Category: Ionian islands (page 1 of 2)

Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

Chora on Astipalia island

A Venetian castle towers above Chora village on Astipalea island. The quiet and unassuming Dodecanese island boasts beautiful scenery, some of which you can see in the video featured in my post Aspects of Astipalea.  

 

Budget friendly: Are you considering a trip to Greece this summer, but wondering where you can go to avoid draining your bank account paying for food and accommodations at expensive destinations like Mykonos and Santorini? Although it’s possible to holiday on a tight budget on both those islands. as well as other high-profile destinations, there are numerous alternatives that offer great Greek holiday experiences at considerably cheaper prices. You’ll find some excellent suggestions in the article Best low budget summer destinations in Greece, published by the informative and insightful travel website  HIP GREECE.

The article lists more than a dozen islands plus one mainland Greece resort area that won’t break the bank, and offers brief descriptions of highlight attractions at each place, with links to additional in-depth articles about some of the destinations.

The spotlighted destinations include:

♦ The Small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Koufonissia (Pano and Kato Koufonissi), Donousa and Schinoussa

♦ Kythira

♦ Serifos

♦ Tinos

♦ Ios

♦ Ikaria

♦ Astipalea

♦ Lefkada

♦ Skopelos, and

♦ Parga, a picturesque coastal resort area near the town of Preveza in western Greece.

You can read the complete HIP GREECE article by clicking here.

 

 

We’ve been to three of the recommended islands — Astipalea, Ios and Tinos — and have had brief peeks at the Small Cyclades during port stops on a ride from Amorgos to Naxos on the Express Skopelitis ferry. We would agree that all are good choices for travellers visiting Greece on a budget. We haven’t yet been to the other destinations cited by HIP GREECE, but several friends have told us Kythira, Serifos and Ikaria are wallet-friendly, while others have said the same for the Small Cyclades. However, we were surprised that Naxos wasn’t mentioned — we have found it to be the most reasonably priced island of all we have been to so far and it remains one of our favourite places to visit in large part for that reason. (See my article  Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos for further information about that wonderful island). 

Keep in mind that the main tourist period in Greece runs from late April until early October, with July and August being peak travel season. July and especially August also happen to be the most expensive months to visit, so if you’re on a limited budget, try to schedule your vacation for April, May, June, late September or early October, when prices tend to be much lower. Hotel rates usually skyrocket for August, and hostel, camping and cheaper basic accommodations typically tend to book up early in the year. If you can only travel during peak season, make arrangements for your accommodations as soon as possible to secure the lowest prices.

Chora village on Ios

Chora village on Ios is chock full of restaurants and bars, while the island is blessed with numerous gorgeous beaches including Mylopotas (which is walking distance from Chora) and Manganari.

 

Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece

Athens Acropolis with snow photographed by Maria Theofanopoulou

Maria Theofanopoulou captured this beautiful photo of the snow-dusted Acropolis in Athens on the morning of Tuesday January 10. She shot the image from a rooftop vantage point at the Electra Metropolis Athens hotel.

 

Surreal snow scenes:  Since the Christmas holiday period, I have been fascinated viewing hundreds of images of stunning winter scenery that people throughout Greece have been sharing on social media. Although the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page is usually filled with breathtaking photos of beautiful beaches, stunning seasides, charming villages and historic monuments, I have been surprised to see that familiar places look almost completely different under dark, stormy skies and blankets of crisp white snow.

At times the pictures of snow-covered beaches, ruins and villages in Greece have seemed surreal to me, especially since there is almost no snow anywhere near my home in downtown Toronto.  Scenes of streets knee-deep in fluffy soft snow are something I would expect from most places in Canada this time of year, but not on Greek islands like Skiathos, Skopelos or Evia!

 

 

I find the images particularly impressive because they show how spectacular Greece looks even in extremely severe weather during a season few tourists get to see and experience. 

If, like me, you have only visited Greece during spring, summer or fall, you probably will be pleasantly surprised to see just how striking and amazing various regions looked during the cold snap that has gripped much of the nation since Christmas.

