With their stunning sunsets, whitewashed buildings and crystal clear ocean, a visit to the Greek Islands is on many a bucket list. And let me tell you – if they’re not on yours, they should be.
In my travels, I have been lucky enough to visit Santorini, Mykonos and Ios in the Cyclade Islands. These are probably some of – if not the – most popular tourist islands in Greece, but don’t let that put you off. They are amazingly beautiful and a lot of fun! I loved my time in this special part of the world and because sharing is caring, I thought I’d fill you in on my favourite places and tips for travelling to the Greek Islands.
Now if you only do one thing in the Greek islands aside from drinking and sunning yourself it MUST be a visit to Oia on Santorini to watch the sunset. This is well known to be one of the best sunsets in the world so DO NOT miss it! The best view is from the ancient castle, so go early to get a spot – I guarantee you won’t regret it – as the sun descends purple, pink, orange and gold spread over the Aegean like a blanket, people applaud and you feel overwhelmed by the beauty in the world. It’s magnificent!
What else is there to do in Santorini?
- Spend an afternoon in Fira drinking wine, eating salted pistachios and taking in the view of Nea Kameni -the islet volcano.
- Speaking of the volcano, why not take a tour and climb it? The view from the top will blow you away (pardon the pun) and afterwards you’ll get to take a dip in the local ‘hot’ springs before sailing to beautiful Thirassia. Thirassia is sister island of Santorini and is almost untouched by tourism. Quiet and laidback, it is the perfect spot for a long lunch of swordfish souvlaki and moussaka in the sun.
- The best way to get around is to hire a quad bike or scooter and feel the wind in your hair but there are cheap local buses if you’re not into that.
If you have the time to explore a couple of islands and you like to party, Ios and Mykonos are the islands for you. The epic poet Homer is buried on Ios, along with the dignity of many a drunken tourist…Ios is all about late nights, dirty dance floors and beach recovery days.
- Spend your days lazing by the pool or tanning at Mylopotas beach.
- Evenings should be spent watching the sunset and drinking cocktails at Harmony, before heading into Chora (the town centre) to dance until daylight and scope out the talent. Drink specials are plentiful and the clubs kick off about midnight/1am.
- Ios has many beautiful churches and the narrow streets are great fun to explore so make sure you see more of the island than sand and dancefloors. We got lost in the maze of white buildings on our mission to find the Panagia Gremiotissa church overlooking the town centre but it was well worth it for the view.
- Mykonos is much pricier than both Ios and Santorini. Whilst it is very pretty with postcard perfect buildings and winding streets (designed to confuse pirates) I personally felt it was very touristy and in some parts a little bit seedy.
- Watch the sunset over the Chora Windmills
- Search for Petros the Pelican and his friends.
- Head to one of the many beaches to tan and check out the locals (Party on Paradise beach with the backpackers)
- Eat in Little Venice before heading out for a boodie at one of Mykonos’ famous night spots
So there you have it my (perhaps not so brief) quick guide to the Greek Islands – ready to book your ticket yet?