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Greece, Travel

4 Islands You Don’t Want to Miss While Yachting in Greece

January 13, 2020
Sailboat masts

Resort holidays are a thing of the past, or at least they should be. The new generation of travelers are using their vacations for experiences that were once only available to an exclusive elite class of travelers. Now, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the opportunities we have available to us at astonishingly low prices. Holiday experiences don’t get much better than island hopping in your own rented yacht around Greek islands.

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But which ones to choose? The first thing to accept is that you’ll never get to them all, there are simply too many. And that’s Greece’s biggest advantage – one overarching culture, but countless islands that thrill with their quirks and nuances, yet still provide all the highest quality Greek wine and olive oil with every meal.

Though this quick guide offers reasons to stop by at the most well-known as well as the least visited Greek islands, it’s just a tiny appetizer to whet your Greek palate.

Tinos

Tinos

Tinos is an island in the Cyclades Archipelago with a cozy population of around 9,000 people, situated just North of one of Greece’s most famous islands – Mykonos.

It’s a minor haven for architecture and history aficionados who come to marvel at the Our Lady of Tinos shrine, said to be the major Marian shrine in Greece. It is a Christian site believed to be the source of numerous miracles. From its hilltop perch, you’ll be able to embrace the majesty of creation with a tremendous view looking over towards Mykonos and around the Mediterranean. It is one of the founding structures of the modern Greek state, making the Lady of Tinos the patron saint of Greece.

Of course, islands of Greece are never lacking in stunning beaches for you to drop anchor at. Many beaches on Tinos island are “untouched” as far as Greek islands go, especially compared to neighboring Mykonos.

Kolimpithra beach is a small cove with a few restaurants that only ever attracts modest crowds. Kavalourko beach is barely accessible by road, so it’s a perfect destination for the kitted-out yachtsman. There are no restaurants except in the nearest town Panormos, so bring your own food and drinks and enjoy picnicking with other sailors at this untouched haven.

Mykonos

Mykonos, Greece

Although Mykonos is very heavily touristed, it still retains its charm, and there’s a reason people keep flocking back: its beaches are simply to die for.

But one of the major draws of Mykonos is how accessible it is, it’s a great destination to start off the trip, simply fly-in, charter a yacht and set sail to other destinations. Because of its popularity, it’s a great place to get chatting with other people who are sailing around the islands and get some first-hand tips for some restaurants, beaches and anchoring spots around the islands. Enthusiastic travelers are sure to overhear and join in on offering some advice over a glass of Greek wine.

Hydra

Hydra, Greece

Leonard Cohen has captured the hearts of millions worldwide, and Hydra is the Aegean island that pulled at his heartstrings and became his spiritual home. He wrote many of his songs in the house he bought here in 1960. Here, you can walk in the footsteps of Greek and musical legends!

Now, Hydra – named after the Greek word for water because of the islands numerous natural spring waters – is a tourist’s paradise without the over-tourism of Santorini. Small, uninhabited islets still sit off the shores of the main island of Hydra.

It is a picture-perfect island of narrow stone streets leading to plazas dotted with tables for outdoor dining, perfect for enjoying the cool evening breeze after sunset in summer. Prepare to sink into your thoughts uninterrupted, as you won’t hear much English from the tables beside you.

This island is really most popular with Athenians looking to get away for a bit, meaning the standards of food and wine are kept extremely high for the Greek national tastes.

For daytime exploring, there are tons of beaches, ruins, fortresses and history to absorb, dating from antiquity through to the Ottoman era and right up to the Greek War of Independence. 

Oh! And prepare to walk, cycle or ride donkeys… cars are banned on this island!

Elafonisos

Elafonisos, Greece

This little-visited tiny island just to the south of the Peloponnese peninsula boasts the world’s oldest submerged town called Pavlopetri. Its shallow submersion of only 4 meters means it can be easily snorkeled to gaze down at the ruins of Greece’s mini Atlantis.

Visiting islands as small as this means you never have to worry about fussing over restaurant choices, there aren’t many, and the ones you do find will all be great quality, serving some of its 600 locals and tourists alike. This is one island to make you feel like you’re part of something, rather than just an observer.

