The cover of the 2022 issue of Thessaloniki, a special-edition magazine published in November by Greece Is
City spotlight: We’ve got some good reading to look forward to during our holiday season downtime, thanks to the latest magazine published by Greece Is — an issue devoted entirely to notable places, sights and historic attractions in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, and its environs.
The city is on our bucket list of places we hope to visit in Greece within the next several years, so the new magazine — released in late November — will be a helpful resource for researching and planning our visit, whenever it might happen.
The main stories in this issue that caught our attention include:
♦ “The city in five walks,” a guide that invites readers to “head down to the sea, stroll through the narrow streets of the city center, visit some old haunts and new spots, and explore options for culture, entertainment and food.”
♦ A “Foodie Guide” to “new and classic” places to enjoy wonderful food and drink;
♦ “In the Xinomavro Zone,” a road trip through the Amyntaio-Naoussa wine region;
♦ “The sound of the city,” a guide to the Thessaloniki music scene “from its glorious past to its superb present”;
♦ two articles showcasing art and architecture: “Timeless Byzantine City,” which examines some of the city’s Byzantine-era monuments, and “Memories & Mansions,” which takes a look at buildings in the historic Exoches area;
♦ “In the shadow of Athos,” a tour of the historic monasteries at Mt Athos;
♦ “Mt Olympus: The three peaks challenge,” an account of a one-day climb to the highest points “on the mountain of the gods”;
♦ “Aigai reaches new heights,” an article about a new world-class museum scheduled to open in 2022 at Vergina, site of the former capital of ancient Macedonia; and
♦ the feature piece “Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,” which profiles “southeastern Europe’s largest institute of higher education.”
Thessaloniki recently became the first Greek city included in the UNESCO global network of Creative Cities of Gastronomy. The latest Greece Is magazine’s “Foodie Guide” spotlights some of the “new and classic” dining establishments that have helped put Thessaloniki on the world’s culinary map.
Not-to-be-missed reads for anyone planning to visit Thessaloniki in 2022 include:
♦ “New arrivals,” which offers a peek at two recently opened hotels, a gallery, a food spot and a new Aegean Airlines lounge at Thessaloniki International Airport;
♦ “The cool factor” — a collection of insider city tips and secrets shared by six local influencers; and
♦ “Always something on” — an agenda of upcoming major exhibitions and cultural performances.
While we can’t wrap our hands around a physical copy of the Thessaloniki magazine since we’re not in Greece at the moment to pick one up, we — and you — can conveniently access a digital version on Issuu.com to either read online or download.
Greece Is has previously published six other special magazine issues focussed on Thessaloniki. If you’re interested in reading any of those, you can find digital versions on Issuu.com.
The Greece Is publishing portal is one of our favourite sources of reliable advice, inside information and fascinating insights into Greece destinations, travel, culture, arts, architecture, food and much more. If you’re not already familiar with the brand, here are links to its website, Instagram profile and Facebook page, all of which are filled with photos of beautiful places in Greece and links to a treasure trove of information to inspire and assist your travels:
Web: The main Greece Is online portal contains a vast collection of feature articles, photos, news items, blog posts, Greek product profiles, and more.
Our own photos of three Milos island landmarks: the Panagia Thalassitra Church at Plaka village (top), colourful boathouses at the Klima fishing settlement, and the surreal coastal rock formations at Sarakiniko
Milos’s moment: 2021 has been quite the momentous year for Milos, with unparalleled international publicity planting the island firmly into the minds and onto the bucket-list travel maps of millions of holiday-hungry people around the globe.
We told you this was coming.
In our blog post Much ado about Milos four years ago (August 2017, to be precise), we described a noteworthy surge in interest in Milos, and we predicted its popularity would soar.
This year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s exactly what happened: Milos was the Greek island people everywhere were taking note of, talking about, and visiting in person either for vacations or for corporate marketing photography and film shoots.
