There is something that keeps drawing me back to Greece. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. It could be the clearest water and eternally sunny weather of the Mediterranean, the tales from the antiquity, the laid-back and impossibly friendly vibe of the locals. Or, perhaps, what seems to be a dream of white and blue houses lining the cliffside, narrow staircases in between leading to markets and shops and restaurants with the most beautiful views of the Aegean sea. Of course, the fact that baklava is my favourite food group helps a lot as well.
Just like the lifestyle, Greece is a country best explored your own way at your own pace. This means chilling on a boat, sailing between the Cyclades with a glass of wine in hand and arriving at a new port with its own stories to explore. This route takes you to the mainland and our favourite islands – Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete.
Athens, the heart of ancient Greece, is the place for the history buffs. The ancient ruins of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus are much more impressive in their full still-standing form, than the pieces and reconstructions you’ll find in The Louvre.
If you want to start your journey into Greek food goodness right, then dining at Psarras is a must. Serving traditional cuisine, visited mainly by local Athenians, and with live Greek music, you’ll be filled and satisfied with moussaka, dolmades, and plenty of ouzo to go around.
Afterward, hop on a ferry and sail to Mykonos – probably the classiest island known for its nightlife in the world (partying optional).
Mykonos is an island with great shopping, history, and a wild nightlife. You can check out the old port and the classic old white churches to see how life was back in the day. Or go even farther back and check out the archeological site of Delos.
Once the sun goes down, however, it’s time to check out Little Venice for a drink by the water. Then once you feel a little looser, and perhaps walk a little less straight, head to Scandinavian Bar, or Cavo Paradiso to get your groove on. If you’re after something a little more relaxed, Nammos and Scorpios are great options right on the beach to have some drinks and do a little dancing!
The most famous of all the islands in Greece is Santorini. Although very touristy, there are so many ways to get away from the crowds and find the hidden gems along the island. A very exciting way to see most of the West coast is the hike from Fira to Oia. It took me seven hours, although this included many feta stops, some quality time with a donkey I named Geraldine (who later tried to throw me off the cliff), and some yoga on the top of the mountain. If you plan it so you end up in Oia by sunset you will also catch the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen as the sun dips below the old windmills on the cliff-edge.
For divers, Santorini offers some fantastic dives at the base of the volcano. Although there is not a lot of wildlife to see, the visibility is sensational, and there are incredible shipwrecks, caves, and rock formations to enjoy. If you aren’t a diver, I took a donkey down to the port, enjoyed some Greek yogurt with honey, then hopped on a boat to the Volcano, climbed the mountain, believed the man who told me they make coffee out of the sand and ate some, and then swam in the hot spring.
To really get around, it’s best to rent a quad and drive down to Perissa Beach – the famous black sand beach of Santorini. Enjoy the warm water and have a bite at Tranquilo – a super hippy Greek restaurant with live music and free yoga sessions where you can stay late into the evening in the warm Mediterranean air with excellent food and good company. For a quiet night take the quad to Open Air Cinema Kamari to get a uniquely Greek cinema experience!
Crete is the southernmost island in Greece. It is also home to my favourite place in the world, Loutro, as well as beautiful Venetian-influenced port cities. The ferry lands in Heraklion, the capital. A tour of Knossos, the oldest city in Europe, is a must here!
Chania is the next stop. The Old Town Chania is, like most ancient towns, filled with narrow lanes lined with gyro shops, market stalls, and beautiful Cretan art. It is worth it to take a day trip to the little dreamy town of Loutro which sits on a beautiful harbour and extends up the cliffside. This is a great place to see real Greek life as you walk up the hill to Miss Sofia’s Mini Market to buy some Greek snacks, or sit at a restaurant set over the water and listen to the sounds of the waves lapping up against the shore and watch the sun disappear into the sea. Just out of Chania is the Aradena Gorge where you can hike, or if you’re feeling willing to let a bunch of Greek men tie some elastics around your ankles and push you off a bridge, you can bungee jump (definitely not as sketchy as I just made it sound).
Contact The Crew at The Travel Project to book your own island hopping adventure from 6 days to 10 days, or a totally custom trip using an island hopping pass! We’ll bundle in flights, accommodations, and activities for even more savings.