When we think of Greece, the first thing to pop right into our minds are the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Their scenic beauty and distinctive architecture have made them not just the subject of itineraries but also of many wistful wish lists. Now if you are the sort of traveller who looks for something new, something beyond the best known or someone who hears about Santorini and Mykonos and thinks “Been there, done that”; then we have some other gorgeous islands for you to dive into!
How to reach: You can first fly down to Athens and from there take a boat or ferry till Crete.
Best time to visit: mid-May to June, September and October
Beaches, beaches and some more beaches beckon to you at the largest island of Greece named Crete. In addition, it offers the likes of hiking trails, tavernas and historic sites as well. Crete has witnessed considerable portions of European history after having been the centre of the first advanced civilization in the continent between 2700 to 1400 BC. This was the Minoan civilization, traces of which found influences from Europe, Asia and even Africa. You can discover more at the Archaeological Museum established on this island.
You can head to the island of Spinalonga to learn about their Venetian histories as you explore their world. And if this interests you, then maybe a visit to the architecturally splendid Monastery of Arkadi may interest you too. Head to the beach of Elafonísi to be marvelled by its pink sands against the crystal blue waters. Interact with the Cretans who inhabit this land in order to learn of their way of life. They place a whole deal of emphasis upon the family bonds. Carry back a souvenir in the form of their authentic artwork and needlework. The cut off village of Loutro is not just a scenic but also a culturally enriching visit. And of course, do not visit the views offered at Balos Lagoon where light blue waters into darker hues alongside curved limestone formations floating atop of them.
How to reach: From Athens you can either first fly off to Athens and then to Preveza or directly take a bus from Athens to Lefkada.
Best time to visit: March to June
Laying in the Ionian Sea is the a white-sand based island with the bluest waters around and it goes by the name of Lefkada. It derives its name from the Greek word lefkos which stands for white rocks. This is because the southern part of the island is flanked with these rocks acting as a cape upon it. It was in the 7th century when the Corinthians used to hold reign over these lands, that they built the built the new town of Lefkada. Their construction saw the coming in of a canal system as a result of which there was a separation from the mainland, making Lefkada an island of its own.
Here you will find mountainous landscapes merging into stunning waters. This is what makes the island quite a treat as the beaches find themselves enveloped with massive rocky formations which go on to enhance their landscape. If a day of swimming and splashing is on your mind, then head over to Porto Katsiki beach. Those who love lazing in the sand and reading a book, can find a spot for themselves to lay in the Kathisma beach. At Pefkoulia you can hike up to reach a point from where you can look at the gorgeous island is almost its entirety below! And for the wine lovers, there’s also the chance of exploring vineyards and trying something local for a flavour of the island you tread upon. And to make it even better, take a quintessential boat trip to marvel at the place from somewhere within the waters itself.
How to reach: There is no airport here, so, you will have to first fly down to Athens and from there you can catch a ferry till Sifnos.
Best time to visit: May until October
Now if you really have your heart on the likes of Mykonos and Santorini, then amidst the Cyclades where these two popular islands reside is also another beautiful island called Sifnos. This is an island which has seen quite a colourful and rich history in its making. Back in the 10th century, the Ionians colonized the island to establish their hold over it. Then it went onto become a commercial and cultural centre. By the 12th century it became an island of exile (Yeah, exiled in this beautiful a location!). And later it was even gifted in the form of dowry by a Spaniard to Bologna. This is just a brief introduction to quite a power-packed destination!hg
You can hike past olive groves and chapels to let both, nature and history mesmerize you together. One can just go on seeing the still standing medieval walls here to their remaining villages as well. Swim at the beach of Vathi to be away from the crowds. And for experiences that some of us want just for ourselves, there are even secluded spots in this island where you can swim in the waters below white-washed churches and structures. The Panagia Poulati is another popular swimming spot where azure dome-shaped churches stand on top of cliffs of smooth rocks. Sifnos is also a treat for the foodies to indulge themselves in the local cuisine, trying all sorts of things from savoury to sweet. This is the Greek dream that we so dearly crave for.
Which of these Greek islands would your heart wish to head off to first and foremost?!
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