Below are photos of wintry scenes in several popular Greece destinations, followed on page 2 of this post by dozens of photos from Athens, Rhodes, Chios, Evia, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, Sparta, Mystras, Lakonia, Corinth and Ioannina.  Part 2 includes photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. With links to scores of additional snow pictures and videos, this two-part feature is one of the most comprehensive collections of Greece winter storm photos you’ll find in one spot.

(Please note that I have done my best to credit the original photographers for each image. However, it wasn’t always possible to trace back all sources. if you notice an incorrect attribution for any of the pictures, please let me know and I’ll be happy to correct the photo credits.)

So bundle up and enjoy a photo tour of winter wonderlands in Greece! 

 

Constantinos Mg photo of snow in Kymi village on Evia

Evia island (also spelled Evvoia and Euboea) was one of the places hardest-hit by snowfalls, with some regions receiving nearly 2 meters of white stuff. Constantinos Mg photographed this snow-filled street in Kymi.

 

Snow on Mandraki beach on Skiathos

It looks like a scene from the Arctic, but this actually is Mandraki beach on Skiathos, photographed by Nikos Mavropoulos 

 

Snow at Parga Greece

Parga looks pretty all dressed in white. This image of the popular seaside resort in northwestern Greece was shared on the Meteo Gr Facebook page

. snow on Skiathos

This photo of snow on Skopelos island has been widely shared on social media, including the Meteo Gr page on Facebook

 

Snow at Myrtos beachon Kefalonia

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia after a snowfall. The image appeared on the Amazing Greece / Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

Snow at Knossos Palace on Crete

Snow blankets the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion, seen in a photo from the My Crete Guide page on Facebook

 

Snow on Charaki beach on Rhodes

A Christmas Eve view of Charaki beach on Rhodes, seen in an image shared by the Rhodes Through My Eyes page on Facebook

 

Snow at Chania Crete

Léandrou Simeonidis captured this breathtaking scene as stormclouds filled the sky above the city of Chania on Crete

 

Lagada village on Chios island

It looks like a scene from a Christmas card, but it’s a photo by George Zournas showing Lagada village on Chios island after a snowfall

 

Snow at Nafplio

The Bourtzi sea castle at Nafplio is surrounded by snowy mountains and  white landscapes in this image by Σεραφείμ Ζίου 

 

Snow at Thessaloniki Greece

Αλέξανδρου Παπαδόπουλου took this photo of the Thessaloniki waterfront during a snowstorm

 

Snow at Mystras Greece

Sunshine illuminates one of the churches at Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Sparta. The image appears in a collection of Mystras snow photos published on the Evrotas blog of landscape photography from the Sparta region. 

 

Please click on the link below to view more photos on page 2 of this post.

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Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece: Part 2

Kalavrita Ski Center in Greece

There is snow as far as the eye can see along the road to Kalavrita Ski Center in the northern Peloponnese. The picture was posted to the ski resort’s Facebook page on January 6 

 

Winter wonders: This is the second set of photos I’m publishing on the blog to profile remarkable winter scenery in different regions of Greece — images that have been shared on social media after much of the nation was struck by icy cold temperatures and some surprisingly heavy snowfalls during the 2016 Christmas holidays and up to the second week of January 2017.

Part 1 of the photo feature included snow scenes from Athens, Ioannina, Corinth, Chios, Evia, Rhodes, Sparta, Mystras, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

 

 

Here in Part 2 I have collected photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. Many of the photo captions include links to social media pages or websites where you can find countless more pictures of snowy sites in Greece. (It could be spring by the time you manage to finish looking at the photos on all of the links!)

Click on the link beneath the next photo to view the full series of pictures on page 2 of this post.

 

Winter stormclouds above Nafplio

One of my favourite Greece winter scenes is this spectacular photograph by Thanos Komninos, which captures dark, fluffy storm clouds swirling above and around the Nafplio Old Town and Acronauplia fortress, before leaving the town dusted with a layer of light snow. The photo appeared on the Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook.

 

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Longing for Lefkada

Glimpses of gorgeous sights and scenes abound in Essence of Lefkada, a 2.5-minute film by Vimeo contributor Ambanja 

 

Three looks at Lefkada: For me, the worst thing about taking a spring vacation in Greece is what happens after I return home.

