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Traveling To Greece? These Are The 7 Best Greek Islands To Consider
Greece and its numerous islands have inspired wonder for generations, and the artistic, archaeological, and cultural contributions to the world over the ages cannot be overstated.
There’s a dizzying amount of beaches, some with sand like sugar and tranquil waters, others with rocky terrain and waves ideal for certain water sports. Greek people are generally friendly (sometimes in excess to a more reserved person), and they are proud to share their illustrious culture.
Prior to arrival in Greece, familiarize yourself with local norms and customs so as not to inadvertently cause offense. Also, don’t expect to have access to the exact luxuries you are used to at home— this defeats the purpose of traveling in the first place.
In no particular order, here are 7 of the best Greek islands to consider.
Santorini is perhaps the most popular of the Greek islands, evident by the thousands of tourists it attracts yearly. It’s half moon shape is the result of a volcanic eruption that destroyed its other half around 1,650 BC.
Today, its villages are postcard-perfect, dotted with houses recalling sugar cubes. Other alluring factors include the enviable sunsets and sandy beaches, not to be outdone by the volcano, which is still active, and is a must-see for adventure seekers.
Check out Oia, a village towards the north of the island, offering a selection of restaurants and taverns, where you can expect delicious seafood. There’s also the Maritime Museum, which houses sea treasures from across the ages.
If you’re keen on having access to a bit more action, visit the capital city of Fira, which offers all that Oia does, but with more nightlife.
Crete has the distinction of being the largest Greek island, and it is the fifth-largest island in all the Mediterranean.
It hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, some of them religious, others simply for the thrill of bacchanalia.
Crete offers several spectacular beaches such as Elafonisi, recognizable for its pink sand and shallow waters, ideally suited for less confident swimmers and young children.
For more waves, you might consider Kommos Beach, especially if you’re a nudist. There are a few tavernas nearby if you’re in the mood for a light meal or a refreshing drink. Lounge on a sunbed with a cocktail as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.
If you’re planning to walk to Preveli Beach, be sure to wear sneakers, as the terrain is uneven and steep in places. Here, you’re enveloped by verdant vegetation, palm trees, and sand that feels like warm sugar beneath your feet. There is an additional water feature here, the delta formed by the Kourtaliotis River.
When you arrive in the Old Town of Corfu (especially after visiting the other islands), you’ll notice that the architecture is less Greek and more Venetian, as it was under Venetian rule for years. In fact, some people say the Old Town is just like Venice, without the canals.
Corfu’s proximity to mainland Europe wields considerable influence on its cuisine. The Italian touch can be found in pastitsada, a flavorful pasta and meat dish. To a lesser extent, Corfu takes its cue from France as well, particularly in how some dishes are prepared.
Meat and fish are staples in Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean in general. But some meals, such as papoutsakia, which consists of eggplant, tomato, and béchamel sauce, can be modified for vegetarians by removing the minced meat.
Paros’ capital city, Parikia, is appointed with walking paths and roads weaving past shops, restaurants, and churches, like a labyrinth.
Perhaps the most famous house of worship here is Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a Byzantine masterpiece, known as “the church of 100 doors.” Whether you’re religious or not, you can appreciate this wonder of architecture.
Outside of Parikia, check out seaside-chic Naoussa, with its glamorous boutiques.
There are beaches on Paros for everybody, from casual swimmers to windsurfers. Do a bit of research on beach types and conditions to figure out which is most suitable for you.
If you’re looking for a more low-key Greek island, look to Antiparos, the quieter, more unassuming sister of Paros.
Of course there are shops, restaurants, and beaches to explore, but there’s a lingering aura of stillness, conducive to relaxation, and life tends to be slower here.
When you’ve had enough tranquility for the day, hop on the ferry back to Paros, which only takes 10 minutes.
Lefkada is perhaps more obscure than its siblings, and trying to get there is an adventure in and of itself.
In the absence of an airport on the island, prepare to fly into mainland Greece and drive across the bridge that connects them.
Sites of interest include the waterfalls of Nydri, and some beaches include Porto Katsiki (with its brilliant blue waters), Mikros Gialos, and Egremni, (note that this last one can only be reached by watercraft).
Mykonos is to Greece what Ibiza is to Spain, so if you’re a party animal, this is the island for you!
Dance on the beaches with revelers from around the world from dusk till dawn. Cavo Paradiso is a famous, open-air beach club, and it can get crowded fast, so try to book a table in advance if possible.
There’s also Babylon, a gay bar and club, where drag shows and themed events are held. If you’re a lover of electronic music, this spot delivers it all, from progressive trance to deep house.