A stunning country full of rich history, culture, and life, Greece represents a mediterranean heaven for the world to enjoy. Visions of indigo oceans, and whitewashed architecture epitomize Greece and its fanciful nature. The Greek Islands act as a playground for travelers searching for adventure and antiquity. There are so many islands to explore, each with a unique story and history that will fascinate every visitor. Greece must be visited in small doses, for there are so many islands to see and so much beauty to be discovered.
Greece is composed of thousands of islands both big and small, and only 229 of them are inhabited and have been completely explored. Each set of islands has a name and distinct characteristics that make them special and unique. For instance, the Cyclades include some of the most popular islands such as Santorini and Mykonos, which are submerged mountainous islands. The Cyclades are dry and barren compared to some of Greece’s more fertile islands. Another set of islands are the Dodecanese, which are known for their extremely rich history, and are home to dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles. To get to the Greek Islands you can either fly to Athens and charter a ferry or you can take a ferry from Italy, or any other of the mediterranean countries. Having been to Greece twice, and experienced departure from Athens once and Bari, Italy the other, I feel the ferry experience from Italy was memorable and exciting. A twelve-hour overnight boat ride was a wonderfully thrilling way to enter the magical Ionian sea and greet the Greek islands. On these ferry rides you can either sleep in your hotel-like cabin or spend the night on the deck mingling and awaiting the arrival of dawn. Surprisingly, a lot of the islands are very spread out making inter-island trips anywhere from 45 minutes to 12 hours. So, in order to see Greece to the fullest, you must carefully map out island exploration and allow yourself plenty of time to take in all of this countries splendor.
A taste of the Greek Islands
Santorini, the Cyclades island, is by far the most picturesque and visually stunning island in Greece. An island created from the remnants of a massive volcanic explosion, Santorini is a jagged island with civilization built right upon the cursed cliffs. Visions of whitewashed architecture line the mountainous island, as the vibrant blue water sits below. These two colors, white and blue, epitomize Greece in so many ways. The views from Santorini are impeccable. You could spend days wandering the tiny alleyways and taking in all the idyllic scenes, culture, and beauty. A great transportation system in Greece are motorbikes. Cheap and easy-t0-use, these bikes are perfect for tiny streets and short island commutes. Accommodation in Santorini is plentiful, but the best thing to do is rent a bungalow, where you can have your own kitchen, scenic terrace, and privacy. Ikies Traditional Houses, is a boutique hotel where you can rent your own bungalow or house and live like a true islander. A little pricier than some, this amazing hotel has some bungalows with scenic jacuzzis or petit millennium pools overlooking all of Santorini. A less costly alternative to the boutique bungalow would be Alexander’s Cave House Villas, which have the same appeal and charm but are not as posh. The nightlife and dining in Santorini is endless. The seafood overflows from dozens of tavernas, and so does the ouzo.
Mykonos, the island of festivity and joy, is another of the Cyclades family that radiates with chicness and a joie de vivre. Not only is the island beautiful, but the people on the island are beautiful as well. This island draws in celebrities, models, and youthful party-goers from all over the world. Mykonos is a very cosmopolitan island that has the most intense nightlife in all of Greece. Famous DJs and party connoisseurs from all over the world fly to Mykonos for nightlife and beach parties. By day, enjoy the island’s sandy beaches, or rent a vespa and cruise around the island. A chic and super mod hotel to visit is, The Belvedere Hotel. With luxuriously simple rooms, a phenomenal pool, and its own Matsuhisa Sushi Restaurant (Nobus latest venture), this is vacation in the lap of luxury. Right down the way from this splendid hotel is Matoyianni Street, which is Mykonos most glamorous avenue . Fashionable shops, clubs, and lovely restaurants line this charming street. Another fabulous hotel is Hotel Theoxenia. This new and hip boutique hotel is just as special as The Belvedere, but with a friendlier price point. Also this hotel houses one of the best restaurants called, The Plate, with has impeccable food and a swanky ambiance.
