Greece is among Europe’s top summer holiday destinations. Its 14 000 kilometers of coastline provide thousands of beaches, which match practically every taste. Tourists from the nearby countries often pick popular mainland resorts, but the true experience of a Greek summer is only available on the islands. Here’s a guide to help you make your choice.
1. The island of Mykonos: parties & nightlife
If partying all night is your idea of a great vacation, then surely Mykonos is your match. All international students in Greece flock there every summer to have a break as the island’s main attraction is its nightlife. It is also famous for its tolerance of same-sex relationships, so literally, all limits are dissolved in the festive atmosphere of the youth celebrating their freedom.
2. The island of Santorini: romantic sunsets
The steep alleys in the town of Oia on the Santorini island are known for their sunset observation spots. The crowded narrow streets don’t really provide a good opportunity for evening strolls, but once you find your cocktail place in the late afternoon, stay there and enjoy the view until the sun sets down. Besides, if you make the effort to walk up the nearby volcano in daytime, you will gladly have a rest in the evening.
3. The island of Crete: archaeology and history
The largest Greek island is also the cradle of Greek mythology, so its many archaeological sights attract history lovers from all over the world. It is also the most remote one from the port of Athens. Take the ferry and once you get to the island rent a car – you will need it if you want to explore the whole island. Of course, the starting point is the Knossos site by the capital of Heraklion.
4. The island of Zakynthos: nature and wildlife
And my personal favorite. The island you can find everything on. There are some old churches for history lovers, there’s the famous wrecked ship for tourists, as well as several colorful beaches for perfect photos. What I recommend you do there is have a boat trip around the island and swim in the turquoise cave formations along the coast. Put on your action camera and jump of the deck if you dare. Or, do it in the bay of sea turtles along with the Careta-Careta. I won’t tell you what this is – climb up the sea turtle museum to find out and to enjoy some breathtaking views of the whole island.
5. The island of Skopelos: family vacations
If none of the above is the right destination for you and all you want to do is have some rest while the kids are playing at the beach, then Skopelos may be the best for you. No crowds, no noisy night bars, but still clear water and luxurious hotels – all your family could want. A good spot for ‘ilioterapia’, or sun-therapy – lying on the beach doing nothing but sipping frappes – Greeks’ favorite pastime activity. Or non-activity, depending on the viewpoint.
To find out about other activities in Greece check out my article on Mount Olympus