If you ask anyone what is the first image that comes into their head when they think of Greece, most probably it will be that of the Acropolis, Greek salad, Socrates and sunny, warm weather. Though Greece is indeed the country of olives, white sand, shiny sun, light blue skies, turquoise sea and a pleasant climate, its beaches are a true wonder – Greece has the longest coastline in Europe, not only on mainland, but also on the islands. Holidays in Greece can be extremely varied, you can choose from the numerous islands that this country boasts in both Aegean and Ionian seas. Whether it is a beautiful beach that you are looking for, a busy nightlife, Orthodox shrines and churches, scenic landscapes or luxurious resorts – Greece has it all and here is my pick of the top 5 islands to visit in the summer!
Crete is the biggest Greek island and it offers beautiful sandy beaches, luxurious resorts with highly developed infrastructure, cozy hotels, an abundance of cultural and religious sites, traditional tavernas offering mouthwatering delights, vineyards and olive groves that seem to have come out of a myth and numerous legends related to this island. Whether you would like to relax in one of the beach bars in Elafonissi or near Heraklion, or to marvel at the stunning beauty of nature at the Samaria gorge and the Lassithi plateau, or explore and see for yourself the Knossos Palace, presumably the place where the minotaur was defeated by the mighty Theseus, Crete has multiple activities and types of holidays to offer to its guests.
Mykonos, also known as the party island, and an extremely popular bohemian destination for wealthy Athenians, does not stop to impress its visitors by the abundance of extravagant and posh resorts, new beach bars and expensive boutiques. This place is where you will be pampered from head to toe, with any whim attended to immediately and any decadent act of hedonism fulfilled. From nudist beaches to Louis Vuitton stores and hotels that cost thousands of dollars per night, you have the chance to suntan next to Valentino, and dance the night away at the same night club as Beyonce and Jay Z.
Another island in the top 5 is of course, Santorini – the magical island, where you will fall in love with the hotels that are nestled right in the caves, local architectural style, where all the buildings are white with light blue roofs, the restaurants and bars that offer extensive sea views and the most beautiful sunset which can be enjoyed from a romantic spot in Oia. Being an island of volcanic origin, the beaches here have black or red ‘sand’ that has been formed by nature for centuries. This island has been voted as one of the most charming places in Greece that people dream of visiting, in order to see this spectacle of perfection in architecture, harmony of nature, colourful landscapes and a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Located on the other coast, namely in the Ionian sea, Zakynthos, otherwise known as Zante, is another fascinating island in Greece. It attracts visitors because of its pristine beauty, subtle Greek flavours influenced by the Venetians, comfortable hotels, beautiful coves, mountain villages nestled in pine forests, Navagio bay and the famous Careta-Careta sea turtles. Holidays on this island will be filled with pleasant surprises and wonderful moment that you will remain as great memories.
Located just off the Attica coast, Aegina is a small island that can be reached by a speedboat from the Athenian port of Pireaus. This island, though quite small, yet very traditional and picturesque, has made our top 5, as it can be accessed very easily and you can come here while visiting Athens for a day away from the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan city. Swim in the pleasant sea, drink a delicious Greek coffee and observe the slow-paced way of life that is so characteristic to island life.
Being the sanctuary of Gods, Greece remains a wonderful country that has not only miracles of nature, but also of mankind to offer. One of the most exciting things to do is go island hopping, since each place has a distinct charm and character, it is absolutely thrilling to try Cretan home-made Raki, dance the night away at Paradise Club in Mykonos, visit the breathtaking caves in Zante, share the perfect sunset at Thira with your partner and enjoy a lazy siesta on Aegina.