Staying on the Islands of Greece
When staying on one of the islands of Greece, you’ll receive a two-fold benefit. First, the scenic mountains, forests and coastlines will mesmerize you. Second, there’s a quiet stillness in many of the remote locations that is very inviting if you want a peaceful vacation. If you plan to visit several different islands in Greece, you might find an island tour package helpful. You’ll be able to visit several different popular islands, and the travel agency takes care of your transportation to and from the islands by ferry and also your hotel stay at each island. You can enjoy islands such as Crete, Kos, Lesvos and Rhodes during your visit to Greece without the typical hassles. These tour packages are also great if you’re planning to tour the Cyclades. Many packages enable you to choose which islands you want to visit during your stay, and your hotels as well.
Taking the Ferry
The best means of transportation to the Greek islands is the ferry boat. It’s inexpensive and very relaxing. The ferry boats typically have snack bars, restaurants and comfortable seating. Some boats have cabins where you can rest during your trip. There are also modern ferries that are similar to airplanes. These provide TV or movie entertainment, comfortable chairs and great food. Tip: Be sure to plan ahead when staying on an island. Make sure a ferry ride is available at the times you’ll be arriving at or departing from each island. If you’re uncomfortable planning the trip, use a dependable travel agency to be safe.
Don’t Miss Greece’s Mainland
Don’t become so occupied with the islands of Greece that you miss the mainland! Greece’s mainland has much to offer as well. The Peloponessos, for example, is referred to by many locals as the “true Greece” and has many stunning beaches, seaside mountains and unique towns such as Githeon. Here you can discover Greece’s most amazing attractions, the Diros Caves and the Santorini volcano. Also, there’s the Byzantine city of Mystras, which overlooks Sparta. Also on the mainland is modern Greece’s first capital city, Nafplio. Here you can visit the area of Argolis to see archaeological sites such as Epidavros, Nemea and Argos. Nafplio has fortresses, restaurants, great beaches and an active night life. Another popular area on the mainland is the Town of Kalavrita, where you can go skiing, see scenic mountains, and also visit a gorge with a train that runs for 22 kilometers near waterfalls and rapids, and the Cave of the Lakes.
A Tour of Athens, Greece
Athens combines modern city life with ancient Greek customs, making it one of the most intriguing places to live and visit in Europe. The city’s coastal tram provides easy access to the beaches at Attika. There are many new parks and streets that have been transformed with convenient walking paths. Many of the museums and hotels in Athens have been renovated. Even if you can’t see the Olympics in Athens, you can witness where it took place and learn for yourself why so many tourists love Athens. Restaurants, cafes, night life and spectacular events make Athens far from boring any time of the year.
When to Travel to Greece
If traveling in July or August, be prepared for the crowds and hopping night life. Make your reservations early to secure the best possible rates and a place to stay. This is when many college students visit Greece. During May through June or September through October, the weather in Greece is great and it’s much quieter. This is a great time to visit islands such as Santorini or Mykonos. You can enjoy many of the beaches without the big crowds. Also, this is a great time for honeymooners!
Touring Greece in Winter
Greece is not crowded during the winter months, and this is a great time to see the sites, explore museums and maybe even take a swim on warm days. Many days you’ll enjoy mild temperatures. The winter in Greece is usually not harsh unless you’re in the high elevations of the mountains. You can also ski in Arahova, which is near Delphi.
See Greece by Boat
A great way to tour Greece is by sailboat or Yacht! You can tour the islands by water while viewing the fascinating scenery. See the island coasts from a different perspective and enjoy the fresh open air all at once.
The Holidays of Greece
Greece celebrates several major holidays, with the biggest being the 15th of August. Easter is the next biggest holiday, with its services, celebrations and the popular roast lamb. The smell of wildflowers and spring is in the air. Keep in mind that traveling and booking a hotel will be difficult around the time of these Greek holidays. The Greek version of Mardi Gras, Apokreas, is celebrated in Patras, Athens and many other towns in Greece. This event is held in February. If you enjoy parties, night life and dancing, you’ll love Apokreas. You can get discounted rates for flights and hotels during this time as well. Visiting Greece will be one of the best vacation choices you’ve ever made. In Greece, you can choose a peaceful island getaway or a city tour as your destination – it’s your preference!
Hiking in the Magical Land of Greece
When you want to get away, take an intriguing hike in the country of Greece, where you can explore ancient mythology and beautiful landscapes. Hiking in Greece will captivate your mind with philosophy and history. Greece is one of Europe’s most romantic and inviting lands, and there’s no better way to see Greece than by foot! Here are some great hiking areas in Greece you’ll want to try out during your visit: Take a Hiking Challenge on the Island of Kefallonia Kefallonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece, and you can hike through rugged mountains, caves, forests, coves and stunning beaches. The island reveals gorgeous scenery and picturesque villages, making the hike enjoyable for all.
