These past five weeks we’ve been lucky enough to explore beautiful Greece and the best Greek islands.
Since leaving Whistler (read more about our despair at leaving Whistler here) this June we’ve been itching to do a short backpacking trip and Greece featured highly on both of our bucket lists and so the decision was an easy one.
The other half is excellent at finding cheap flights and so we found a great deal to Corfu (via Eindhoven mind you, but sure no harm in a quick sight-seeing detour) and so our big fat Greek adventure began.
Stop No.1: Corfu
It’s one of the cheaper Greek islands and public transport on the island is incredibly efficient, so it’s easy to see the whole island in a short period. A top recommendation from us would be to visit Corfu town, it’s a lot bigger than you’d expect with lots of quirky cobblestoned back streets that you can spend hours getting lost in. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Corfu, as a very popular holiday destination in Greece, it is what it says on the tin, a holiday-makers paradise with lush green scenery and turquoise-water beaches, we spent five days here in total.
Stop No.2: Meteora
Meteora is to put it simply a series of Greek Orthodox Monasteries on top of extremely high rocks, it sounds crazy, but my shows more than I can explain with words. Now I’m sure most of you have never heard of Meteora, but believe me once you visit you will want to return time and time again. It is one of the true treasures of Greece.
It was a unique experience and one of our favourite stops on the trip, we spent our days here hiking to the Monasteries (there are six active Monasteries in total), the photo opportunities when you get to these Monasteries are incredible.
To get to Meteora you catch a train straight from Athens. Two top recommendations from us would be to book a hotel with a view of the Monasteries (there aren’t many so book in advance) and to book a sunset tour to see the valley bathed in a magnificent pink.
Stop No.3: Athens
In Athens, the capital of Greece a must-see is the Acropolis (visit here as soon as it opens to avoid the crowds), we also highly recommend The National Archaeological Museum. Walking through ancient Athens is like being in a history book, there is so much to do here that you will never see it all unless you’re here for a long time.
You can purchase a ‘Multi Ticket‘ which gives you access to most of the ancient sights (including the Acropolis) for about €30.
We stayed very close to the Acropolis and we highly recommend staying near the Acropolis or Monastaraki Metro stations, Athens is a big city and you don’t want to be too far out from all the major sights.
We also recommend NOT to go in July and August as the crowds are at their biggest and the weather is at its hottest – it was 40°C when we were there. Overall, Athens is a great insight into true everyday life in Greece.
Stop No.4: Syros Island
It is in the Cyclades region famous for its sunsets and white-washed houses. Syros is one of the first stops on the ferry from Athens to Santorini. It’s one of the least-visited islands in this region and so it was a pleasant change for us after the crowds in Athens. We stayed literally next to the beach in a region called Galissas, a sort of sleepy beachside resort, populated mostly with Greek holidaymakers. The village of Galissas has no more than five restaurants, all very good mind you. And every night we climbed the steps of the little white church on the hill, sat on its wall and watched the sun set into the ocean with a beer in hand. Heaven.
Stop No.5: Naxos Island
Naxos is ‘in the middle’ both in terms of its geographic location between Athens and Santorini and its popularity with holiday-makers. It is more touristy than Syros, but less so than its neighbour Santorini. It is very popular with Dutch and Scandinavian tourists and it is indeed very beautiful.
We stayed next to probably the prettiest beach on the whole island – Prykopios, it has some of the clearest water in Greece, in fact the clearest water we’ve ever seen and honestly gives the Carribean waters of Cuba a run for its money. A lot of the restaurants here are on the beach, so it makes for a unique dining experience especially because you can watch the sunset from your table.
Our top recommendation would be to spend an evening in the islands capital town – Chora. The white-washed streets here are very similar to the famed streets of Mykonos.
Stop No.6: Santorini
Top of the list for most people’s trips’ to Greece. Sure, the crowds can be manic, it’s expensive and it’s a little pretentious BUT its sunsets are beyond outstanding, its local people surprisingly friendly and what other place in the world can you find hotels built into the side of a cliff? What can I say about Santorini that hasn’t already been said, it’s top of a lot of people’s ‘Bucket List’ for good reason.
It’s a photographer’s dream here, the way the light falls onto the quirky ‘cave houses’ is magnificent any time of the day. Most of the hotels here have a pool, but there is also a black sand beach in Perissa if that tickles your fancy.
Our top tip for here is NOT to stay in Oia or Fira (the crowds here are crazy) instead opt for Imerovigli or Pyrgos which offer the same views with less crowds.
As you can see, we had the best time exploring Greece and the best Greek islands
And that’s it, we leave tomorrow and to say we’re gutted is an understatement. If you haven’t booked your Summer holiday, we hugely recommend Greece.
It is more beautiful than the photos show and the warmth of the local people together with the insanely good food make this country one of our favourites to date. And as you may know the government here is in a financial mess and the locals need tourist money now more than ever. Tell me, what do you think of our picks for the best Greek islands?
***This post was originally featured on Quinns Quill Munster News
**P.S you can read more about our travels throughout Europe here