Visiting Santorini and Mykonos has been a dream of mine since I can remember!
It was a hard decision on how to spend my time in the Greek islands as there are so many ways to explore by small group tour, independently by ferry & hotels, cruise or by sailboat. I opted for a small group tour with Intrepid Travel with ferries as our main transportation between the Islands. Also, my sea legs are a little too wobbly for a small sailboat and I prefer to spend my evenings wandering around the streets talking with locals and watching the cruise ships travel to their next destination.
The hotel in Athens we stayed at had a rooftop bar where you could sit and take in the acropolis at night. This was my first introduction to Greece and could very well be the moment I started to fall in love with this beautiful country and I had only just arrived! I couldn’t wait to see what the week was going to bring.
We started the trip with the island of Syros which, was a 4 hour ferry ride from Athens. This quaint Island is one of the best kept secrets as most people head straight for Mykonos, Santorini or Crete. A bonus is that most places on the island are within walking distance or a short taxi ride if you want to head to the beach for the day.
Ano Syros, is a fortress-like town located a short distance from the main town centre of Syros where you will experience great views of the Aegean Sea. I was lucky enough to practice some of my very terrible Greek with the local woman as I was too busy taking photos and lost everyone! Even though we spoke completely different languages they were really patient and helped me find my way back down to Syros. If you aren’t used to walking up many stairs on a daily basis I’d recommend taking the bus to the top of Ano Syros and walking down.
I spent the afternoon lying on the beach however, I wished that I’d spent that time looking around the boutique shops in Syros as unlike Myoknos & Santorini they close early.
Next stop was Mykonos, a two hour ferry from Syros this is where you will start to see more white & blue buildings. The island is named in honour of Apollo’s grandson and during the day it is bustling with tourists from the island and cruise ships. I recommend heading to the beach or Delos, archaeological site during the day (early morning) and exploring the boutique shops in the evening as during the summer months the shops are usually open from 10am until midnight.
I spent a couple of hours in the evening before dinner wandering through the narrow streets talking with the locals about their lives and the hardship that Greece has been through in the past few years and are still experiencing.
Santorini, what dreams are made of! Beautiful buildings, dramatic views and stunning sunsets this place really does live up to expectations once you get to know the island. Fira, the town reminded me a little of Queenstown with lots of tourists, shops and lots of places to eat out during the day and night.
There is a spectacular hike that takes you from Fira to Oia around the edge of the crater! If walking isn't your cup of tea there is a bus that runs from downtown Fira to Oia. The hike takes between 3-5 hours and can either self-guided or on a guided tour. I personally prefer a tour as you get to learn about the area and what you are looking at! Otherwise, I’d have no idea!
Oia, famous for its blue dome or domes! Home to Atlantis Bookstore which is usually open from 10am - 12am, it is popular so I’d recommend arriving before it opens - if possible!
Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, heat and experience a different side of the Islands September is the time to go! Where the temperatures are dropping but the ocean is still warm enough to swim. If you aren’t wanting to swim and don’t mind it being a little cooler at night May would be my next pick.
Up next… Athens and Greece mainland