There really is nothing quite like the Greek Islands. That endless, shimmering turquoise sheet of water, surrounded by volcanic land upon which whitewashed houses glisten in the sun.
I spent some time in Mykonos, Santorini and Ios and this was way before I had decided to start capturing picture-perfect memories for a blog. And still, the very beauty of these Cycladic islands required nothing more than a point and shoot from an inexperienced photographer like myself.
There are around 6000 Greek islands, but Mykonos and Santorini remain top favourites and it’s no wonder. Mykonos – probably the most popular and as a result, filled with beautiful boutique hotels to stay in and countless venues to dine and party at. Santorini – without a doubt, the best for views and the face of many a poster promoting Greece.
Here are my Best Greek Island Experiences:
My absolute favourite. As you approach via ferry, into the Santorini caldera (the collapsed volcanic crater that’s now filled with water), the sight of precariously-perched houses dotting the façade of the remaining volcano greets you, and you’ve just got to stop yourself from gaping in awe.
1.Watch the sunset at Oia town.
Located at the northernmost tip of Santorini, Oia is the prime spot for watching the red ball of fire descend into the midnight blue waters of the caldera. In high season, this can get massive human traffic, so best to go early, bring a mini picnic, get a good spot and just wait.
Don’t scoot off as soon as the sun sets though. Stay and watch as the colours of the night swathe over the pretty little houses perched on the cliff and as the lights come on, another glorious view of this unique island comes into view.2. Walk along a volcanic black sand beach.
Since Santorini is a volcanic island, black sand beaches line its southeast coast and one favourite is Perissa beach. Swim in the crystal clear waters, then check out one of the many casual restaurants that line the beach. Try the “Santorini Meatballs” – tomatokeftedes which are basically veggie, tomato-based deep-fried balls.
Perissa is also known for many budget-friendly accommodations, if you feel like spending a couple of nights there.
Mykonos is often referred to as “party central” of Greece but if that brings images of drunken hordes of fresh graduates cramping your chillout style, relax. I didn’t feel that vibe at all. It was the first Greek island I arrived at, and it set the tone for the rest of my serene Greek island escapade.
3. Explore the twists and turns of the tightly-wound streets of Mykonos.
In fact, get lost here! Stumble into the little tavern around the corner or pick up a bauble at a little jewellery shop around the next – it really doesn’t matter as you can spend a couple of days walking around the winding streets.
4. Enjoy fresh seafood along “Little Venice”.
Many restaurants lined this stretch, affectionately known as Little Venice, though this really isn’t anything at all like Venice (it’s prettier, if you ask me). Sip that cocktail, while enjoying the Aegean sea breeze and views of one of Mykonos’ most famous sights – the tufted windmills, all while waiting for the sun to set. Oh, I just wish I was back there now!
Probably the hippie hangout in the 60s, the chillax vibe remains in this cosy island of Ios. Laze around beaches, dine at cute little tavernas and party the night away at the many bars around. But that’s not the only thing to do here.
5. Wakeboard in the Aegean Sea.
If someone had told my hubby that one day, he’d be wakeboarding in the crystal clear (albeit cold) waters of the Aegean sea while volcanoes loomed around him, he’d have face planked into his favourite pasta meal.
But that’s exactly what he did at Ios and till now, it’s probably his favourite wakeboarding memory ever.
6. Do absolutely nothing, just for one day.
If you’re like me and rather chill and gaze out into the deep blue sea, only moving to reach out for a cocktail, then stay at the quirky-named hotel, The Far Out Village Hotel and do nothing. Well, read a book at most and enjoy the beach at your doorstep. Ah…to be still, to be oh-so-still…
The other thing that’s awesome about Greece? The uninhibited feline furries that stroll the winding streets and show off their climbing skills. Check out my Cats of Greece post if you’re inclined that way. 🙂