holiday goers at some of the other beaches. Not such a bad thing, since those beaches have handy beach bars, also good for a break. The best beach is where we are staying, at Armenistis. In the afternoon, you might choose to relax at the resort. Perhaps we will hike to the top of Mount Itamos, with its 360 degree views, or perhaps a visit to the Folklore Museum of Parthenonas.
We continue down the coast, passing a series of beautiful and isolated beaches, locally referred to as “crab holes”. The most famous and accessible beach in this area is called Orange Beach. Besides its beauty, it is known for the distinctive mermaid and other sculptures that adorn the enclosing rocks. Although now damaged, they add a little human made beauty to all the natural splendor. Our destination is Sarti (15 km). The largest town on the east shore of this peninsula, Sarti blends beach vibe with Greek village. We will enjoy a late lunch here and take time to explore town before driving back to Armenistis.
For the last day of our Greece rowing tour, we have several options. We could continue along the eastern shore to Kalamitsi, about 15 km. If wind and water conditions permit, we could row further south to round the peninsula. Alternately, we could trailer boats to western side of peninsula and row from Porto Koufo. This fishing village is protected by what is considered to be the safest and deepest natural harbour in the country – deep enough to shelter German submarines during WW II. The western coastline is a bit gentler and more built-up. But the sun is just as warm and the water is the same remarkable blue. We will enjoy a farewell dinner in the beautiful Halkididiki region, this northern beach paradise.
All good things come to an end. We will travel back to Thessaloniki and departure. We hope you will have enjoyed a wonderful Greece rowing tour!