Tag: Zakynthos (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.

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Crete clinches 4th place ranking on TripAdvisor list of the world’s top destinations for 2019

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Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port,, Chania harbour,

Greece, Greek islands, Crete,Crete island, Crete Greece, Chania, Chania Crete, harbour, port, lighthouse, Chania lighthouse,

Views of the historic Venetian harbourfront and the iconic lighthouse at Chania, a perenially popular travel destination in northwestern Crete

 

Crete shines: Millions of travellers around the world have spoken, and their positive reviews, ratings and comments have landed Crete island in 4th place on the prestigious TripAdvisor listing of the Top 25 destinations in the world this year.

The 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards were announced this week (on March 26), lauding London as the #1 destination in the world, followed by Paris, Rome, Crete, and Bali in Indonesia. Last year Crete placed fifth, behind Bali. 

TripAdvisor is the globe’s largest travel website, containing listings for more than 156,000 destinations. Each year it presents its Travelers’ Choice awards to top international destinations, honouring the places that are most popular with people who post reviews on the website.

A press release announcing this year’s winners quoted TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Communications, Desiree Fish, as saying: “The Travelers’ Choice awards for Destinations recognize major cities and islands that continue to deliver an outstanding experience and are beloved by our global community of travelers.”

The news release explained that award winners “were determined using an algorithm based on reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and experiences in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period. The methodology takes into account quality and volume of reviews to surface destinations that consistently deliver the best overall experience for travelers.”

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, southwest Crete, Loutro, Loutro village, village, mountains, coast, seaside

Loutro village in southwestern Crete

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Crete island, Crete Greece, Paleochora, Paleochora Crete, coast, coastline, seaside, southwestern Crete, mountains, sea,

Looking along the spectacular southwestern coast of Crete from one of the many beaches near the town of Paleochora

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Chania, street, lane, courtyard, taverna, restaurant,

A taverna courtyard in the heart of the historic old town area of Chania

 

Greece, Greek islands,Crete, Crete Greece, Crete island, beach,Greek beach,Greek island beach, Sweet Water Beach,Sweet Water Beach Crete,

Sweet Water Beach in southwestern Crete, between the villages of Chora Sfakion and Loutro

 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, southwest Crete, Agia Roumeli, village, coast, mountains, Samaria Gorge,

A view of Agia Roumeli village, situated at the foot of the world-famous Samaria Gorge. Extending for 16 kilometers, the gorge is the longest in Europe and is one of Crete’s top tourist attractions.

 

We spent more than two weeks on Crete in late fall of 2017, and could easily see why it has been ranked among the world’s Top 5 travel destinations two years in a row — it truly delivers outstanding travel experiences. Crete has something to suit every traveller’s taste, style and budget: fascinating cities, towns and villages; vibrant resorts; breathtaking landscapes, stunning scenery and gorgeous beaches;  superb food and wine; significant historical sites and attractions; a diverse range of outdoor activities for all ages and lifestyles; myriad hotel and lodging options, and much more. 

Crete also claimed two spots in the list of the world’s Top 25 Beaches: Balos ranked #15, while Elafonissi took 21st place. Though both are situated in western Crete, the region in which we focussed our 2017 holiday travels, we never made it to either beach, so they remain on our bucket list of places to see. The island is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches, however, so visitors still have countless strands to choose from if they can’t get to Balos or Elafonissi.  (We saw many impressive beaches along the island’s southwestern coast.)

Greece in general fared well on other top rankings, particularly for hotels, where it won top honours in two categories. It nabbed the number 1 and 2 spots in the Top 25 all-inclusive hotel ranking, and it claimed the number 1 and 3 position on the awards list for the world’s Top 25 Small Hotels. Greece also achieved Top 25 rankings for best hotels, luxury hotels, best service, romantic hotels, family hotels, and bargain hotels.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that Greece received TripAdvisor recognition for the world’s top two all-inclusive hotels because, in TripAdvisor’s own travel forums, regular visitors to Greece routinely advise travellers to avoid all-inclusive properties, urging them to stay at hotel or self-catering accommodations instead. In essence, the forum commentators claim Greece simply doesn’t do all-inclusives very well, and visitors don’t experience Greece if they stay at an AI resort. With this year’s awards, however, it’s quite clear that all-inclusive resort guests disagree! 

Greece, Greek islands, Crete, Crete island, beach, Greek beach, Elafonissi beach Crete, Elafonisi beach Crete,

Famous for its brilliant turquoise waters and pink-hued sand, Elafonissi beach is seen in an image from the Best Travel Tips to Crete page of the Tourist Maker website.  Elafonissi ranked #21 on the TripAdvisor list of the Top 25 beaches in the world.

 

Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Lagoons and sandy beach strips at Balos are seen in this photo shot by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography. Balos ranked #15 on this year’s list of the world’s top beaches.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where I have posted photos and rankings for the Greek hotels that placed in the world’s Top 25.

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Where to find five of the best beaches in Greece

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Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos island Greece

Majestic limestone cliffs soar above alluring light blue seas at Navagio Beach, seen in this image by Flickr member Cristi Sinca

 

Guest post by Christofer Adam

Are you counting the days till summer arrives? Can you not wait till your next holiday trip? Are you living and breathing for your next adventure? Then you are reading the right article! Since we know how important and desirable it is for you to swim in crystal clear waters, we have chosen some of the top beaches you can find in Greece — the country where the sea, sun and summer are taken for granted!

