According to National Geographic Travel, the Greek island of Alonissos is one of the top travel destinations for 2021. The idyllic island was specifically chosen as the leading voice in travel and exploration aims to highlight sustainable and climate-friendly tourism.
Alonissos is an island in the northern Sporades, an archipelago situated in the Aegean sea off the coast of eastern Greece, near Volos.
Known for its breathtaking landscapes, where lush, green forests extend to touch the shores of crystalline, blue-green waters, Alonissos is home to one of the largest populations of the critically-endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus Monachus).
In order to preserve the rapidly decreasing population of this majestic seal, the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and the Northern Sporades, the largest marine protected area in Europe, was created in 1992.
Visitors to the island are allowed to access the protected area, as long as they follow a list of strict rules set to protect the marine life and habitat of many living creatures that make the island’s waters their home, especially the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Located near the protected waters of Alonissos is the famed underwater archaeological site at Peristera, a tiny islet just off Alonissos, featuring a preserved shipwreck that has been called “the Parthenon of shipwrecks.”
The site has thankfully remained perfectly preserved since its discovery by a fisherman in 1985, primarily due to the Marine Park’s protected status.
A large merchant ship from 425 BC, possibly originating from Athens, capsized as it was carrying a shipment of wine in amphorae from the city of Mendi, located in Chalkidiki, which was known for its wine in antiquity.
Amazingly, visiting divers can still make out the contours of the massive ship, thought to be one of the most important ancient wrecks currently known, through the thousands of amphorae that cover the sea floor at the site.
Access to the site is not limited to those who know how to scuba dive, however, as visitors are able to explore the shipwreck in the sea’s depths through virtual reality in the island’s main town.
Chora, the town, is situated atop a tall hill that overlooks the Aegean Sea and the island’s stunning natural beauty. The many sun-soaked beaches, traditional villages, and ancient sites make Alonissos a perfect destination for families, nature lovers, and those fascinated by Greece’s history.