It wasn’t just travel blogs, vlogs and websites singing the island’s praises — Milos was the focus of attention in advertising campaigns for clothing, coffee and luxury goods; social media posts by music and television stars; architecture and design publications; luxury hotel review websites; business and lifestyle magazines, and more.
Once a hideaway for pirates, the coastal cliffs and caves at Kleftiko are now a popular stop for Milos sailboat tours
Among the Milos milestones of 2021:
♦ Readers of the most-read American travel magazine voted Milos the “No. 1 island in the world” as well as best island in Europe;
♦ One of the world’s best-selling music artists visited in the spring and posted photos from the island’s capital and one of its picturesque fishing villages to Instagram, where his account is actively followed by more than 200 million people;
♦ Its exquisite coastal scenery stole the show in major promotional campaigns for three of the world’s pre-eminent luxury fashion brands;
♦ The island played a starring role in a television advertising campaign for a popular coffee retailer;
♦ Architecture and home design magazines drew attention to Milos with profiles of a contemporary “corral” residence ingeniously built to blend seamlessly into the island landscape;
♦ Hotel review websites trumpeted the arrival of two brand-new luxury accommodations that opened in June;
♦ International publications and leading travel blogs published laudatory profiles of the island’s appealing scenic attributes and attractions, and
♦ top travel vloggers enthralled YouTube watchers with videos spotlighting key Milos attractions and the splendid natural scenery.
A cluster of windmills near Tripiti village. Some have been converted into holiday rental accommodations.
To see how and where Milos has made such an indelible impression this year, keep scrolling down through this post, and then Part 2 and Part 3, to view a wide-ranging collection of the feature stories and videos of the island that have appeared in mainstream and social media this year.
Below you’ll see the magazine whose readers chose Milos as best island in the world, along with Milos photos shared on social media by two top celebrities, plus island scenes from the major fashion and retail marketing campaigns that starred Milos.
In Part 2, we take a look at what writers said about Milos in their reports for travel magazines, blogs and websites, as well as in articles published by business, fashion, lifestyle and hotel periodicals.
Part 3 is a collection of Milos videos that were released in 2021 by filmmakers and international travel vloggers.
The photos and video images in our three-part series will show you what all the Milos fuss is about — and why so many travel writers and videographers think you should pay it a visit soon.
Besides screenshots of the articles and reports, we have provided links to the publications and video producers so you can read and view more of Milos, and obtain additional information to decide if it’s the right place for you and your family to spend some vacation time. With scores of enticing photos and videos plus a plethora of practical information and travel tips, the links will be useful to bookmark for travel inspiration and holiday planning.
Given the vast range of insights, opinions and perspectives provided by these different resources — including tips on times of day to see certain places, how to get there, what not to miss or what to to know before you go — this compendium could well become your ultimate travel guide to Milos.
But don’t wait too long! As some of the writers and vloggers point out, the island’s popularity is skyrocketing — so it’s best to see this off-the-beaten-path gem soon, before it becomes a busy mainstream holiday destination.
— Milos on magazine covers —
Photos of Sarakiniko — the Instagram-famous “moonscape” beach and coastline on Milos — were prominently featured on the covers of Thalassea and Travel + Leisure magazines
Milos received cover treatment from Thalassea, the official magazine for Greek ferry company Hellenic Seaways, as well as Travel + Leisure, the most widely-circulated American travel magazine with nearly 5 million monthly readers. The front pages of both featured picture’s of the island’s renowned cliff-jumping spot, Sarakiniko.
Inside Thalassea, a two-page aerial photo of Sarakiniko illustrates the magazine’s “Reasons to Go” to Milos article. “One look at Sarakiniko beach and you will be smitten for life,” the text reads, adding: “this is an island far out of the ordinary.”
Meanwhile, the cover image for the October 2021 Travel + Leisure acknowledged Milos’s great success in the magazine’s Annual Reader’s Awards, which voted Milos as not only the best island in Europe, but also the No. 1 island in the entire world. (More on those accolades below.)
