Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! It was World Tourism Day on Monday, and my social posts thanked the workers in the hospitality industry. This summer, the staff worked tirelessly to make sure my clients loved their well-deserved vacations. A key to a fantastic travel experience is attentive client service. I also recognized the struggles of industry employees in places around the world where the tourism rebound has yet to start. Many people can’t make ends meet and have resorted to finding other jobs. My thanks and thoughts for better days are with all my partners in tourism.
One of the destinations that’s at the top of my clients’ Wanderlists for next year is Greece. I had an amazing trip planned to Greece in April 2020 which was canceled as the world was locked down. Currently, I’m rescheduling for next year, so Greece has been on my mind and to-do list recently. My itinerary will focus on the Greek Islands with a bit of time spent in Athens. Wow – there are a lot of choices!
If the Greek Islands are on your travel bucket list, read on for some of the options and part one of the scoop…
If you’d like to receive a destination guide and/or sample first-time visitor itinerary, hop over to the contact page of the website and ask!
Which are the Best Greek Islands?
I’ve not met many people who don’t love the idea of exploring Greece and the Greek Islands in particular. Greece has always been a dream Mediterranean vacation destination. With 2,000 dreamy islands (170 inhabited), it can be hard to prioritize. Greece and the Greek Islands offer so much, including:
- Charming traditional architecture and ancient archaeology
- Stunning beaches
- Delicious, nutritious food
- Fascinating culture and ancient history
- Friendly, warm people and vibrant villages
The “Best of…” list below is meant to whet your appetite and focuses on the Cycladic Island area which are found southeast of Athens plus Crete, the largest Greek Island. So, when we talk about what you want most from your vacation to the Greek Islands, you will have some ideas!
Mykonos: Island of the Winds
Best nightlife: Mykonos, also known as ‘The Island of the Winds,’ is world-renowned for its vibrant nightlife, boutiques, restaurants, and spectacular views. Mykonos is called “Island of the Winds” due to the strong northern winds that blow in the summertime; you can see Mykonos’s distinctive windmills across the island.
Fun Fact- A charming pelican named Petros is the official mascot for the island of Mykonos.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Head out on a private or semi-private yacht cruise to the surrounding smaller islands of Rhenia and Delos when the cruise ships are in port.
Ikaria: Blue Zone Island
Best for nature and longevity lovers: A two-hour ferry ride east from Mykonos, Ikaria has some of the world’s most pristine and untouched nature. As a ‘Blue Zone,’ it’s a place that promotes longevity (1 in 3 people live to see their 90th birthday) and robust health.
Explore the seaside and mountain villages that overlook crystal blue waters. Connect with the locals and relax into their slow-paced island life.
Naxos, Paros, and Milos
Best traditional village life: The island, Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and has a little over 6,500 inhabitants and a bit over 20 small villages. Naxos has ancient towers, paved streets, and has maintained its unique Venetian architecture.
Best kiteboarding and windsurfing: With gusty winds that can be seen from a mile away, Paros is well known for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Santa Maria, Prassonisi, and Pounda are the main beaches where the sport is practiced or watched if you’d prefer to be a spectator.
Best beaches: Located in the Aegean Sea, Milos is a beautiful volcanic island that is rich in minerals as well as rich history. The white-washed Cycladic villages and black sands are picturesque backdrops. Although some may be only accessible by boat, there are over 80 mini beaches throughout Milos that you can explore. Oh, and T+L World’s Best Awards just ranked Milos as the #1 world’s best island!
Koufonisia, Santorini and Folegrandros
Best walkers and cyclists destination: Koufonisia is comprised of two islands, Pano (upper) and Kato (lower). Pano is the island preferred by tourists, although it’s not touristy or commercial. The preferred way to navigate the island is by foot or cycling, as everything is within walking distance. The island has a museum, quaint restaurants, and chill vibes.
Best photo ops: Santorini is known for its incredible views, tangerine sunsets, and traditional white-wash buildings with azure blue accents. Enjoy an unforgettable meal as the sun sets in the tiny fishing village of Ammoundi – a hidden gem recommendation that I can book for you!
Best for off-the-beaten-path: Although close to Santorini, Folegandros does not get the crowded tourist scene as most Greek towns do and is considered very authentic. There is a broad selection of charming restaurants and cafes. The main village is named Chora which is preserved well with open landscapes and clifftop housing. It’s #2 on T+L’s World’s Best Island list 😊
The Largest Greek Island
Best food: Crete is a destination itself. The largest Greek Island by area, it’s a gorgeous and fascinating place to spend a week’s time (think ancient history/ruins, gorgeous gorges/beaches, and vibrant cities). The culinary scene is buzzing. Cretan cuisine focuses on seasonal, all-natural ingredients, usually involves native olive oil, and is enjoyed at any local tavern throughout the islands. Some dishes include Dakos, Gamopilafo, Mizithropita, and Apaki. Fortunately, the Mediterranean diet is known for longevity, so you can dine heartily when on your Greek Islands vacation!
Now you’re all set and ready to plan beautiful architecture, scenic waterfronts, and rich history. There is much to enjoy.
If you’d like to receive a destination guide and/or sample first-time visitor itinerary, contact me at the link below:
Inspired? If the Greeks Islands are on your travel bucket list, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,