The Greek Islands are a Mediterranean gem, transparent blue waters with a diversified landscape from sandy to pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark colored volcanic sand cliffs. The perfect place to wear a bikini while travelling with your favourite sister! These islands are where some of the oldest European civilizations came to be and home to many UNESCO world heritage sites such as Delos, home of Apollo and Artemis.
As part of our girls eurotrip in 2009, I travelled to 3 of the many 2200 greek islands scattered across the Aegean Sea, in an island group called the Cyclades (meaning circular islands around the sacred island of Delos). I organized an amazing 4 week eurotrip with my sister and three unforgettable friends from my alma mater, McGill University. We spent a few days in Athens (which I will leave for another post as this city is an adventure in itself) and then off to the Greek islands via ferry to Mykonos then Ios and finally Santorini. Note ferry tickets are easily available at the port right before you board each ferry; however if time is of the essence and ferries are not your style – planes can take you to most islands. I cannot pick a favorite as each island has its own unique characteristics whether it be a breathtaking landscape or fun-filled day and night activities so I will show you what I admired about each island.
The trendy island where fashion meets a nightlife more enticing than Ibiza’s. I have been to Ibiza so I believe it’s fair enough for me to compare the two. I stayed at a 5 star hotel in Ibiza, saw some of the biggest DJs in the world while I stayed in a 3 star homely hotel and saw no star struck DJs in Mykonos but I would in a heartbeat make my journey back to Mykonos! Mykonos’ main attraction is its windmills and native Cycladic architecture along the narrow white and blue cobblestone alleyways draped with gorgeous bougainvillea of the island’s capital, Hora. Other popular places to check out in Mykonos are Little Venice, an area along the water’s edge packed with chic art boutiques and cafes and Paradise, the party beach offering endless water sports by day and clubbing nearby once the sun sets over Mykonos.
My recommendation to you is to relax under the hot Greek sun in the day then to Hora and watch the sunset from Little Venice and then spend all night dancing in the beach bars of Paradise and Super Paradise!
If you are scared of spending a night in student hostel. No worries. Visit Francesco’s hostel in Ios town and it will change your perception and attitude to hostels around the globe. It had the best food and service I have ever received from a hostel / hotel with its lively atmosphere, yummy breakfast café and stunning views from either its relaxing pool or terrace overlooking Gialos Port. We even had an insanely gorgeous Macedonian hotel concierge to carry our bags and show us around this family-run boutique hostel in Chora. The Sunset Bar is a must visit – a cute little restaurant overlooking the hillside and Mediterranean waters – served the best calamari and Greek salad I have ever devoured. We also got a chance to go cliff jumping and kayaking off the coast thanks to some aussie tourguide randomly enticing us on the beach to join them for their makeshift tour of the island. A decision I could never regret.
Santorini or Thera
Most of the travel photos the average jetsetter is familiar with is of Santorini. It is obvious why. The death-dying sheer lava cliffs covered by the white houses on top like a dusting of snow with dramatic views of the caldera. Number one recommendation is to rent ATVs to experience the island from the Capital is Fira (main town perched along the top of the cliff) to Oia (where sisterhood of the travelling pants was filmed) and to the infamous Red beach, which features dark-grey volcanic sand saturated with the most expensive beach chairs I have ever paid for, but they were worth every penny as that beach was hot!
An afternoon sailing cruise to the nearby volcanic island and to get a glance of the rich sunset near Oia is a must-do! Only thing is to make sure and take the lift down or perhaps some friendly donkeys and not to walk down the zig-zag old cobbled, hillside stair-path like we did. As by the time we had reached the bottom, our legs were shaking and we were sweating like there was no tomorrow. On the cruise, we got a taste of some traditional Mediterranean cuisine known as Meze which is a selection of small dishes such as dolma or sarma (rice-stuffed vine leaves), köfte (meatballs), Halloumi cheese and Souvlaki (meat cubes)! And of course we chowed down all these delightful appetizers with ouzo -which is a local anise-flavored liqueur – the traditional Greek apertif.
A Greek island hoping adventure is a trip either with family, friends or true or secret lover. Try the food of the ancient Greek gods and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of their golden beaches and the characteristic Aegean architecture!