Category: Travel guides

A timely Greece travel guide

Sunday Times Travel Magazine May 2017 cover

Greece gets cover treatment in the May 2017 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

 

Cover glory:  It may have been an omen, or simply serendipity, but whatever it was certainly happened at a good time.

When I popped into a local newsstand the other day to browse reading material for our upcoming flight to Greece, a photo of a beautiful Greek island beach instantly caught my eye.

At first glance I thought it was a picture of Zakynthos island’s world-famous Navagio beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) that graces the cover of the May 2017 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. But after taking a closer look once I got home, I realized it’s a different beach altogether. Surprisingly, the magazine’s editorial page doesn’t identify the location — the photo states only that the image was photographed by Giovanni Simeone of SIME/4 Corners.  But after a few minutes of Google searching, I discovered that the picture captures a small cove a short distance down the coast from Navagio. 

With that little mystery solved, I took a quick peek through the magazine’s cover feature — a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece. 

 

 

“Whether you’re after a jam-packed family trip, an indulgent break with friends, or a romantic laze on a step-back-in-time island, we’ve got your Greece right here,” the guide’s introduction pledges. And it certainly seems to fulfill its promises. 

Among the guide’s dozens of destination profiles, tips and suggestions are articles describing:

♦  The ideal island-hopping break (to the Argo-Saronic islands)

♦  3 ways to feel remote

♦  The ideal active holiday

♦  5 ways to get off-season summer sun

♦  A girly break on Santorini

♦  The ideal crowd-free Athens break

♦  Our favourite scrummy seaside lunches

♦  The ideal family-friendly resort holiday

♦  Our favourite epic historic sites

♦  Our favourite beaches only the locals know

♦  2 ways to visit a great little city

♦  The ideal timewarp trip (to Kythira), and

♦  Our favourite white sand beaches (Navagio ranks #2 on the list, right after Crete’s Balos beach, which I profiled in two blog posts  last year: Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons, and Escape to Balos Part 2).

The guide provides plenty of additional information and helpful advice, and is packed with photos of beautiful and inspiring sights and scenes.  See if you can pick up a copy at your local news outlet. Sorry, but you can’t borrow mine — I’m not letting it  out of my hands!

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.

 

Hellenica.fr — A Greece travel guide tout en français

çHellenica French language guide to Greece travel

A screen capture from the homepage for Hellenica, a French-language travel guide to Greece and the Greek Islands

 

Guide de voyage: Travellers who read and speak French can now research, plan and book their holidays to Greece and the Greek Islands through a comprehensive French-language travel website, Hellenica.

Created by the husband and wife team of Guillaume, who is French, and Eleanna, who is Greek, Hellenica.fr provides detailed and personally verified information, all in French, to help readers easily plan their own trips to Greece. The website includes descriptions of Crete and the six chains of Greek islands, and has search engines that website visitors can use to book ferry tickets, flights and accommodations.  There’s also a section of trip reports illustrated with dozens of beautiful photos.

 

 

 

Guillaume and Eleanna developed the website to share their tremendous passion for Greece, and specifically to pass along information about their personal discoveries and favourite places.

Guillaume told me he’s been in love with Greece since his youth, when his parents took him to Matala, Crete during the 1970s; he says he has been visiting the country every year since. When he and Eleanna realized a complete Greece travel guide wasn’t available in French, they decided to launch their own.

Though Hellenica is packed with helpful information, readers who can’t find answers to their specific Greece travel questions are invited to ask Guillaume and Eleanna for assistance, either by email or through Hellenica’s Twitter feed.  Responses are promised within 48 hours.

Click here to visit the Hellenica website.

 

Hellenica French language travel guide to Greece

This is a screen capture from one of the photo-illustrated trip reports on Hellenica.fr

A handy visual guide to island hopping in Greece

Sunsearch Guide to the Greek Islands

 

Are you thinking about visiting the Greek Islands for the first time? Or are you a repeat visitor wondering where to go on your next island-hopping holiday? There are hundreds of destinations you could consider, but this visual guide could help you narrow the myriad options down to a more manageable shortlist!

Provided courtesy of Ireland-based SunSearch Holidays, the infographic offers brief descriptions of islands that might appeal to you the most, based on your personal interests and preferences and the time of year you’re planning to travel.

Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with many of the recommended destinations already, especially in the Cyclades group of islands, from my numerous trip reports and photos. There are, however, a few specific additions I would suggest for the “Best For” section of the graphic (beneath the map of Greece), based on my own personal experience from a decade of island hopping vacations.

I would add Naxos and Milos to the list of islands that are best for beaches, and I’d mention Naxos as one of the best for cycling, too. And since its more than 300 restaurants make it a top travel destination for foodies, I definitely think Mykonos should be included on the list for food and drink. (In fact, my reports about Mykonos restaurants are among the most searched and read items on my blog, according to Google statistics.)

For more in-depth information about the Islands, pick up some Greek travel publications from your local library or bookstore, and take some time to explore Visit Greece, the official website of the Greece National Tourism Organisation.

Many thanks to SunSearch Holidays for inviting me to post their infographic!

2board summer issue features food guide, hotel profiles + tour ideas for Athens & Chania

2board Magazine Gastro Guide

The July–September issue of 2board magazine features a gastronomy guide, suggested tours for Athens and Chania, and profiles of top boutique hotels

 

 Tons of great tips: If you’re passing through Athens International Airport anytime this month, be sure to grab a copy of the July–September issue of 2board magazine while you’re in the terminal.

The 212-page glossy publication is packed full of useful travel tips about hotels, restaurants, and attractions at a variety of destinations — information that could come in handy during your current travels in Greece, or for planning a future holiday.

2board is the official magazine of the Athens airport. Copies are available free of charge from magazine racks situated at various locations in the terminal building.

I always find a wealth of interesting information, travel ideas and helpful research material in 2board, and this summer’s edition is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the better issues, content-wise, that I’ve seen. (And, as always, it’s packed with photos of luxurious resorts, villas and restaurants I can only dream about visiting someday … but it’s still great fun to imagine what it would be like seeing these places and photographing them with my own camera.)

 

Gastro Guide to 10 top restaurants

Foodies will want to flip directly to page 21 for 2board‘s “Gastro Guide to Greece,” which profiles “Ten restaurants that do not simply dish up Greek high gastronomy, they consistently take it one step further.”

The guide highlights two acclaimed restaurants on Mykonos, three on Santorini, one each on the islands of Corfu, Crete and Rhodes, and two on the Greek mainland — one at Preveza and another in Halkidiki:

Etrusco at Kato Korakiana on Corfu;

♦ Old Mill at the Elounda Mare Hotel at Elounda on Crete;

♦ The Squirrel, one of the restaurants at Danai Beach Resort & Villas in Halkidiki;

♦ the dining room at Bill & Coo Suites & Lounge above Megali Ammos beach on Mykonos;

♦ the brand new White Star at Lakka Square in Mykonos Town;

♦ the restaurant at SESA Boutique Hotel at Kanali beach in Preveza;

♦ The Greek, a new dining room at the Sheraton Rhodes Resort on Rhodes;

♦ Selene in Pyrgos village on Santorini;

♦ Sea Side by Notos at Santorini’s Perivolos beach; and

♦ the dining room at the Grace Santorini hotel in Imerovigli.

The Gastro Guide includes full-page photos of the respective restaurants’ chefs and some of their tantalizing creations, along with suggestions of signature dishes to try if you get the opportunity to dine at one of these fine establishments. A word of warning: don’t read this article on an empty stomach, because the stunning food photos and descriptions of the unique dishes will instantly make you feel hungry!

 

Facebook page photo of the dining terrace at The Squirrel restaurant

The seaside dining terrace at The Squirrel restaurant in the Danai Beach Resort & Villas in Halkidiki. The photo is from the Danai Beach Resort Facebook page.

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Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines

GEO magazine June 2014 cover

GEO magazine profiled Greece in its June 2014 issue with a cover photo of Mandrakia village on Milos and an “Escape” feature on the “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” They’re obviously not secret anymore!

 

Summer reads: When I’m not in Greece I enjoy reading about it — in books, magazines, online travel forums and websites. Thanks to feature cover stories about Greece published by three major European travel magazines recently, I’ve got plenty to read while relaxing on my balcony this summer.