— Travel + Leisure readers’ best island awards —
Travel + Leisure readers honoured Milos by voting it the No. 1 island in the world this year
We weren’t surprised when we learned Milos has been voted top island in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. We’ve been there twice, and know from personal experience why people enjoy it so much.
The voting took place from mid-January to early May of this year, and the magazine said participating readers “rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.”
Milos had good company in the rankings, by the way. One of its close neighbours, Folegandros, earned the No. 2 spot, while perenially-popular Santorini took 13th place.
Milos was “a closely guarded utopia,” writer Stacey Leasca says, until word got around that Travel + Leisure readers had voted it the best island in Europe and the world
In the wake of announcing that its readers had voted Milos as best island in Europe, and in the world, Travel +Leisure published a report in which writer Stacey Leasca recounted her 3-day visit there in June.
Upon arrival, she recalls, it was “easy to see why previous travelers and locals alike would want to keep this place under wraps. Its rocky shoreline gives way to some of the most pristine crystal-blue waters I have ever laid eyes on. Its landscape is one sweeping hillside after another, dotted only by sparse vegetation, white-washed homes, blue-roofed churches, and a rogue goat or two. And its food is divine.”
Though their visit lasted only 72 hours, Leasca and her travel companion managed to see numerous key attractions including the port town of Adamantas, the villages of Plaka and Klima, the beaches Sarakiniko and Papafragas, the ancient catacombs, and others.
In photos shared with his 200 million fans on Instagram, singing superstar Justin Bieber is seen in a private boathouse dining room at Medusa cafe-restaurant in Mandrakia (left) and with his wife, Hailey, in Plaka village
Popular entertainers, movie stars and professional athletes wield incredible influence over consumer spending habits, which is why companies pay celebrities big bucks to endorse or advertise their products. We can’t help but speculate on the value of the publicity that Milos received — for free –when international music superstar Justin Bieber shared photos from the island on his Instagram page in late June. Considering that the Canadian-born singer counts more than 205 million followers on Instagram, he brought Milos to the attention of an enormous audience of potential travellers, many of whom had probably not even heard of the island before.
Bieber’s private yacht cruise to the Cyclades islands was reported by media around the world, with some of the Greece-based reports about his Milos visit including:
We think Bieber deserves some credit if there’s any bump in tourist traffic to Milos in the next year or two, and we’re pretty certain Medusa restaurant will top traveller lists of must-visit places to eat, as well — thanks to the Bieb’s headline-making lunch there. But he can’t take all the credit: Medusa gets more shout-outs from travel bloggers and vloggers in some of the reports and videos you’ll see below.
Actor Pedro Alonso gazes across Milos from a hillside vantage point (top) after reading a monologue from a Spanish play in the island’s ancient open-air theatre (seen in this screen capture from an Instagram video of his impromptu performance).
About a week after Justin Bieber moved on from Milos, popular Spanish actor Pedro Alonso arrived for his Greek holiday. Alonso is perhaps best known for playing the character “Berlin” in 36 episodes of the Netflix television series Money Heist, from 2017 to 2021.
On July 8, Alonso posted a video and several photos shot on Milos to his Instagram, which has more than 9.1 million followers. The video shows the actor at the island’s Ancient Theatre, reciting a monologue by the character Rosaura in the Pedro Calderon de la Barca dramatic play La vida es sueño. The photos included a shot of Alonso sitting at a lookout spot near the theatre, and a view of the seaside village of Klima.
A Louis Vuitton promotional campaign spotlighted scenery on the Sarakiniko and Kleftiko coasts of Milos
Milos was one of two “dreamlike settings” that the iconic luxury brand Louis Vuitton selected as a filming location for its 2021 Towards a Dream advertising campaign (the other site was Jordan). Photo shoots took place at Sarakiniko beach and the Kleftiko coast, where photographer Viviane Sassen captured “spirit of travel” images that the company calls “an evocative ode to the inner child, set free in a reverie of otherworldly beauty and infinite possibility.”