The island of Milos, is popularly known for being the home to Venus, the legendary statue that rests in the Louvre in Paris. Nicknamed the island of colors, due to its volcanic nature and the colorful buildings that line its coast, Milos is a beautifully relaxing island. Milos has the quaintest villages that are a photographers playground. The civilization, architecture, and antiquity of this island is definitely worth seeing. All over the island there are beautiful old windmills that have been renovated into quaint apartments and rooms to rent. This historically beautiful island will give you a glimpse of a peaceful and charming Greece that you won’t forget.
Kos, is Greece’s third largest island and second most popular to Rhodes. Part of the Dodecanese family, Kos is full of activities, beaches, and villages to explore. Once you arrive at the main port, you feel like you’re in a rather large city compared to some of Greece’s tinier islands. As you go beyond this modern port town you will find that Kos is full of rich history, monuments, churches, and remnants of its unique past. This island is perfect for outer excursions, for instance Turkey is only a half hour boat ride away. That is the glorious thing about Europe, everything is so close, and in less than and hour you can explore a completely new country!
Corfu holds the key to a backpackers heaven. Unlike many of the Greek islands that are barren and dry, Corfu is rich with greenery and forests. This mountainous island is home to, The Pink Palace , which is a famous european hostel, and is by far the craziest. The Pink Palace rests atop a quaint fishermans village with great shops and restaurants. The hostels facilities are very nice, and the rooms are more like upscale hotel rooms rather than hostel dorms. The nightlife at the palace is never ending with toga parties till 7 am. Wake-up and cruise around the island, kayak, lounge by the beach, or opt for the ritual booze-cruise.
Folegandros, is a petite and idyllic island. It is true Greece in rare form, compared to the overdeveloped party islands. Folegandros is sometimes known as Greece’s undiscovered island. The little villages are closed to cars and motorcycles so you can walk and meander in peace. Folegandros is such a quiet island, with very little action, but it is perfect to unwind and take in the small village culture. Hora, one of the main villages on the island has cobblestone streets and a picturesque square that is romantic and traditional (with the best ma-and-pop restaurants). Above this tiny village, on the mountain top, is a tiny white church that is lovely to visit. This ancient Greek church is simple and heavenly, giving you a wonderful taste of Greek religion and of an ancient church. Once you reach the top, the view is breathtaking, you can see the tiny civilization below and the large indigo ocean that overpowers everything. Folegandros has a number of family-run bed and breakfasts that are quaint and affordable. This experience is truly special and a will hold a memorable niche in your Greece vacation.
After a taste of the Greek Islands, Athens is a must! Based on your travel itinerary, it is quite possible that you will travel to Athens in the beginning or leave from Athens in the end. Either way this city is a mecca for history. This bustling metropolis is most famously known for the Acropolis, Parthenon, and all the amazing ruins that surround them. Its incredible how Athens is completely overly-developed but has such a special and rich history. The Acropolis and Parthenon are absolutely mesmerizing, and the most amazing aspect of Athens. Kolonaki, is the chicest district in Athens and has lovely bars, cafes, and beautifully quaint side-streets. Another must see in Athens is Lykavittos Hill, which protrudes from the center of Athens at 910 feet. From this mountain top you can see every inch of Athens and even enjoy a scenic and romantic dinner at the top. A fun and hip boutique hotel in Athens is the O&B Hotel, or Ochre & Brown, and is in the best area for nightlife and true Athens action. Once you go beyond the hotel doors this relaxing hideaway is the perfect escape from the bustling city. Athens is one of Europe’s greatest cities and has a spectacularly lavish history that emanates from every inch.
Fashion in Greece
Bikinis, Bikinis, Bikinis!! Hot, dry weather is Greece’s forte and beaches are everywhere so beneath every tunic or sundress you must be equipped with a bikini. Another big fashion must in Greece are espadrilles. These lovely wedges with ties around the ankle are everywhere and represent true modern Greek fashion. White linen, is also perfect for the island lifestyle, and will also keep you cool from the hot Greek sun.
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