Everyone has a bucket list and ours is pretty long (ok, very long). But we were lucky enough to have recently ticked another one off our list – the Greek islands. Ten days isn’t long enough to fully appreciate the beauty of the landscape, food, culture or people but we’ll take what we can get. Here’s our guide to the islands of Santorini and Mykonos, and hopefully we will get to uncover even more another time.
When you dream about the Greek Islands, an image of Santorini probably pops into your head. With a backdrop of steep cliffs, sparkling blue water, a volcano and those iconic white houses, Santorini is the perfect holiday destination for sun seekers from around the world. It’s a relatively quiet town, so if you plan on visiting other islands like Mykonos or Ios then be sure to end your trip here as it’s all about relaxation and recovery.
What To Do – Take a local bus from the main town to Perivolos Beach. You can either grab a lounge and umbrella on the beach and have the cocktails brought to you, join in on a game of beach volleyball or stop in at JoJo Beach Bar for a few cool drinks, music and maybe even a swim in the pool (yes, it’s in the middle of the bar). Although a bit of a trek to get to, we love the Red Beach at Akrotiri. The landscape is dramatic and beautiful and it’s so secluded you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled across your own bit of paradise. Just remember it’s small and the sand fills up fast so make sure you grab a spot early and spend the day doing nothing but swimming in the crystal clear water or lounging around in the sun.
Where To Stay – Scirocco Apartments, Fira. Perfectly located on the cliff side of the main town. Featuring the iconic white and blue Greek architecture, Scirocco has 17 rooms ranging from studios to cave houses so it’s perfect for groups and every budget. Enjoy sunset from your balcony with a bottle of wine, sit by the pool looking out to the sea or walk the few steps up to the main street where there is endless shopping and restaurants. The best part of this place is the love that goes into running it. The family are locals so they have endless knowledge about where to go and what to do, and are happy to go out of their way to make your stay enjoyable.
Where To Eat – There are plenty of choices for all budgets and cuisines, but the most popular spot to eat is Apiron Restaurant. Fresh and local seafood is the main attraction on the menu as is the amazing view you’ll receive matched with impeccable service. Il Gelato D’Oro on Main Street in Fira is the place for anyone with a sweet tooth to check out. Hands down the friendliest place in town and they make the most amazing dairy-free dark chocolate gelato, perfect pit stop for a hot summers day.
Where To Drink – Even though drinks in Greece are relatively cheap, we spent almost every sunset on our balcony for happy hour (only because you couldn’t beat the view), but if you’re interested in some delicious cocktails then head to Franco’s Bar. It’s also on the cliffs, has great views and the bar tender can make a mean margarita.
How To Get Around – Local buses are easy to figure out, cheap and reliable. They’ll get you to all the popular beaches and attractions, and most hotels provide pickup and drop off to the airport and ferries. And don’t forget about the infamous donkey ride up the cliff side. It wasn’t up our alley, but it sure looked like everyone was enjoying it.
For all those travelers who are young at heart and ready to dance the night away, Mykonos is the Greek Island best suited for you. Long lazy days of laying on the beach with a cocktail or two in hand leads on to late dinners and heart pumping nights of music and socialising until you see the sun come up. Our guide to Mykonos will allow you have the best of both worlds – relaxing and partying (mostly partying).
What To Do – Besides strolling the streets of the Old Town and the seaside, visiting the famous windmills or enjoying the shopping, get on your quad bike and get out of the main tourist area. Head to one of the many beaches around the island like Panormos Beach. Giant white pillows are scattered along this small secluded beach giving you the impression you need to be fabulously chic to hang out there. If you book at table at Panormos Beach Restaurant for lunch, you can use the giant pillows, lounges and umbrellas all day free-of-charge.
Where To Stay – Paradise View Hotel has the best facilities for the best price in the best location. It overlooks Paradise beach, so you’re close enough to walk to all the party spots but far enough away to relax during the day by the pool. George, the hotel owner, is probably the friendliest and most helpful person ever. He’ll organise everything from restaurant bookings, quad bike hire and share all his local tips on the best beaches to check out.
Where To Eat – There are endless options in Mykonos town and all the food is world class quality and flavours. We could have spent a month here and it still wouldn’t have been long enough to try all the places on offer, but the following are a few of our favourites. Kazarma is the place to go for super fresh and local cuisine with no frills attached. It’s the perfect spot for a Greek salad and a locally brewed beer for lunch. If you feel like Italian, head to Barkia Pasta Fresca. As you walk past the restaurant during the day watch the pasta being freshly made. Once you arrive and actually taste the pasta you realise how much love has gone into each and every meal. And for something a little bit fancy, maybe even a bit romantic, try M-eating. Book ahead so you get a table outside under the vine covered canopy and make sure you try the trio of Greek dips and the caramelised pear salad.
Where To Drink – Mykonos is all about having a good time, no matter what time it is. By day, hang out on Paradise Beach for a serving of classic cocktails and at night try one of the famous nightclubs. The best is Cavo Paradiso – where world class DJs perform every night of the week and the nightlife lives on until the sun rises. Tip: go out for a late dinner around 10pm, then go for a drink in town or go back to your hotel to get ready for the night out because the night clubs don’t open until at least 2am and won’t fill up until about 3:30am.
How To Get Around – Arrange a pickup from the airport or ferry through your hotel, they are usually free-of-charge. Although there are local buses, they get full very quickly and only take you to a few main spots. There are so many secluded, off-the-beaten track beaches waiting to be discovered so hire a quad bike for the time you’re there. They are by far the most fun way to get from A to B, but just be sure to wear a helmet!