“Rich in ancient history, the Greek island of Milos beckons to a group of children, inviting them to play among its stark shores and pristine waters. With their innocent curiosity, their silhouettes emerge from the landscape to convey a limitless sense of optimism and freedom,” says a description of the photoshoot theme.
Photos and videos also were posted between September 16 and 19 on the official Louis Vuitton Instagram page, which boasts more than 46.4 million followers.
Photos and a link to the Towards a Dream campaign also were posted September 17 to the Louis Vuitton Facebook page, which counts more than 24 million followers.
Scenes from Plaka, Sarakiniko and Mandrakia figure prominently in photos shot on Milos for the Dior 2022 Cruise Collection (above), while a 3-minute video (below) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Dior Magazine photo project. It includes commentary by some of the photographers along with views of magnificent Milos landscapes and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion.
Another legendary fashion house, Dior, chose Milos as one of the principal shooting locales for its 2022 cruisewear collection and Dior Magazine Issue 36 (some filming also took place in Athens and at the historic Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion).
The cruise fashions were designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, who found inspiration in “classical Greece and mythical female goddesses and divinities.” It was only fitting, then, that Dior photographed its models at ancient Greek ruins and mesmerizing island landscapes.
For this campaign, Dior invited ten Greek photographers — Mara Desipris, Christina Dimitriadis, Marilia Fotopoulou, Efi Gousi, Maria Koutroumpi, Dimitra Lazaridou, Ria Mort, Lia Nalbantidou, Ioanna Sakellaraki, and Olga Stefatou– to capture their personal visions of the cruise collection’s apparel and accessories. You can read a description of the project and see some of the photos shot by all 10 women on the Captivating Visions page of the Dior website.
Campaign photos and videos also were posted in late November to the official Dior Instagram page, which has more than 38.3 million followers, and to the Dior page on Facebook, which reaches more than 18 million followers.
Milos also was the shooting location for HANRO’s spring/summer clothing campaign
Constant change and tumultuous current events have had a huge impact on society and individuals, leading many people to reassess their personal priorities and redefine what they consider quality of life. HANRO, a 130-year-old firm known for its fine men’s and women’s daywear, loungewear and nightwear, seized upon the global trend to “recharge” and “reset” when it chose Milos as the shooting location for its spring/summer 2021 fashion campaign.
“One place that is the perfect setting for ultimate relaxation and revitalizing the soul is in the Greek island of Milos,” says a description of the HANRO marketing program.
“Unassuming and sublime, [Milos] defies the forces of nature and shows us just how much beauty can emanate from constant change. Every gust of wind dances differently on the sea; every wave traces new patterns as it laps on the sand. Each ray of sunlight changes the kaleidoscope of colours and the spirit of nature. The soft sandstone and volcanic rock is constantly sculpted by the wind. Nothing is ever the same as the day before, and yet this transience harbors a great sense of calmness and strength. It teaches us to appreciate the here and now, to live in the moment, and to simply exhale and let go.”
In contrast to its dominant role in the Louis Vuitton images, the Milos scenery provides a much more subtle backdrop for photos of the HANRO models, but looks inviting nonetheless. Photos and a promotional video can be viewed on the Spring Summer 2021 campaign page of the HANRO website.
— Nescafe television ad —
Greek actor Giorgos Lianos appears in a television ad for Nescafe coffee
Milos was the sun-soaked filming location for the light-hearted Nescafe Greece television campaign “Make your summer count,” featuring actor Giorgos Lianos.
The ad was filmed at various locations across Milos, with Sarakiniko beach making the most appearances in the minute-long clip. And, yes, the commercial includes scenes of people jumping into the sea from the Sarakiniko cliffs while Lianos stands on the edge and watches, with a Nescafe frappe in hand.