Take a Culture Walk in Peloponnese
Do you enjoy learning about culture? The southern Peloponnese hike offers a quiet hike where few tourists trod. You’ll discover striking architecture of tall and narrow houses in Kardamili, which lies around the center of Messinian Mani. These unique houses were built with pastel-colored stone and grey slate or tiles. The landscape is outlined with Taygetus’ rocky ridge (2407 meters), which is capped with snow until late April. There are dried-out foothills high in elevation, and lovely crop fields and olive groves near the coast.
View the Amazing Vickos Gorge
This gorge borders popular ski areas of Greece and is known for its footpaths, which are interconnected for hiking ease. The Vickos Gorge is located in the Vikos Aoos National Park, a place known for its protection of bears and wild boars. The gorge appeals to hikers because it offers trails for hikers of many different experience levels. You’ll get a great view of stone villages tucked away in the mountains.
Hiking in Monodendri
Take a break from the car journey with a walk to the abandoned Monastery of Agia Paraskevi. It’s nearly a kilometer down the new kalderimi from the lower platia of Monodendri.
Take a day-hike to the ancient village of Delphi, which is located at the foot of the slopes of Mt. Parnassos. You can take the route down a mountain that was considered sacred to Apollo and Dionysos, and choose from one of two historic footpaths. The Ancient Footpath (Archaio Monopati), was used by Pan worshippers to walk to the Corycean Grotto from their ancient temples of Delphi to celebrate Pan rites. The other footpath is called the European Union E4 Long Distance Footpath. On this hike, you’ll cross over Mt. Parnassos as you travel from Gibraltar to Crete. Are you a bird fan? You might see linnets, robins, woodpeckers and thrushes along the way. There are also eagles and vultures in the higher elevations.
Enjoy the Kea Island Landscapes
Springs, shaded valleys and watermills are abundant in the hills and valleys of Kea. Kea also contains the only oak forest in the Cycladic islands. Ancient roads are still in great shape on the island of Kea, and you’ll be able to hike from one end to the other and see nature at its best. If you love the colors of Spring, you’ll want to hike on the island at the peak of the Spring season for maximum enjoyment. Late March is the best time to go. There are other great benefits to hiking in Greece. You can enjoy the food on the islands by visiting some of the best restaurants and taverns in the Cyclades. Also, get to know Greek locals as you pass through villages. You can find a great hiking adventure in Greece no matter what your style and tastes!
Your Guide to the Cyclades Islands of Greece
One of the fascinating things about Greece is its wide variety of gorgeous islands. Tourists flock to the islands each year for luxury, excitement and romance. The most well-known group of Greek islands are the Cyclades. Two of the most popular islands in Greece are located in the Cyclades — Mykonos and Santorini. The Cyclades can be reached by ferry boat, with the nearby islands taking around four or five hours to reach and the farthest islands taking eight to ten hours!
Tips for Visiting the Greek Islands
Whether you’re planning a tour of several islands or only one, make sure you know the ferry schedules ahead of time. There are many tours available where you can visit several islands during your trip to Greece. These tours make it easy to schedule your ferry rides and reserve a hotel room on the islands. Some island tours allow you to make up your own itinery. Either way, it’s worth the trip to see an island or two while in Greece.
Below is a list of islands in the Cyclades and what you’ll discover on your visit:
The island of Amorgos offers an abundance of nightlife and taverns. There are very few sandy beaches here, but some visitors enjoy swimming off the rocks or snorkeling. A nice resort area is at the northern port of Agiali, which can also be reached by ferry. The Chora, or capital town, is located in the mountains. During your stay, don’t miss the Monastery of Chozoviotissa. This monastery was built into a cliff on the other side of the island from the port. It’s a fascinating sight! There are local boat tours of neighboring islands such as Koufonisi, Donousa, Iraklia and Schinousa.
This island offers great activities and dining. There are traditional villages to explore, a shipping museum and art museum. Tourism is not encouraged here, which is great if you want peace and quiet. You can rent a car on the island and drive through the lovely green landscapes and forests. You might even see a couple of small rivers! There are connections to the islands of Syros, Mykonos and Tinos by ferry from Andros as well.
If you enjoy breathtaking scenery and untouched beauty, Folegandros is the island for you. Artists use this island as a thinktank for creativity, and to capture landscapes on canvas! Although small, the island can get crowded during tourist season, so it might be a good idea to go during the off seasons. The tourist area, or Chora, sits high in the mountains and has taverns. The port of Karavostasis offers hotels, beaches and restaurants. The ferry stops at this port. There are ferry rides available to Milos, Santorini, Ios, Sifnos and Sikinos, but only a couple of times per week.