First there’s the typical post-holiday depression and disappointment that dig in deeply while I try to adjust to the reality of not being in Greece anymore. This “downer” mood tends to linger for months, and looking through our holiday photos often makes it worse (which is the reason why I typically don’t publish trip reports  or write about our vacations until later in the year.)

Then, over the next five or six months, I have to endure seeing countless pictures, videos and comments that people post on social media during their own vacations in Greece.  Many are familiar sights and scenes from places we have already visited, but most show and describe bucket list destinations that I dream about seeing some time in the future.  They instantly aggravate the symptoms of my post-holiday blues, and make me wish I could hop on a plane and fly back to Greece immediately.

Which of course is what happened when I discovered the three videos I have posted here.

 

 

The first film, Essence of Lefkada, was published in July, while the two videos below were posted online in late August. All show scenes from Lefkada which, along with all the other islands in the Ionian chain, is a destination on my lengthy “must visit” list. 

Lefkada is the favourite summer holiday island for a Greek-Canadian acquaintance who kept saying “you don’t know what you’re missing,” and frequently asked when we were finally going to go there. After watching these films, I now understand why he kept urging me to bump Lefkada higher up our list.

Give them all a look and see if they leave you wishing you could be on Lefkada right now, too.

 

Summer Dream is a 4.5-minute video by Jorde Angjelovik, showing aerial views of Lefkada landscapes, beaches and coastal scenery

 

Lefkada … in beauty is a 4.5-minute film by Drone Photography, capturing views of beautiful beaches and seasides on the island’s western coast

Considering Corfu?

Take a 3-minute aerial cruise above Corfu in this newly-released video, produced on behalf of the island’s port authority

 

Video vacation: I feel like I have just taken an extensive and exhausting (but in a good way) sightseeing trip to Corfu — even though I haven’t been there yet. And courtesy of several online videos I’ve been watching the past couple of days, it’s entirely possible that I may have just seen more of the island from here at home than I might have been able to see had I actually been on Corfu for the same period of time.

On March 14, a link to Corfu, the Garden of Gods (above) popped up in my social media news feeds, and I watched the film a few times.  The three-minute aerial video was shared by Vangelis Koulouris,  who said the short clip “was created for the Port Authority of Corfu with a view to highlight the unique environment and the multicultural history of Corfu island.”

The film features soaring views of Corfu’s lush landscapes, its picturesque coastlines and beaches, the island’s beautiful capital (also called Corfu), and cruise ships calling at its port. Corfu is, of course, one of the top Greek island destinations for cruise ships, so a video by its port authority just wouldn’t seem complete without at least a few passenger liners appearing in the picture.

 

 

As tends to happen whenever I find something interesting on social media, one thing led to another — and before long I had compiled a playlist of several more Corfu videos to view.  But except for Garden of the Gods, and another 3-minute clip, the other films weren’t as short and sweet — with run times ranging from 10 and 24 minutes to nearly two hours, they were the equivalent of watching a few evenings of TV programs. But I considered it “time well wasted,” as the saying goes.

It’s time some of you might wish to spend, too, should you be considering Corfu for an upcoming or future vacation — or should you simply want to see what the island is all about. To that end, I have posted some of the videos below. Four of the six films (including the one above) were  published just within the last several weeks, while two were released last year. What I appreciated most about the videos is that they either show or tell you the names of places you’re looking at — something all too many travel videos fail to do. 

If you manage to make it through all the clips, you’ll probably feel like you’ve just gone to the island, too — or attended a Corfu film festival!

 

My Corfu in 3 minutes is a quick-view highlight version of the considerably longer My Corfu, which is posted directly below.  Produced by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis Hotel in Perama, it’s intended for viewers who don’t have enough time to watch the full-length clip.

 

This is the full 24-minute My Corfu video by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis hotel. Most of the clip is aerial videography of places all around the island, but there is a segment showing part of the Corfu Mountain Trail footpath from Perama to Gastouri. 

