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Mykonos springs to life as more bars & restaurants open, first cruise ship of 2019 visits

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The beachfront of Tasos Taverna is seen in a photo posted on Facebook to announce its March 23 season opening.  Located on Paraga beach, Tasos has been serving customers since 1962.

 

Season starts: Spring has only just sprung, but the tourism season on Mykonos has kicked off with a spate of bar and restaurant openings, plus the arrival of the first cruise ship of 2019.

During the period of March 15 to 25, at least 10 establishments were set to officially open their doors, including two beach restaurants and, in Mykonos Town, several popular eateries and a bar.  March 15 also marked the start of cruise ship port calls into Mykonos, with a visit by the Celestyal Cruises ship, Olympia.

On most Greek islands, the annual tourist season is fairly short, and typically runs from the beginning of May until the end of September. With more than 10 places opening up during the third week of March, it might sound like Mykonos is getting things off to an unusually early start. But during the last four years, there has been a similar number of food and drink venues launching their seasons at this time, so I haven’t been surprised to hear of this month’s openings.

 

The cruise ship visits, on the other hand, have indeed commenced sooner than in previous years.  A March 18 news report by Greek Travel Pages notes that Celestyal launched its 3- and 4-night Aegean cruises two weeks earlier this year compared to last. It also is extending its season by two weeks in the fall, in response to what  Celestyal says is a rising demand for travel before and after the summer season.

I, too, have noticed a greater interest in off- or early-season travel to Greece this year, both in messages and inquiries sent to my blog, and from requests for advice posted on the TripAdvisor Greece travel forums.  This year I have fielded more questions than ever before from people who booked trips to Mykonos for dates in February, March and April. Many of those who wrote to me, or posted questions in online forums, were worried they wouldn’t have anywhere to eat or drink on Mykonos because they heard rumours that the island’s businesses are shut tight as a drum until May. That’s simply not true, since there are restaurants and bars that stay open all winter to serve the local population. The good news for people travelling to Mykonos between mid-March and May is that they will now have a much wider selection of places to enjoy a drink or meal, with more businesses opening each week until summer.

 

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Apaggio, located on the seaside at Ornos, is open every day of the year. In fact, it hasn’t closed since it opened in 2013. Apaggio specializes in fresh fish and seafood, but guests also can choose from salads, warm and cold appetizers, meat and pasta dishes, Greek dishes and more.  It has an extensive wine list, and a vast selection of ouzo and tsipouro.  During winter, Apaggio is open from 12 noon until 11 p.m. The restaurant has an indoor dining room as well as a large seaside patio, seen in the photo above from the Apaggio website.

 

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Raya, an all-day restaurant and bar positioned on the harbourside promenade in Mykonos Town, is one of the island businesses that doesn’t close up shop when the tourist season ends — it stays open all year. And it’s not just popular for food and drinks: Raya is known for its special Sunday parties, with music by DJs from Mykonos and Athens. This photo is from the Raya page on Facebook.

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where you can see which bars and restaurants have opened on Mykonos this month, along with places that opened even earlier, or have been open throughout the winter.

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A guide to Kini, the laid-back beach village on Syros

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Greece, Greek Islands, Cyclades, Siros, Syros, Kini Bay, Kini beach, Kini village, landscape, coast, seaside,

Greece, Greek Islands, Cyclades, Siros, Syros, Kini Bay, Kini beach, Kini village, landscape, coast, seaside, village

Greece, Greek Islands, Cyclades, Siros, Syros, Kini Bay, Kini beach, Kini village, landscape, coast, seaside, village, mountains

Above: Views of the Kini area from five different vantage points

 

What’s there:  My earlier post, Colourful Kini Bay on Syros island, was essentially a photo tour of the beautiful beach village area where we have stayed during two holidays on Syros. In this companion piece, I have compiled a mini-guide to Kini, highlighting accommodation and dining options as well as attractions and things to see and do in the immediate vicinity, based primarily upon personal experience.

I actually started preparing this article several years ago, following our second trip to Syros, but I never managed to finish the project. It languished in a folder of draft articles until this winter, when a Travel + Leisure magazine profile of Syros caught my attention and reminded me of the post I had never completed. Comments and inquiries about Syros from readers  of my blog gave me further impetus to have another go at writing the guide. Besides, it presented an opportunity to see what, if anything, may have changed and keep us up to date on what’s happening in Kini, since we do plan to go back.

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Kini is best known for beaches, food and  scenery, but it’s also home to two attractions that tourists can visit: the Agia Varvara Monastery (above) and a small aquarium and boat museum

 

While checking to see if familiar tavernas and accommodations were still around, I was pleased to discover that two new restaurants and a hotel have opened during the past couple of years — Aphrodite Boutique Hotel, Thalassa Beach Bar, and Aeriko Mezedopoleio.  Aphrodite and Thalassa have opened in centrally-located buildings that had been vacant and somewhat shabby-looking during both of our Kini holidays, so their reincarnations have spruced up the area and greatly improved the look of the village landscape. Aeriko opened two years ago in the premises previously occupied by Ammos Beach and Kitchen Bar.  (There’s more information on all three new places later in this post.)

