The best written and most evocative travel books about Greece

Who am I?

I fell in love with Greece 50 years ago, when I had the good fortune of spending a summer on my father’s native island of Ikaria. I bagged my first writing job four years later when I wrote a guide to all the Greek islands. As a travel writer I tend to fall in love with all the places I write about! But Greece is where I feel most at home, and it has inspired some truly memorable travel books. I hope you like some of my all-time favorites.

I wrote...

Northern Greece

By Dana Facaros,

Book cover of Northern Greece

What is my book about?

This is the first guide in English to northern Greece, covering Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace…four fascinating, unspoiled regions that defy most stereotypes about Greece. Here are emerald forests, mountains, gorges (the deepest in the world, no less!), lakes, rivers, and wetlands along with a mix of ethnic groups (including the famous ‘fire walkers’), languages, music, architecture, and archaeological sites. It covers Thessaloniki, the monasteries of Meteora teetering on their monolithic pedestals, Mount Olympusthe home of the Greek godsand the Pelion peninsula—their favourite playground, as well as the beach resorts of Chalkidiki and nearby islands, and places most people have never heard of.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese

Why this book?

Greece has never held an ‘Our Favourite Foreigner’ contest, but if they did, I suspect Patrick Leigh Fermor would win hands down. While fighting with the Resistance in Crete during WWII, he led one of the most daring missions of the conflict—abducting the German Commander of Crete in broad daylight.  

First published in 1958, his travel book on the wild Mani region is so evocative, adventurous, wise, and affectionate it’s not surprising he decided to spend the rest of his life there in Kardamyli. His writing is a deep well of inspiration: it’s no wonder he has been called ‘the travel writer’s travel writer.’ He is certainly mine!

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese

By Patrick Leigh Fermor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mani as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is Patrick Leigh Fermor's spellbinding part-travelogue, part inspired evocation of a part of Greece's past. Joining him in the Mani, one of Europe's wildest and most isolated regions, cut off from the rest of Greece by the towering Taygettus mountain range and hemmed in by the Aegean and Ionian seas, we discover a rocky central prong of the Peleponnese at the southernmost point in Europe.

Bad communications only heightening the remoteness, this Greece - south of ancient Sparta - is one that maintains perhaps a stronger relationship with the ancient past than with the present. Myth becomes history, and…

Book cover of The Colossus of Maroussi

Why this book?

Henry Miller spent nine months in Greece in 1939-40 and was completely smitten even as the shadows of war lengthened. Miller was a keen observer, but one who knew almost nothing about Greece. His acute and very personal descriptions of the country and the characters he met perfectly capture a moment in time—it’s a very different Greece now, but still recognizable in the country’s humane spirit, the way Greeks maximize every moment of joy that comes their way. 

The Colossus of Maroussi

By Henry Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Colossus of Maroussi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. It has preceded the footsteps of prominent travel writers such as Pico Iyer and Rolf Potts. The book Miller would later cite as his favorite began with a young woman's seductive description of Greece. Miller headed out with his friend Lawrence Durrell to explore the Grecian countryside: a flock of sheep nearly tramples the two as they lie naked on a beach; the Greek poet Katsmbalis, the "colossus" of Miller's book, stirs every rooster within…

Book cover of Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

Why this book?

I came across this book while researching my guide to Northern Greece. Kapka Kassabova is a Bulgarian writer now living in the Scottish Highlands, who returned to the land she knew as a child: the once heavily militarized border between Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Her account of the places and people she meets in this forgotten corner of the world are uncanny, full of wonder, tragedy and horror, comedy and beauty, in a place where even in the 21st-century magic and the supernatural still live on.  

Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

By Kapka Kassabova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Border as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Remarkable: a book about borders that makes the reader feel sumptuously free.” —Peter Pomerantsev

In this extraordinary work of narrative reportage, Kapka Kassabova returns to Bulgaria, from where she emigrated as a girl twenty-five years previously, to explore the border it shares with Turkey and Greece. When she was a child, the border zone was rumored to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall, and it swarmed with soldiers and spies. On holidays in the “Red Riviera” on the Black Sea, she remembers playing on the beach only miles from a bristling electrified fence whose…

The Station

By Robert Byron,

Book cover of The Station

Why this book?

As a woman, I’ll never be able to visit the fantastical Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos, although I’ve looked at from land and sea often enough! But after reading this evocative account from the 1920s by a very young Robert Byron (best known for his classic, The Road to Oxiana) I feel as if I had been there, in a completely other (and rather eccentric) world long before the monasteries’ current revival and modernization—they say the monks even have mobile phones these days! Byron’s black-and-white photographs and drawings add to the charm. 

The Station

By Robert Byron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Station as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mount Athos, the spiritual heart of Eastern Orthodox Monasticism, is perhaps the most sacred and mysterious place in Greece: an autonomous state, where no woman can set foot, which has its own calendar and its own time. This ruggedly beautiful peninsula in Macedonia boasts a history that stretches back to Herodotus and has been a sanctuary from the earliest days of Christianity, through the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, two world wars and up to the present day. In 1927, at the age of 22, Robert Byron journeyed to Athos with his friends and embarked on an adventure whose influence would…

Book cover of The Flight of Ikaros: Travels in Greece During the Civil War

Why this book?

In 1947, archaeologist Kevin Andrews went to the Peloponnese on a Fulbright fellowship to study the Crusader castles and found a country in the midst of a civil war. He was one of the few foreigners there at the time, which his book vividly brings to life.. after a first rather idyllic description of stomping on grapes with friends on Paros he enters another world. Yet he was so moved by the humanity of the villagers in a period of great poverty, suspicion, and turmoil that he made Greece his home, and wrote numerous other books about Greece, but this is his best… about a period I hope is never repeated.  

The Flight of Ikaros: Travels in Greece During the Civil War

By Kevin Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flight of Ikaros as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the great and lasting books about Greece."—Patrick Leigh Fermor

"An intense and compelling account of an educated, sensitive archaeologist wandering the back country during the civil war. Half a century on, still one of the best books on Greece as it was before 'development.'"—The Rough Guide to the Greek Islands

"He also is in love with the country…but he sees the other side of that dazzling medal or moon…If you want some truth about Greece, here it is."—Louis MacNeice, The Observer

"One of the best and most honest books about the modern Greeks."—E. R. Dodds

"Kevin Andrews experienced…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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