There is always a certain mystique about the Greek islands. The rolling countryside and quiet beaches have been the setting to many myths and legends from the gods and goddesses to fabled beasts.
While there is a wealth of different theories on these tales, what is undeniable is the sheer beauty of the islands. With the bustling cities, quaint villages and secluded coves, there is so much to explore as you hop from one to the other. It is no wonder why Greece is top of the bucket list for many travelling explorers.
What do you need to see when visiting this part of the world? We’ve picked out some of the must-see and do things on the Greek islands.
Watch the sunset in Santorini
From one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history has grown something quite beautiful. Santorini formed following the Minoan eruption in 1610 BC and in the centuries since has blossomed into arguably the most picturesque of the Greek islands.
While it may be characterised for its whitewashed buildings with colourful roofs and unique red beaches, it is the sunset that attracts people from all over the world. Pick out a spot at the Caldera cliff in Oia and watch the sun slink away and turn the sky from azure to blood orange – it is a sight like no other.
Sail to Shipwreck Beach
The Greek islands have some pretty stunning beaches. Special mentions go to Santorini’s Red Beach and Elafonissi Pink Beach in Crete but there is nowhere quite as iconic as Navagio Beach on Zante – also known as Shipwreck Beach.
Regularly featuring in the world’s best lists, it is only accessible by boat and still features the remains of the MV Panagiotis which ran aground here in 1980. Sheltered by huge limestone cliffs and turquoise waters, it is the beach you have dreamed of.
Visit the Acropolis
Athens is famed for its Acropolis which stands atop the Hill of the Muses keeping a watchful eye over the city. Similarly, the Acropolis of Lindos has been a focal point of Rhodes since the 6th century BC. Built by the Knights of St John, it has been incredibly preserved and remains an imposing structure to this day.
After hiking or taking a donkey ride to the Acropolis you can admire the structure as well as the coastal views.
Learn about the legend of the Minotaur
The unassuming island of Crete was once plagued by a fierce mythological beast. The inhabitants of Knossos – believed to be Europe’s oldest city – lived in fear of a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. On the command of King Minos of Crete, the Minotaur reigned terror over Crete until it was slayed by Theseus with the sword of Aegeus.
The Minotaur is still remembered in Crete today through a number of murals and statues.
Float on the ‘world’s clearest lake’
Ocean waters being described as “crystal clear” can be somewhat of a cliché but there is no better way to portray the lake that fills Melissani Cave. Deep in the countryside of Kefalonia is a wonder of nature as light shimmers off the water and is projected against the cave walls creating an ambient paradise.
Float along in a rowing boat and gaze overboard as you see every little detail of lake through the almost transparent water. Like with everything in Greece, there is a mythological tale behind the cave which is said to be where a nymph named Melissanthi was drowned by the god Pan.
Find the Birthplace of Zeus
The king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, the father of the goddess love Aphrodite and with a lightning bolt in his hand – Zeus is one of the recognisable figures of Greek mythology. It is believed that Zeus was born in the village of Psychro in Crete where that the Titan Rhea hid him to prevent his father Cronus from eating him.
The cave in Psychro can be visited today and is widely known as the ‘Cave of Zeus’.
Hike through the picturesque countryside of Andros
The Greek islands have a landscape that makes it a hikers’ dream. While there are many places to choose from, Andros is arguably the most impressive. It is simply made for walkers with over 100 kilometres of trails which cross over peaceful rivers, weave through valleys and emerge at secluded beaches. You can spend your entire holiday exploring the unique countryside and stopping off in a different village each night.
Visit a winery
After all that walking, you’re going to build up quite a thirst. Luckily, for you, Greece has some of the most delicious wine in the world. There are hundreds of wineries across the country but the islands have some of the best such as Mykonos Viomas Organic Farm which uses classical music to create healthy and vigorous grapes. Take your pick from the available guided tours and don’t forget to take a bottle home with you as a souvenir.
Dine at a local taverna
Photo credit: Joe deSousa via Flickr
We love Greek food. From the light Mediterranean salads with olives and feta to the locally caught seafood and the classic gyros with fresh tzatkziki – every delicacy is a little bit of Heaven. While the islands have plenty of eateries, the traditional tavernas are an absolute must if you want to indulge in a true taste of Greece. Don’t get forget to use your newfound wine knowledge and pick out a glass of plonk to round off the evening.
Party in Zante
The Greeks sure know how to throw a party and like with everything on the islands – the nightlife is the stuff of legend. While the main cities will buzz long into the evening there are a number of resorts which are the place to be when you want to let your hair down. Zante is the king of the islands’ nightclub with some of the biggest names in dance and RnB lighting up the summer months and rivals the likes of Ibiza and Magaluf.
Find out all the fuss is about and plan your next holiday to the Greek islands with Sunmaster. We have a range of package breaks available with deposits starting from just £49pp and flexible payment plans. Visit www.sunmaster.co.uk to find out more.