I also noticed several hotels and studio rental properties have undertaken significant upgrades in the past two years, while others have been renovating this winter in preparation for the 2019 season.  The good news for travellers is more (and improved) choices for lodging, along with additional places to drink and dine. Happily, the changes have been for the better, and haven’t had a negative impact on Kini’s comfortable atmosphere and charm.  

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We have seen many remarkable sunsets from Kini (this one was from our holiday in 2015), with vivid sky colours that were more stunning than any we’ve seen on Santorini, the island that’s famous for sunset views.

 

The low-key, laid-back ambiance is what we personally enjoy about Kini, along with its scenic location, marvellous sunset views, sandy beaches, interesting walks and excellent restaurants. (Its close proximity to the island’s vibrant capital, Ermoupoli, is another appealing feature.) On both of our visits, Kini won our hearts as one of the most chill and relaxing places we’ve stayed anywhere in Greece.  In fact, we often muse about going there for an extended period — a couple of months in spring or fall, for instance — since we find it particularly inspiring for our creative pursuits of writing, painting and photography.

I know others share our appreciation for Kini just as strongly; online, I have chatted with a number of people who have made repeat visits and are planning to return this year because they love Kini for the same reasons. And when we have spoken to other tourists while we have been in Kini, everyone has commented about how much they were enjoying the place. We never heard anything negative.

Kini might not be your cup of tea if your ideal island getaway is a crowded and glitzy tourist magnet, like Mykonos, where you can spend all your time and money shopping in designer boutiques, dining at gourmet international restaurants, and partying at exclusive nightclubs and trendy beach clubs.  But if your goal is to rest and recharge in a peaceful, picturesque village with good Greek restaurants and nice sandy beaches, Kini could well be paradise. It’s my hope that the photographs, descriptions and personal anecdotes in this guide will give you a solid sense of what Kini has to offer, and will inspire you to consider including Kini in your future holiday plans if it does look like a place you would enjoy.

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Kini is situated on the west coast of Syros, approximately 9 km from the island’s port town and capital, Ermoupoli

 

 

Please click on the links below below to continue reading and see dozens of Kini photos.

Page 2 highlights Kini sights, attractions and things to do, with descriptions of local beaches, boat trips to remote beach areas, and scenic walks.

Page 3 spotlights places to eat and drink in the village.

Page 4 profiles hotels and many of the room and studio accommodations available at Kini.  

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Colourful Kini Bay on Syros island

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Evening view of the Kini Bay area, from a hill behind Lotos beach

 

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Houses and holiday accommodations on the hills behind Kini Beach

 

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Fishing boats moored in the small harbour at Kini Bay

 

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Overlooking Kini beach, bay and harbour

 

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A quiet morning at Kini Beach

 

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Waves reflect the golden hues of sunset above Kini Bay 

 

Photo tour: It seems I have stoked some interest in Syros.

After I posted that Travel + Leisure magazine had profiled Syros island in its February 2019 issue, a number of readers have been in touch to say they are now thinking about going there for part of their island hopping holidays this summer.

And since I had mentioned that Syros is one of our favourite islands, some asked if I could recommend a specific beach resort area for them to consider.

So far we have stayed twice at just one beach location — Kini Bay — and loved it, but we have been to a few other beach areas that are popular with tourists, including Galissas, Finikas and Poseidonia. We would probably choose to stay at one of those places on our next trip to Syros, simply for a change of scenery and the chance to to experience a different part of the island.

But I wouldn’t describe Kini or any of the others as “resorts” per se; rather, they are fairly small villages situated on or near sandy beaches and scenic coastlines, each offering a respectable selection of accommodations and restaurants. You won’t find strips of shops or nightclubs at any of these locations, but there are mini markets and grocery stores where visitors staying in studio apartments or villas can purchase food and sundry items they might need.

What we particularly enjoy about Kini Bay is its beautiful setting on a picturesque bay, where holidaymakers can relax on two sandy beaches — Kini and Lotos — or at nearby Delfini, which is reasonable walking distance from the village.  Galissas beach can be reached either by car or on foot (a hiking path that winds up and down hills high above the rugged coast), while boat trips to two isolated beaches north of Kini are offered in season.

I’ll tell you more about the area in a separate post I’m currently working on, but in the meantime I have gathered dozens of our pictures to show you why we have been so keen on Kini.

Please click on the link below to take a photo tour of colourful sights and scenes at Kini Bay.

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What it feels like being in Greece

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Oh My Greece! Unlock the Feeling is a new promotional video by DiscoverGreece

 

Unlocked and loaded: I’ve got to wait more than two months before my next holiday trip to Greece, but a new promotional video released today (February 20) has made me feel like I’m already there.

Oh My Greece! Unlock the Feeling is a production of DiscoverGreece, the online information and promotion platform for Greece tourism.

It’s only 2 minutes long, but the clip does a terrific job of capturing what it feels like to be in Greece, with inviting looks at spectacular sea, beach, coast and mountain scenery, as well as glimpses of olive tree groves, vineyards, sights in Athens, the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Seitan Limani beach on Crete, and the marvellous rock formations at Meteora. Quick peeks at food, wine and ouzo will whet your travel appetite as well.

Give it a watch — it’s a great way to take your mind off winter and imagine that you’re relaxing somewhere in Greece in summer instead.

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