Jump on a ferry from Athens, pray to the sea god Poseidon and you’ll soon be in the midst of vast body of water that is the Aegean Sea with more than 1200 islands to choose from!
Each is unique and has so much to offer. Let’s visit some of the most popular ones.
Considered a mecca of the Greek Islands made popular by party-seekers, this island is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for a relaxing week. The busiest season tends to be July and August.
Stay in the centre of Mykonos Town if you want to be a part of the festivities, otherwise you will very likely be woken up by noisy crowds leaving the bars into the wee hours of the morning – or consider ear plugs!
But the town offers more than just an energetic nightlife, it is rich with signature white churches and buildings with vibrant-coloured roofs, galleries, restaurants and cafés.
It’s cobbled streets are maze-like and you can quickly get lost in its charm.
Look for Matoyianni Street for a prime example.
Head to Little Venice for perfect sunset and ocean views, and those beautiful wind mills. This area also offer many restaurants and shops.
You can’t be a party mecca, without a beach party. Mykonos has two popular options, Paradise beach and Super Paradise beach (named appropriately). This is where you’ll hear music pumping from the beach-side dance clubs and you’ll have plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from. On a shoe-string budget? Camp at Paradise Beach Resort and Camping.
If you’re looking to catch some rays, rent a car, 4 wheeler or moped and try the popular Ftelia Beach. This is a quieter beach on the northern coast with less amenities, but offers some relief from the busy town and party beaches.
As you approach Santorini by boat, you might wonder if there is snow on this tall cliffs rising from the Aegean sea. But as you get closer, you see the familiar, iconic white villas, shops and restaurants with blue shutters that you see in wall calendars.
Santorini is unlike anything you might have seen, even if you just came from Mykonos, this island is unique in its on right and likely why it remains one of the most popular, romantic islands in the world. My recommendation is to rent an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or a Jeep and tour the whole island. There is a lot to see here.
Oia is the recognizable town of white cobble-stoned, maze-like streets of shops, cafes, boutiques and restaurants that seems to hang off of the rugged Caldera cliffs. This is where you want to be if you like noisy, busy towns. You’ll find everything you are looking for there. This is the spot for the most beautiful sunsets!
Fira is built on the cliffs, and is the main town of Santorini. Visit galleries, museums, jewellery store – featuring jewellery made from lava of the nearby volcano, cliff top restaurants and top-notch Greek bakeries. Plan to spend at least half a day here, there are hundreds of shops to see. One of the best attractions here is the “donkey ride” down the cliff to the Old Port. Instead of taking the mainstream cable car, opt for an adventure and hop atop a donkey. The ride is bumpy and sure it smell of excrement, but that’s all a part of the fun!
Kamari is the black pebble beach on the southeast side of Santorini. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach and atmosphere, come here. There are several beach side restaurants and taverns for entertainment, but it’s not quite as busy as Fira. It might seem obvious once you’re there, but most people don’t realize that the sand, being black, is super hot!
Red Beach is somewhat hidden but worth the hike if you’re curious about red volcanic sand. It can get quite busy there, so you can pitch an umbrella and stay the day.
Perhaps the most interesting site, is the “sleeping” volcano that you can’t miss on your way in by boat. In fact, the whole island of Santorini was formed over the course of 2 million years of eruptions. If you are a volcano enthusiast like I am, you must visit.
Take the tall ships from the Old Port in Fira – remember the donkey ride? – to the volcano port called port of Erinia. I recommend the 3 hour excursion that includes the hot springs and the volcano tour. At the port of Erinia, take the path up to the top of the volcano and see the steam rising from the ground. You’ll notice the smell of sulfur gas as you approach.
On the way back, you’ll stop at the island of Palaia Kameni that was formed by the volcano. This is made popular for its bay of hot springs, with waters from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and a small little white church. Jump in and enjoy the swim!
There are many more historical towns and sites to see on Santorini to check out. More information here.
Another popular island is Paros, known for its white marble quarries.
Parikía is the capital of Paros, and is recognized by its white-washed mansions and a 13th century Venetian castle that stands tall in the centre of the village with an amazing view. Also noteworthy is the Church of Our Lady of One Hundred Gates which is one of the oldest monuments of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture in Greece.
Náoussa is a very colourful village located on the mountain, with stunning views at Léfkes . There you’ll find ruins of a Venetian fortress and well preserved neoclassical buildings.
For sun lovers, this island has vacation-worthy beaches. Check out Chrissí Aktí beach, the venue for the Windsurfing World Championship. Santa Maria and Poúnda are other great beaches for water sports.
Paros is a stunning island, and might be best to discover by hiking along trails made by farmers to enable them to cross the island efficiently. So leave the car behind and go for a scenic walk instead! More about Paros in the video below.