Sailing Season

The sailing season in Greece happens twice a year starting in May and June. Then again in August and September. Anytime outside this time is possible, but you should keep in mind the wind and the temperature of the water.

Greece, Travel

Best Things to do in Milos

October 14, 2019
Things to do In Milos

Milos is the southwesternmost island in the Cyclades island group in Greece. Milo is also a volcanic island and you can see the shape of it when looking at the map. If you arrive by ferry, you will arrive in the ancient caldera that has created a natural harbor. Despite the island’s small size, there are plenty of things to do in Milos.

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Visit the Fishing Village of Klima

The village of Klima clings to the cliffsides of Milos and it one of the first villages you might see when entering the harbor. It is a fishing village. The little houses with boat storage underneath line the beach. All of the houses are brightly colored making for a colorful photograph. It is a great way to see how fishermen lived. Nowadays, many of the houses are not used or are used as vacation rentals.

Klima Milos

The only direct way to get to Klima is to rent a car and drive. During the high season, you could get the bus to the Catacombs and walk down from there. Please note, there is limited parking at Klima and the road it narrow to get down. There is a restaurant as well if you want to eat and watch the boats go by. It may be closed during the off-season though.

See the moon beach of Sarakiniko Beach

Many people have seen pictures of the stunning white beach of Sarakiniko. Some people liken it to the moon. It is unlike anything I have seen before. The turquoise and blue water next to it make for a striking combination. I probably could have walked around this beach for hours taking photos. However, the white makes it really hot to walk around for long without getting in the water.

Sarakiniko

Sarakiniko

There are two ways to get in the water, jump in from the cliffside. Most of them were not too high, just make sure there are no rocks below you. The other way is to walk around to the inlet where there is a small beach. You can see how in this video.

If you go in the high season, I recommend getting there early as it will be crowded if you wait till the afternoon. During the high season, the bus goes there regularly. If not, you will need to rent a car or arrange for a taxi. It is only about a 15-minute drive from Adamas.

Walk the Quaint Streets of Plaka

Plaka is the capital of Milos. It is located up on a hill overlooking the harbor near the entrance. I can only imagine this was done on purpose to be on the lookout for any invaders. Plaka is one of those Greek villages you see in photos stuck in another time. The views from Plaka are stunning. Be sure to see the view from the Catholic Church in Plaka, Milos.

Plaka Milos

Due to its location and age, you cannot drive very far into Plaka. There is also limited parking so taking the bus is a good option.

Eat at Marianna in Adamas

Unlike many of the Greek Islands I have been to, the port area of Milos is on the small side and only offers a few restaurants. The best one we ate at was Marianna. It serves traditional Greek food. The restaurant faces the water and offers a nice view.

We ate there twice it was so good. I love eggplant and they make the best imam I have ever had. Imam is a roasted eggplant dish that has onions, tomato sauce and feta cheese on it. At Marianna’s, it was fire-roasted and you could taste it in the flavors. I ordered it both times I went to eat there. Panos was our waiter both times and he was great!

Visit the Village of Pollonia

Another great village to visit is Pollonia. It is quiet and has a small beach in town. Many people opt to stay here instead of Adamas. You can catch the ferry to the island of Kimolos from here. I would say this is a good place to stay if you want quiet and a calm beach.

The bus goes to Pollonia and there are plenty of restaurants so you could just walk everywhere in town.

Enjoy the Waters at Achivadolimni Beach

The waters are so clear at Achivadolimni beach, you would think you were in the Caribbean. The sand is deep and soft even into the water. The water was even warm by my standards. It would be a good beach for kids as well as you can walk out a way before it gets really deep. The beach is opposite of Adamas and offers good views of the port.

Explore the Milos Catacombs

How the ancient citizens of Milos dug these catacombs into the side of the hill in Milos is beyond me. However, they are amazing. you can’t go through them all because they have not all be excavated and it is a safety issue. The guide takes you down with a flashlight. There is some lighting down there so don’t be concerned. It was interesting to see how these catacombs are similar to other ones I have seen, although without bones. There were very few bones when the catacombs were discovered and they have been removed for their preservation.