 

Corfu — the island of eternal returns is a 10-minute film released just this month by the Mouzenidis Group of companies. A guide takes viewers on a tour of many of Corfu’s marvellous attractions, sights and scenery while describing highlights of the island’s history.

 

Corfu Coast Line is an aerial tour around the Corfu coast. The 48-minute film is a project of Corfu Benitses, the Association for Culture and Redevelopment of Benitses, a fishing village 12 km from Corfu city. 

 

The Corfu Vacation Travel Video Guide title says it all! Nearly 58 minutes long, the informative narrated film is a production of Exposa Travel.

 

My Movie Corfu Trail clocks in at 1 hour and 50 minutes but it is, after all, a video diary of a 10-day, 150-mile trek around the island that Tim Beal and a friend took last September.  “It is a fantastic walk and should be a tonic for all who like fine views, fine food and great people. Take two weeks out and walk Corfu… you will love it!” Tim says. If you don’t have the energy to attempt the walk yourself, simply sit back and watch Tim and his friend do it instead!

Road to Gialos beach ravaged by November earthquake and landslides on Lefkada

Gialos beach Lefkada

From high above, Lefkada’s Gialos beach looks just as beautiful as it did before a 6.1-strength earthquake struck the island last November …

 

Gialos beach Lefkada

… and it appears essentially unscathed when viewed from sea level right on its long  stretch of coarse brown sand and pebbles …

 

Damage to Gialos beach Lefkada

… but it’s a different story for the 3 km road that leads to the beach from Athani village. The earthquake shifted the ground and cut jagged deep fissures along many stretches of asphalt …

 

Damage to Gialos beach on Lefkada

… while landslides triggered by the tremors caused hills on both sides of the road to collapse, carrying away entire sections of pavement ….

 

Damage to Gialos beach road on Lefkada

… and completely burying parts of the route under thick heaps of earth, rock, trees, shrubs and other debris. (All of the above photos are screen captures from a video by YouTube member TeaTimeCreations, who recently filmed the quake and landslide damage while walking down the road to see the beach. ) 

 

Road wreck: If you hope to visit Gialos beach during your holiday on Lefkada this summer, don’t expect to get there by driving — much of the access road from Athani village has been extensively damaged and some parts completely destroyed by the earthquake that triggered massive landslides on the island last November. Unfortunately, repairs and reconstruction will be an enormously expensive and time-consuming project that can’t possibly be completed in time for this year’s tourist season.

The good news is that the beautiful beach itself — apparently the longest strand on Lefkada — was unscathed by rockfalls and tremors, and is still accessible by boat.

 

 

 

As I reported in my November 28 2015 post Two of Lefkada’s top beaches buried by landslides during November 17 earthquake,  the island’s world-famous Egremni and Porto Katsiki beaches were devastated by the November quake and landslides, which left large swaths of both strands buried under tonnes of earth, rocks, trees and other debris. At the time I prepared that post, I didn’t see any reports about damage to Gialos which, while beautiful, is not as popular and heavily-visited as Egemni and Porto Katsiki.

This week, the fate of Gialos and other beaches (and their respective access roads) has been the subject of discussion in Lefkada beaches after the earthquake, a question-and-answer thread in the Lefkada forum on TripAdvisor.com.

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, where you can see additional photos and view the TeaTimeCreations video showing the extensive damage to the Gialos beach access road.

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Christmas greetings with a special touch of Greece

Hellenic Seaways Christmas greeting 2015

The Hellenic Seaways ferry company extended holiday greetings on social media with this shiny red Christmas tree ornament decorated with a golden satellite view-image of Greece

 

Scenes of the season: My social media news feeds have been filled with hundreds of holiday greetings this week, but the ones that inspire me the most are Christmas wishes that include a photo or image of a place in Greece that I’ve either been to or hope to see someday. 

Just for fun, I have collected some of my favourites to share here on the blog.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see some of the Christmas greetings that have been spreading joy to me and many other Greece fans this festive season.

