You'll See Rare Wildlife And Unmatched Beauty At This Magical Mountain In Greece

Greece is full of wonders, from destinations travel writers encourage everyone to visit to underrated islands with pristine beaches. We might think of thousands of years of history when we ponder this country, its philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the ruins of temples and statues, and the beginnings of democracy. But we may not think of Greece's more recent history, like its civil war in the mid-20th century. 

There is a beautiful mountain called Grammos (Γράμμος) in Macedonia, Greece, that was the site of some of the area's more recent history, with ruins still visible and a memorial to visit. This incredible and magical place also has some of the prettiest scenery on a mountain, a virgin forest to explore, and some amazing wildlife, from rare brown bears and wild boar to wolves and deer. Let's take a look at Mount Grammos, what you can see there, and what to know before you go.

What to know about Mount Grammos

The first thing to know when visiting Mount Grammos — which sits on the border between Macedonia and Albania in the Northern Pindos Mountains — is that it can get frigid. Average highs in the winter are in the 40s, with lows in the 20s and 30s (degrees Fahrenheit), and getting to the summit (called Tsouka Petsik; it has an altitude of 8,000 feet) is more challenging to trek in the winter. However, the summit is very doable in the summer, when highs are in the 70s and 80s, with lows only going down to the 60s and 70s (degrees Fahrenheit). 

You can also hike to the two alpine lakes, Gkistova and Moutsalia — the former, pictured, sits 7.7 feet above sea level. The Aliakmonas and Sarantaporos rivers originate from these mountains as well. The Baruga forest on the peak is full of beech fir and black pine. You'll encounter many animals in this gorgeous setting, including European otters, wolves, golden eagles, wild boar, chamois, and brown bears. The National Action Plan has called this area one of the most important for brown bears. In Lake Gkistova, you might see a rare little amphibian called a Triton. If you see animals while hiking or camping, remain calm and do your best to leave them alone. That's why cameras have a zoom function. 

Remnants of the Greek Civil War on Mount Grammos

There are two villages on the Macedonian side of the mountains called Aetomilitsa and Grammousta, with hostels and other lodgings, cafés, and shops. (Leave from Grammousta to visit Lake Gkistova.) You'll also see a few churches, like the small one dedicated to the Virgin Mary near the war memorial. Mount Grammos played a significant part in the Greek Civil War in the 1940s between the victorious Hellenic Army and the Democratic Army of Greece. 

Visit the hills of Patomata and Petra Muka between the villages of Kefalochori and Aetomilitsa. The hills rest at the base of the main mountain peak near the Albanian border, and it is the site of a major battleground. If you visit, don't touch anything like the scattered mortars, shells, and other equipment. You may also run into graves. If you can, visit the Civil War Memorial on the mountain. On one side, it reads "OXI," which means "No" in Greek. It's a touching tribute to the loss of so many lives on both sides.