With picture-perfect scenery, its warm welcoming climate and rich cultural traditions, it’s little wonder Greece is a favourite island destination.
The country boasts over 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, over 220 of which are inhabited, spread across eight groupings.
With so many islands to choose from, tour specialist Europe Holidays (www.europeholidays.com.au)recommends starting with two of the most well-loved and well-known islands – Santorini and Mykonos – as the basis for exploring Greek life. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of these two glamorous islands popular with the jet-setting crowd, there are secluded beaches, quiet towns and architectural gems to discover.
Europe Holiday’s Managing Director, Chip Popescu, says Santorini and Mykonos embody the beauty of the Greek islands.
“Santorini is sometimes called the ‘supermodel’, or most beautiful Greek island, while Mykonos is portrayed as the ‘glamour’ island,” says Popescu.
“Greek islands are more than just playgrounds for the rich and famous. The reality is they are both beautiful and full of beautiful people, but there is so much more to these two jewels in the crown.
“Without much effort, it is possible to get away from the throngs, and see the true local traditions come to life. And what better way to see these islands than by the trademark of Greek summer, via the ferries plying its waterways.”
Resting in the middle of the beautiful Aegean, Santorini covers the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history.
Actually a group of islands, Santorini has an intriguing past with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia just two of its highlights.
Simply beautiful, Santorini will take your breath away with its multi-coloured cliffs soaring over a sea-drowned caldera, as well as colourful and white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops.
On the main island of Thira, the main town is ‘Fira’. The cultural and commercial hub, Fira is a highly photogenic town, with cobbled streets and a range of retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Santorini’s beaches are iconic, uniquely influenced by the island’s volcanic past. Some of the best include:
- Red Beach: 12 kilometres southwest of Fira, Red Beach acquired its name due to its black and red pebbles, and hot water. It’s one of Santorini’s most famous beaches.
Southeast of Fira:
- Kamari Beach: Nestled at the base of the northern side of the impressive mountain, Mesa Vouno, the cosmopolitan Kamari beach has a popular beach promenade along its black sand, and offers a variety of water sports and diving.
- Perissa and Perivolos: Located on the southern side of Mesa Vouno, collectively the two beaches are the longest on the island, with Perivolos the more upmarket of the two.
Northeast of Fira
- Koloumbo Beach: one of the most isolated and unspoilt beaches on Santorini, Koloumbo has fine black pebbles and a striking rock overhang at one end. There are no provisions available at the beach, so visitors need to bring everything they need with them from nearby Oia.
MykonosWith a long and colourful history dating back to 5,000 BC, Mykonos casts a spell on visitors from the moment they arrive, with its beautiful white buildings that glow in the sunlight, narrow marbled streets, hidden churches and windmills watching over the city. It’s also renowned for its extraordinary sandy beaches and buzzing nightlife.
A premier destination in its own right, it also serves as a stepping stone to the ancient site of Delos, famous for its antiquities and history.
Mykonos offers something for every kind of travellers. Its lively waterfront is home to fleets of fishing villages, as well as a wide range of water sports, including diving, sailing and windsurfing. It’s also appreciated for its gastronomical delights, stunning scenery, culture and history and partying.
From the main city of Hora as a base, there are a range of beaches, including the party-styled Paradise Beach, the family-friendly beaches of Ornos and Psarou, and the more secluded and serene northern coast beaches such as Ayia, Anna and others.
Peak time to visit is from April – November.
Europe Holidays Greek Island Hopping tour
Europe Holidays offers a 8 day/7 night Greek Ferry tour from Athens – Santorini – Mykonos back to Athens from $995 per person twin share.
The package includes 3 nights’ accommodation in Athens, 2 nights’ accommodation in Santorini and 2 nights’ accommodation in Mykonos, 7 breakfasts, transfers, and ferry tickets from Piraeus – Santorini, Santorini – Mykonos and Mykonos – Piraeus.