 

 

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Two of Lefkada’s top beaches buried by landslides during November 17 earthquake

Egremni beach on Lefkada

This photo of Egremni beach, from Lefkas.net, shows why it has often been cited as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches 

  Egremni beach Lefkada

Most of Egremni is now buried from landslides triggered by the earthquake that struck Lefkada on November 17, as shown in this aerial photo by Antonis Nikolopoulos for the Eurokinissi press agency

 

Clifftops collapsed:  An earthquake that struck Lefkada island on November 17 made headlines around the world, with international media reporting what little information was available at the time about collapsed buildings, widespread property damage and two deaths directly attributed to the Richter 6.1-magnitude tremblor. Greek media have since revealed that two of the island’s top beaches also sustained extensive damage from landslides that occurred during the quake.

Egremni beach, which has often scored high rankings on lists of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches, suffered the most severe damage, with landslides burying much of the long, narrow strand. Landslides also damaged the scenic beach strip at popular Porto Katsiki, but the rockfalls there apparently were much less extensive and destructive. Tons of soil, sand and rocks swept onto the beaches after being shaken loose from the dramatic 150-meter-tall cliffs that tower over the two spectacular seasides.

I have never been to either beach,  but have been enthralled by both from awe-inspiring photos I have viewed online and in travel publications, and from all the good things I’ve heard about them — and about Lefkada in general — from a Greek-Canadian acquaintance who has long been urging me to visit the island, his personal favourite holiday destination in Greece.

Although I didn’t have plans to visit Lefkada in the next two years, I did hope to get there sometime in the future. It’s sad to think the two beaches might never look as gorgeous as they did before the quake, though there is a strong chance that Porto Katsiki, at least, may eventually regain much of its former glory with the help of Mother Nature. Greek news reports have quoted geological engineering experts as saying that winter weather will probably wash away much of the soil debris that currently covers parts of Porto Katsiki beach. In fact, the normal course of nature could restore much of that beach to its former look by the time next summer’s tourist season rolls around, one expert surmised. 

 

Porto Katsiki beach Lefkada

Dreamy Porto Katsiki beach is seen in this inviting image that Flickr member Out to Lunch captured during a visit in the summer of 2014. It’s one of my favourite photographs of the beach, and illustrates one of the reasons why I hope to visit Lefkada sometime — I want to see the amazing scenery in person.

 

Porto Katsiki beach Lefkada

Large mounds of sand and stone cover much of Porto Katsiki beach in this image provided to Greek website newsbeast.gr by Efthimios Lekkas, a professor at the University of Athens and President of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation (EPPO)

 

Please click here or on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, where you can view more photos along with videos showing Egremni and Porto Katsiki before, during and after the earthquake.

 

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Where to find five of the best beaches in Greece

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos island Greece

Majestic limestone cliffs soar above alluring light blue seas at Navagio Beach, seen in this image by Flickr member Cristi Sinca

 

Guest post by Christofer Adam

Are you counting the days till summer arrives? Can you not wait till your next holiday trip? Are you living and breathing for your next adventure? Then you are reading the right article! Since we know how important and desirable it is for you to swim in crystal clear waters, we have chosen some of the top beaches you can find in Greece — the country where the sea, sun and summer are taken for granted!

Follow our guide and get ready to have the most remarkable beach holidays!

 

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada

This famous golden sandy beach is located around 40 kilometres southwest of the island’s capital city, Lefkada Town. The magnificent hills surrounding this beautiful beach are well worth the effort it takes to arrive there – which involves an exhausting but adventurous hike of 80 steep steps! But before you follow the track, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a frappe (the famous Greek iced coffee) from the snack bars you can find at the top of the hill so that you won’t find yourself thirsty half way!  However, if you are not excited about this idea, there is always an alternative solution — just take one of the taxi boats available from the nearby towns of Nidri or Vassiliki for a magical journey. Porto Katsiki provides a range of water activities including swimming (of course!), sailing and surfing.

 Porto Katsiki beach

Porto Katsiki beach, seen in an image by JuzaPhoto member Robepate

 

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos

Situated on the north-west shore of the island of Zakynthos, Navagio beach — also popularly known as Shipwreck beach — is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. And this is not random at all, as the steep limestone cliffs, white sands, crystal clear waters and the incredible abandoned shipwreck stuck on the sand create an astonishing scenery. The location is also a favourite spot for base jumpers, as the view from above is mesmerizing! You can only access the beach by boat, unless you are a base jumper, in which case you can jump from the cliff and smoothly land on the soft sands!

