As a travel advisor it is so fun to have a pulse on what is hot, and over the past year and a half, Greece is one of my most requested destinations in Europe. It checks so many boxes – history, food and wine, natural beauty, relaxation, island-hopping, friendliness, active adventures, boating, sun and fun!
It had been a few years since my last visit and it was wonderful to return to visit some fantastic Relais & Chateaux properties in Santorini, Crete and Mykonos. (Check out my other blog on my stay in Greek Macedonia and Bulgaria if you are interested in getting a bit more off the beaten path.)
There are many special island groups in Greece so one visit will certainly not be enough! The most famous is the Cyclades where you will find legendary destinations, such as Mykonos and Santorini, but also gorgeous lesser known islands, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Folegadros, Sifnos, Koufonisia and Amorgos.
The peak season where the islands are fully open runs primarily May through to October.
This iconic islands is known for its breathtaking caldera views, with the entire island perched atop soaring cliff-faces fo ancient volcanic ash. Arriving by ferry or yacht if you are so lucky, the white-washed homes scattered along the cliffs appear to be snow-capped.
Santorini is also famous for producing some of the best wines in Greece. Having made wine for over 3000 years and due to the mineral-rich volcanic soil and unique climate.
Assyrtiko is the most popular variety, rich in minerals and very tasty and used in most of the white wines. Nykteri is another white wine, named for the practice of picking the grapes at night to avoid oxidation and spoiling. Both are delicious, juicy and acidic which is great for drinking with food or for simply sipping throughout the day.
A day of visiting vineyards is a must, Venetsansos has the best view of them all and a terrific ancient wine making production to tour! Other favorites are Argyros – Not as pretty but perhaps the best wine! A visit to Gavalas is also a must as it is located inland and is a a traditional village winery.
There are many beautiful hotels in Santorini. I stayed at Sun Rocks which is fantastic for couples seeking a romantic hotel with incredible views and yes, be prepared for MANY steps throughout!
My suite with a spectacular private pool! Ask me about this accommodation!
The food at Sun Rocks is delicious and the cooking throughout the island is healthful and creative –
Sunsets in Santorini are breathtaking and the best places to enjoy it from are in the towns of Oia and here in Imerovigli –
Greece is a great destination to travel to with a group of friends and this can be done by island hopping by ferry or by yacht. Love our friends from Sun Rocks, Relais & Chateaux!
The island itself is gorgeous to walk, take pictures and explore…..
Be prepared to get your STEPS in, this day was simply walking around from my room, to the restaurant, to the town – Santorini is not ideal for a sedentary lifestyle! 🙂
FERRY LIFE –
The Greek ferries are terrific. You have to be prepared for a bit of a cattle call when embarking and disembarking. It is absolutely incredible how many people they move on and off the ships in very short stops. I can give you some tips prior to your trip but it is a great way to travel and of course, we will always book the very best class of service to make your journey most comfortable.
The largest island in Greece. Crete is a feast for the senses: wild natural beauty and thousands of years of culture, history and truly exquisite cuisine.
This is an island ideal for those wanting history, beaches and active adventures.
On Crete, you’ll find some of the most significant attractions in Greece: famous archaeological sites such as the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Kato Zakros.
My brief visit to the island was to Elounda where the highest concentration of top hotels are located and we stayed at the lovely and classic Elounda Mare.
Great beach clubs, nightlife, shopping, beaches, a wonderful old town and some terrific chic hotels.
The Myconian Collection is a hotel group owned and run by 4 brothers who could not be more hospitable. Each one is unique and chic – I can help you determine the best fit for you.
I loved the design of this hotel, the food and service were sublime, the the private beach club is perfect.
Can’t get enough of the delicious Greek wines!
Comfortable and chic rooms –
When in Greece, order the Freddo Espresso if you want to do as the Greeks. Delicious for breakfast and refreshing any time!
Many of my clients traveling to Greece are families who enjoy a villa experience. The Myconian Villas are ideal!
The stunning pool deck –
And yes, some Rose Brut is perfect –
This hotel is very large but well located to get to the town of Mykonos and it’s very hip!
This hotel is very well located to town and has a great restaurant and energetic vibe. Great for younger couples.
A stay on Mykonos with out a couple of afternoons spent at one of their famous beach clubs would be a miss. Skorpios and Namos may be the most famous beach club and well worth a visit, but my favorite was Principote – such beautiful design and style:
Be sure to reserve in advance, come for lunch and lounge for the day. It can be quite a party, but also great fun for friends and families with teen kids.
Rizes is a new “village” show casting the best of Myconian culture and food and highly recommended for families as a cultural outing. It is a family owned village and very well done – no bus tours here, very personalized and the visit can be customized to your interest – break making, wine making, art, dance, etc. Spend a hands-on afternoon learning about traditional Myconian life.
Kikies – this little gem is a must – no-frills and rustic Greek restaurant cooking lunches over open fire. Arrive by 11am to queue up for a 12:30pm lunch. It is well worth it. There is a public beach next door – one of the few places without a pay-to-play beach club, so bring a towel so you can cool off while you wait in line!
Greece invites you to come again and again!
This brief visit to the big island of Crete and two of the most popular Cycladic islands is by no means a complete itinerary in fact it only touches the surface!! In the Cycladic islands alone Syfnos, Paros, Naxos, Andros, Milos and Ios and so many more are very much worth a visit or even a long lazy stay.
What about Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands? Corfu and the Ionian Islands? The Sporades Islands, the Sarconic Islands, the North Aegean Islands? Many of my clients prefer to charter a yacht and have the freedom to visit many more islands than possible with a land itinerary.
Either way, some time in Athens is always a must, the city really has so much more than the breathtaking acropolis!
Whether you start or finish your itinerary in Athens, I can’t say enough about the food and wine scene here. I would suggest you let me see you up with one of our sommelier guides for a wine bar hopping tour and introduction to one of the oldest wine making cultures in the world!!
For one night in Athens, I prefer my clients to stay in the city in at the Grand Bretagne. For those that have more time to explore the city and the outskirts including the spectacular archeological site at Sounio, there is now a spectacular luxury option to stay at the new Four Seasons Astir Palace located on the Athenian Riviera.
This is a full fledged resort property with beach, water sports, spa and multiple excellent restaurants just 30 minutes outside of Athens. The rooms are GORGEOUS and exceptionally well-designed! For two nights or more in Athens, this is the place to stay!
Greece is hot, contact me now to discuss the best way for you to conquer the destination! Watch for my next blog on my visit to Greek Macedonia and Bulgaria, off the beaten path and maybe feels a bit more like Tuscany!
“YAMAS!” Cheers and to good health! The Greeks sure know a bit about the spirit of both!