Tag: Lefkada (page 1 of 3)

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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Skiathos, Lefkada & Paxos top Conde Nast list of best Greek islands to visit in 2020

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This photo gallery video profiles Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s 23 choices for best Greek islands to visit in 2020

 

Thinking of taking a holiday on a Greek island in 2020, but aren’t sure where to go? To help you decide, the U.K.’s Conde Nast Traveller magazine has compiled a list of what it believes are the 23 best islands to visit (out of more than 200 possible choices).

Selected by “regular isle-hopper Rachel Howard,” The Best Greek Islands to Visit in 2020 feature article rates Skiathos as #1, Lefkada #2 and Paxos #3.

Skiathos is described as the smallest but most popular of the Sporades islands, and as a favourite with families for its “baby powder-soft sandy beaches and laid-back vibe.” 

“Lefkada’s main town, flattened by an earthquake in the 1950s, won’t take your breath away, but those famous cliff-backed beaches, Egremni and Porto Katsiki, sure will,” the article says of its second-place selection.

Meanwhile, “Paxos packs a big punch … for its electric blue sea and three dinky harbour towns, each one so pretty it’s impossible to pick a favourite,” Howard writes.

Her Top 23 round-up includes a scenic photo from each destination, two or three paragraphs of text describing highlight features and what each island is considered “best” for, and suggested accommodations.

 

Besides Lefkada and Paxos, the ranking includes:

♦ four other major Ionian islands: Kefalonia, Corfu, Ithaca and Zakynthos;

♦ the Cyclades islands of Milos, Serifos, Amorgos, Mykonos, Santorini, Folegandros, Syros, Naxos, Tinos and Sifnos;

♦ the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes, Symi, Astypalia and Patmos;

♦ Hydra;

♦ Chios;

♦ Crete.

The online article concludes with a gallery of 16 photos showing scenes from some of the islands. Curiously, there is a picture from Andros, even though that island didn’t win a spot in the Top 23.

A much bigger blooper is the photo that purports to illustrate top choice Skiathos. The magazine’s photo editors mistakenly chose a picture of Elia beach on Mykonos instead of the Skiathos strand with the same name. Another photo boo-boo is a picture captioned as Petra beach on Patmos; the posted image actually shows Grikos beach.

Below are videos I’ve selected to give some additional photographic insight into the  islands that ranked in Conde Nast’s Top 3:

Meet Skiathos: Something for Everyone is a 6-minute film produced by Ionian & Aegean Island Holidays Ltd., the Greek National Tourism Organisation, and Ellie Patrikios

 

Lefkada island 4K is a 4.5-minute video published by bikisek1979

 

Discover Paxos is a 2-minute clip from Agni Travel

Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

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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.

 

Longing for Lefkada

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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

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