Milos catacombs

Swim at Platheina Beach

This secluded Milos beach was visible from the Catholic church in Plaka and we knew we needed to visit it. Again we found a beach with Caribbean colored waters. The best thing was that there was almost no one there! I think there were ten people total on the beach. The bus does not go to this beach though so rent a car, trust me it is worth it!

Platheina Beach

We were only in Milos for two days but there are over 70 beaches on Milos so you could stay for a long time just exploring beaches. Milos was different than many Greek islands and at first, I was disappointed but once I saw the amazing views and waters, I was in love. Maybe one day, I will go back and explore them all!

Where to Stay in Milos

Looking for a Milos hotel? Here are three I recommend in Adamas, Santa Maria Village, Arco Solium Suites and Milos Bay Suites. If you are looking for something outside of Adamas, click here to check rates and locations.

How to Get to Milos

Milos is accessible by ferry or by airplane. The ferries run from Athens and many other islands. If you arrive by ferry you will arrive in the Adamas port, which is the main town. If you arrive by airplane you will be a short drive away from Adamas. Depending on the time of year you go to Milos island, there may be several flights and ferries a day. Please check the schedules in advance.

If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments. Also, have you been to Milos? Let me know what else you recommend.

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Greece, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

Santa Maria Village Milos, Greece

October 7, 2019

Finding a place to stay on a Greek Island is pretty easy especially during the off-season but finding a place that is comfortable, has an incredible view with amazing staff is more difficult to find. This is what I found when I stay at Santa Maria Village in Milos, Greece. Please note that this stay was complimentary but all views are my own.

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The Location

Normally in one of these hotel review posts, I don’t cover the location first, but the location made this hotel. Not because it was close to anything but because of the views from the hotel. From the pool, the hotel faces west and you can see the port town of Adamas, Milos. It also means the sunsets from here are stunning. Watch the sunset till it gets dark as it changes as the sun dips further down.

Sunset from the Santa Maria Village Hotel

Milos is a narrow island at some points and because of Santa Maria’s location, you can also see the sunrise. The best place to see the sunrise is from right in front of the door to reception.

The hotel is a short drive away from the port and you can walk it if you don’t mind a small hill. One night, after we had dropped off our rental car we walked back and it was pretty easy and most of the path was lit.

View of Adamas from Santa Maria Village Hotel

The Room

The room size was good. My friend and I shared a room and they had set it up with two twin beds. It even had a twin bed that acted as a sofa. I ended up sleeping on the sofa as it was a bit softer than the regular bed. While the room wasn’t updated, it was comfortable and there was a new air conditioning unit. There was plenty of space for two people.

Santa Maria Village

Our room overlooked a garden area and had a patio to sit on. It was very quiet, which I loved. Our room was across from the pool so we had easy access to it without the pool noise.

The Facilities

All of the Santa Maria Village hotel was beautiful and the pool was outstanding. It was large and very clean. There was plenty of poolside seating. Even though the hotel did not have a restaurant, the poolside bar offered sandwiches and pizza.

Pool at Santa Maria Village Hotel

Breakfast was served in the lobby area with seating outside under the pergola. It was a lovely setting. The breakfast itself was great. Lots of options including eggs, pastries, deli meat and cakes. We had to leave before breakfast was served but it was ready and they welcomed us to take some things with us.

There is also a spa, which we did not have the chance to use the spa but we spoke to someone who used it and they said it was great. They mostly only offer massages but you could also get your nails done.

You need a car to properly explore Milos and you would need one to get to and from this hotel. However, the quiet location and views made it worth it to me and I would definitely return.

Want to book the Santa Maria Village hotel, click here for rates.

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Sunset over the pool

Europe, Greece, Travel

Things to Know Before Traveling to Greece

July 1, 2019

Greek Islands In October

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I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have Greece on their bucket list. However, many people have preconceived notions about Greece that are not true or are less than accurate. Knowing the truth will help you plan better and help you enjoy your time in Greece even more. Here are all the things to know before you travel to Greece.