Here’s a look at what the three magazine cover stories say about Greece:

  GEO magazine June 2014

I discovered GEO magazine from France purely by chance — I was looking for another magazine at a newsstand when a photo on GEO’s bold green cover caught my eye. It was the picturesque harbour at Mandrakia, a fishing hamlet on Milos, under the headline: “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” I couldn’t resist and bought the magazine after taking only a cursory glance at the contents.

It turns out there are 28 full pages of text and beautiful photos about several Greek islands including Kythera, Kalymnos, Milos, Santorini, Chios, Aegina, Tinos, Skyros, Folegandros and Rhodes. The stories aren’t travel guides — they don’t recommend hotels to stay in, for instance, or suggest the hottest restaurants and coolest beaches to visit. Some of the pieces provide brief descriptions and overviews of the destinations, while others take an insightful look into how the Greek Islands have been affected by the country’s devastating economic crisis. The sale of island real estate to foreign billionaires is considered in part of one report, for example, while another piece profiles people who have started new business ventures selling local agricultural products.

 Island village photo foul-up

 GEO magazine photo of Astipalea

Mon Dieu! GEO magazine mistakenly published this eye-catching photo of Chora village on Astipalea to illustrate a short piece about Chora on Kythera — another island in a completely different area of Greece.

 

One of the GEO feature’s excellent photos — spread across pages 36 and 37  — really piqued my curiosity. It shows a white-domed church rising from the middle of a huge stone castle perched on a hilltop. The slopes below the castle are stacked with white cube houses that descend to a row of derelict windmills. I instantly recognized the location — Chora village on Astipalea, a butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese archipelago. I had shot photos from almost the identical vantage point when we visited Astipalea in 2009. However, the picture accompanied an article about Kythera, which is part of the Ionian island group, and the text said the town in the photo is that island’s capital, also called Chora. (Most main towns on Greek islands are called Chora).

I haven’t been to Kythera yet, but I was absolutely certain the photo was from Astipalea. So I poured through my photos to confirm I was right (there’s more than 300 pictures in my Astipalea collection on Flickr). Sure enough, details in my pictures of Astipalea’s Chora matched the same features visible in the GEO image, which was credited to Velissario Voutsas /IML – Hemis.fr, a French photo agency. Obviously someone on the magazine staff had made a big boo-boo by purchasing the wrong stock image to illustrate the article!

(You can learn more about Kythera, and see photos showing what its Chora looks like, on the comprehensive Visit Kythera website.)

Photo flop aside, the GEO stories are compelling reads, and are bound to encourage people in France to consider island hopping in Greece on an upcoming vacation. Moreover, photos and information about Leros, Kalymnos, Chios, Skyros and Tinos will encourage travellers to visit charming islands that often get overlooked because they aren’t instantly-recognizable mainstream tourist destinations like Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos.

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New Ionian Islands travel guide available

Ionian Islands travel guide

The cover of The Ionian Islands online travel guide, published by the Greek National Tourism Organisation, features a photo of a sailboat anchored near Navagio beach on Zakynthos (Zante) island

 

 

Free download: A new online travel guide for the Ionian Islands is now available from visitgreece.gr, the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO).

The 88-page guide features maps, useful phone numbers, descriptions of must-see sights and must-do activities on each island, plus dozens of gorgeous full-colour photos. It’s organized into seven separate sections: Corfu, Diapontia Islands, Paxoi, Lefkada, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos.

The guide is available in English, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Russian versions. To obtain a copy of the guide, click on this link to the GNTO downloads page, scroll down, and click on the flag that represents the language you prefer.

Don’t be surprised if you start dreaming of a holiday in the Ionians after seeing just the first few pages of the guide! Below are two of the images that appear in the publication. click on each photo to view a fulls-size version.

 

G. Augoustinators photograph of Antisamos on Kefalonia island in Greece

The Ionian Islands guide credits photographer G. Augoustinatos for this beautiful image of Antisamos on Kefalonia

 

 

Porto Katsiki beach on Lefkada

The gorgeous sky-blue sea off Porto Katsiki beach on Lefkada. The GNTO guide credits this photograph to the Lefkada Prefecture.