Follow our guide and get ready to have the most remarkable beach holidays!

 

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada

This famous golden sandy beach is located around 40 kilometres southwest of the island’s capital city, Lefkada Town. The magnificent hills surrounding this beautiful beach are well worth the effort it takes to arrive there – which involves an exhausting but adventurous hike of 80 steep steps! But before you follow the track, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a frappe (the famous Greek iced coffee) from the snack bars you can find at the top of the hill so that you won’t find yourself thirsty half way!  However, if you are not excited about this idea, there is always an alternative solution — just take one of the taxi boats available from the nearby towns of Nidri or Vassiliki for a magical journey. Porto Katsiki provides a range of water activities including swimming (of course!), sailing and surfing.

 Porto Katsiki beach

Porto Katsiki beach, seen in an image by JuzaPhoto member Robepate

 

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos

Situated on the north-west shore of the island of Zakynthos, Navagio beach — also popularly known as Shipwreck beach — is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. And this is not random at all, as the steep limestone cliffs, white sands, crystal clear waters and the incredible abandoned shipwreck stuck on the sand create an astonishing scenery. The location is also a favourite spot for base jumpers, as the view from above is mesmerizing! You can only access the beach by boat, unless you are a base jumper, in which case you can jump from the cliff and smoothly land on the soft sands!

 

Base jumping is the fastest way to reach extroardinary Navagio beach

 

Faliraki, Rhodes

With its golden sands spread for more than 5 kilometres, Faliraki beach in Rhodes is one of the most beautiful on the island. As a very well organized beach, Faliraki will keep you busy and satisfied with its wide range of services and activities provided. Umbrella and sunbed rental is available, while you can also find a variety of water activities such as bungee-jumping! Furthermore, the area doesn’t lack of any good restaurants, night clubs and cafeterias. Bear in mind that the beach gets crowded, so it’s a good idea to wake up early in the morning if you would like to secure yourself a spot near the shore. However, if you are on hangover from having too many cocktails the night before, then you can take a nap at the beach while sunbathing! Just remember to put your sunscreen on, as you don’t want to wake up later with sunburns! To check out some of the best places to stay in Faliraki, click here.

 Faliraki beach Rhodes

An aerial view of Faliraki beach, from the Discover Rhodes travel site

 

Golden Beach, Thassos

Golden Beach (Chrysi Ammoudia) is a long coast with golden sands, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful beach of Thassos Island. The shallow waters are so transparent you can see the bottom of the sea and all the little fish swimming there! The scenery is magnificent, as the beach is framed by little cliffs and green trees reaching down the sea, while Mountain Ypsarion arises over the bay, creating an irreplaceable view. As a very well organized beach, it is also a popular destination for families with small children. Check out the best places to stay near the beach by clicking here.

YouTube member Goran Tosic posted this 3-minute video showing a variety of views of gorgeous Golden Beach

 

Red Beach, Santorini

Situated in the most popular island of Greece, the Red Beach is famous for its unique colour of sands and the stiff red lava cliffs surrounding it. It is blessed with a beautiful sandy shore, clear blue waters and big rocks sitting around it, creating a magnificent scenery that would make you want to spend the whole day there! The beach is near Akrotiri area, and we suggest accessing it by boat which you can board from the areas of Perissa or Akrotiri. Otherwise, if you prefer walking and hiking, then you might as well reach the beach by foot, which is just 10 minutes away from Akrotiri.

 Red Beach Santorini

Santorini’s Red Beach seen in an image by Flickr member Alex Coppo

 

 Christofer Adam is a Content Marketing Executive at London’s leading Online Marketing Agency, passionate with Social Media, Creative Writing and the Travel Industry. Click here to view his profile on LinkedIn.

Timeless treasures of Zakynthos

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Treasures of Zakynthos – A Timelapse Film from Maciej Tomków on Vimeo

 

I haven’t been to Zakynthos yet (or any of the other Greek islands in the Ionian Sea, for that matter), but I already know I would love it.

I’m drawn to islands that boast superlative scenery and, based on the scores of photos and videos I have seen, Zakynthos would not disappoint. With its stunning landscapes — verdant mountains,  soaring cliffs, picturesque towns and harbours, and especially its spectacular coastlines, Blue Caves and magnificent beaches — Zakynthos would tick off a lot of boxes on my list of favourite features for an ideal Greek holiday destination.

And if you saw my August 2 2014 post about Shipwreck Beach, you’ll know that Zakynthos is already on my bucket list of the places I most want to see in Greece.

The Treasures of Zakynthos video I posted above simply reinforces my strong belief that I would thoroughly enjoy visiting the island. The breathtaking film was produced, directed and photographed by cinematographer Maciej Tomkow, who captured astounding timelapse images of the island’s amazing natural treasures — its mountains and hills; sunrises and sunsets; towns and harbours; star-filled night skies; and its coastlines, bays, and beaches (Shipwreck plays a starring role, as you’d expect).

If you haven’t been to Zakynthos yet, either, I bet you’ll be adding it to your own travel bucket list after watching Maciej’s film.

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