From the mountains to the sea, Greece will make the tender caverns of your heart ache in a way you never knew existed. It is a country of deep history, seeped in customs and tradition. The Greeks are passionate souls, one of the many characteristics which make them such a beautiful country, full of infinite compassion and a fighting spirit.
While there are over 6,000 Greek Islands sprinkled across both the southeastern Aegean and Mediterranean seas (and only 227 inhabited), islands are best distinguished as either part of the Cyclades or Dodecanese group.
Here’s our roundup of the best ways to drink and dance your way across the aqua waters of the Greek Islands, with plenty of time to catch a gleaming sun dip its rays into the sea at day’s end.
Mykonos is another world with its own trendy vibrance to each of its whitewashed alleys. Known for its windmills and party scene, there is much more to Mykonos than meets the eye.
Head to Kahlua Beach Bar on Paraga Beach for that chill, island vibe, and order coffee and cocktails right to your lounge chair with the waves at your toes.
Mornings are never sweeter than with true, authentic Greek yogurt and local honey. Top it off with fresh fruit and a fredo-espresso or frappe coffee and you’re ready to take on the day. When sitting for dinner, start with the Horiatiki; you ain’t never seen a Greek Salad like this one. The traditional “village” salad is bursting with flavors of olives, feta cheese, and the purest olive oil, and can be found at the local tavernas (restaurants).
There is one rule in Greece: Never eat alone. With a cuisine rich in every color of the rainbow, you can easily get your fill of fresh seafood, meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables no matter where you are. It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet long holds to key to longevity, and around a crowded, bustling table filled with neighbors, family, friends, visitors, and laughter, it’s no wonder why. Greek hospitality is never in shortage, so pull up a chair, and enjoy your meal always in the company of hearty laughter.
Although known for their traditional seafood, Mykonos is, most likely, the one Greek island where you can also find a trendy noodle or sushi bar (unheard of on a Greek island — as we’ve said before, the Greeks are traditionalists!). For a taste of Japanese cuisine, try Kiku Restaurant in the Cavo Tagoo Hotel.
Drink & Dance
At Scorpios Bar, order a mojito or craft cocktail with sprigs of rosemary and tangy juices, and dance barefoot to the beats of the best DJs in the world. Bohemian spirits will rejoice at the easy, free, and completely enchanting atmosphere.
The alleys in Mykonos Town are filled with brightly colored cocktail bars and quaint gelato cafes. Here, you can buy anything from handmade ceramics to crochet pieces, which Mykonos is famous for! It is also home to some of the most exclusive and expensive designers in the world. Motor vehicles are also not allowed, aiding in both foot traffic and added serenity – in case you need a little mental clarity while dropping a pretty penny.
If you’re looking to spend some much-needed time under the sun and in your favorite swimsuit, Paros is the perfect escape for you.
Paros holds some of the most beautiful beaches in the Cyclade islands. Kolimbithres beach is unique due to the natural rocks which form swimming coves, while Golden Beach truly has sand that glimmers. Take a breath of the clear beautiful air and set up your umbrella — you won’t be leaving anytime soon.
Eat & Drink
One simply cannot visit the Greek Islands without tasting tradition. Traditional Greek plates are often Meze style: small plates/starters made for sharing (don’t forget, dining alone is not an option!). Head to Yemeni Taverna in Naoussa Harbor for kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters) and Kakavia (fisherman’s soup), and don’t forget the ouzo as an after dinner drink, the traditional liquor of Greece.
Visit a bakery (Zaharoplasteio) in the village of Lefkes for the most authentic sugary delights: make sure to try the colorful and delectable homemade jams, breads, and liqueurs — Paros has exquisite desserts! Take a bougatsa (a sweet custard pie) for the road, and rent a four wheeler for the afternoon — the best sights can be seen from the picturesque roads lining the beach cliffs. Take a tour of the Frankish Castle, and end the day listening to traditional music of the bouzouki, a guitar-like instrument which Greece is known for.
A village infamous for sitting atop the remnants of an erupted volcano over 3,500 years ago.
Santorini Island boasts wonderful gourmet eateries with dishes incorporating flavorful local tomatoes, caper, and fava beans. The volcanic soils allows for the cultivation of a variety of unique vegetables, such as a white eggplants. The island has become the number one destination in the country for modern gastronomy, with young chefs breathing new life into native products and traditional dishes. There are too many wonderful places to choose from to eat, from seafood tavernas, restaurants traditional and modern — it’s impossible to pick just one!
Drink & Do
Santorini is known for some of the best wineries in the world, and especially for their crisp, flavorful, white wines (you must try the Vino Santo!). Experience a wine tour and visit a local farm/winery in Fira to learn about the process, how the grapes are grown, fermented, and later produced into wine. With excellent tours and knowledgeable guides, a glass of wine in hand and a stunning view of the caldera at sunset, nothing sounds better.
Your heart just may skip a beat upon witnessing a Santorini sunset. Regaled as one of the best locations for sunset viewing in the world, the view from the town of Oia is heaven itself. Make a reservation at a cliffside bar, or simply sit atop a whitewashed wall high in the clouds in your own solitude — paradise never felt more real.
Spetses will have you falling in love with its wooden architecture and dazzling nightlife.
Kaiki Beach will leave beach lovers and gypsy souls joyous with their cabana beds and taverna right on the sand. A distressed, wood-worn bar adds to Kaiki’s charm, with the option to kite surf or explore other water sports.
Located in the old harbor of the island, Mourayo restaurant is in a 19th century building used during the 1821 Greek revolution. Although traditional island fare varies from region to region, there are many Greek staples that Mourayo serves. With the perfect wooden deck overlooking the sea, enjoy a myriad of Mediterranean delicacies, and as the night reaches later hours, head inside to the bar for both Greek and foreign hits.
Drink & Dance
The Old Port of the island is known for its nightlife attractions, filled with quaint bars, tavernas, and clubs playing a range of various music, with Stavento Club being a favorite. Spetses is close enough to the mainland to be easily reached by weekenders, so expect a bustling night under the stars Friday through Sunday.
While wandering the uniquely adorned roads and alleys, step into the museum of the brave Greek naval commander Laskarina Bouboulina, also a heroine in the Greek War of Independence. Take a tour of the gorgeous, stone mansion where she lived for much of her life, and revel in the antique furniture and decor, as well as her very own sword and pistol.
What are you waiting for? Grab your straw fedora, breezy sarongs, and book your flight stat — the Aegean sea is calling your name.
GREEK VACATION ESSENTIALS