Rich in culture and ancient history, the mainland and its many islands welcome visitors to explore archaeological sites, flower-covered laneways, delicious food and wine, and charming villages. I’m just back from Greece after visiting the southernmost island of Crete, the popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos, and Athens.
Crete has a diverse landscape with both sandy and rocky beaches, mountains, palm tree forests and bustling modern cities that share the coastline with centuries-old buildings. I stayed at the beautiful Blue Palace near the chic port city of Elounda. I loved the location just a 5 minute walk from the charming village of Plaka and with a birds eye view of Spinalonga island, which used to be a leper colony. The resort has its own funicular to take you from the beach up to the main buildings and pool. Suites come with private pools and plenty of space, perfect for all types of travelers.
The next destination was Santorini by ferry. The ferry is surprisingly comfortable, but make sure you are on time as they unload and reload practically simultaneously. Note that people embark and disembark in the garage – and that is where you must store your luggage.
Santorini sports whitewashed buildings, flower-covered laneways and alfresco cafes in the delightful cities of Fira and Oia. Here is where you’ll find small and large chapels throughout the island, many with the signature blue dome roofs. Children under 13 years of age are not allowed to stay in hotels in Oia along the Caldera as the steps are steep, uneven, and can be slippery. Santorini makes beautiful wines with vines grown close to the ground that form “nests” to protect them from harsh winds and sunlight. I stayed at Canaves Oia Epitome, above the pretty fishing village of Ammoudi. Designed with traditional Cycladic architecture, its earthy materials stood apart from the traditional white-washed décor of many other properties. It is the only property on the island with sea and sunset views from each of its rooms.
Mykonos is popular with its beautiful beaches, white houses, Little Venice, and windmills. I loved walking through Mykonos town and then enjoying a cold beer with a view of the windmills. I did not make it to any beach clubs, but JackieO’, Nammos, and Scorpios are three top clubs to check out. I stayed at the chic Myconian Ambassador offering magnificent Aegean views and just steps from the fine sands of Platis Gialos Beach with its shallow and clear water.
Athens was the most influential city of ancient times. I was happy to explore its contemporary and ancient side while watching a changing of the Presidential Guard, visiting the Acropolis and enjoying the Plaka. The Grand Bretagne is a Grande Dame and the best property in town with amazing views of the Acropolis.
With so many islands and Greek destinations to choose from, there is bound to be something that will tickle your fancy.
Helen Jordan is the owner of Jordan Luxury Travel, an independent affiliate of Brownell Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She can be reached at [email protected].