 

Base jumping is the fastest way to reach extroardinary Navagio beach

 

Faliraki, Rhodes

With its golden sands spread for more than 5 kilometres, Faliraki beach in Rhodes is one of the most beautiful on the island. As a very well organized beach, Faliraki will keep you busy and satisfied with its wide range of services and activities provided. Umbrella and sunbed rental is available, while you can also find a variety of water activities such as bungee-jumping! Furthermore, the area doesn’t lack of any good restaurants, night clubs and cafeterias. Bear in mind that the beach gets crowded, so it’s a good idea to wake up early in the morning if you would like to secure yourself a spot near the shore. However, if you are on hangover from having too many cocktails the night before, then you can take a nap at the beach while sunbathing! Just remember to put your sunscreen on, as you don’t want to wake up later with sunburns! To check out some of the best places to stay in Faliraki, click here.

 Faliraki beach Rhodes

An aerial view of Faliraki beach, from the Discover Rhodes travel site

 

Golden Beach, Thassos

Golden Beach (Chrysi Ammoudia) is a long coast with golden sands, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful beach of Thassos Island. The shallow waters are so transparent you can see the bottom of the sea and all the little fish swimming there! The scenery is magnificent, as the beach is framed by little cliffs and green trees reaching down the sea, while Mountain Ypsarion arises over the bay, creating an irreplaceable view. As a very well organized beach, it is also a popular destination for families with small children. Check out the best places to stay near the beach by clicking here.

YouTube member Goran Tosic posted this 3-minute video showing a variety of views of gorgeous Golden Beach

 

Red Beach, Santorini

Situated in the most popular island of Greece, the Red Beach is famous for its unique colour of sands and the stiff red lava cliffs surrounding it. It is blessed with a beautiful sandy shore, clear blue waters and big rocks sitting around it, creating a magnificent scenery that would make you want to spend the whole day there! The beach is near Akrotiri area, and we suggest accessing it by boat which you can board from the areas of Perissa or Akrotiri. Otherwise, if you prefer walking and hiking, then you might as well reach the beach by foot, which is just 10 minutes away from Akrotiri.

 Red Beach Santorini

Santorini’s Red Beach seen in an image by Flickr member Alex Coppo

 

 Christofer Adam is a Content Marketing Executive at London’s leading Online Marketing Agency, passionate with Social Media, Creative Writing and the Travel Industry. Click here to view his profile on LinkedIn.

Timeless treasures of Zakynthos

Treasures of Zakynthos – A Timelapse Film from Maciej Tomków on Vimeo

 

I haven’t been to Zakynthos yet (or any of the other Greek islands in the Ionian Sea, for that matter), but I already know I would love it.

I’m drawn to islands that boast superlative scenery and, based on the scores of photos and videos I have seen, Zakynthos would not disappoint. With its stunning landscapes — verdant mountains,  soaring cliffs, picturesque towns and harbours, and especially its spectacular coastlines, Blue Caves and magnificent beaches — Zakynthos would tick off a lot of boxes on my list of favourite features for an ideal Greek holiday destination.

And if you saw my August 2 2014 post about Shipwreck Beach, you’ll know that Zakynthos is already on my bucket list of the places I most want to see in Greece.

The Treasures of Zakynthos video I posted above simply reinforces my strong belief that I would thoroughly enjoy visiting the island. The breathtaking film was produced, directed and photographed by cinematographer Maciej Tomkow, who captured astounding timelapse images of the island’s amazing natural treasures — its mountains and hills; sunrises and sunsets; towns and harbours; star-filled night skies; and its coastlines, bays, and beaches (Shipwreck plays a starring role, as you’d expect).

If you haven’t been to Zakynthos yet, either, I bet you’ll be adding it to your own travel bucket list after watching Maciej’s film.

5 Greek Island gems

Guest post by Katrina Hinrichsen

Depending on how you judge the minimum size of an island, there are between 1,200 to 6,000 individual Greek islands. Together they make up one of the most stunning and popular destinations in the entire world. They are frequented by everyone from casual travellers to celebrities to perhaps, even, the gods as well! With so many islands to choose from, how will you decide which ones are the best to visit?

