The national parks provide protection for many of the endangered species in Greece ; other activities other than walking are not allowed. However, it is paradoxical that in some of the buffer zones than surround the parks, other activities are allowed including hunting!
The most visited national parks are, Mt. Parnitha; 20km north of Athens, Several trails cross the park; Mt. Parnitha National Park consists of several peaks with Mt. Karavola the tallest at 1413m. Mt. Olympus National Park in Macedonia , the sacred mountain of the gods, is the first area in Greece to be designated as a national park. The area has a multitude of different species of flowers and birdlife, and offers many scenic walks and views.
Mt. Parnassos National Park in the Sterea Ellada region of Greece was established in 1938. The park is ideal for rock climbing and in the winter months, skiing. Mt. Parnassos is part of the international Trans-European footpath that stretches from Sweden to Gibraltar . More information on this footpath is obtainable on www.oreivatein.com. The area has also a wide range of flora and fauna and scenic walks.
Ita National Park also in the region, with Mt. Iti the highest peak (2125m) the area is covered in lush forests.
In Macedonia in the northwest of Greece lay the Prespa lakes, foreign tourists rarely visit this area, it is spectacular with forests, and meadows. The area is ideal for bird watchers as a number of birds nest in the area.
In the Thrace region of Greece , lays the Dadia Forest Reserve. Created into a national reserve in 1980, here is the breeding site of some of Europe ’s remaining birds of prey, some 36 species nest in the reserve. The reserve has good amenities for the tourists with displays of the birdlife in the reserve, also hides where one can see and photograph the birds. More information is available on [email protected].
The Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Epiros region of northern Greece is an area of exceptional natural splendour, with its densely forested mountains where wild boars roam along with bears and wolves.
On the island of Crete , the Samaria Gorge is the home of the endangered Kri-Kri, a species of wild goat only found here and on the small island of the coast of Agios Nikolaos . The gorge was designated a national park in 1962. The Samaria Gorge is very popular with trekkers and tourists, the gorge stretches for 18km from the Omalos Plateau to the small fishing village of Old Agia Roumeli .