April 25, 2018 | By Roxane Hudon |
So many islands, so little time!
We found pieces of paradise scattered across the Aegean Sea and we’re here to help you pick the perfect one (or ones! Island hopping, anyone?). If you’re dreaming of a Greek island vacation, but aren’t sure where to start, keep calm and read on. Here’s our breakdown of our favourite Greek islands for every type of traveller!
For Lovers & Sun Seekers: Santorini
If you’re looking up Greek islands, chances are you’ve stumbled on Instagram-worthy images of the island of Santorini, home to one of the most photographed, most spectacular sunsets in the world. If not, picture this: iconic, whitewashed houses overlooking volcanic cliffs, with the sun dipping into the horizon above cerulean waters, painting the sky in sumptuous shades. Shall we go on?
With its sweeping stairways and idyllic hillside villages, there’s no wonder stunning Santorini is a go-to spot for honeymooners and romantic revellers and one of the most popular islands to visit. If you’re not falling in love with the caldera views, then the colourful beaches and historic sites like the Museum of Prehistoric Thera might just seal the deal. Stop in Santorini with this Best of Greece tour!
For Party Animals: Mykonos
Oh, mythical Mykonos –the place to party in the Aegean since the 1960s! It’s where your sunset cocktails last till sunrise and stylish hotels spruce up a rugged and rocky landscape. Pose for dramatic pictures next to the island’s traditional windmills in Mykonos Town before jetting off to decadent dance clubs or all-night parties on Paradise Beach.
For less glitz and glam, stroll through Little Venice to take in the charming architecture of buildings built right on the waterfront. Occupying its narrow streets are chic shops where you can stock up on breezy island fashion before your next escapade. Alternately, you can opt to redeem yourself within the bright, white walls of the uniquely shaped Church of Panagia Paraportiani. Hop on the Mykonos and the Aegean tour to move it in Mykonos.
For Peace Pursuers: Patmos
Here comes your moment of zen! Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the gorgeous Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, perched atop the island’s central hill, brings a calming spirituality to Patmos, appropriately nicknamed the ‘Holy Island.’ This is where Saint John imagined the end of the world and hey, it might not be the worst spot to find yourself if it does come.
Start at the Cave of the Apocalypse, a strange sacred site hewn into the rock and guarded by a monk to ensure total tranquility. Of course, once you’ve soaked in the spiritual atmosphere, countless beaches welcome you for some much-needed serene swimming. Find peace in Patmos with the Classical Greece & Cruise option.
For History Buffs: Crete
Time travel? It exists! Or so it seems when you land on the shores of Crete, the cradle of Minoan civilization about 4,000 years ago. Admire the remnants of one of the first major European societies at the archeological site of Knossos, the former capital of Minoan Crete. Highlights include the countless courtyards and chambers of the palace and the impressive frescoes colouring the ruins.
If you’re mad for mythology, venture to the alleged birthplace of Zeus, king of all Greek gods. Two caves make that claim, including the mysterious and gorgeous Dikteon Cave near the village of Psyhro and the Ideon Cave, located on Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain on Crete.
We’d be lying if we said Crete is all about the past. Travellers seeking more modern indulgences can always happily convene on sun-soaked sands for happy hour. Our Island Delights tour allows you to take in the best parts, past and present, of Crete, largest of the Greek islands.
For Hikers & Beach Explorers: Naxos
More beaches, please! With multitudes flocking to famous Santorini or Mykonos, many overlook the smaller, just-as-picturesque, Greek islands, like heavenly Naxos. The island’s mountainous lands and green valleys create all kinds of natural nooks and crannies for you to discover. Various hiking trails take you through this changing scenery, from the village of Filoti to the peak of Mount Zas. Naxos’ agriculture will please the most ardent foodie’s palate with local produce served up every which way in typical tavernas.
What about the beaches, you ask? We’re getting there! The southwest coast of Naxos is basically one long beach leading you to wilder sandy shores that range from secluded havens like Plaka to windy spots ideal for windsurfing like Mikri Vigla. Discover them all during our Cycladic Discovery tour!
Set your watch to island time! Hot travel tip: Air Canada Vacations offers a variety of island hopping tours to take you from Athens to every island we’ve mentioned here and more. These usually last between 10 and 14 days to give you plenty of time to discover Greece’s capital, as well as several of the best Greek islands. All of these tours stop in the two must-see islands, Mykonos and Santorini, and take place between May and October.