Chania, the second-largest city on Crete island, introduced its new tourism website and travel promotion slogan — Chania: A City of Many Tales — on September 27 2021
New travel resource: If you’ve been considering a trip to the city of Chania on Crete island, whether for the first time or a repeat visit, there’s a new website you should bookmark for your holiday research and planning. Launched in late September 2021 by the Chania Tourism Bureau, the site — chaniatourism.gr — is chock full of information, descriptions, photos and maps that will assist travellers arriving for either a short city break or an extended vacation.
For people who haven’t yet been to Chania, or haven’t even had it on their travel radar, a few clicks through the website — starting with the “Why Chania” section — will quickly reveal why it’s a must-see destination, and in fact has been such throughout its rich and colourful history of 4,000+ years.
The website notes that, for centuries, Chania “has served as a nautical crossroad between three continents, a pole of attraction for powerful trade transactions and for Empires driven by intentions of conquest and expansion. Romans, Arabs, Venetians and Ottomans have marched, conquered and left a deep footprint, creating a modern, cultural mosaic on the architectural outlook of the city and a cosmopolitan feel at this remote corner of the Mediterranean.”
Chania also has been blessed with incredibly beautiful scenery and spectacular natural landscapes, ranging from stunning beaches, bays and coastlines to imposing mountains, gorges, caves and valleys. These unspoiled natural wonders, combined with the city’s abundant historical and cultural uniqueness, have made Chania an enticing year-round destination for travellers from around the world.
The city’s longevity and its endurance through eras of occupation and governance by foreign powers have left Chania with a richly storied history, which its tourism board’s new slogan — Chania: A City of Many Tales — invites visitors to discover, while creating memorable stories of their own as they explore, experience and enjoy the region.
The website’s Neighbourhoods: Little treasure islands page provides detailed descriptions, maps and photos of key spots in the old city and Chania’s modern suburbs — as well as suggested walking routes.
The tourism website will be informative and useful even to people who have been to Chania before, since it may reveal neighbourhoods, monuments, attractions and other points of interest they may have missed on their earlier visits.
One of the website features we were most pleased to see is the section entitled Neighbourhoods: Little treasure islands, which provides helpful information about nine significant and distinct parts of the city, along with maps and suggested walking routes that lead past important landmarks and points of interest.
“Wandering around the different quarters of the city, feels like timelining backwards as if each decisive point in history is revealed like a layer,” the website says. “The Jewish quarter, the Turkish quarter, the Venetian harbor, the aristocratic neighborhood of Chalepa, the derelict industrial tanneries at Tabakaria, the coastal Koum Kapi and the beach town of Nea Chora, compose a colorful architectural and historical mosaic with complementary and contrasting characteristics, representative of the heritage each culture, era and economic stratum brought to the table.”
We’ve been to Chania twice, most recently in the autumn of 2017, and spent our entire time exploring the city on foot, wandering through streets and along harbour and seafront areas mentioned in a travel guide travel guide we had purchased in a local bookshop. We had a wonderful time, but our meandering definitely would have been far more enlightening and interesting with the website’s walking route maps (which pinpointed some noteworthy places we completely missed seeing.)
Another excellent resource is the website’s Visit / An authentic experience section, which provides information and photos of highlight attractions within and close to the city, including: monuments and top historic sites; beaches; gorges and caves; churches and monasteries; museums and collections; and the Chania suburbs and nearby villages.
Be sure to check out the drop-down menu entitled “Don’t Miss,” which navigates to separate sections concerning such “unique experiences” as activities, local traditions and agritourism. The “local tips” page offers insights into local culture by suggesting things to see and do “where the people around you will be mostly locals.”
Information on sports and both indoor and outdoor activities, as well as the world-famous Cretan Diet, can be found in other website sections.
To learn more about visiting Chania, follow these links to the tourism website and its related social media pages:
These striking photos of the city of Kastoria in northern Greece and the historic Kokkoros Bridge in Epirus are from The White Issue of Fly, the magazine of Sky Express airline. The picture-packed issue spotlights visit-worthy mainland Greece destinations that aren’t on typical tourist itineraries.