I have selected a handful of Greek island gems that will promise an amazing and unique range of views and activities for you to  to discover and enjoy.

 

Gaios, Paxos Island

Gaios Town on Paxos island

 Harbour view of Gaios Town on Paxos. This photo, by Bogdan Giuşcă, appears on the Wikipedia entry for the Paxi group of islands in the Ionian Sea

 

If you’re on the hunt for a truly relaxing holiday, Paxos is one of your best bets! The island has a charming collection of small bays, lush green hills and lovely beaches. The star attraction, however may be the port area near the capital town Gaios, as it is one of the best looking settings in the whole of Greece! Why not hire a boat ride and sunbathe on the deck or take in the sights of the handsome town? You could travel from the port to Gaios and visit the Water Planet dive centre, where an experienced instructor will help you learn how to scuba dive and explore some of the island’s underwater caves. The centre has an excellent rating; you can have a look at the positive reviews here.

Paxos is also home to a number of cultural traditions, including its annual summer ‘Water and Oil’ festival which celebrates folk music. In addition to tapping your toes to some music, people attending the festival will also get to enjoy the custom dishes of potatoes, olives, onions, water and wine. If you like the sound of wine, (and who doesn’t!) then we recommend a visit to the island Antipaxos, Paxos’ neighbour. There you will be able to sample some of the best local wine, all in front of beautiful scenery and the glimmering blue sea.

Interesting fact: Paxos Island was said to be a love sanctuary for the god of the Sea, Poseidon, and his lover, Nereid Amphitrite. Sounds like the perfect place to go for a romantic holiday!

 

Chios Island

Pyrgi village on Chios

A street in Pyrgi village on Chios island is captured in this image by Flickr member Pétille. You can view 37 more excellent photos of the island in Pétille’s Île de Chios album on Flickr.

 

The kidney-shaped island of Chios is special because it is the only setting in the whole world where mastic trees grow! The trees are used for their fragrant ivory-coloured resin, which is used as a spice. Pyrgi is the biggest village on the island, and was built way back in the Middle Ages. The architecture in the village is worth noting – the surfaces of the buildings have geometric patterns artistically scratched onto them by plasterers. In Mesta, a village close to Pyrgi, the stone buildings are positioned so near each other that it is challenging to walk around them, and in fact the locals say that the easiest way to travel about is to climb over the roofs!

Chios Island is a fantastic destination for photographers, journalists, or just interested vacationers to discover somewhere unique among the Greek Islands and wider area. Plus, the inhabitants of the island are warm and personable, so if you’re lucky you could be treated to the local wine, created with grapes and distilled figs.

Interesting fact: Although it is now prized for growing mastic, in Antiquity it was known as Ophioussa (‘snake island’) and Pityoussa (‘pine-tree’ island).

 

Faliraki, Rhodes Island

Anthony Quinn Bay

Anthony Quinn Bay near Falraki on Rhodes. This photo, by Karelj, originally appeared in the article 5 places to see before they disappear on the Italian-language travel blog JOHO Journey Horizons

 

Some people may already be familiar with Faliraki, as it can be found on one of the biggest Dodecanese Islands: Rhodes. It is renowned for its long stretch of award-winning sandy beaches. What you may not know, however, is that Faliraki also hosts Europe’s largest water park! This attraction will get the children (and the children at heart) very excited! The fantastic water park has many exhilarating slides and pools for the whole family to enjoy. Can you imagine a lovelier way to cool off from the scorching sun? The tickets cost just over 20 euros for an adult, so your wallet will feel pretty chilled too. If you want to avoid climbing a steep hill to get to the park, I recommend taking a bus or taxi there.

If you are looking for a water activity that is a bit more relaxing, then Anthony Quinn bay in Faliraki is the place for you. It promises exquisite views and beautiful scenery, with pristine waters and charming fish to swim around with. It is a fantastic place to go snorkelling, as the seawater should be warm too.

