Greek Islands: How does one choose from so many?
(Director’s note: The world is opening back up again and the Greek Islands are some of my favorite destinations. Here is guest blogger James Ritter to offer a brief guide on where to go this summer as Covid travel restrictions lighten in Europe. Before I moved to Rome, Greece was my favorite country. Ritter gives descriptions of some of my favorite Greek Islands.)
The white roofs, pristine blue seas, fabulous beaches and rich history make the Greek Islands feel like a destination from a dream. But time is precious when you travel. There are so many islands, and they all have different characteristics, so which Greek island will suit your particular desires? Which should you visit? Here are some recommendations for everyone – from the sun worshiper to the culture conscious.
Santorini – views and viniculture
Many of the famous shots of white buildings perched on a hillside against the bright blue of the Aegean come from Santorini. The beautiful buildings in Oia and Fira (the capital) have stunning views over the caldera of an ancient volcano, which erupted around 3000 BC and destroyed the local civilization, leaving ruins you can visit today.
But there is much more to it than picturesque towns and villages. On the other side of the island are pretty pebble and sand beaches, perfect for lounging away an afternoon. And for those who enjoy their wine, Santorini has several vineyards and wineries. If this sounds like your idea of a dream holiday, then Santorini is the island for you.
Mykonos – fun times and food
Mykonos, or “The Isle of Wind,” is well known as a party place. The best-known beach is Paradise Beach, where many nightclubs and restaurants open out onto the sand and allow you to move seamlessly from tanning yourself to dancing the night away. There are plenty of restaurants here with beautiful views of the waterfront – and a lively atmosphere. There are other quieter beaches too, which are a great option for families. For shopping, sunning, dancing and eating, Mykonos is the prime option.
Rhodes – family and friends
The island of Rhodes offers 30 miles of golden sand with shallow waters, perfect for families to relax in. If the kids get bored of playing in the sea, there are water parks to enjoy and a butterfly museum, together with forests and mountains to explore inland. Rhodes Town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its pretty cobbled streets and castle. For the history enthusiasts out there, it’s also one of the largest inhabited medieval towns in Europe.
Skopelos – quiet and comfort
Skopelos has the beaches and scenery to match many of the other Greek Islands but also a much quieter pace of life. Although there are no dramatic historic sites, there are plenty of interesting monasteries to visit and you can still enjoy classic Greek towns, cuisine and beaches. Just at a slightly more leisurely pace.
Crete – the whole package
Are you interested in ancient history? Quaint fishing villages? Stunning landscapes? Lazing on the beach and enjoying vibrant nightlife? If you answered yes to all of the above, then look no further than Crete. Home to the ancient Minoans, Crete is the island where the legend of the Minotaur originated. Visit the ruins of the palace of Knossos, the heart of the Minoan civilization, and have a guided tour to learn about their fascinating art and bull-leaping exploits.
You can also take in the fishing boats and nightlife of the port of Chania, or explore the history of the Greeks even further in the capital of Heraklion. And of course, the beaches are stunning. What more could you want?