In this guest post, Colm Hanratty and Tracy Lynch of Hostelworld.com takes us through some of the best islands in Greece to pencil in to your island-hopping itinerary.
I have a penchant for islands. The way of life is laid back on them and the people are friendly. There’s always lots to do – if you like lazing in the sun, depending on what part of the world you’re in, they’re full of beaches. If you’re a more active person, then there’s hiking to be done. I’m a bit of a water baby at heart so am fond of the activities that can be done too.
An archipelago that begs being explored in Europe is that belonging to Greece. Here you’ve got party islands, quieter islands, plus you can visit one of Europe’s most famous capitals before you head off.
Ok, so Athens isn’t an island, but I can’t write about Greece and not mention the capital. It’s a city that needs to be really explored to be proper appreciated. Do so and you’ll discover neighbourhoods like Kolonaki and Monatiraki before ending the evening among the bars in Gazi. So my advice is this – if you’re thinking of heading to Greece make sure to put by a couple of days to see what Athens has to offer. You’ll be nicely surprised. Now, on to those islands…
You know that photo you always see advertised with Greece of the blue roof overlooking the sea? That’s shot is from a village called Oia on the island of Santorini. After the Acropolis, it’s safe to say it’s Greece’s ‘Eiffel Tower’. This is by far the most popular attraction on the island, but if you’ve time to explore you can visit wineries, check out volcanic cliffs, or visit the island’s very own Pompeii called Akrotiri – a town over 3,500 years old that was persevered in volcanic ash.
Photo by meggievoogt
The largest of the Greek Islands is Crete – a place where you’ll discover a diverse range of attractions from enchanting ruins to idyllic beaches to hectic nightlife. The island is full of breathtaking scenery where mountain ranges dotted with hidden churches fall into the deep blue sea, and towns are surrounded by stunning beaches and populated with bars and restaurants.
Explore the island even more and you’ll discover hidden mosques and monasteries in the hills. Must-sees on the island include the Minoan Palace of Knossos along with the capital of Iraklio - Greece’s 5th largest city. If it’s nightlife you’re after towns such as Stalis and Hersonissos should be on your radar.
Photo by will
If you want to spend your days on golden beaches or discovering Aegean architecture, then Ios should be on your list when planning a Greek island-hopping adventure. Undoubtedly (another) party island, get up early and you’ll find historical landmarks such as Homer’s Tomb or visit some of over 350 churches on the island. Chora is its main town which is peaceful and charming with winding streets and blue and white buildings. However, at night these streets come alive as the restaurants and bars are filled with visitors looking for entertainment.
Photo by meggievoogt
Part of the Cyclades group of islands, Mykonos is yet another island the hedonists will enjoy. But let’s focus on what else the island has to offer… Its longest stretch of beach is Elia Beach which is easily accessible from Mykonos Town. If you’re looking for a good photo op visit Little Venice with its white stone building resting on the sea’s edge. If it’s peace and quiet you’re after then take the trip to Delos, a neighbouring, uninhabited island.
Photo by copperowl
The most northern of the Ionian islands, Corfu has an extremely Italian feel to it, and walking the streets of Corfu Town (the main town on the island), you could easily forget you were in Greece at all. This is due to the island’s location (you can get to Italy by ferry from here). Due to its popularity it’s got water parks if that’s your thing. If it’s not there are palaces and churches to discover. Of course, if it’s just relaxing you want to do, it’s full of golden beaches too.
Photo by david_vanesse
Zakynthos is the ideal pick if you’re looking for culture, sandy beaches and breathtaking scenery. This island is regarded as one of the sunniest in the Mediterranean which makes enjoying its stunning sandy beaches even easier. In fact, one of the most popular attractions on the island is Navagio Beach. This hidden cove is only accessible by boat as it lies in the shadow of high cliffs. Take a boat trip here and you’ll be rewarded with a swim in the turquoise waters and views not to be forgotten. The island is also popular for diving and lots of other exciting water-sports.
Photo by todd-holly (and cover image)
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