If you would prefer to stick to dry land from time to time, then Faliraki is also unique among the Greek Islands in what it has to offer. Visitors will be able to appreciate astonishing views of the sparkling seas and stars at its Hipparchos Oservatory and Astronomy Café-bar. This is really one not to miss! Click here to look up where you can stay in the village.

Interesting fact: Anthony Quinn bay was once the backdrop for a number of shots from the movie Guns of Navarone in 1961. Definitely a place that film fans will want to visit!

 

Skiathos Island

Skiathos sunrise

Panoramio member Drosoula P captured this beautiful sunrise from a vantage point at Vasilias beach on Skiathos

 

Skiathos is home to over 60 of the most gorgeous beaches within the Mediterranean, yet it is still not particularly well-known out of the throng of Greek Islands. This just means that you fortunate travellers will be able to enjoy more of Skiathos to yourself! Mandraki Elias beach is a true utopia, cherished dually as one of the most stunning yet serene beaches of the region. If you fancy kicking back with a cocktail or two, you will be happy to hear that this beach has one of the best bars on the island, and is surrounded by magnificent cliffs of orange sandstone. To get there you can also take a wander through the delightful pine woods.

Another superb, though admittedly more crowded beach is Koukonaries. It is very popular with families as it offers an amazing array of water sports activities. Our favourite sailing trips are with the company Sail the Day as they deliver an enchanting experience on the waters, with expert captains that have a good sense of humour! The exotic island also offers horse-riding, parasailing, trekking and mountain-biking for all you adrenalin junkies!

Interesting fact: In winter the population is around 4,000 people, but in the summer it can amount to 70,000!

 

Chora, Patmos Island

Holy Monastery of Saint John a

The imposing Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian towers above the mansions of Chora village on Patmos

 

Patmos Island proposes a different experience to the others in Greece as it is much more of a spiritual haven. The Greek Parliament has called it a ‘Holy Island’ as it is said to be where Saint John composed the Book of Revelation. In the capital Chora you can stopover at the historical museums, churches and monastery to learn more.

The sacred village of Chora is a divine setting for happy snapping, as it has maze-like alleys and charismatic whitewash buildings. Plus, because the village sits at the tallest peak of Patmos, you will be able to admire unbelievable views of the surrounds. As the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also has a wonderfully tranquil air. Nature fans will appreciate the volcanic soils, clean beaches and sheer cliffs too.

Interesting fact: Patmos Island used to be used by the Romans as a destination of exile because of its steep landscape.

 

Katrina Hinrichsen is passionate about travel and writing about her experiences. In the last two years she has been to at least 12 European countries, and has spent a lot of time in the past in Asia. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and contributes to professional and personal blogs on Travel, the Arts, Lifestyle and more.

Recognize these places?

Ikaria beach scene

Rugged cliffs and dramatic rock formations rise beside a beach on Ikaria, one of Greece’s East Aegean islands

 

It’s all in Greece!: From time to time one of my blog’s Facebook friends or contacts shares a link to a fun Where is this place? photo “quiz” that a Greek-language news and information website, e-fungus.gr, first published in November 2013.

Someone posted the link on Faceback again today and I thought I’d pass it along since the photos in it are so impressive and inspiring.

Entitled “Where is this place? Gia sou Hellas!”, the article shows a series of spectacular Greek destinations that people could easily confuse for places elsewhere in the world, like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tibet, the Ukraine, the Alps, Jordan, and Bora Bora.

There are nearly 50 images of exceptional sights and remarkable scenery, including islands, mountains, beaches, castles, churches, fields, forests, coastlines and rock formations. I like viewing the photos every now and then to get ideas for places to visit on future holidays — though to date I have managed to see just 10 of the places on this particular list. Obviously, I need to get to Greece more often!

Click here to view the article and see how many places you’ve been to yourself, or that you might recognize as destinations in Greece. As the article introduction observes, “Heaven on Earth truly exists, and it is in Hellas, which is the correct name of Greece.”

I can’t wait to get back to heaven in May!

 Metereo Greece

A Greek Orthodox monastery crowns a tall crag of sandstone in the Meteora region of central Greece , near the town of Kalambaka

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