Athens is More Than the Acropolis

Most people think of Athens, and they think of the Acropolis that sits on a hill in the center of the city. Many people believe they can visit the Acropolis and be done with Athens. Some people only spend one day in Athens! You still don’t need a week in Athens, but you do need about three days to see more than the Acropolis. One of the best things to do is to visit the Acropolis Museum. It is stunning and is not very large. There is an archeological dig exposed under the building as well.

There are many more museums to explore in Athens as well, including the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art. The Benaki Museum has a wonderful cafe with an outdoor terrace to view the city. There is also all the great food to eat as well. There is good food all over Greece, but Athens has a city feel and more upscale options if that suits you. Many places have excellent views of the Acropolis. I suggest going right before sunset to eat so you can enjoy your Greek food with a stunning sunset.

Athens has many other ancient sites to visit including Hadrian’s Library and the Ancient Agora. These sites can be seen with an additional cost added on to your ticket to the Acropolis. You can easily walk to them after finishing the Acropolis. A short tram ride away are some beaches if you want to make a day trip to the beach while in Athens.

Greece is On its Own Time

Unlike much of Europe, Greece has a much more laid back attitude and it is actually one of the things I love about spending time there. Ferries might be late or may be canceled. You may have to ask for your bill a few times before it arrives. There is no rushing in Greece unless you are driving. Then watch out!

This may be hard for some people to deal with but if you know about it in advance you know what to expect. The only thing I will say is that it usually all works out in the end. Greeks, for the most part, are pretty trustworthy and do not like to let the tourists down.

Strikes

Every summer there are ferry strikes. These seem to only happen during tourist seasons as well. I assume this is because it gives the workers more leverage. They are usually announced in advance so you won’t be standing at the ferry terminal waiting in the heat wondering if the ferry is going to come. However, by the time they are announced, you will probably not be able to change your hotel and everyone will be either buying new tickets or plane tickets. That is if you are on an island with an airport. My advice is to get travel insurance to make sure you are covered for any out of pocket costs you may have to incur. Also, do not book your flight and ferry on the same day! This is a good time to see more of Athens.

Tipping in Greece

I belong to several groups on Facebook about Greece and at least once a week I see questions about tipping in Greece. Like most of Europe, no one in Greece will complain if you don’t tip but most people tip about 10%. This is for restaurants mostly. Even in a cafe or coffee shop, I like to leave something if I have been waited on at a table. For larger groups, everyone should leave 10% as you are most likely taking up several tables during that time. If you feel like the waiter or waitress did an outstanding job, then more than 10% should be given. Another rule of thumb some people use is to round up. For example, if your bill was €18 then you could leave €2 as a tip. Keep in mind Greece is still suffering from economic issues so every bit helps the locals. Another thing to remember is that if paying with a credit card, you may not be able to add a tip after it has gone through the machine. Either ask them to add it to the total or have enough euros to tip in cash.

Santorini is Crowded

For many visiting Greece means the island of Santorini. Santorini is beautiful and has a unique landscape. However, everyone has Santorini on their bucket list and it means it is very crowded during the tourist season. If you must visit Santorini, here are a few tips that may help you avoid the crowds. First, go in the offseason. The main season is May to September with July and August being the busiest. However, I was in Santorini in September and it was still very busy. Go in October or April and you will still get to see the sites without the crowds.

If your only option is to go to Santorini in the tourist season, then stay outside the two main villages of Fira and Oia. They are the most crowded and probably the most expensive places on the island. A great alternative is in the village of Imerovigli. You will still get caldera views from here and the prices are less steep than in Oia.

200 Inhabited Greek Islands

There doesn’t seem to be an exact count of how many inhabited islands there are in Greece, but safe to say there are around 200. This is another reason that Santorini or Mykonos are not the only Greek islands to visit. These islands range from big islands like Crete, Rhodes and Naxos to small islands like Hydra, Aegina and Kythnos. All of these have many different things to do and see. Each island has its own culture and feel. You could go to a different island every time you visit Greece and still not see them all.