Armchair travels: Since we can’t take our scheduled spring trip to Greece because of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, we have been travelling there vicariously — by reading magazine and newspaper articles about destinations, hotels, attractions and a wide variety of aspects of Greek life and tourism. Armchair travel lacks the thrill and pleasure of actually going to Greece, of course, but it’s a heck of a lot better than brooding about the cancellation of our 2020 holiday plans while we’re cooped up in home quarantine.
On the positive side, our time catching up on articles published over the past six months has been well spent, introducing us to incredible places in Greece we weren’t too familiar with, and giving us ideas and inspiration for trips we hope to take once the pandemic has passed and Greece re-opens its borders to international visitors.
Since the articles and photo profiles could be interesting and helpful to readers dreaming about their own future trips to Greece, we will be sharing our “quarantine travel reads” in a series of blog posts, beginning with this one.
Destinations and topics profiled in this instalment include:
♦ Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki peninsula;
♦ the southern Peloponnese, including Costa Navarino, the Mani and Monemvasia; and
♦ Impressive towns, villages and scenic areas in mainland Greece
Upcoming blog posts will spotlight:
♦ stylish luxury hotels and hot dining spots in Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini;
♦ travel writer accounts of trips to Athens and various Greek Islands, including Evia, Milos, Paros and Symi;
♦ Cretan food and the Mediterranean diet;
♦ mini guides to Greek islands, and more.
Athens and the southern Peloponnese
Dimitsana, a mountain village in Arcadia, is among the places writer Nikos Chrysoloras recommends visiting in the southern Peloponnese
Greece does indeed abound with places people would consider paradise, but Chrysoloras devotes his article to describing a travel itinerary that will let visitors experience the true essence of Greece first in Athens and its surrounding area, and secondly during a scenic road trip through the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
A must-see in the historical center of Athens, he says, is Monastiraki Square, which “epitomizes my country perhaps more than any island or beach.” He recommends two rooftop bars overlooking the square, from which visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Parthenon and other historic monuments. “It’s the weight of millennia packed in the space of a single block,” Chrysoloras notes. He also recommends a day trip along the Athens Riviera and a visit to the clifftop Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, famous for its sensational sunset view, which he describes as “Greece, Profound.” He also suggests specific places to drink and dine, so visitors planning to spend time in the city would be wise to bookmark the article for easy reference once in Athens.
For the Peloponnese portion of his suggested roadtrip, Chrysoloras recommends starting off in the area around the Costa Navarino resort and the incredible Voidokilia beach (which I wrote about in my blog post A bucket list visit to Voidokilia), and then exploring the rugged Mani region. “It’s a mountainous terrain with stone-built villages and very narrow roads leading to pebbled beaches. This area is the land of the ancient Spartans, people as defiant as history suggests.” Again, Chrysoloras recommends places to stay, dine, hike, swim and enjoy a drink with a fabulous sunset view.
From Mani, the drive continues to the castle town of Monemvasia, whose “medieval alleys are full of mystery and wonder, like a set that Game of Thrones producers ought to have used.” On the way back to Athens from there, Chrysoloras urges a detour to Dimitsana — his mother’s home town — “one of the most characteristic specimens of the mountainous side of Greece. Surrounded by conifer trees, you can enjoy unspoiled traditional stone architecture and hike in the area’s beautiful forests and nearby villages.” Although worth a look nearby is Panagia, a now-deserted village where Chrysoloras recommends a taverna that serves outstanding traditional dishes.
Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where we discuss excellent magazine articles about Thessaloniki, noteworthy destinations in mainland Greece, and fascinating places to explore in Athens.
The cover of Lonely Planet‘s April issue promises to help readers find a perfect Greek Island holiday destination
Island profiles: Wondering where to take a holiday in Greece if Covid-19 quarantines and lockdowns get lifted in time to permit a trip sometime during the summer or fall? If you think an island might be the best place to de-stress once the pandemic has passed, Lonely Planet magazine has some excellent suggestions for you to ponder.
