To enter the world of the Greek islands is to enter a time-tested sanctuary decorated with sharp cliffs, lazy seas, perfectly bronzed bodies, and warm smiles. People take their time. There is no where to be, because you are already there. The sun keeps you inside for a long lunch and siesta, and when the sun begins to relax, the beaches fill up and the parties begin. Hedonism is more than just a word here. Hedonism can be a way of life.
There are over 6,000 islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. Most of the Greek islands can best be reached by ferry leaving from Pireaus. Pireaus can, in turn, be reached by taking the metro from Athens. Some islands require traveling overnight, while others can be reached within an hour. The timetables for ferries can change without notice, so call in advance to confirm departure times. Alternatively, you can simply show up and purchase tickets on location. The ferries leaving for the islands that are the furthest away, including Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini, usually leave in the evening and arrive in the morning.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular Greek islands.
This is a popular and commercially developed island that has it all: bedazzling sunsets, black sand beaches, hot springs, and wine tasting. Its white-washed villages sit atop cliffs as high as 900 feet overlooking the sea. Such dramatic beauty is fearsomely countered by the island’s volcano, which is thought to have destroyed the powerful Minoan civilization. It is dormant today. This island is a great option for travelers who will only get the chance to visit one island. And, don’t miss the fava bean dip or the wines made with the Arsytiko grape. Here’s an overview of Sensuous Santorini.
Another highly visited island, Mykonos was once a bohemian retreat. Now, the island is the number one location for anyone who likes to party until dawn. Internationally acclaimed DJs play all night … and all day. Mykonos Town – one of the most cosmopolitan cities in all of Greece – offers good shopping and restaurants, and, of course, the beaches and beach bars are world class. Check out the following article about what to see in Naxos and Mykonos.
One of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, Crete is the largest and most populated island in Greece. And, as a result, it is well-organized, with loads of hotel options, particularly the luxury resorts on Elounda Bay. There is also a wide selection of restaurants and bars, and tons of activities for visitors of all ages. Crete is one of the best islands on which to eat because it produces so much of its own fruit and vegetables. Don’t miss wine made with the native Dafní grape (especially those by Lyrarakis winery), the local olive oil, or the traditional cheeses. There are several large-scale ruins from the ancient Minoan civilization, Knosses being the most popular. Crete’s dramatic mountains make for awesome hiking and spectacular views.
Not located in the Aegean Sea, as are most of Greece’s islands, but in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Albania, Corfu is an island that compares well to all other Greek islands. Once a part of the Venetian Empire, it still shows significant Italian influence. Thanks to its northern location, Corfu is one of the greenest of the Greek islands, and the Paleokastrica area is filled with coastal sea caves. Corfu’s beaches are as magnificent as any in Greece, with Glyfada being one of the best. The city of Corfu – an UNESCO World Heritage Site – commands attention, with three forts strategically built into the rock peaks that jut between residential areas. This is an ideal island for those traveling between Greece and the Balkans or Greece and Italy. Check out the following link: More on beautiful Corfu.
One of the islands nearest to Turkey, Rhodes has everything, from ruins and unique hikes to luxury hotels and top-tier restaurants. Rhodes once boasted the Colossus of Rhodes, but no trace of it remains. Today, travelers come for the reliably good weather and gravel beaches. Monte Hill is home to the Acropolis of Rhodes and its Temple of Athena and Zeus. The town of Lindos also features an acropolis, and is just as well known for its stunning coast, with coves and beaches, and traditional architecture. The cuisine of Rhodes is highly unique with strong Greek and Turkish influences.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com