The island of Ios is not the place for a peaceful family vacation. College students flock here like they do to Daytona, Florida during Spring break! This island connects to Naxos, Syros and Paros.
This is a quiet, peaceful island near Athens where tourism is not as frequent as some of the other islands in the Cyclades. It’s very popular with native Greeks, many of whom own summer vacation homes there. A lovely village called Ioulis has Cycladic houses sitting on the side of the mountain. There are some great beaches that can be reached by hiking. Kea also offers many great restaurants. A restaurant called Rolandos, located in Ioulida, is known for its delicious fresh fish. Kea is a great place for hiking if that’s your fancy!
Kythnos is a remote island in the Western Cyclades that doesn’t see much tourism. There are some attractive beaches and hot springs. Those who are touring the Cyclades in sailboats and yachts often stop for a visit.
Milos is a volcanic island where you can see amazing rock formations and hot springs. When you arrive, be sure to secure a rented car or bike for touring the island if possible. There are lovely beaches and villages where you can enjoy delicious cuisine and more. There are also some historic sites you don’t want to miss during your visit such as the Roman ampitheatre, Christian catacombs, Venetian museums and castles. The famous Venus de Milo was discovered on Milos!
Mykonos is a fast-moving island that offers expensive entertainment and nightlife, and also some great beaches. While on the island, you can take a short boat trip to the nearby island of Delos where you can explore ruins. The island connects to Tinos, Syros, Naxos, Ios, Ikaria and other surrounding islands.
With possibly the best beaches in Greece, Naxos is a large island that’s located near Paros, Ios and Santorini, and you can easily take a ferry to these popular islands. Naxos has an abundance of restaurants, cafes, shops and clubs. You can rent a car to tour the island or take an enjoyable walk through the valleys of Tragaia. The village of Apollon attracts many seafood lovers, and has ancient marble quarries with an unfinished statue of Apollo.
Paros is a center for the Aegean ferry system, with many boats coming through each day. It’s a crowded tourist area, especially in Naousa. Naousa is a small fishing village that attracts many tourists each year. The island has wind surfing and body surfing if you’re the adventurous type. A ferry trip here is approximately six hours from Athens. Hop over to Antiparos for a day of relaxation.
Santorini is an island where you can see ruins of ancient Thira or enjoy the beaches at Kamari or Perissa. Many tourists enjoy staying in the hotels that overlook the caldera. These hotels sit on the edge of a cliff that drops 1,000 feet below! The sunsets here are beautiful. The island offers great beaches, nightlife, restaurants and more. Ferry connections can be made to Mykonos, Crete, Thessaloniki, Milos and other nearby islands. There’s also an international airport here.
Sifnos is a handsome island that appeals to tourists of all sorts. There are beaches for the family, fine dining and scenery as well as many houses and villas for rent on the island, giving tourists a variety of choices if they want to stay a night or two. You can travel by ferry to nearby islands such as Mykonos, Ios, Paros and Naxos during the summer.
This is a poor island near Sifnos that is undeveloped besides its main port. It has nice quaint beaches that appeal to older travellers. The island is about a four-hour ferry ride from Athens and connects to Milos, Sifnos and Kythnos.
An island where mainly farmers and fishermen make their abode, Sikinos is a great place for a quiet getaway. Rooms are available for rent in the villages of Chora and Kastro.
Syros is the capital of the Cyclades that has a shipyard for ocean freighters and tankers in the harbor. The town offers very nice restaurants, old buildings and churches, and even mansions that have been restored. Cobblestone streets and cafes welcome pedestrians. The island connects with Pireaus, Mykonos and Tinos daily by ferry.
Near the island of Mykonos, Tinos has villages, landscapes and beaches for terrific sightseeing. Tinos is known for its church called the Panagia Evangalestria, which attracts people from all around who are looking for a miracle. Visitors swarm to the island each year around August 15th for a religious gathering. This is the most crowded time of the year for the island. Tinos connects with Andros, Mykonos and Syros daily by ferry.
You will want a cell phone for use while your in Greece and with the local GSM service you’ll be amazed at how much better the service is in France than back home. Virtually everywhere in Greece, yes even mountains and islands, is covered by superb GSM cell phone service. With a local service provider all your incoming calls are 100% free and calling the states is just $.86 / minute. Or, to be 100% sure, you can rent a satellite phone and as long as you can point it to the southern hemisphere you’ll get service across Europe. Free incoming calls day and night from every country on earth and only $1.99 to call any country, always.
For more information on renting/buying these type of phones and getting this type of super low cost service take a look at http://www.planetomni.com or call 800-514-2984 inside the States or 925-686-9945 from outside. They ship worldwide and are based in California.