The travel publication’s April 2020 edition spotlights a selection of 15 household-name and lesser-known isles in its cover feature, Find your perfect Greek Island: Secret experiences the locals love, from Anafi to Zakynthos.
“Here we outline the most original slow-travel experiences across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, from local festivals to hidden beaches — and beyond,” writer Oliver Smith explains in his introduction to the 12-page guide.
The piece profiles Folegandros, Hydra, Symi, Tinos, Chios, Zakynthos, Paros and Antiparos, Sifnos, Milos, Skiathos, Anafi, Ikaria, Kea and Limnos, providing a brief island description, suggesting accommodations to consider, and noting how to reach each island. Beautiful, full-colour photos illustrate an enticing place or sight in each destination.
The magazine also includes Gods’ Own Country, a 12-page feature story about Greece’s biggest island, Crete.
“Beyond the harbours and white-sand beaches of Crete lies a land rich in history and myth, home to deities and monsters from the Minotaur to the thunder-god Zeus himself. We embark on a quest to discover this island’s legendary legacy,” Christa Larwood writes in the article introduction.
Both articles are interesting reads, and the stunning photos that accompany them will certainly provide a welcome distraction from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The May 2019 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine featured a special Greek Islands travel guide, replete with gorgeous photos of dreamy destinations. I tell you more about the guide on page 2 of this post.
Athens is amazing, mainland Greece is marvellous, and the Peloponnese peninsula is pretty darned impressive. But for many people, it’s the Greek Islands that typically come to mind when talk turns to the subject of vacations in Greece. Indeed, if you tell someone that you’re heading to the Hellenic Republic for a holiday, they’ll probably ask which islands you’re planning to visit.
Since island hopping draws millions of tourists to Greece each year, many of whom are first-time visitors, there’s tremendous demand for information about where to go, how to move between places, and what to see and do. Likewise, there is a massive amount of Greece travel material available on newsstands and on the web. A simple Google search will produce links to articles and guides galore; thousands in fact, published by major magazines, newspapers, bloggers and social media influencers. One could easily spend weeks sifting through all the self-described “best” or “ultimate” island hopping guides, along with scores of feature stories trumpeting “hidden gems,” “undiscovered islands,” or the newest trendy “paradise.”
I read hundreds of them in 2019, but found the vast majority disappointing and a waste of valuable reading time since they lacked originality and didn’t offer much useful information. Most were simply puff pieces full of flowery descriptions and little else. Many were so similar, I’m sure the content was cribbed from quick online searches, then hastily rewritten and repackaged with stock photography.
But several magazine and website guides stood out because they contain what I consider to be good, practical advice to help travellers pick the islands best suited to their personal travel preferences and lifestyles, and to plan how to get where they want to go.
Also noteworthy was a small selection of fascinating stories and engaging essays in which travel writers and even some high-profile authors recounted delightful and eye-opening personal experiences while visiting multiple islands.
This post spotlights the guides and stories that were my personal favourite reads during 2019. They’re the magazines I keep on my bookshelf, or the blog posts and website articles I have bookmarked on my computer, to keep close at hand for easy future reference. They include:
♦ A superb, detailed guide by The Mediterranean Traveller blog that promises — and delivers — “everything you need to know” about island-hopping;
♦ An excellent 26-page guide by The Sunday Times Travel Magazine;
♦ General island profiles and trip suggestions in pieces published by the travel magazines Indagare, Afar and Lonely Planet;
♦ An insightful 5-part report by a travel writer for The Guardian on his personal odyssey to explore six out-of-the-way islands;
♦ Reports by writers for the Boston Globe newspaper and Travel + Leisure magazine on trips that combined enormously-popular Santorini with visits to lesser-known and much-less-busy islands in the Cyclades;
♦ An intriguing essay from Town and Country magazine in which a prominent author reflects on his holiday travels to Spetses, Paros, Antiparos and Crete;
♦ Two separate stories on travelling by charter yacht or sailboat in the Ionian islands, from The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and World Traveller magazine;
♦ An account of a superyacht island-hopping tour of the Greek Riviera and several islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf; and
♦ An article profiling small cruise ships with itineraries that include stops at several Greek islands.
