Tag: Kefalonia (page 1 of 2)

Top Greece travel reads of 2019: Best island-hopping guides, articles and trip reports

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Cover of the May 2019 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

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 — 

Screenshot of The Mediterranean Traveller guide to Greek island hopping

 

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.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Countdown to Kefalonia

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The beautiful landscapes and scenery on Kefalonia look tremendously inviting even in winter, as this short film by Yiannis Prassadis reveals

 

Finally going: Kefalonia has been on our bucket list for quite some time, but we have never been able to fit a trip there into any of our past island-hopping holidays — largely since we were usually travelling in the Aegean or Dodecanese regions of Greece, too far away to conveniently slot any of the Ionian islands into our vacation schedule. We kept expecting that we would devote one entire holiday just to see Kefalonia and some of its island neighbours, but it never happened.

Notions of visiting Kefalonia were rekindled this past January when I discovered the Explore Kefalonia — Winter video (posted above) while working on my blog articles about snowfalls and severe weather conditions in Greece.  

I was captivated by the video scenes of beautiful coasts and landscapes, and that led me to start watching more Kefalonia videos, almost all of which were filmed during the summer tourist period, rather than during the off-season winter months. Those videos, in turn,  made me conclude that we had to bump Kefalonia higher up our “must see” list of places to visit sometime in the next five years.

 

 

I never thought for a moment that we might get to Kefalonia as early as this year, but when friends invited us to join them on a road trip in the western Peloponnese this spring, and asked if we would like to go to Kefalonia from there, we couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity.

We will be on the island later this month for almost a full week — clearly not long enough to see all the fascinating places and attractions that have intrigued me so much in the videos. But if we do wind up loving it Kefalonia as much as we have enjoyed so many other islands, we’ll return another time to get to know it better.

Now it’s just a matter of contending with the steadily growing anticipation of finally getting there. With the countdown to our flight to Greece in its final days, we won’t have to wait much longer.

Below are three of the videos I enjoyed watching during the winter, never realizing that a trip to Kefalonia would be in the cards for us so soon.

 

James Brook published his Kefalonia  video in October 2016

 

Greg Stachura released his Amazing Kefalonia video last November

 

Island Paradise was posted last summer by Buytheticketandgo.com

New Ionian Islands travel guide available

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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.

 

 

Καλό Μήνα! July’s arrival heralds the beginning of the peak summer beach season in Greece

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Myrtos beach on Kefalonia island in the Ioanian Sea off the western coast of mainland Greece

July marks the start of the peak period for the summer tourist season in Greece. And with daily afternoon temperatures soaring into the mid-30s Celsius across the country, it’s also the beginning of the busiest period for beaches. Above is Myrtos beach on Kefalonia, one of the popular Greek islands in the Ionian Sea. The picture originally appeared on the Greece in Photos Facebook page.

 

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