The Mainland

Mainland Greece is much larger than all the islands and there is so much to see there. The second largest city in Greece is Thessaloniki. Not only does it have the benefits of a city with cultural things to do but Thessaloniki has beautiful beaches as well. You can get to Thessaloniki by train from Athens or a quick flight from Athens.

Meteora is another gem of a place to visit on the mainland. Meteora is famous for the monasteries that are perched on top of high rocks that almost seem impossible to get to let alone build. You can either drive from Athens or take the train.

Another option on the mainland is the Peloponnese region. The Peloponnese is a peninsula and isn’t too far from Athens. This is were Kalamata is and where the famous Kalamata olive is from. This region is also known for its beautiful beaches.

Less Expensive

People are always asking me if Greece is expensive. The answer is yes if you are going to Santorini or Mykonos. However, if you are not going to these two places then my answer is no. Hotel prices vary across islands and the season, but even the 2 star hotels in Greece are nice. Most islands don’t have that many luxury resorts and you can always find something near the beach. I just booked a hotel in Naxos for 6 nights for less than $250 without breakfast. It is even less expensive if you go in September or later. Food is not expensive and you can eat out for about €25 for two people not including drinks. Although in some places, that does include one glass of wine. Look for where the locals are eating and not only will you get great food but good value for your money.

Smoking

This is the only bad thing about Greece. Greeks still smoke a lot and I am comparing this to Italians! For the most part, it probably isn’t a big deal unless they are smoking next to you at dinner. Most restaurants in Greece do not allow smoking inside and you will most likely be eating outside. If it does bother you, ask the waiter to move you or if you are in a cafe, just move tables.

Sailing the Greek Islands

Sailing is a great way to see many islands in a short period of time without having to ferry hop with your luggage. This was how I saw Greece the first time and I fell in love. We sailed to 14 islands. While you don’t have as much time to explore if you were visiting a few islands for two weeks but it gives you a good feel for what the island is like and you can plan your return trip. It is very relaxing and being on the water with the Greek breeze feels amazing. Most sailing trips have a preplanned itinerary but I have seen a few that let you plan the trip as you go based on the guests wants and the weather. Go in September as the water is warmest and the wind is not so high.

When to Visit Greece

My preferred month is September. The water is warm and so is the weather. The nights can be cool but never chilly. The crowds have left by then as well. October is also nice but many places start to close in October so there are fewer options for hotels and dining. However, you will have the beaches to yourself. You can also get good deals with shopping later in September you go.

If you must go in the summer due to work or school, I recommend going in June. The crowds haven’t started yet and the prices will still be low. The hotels and restaurants will be open by this time as well.

Beach Nudity

Beach nudity is common in Greece. Some beaches are more prone to it than others. If it is at a large beach the nudists tend to stay away from the sunbeds and umbrella areas. You will see some topless sunbathing on almost all the beaches. I am going to be totally honest and tell you that I am not a fan of full nudity for a variety of reasons. However, I have learned to accept it and try to look away as much as possible. Maybe I would feel differently if it was young fit people I was seeing naked and not 80-year-old men!

Cash

Cash is king in Greece. Restaurants would prefer you pay in cash. Some do this to avoid the taxes and some because they don’t want to pay the credit card fees. Technically the tax thing is illegal but unless you get a ridiculous bill, I would just pay and let it go. Paying in cash will endear you to the restaurant as well. Get Euros at the airport and take out enough to last you as long as you can. There are ATM fees in Greece and on some islands, the fee is quite high. On the small or less populated islands, ATMs can be a bit harder to come by.

No Toilet Paper in the Toilet

I saved the worst thing for last! On all of the islands, you cannot flush toilet paper. There will be a small covered trash can to dispose of your toilet paper in. It can be unsettling at first, but everyone is doing it. And no, it doesn’t smell either. The reason you have to do this is that the pipes can’t handle it. In Athens, this isn’t an issue as the plumbing is better there.

These are all the things you should know before traveling to Greece. I hope that I have answered all your pressing questions or have given you some things you didn’t know. Is there anything about visiting Greece that you think I have missed? Tell me in the comments.

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Thing to know before traveling to greece