Though they were published last year, these reports will still provide an excellent reference resource for travel in 2020 and the next several years. Even if you don’t need them to plan your own vacation, they’re all interesting and fun reads that will quickly put you in a blissful Greek holiday state of mind.
— Best island hopping guide —
It’s easy to make the decision to spend a vacation on one or more islands in Greece. The hard part is figuring out how to get to and from the island(s) you want to see. Many first-timers think it will be a breeze planning their itineraries, but quickly discover that the Greek Island ferry system isn’t as straightforward as they expected. In fact, it can be a rather daunting task to plan a multi-island holiday, particularly for ferry travel in off-season or low-season periods.
However, help is just a couple of quick clicks away, thanks to a superb guide published by The Mediterranean Traveller blog on February 5, 2019.
Aptly entitled Greek Island Hopping 101 — Everything You Need To Know, it’s the most comprehensive blog post I’ve seen on the subject, packed with tons of helpful tips, advice, information and links, and presented in a format that is super-easy to read and understand. Topics include things travellers need to consider when initially planning their trip; flights versus ferries; an explanation of how the Greek ferry system works; ferry schedules and pricing; descriptions of the different island chains; deciding where to go and when is best to visit; organized group tours, and plenty more.
Please turn to page 2 to continue reading about the guides and articles that may help you determine which islands to visit, or give you inspiration for future holiday destinations.
A scenic view from Santorini appears on the cover of the June Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which includes a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece
Travel tips: Spring is the time when international lifestyle magazines and travel publications typically turn their attention to Greece, and that has been the case again this year.
When I browsed newsstands while we were in Greece from late May until mid-June, and here at home after returning from our holidays, I noticed numerous magazines that featured cover stories or major articles focussed on travel to Greece.
The two periodicals that appeared the most interesting and informative were the June edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which I purchased at Athens International Airport prior to our return flight, and the June/July issue of National Geographic Traveler, which I bought at my favourite local bookstore a few days ago.
A photo from Santorini island appears on the eye-catching turquoise and white cover of the Sunday Times magazine, where the main cover line proclaims: “We’ve found the tiny, timeless idylls you’re dreaming of” — all revealed in a 24-page Total Guide inside.
The guide includes:
♦ tips on island hopping by ferry in the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Argo-Saronic archipelagos;
♦ short profiles of “heavenly” 5-star hotels on Naxos, Crete, Santorini, Sifnos, and Mykonos islands, as well as in Halikidi, the Peloponnese and the Athens Riviera;
♦ an article about the Arcadia region of the eastern Peloponnese;
♦ highlights of three places, away from the “holiday hotspots,” where visitors can “find solitude in a Greece untouched by time: lost in nature, rich in ancient, spiritual sites”;
♦ advice for low-cost weekend getaways to Athens, Thessaloniki and Kefalonia; and
♦ recommendations for exclusive rental villas and luxurious all-inclusive resorts.
In the feature article “New Greek Odyssey,” Christopher Vourlias relates what he learned about “home, heroes and Hellenic heritage” during a trip to his father’s ancestral village in Central Greece.
The theme of the National Geographic Traveler issue is “Trips to Change Your Life,” and includes two features on Greece:
♦ the intriguing article “New Greek Odyssey,” in which writer Christopher Vourlias describes the personally insightful trip he took with his father to the latter’s home village in Agrafa, a mountain region of Central Greece; and
♦ An “insider’s guide to the best of Greece” — short profiles of specific recommended places to visit for food & drink, history & artifacts, islands & beaches, and culture & people.
And as you would expect, the articles in both magazines are illustrated with tantalizing photos of Greek destinations, monuments, and scenery that will make you feel wistful for a trip to Greece — even if, as was the case with me, you may have just had a holiday there.
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)
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!