A useful simplistic first timers guide to the Greek Islands
With picture-perfect scenery, its warm welcoming climate and rich cultural traditions, it’s little wonder Greece is a favourite island destination.
A point of pride for Greece is its over 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Over 220 of which are inhabited, and spread across eight groupings.
With so many islands to choose from, tour specialist Europe Holidays recommends starting with two of the most well-loved and well-known islands – Santorini and Mykonos – as the basis for exploring Greek life. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of these two glamorous islands popular with the jet-setting crowd, there are secluded beaches, quiet towns and architectural gems to discover.
Europe Holiday’s Managing Director, Chip Popescu, says Santorini and Mykonos embody the beauty of the Greek islands.
“Santorini is sometimes called the ‘supermodel’, or most beautiful Greek island, while Mykonos is portrayed as the ‘glamour’ island,” says Popescu.
“Without much effort, it is possible to get away from the throngs, and see the true local traditions come to life. And what better way to see these islands than by the trademark of Greek summer, via the ferries plying its waterways.”
Resting in the middle of the beautiful Aegean, Santorini covers the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history.
Actually a group of islands, Santorini has an intriguing past with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia just two of its highlights.
Simply beautiful, Santorini will take your breath away with its multi-coloured cliffs soaring over a sea-drowned caldera, as well as colourful and white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops.
On the main island of Thira, is the lively town of ‘Fira’. The cultural and commercial capital, Fira is a highly photogenic town, with cobbled streets and a range of retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars. Ultimately, Fira is the epicenter of social life, entertainment, and shopping!
Other famous smaller villages are Akrotíri and Méssa Vounó, with their famous archaeological sites, Pýrgos, Karterádes, Emporió, Ammoúdi, Finikiá, Períssa, Perívolos, Megalohóri, Kamári, Messariá and Monólithos. some of the villages are cosmopolitan some more peaceful; they are surrounded by vast vineyards; whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean.
Santorini’s beaches although not typically sandy are iconic, and uniquely influenced by the island’s volcanic past. Some of the best beached in Fira include:
- Kamari Beach
- Perivolos Beach
- Koloumbo Beach
- Red Beach
There are no “classic” sandy beaches, and most definitely no places with the classic caldera view that are within a short stroll of a beach, you’d need to take a bus or drive for 15-45 minutes depending where you are. Which is why Mykonos is a great “Greek Island Hopping” combo to add!
With a long and colourful history dating back to 5,000 BC, Mykonos casts a spell on visitors from the moment they arrive, with its beautiful white buildings that glow in the sunlight, narrow marbled streets, hidden churches and windmills watching over the city. It’s also renowned for its extraordinary sandy beaches and buzzing nightlife.
A premier destination in its own right, it also serves as a stepping stone to the ancient site of Delos, famous for its antiquities and history.
Mykonos offers something for every kind of traveller. Its lively waterfront is home to fleets of fishing villages, as well as a wide range of water sports, including diving, sailing and windsurfing. It’s also appreciated for its gastronomical delights, stunning scenery, culture and history and partying.
From the main city of Hora as a base, there are a range of beaches, including the party-styled Paradise Beach, the family-friendly beaches of Ornos and Psarou, and the more secluded and serene northern coast beaches such as Ayia, Anna and others.
Best beaches to visit:
- Fokos Beach
- Agios Sostis Beach
- Kalafatis Beach
- Elia Beach
- Psarou beach
Whether you are an outdoor adventure junkie, love a real good party time, or a visitor who wishes to explore the island’s history and tradition, Mykonos will certainly meet your expectations!